[Content warning: child-on-child sexual abuse, rape]
If there is one thing that the history of this blog has shown, it’s that I absolutely love answering strawmanny questions people ask about people with my ideology. (Seriously. Send me lists. It makes my day.)
Future Female Leaders, which identifies itself as “America’s leading social network for young, conservative women,” has some questions for radical feminists. I’m not actually in any way a radical feminist– boring liberalism to the core over here– but I think “radical” is a term which here means “literally in any way at all.” So I consider it to be perfectly valid for me to answer these questions.
1) How is being pro-choice, or pro-abortion, supporting equality for all: mother, father, and baby?
The difference between pro-choice people and pro-life people, in general, is that pro-choice people don’t think a fetus has the same right to life that we give to a human being outside the womb, and pro-life people do.
Certainly there are exceptions– pro-choice people who believe so strongly in bodily autonomy that they think you should be able to kill an innocent person to protect it, pro-life people who are primarily interested in limiting sexual promiscuity– but in general I find that this is the case.
I’m not going to go into the entire issue of how much right to life a fetus should have. (I say “how much” because many pro-choice people think that a fetus has a little bit of a right to life, and that means that it is wrong to, for example, carelessly fail to use birth control so that you have to have an abortion.) But you can understand how, thinking of a fetus as a potential person, a robust right to abortion protects everyone.
The vast majority of men have PIV sometimes when it would be a really bad idea for them to have a baby. They might have PIV with a woman with whom they don’t want to coparent; they might not want children; they might not have the emotional or financial resources to be a parent right now; they might have an infant or young child already. Of course, in those situations, the couple should use highly reliable birth control. But sometimes people don’t have access to highly reliable birth control or make a mistake and don’t use it, and even the most reliable birth control fails. (For example, if every man and every woman in the US paired up into a couple, and every one of those couples used an IUD, we would expect a little less than 150,000 unplanned pregnancies a year.) Therefore, it protects men if they have the option to have their partner end a pregnancy they do not want.
From a pro-choice point of view, a fetus is not a real person like an infant; a fetus is a potential person, like the eggs or sperm currently in your gonads. Our intuitive system of population ethics says that no particular potential person has a right to come into being: if you refrain from PIV on Saturday, you are not harming the child who would have been conceived if you had PIV on Saturday. However, our intuitive system of population ethics also says that it is possible to harm potential people. If before your child was born you had a deficiency in an essential nutrient that caused damage to the egg, and your child lived three weeks in horrible pain that was not treatable with painkillers and then died, you would have harmed your child. It would be a good thing to delay the pregnancy for three months while you get that nutrient deficiency sorted out.
The vast majority of situations where a fetus is aborted cause harm to the potential person. No one wants to be raised by a parent who doesn’t have the money to raise a child, or who doesn’t have the emotional resources to be a loving and supportive parent, or who feels unhappy and resentful about having a kid. Therefore, abortion leads to the best outcomes for the fetus, a potential person, as well.
What if there’s a conflict of interests? What if the father desperately wants the child and the mother does not, or the fetus would be very happy if it became a person but the mother would be very unhappy in that situation? Well, it is impossible to ask for a fetus’s opinion on things, so the fetus cannot make the final choice, regardless of one’s position on population ethics. The mother and father have more-or-less identical interests in the child (they both might have to pay child support, they both might enjoy parenting, and so on), except that the mother has the additional interest that if she continues the pregnancy she has to have a chronic illness for nine months and then perhaps be tortured. Therefore, she gets the final say.
2) Do you really believe that American women are horribly oppressed when there are women in other countries that cannot vote, drive, file for divorce, etc?
Let me try another example which is no doubt close to conservatives’ hearts.
Many conservatives complain about certain aspects of American society, such as high taxes and burdensome regulations. But lots of countries are way worse than America on this front! In North Korea, private sector business is virtually impossible, all property belongs to the state, and the government commands virtually every aspect of the economy. Many countries that are less batshit than North Korea are still awful: they don’t adequately protect property rights, it’s very difficult to start a new business, and the tax burden is extreme. Any businessperson would rather start a business in the United States than in Haiti, Malawi, or Mongolia, to pick three of the Heritage Foundation’s “mostly unfree” countries. Therefore, it doesn’t make any sense to complain about taxes, regulation, and property rights in America.
I think a conservative would have any number of reasonable responses to this, such as:
- I live in America and thus have a particular concern about conditions in America specifically.
- I can’t do anything about North Korea, but I can improve conditions in America, such as by voting or writing my congressperson.
- We’re supposed to be the beacon of the free world that inspires other countries and we’re clearly falling down on the job.
- I just happen to care more about economics in America, and you shouldn’t yell at people who are doing a good thing if they aren’t doing the best thing when you don’t yell at people who spend all day sitting on their butts playing stupid iPhone games.
- The fact that things are worse someplace else doesn’t make what’s going on here okay.
