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home Feminism, Philosophy IDENTITY vs IDEOLOGY or The Pitfalls of Philosophical Tribalism

IDENTITY vs IDEOLOGY or The Pitfalls of Philosophical Tribalism

equality

Why is it so important to feminists that everyone identifies as a feminist? While feminism loves to tackle a myriad of issues from the dalai lama to air conditioning, there is a sort of constant humming drone underlying the whole movement, which sounds something like this:

– Feminism is all about equality.
– Do you believe in equality?
– Then you’re a feminist.
– Say it. Say it now. “I’m a feminist”. Say it!!!!!1!

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I once heard a great quote by a wise man. By “once” I mean a few days ago, and by “man” I mean unknown redditor. It was in response to this aforementioned droning, this time in the context of an Aziz Ansari “joke” that’s been making the rounds.

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The redditor was commenting on r/Feminism and wound up getting banned or deleting his/her account, which means i have to paraphrase from memory:

Shouldn’t feminists spend less time worrying about people that are pro equality but don’t call themselves feminists, and more time worrying about people that call themselves feminists but don’t advocate real equality?

Holy atomic fucking mic drop, Batman. I will remember your words, anonymous citizen of the internet, and I will spread your message. But let’s bring it back to the Aziz quote for a moment. So this wound up on my very Facebook feed, and while I typically avoid discussing these issues with my friends on Facebook these days, because that’s how you lose friends, I couldn’t help commenting on this quote, because there is so much wrong, I mean objectively wrong with it, it’s actually kind of impressive how wrong this thing is with how few words it consists of, and how that doesn’t stop it from getting shared around. And I’m saying this as someone who likes Aziz, just so ya know. I’ve had a soft spot for him ever since he showed up on one of my favorite TV shows, Flight of the Conchords.

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First off, what does feminism mean, really? Let’s check the dictionary. Dictionary.com defines a feminist as:

[A person] advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men.

I’d say this is a pretty fair definition, in terms of what we would expect from a dictionary, as apposed to something like wikipedia which would give us a much more detailed definition.  Still, it seems like no matter whom you ask, the definition has to do with rights. One problem I see right off the bat with Aziz’s joke, is that, according to him, a feminist is someone who believe men and women have equal rights. But, as I pointed out to my Facebook friend, if I believed men and women have equal rights, why would I need to call myself a feminist? We have words like egalitarian which mean the belief in equal rights, so I think it’s safe to conclude that to truly be a feminist, one must not only believe in equality but also believe that women do not have equal rights to men.

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Basically

So the next time you get into this conversation with a feminist, ask them what rights they think men have that women don’t, and watch the mental gymnastics begin. Because, as any MRA worth his salt knows, women enjoy many legally enshrined rights and privileges not available to men. When challenged on this, feminists will either suddenly start talking about things that happen in third world shitholes (it’s the only time they seem to care about women in Afghanistan), talking about catcalls while smoke comes out their ears, or talking about things like domestic violence, as if men have the legal right to beat their wives, spoiler alert : they don’t. That’s the second part where Aziz’s assessment is faulty, not only would one have to believe that women have less rights than men, but believing that would be a demonstrably indefensible position which would make the term feminist more synonymous with moron than humanist.

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My final issue with Aziz’s joke is that I don’t think anyone rejects the mantle of feminism due to the term being ‘too aggressive’. It’s more like, why use such an exclusionary term for a movement about equality? That’s like starting a movement to end racism and giving it a catchy name like White Nationalism. Of course I didn’t paste a 700 word rant like this on my friends Facebook post, in fact here’s exactly what I said:

That doesn’t make any sense. Oxford dictionary defines feminism as “The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.” Therefore if I believe that women and men HAVE equal rights there is no logical need for feminism. To be a feminist I would need to both a) Believe that women do not have equal rights to men and b) Advocate for those rights. Sorry Aziz, but that’s just how words work.

Simple right? Not a long diatribe about men’s issues or ranting about how feminists are insufferable twats; just a simple and, I maintain, objectively correct critique of a joke that uses words incorrectly where the punchline is, ironically, “that’s how words work”. Yet my comment set off a veritable shitstorm in which I was referenced as a ‘mansplainer’, a ‘douchebag’, ‘missing the point’, subjected to some incoherent feminist streams of consciousness, etc…

I found myself asking why people could be so defensive to the point where they have to rage against things like being exposed to logical critique.  That’s when it kind of hit me. Because people identify as feminist, a critique of feminist philosophy can easily be taken as an attack on one’s person. A simply critique of a jocular comment of a respected person who identifies as feminist then is seen as an attack on the entire tribe. Here again we are seeing the cult-like mentality of feminism, which I have written about previously, at play. This doesn’t only apply to feminism, obviously. This can apply to anyone. Red pillers. MGTOW. MRA’s. Nationalists and patriots. Democrats and republicans. Christians and muslims. GamerGators and SJW’s. I’m talking to you all but I chose to use feminism as the example because they are uniquely aggressive and manipulative with trying to get everyone to accept the mantle.

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Labels are convenient. Saying “I’m a feminist” allows us to convey a lot of information with very few words. That’s fine. Labels aren’t going anywhere, regardless of how much that fact may correlate with my chagrin. What I’m asking my readers to do is this, simply reflect, simply consider, that you’re beliefs don’t have to define who you are. Beliefs are malleable. They are mutable. Failure to appreciate this is the road to hypocrisy. Failure to appreciate this is the foundation of tribalism. Instead of becoming flustered at someone who won’t accept a label you want to thrust upon them, try instead to understand their reasoning.

tl;dr Think for yourself. Be like Hugh.

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