What’s always puzzled me is how feminism became a dirty word, not amongst men, but amongst women.
The other day, dailywire.com (a paragon of intelligent, reasoned thinking) published an article titled “Meet the most annoying feminists on the planet. They’re men.” It was written by a woman named Amanda Prestigiacomo, who authored a number of other insightful works, among them: “11 reasons it’s idiotic to have a female James Bond” and “SICK: Actress pens ‘love letter’ to baby-dismembering Planned Parenthood.”
I know, I know: it’s ridiculous to waste my time arguing with the unarguable. Why did I spend hours getting angrier and angrier reading one idiotic article after another attacking women for daring to have body hair? But here’s the thing: I find women like Prestigiacomo fascinating. Horrible, but fascinating. Insane, but fascinating. Because somewhere along the way, feminism became a dirty word – not amongst men, but amongst women.
I don’t for a second consider myself to be any sort of “feminazi” (to use one of Prestigiacomo’s favourite terms) but I simply cannot comprehend people who seem threatened by the advancement of others. Especially women of other women. I’ll never understand how someone born a female in the western world – with a female body and all the confusion/ogling that it brings – wouldn’t want other women to have total control over what happens to their own bodies. To have total control over how they wear their hair – any hair – on their bodies. To decide how they dress, how they behave, how they treat their own reproductive systems. Pro-choice or pro-life shouldn’t come into it: it should simply be about self-determination. You do what you want with your body and let others do the same.
Prestigiacomo is fervently pro-life, to the extent of branding women who have abortions murderers. She’s also pro-Trump, anti free-the-nipple and believes there’s no such thing as the gender pay gap (there absolutely is). Most of all, she’s hates feminism, calling it “a religious cult based upon victimhood and man-hatred that endlessly promotes poor hygiene and child sacrifice in the form of abortion.”
In other words, she’s completely delusional and utterly wrong about what feminism really is.
Feminism is about equality. That’s it. It’s not about believing that women are superior to men or that men are entirely superfluous to humankind. If you believe that all men must die then you’re not a feminist, you’re a psychopath. Or you’re George R.R. Martin. And if you think feminists truly believe in death to men, you’re an idiot who isn’t paying attention, or doesn’t have a sense of humour. “All men must die” isn’t feminist thinking.
Feminism is simply believing that women have a right to equal pay for equal work, something that right now, doesn’t seem to exist anywhere in the world.
Feminism is believing that a woman is awarded the same basic rights as a man – to vote, to hold office, to own property, to an education, to representation, to justice under the law.
It’s believing that a woman has a right to choose what happens to her own body: feminists aren’t by definition pro-choice, but instead support the right to life: the right to the life of the woman, to choose for herself whether she is willing and able to raise a child.
It’s not about Left and Right anymore. It’s, as Meryl Streep so eloquently put it in her much-applauded speech at the Golden Globes, about empathy vs hate. The knee-jerk reaction has replaced consideration. We pre-emptively strike rather than listen.
Many, including women, believe there’s never been a tougher time to be a man; that in the current world climate, toxic masculinity is rising as a direct response to years of women’s advancement; that while women have been smashing glass ceilings and proving they’re just as capable as the blokes, men have been crashing and burning, with male suicide rates up and cases of depression skyrocketing. We’re told that we need to worry more about raising boys than raising girls, because boys are slower to develop, more sensitive to parental separation and need constant stimulus if they’re going to succeed at all; that men must be taught that it’s okay to be sensitive, that it’s okay to cry, that they don’t need to be strong, but kind, and that this kind of thinking is a challenge but one we need to face if society is ever going to progress.
At the same time, we have Trump in the White House and the Million Women March planned for January 21 in solidarity of what organisers of the march see as the most difficult time to be female, a time when women’s rights are being reversed or put on the backburner. I am not a man hater. I am not a feminazi. But I am someone with access to resources, with fact-checking capabilities and with common sense, and I know there can be no question (despite the cries of some MRA’s and a small group of women, like Amanda Prestigiacomo) that women still have it worse than men; that for every man that tragically suicides as a result of depression, there are several women who are raped or attacked by their domestic partner; for every man that feels oppressed because of quotas to address gender discrimination, there are a dozen underage girls forced into marriage around the world or required by law to obey her husband or her father, or even her younger brother or son. You cannot ignore the facts according to a World Bank study that there are over 150 countries with at least one law that is discriminatory against women.
So while it’s easy to make fun of feminists (and their propensity towards body hair and nipple freeing) and while it’s easy to call them annoying and to see their struggles as trivial, the point is that one is not mutually exclusive of the other, and the west seems to have adopted the notion that when it comes to women’s rights, “near enough is good enough” – that simply because we don’t have to deal with the threat of stoning as a punishment for being raped, we don’t face daily discrimination and disadvantage simply because of our gender. We must remember that without women fighting for the small victories, as they have done throughout history, the big ones would never be possible.
Also on The Big Smoke
- The trouble with feminism: Equality versus equity
- Clinton, Trump and residual nipples
- Women’s economic empowerment: Why liberating women liberates the world
Prestigiacomo has as the pinned tweet on her Twitter account: “A fan just dubbed me ‘the most miserable person at the Daily Wire’. The hate feeds my soul.”
She’s trying to be funny. But this kind of comment isn’t funny: it’s dangerous. Feminists – and for that matter, progressives of any description – aren’t hateful, they’re hopeful. They’re angry but they’re pro-active with their anger. Rather than lob missiles from the sidelines, they march, they protest, they get in your face and implore you to consider their cause. Of course, there are trolls on the Left just as there are on the Right. But the trolling usually comes from frustration, from exasperation, not from hate or from fear of progress.
Reading articles like those on dailywire.com, Breitbart or, by and large, The Australian makes me angry. Makes me depressed. Makes me fear for our world and our society, that there could be so much gleeful hate, so much determination to block progress. I know what you’re thinking: well, just don’t read them. But it’s no longer as simple as that. It’s not about Left and Right anymore. It’s, as Meryl Streep so eloquently put it in her much-applauded speech at the Golden Globes, about empathy vs hate. And it’s not just online trolls anymore. It’s Trump marching his way into the White House on a platform of fear mongering, racism and misogyny. It’s One Nation gaining power around the Australia. It’s men bashing women because they feel their masculinity is under constant threat and women feeling like they’re not allowed to be girly, for fear of looking weak or coming under attack from other women telling them how they need to be strong. It’s Target trying to be inclusive by having models wear the hijab and then being attacked, from the Right for promoting a Muslim agenda and from the Left for not recognising other minorities as well. It’s Meat & Livestock Australia trying their darnedest to include everybody in their new ad and getting lambasted (pun intended) for being insensitive to the true history of colonisation in an attempt to sell chops.
It’s out of control. The knee-jerk reaction has replaced consideration. We pre-emptively strike rather than listen. We assume every contradiction is an attack, any suggestion is a criticism and anything outside our own “normal” is amoral. And I don’t know where it ends. But I do know that a society that cannot express anything without fear of backlash will never get anywhere. Debate is healthy and necessary. Antagonism is not. And hatred as sport – like Amanda Prestigiacomo and her Twitter account – is the most dangerous thing of all.