That is exactly why many American feminists care about sexism in America.
3) How do you hold yourself on such a pedestal for promoting “equality for all women” but then bash women who do not agree with you?
Feminism is the idea that women should be equal to men, and more generally the idea that we should not have sexist gender roles limiting people’s behavior. It is not the idea that no women are ever wrong, stupid, evil, or ignorant. If you look outside at the world, you will observe the existence of many wrong, stupid, evil, and ignorant women, and that does not disprove feminism.
In fact, the idea that women are all thoughtful, good, and right about everything is the opposite of feminism. Everyone agrees that wrong, stupid, evil, and ignorant men exist. Therefore, if we pretend (in defiance of all evidence) that wrong, stupid, evil and ignorant women don’t exist, we’re treating men and women differently based on their gender, which is sexist.
Therefore, there is nothing contradictory about feminists bashing women whom they disagree with.
4) Why do you consider government restrictions on abortion “politicians being all up in your business” but are happy with politicians and the government dictating which healthcare you must have, what you must learn in school, and taxing you left and right?
I can only answer as one feminist; I imagine many feminists have different opinions on this fundamental question.
I believe all people should have certain basic freedoms, and that the duty of society is to provide people with these freedoms. One of our most basic freedoms is the ability to have control over our own sexual and reproductive lives. Sexuality and reproduction are, for many people, very important, to the point of striking at the heart of who we are as people. It is inappropriate for the government to make this sort of private, important decision for a person.
However, some freedoms cannot be meaningfully exercised if they are just negative freedoms (“freedom from”); they must also be positive freedoms (“freedom to”). (To e clear, the fact that you should have the positive freedom to do something does not mean the positive freedom should necessarily be provided by the government, as opposed to private charities, the market, social norms, etc.) Abortion is, actually, one of those freedoms. You are not free to have an abortion if there is no abortion provider in your state or if you can’t afford to have an abortion, which is why feminists are concerned about abortion access as well as abortion legality.
Healthcare is also private. The government has no right to force you to receive healthcare against your will or without your informed consent; in fact, in many cases, forcing someone to receive healthcare against their will is considered a form of battery. There is considerable debate about the best way to give people the positive freedom to access healthcare, which is mostly irrelevant to this blog post. Unfortunately, we cannot give people the unlimited freedom to access as much healthcare as they want, because there are too few doctors and hospitals; all forms of allocating healthcare involve some form of rationing.
In the United States, the government does not regulate what you have to learn; it simply offers a public option for schooling. More than half of states have no enforced requirements about what children should learn when they are homeschooled, and most of the remaining states merely require that children learn reading, writing and math. Further, education is a proper concern for the state. Children are not yet capable of exercising freedom the way that adults do, and so the state takes a paternalistic attitude towards them. Many adult freedoms can only be fully exercised by people who were properly educated as children (for example, one cannot take advantage of freedom of the press if one can neither read nor write), so a small amount of coercion can result in more freedom of choice overall.
Finally, while taxes do limit people’s control over their own money, they allow the state to provide many essential services, such as police, the military, food stamps, etc. I think that is a tradeoff worth making.
5) Why are you more concerned about fictional characters on fictional television shows getting fictionally raped than real men having their real lives ruined by very false rape accusations? I’m looking at you, Rolling Stone.
False rape accusations are bad. It is wrong to falsely accuse people of rape. Those who knowingly make false accusations to the police should be charged with wasting police time. The Innocence Project is doing excellent work. We should demand reforms to the criminal justice system, including a complete ban on pseudoscientific forensics, so that the only people who go to prison are those who have committed a crime. If someone you know has made a false accusation and has not apologized and made amends, you should, in general, avoid interacting with them in order to provide support to their victim.
Some feminists have claimed that false accusations never happen or are “as rare as a lightning strike.” I point the reader to Scott Alexander’s excellent blog post debunking these statistics. We need to do better, particularly given that false accusations are a common tool of abusers (it’s the RVO part of DARVO). As feminists and anti-abuse advocates, we cannot find ourselves providing comfort to abusers.
That said, I don’t believe anyone’s life was ruined about the A Rape On Campus story, except perhaps the author’s, and she deserves it. A fraternity was vandalized, and all fraternities on UVA campus were briefly suspended; neither is life-ruining. The accuser accused a person who didn’t actually exist, and who therefore does not have a life to be ruined. It seems like the author of this series of questions should also be concerned about the possibility that they’re prioritizing the feelings of fictional characters over those of real people.
Fiction matters because fiction influences our beliefs about the world. It doesn’t do so directly or deterministically or didactically; but it does so profoundly, for all that. Movies glamorized smoking. The CSI TV series made more people interested in crime scene investigation. Advertisers pay for product placement because they think that if fiction depicts a car as cool then people will be more likely to drive it. The murders and rapes and kidnappings in our fiction make us believe the world is more dangerous, even as it becomes safer. Feminists are concerned about the depiction of rape in media not because we think that fictional characters have feelings but because we are concerned that the way rape is depicted on TV can have effects on actual rape victims, perpetrators, and bystanders in real life.
