I used to not take the Regressive Left very seriously
because I felt that they were an insignificant minority of the Left in general.
However, over the last year or so I have apparently stumble across a few pieces
of Leftist doctrine that I am not allowed to disagree with and have been excommunicated
from multiple groups. This has led me to re-evaluate the RL. I still see them
as a minority, but they are a much larger and more powerful minority than I had
It started with guns. I made statements about how both the Left and Right were wrong on the issue; that more guns doesn’t lead to more or less homicide. I made sure to point out that I still supported new “common sense” regulations and better enforcement of current gun laws regardless, but that was not enough to placate the Leftists. I got flooded with responses making it clear that anything short of accepting guns as the all-powerful one thing of any value on the topic would not be acceptable.
Before I go any further, let me point out I identify as
liberal, feminist, an LGBTQ+ ally, and a supporter of social justice. All that should
be obvious based on my existing writings and statements, but I have to point it
out so as not to leave anything up to interpretation for those looking in bad
faith to disseminate calumny and misrepresentation.
In a group called Libertarian Memes for Neoliberal Teens I
made the faux pas of mentioning that I
identified as a liberal in a similar vein to Sam Harris. Unfortunately,
this “libertarian” page made a violent swing into regressive leftism based on the
mere mention of Harris’ name (apparently a trigger-word for them). They
knee-jerked with the statement that “Sam Harris is an Islamophobic piece
of shit.” I responded (sadly lowering myself to their level) by uttering a
few choice swear words and appropriately pointing out that they probably knew very
little about Sam Harris not acquired through biased intermediaries. I was instantly
called a bigot and banned from the group. They said that calling Christianity
and Islam barbaric was bigotry. A position that couldn’t be more wrong.
I should not have to say this (my history should speak for itself), but I am not Islamophobic. Another article I wrote elaborates on this, but I’ll explain again.
I consider most of the main religions man-made creations ascribing
magic and superstition to things they don’t understand. It doesn’t matter to me
if you believe silly things as long as those silly things don’t lead to violence,
they don’t create avoidable problems for the rest of society, and they aren’t forced
Using what I have described as magical beliefs, people long
ago organized them into structured doctrines and religions, often used to
increase social cohesion or control the masses.
Within religions in general are many schools of thought—think of Baptist and Catholic Christians, Sunni and Shia Muslims, or Theravada and Mahayana Buddhists. Even within those schools there are endlessly more subgroups. Some subgroups cherry-pick out the bad of the original doctrines and are better people for it. But other subgroups are fundamentalists who take scripture as the barbaric bronze age and/or medieval authors intended, and as a result like to persecute to degrees varying as a function of their level of fundamentalism.
I consider all religions’ supernatural claims to be mere superstition, but I do not pretend like all religions and sects are all equally violent or harmful. Acknowledging the groups that are violent and reprehensible, while also acknowledging the mother-religion it is a part of is not bigotry against that religion overall—it is admitting the facts.
To keep this from being too long of a tangent, I’ll simply point out that my position on religion has led me to vigorously denounce religious atrocities while equally vigorously defending religious rights and opposing religious bigotry. I have been very vocal in my opposition against European and American Right-wingers who try to fear-monger about Muslim immigrants and refugees as a raping and killing invasion. I confront conservative lies about Muslims supposedly ushering in Sharia Law in France, Germany, and Dearborn, Michigan. I also spoke against the bans on “burkinis” occurring in places in France.
Ultimately, I can reasonably criticize any religion just like I could Communism, Post-Modernism, ultra-nationalism, Anarcho-capitalism, or any other belief system. And just like with those things, such criticisms would not in the least imply calls for oppression or hate against the people who hold those ideologies. The ideologies not causing harm or calling for violence against other groups can safely be allowed to live and let live. However, it would be immoral not to challenge and criticize the religions not content to live and let live.
I have also been attacked by feminist brands of regressives despite identifying as a feminist myself and writing frequently in defense of feminism. One incident involves a woman named Sharon (I’ll only use her first name) who runs a group called Association of Libertarian Feminists and claims to have been affiliated with the Cato Institute.
