Michael Eriksson
A Swede in Germany
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What I mean by “feminist”

Original text

There are many different breeds of feminists. In this article (and normally elsewhere on this website) I use “feminist/m” as a reference mainly to gender-feminists. This is motivated by this group being the most vociferous and influential, their own often demonstrated attitude that they are the only true feminists, and that what most people think when they hear “feminism” amounts to the concept of gender-feminism (albeit with a highly varying understanding of what is truly beneath the surface).—and by the fact that the word is by now so tainted by these associations that I see no realistic way of regaining an equity-feministic meaning.

(Respectively, if this is possible, in the long term, the use of the word in a positive sense could lead to further misunderstandings and legitimization of the current feminist movement—which is not only karmically unfair, but creates a very real risk that their ideas are resurrected or that later historians blunder into faulty analyses.)

That, however, is just a matter of terminology: This article [series] would still deal with gender-feminism, even if another word was chosen, because they are a threat to men, women, equality, and science—and because I take the gravest offense at some of their methods, their lack of reason, their intellectual dishonesty (or incompetence), and so on.

Addendum on incorrect meanings

It is quite common to seen definitions on or implications about feminism that are highly misleading, often entirely devoid of reality. The likely most common, in my observations several years after writing the original text:

  1. Feminism is about equality, including variations like “You want equality—then you are a feminist!”:

    Feminism is not now and nor has it ever been about equality. It is a one-sided women’s-rights movement (with a number of other, unrelated, aspects). It is true that the goals of feminism and “equalism” had some considerable early overlap, but (in the Western world) that overlap has since become severely diminished and quite often turned into conflict (since basically all non-biological disadvantages women ever had are gone, sometimes even turned into advantages, while their privileges and the men’s disadvantages have been diminished to a far lesser degree).

    Similarly, it is quite common that equalists, classical liberals, whatnot of old are given a stamp of “feminist” in a blanket manner—and often contrary to what these people, themselves, would have considered true.

  2. Feminism is about strong women, female empowerment, “girl-power”, the belief that a woman is as good as man, whatnot; usually with formulations implying that those who believe in strong women are feminists and those who do not are not:

    Complete and utter bullshit. Such beliefs can be held by feminists, anti-feminists, and those neutral alike and without any restriction. Indeed, feminist rhetoric is often based on an explicit or implicit premise of women being weaker or less able than men, with a corresponding need for extra protection, special treatment, a leg-up, ... Anti-feminist and equalists tend to have a far greater focus on equal opportunity and equal obligations, based on a principle that it is the individual’s capabilities that should decide—those who are capable, be they men or women, should have their chance to succeed without interference.

    For that matter, I am very, very clearly anti-feminist (“I am pro-equality; ergo, I am anti-feminist”); yet, Buffy is the TV series with which I have spent the most time—by some distance. (Assuming that the various Star Trek and Stargate series are counted separately and not as two accumulated series with totals of 28 resp. 17 (?) seasons to Buffy’s 7 ...) More generally, I have often had a strong attraction (not necessarily romantic or sexual) to other capable fictional “power-girls”, like in Star Wars, Alias, or Dark Angel. Meanwhile, Caroline Klüft is the athlete who has meant the most to me.

    (And, if possibly somewhat less relevant for this topic, several of my favourite authors and musical artists are female.)


    Where I do become turned off, is when do-not-like-women caricatures are put into exaggerated abuse-women situations and then get their “just deserts” at the hand of a power-girl—this is usually nothing more than misandrism thinly disguised as anti-misogynism. Of course, this is symptomatic for much of the movements relating to women (not necessarily restricted to feminism). Instead of showing a positive “women need not be passive damsels in distress” message, they show a negative message of “men are evil” or “women are better than men”.

    Another irritant is the often unrealistic depictions of physical ability:

    Yes, a slip-of-girl with super-powers (e.g. Buffy) could legitimately defeat almost any opponent. Yes, a woman with an elite physique and years of martial-arts training would defeat the average male couch-potato. However, tv and movies regularly show women easily dispatching considerably larger men who have similar or better martial arts training/fighting experience and a considerable physical advantage. Worse, it is quite common to see a 100-pound girl receive some basic instruction in one episode and suddenly have turned into a first-rate fighter just a few episodes/weeks later.

    This is not only entirely unrealistic and detracts from the respective show, but could also give women dangerous ideas and lead them to make disastrous errors, should they ever be in a situation where physical violence is likely to follow: If Laila Ali went up against one of the Klitschkos in an all-out fight over a doomsday device, she would be knocked out cold, possibly dead, within minutes—the time frame being mostly determined by how long she could avoid her opponent...

    A good example of such misstatements (and what originally prompted me to write this addendum) is the Wikipedia article on the movie Sucker Punchw (retrieved on 2012-07-10), which says e.g.

    Critics have also argued that the movie pretends to a feminism which in fact is a trope for misogyny: Monika Bartyzel of Moviefone writes, "The women of Zack Snyder’s ’Sucker Punch’ are not empowered. Though they are given vicious snarls, swords and guns, the leading ladies of Snyder’s latest are nothing more than cinematic figures of enslavement given only the most minimal fight. Their rebellion is one of imaginative whimsy in a heavily misogynistic world that is barely questioned or truly challenged." Michael Phillips of The Chicago Tribune stated that "Zack Snyder must have known in preproduction that his greasy collection of near-rape fantasies and violent revenge scenarios disguised as a female-empowerment fairy tale wasn’t going to satisfy anyone but himself." [...] O. Scott of The New York Times described the film as a "fantasia of misogyny" that pretends to be a "feminist fable of empowerment" [...] Peter Debruge of Variety argued that the film is "misleadingly positioned as female empowerment despite clearly having been hatched as fantasy fodder for 13-year-old guys"[...]

    (Note that not all of these critics need underlie the discussed misconception: A non-trivial amount of the blame could reside on the Wikipedia editor. Further, on a different issue, that if the critic’s statements about misogynism were correct, then “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” would be misandrist; however, most likely, their claims come from another direction, namely the absurd belief that attractive women in revealing clothes is a sign of misogynism—one of the greatest and most baseless propaganda tricks of feminism.)