6) Why have you let Lena Dunham become a spokesperson for your cause, a woman who has admitted to taking advantage of her younger sister sexually and doing “anything a sexual predator might do”?
First, Lena Dunham is famous because she wrote that TV show Kylo Ren was in before he hit people with lightsabers. Famous people have a big platform, which means that when they talk about feminism more people listen than when I do. It is not like there was an election and Lena Dunham was voted President of Feminism. We have no power to give Lena Dunham a smaller platform except by not watching her TV show. I already don’t do that, because I have a strict lightsabers-only media policy.
Second, let’s be clear about the actual allegations here: Lena Dunham, age seven, curiously looked at her then-one-year-old sister’s vagina. As a teenager, she occasionally masturbated while her sister was sleeping in her bed. She also at various unspecified (but young) ages gave her sister candy to kiss her. Obviously, you shouldn’t bribe your sister with candy to kiss you, and it’s an enormous boundary violation to masturbate while someone is sleeping in your bed. (The vagina thing is just a seven-year-old being curious.) But there’s a reason that if a child steals a candy bar we don’t send them to prison for shoplifting. Children and teenagers are not fully mentally developed and are not responsible for their actions the same way that adults are. Treating children as if they are identical to adult sex criminals causes people to criminalize ordinary curiosity about sex and to unreasonably punish behavior which, while wrong, does not indicate the child will grow up to be a rapist. It leads to policies that destroy people’s lives.
7) Do you really think being able to walk around topless is a freedom that women need to live a good life?
Is walking around topless a freedom that men need to live a good life?
Men take off their shirts in public because it’s hot out and they’d like to exercise or (sometimes) because they would like to show off how attractive their chests are. These are not particularly important reasons in the grand scheme of things. However, if you’re allowing men to do something and forbidding women to do the same thing, purely because of gender, that is in fact sexist: it’s treating men and women differently for no reason other than their gender.
Some people might object that men experience visual sexual attraction and therefore women shouldn’t take their shirts off. This argument implies that gay and bi men don’t exist, which is a bit strange: at the very least shouldn’t taking your shirt off be taboo if you’re a man in San Francisco? It also implies the nonexistence of straight and bi women who experience visual sexual attraction, which is a bit hard to square with, for example, that girl who bit through her retainer when she saw Erik Killmonger shirtless.
It is not clear to me why straight and bi men experiencing visual sexual attraction means that women should not take their shirts off. Judging by both my personal experience and straight men’s porn habits, they seem to enjoy looking at women without their shirts on, so if anything it is a favor to them. (I just asked a straight man of my acquaintance and he said “that sounds GREAT! Who is even against that, religious conservatives who are afraid they will go to hell for having boners?”) Certainly some women would prefer that men not look at their chests sexually, but those women are free to leave their shirts on, just as men who don’t want their chests to be looked at sexually can leave their shirts on. No one is proposing a tyranny of mandatory shirtlessness.
I suspect in many cases the problem is not “men experience visual sexual attraction” but “certain men would not appreciate women’s chests in a quiet and polite way, but would instead make rude, upsetting, and perhaps frightening comments.” I think the problem here is clearly with the men who make rude and upsetting comments, and if anyone’s freedom should be curtailed it’s theirs. Perhaps all of us– women who want to go shirtless on a hot day and men who would like to look at shirtless women– should keep spray bottles in our bags and squirt those men when they make rude comments, much like one squirts a cat who is trying to climb on the couch.
But there is another, more important reason for women to have top freedom.
Over the course of their lives, many women feed babies with their breasts. Reliable studies show that breastfeeding is linked to small but real benefits for both mothers and babies. In particular, PROBIT, a large randomized controlled trial of a successful breastfeeding intervention, suggests that breastfeeding may cause a gain of five points of IQ. Breastfeeding is inexpensive and, for many parents, convenient. And I’m sure everyone who’s ever listened to a crying baby in public is happy about the fact that putting a hungry baby to a breast takes far less time than preparing a bottle.
As a culture, we should make breastfeeding as easy for women as possible, if for no other reason than to save the eardrums of those who happen to share an airplane or a restaurant with a baby. It would be unreasonable to demand every building contain a lactation room. Going into the bathroom to feed your baby is humiliating and can result in a long wait time if someone is already in there. Fumbling with nursing covers is difficult for the already sleep-deprived (and, remember, the whole idea here is that we want to put as little time as possible in between the baby being hungry and the baby being fed). And I’m sure we all agree that women with babies should be able to participate in public life.
There’s a simple solution here. It’s that we, as a society, get over ourselves and accept that sometimes, in the process of feeding a baby, you will see a bit of boob or a brief flash of nipple.