Sharon decided that because the four inspirational quotes featured on the cover picture on the Against Unreason (then named Independent Thinking) Facebook page happened to be by men, I must be a misogynist who is uneducated on feminism. As a result, she suggested I read books by famous feminists I was already familiar with and respected (e.g., Simone de Beauvoir and Mary Wollstonecraft). After I informed her that I was already familiar with them and considered myself an active feminist, she doubled down and decided I was being too belligerent (I wasn’t), so I was still wrong.
Some of what she was referencing was a post on the page where she accused me of holding several positions of which I actually held the opposite positions (I provided links to previous posts as proof). Unfortunately, because she saw how belligerent and in-the-wrong she was going to look, Sharon deleted those posts before I thought to screenshot them.
All of this interaction was unprovoked. I suspect she was operating on libel other regressive-tinged people told her, then proceeded to barge into my sphere assuming she knew me. Considering how much she got wrong, I would say it didn’t work out so well. It is a shame too, since I followed, enjoyed, and respected her page previously.
Religion and Feminism
I eventually found a group called Feminists Without Religion. I thought, “hey, here’s some people whose name I can agree with.” Turns out, the “feminist” and “without religion” parts are limited to Christianity and misogyny within that religion. If you meander into criticizing any misogyny in Islam you will be swiftly assailed, straw-manned, and banned. I suggested hijabs may be a problematic misogynist tradition, and they interpreted that as me saying I hated people who wore them and that I supported oppression against women who continue to wear them (I believe quite the opposite actually, as I made clear in the article I linked to earlier).
I’m still a firmly center-left liberal, but you would not know it based on the opinions of the regressive I have encountered. Bizarrely, some of these RL people are ostensibly on the Right. They seem to believe that hitching a ride on a few regressive ideas will help pull their Right-wing reputation to the edgy hipster center. I, on the other hand, would not sacrifice reason simply to craft an image. I could be wrong though, about their motivation; I’m just speculating.
If you still don’t believe I am not alt-Right, let me give you a list of people often associated with the alt-Right I am definitely not fans of: Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, Dave Rubin, Sargon (Carl Benjamin) of Akkad, Gregory Fluhrer (the Armored Skeptic), TJ Kirk (the Amazing Atheist), Phil Mason (Thunderf00t), and more.
I prefer people like Richard Carrier, Steve
Pinker, Michael Shermer, Sam Harris, Andrew Yang, Matt
Dillahunty, Richard Dawkins, and Peter Hadfield (Potholer54).
This declaration of 1791 France, in the throws of the French Revolution, is one of the most important and striking documents of feminism. It explains the goals of equality between the sexes, not superiority of women over men like many modern anti-feminists believe is the feminist goal. To prove this, there are even clauses explaining that the full rigor of the law should be exercised equally on women as on men; that women have the “right to mount the scaffold” as well.
Unfortunately, of the many positives that resulted from the soon to come Code Napoléon , women’s rights was not one of them. Indeed, the Napoleonic Code set women’s rights back many decades.
Nonetheless, written by Olympe De Gouges, the Declaration of the Rights of Woman is a fascinating read, and it retains its importance in the annals of history.
Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen
For the National Assemby to decree in its last sessions, or in those of the next legislature:
Mothers, daughters, sisters [and] representatives of the nation demand to be constituted into a national assembly. Believing that ignorance, omission, or scorn for the rights of woman are the only causes of public misfortunes and of the corruption of governments, [the women] have resolved to set forth a solemn declaration the natural, inalienable, and sacred rights of woman in order that this declaration, constantly exposed before all members of the society, will ceaselessly remind them of their rights and duties; in order that the authoritative acts f women and teh athoritative acts of men may be at any moment compared with and respectful of the purpose of all political institutions; and in order that citizens’ demands, henceforth based on simple and incontestable principles, will always support the constitution, good morals, and the happiness of all. Consequently, the sex that is as superior in beauty as it is in courage during the sufferings of maternity recognizes and declares in the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme Being, the following Rights of WOman and of Female Citizens.
Woman is born free and lives equal to man in her rights. Social distinctions can be based only on the common utility.
The purpose of any political association is the conservation of the natural and impresciptible rights of woman and man; these rights are liberty property, security, and especially resistance to oppression.
The principle of all sovereignty rests essentially with the nation, which is nothing but the union of woman and man; no body and no individual can exercise any authority which does not come expressly from it (the nation).
