Post-Script 2.5 years after this was written:
For some reason, this article still seems to get a disproportionate amount of traffic despite its age. Considering how my views have developed since it was written I should like to add a short addendum: This article was originally written for the student newspaper while I was a student. At the time of writing, I felt like I had to restrict the article’s depth to keep it suitable for publication, which is probably obvious to anyone who has read my other work. More importantly, due to the political climate and atmosphere on university campuses, especially when participating in “public” discourse, even if limited to the academic milieu, I am ashamed to admit I held back out of fear of backlash. My thoughts on gender issues and similar topics have developed considerably in the succeeding years so I would appreciate if the reader does not take this article as an accurate summation of my current positions (although I still largely stand by the concluding sentiment about the value of conversation). In keeping with my propensity to be “a contrarian arsehole”, as I smugly declare enjoying in the second paragraph of this article, I shall continue to be rather quiet about such subjects unless I become aware of a significant demand for me to be explicit.
A few months ago, in his article about the differences in the way people attack feminists based on their gender, Jake Bolton pointed out how I struggle to publicly identify as a feminist. Perhaps it was the facetious tone in the article I wrote that slightly obfuscated my real confession, which I aim to make clear here: I am not a feminist.
I had hoped to leave any reader of that article at the very least, not completely certain about my position- in part because I enjoy being a contrarian arsehole regularly as it usually provokes people to elaborate their positions more than simply repeating their “party line”. Again, this article isn’t going to be an elaboration of how my political views have changed over the years but I would like to clarify further my opinion of feminism.
Especially concerning Adam Christopher’s article that is critical of feminism, I would like to point out that feminists aren’t lacking in self-awareness and awareness of how they are perceived by other groups. The problem with “Men’s Rights Activists” is that, for the most part, they are unwilling to concede to the fact that most men have lived and benefited from the perks of patriarchy for generations.
Many feminists are critical of how it seems to have been hijacked my middle class, white women. Yet, there are those who argue that when the dominance of white voices in certain movements is pointed out, that those who bring this to light are themselves racist for noticing. Like the perks of patriarchy we are unaware of, white privilege is also commonly misunderstood or mystified by attempts to link it with racism. The most obvious proof of white privilege is the invisibility of whiteness- for example in literature, only non-white characters are labelled as such.
There are those who even go as far as to argue that “women’s spaces” are sexist because they discriminate against men. On the other end of this spectrum, we have people claiming that one cannot be racist if from an ethnic minority. Both are apparently naïve or disingenuous. This kind of discrimination is conducive to allowing those marginalised and oppressed groups safe spaces in which to share experiences and plan political action without fear of having them being belittled or disbelieved.
Maybe these kinds of views do make me a feminist of sorts, but I’d still rather not pick a side (not identifying as feminist is not the same as being anti-feminist). As Trotsky would say: the first secret of the dialectic is that there is nothing unchanging on this earth, and that society is made out of plastic materials. We must realise that in every action and inaction we choose, we contribute to the history of the world. By silencing or ignoring the views we don’t agree with, we leave them to fester in their own echo chambers, harbouring resentment. Perhaps there are no universal values to which we can all agree, but it is obvious that we will never find out if we do not have the conversation.
Editor’s Note: Originally uploaded to TheKnowledge.