Men have two pretty unimportant reasons to show strangers their chests. Women have two pretty unimportant reason and one very important reason. Why, then, is only the latter taboo? Sexism.
8) How do you make supporting the right to abortion a tenant of feminism when the majority of abortions performed worldwide are due to the child being female, or also known as gender-selective abortions?
Sex-selective abortion. The phrase you’re looking for is “sex-selective abortion.” Gender-selective abortions would involve inventing a prenatal test for transness.
It is difficult to estimate how many sex-selective abortions there are in the world, since sex-selective abortions mostly occur in developing countries and often in countries in which sex-selective abortion is illegal. Experts do believe the “missing women” problem is not solely caused by sex-selective abortion. Other causes include female infanticide and inadequate healthcare and nutrition for girls. Therefore, I don’t think it’s possible to reliably state what percentage of world abortions are sex-selective.
It is unclear to me to what extent sex-selective abortion trades off against the other causes of missing women. If it does, then sex-selective abortion might actually be a good thing, because it is better that a potential person not be brought into existence than that a real girl be starved to death.
Clearly, we should fight patriarchy in developing countries as well as developed countries. But it is not clear to me that banning abortion would have this effect. If parents are not allowed to abort female fetuses, they will still value women less than men, and that will have effects throughout their daughter’s life– on the amount she is fed, on her education, on her health, on whether she is abused. Conversely, if we try to create a society in which men and women are valued equally, it will prevent sex-selective abortion and sexist mistreatment of girls and women. The latter seems like a better deal all around.
9) When you say “Teach men not to rape” are you meaning to imply that men have been, in the past, taught TO rape, or that men are the only people capable of rape. Mary-Kay Letourneau, anyone?
You are absolutely right that all people, regardless of gender, should be taught not to commit rape. The erasure of female rapists is a serious issue in modern-day feminism.
The idea that we should teach people not to rape does not necessarily imply that people were, at some point, taught to rape. We have to teach toddlers to pee in the potty, preschoolers not to hit, and teenagers not to drive drunk. This is not because some malicious person is going around teaching people to pee on the floor, hit each other, and drive after six shots of tequila. It is because civilized behavior is often very different from natural behavior.
And are we so sure that no one is teaching men to rape? I suspect that, if they are not taught ethics, many people will use violence, threats, or coercion to get what they want, including sexual things they want. But I– along with most other feminists– believe there is also a cultural role. When we teach women that men always want sex, we’re teaching them to rape men. When we equate masculinity with sexual success, or encourage women to play hard to get and men to play along, or create media depicting men ignoring women’s nonsexual nos as sexy and romantic, we’re teaching men to rape women. When we teach children that they’re not allowed to say “no” to hugs and kisses, food they don’t like and clothing that is uncomfortable, we’re teaching people of all genders that they don’t get to say “no” unless they have a ‘good reason’ and they don’t have to respect a “no” unless the other person has a ‘good reason.’
Finally, while obviously no one of any gender should have sex with their thirteen-year-old student, Mary Kay and Vili Fualaau have been married for thirteen years and have two children, and Fualaau does not consider himself to be a victim. I feel like this is an odd poster child for women raping men.
10) Do you really think the original feminists, the women who fought for the right to vote, would be proud of you fighting for the right to bare your lady parts, abort your children and shame men into submission like you claim they would?
From a pro-choice point of view, a baby is not a real person like an infant; a baby is a potential person, like the eggs or sperm currently in your gonads.
I’m, um, pretty sure this is not what you meant to write…
Maybe Ozy is a Peter Singer fan
At what stage does the foetus cross over from “potential person” to Real Person? If it’s still only potentially a person when traveling down the birth canal, but a Real Person with human rights once it’s fully outside, at what stage does the Miracle of Personhood occur? How about three-quarters the way out but the head still inside? How about fully outside but the umbilical cord not cut yet – potential or real?
Because I have read online arguments that yes, three-quarters delivered is still not real person, umbilical cord is still not real person. The pro-choice side is very fond of the “only a clump of cells versus a real human life” argument, and I can see that working for a blastocyst/zygote. But how about a twelve week old foetus? Sixteen? Twenty-two weeks? I admit, I have a very strong tendency to black-and-white thinking, but I prefer the idea of personhood being an inherent human quality rather than “you get it at a particular stage of development and we decide when that is based on how inconvenient your personhood is for us”. I’ve read the article about the six months pregnant abortion doctor performing an abortion on a six months pregnant patient, and in one case it’s the “only a clump of cells/not a real person” but in the same identical case it’s “my baby and a real person”.
We’ve historically gone down the road of “not a Real Person but potentially a person, or legally three-fifths of a Real Person” for issues of convenience before. I think it’s a bad argument.
> At what stage does the foetus cross over from “potential person” to Real Person? If it’s still only potentially a person when traveling down the birth canal, but a Real Person with human rights once it’s fully outside, at what stage does the Miracle of Personhood occur? How about three-quarters the way out but the head still inside? How about fully outside but the umbilical cord not cut yet – potential or real?