Liberty and justice consist of restoring all that belongs to others; thus, the only limits on the exercise of the natural rights of woman are perpetual male tyranny; these limits are to be reformed by the laws of nature and reason.
Laws of nature and reason proscibe all acts harmful to society; everything which is not prohibited by these wise and divine laws cannot be prevented, and no one can be constrained to do what they do not command.
The law must be the expression of the general will; all female and male citizens must contribute either personally or through their representatives to its formation; it must be the same for all: male and female citizens, being equal in the eyes of the law, must be equally admitted to all honors, positions, and public employment according to their capacity and without other distinctions besides those of their virtues and talents.
No woman is an exception; she is accused, arrested, and detained in cases determined by law. Women, like men, obey this rigorous law.
The law must establish only those penalties that are strictly and obviously necessary…
Once any woman is declared guilty, complete rigor is exercised by law.
No one is to be disquieted for his very basic opinions; woman has the right to mount the scaffold; she must equally have the right to mount the rostrum, provided that her demonstrations do not disturb the legally established public order.
The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the most precious rights of woman, since that liberty assures recognition of children by their fathers. Any female citizen thus may say freely, I am the mother of a child which belongs to you, without being forced by a barbarous prejudice to hide the truth; (an exception may be made) to respond to the abuse of this liberty in cases determined by law.
The gaurantee of the rights of woman and the female citizen implies a major benefit; this guarantee must be instituted for the advantage of all, and not for the particular benefit of those to whom it is entrusted.
For the support of the public force and the expenses of administration, the contributions of woman and man are equal; she shares all the duties and all the painful tasks; therefore, whe must have the same share in the distribution of positions, employment, offices, honors, and jobs.
Female and male citizens have the right to verify, either by themselves of through their representatives, the necessity of the public contribution. This can only apply to women if they are granted an equal share, not only of wealth, but also of public administration, and in the determination of the proportion, the base, the collection, and the duration of the tax.
The collectivity of women, joined for tax purposes to the aggregate of men, has the right to demand an accounting of his administration from any public agent.
No society has a constitution without the guarantee of rights and the separation of powers; the constitution is null if the majority of individuals comprising the nation have not cooperated in drafting it.
Property belongs to both sexes whether united or separate; for each it is an inviolable and sacred right’ no one can be deprived of it, since it is the true patrimony of natire, unless the legally determined public need obviously dictates it, and then only with a just and prior indemnity.
Woman, wake up; the tocsin of reason is being heard throughout the whole universe; discover your rights. The powerful empire of nature is no longer surrounded by prejudice, fanaticism, superstition, and lies. The flame of truth has dispersed all the clouds of folly and usurpation. Enslaved man has multiplied his strength and needs recourse to yours to break his chains. Having become free, he has become unjust to his companion. Oh, women, women! When will you cease to be blind? What advantage have you received from the Revolution? A more pronounced scorn, a more marked disdain. In the centuries of corruption you ruled only over the weakness of men. The reclamation of your patrimony, based on the wise decrees of nature-what have you to dread from such a fine undertaking? The bon mot of the legislator of the marriage of Cana? Do you fear that our French legislators, correctors of that morality, long ensnared by political practices now out of date, will only say again to you: women, what is there in common between you and us? Everything, you will have to answer. If they persist in their weakness in putting this non sequitur in contradiction to their principles, courageously oppose the force of reason to the empty pretentions of superiority; unite yourselves beneath the standards of philosophy; deploy all the energy of your character, and you will soon see these haughty men, not groveling at your feet as servile adorers, but proud to share with you the treasures of the Supreme Being. Regardless of what barriers confront you, it is in your power to free yourselves; you have only to want to…. Marriage is the tomb of trust and love. The married woman can with impunity give bastards to her husband, and also give them the wealth which does not belong to them. The woman who is unmarried has only one feeble right; ancient and inhuman laws refuse to her for her children the right to the name and the wealth of their father; no new laws have been made in this matter. If it is considered a paradox and an impossibility on my part to try to give my sex an honorable and just consistency, I leave it to men to attain glory for dealing with this matter; but while we wait, the way can be prepared through national education, the restoration of morals, and conjugal conventions.
