Once upon a finals week, while I was taking Buzzfeed quizzes instead of studying, I found one called “We Can Tell if You’re a Woman with Just 7 Questions.” Great, I thought. A test I can pass. What a fantastic confidence booster as I wrap up the semester.
That’s right. According to Buzzfeed, I am not a woman. This understandably came as a shock to me. Had I really been laboring under false pretenses this whole time? I don’t think so. I think, instead, this is just one in a sea of examples of why modern, progressive ideas of what it means to be a woman are messed up and why, in short, I’m not on board with feminism.
Okay, let me back track a second. I am on board with feminism, that is, the equality of the sexes. But more and more, that’s not what modern feminism seems to be about. So, for the sake of clarity, I will try to preserve the already tarnished name of actual feminism and opt to call this modern iteration neo-feminism. Feminism: good. Neo-feminism: bad.
Back to the Buzzfeed quiz.
The quiz’s questions centered mainly around instances of harassment and sexism: “Have you ever been attacked or berated for saying ‘no’ to someone who showed interest in you?” “Have you ever had to change routes or take the long way just to avoid being harassed on the streets?” “Without asking, has someone of a different gender tried to explain something to you that you’re confident you knew more about in the first place?”
Given that my dating life hasn’t been particularly extensive and the majority of my experience being in a city (particularly at night) has been in a country where one native had to look up what “cat calling” even meant, I answered a lot of these questions in the negative (although in the intervening months since I took this quiz, I was “mansplained” to– about libertarianism, by an Icelander, right after I showed him the selfie I took with Gary Johnson– but he did the same thing to another man minutes later so I don’t think it’s because I’m a woman I think this guy is just kind of an ass). And, apparently, that means I’m not a woman. Okay?
I guess I just never thought of my womanhood and femininity in terms of my struggles and disadvantages. To me, it’s about being comfortable in my skin. It’s about being a daughter, a sister, a niece, a girlfriend, a friend. It’s about being myself and being strong. Sometimes that means conforming to neo-feminist expectations, sometimes it’s conforming to traditional stereotypes. For example: Comedy is a male-dominated field, so my participation in it challenges the norm. However, I tend to avoid un-ladylike raunchy jokes that seem to be favored by many successful female comedians. Still, sometimes I don’t fit into any preconceived notions.
The fact that my woman card can be revoked simply because I haven’t suffered enough is insane to me. It’s rooted in a mentality of victimhood which emphasizes above everything else how disadvantaged we poor women have been at the hands of the patriarchy. But wait– I thought we were done being damsels in distress? I don’t mean to suggest that all neo-feminists are waiting around to be rescued (by the government, not men, but that’s a totally different topic for a different time). Nor do I mean to imply that there is not a definite presence of sexism in our past and present. Certainly that’s not the case. But when the discussion is about how women had to overcome every systematic gender-based disadvantage, the focus shifts from what they’ve done to what’s been done to them.
That doesn’t sit well with me. Rather than focusing on an integrated future built on equality across the board, neo-feminism seems far too focused on the “us vs. them” narrative. As a friend of mine pointed out, if you take the Marxist idea that the upper class will always suppress the working class and simply replace “upper class” and “working class” with men and women, respectively, you get a pretty conclusive summary of neo-feminist thought. Or, if not thought, then at least the imperfect practice of a less problematic thought process.
It’s not just men that have become the perceived enemy, though. It’s anyone who doesn’t agree with them on every aspect of what a woman should be. I recently discovered a brand new facet of my enemy status when I took another Buzzfeed quiz (because yes, Buzzfeed is the pinnacle of everything I don’t believe in) revolving around Dungeons and Dragons alignments.
At one point in this quiz, “Any girl who says she ‘just gets along better with guys'” was characterized as chaotic evil.
Aaaaand another shot fired.
Guess what? I’m a girl and I just get along better with guys. I don’t mean to say there aren’t girls with whom I get along great, whom I love and adore, because there are. I have girl friends. I treasure them. But they are a statistical minority in my collection of friends. Why? There’s probably a lot of reasons. For one, the friends I have now with whom I interact regularly are all people I know through Goldengang Comedy. This happens to be a male-dominated group (we can discuss the reasons why this is the case some other time). Last semester, most of my friends were also guys– a slightly harder to explain phenomenon, but I chalk it up to two things. First, I made one singular friend by myself, and he (yes, he) made all the rest of my friends for me. So maybe Per Bear also gets along better with guys. But I’ve also noticed that even when I try reaching out and befriending other girls, they did not reciprocate. Again, there are obvious exceptions, but the rule seems to be that girls don’t want to be friends with me. I’m not quite sure why.
But I think it might have something to do with the main reason I don’t have many girlfriends, and a major contributor to why I don’t buy into neo-feminism: I have had a disproportionate amount of female friends, who by and large subscribe to neo-feminism to varying extents, that treated me terribly. They adhered to a philosophy that, despite preaching standing up for your fellow woman, supporting each other in the face of misogyny, and valuing womanhood in all its forms, caused them to reject extending this inclusion to women who do not practice neo-feminism. I don’t, and wow. I took a beating for it. If I were to begin defining myself by my victimhood? It would be almost exclusively at the hands of neo-feminists.
This trend isn’t news, though– or at least it shouldn’t be. We all lived through the 2016 presidential election. As a third party voter, I was targeted both personally and in broad statements as a misogynist, sexist, racist, homophobic, etc. etc. etc. piece of human garbage. My political stances were cheapened to “being edgy” and ill-informed in the best case, but in the worst case I was literally dehumanized simply because I wasn’t #withher. And I know I’m not the only one. The left was baffled by the rampant amounts of women who voted for their own subjugation and suffering and resorted to every far-reaching explanation in the book (literally, Hillary Clinton wrote this book)– that we are stupid, bigoted, uninformed, or otherwise incapable of doing the right thing.
Are we, though? Or did we prioritize other things? Did we feel empathy towards our sisters who suffered at the hands of the Clintons? Did we recognize the strength we all possess and the gift of living in a country where equality of opportunity between men and women, at least in a legal sense, is a reality? Did we feel marginalized, excluded, and attacked by the women– with Hillary in the lead– who promised us equality and respect but instead dished out vitriol and moral superiority?
This is the problem with neo-feminism. It’s only for the women who ascribe to it, or those who are seen as too disadvantaged or stupid to think for themselves. The rest of us don’t deserve the same human rights because we’re not human to neo-feminists. It’s bad enough that it’s an ideology that operates on exclusion, hatred, and aggression, but the fact that it does so while preaching tolerance and acceptance is, frankly, disgusting.
Before I conclude this post, I want to be clear that this is not intended to be an attack on individuals. I refuse to subscribe to the all-or-nothing evaluation of character that is so en vogue today. But if you read this and recognize yourself in some of the attitudes I’ve described, I hope you take a moment to reflect before becoming offended.
It’s taken me years to finally write this piece. It’s been on my mind and in my heart since my final years of high school, but I’ve been afraid of the backlash. I’ve been afraid of what the neo-feminists in my life and the anonymous ones on the internet will say to and about me. I know from experience how cruel they can be. If you disagree with everything I said in this blog, that’s fine. Let’s have a conversation about it. But if you think I’m a terrible person, a piece of shit, a sexist, subhuman pile of garbage, you are part of the problem. Because I am, in fact, none of those things.
I am a recent graduate of the humanities program at my university. I am a comedian. I am an anarchist. I am a daughter, sister, friend, niece, girlfriend, granddaughter. I am an expat. I am angry. I am kind. I am not a neo-feminist. And I am not less of a woman for it.