There is no stage at which it definitely crosses over, just like there is no stage at which a child goes from “definitely cannot consent to sex” to “definitely can consent to sex”. The fact that there is no precise moment at which it switches from one to the other does not in any way imply that we are obligated to treat both cases identically.
(At what stage does the child cross over from “cannot consent” to Can Consent? If it still can’t consent to sex when it starts developing secondary sex characteristics, but can once it’s fully adult, at what stage does the Miracle of Ability to Consent occur? How about three-quarters of the way out through puberty? How about 17 and a half?)
– does this line of questioning in any way convince you that it’s right to treat five year olds as if they can consent to sex? Please tell me the answer to this question is “no”.
> I prefer the idea of personhood being an inherent human quality
This is a sidebar, but every time someone says this I get the impression that they’d be totally fine slaughtering fully sentient, human-level-intelligent aliens. Tying personhood to genes rather than, you know, *being a person* is incredibly scary to me.
> for issues of convenience
Even in the absence of issues of bodily autonomy (which, I think you will have a much better time if you do not gloss “bodily autonomy” as “convenience”), you would absolutely not be able to convince me that a fetus is a person. Please believe me that the reasoning does not run “it would be convenient if fetuses were not people -> therefore fetuses are not people”. It starts at “fetuses are, very definitely, not people”.
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Personally, I’d go, in principle, for “the point at which they are capable of living independently from their mother” (even though they would be dependent on someone else). Beyond that date, the mother should still have the right to end the pregnancy, but not the right to abort (ie they would have the right to be induced or have a caesarian). In that case, the infant should be treated as a foundling (unless the father wants to be a single father).
Since that’s a probabilistic thing (at 12 weeks, they have a 0% probability of being a person; at 36 weeks, it’s well over 95%), you clearly have to pick a – somewhat arbitrary – threshold, much like we pick 16 years for consent to have sex, or 17 for the ability to drive (“we”, here, meaning “the laws of England and Wales”). We chose 24 weeks as that point and it seems to work pretty well (there are exceptions for late-term abortions where continuation poses a threat to the life or health of the mother).
I would not want sexual consent to be based on testing the actual ability to consent (ie Gillick competency), and nor would it in general be a good idea to make the legal decision on abortion based on the actual medical condition of the foetus.
[For the non-experts, the Gillick test, originating from the question of medical consent, is that an adult is assumed capable of consenting unless demonstrated otherwise; for a child, they can consent to medical treatment independent of a parent or guardian if they “have sufficient understanding and intelligence to understand fully what is proposed”. This is pretty reasonable for medical treatment, where a relatively neutral doctor can make an individual assessment, and referral to the Court of Protection is an available option for doubful cases. It would be a very bad law for sexual consent]
We do have an abortion exception for disabled children that I would like to remove. However, it should allow for abortions in cases where the expected disability would be so serious that they would have no, or negligible QALYs – ie, even if the fetus would live, they would never have any reasonable hope of any quality of life. At the moment, there are late-term abortions for Down’s or spina bifida, which I do think is wrong (if you allow early-term abortion on demand, then you don’t pry into reasons – I think there are good and bad reasons, but I don’t think it’s the state’s job to stop people doing things unless they harm another person and a potential person isn’t a person).
Finally, a probability of being a person is not the same as being part of a person. If they are a person, they’re a full person. But you have to come to a reasonable estimate whether they are or not.
> The vast majority of situations where a fetus is aborted cause harm to the
> potential person. No one wants to be raised by a parent who doesn’t have the
> money to raise a child, or who doesn’t have the emotional resources to be a
> loving and supportive parent, or who feels unhappy and resentful about having
> a kid. Therefore, abortion leads to the best outcomes for the fetus, a potential
> person, as well
I’m not sure if I’m misunderstanding something here. Given the choice, I would pick a wealthy, emotionally healthy, happy parent. But I definitely wouldn’t go so far as to say I don’t want to have been raised by a poor, distant, resentful parent compared to not being born. Should I interpret this as something like, “given a population of potential persons, abortions tend to help bring into being the ones with the strongest preferences for being born” or for an individual fetus as it’s written?
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Yeah, that statement sort of ends up implying that people who choose to have children under difficult circumstances are committing a moral wrong. Which, to be fair, is a thing some people believe. I don’t think I would generally agree with that, myself, though.
Push that argument to its absurd conclusion, and you can say that anyone not a multi-millionaire at the very least who cannot afford day-and-night 24/7 nannies, pre-pre-pre-school enriched education, a guaranteed place in a Top University and all kinds of excellent starts in life is abusive to the potential person, so better to abort the foetus.
It’s a bit like “in twenty years time you would be at higher risk of having a stroke than a comparable peer, so me shooting you dead now is the best outcome for you avoiding harm”.