Form for a Social Contract Between Man and Woman
We, _____ and ______, moved by our own will, unite ourselves for the duration of our lives, and for the duration of our mutual inclinations, under the following conditions: We intend and wish to make our wealth communal, meanwhile reserving to ourselves the right to divide it in favor of our children and of those toward whom we might have a particular inclination, mutually recognizing that our property belongs directly to our children, from whatever bed they come, and that all of them without distinction have the right to bear the name of the fathers and mothers who have acknowledged them, and we are charged to subscribe to the law which punishes the renunciation of one’s own blood. We likewise obligate ourselves, in case of separation, to divide our wealth and to set aside in advance the portion the law indicates for our children, and in the event of a perfect union, the one who dies will divest himself of half his property in his children’s favor, and if one dies childless, the survivor will inherit by right, unless the dying person has disposed of half the common property in favor of one whom he judged deserving.
That is approximately the formula for the marriage act I propose for execution. Upon reading this strange document, I see rising up against me the hypocrites, the prudes, the clergy, and the whole infernal sequence. But how it [my proposal] offers to the wise the moral means of achieving the perfection of a happy government! . . . Moreover, I would like a law which would assist widows and young girls deceived by the false promises of a man to whom they were attached; I would like, I say, this law to force an inconstant man to hold to his obligations or at least [to pay] an indemnity equal to his wealth. Again, I would like this law to be rigorous against women, at least those who have the effrontery to have reCourse to a law which they themselves had violated by their misconduct, if proof of that were given. At the same time, as I showed in Le Bonheur primitit de l’homme, in 1788, that prostitutes should be placed in designated quarters. It is not prostitutes who contribute the most to the depravity of morals, it is the women of’ society. In regenerating the latter, the former are changed. This link of fraternal union will first bring disorder, but in consequence it will produce at the end a perfect harmony. I offer a foolproof way to elevate the soul of women; it is to join them to all the activities of man; if man persists in finding this way impractical, let him share his fortune with woman, not at his caprice, but by the wisdom of laws. Prejudice falls, morals are purified, and nature regains all her rights. Add to this the marriage of priests and the strengthening of the king on his throne, and the French government cannot fail.
Feminism is a difficult topic to talk about, especially because saying anything positive about it gets a target painted on your back by Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) and other feminism opponents. When people hear the word “feminist” they react with almost pathological hatred, immediately assuming and projecting dozens of false beliefs on the feminist, while at the same time readying their pre-made talking points. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I can tell you what feminism I identify with, and it bares little-to-no resemblance with what opponents of feminism make it out to be.
Before we go on, I hate having to do the “I’m a feminist, but I’m not that kind of feminist” speech because it implies the standard normal feminist is radical, and I don’t buy that. There definitely are a large loud group of radicals, but I don’t think it is the majority. It just seems interesting that opponents of feminism assume criticism against any man means “all men,” prompting the knee-jerk reaction saying #notallmen, yet themselves do assume all or virtually all feminists are the bad kind. Perhaps we should start a #notallfeminists hashtag.
I freely acknowledge the bad apples in feminism, but anti-feminists need to admit that Incels are among their ranks, and that they most definitely are enabled by the anti-feminism community. The rhetoric that feminists want superiority and not equality, that they are trying to emasculate men, etc., is very often the same. Much of the time, it is hard to tell whether you’re on an Incel forum or a general anti-feminist forum.
Like anti-feminists, they cite areas where men are technically getting treated badly, but conveniently forget that men are almost always the sex inflicting the bad treatment on other men. I made “almost” bold because MRAs tend to assume people mean literally all when they don’t.
Several points refer to women’s opinions towards other women, but I’d like to see what men’s opinions are towards other men for similar questions. Considering that every study I’ve found shows men to have more negative thoughts towards other categories of people—gay men, effeminate men, masculine women, people of other religions, people of other races—than women, I wouldn’t be going that far out on a limb to hypothesize than polls of men’s attitudes would be even more negative.
Anyway, I suspect any MRAs reading this article find themselves agreeing with most of the Incels’ points.
“Third Wave Feminism”
I don’t identify as “third wave” (though I have nothing against those who do), and I don’t categorize “waves” like people who use the term “third wave” as a pejorative. Waves, are merely historical descriptions for cultural swells of interest in issues related to women. Even that isn’t clean though, because the “first wave” itself would then need to be divided up into multiple waves.
