Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Feminism's False Dichotomy

"I'd like every man who doesn't call himself a feminist to explain to the women in his life why he doesn't believe in equality." -- Louise Brealy

Ladies and gentlemen, let me direct your attention to this statement by British actress, writer, and journalist Louise Brealey.  I call your attention to it because it is indicative of modern feminist thought.  It is also a perfect example of what intelligent people call the "False Dichotomy Fallacy."

Putting it quite simply, the False Dichotomy Fallacy is when a person frames their arguments as if there is only two possible options to choose from.  That is, they frame their argument so that either A is the truth, or B is the truth, as if there are no other possible options, despite the fact that its perfectly possible for any of the options C through Z to actually be true.

In this case, Ms. Brealey is saying "If you do not support feminism (Option A) you must oppose gender equality (Option B)."  Her statement makes it quite clear that, in her opinion, at least, you cannot believe in and support gender equality if you are not a feminist.  And the reason why this is a fallacy (that is, the reason why it is bad logic) is simple:  it is absolutely possible to not favor "Feminism" (a specific political movement) and yet still be in favor of "gender equality" (a specific political ideal).

If you're wondering how such a thing is possible, I beg of you:  open your mind and stop drinking the Kool-Aid for a moment and listen.  It is possible for several reasons.

First, it is entirely possible to be a proponent of gender equality, yet not agree with the methods by which the feminist movement goes about achieving gender equality.  Remember the push to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, back in the 70s and early 80s?  There were several pro-women groups -- groups made up of women campaigning on behalf of the rights of women -- who opposed the ERA because they opposed the specific language involved in the proposed amendment.  They were not opposed to the idea of gender equality -- they just didn't like the fact that the Amendment, as it was written, infantilized women and implied that they (women) were second class citizens.

In addition, several of those women refused to describe themselves as "feminist" and did not support the ERA because they didn't go for the "sexual politics" part of the movement (and by that they and I mean the actual "sex" parts of the politics -- the free access to birth control, the support of abortion, and so on) while supporting the "gender politics" parts of it (equal pay for equal work, no second class citizen status, and so on) involved in feminism,  These women still supported gender equality, but didn't agree with the entire platform built by organized feminism and thus would not identify themselves as feminist.

Second, it is entirely possible to dislike the "enshrining female privilege" aspects of the modern feminist movement without wanting to end equality between the genders.  The modern feminist movement opposes -- and I am not making this up, they actively OPPOSE -- any attempt to bring more public awareness to male victims of rape or domestic violence, or equal access to recovery resources for male victims of rape and domestic violence.  The movement apparently sees such efforts as "taking the resources away from women", who are apparently more important than men simply because they are women.

They also oppose doing anything about leveling the playing field for men in Family Courts (thus giving men the rights and consideration already enjoyed by women) or the problem of false accusations of rape and abuse being used as weapons in divorce cases (to put it bluntly, the feminist movement claims that there are no false accusations, and that women would never stoop so low as to use a rape or abuse claim as a weapon against a man).

They oppose doing anything about the fact that the percentage of men graduating from college is dropping swiftly.

And they oppose -- and this one get's me fucking angry, guys -- they actively lobby against the increase of governmental funding for research into so-called "men's health issues" like testicular cancer and the like despite the fact that men's health research is only funded to the tune of a tenth (1/10th) of how women's health research is funded.

And remember, while they are fighting to stop anyone doing anything about these problems, they are screaming to the rooftops about how society as a whole is ignoring "women's problems".  Which makes their opposition to men's causes a little suspect to me.

Now, realistically, I cannot say that every single feminist on the planet opposes all of these things.  As individuals, I'm sure that they don't; I'm sure that there are feminists out there who are perfectly willing to campaign for more assistance to male domestic violence victims, or to level the playing field in family court.



That said...

Unfortunately, the feminist movement -- organized feminism as an overall whole -- actively and effectively does oppose these things.

And on that basis alone, it is perfectly reasonable for a lot of people to look at the actions of the organized feminist movement, think about it a little bit, and then come to the conclusion that they just can't get on board with that.  It is perfectly reasonable for them to say "Sorry, but I am not a feminist if feminism means treating male rape victims as jokes to be ignored at best and insulted and abused at worst."  Or say "Sorry, but I am not a feminist if being a feminist means thinking that there's no reason to do anything about men dying ten to fifteen years earlier than women, or committing suicide four times as often, or dying of cancer twice as often."

Which, to bring it back to the point I started on, means that anyone saying "You're either a feminist or you're a bigot who opposes equality" is either an idiot (which Ms. Brealey isn't) or has some sort of agenda that would benefit from people not thinking about just how much damage the feminist movement is truly doing to our society.

Think about it.