While I agree (broadly speaking – I’ll admit this is a subject on which I don’t have a strong opinion) with your view on question 7, I feel like you’ve avoided the actual rationale behind public indecency rules. As rather a prude myself, I have to admit I would be made uncomfortable by public nudity (which also extends to a lesser extent to public shirtlessness, male or female (stronger female, because stronger cultural associations with sexuality)). That most people (or at least those who make the rules) seem to think like I do, and the obsession we have with keeping children away from anything even arguably sexual, seems to be the justification, so I have to say your argument that it’s doing men a favour seemed a little … off. (Again, I’m not disagreeing, and if we were to decide as a society that people’s freedom to wear what they want overruled my discomfort with that choice, I would absolutely understand that choice.)
(This sounds rather harsher than I intended it to and I can’t seem to fix that. Sorry.)
Also, on the subject of minor annoyances, the use of “tenant” rather than “tenet” in question 8 is infuriating. I don’t know what happened to cause that misuse to catch on, but it’s contagious.
Gwen T said:
We already see older feminists becoming disenchanted with younger feminists on issues like trans rights, BDSM, porn ect. Shouldn’t we expect feminists of even earlier generations to be even more disenchanted with the current generation?
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mel boiko said:
What actual, non-selection-biased percentage of older feminists is in fact disenchanted with the modern reproductive rights movement (compared with a control group like, say, the percentage of young feminists who are anti-trans/bdsm/porn radfems after being radicalized on Tumblr)?
>That said, I don’t believe anyone’s life was ruined about the A Rape On Campus story, except perhaps the author’s, and she deserves it.
I’d argue that Nicole Eramo’s life was ruined: she was fired after she was portrayed as callous to rape victims. It’s pretty hard to get a job as a school administrator if people think you’re a rape apologist.
Re: Missing Women –
Wasn’t there an article a while back that said that missing women (in China, at least) were turning out to be mostly unregistered women, rather than selectively aborted women or anything resembling that? Obviously this is bad to the extent that it causes women to be trapped with abusive parents and/or deprived of an education or similar, but it seems less bad than sex selective abortion, at least in the long term.
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I was going to note that. In general, there is an issue in China that government services are linked to the place of registration & urbanization results in people moving away from their place of registration. One consequence is that millions of children are separated from their parents, as the children can only get an education in the rural area where they and their parents are registered, while those parents are now living in an urban area where the (better) jobs are.
However, to be fair, China seems to be trying to reform this, just as they try to liberalize the one-child policy.
Good essay overall, but I don’t think this works:
“Finally, while obviously no one of any gender should have sex with their thirteen-year-old student, Mary Kay and Vili Fualaau have been married for thirteen years and have two children, and Fualaau does not consider himself to be a victim. I feel like this is an odd poster child for women raping men.”
This just sounds like rape apologism, tbh. Replace “Vili Fualaau” with “Soon-Yi Previn.” Just because a victim doesn’t feel they were victimized doesn’t make the action okay.
When I see those “I’m with feminism” (and variations) T-shirts with people being pushed to wear them it sometimes makes me feel a bit uncomfortable because feminism is such a broad banner.
this kinda makes me want an “I’m with feminism specifically Ozy’s flavor of feminism” shirt
It’s probably an artifact of social media mercilessly selecting for what gets eyeballs, clicks and responses such that unobjectionable people don’t get signal boosted…. but it gets to feel like more than half of the feminist articles that end up in front of my eyeballs are the objectionable ones.
Which ends up feeling a little bit like
“Equality for all!”
“Equal pay for equal work!”
“Right to abortion!”
“Prison for women is wrong!”
Wait.. are you objecting to prison in general or.. (in background: “YAY!”)
“Ejecting MEN dressed up as women from women’s spaces!”
Wait…. what? (in background: “YAY!”)
“It’s impossible for women to be sexist!”
I’m really not sure thats… (in background: “YAY!”)
“Rape = privilege + power hence it’s impossible for women to rape men by definition!”
(in background: “YAY!”)
…. um… I’m really not feeling on board with this any more….
*angry mob turns around*
“HE SAID HE’S NOT ON BOARD WITH FEMINISM! tHaT mEaNs hE’S AgAiNsT EqUaLiTy!!!!!! BURN HIM!”
Also, re: number 10 and the “abort your children” bit: a lot of early feminists really were quite split on abortion, Susan B. Anthony and Alice Paul might be quite troubled by modern pro-choice positions.
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Radical feminists just like any other ideological group really do not need to answer questions about contradictions or weaknesses in their ideology. In an ideal world they should but I don’t see why radical feminism should answer these questions anymore than anarchists need to explain how they can bring about anarchy when so very few people want. They are ideologues. They have a vision an are going to bring it about contradictions be damned.
One of the very few good things about Radical Feminism is that it is extremely self-consistent. The logic is inescapable.
It’s the premises that are garbage. Unfortunately, those same premises are widely accepted in other contexts.