The other problem with this classification—especially when used by anti-feminists—is that it is often an obfuscation whereby anti-feminists verbalize no distinction to “waves” existing as schools of thought versus “waves” as simply referring to feminism from a historical period. Or if they do make the distinction, they are vague and inconsistent about it. This seems to be either by design to win arguments via baiting and switching, or by mere ineptitude.
Either way, the use of “third wave” seems to be mostly just a tactic anti-feminists use to project the beliefs of the more rabid and fanatical feminists onto all feminists, including ones like myself who reject extremist tenants. This is so they don’t have to honestly engage the arguments that might disconfirm their existing beliefs on the topic. I am aware some feminists do the same with with terms like “racist,” “bigot,” and other words, and I am opposed to that as well; I don’t make special exceptions for bad argumentation.
Intersectional feminism is also a term feminism opponents have turned into a pejorative—certainly the more radical strain of existing feminists identifying that way made it easy to do. The phrase itself is the logical conclusion to the fact that if black people and gay people (or any such combination) are both oppressed and/or marginalized groups in a society, a black gay person will likely experience more social and economic disenfranchisement than either alone.
Admittedly many of the more excessive and noxious feminists take this and turn it into a pissing contest of who is more oppressed, but the very basic concept itself still holds true. So this makes it a confusing conversation because, yes, I completely agree those reckless and overzealous people who take the concept to the extreme are wrong and harmful, but I don’t agree that everyone who accepts the basic principle is an extremist.
Are All Feminists SJWs?
Another obfuscation is where anti-feminists assume that if you identify as a feminist that you are automatically a “social justice warrior,” or SJW for short. If by SJW they mean a pretentious demagogic fanatic who virtue-signals and tries to feel like a knight in shining armor coming to the rescue, then no, that assumption is wrong, and I am no SJW. In also certainly not a person who intentionally looks for things to be offended at.
Make no mistake, social justice is a positive thing that should be striven for. However, extremists who have a warped view of what justice is and take the idea to the extreme will get just as much vigorous disagreement from me as any MRA.
The muddiness of what SJW means is a problem, though, because anti-feminists exploit it to label and summarily dismiss any argument that doesn’t conform to their narrow ideology. For this reason, I prefer the term “Regressive Left” instead because it is by definition the extremist and regressive sect of the Left. It leaves much less ambiguity. I couldn’t be further from the regressive Left. Indeed, some of my favorite intellectuals like Sam Harris and Steven Pinker are regularly attacked by the regressive Left.
What Kind of Feminist Am I Then?
I’m a feminist in the sense that I fit the Oxford English Dictionary definition:
With anything past that, you should probably personally ask me rather than assuming my position, or projecting that of someone else onto me.
This is often where anti-feminists make the claim that women already have equality with us men. They are then given solid evidence to the contrary, to which they respond by moving the goal-post to the claim that this inequality is “natural” and “the way things should be.” Truth is, both of those claims are false; no, complete equality hasn’t been achieved, and no, inequality isn’t the way things should be.
Let me elaborate before we go further. By equality I mean equal opportunity and equal political power. I am not proposing that we unilaterally mandate 50% of everything across the board has to be filled by women. I don’t deny that there are modest biological difference that may lead to an offset ratio between the sexes in some areas. What I deny is that the level of offset there currently is and historically has been is the bare minimum that would arise from these small natural differences. In other words, I’m saying culture has taken whatever natural differences there may be, exaggerated them well out of proportion, and arranged the system and power-dynamics thereof at the expense of women.
The wage gap absolutely exists. However, it is also true that many liberals and feminists tote the 80% figure in a way that is extravagantly oversimplified. Conversely though, anti-feminists and conservatives have taken the other extreme and either denied its existence altogether, or denied that it is problematic.
Only 7-4% of the wage gap can reasonably be attributed to blatant sex discrimination by employers. I say “only,” but in reality that is unacceptably high. That deceptively small number also fails to depict the life-time accumulation of lost income, which, in the upper echelons where the disparity is worst, can be hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars.
Childbearing and rearing certainly makes up a portion of the gap. Anti-feminists like to play this part up as the be-all-end-all of the conversation, while some feminists ignore it. The truth is closer to the middle, and more complicated than either side wants to admit.
Childbearing/rearing highlights something important for improvement though; access to childcare and maternal leave. According to the International Labor organization, “Out of the 185 countries and territories with information available, all but two provide cash benefits to women during maternity leave. The two exceptions are Papua New Guinea and the United States…” Moreover, “Among all the Developed Economies, only the United States does not pay maternity benefits… either through law, or directly through the government.” So as you can imagine, this would help swell the portion of the wage gap attributable to birthing/rearing because a portion women will still take leave, but get no income during that time.
Then there’s childcare. Out of twelve selected OECD countries, only in three other countries did parents spend more of a percent of their income on childcare than parents in the US. Parents in the US spend 25.6% of their income on childcare, while those in France and Germany spend 9.7%, and those in Sweden spend 4.4%. Thus, many US mom’s, again, will have to forgo working because they wouldn’t even make as much money as it would cost for babysitting.
“Men are naturally more ambitious than women.” While this is possible to some degree (though I don’t know about probable), culture has absolutely taken whatever natural tendencies that may possibly have existed and dialed them way up. Historically—and still present, but to a lesser degree today—American culture has encourage men disproportionately to chase careers, while encouraging women to stay home as baby-makers/rearers, meal-makers, and house cleaners. Encouraging may be a inappropriately weak word though; there is a veritable stigma against stay-at-home men. Thus, culture has strongly steered this portion of the pay gap unnecessarily at the expense of women, and it is an aspect worth acknowledging and working to shrink. Again, this isn’t about forcing women into the work place and men out of it through government decree, it is about giving men and women the liberty to choose their household division of labor free of cultural stigmas. This is largely a cultural battle.
Another cultural aspect is that there is a stigma against assertive women, leading them to be less competitive when negotiating salaries at a job (1)(2).
Culture encourages women to enter jobs seen as appropriate for them, jobs which are usually lower paying ones (1)(2). It is also true that women tend to look for more flexible jobs because of the aforementioned birthing/rearing issue. Both aspects contribute.
The gap is most definitely not the same across the job market. According to the Economic Policy Institute, at the lower end of the wage spectrum the wage gap shrinks to 92 cents on the male dollar, and conversely bloats to 74 cents per male dollar at the high-paying end.
The pay gap is also worse for minorities, and I’d challenge an MRA to say black or chicano/a people are just naturally less ambitious.
This Economic Policy Institute article does an excellent job of of thoroughly and with as little bias as possible explaining many of the factors—biological, cultural, and systemic—that contribute to the pay gap, particularly the part related to the choices women make. MRAs often believe this system benefits women because they get to not work as much. Whether that is the case or not, the problem is women (and men for that matter) deserve the liberty to choose and not be pigeon-holed or stigmatized. In fact, you’d think someone called a “Men’s Rights Activist” would advocate that very thing, yet paradoxically they don’t if it allows them a chance to oppose feminists.
Anyway, there is also great pride to be felt from having a fulfilling career, a pride which women should have the option to experience free from unnecessary systemic or cultural constraints. Conversely, a man should have the option to experience the pride of child-rearing if they so choose.
So yes the pay gap exists, and it is something that we should work towards shrinking, but it isn’t quite as outrageous as the 80% figure may suggest.
I personally hesitate using that word because some people see it as implying much more than just a political and social power imbalance, so I minimize my use of the word to doge unnecessary confusion. The system is not a giant planned conspiracy by men to oppress women (some believe “patriarchy” implies that). To be sure, the religion of most Americans, Christianity, is absolutely patriarchal, and it was designed that way by the individuals who wrote the various books of the Bible (some were more misogynist than others). You’d have to be delusional to suggest this didn’t before, and doesn’t continue now to empower and encourage men of those religions with patriarchal and misogynist trappings. However, overall in the development of cultures, there are countless uncoordinated interacting threads that developed—some going extinct, others getting stronger—which led to how things are today. So I don’t believe in a coordinated conspiracy of men. There are many reasons why the power imbalance between men and women exist, but it does exist, and it is one of the primary things feminists are right to fight against.
Lawmakers: (2018/19) – The US Congress is 23.7% female, whereas, for scale, they are at 48.2% in Mexico’s equivalent, 39.6% in France, and 47.6% in Iceland. – Women make up 25.4% of State Legislators. If one wanted to make an “it’s natural” argument, one would have to wonder why the percent is so much higher in other Western developed countries.