As for three, I have not observed any Radical Feminist not believing that evil or stupid women exist. They certainly seem to have no problems going after Margaret Thatcher, Sarah Palin, Theresa May, or any other woman associated with conservative politics and social conservatism. Some Radical Feminists might argue that these women have false consciousness because Radical Feminists have Marxist leanings but they do seem to believe that stupid or evil women exist. If anything, I’d argue that it is Liberal Feminists that might be more prone to the woman are an eternal source of light fallacy than Radical Feminists, the former being more optimistic than the latter.
For ten, male sexual violence/rape against women is a lot more common than female sexual violence/rape against men. It is a much more pressing problem. So focussing on male rape, and many cultures have taught men that they may do whatever they want with women especially if the man is high status, makes sense.
The other issue is that while we theoretically agree with the importance of consent for all genders involved, dealing with male consent in heterosexual relationships is a bit tricky for a variety of factors. A lot of this is because much bad, in this sense of asshole rather criminal, behavior gets tolerated when women do it against men but not when men do it against women. If you start treating the issue of male consent in heterosexual relationships as just as important as female consent, your also going to open a big can of worms about female romantic expectations that very few people want to do.
Going to questions about male consent also will lead to uncomfortable questions about under what grounds can a person can reject. Liberal and radical feminism are against slut-shamming and fat-shamming but if male consent is just as important as female consent than it is entirely legitimate for a man not to be with a woman because he might be intimidated by her sexual past or because he finds her un-attractive because of her weight. Nobody questions that a woman should be able to reject a man because he might be too short for her or because she can’t deal with his past but the issue is whether a man can do the same. Taking male consent entirely seriously would mean that men should be able to reject women for any reason they want and be cowards in a relationship to.
The NISVS victim survey is the first major survey that asks whether men have been ‘forced to penetrate’ anyone. They actually found nigh identical rates for past-year sexual abuses of women who were raped or who experienced an attempted rape, as men who were ‘forced to penetrate’ or where an attempt was made.
Just like PIV is one of the most common ways in which women are raped, so is PIV one of the most common ways in which men are abused. However, traditional studies excluded men who had PIV sex against their will and/or without consent, while counting women who had PIV sex against their will and/or without consent.
The logical result was that male victimization and female perpetration was severely undercounted.
I strongly agree with your point that society is currently not willing to scrutinize female sexual and dating choices/behavior in the same way as it is willing to scrutinize male sexual and dating choices/behavior.
I would argue that one of the major mistakes by the feminist movement is that they in the main adopted and doubled down on this hypocritical stance, rather than challenge it. Then again, arguably feminism was so successful exactly because it adopted these ‘patriarchal’ biases that, for example, allow women to demand help from men in ways that men are not allowed to demand from women.
The principle of “you get to choose who you would be willing to have sex with” does indeed mean that, while slut-shaming and fat-shaming are bad, no man should feel obligated to have sex with a particular woman as a result.
Slut-shaming and fat-shaming are not primarily things that occur in the context of turning someone down sexually or romantically, and many feminists choose to focus their efforts against these things in ways that do not conflict with the principle that people get to make their own sexual choices.
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I’m not sure if I agree with your second paragraph. From my perspective the movement seems to want to make these things as entirely illegitimate reasons for a man to reject a movement. There is certainly a lot of guilt tripping involved. Any man who makes a “wrong” choice gets castigated as a bad man or not a real man rather than have his choice being seen as his taste. Yet, a woman’s choice is never to be questioned on any level for any reason.
I don’t like a lot of the sex positive movement. A lot of it feels like your being forced to support a party your not allowed to participate in. Any complaint will be knocked down. You just keep hearing about other people’s romantic and sexual adventures while you spend year after year alone. Its apparently your job to deal with your partner as they come but they get to reject you for whatever they want, whenever you want.
Pretty sure this is just a giant bravery debate.
Like, I think we’d all agree that turning someone down based on their physical appearance* is something we have every right to do, but should feel kinda bad about and definitely not make it any harder on the other party than it has to be?
But feminists feel like men get to fist-bump their bros laughing about the “whales” and “grenades” they avoid, while women are derided as shallow for even having physical preferences–essentially the mirror image of your perception. So their policy prescription is “police men’s rejection reasons more, police women’s less”, but the disagreement isn’t really about the optimal level of rejection-reason-policing.
*Similar arguments I’d say can be made for other criteria, but I’ll focus on appearance for now
This might be because of my social circles but I have never noticed much policing of women’s physical preferences in mates. What seems to be the number one physical preference, for a tall man, seems positively encouraged. Although, I guess you can argue that the tall man preference isn’t much policed because tall men stand to benefit from it and they aren’t going to give up their advantage.
Sex-selective abortion. The phrase you’re looking for is “sex-selective abortion.” Gender-selective abortions would involve inventing a prenatal test for transness.
Thus confirming that you are not an adherent of Radical Feminism.