With those numbers it is undeniable that men hold drastically more political and economic power than women. Once more, anti-feminists would say it is just because women are naturally less ambitious and less interested in these types of positions. Once more I would respond, whatever natural tendencies there may be, there’s no way they account for that large of a discrepancy—especially with such drastic variance by country. The variance between countries would be small if it was truly that biologically hardwired. Once more, it is cultural ideas about what men and women should be that drive this discrepancy—though this is a smaller factor today than it once was. The probably more important factors are residual habits and institutionalized factors from decades long past that contribute to the abysmal ratio of women in power positions today.
Regardless, what is natural is not a good argument even if it supported the MRAs’ position. Men are naturally more violent and homicidal than women, that doesn’t mean that tendency should be nurtured and encouraged does it? The human brain is sufficiently developed to allow us to encourage our positive tendencies and discourage our negative ones.
Lack of Women in STEM Fields
There is a lack of women in STEM fields, that’s not under dispute. What people argue about is whether the disproportionately small number of women in STEM fields today is attributable to nature or nurture, or whether it’s attributable to women’s choices rather than social conditioning; whether women are just irrepressibly drawn to different fields than men, or whether they are programmed by culture that way.
For the umpteenth time this has been mentioned in this article, it is possible—though far from certain—that there are some natural differences affecting which fields men and women are drawn to, but it is indisputable that culture has taken whatever small differences in preference that may exist on average and massively exaggerated it. With that being true, some intervention is warranted to give women equal opportunities. However, MRAs and Incels react viscerally to any help to women on this front. Van den Brink and Stobbe (2014) mentions that one of the reasons is that the help men get in their careers is taken for granted, while women are expected to do it on their own to prove they are sufficiently qualified. Needless to say, this is a double standard.
Palumbo (2016) summarizes issues of female graduate students. “The issues identified that seem to most affect female graduate students are the persistence of bias about women in STEM fields within academia; the lack of self-efficacy among females in STEM fields; and the difficulty in achieving work-life balance for some female STEM academics. There was also significant evidence found for the acceptance of the stereotype of STEM fields as being inherently masculine…”
Settles, O’Connor and Yap (2016) found that “poor perceptions of the academic climate and woman-scientist identity interference were related to negative outcomes for women in STEM through a mediated pathway.”
Van Oosten, Buse and Bilimoria (2017) reviewed several barriers to women in STEM fields: “barriers and biases have been summarized into the following categories: structural barriers within the educational system; individual and psychological factors; family influences and expectations; and perceptions of the STEM educational and the workplace experiences.”
Kanny and colleagues (2014): “As Drew (2011) notes, ‘Women…are consistently discouraged from studying science and mathematics, the very subjects that would give them access to power, influence, and wealth’ (p. 195)…” The authors identify everything from K-12 schools encouraging children differently, family factors, values, preferences, biases, and structural problems relating to the STEM gap.
Anti-feminists might see themselves in this Danbold and Huo (2017) article: “Two studies tested the prediction that men in STEM… who believed that initiatives to increase women’s representation in these fields were effective would experience prototypicality threat (men’s concern that they would no longer be the gender group that best represents what it means to be a member of the STEM community). Among those who believed it is legitimate for men to represent STEM, men’s prototypicality threat mediated the relationship between perceptions that more women were entering their field and resistance toward this change (i.e., opposing women in STEM initiatives, wanting women to conform to the field’s traditional norms, and expressing exclusionary intentions toward women peers). The opposite pattern was observed among those who rejected the idea that men’s claim to represent STEM was legitimate. This work highlights how diversity initiatives in STEM,if successful, can be undermined by triggering prototypicality threat among men.”
This isn’t meant to be a complete scholarly literature review, but the direction which the trend of literature is going in is clear: Bias exists in academia; bias exists in parents raising their children; bias exists in K-12 schools. These biases encourage women and men to enter STEM fields at different rates, and it differentialy equips them with the tools to fail or succeed in STEM fields.
There are also some reasons that may be related to natural biological differences; family planning affects which women’s decision-making; and biological reasons may lead men to populate both the high and low levels of the bell curve—though this shouldn’t lead to an overall massive trend of a ton of men in STEM fields since most of them are still in the center of the curve.