I had no idea that abortion payed rent to feminism.
many pro-choice people think that a fetus has a little bit of a right to life
I wonder how many alive today will witness the absolute shitstorm which will occur when the artificial womb is perfected. My prediction: mandatory sterilization at birth.
In regards to #5:
I’ve noticed that most of the time when fiction has influenced me profoundly, it has done so by changing my explicit, consciously held beliefs. Most people who are adamant about protecting people from the negative effects of fiction seem to believe that it affects people’s implicit, unconscious beliefs.
Most of fiction considered influential also appears to function on the conscious level. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” made people form an explicit belief that slavery was bad. “The Day After” made Ronald Reagan form an explicit desire to reduce the risk of nuclear war. “The Jungle” gave people an explicit belief that their food was unsafe. The idea that fiction influences the world on an implicit level seems like an iffy claim to me, especially after reading Scott Alexander’s article about devoodoifying psychology.
Indulging in the sin of Bulverism, I’m pretty 90% of the people who claim fiction has negative effects on our implicit thoughts, be they feminists or anyone else, are actually just people who are aesthetically displeased by it coming up with a convenient excuse to censor it.
Re: Abortion (1)
A fetus doesn’t magically transform into a human upon birth, but gradually develops. So this means the fetus becomes more like a fully human being over time and thus the later the abortion is done, the more like murder an abortion is and less like menstruation or ejaculating into a sock.
AFAIK the majority of Americans (and Europeans?) recognize this and support neither full legalization of abortion, nor a full ban, but a limited right based on the duration of the pregnancy.
Re: Lena Dunham (6)
The claim that it is an ‘enormous boundary violation’ to masturbate near a sleeping person seems heavily influenced by culture and wealth. In some cultures and among poorer people who cannot afford separate bedrooms (or in prison), it is not uncommon for sexual activity to happen near sleeping or awake people, without asking for consent or such.
Re: Topless women (7)
An interesting related issue is that it is often unacceptable for men to show their bare legs at work, but not for women, which can be very unpleasant for men if it is very warm.
Re: Mary Kay and Vili Fualaau (9)
First of all, Vili was 12, not 13.
Secondly, they didn’t use birth control initially or when she had sex again with him shortly after being released the first time, resulting in Vili becoming a dad of two at (probably) 14. That is a life-altering result where it is doubtful that Vili could oversee the consequences of her choice not to use the pill or make him use a condom.
Thirdly, whether a child is and was happy with the sex is explicitly not a defense against a charge of statutory rape. So I don’t see how his opinion matters to people who agree that statutory rape is a serious crime.
Finally, Mary seems to be very conservative and Samoan culture also seems conservative, so the choice by Vili to marry his children’s mother may be culturally enforced (or demanded by his parents), just like his unwillingness to call himself a victim may be due to cultural norms (and that doesn’t even require conservative beliefs as many very progressive people also don’t believe that men can be victims of sexual crimes by women). One reason to have statutory rape laws is to prevent young people from being convinced by adults to do certain things, at an age where many are not very capable of standing up for themselves.
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Huh. That’s an odd one, since the drivers (hypersexualization and fear of sexuality on the one hand, and extremely limited flexibility in male fashion on the other) are so different.
Maybe it has to do with women mostly joining the workforce during or after the early 20th century hemline ascent, and therefore not having fully-covered-legs baked into their standards of “professionalism”?
The male body is much less sexually appreciated, which I think is why male nudity is far more easily seen as disgusting. Female nudity gets appreciated more, but there is a fear that the wrong people appreciate it (like kids or men who can’t control themselves) or that it gets too distracting.
So then the current norm is somewhat consistent in that people think that disgusting things are unprofessional, but not really damaging or inducing bad behavior. So men then tend to have a smaller range of options in a professional context, but can go further in unprofessional contexts, where it is OK to be a bit disgusting.
Women are allowed and sometimes even required to use their body to make an environment nicer, but if they go too far, it’s not so much seen as disgusting, but as harmful.
So I would say that for men the default reaction from covering all but the hands and face to being fully nude tends to go like this: maximally pleasant to others -> acceptably disgusting -> unacceptably disgusting -> harmful
While for women the default seems to be more like this (although it obviously depends on age & looks): depriving others of enjoyment -> maximally pleasant to others -> harmful
PS. Of course this did change over time, with more acceptance of titillation and ‘non-maximally pleasant to others’ clothing.
PS2. By the ‘male body is much less sexually appreciated’ I don’t mean that people never appreciate the male body, but I think that men get far less appreciation at the same distance from the ideal body.
PS3. Arguably, dating norms are spilling over into the professional environment, allowing women to ‘advertise’ with their looks permanently.
PS4. ‘We must save people from themselves for enticing the other gender too much’ is not applied to men anywhere near as much as to women, for a bunch of reasons.
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D’you mind if I steal your idea and go answer these questions in a post of my own? I’d love a poke at this.
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