So both nature and nurture play a part, big surprise. Cultural, developmental, and experiential reasons are the biggest cause of the STEM gap, but it is possible that natural reasons may also play a modest part. Unfortunately though, in my experience, anti-feminists basically use the natural reasons as the be-all-end-all, and fanatically deny either that the nurture-based reasons exist, or they deny that they should be changed. Extreme constructionist interpretations by overzealous feminists are wrong too, but the anti-feminists are even farther from the truth.
“But Men Get it Bad Too!”
Of course they do, there isn’t a sex that avoids being hit by the stupidity of this system’s poor layout. Male religious leaders, politicians, judges, and market magnates are just as good at oppressing their own sex as they are the other one. That fact doesn’t take away from the fact men still hold most of the power.
“Men are most war casualties!” Of course they are, what else did you expect to happen when male policy-makers refused altogether to allow willing and qualified women into combat positions in the military until very recently? Men dying at the front lines at such an unfair ratio is the fault of other men. If you’re complaining about this statistic you should be supporting the feminist push to allow women into combat positions.
Invariably, this is where anti-feminists move the goal-post from “it is unfair,” to “well it’s the way it should be since women are unqualified for military service.” That is wrong, and it demonstrates a fundamentally inept black-white conception of something much more complex. (1) Women on average have less physical strength than men. However, there is considerable overlap on the bell curve, and the strongest women are still stronger than the average man. (2) Regardless, the average strength difference is largely irrelevant outside of a system where we’re swinging swords at one-another trying to physically overpower an opponent; women can shoot guns just as easily as a man, and they can drive tanks and jets as easily. And before you suggest it, no MRAs, I’m not supporting a lowering of military standards for the sake of women. I’m supporting letting the ones in who can achieve those standards instead of systematically discriminating against them for their sex.
“What about men always getting the raw deals on custody battles.” Remember back to the male ratio of judges and law-makers? Yeah, that means it is mostly men creating those raw deals, often out of a sense of benevolent sexism, something feminists are fighting against. Yet another topic where MRAs should be fighting on the same side as feminists, but paradoxically don’t.
“Men have the hardest, dirtiest jobs.” Those of you who are astute may have spotted the trend by now. (1) Culture dissuades women from working those jobs because they’re not “appropriate” for them. (2) Women in those job often get harassed by men. The first example that pops into my mind is Temple Grandin who entered the male-dominated meat industry and was mercilessly harassed by them for being where they didn’t think she belonged.
“Women Also Oppress Other Women”
Yes, they do. But that is missing the point.
Feminism isn’t and never was about men vs women. It’s about a culture and the problem of systematic inequality for women, that which both men and women can be victims of (and perpetrators of). This argument is another knee-jerk reaction which preys on the ignorance of a person who isn’t familiar with the issues and history of inequality.
Feminism is about creating equality for everybody regardless of sex, this means addressing anybody who makes the current problem worse, whether male, female, black, gay, disabled or immigrant. The fact that a member of the disenfranchised group may be part of the problem doesn’t mean the problem doesn’t exist, it means more people are part of the problem.
Like with anything else, there are opportunists looking to manipulate the system however it exists to their benefit; like with any oppressed group, there are the usual servile members of if looking to curry favor with the oppressors by throwing their own people under the bus.
“If Feminism was really about equal rights it would just be called Egalitarianism.”
Feminism is a type of egalitarianism. Egalitarianism is a broad term about the big picture, while feminism is a targeted egalitarianism that focuses on women. The thing is, the people who use the “egalitarianism” argument against feminism are rarely, if ever, sincerely concerned with egalitarianism; they simply throw out this semantic correction as a tool to oppose feminism. In context and reality, feminism is called feminism because it considers the world for which we live in, where inequality for women still exists.
It’s not that feminism isn’t egalitarianism, it’s that egalitarianism as a word does not sufficiently cover what feminists are concerned about.
I can oil the squeaky hinge without thinking the other hinges don’t deserve oil. The confusion comes because MRAs think the plight of women and men are equal when they aren’t. Thus they see people wanting to oil the squeaky hinge as discrimination against the other hinges that aren’t yet squeaking, but could still use a little oil. This is a fundamentally flawed and incorrect way of seeing things.
So the next time we want to have a discussion on feminism let us not knee-jerk, project beliefs onto people that aren’t there, and could we please dispense with the confirmation bias. It kind of defeats the anti-feminists’ purpose when they try to debunk feminist sources with even worse sources of their own.