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What do anarchists think of feminism

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Is feminism anything more than pure extremism, a danger to our freedom?
asked Nov 26, 2017 by curious bystander (550 points)

is this a serious question? I am super interested in engaging in conversations about the ways that feminism informs my anarchism, and the ways in which liberal feminism and anarchism are directly antagonistic, but I don't think that's what you are actually getting at. Could you give some more outline of why you think feminism is "a danger to our freedom" and especially "pure extremism"? As to the latter, why would pure extremism necessarily be objectionable to anarchists (if you thought feminism seemed extreme, wait'll you get a load of anarchy!)

You'll have to be more specific about which version of feminism you're referring to. There's way more than just a few of them.
CB, i'd also be interested in your thoughts on the threads/questions that come up when you search this site for "feminism". you did that, yea? what did you think?
I never realized there were many "versions of feminism", maybe shows up my youth for what it is! What triggered this question was my friend is a feminist and gave me a copy of Under My Thumb by Rhian Jones and to me it just seems extremist judgements condemning male singers/song writers rather than any form of real reasoning. I guess it's down to that bug bear, interpretation.

Anyways, the threat to freedom comes in reading that interpretation whereby men are not allowed to mention let alone criticize women in any shape or form.

Is the book condemning the misogynistic depictions and degrading view of women that's fairly common in some music? You're "allowed" to criticize women unless you feel there is some force preventing you from doing so. Or do you mean that when you criticize a woman, sometimes the woman will criticize you back or respond in a way that you don't like?

Not sure what you mean by "our freedom" and/or extremism given anarchism could be considered extreme.

Human, the book slates guys for singing songs about their own emotions. Sure I agree there are a lot of lame lyricists, guys trying to hard to be macho by putting females down, calling them whores in songs and shit like that. But if a guy has had a bad experience with a cheating GF why not write a song about it to get it out of his system. He's not saying all females are cheaters, just one he totally trusted, and warning other guys not to be so trusting.

That's why i think feminism is taking it too far by implying that every guy is a misogynist, and thereby closing down all male emotional expression.

Females obviously want to participate in heterosexual relationships, after all it's how we as a species reproduce. So to say it's down to some kind of Machiavelian manipulation to systematically abuse girls and women is so extreme. Females use their sexuality to get what they want, but "that's because of the patriarcal system" seems a lame excuse. Everybody has a choice, always.

I haven't figured out how to delete comments without adding at least 12 characters. For context, I asked CB to find a definition of feminism, written by a feminist.

But then I reflected and thought, "I don't really want to engage with CB on this topic."

I listened to the audio shared by Matt D. and it resonated with me that feminism really is an ideology. Sort of like anarchy is.

Feminists acknowledge patriarchy similarly to the way that anarchist acknowledge the state. Neither of these two (whatevers) are entirely reactionary. Anarchy *can* position against an incredible number of enemies. (Economy, State, Nation, Hegemony, Meritocracy, etc). This is similar to how Feminism *can* appose Exclusions, Censorship, Social Roles, Hierarchies of logic/reason over intuition/feeling.

Like I said, neither feminism nor anarchy/anarchism is entirely reactionary / a negation.  I've read thinking that the dreams of anarchy and feminism are the same.  I don't agree.

Though both dreams sound more pleasant / safe than this shit-show / society, the verb / "living word" for anarchism is anarchy, the verb for feminism is feminize.

I spoke with a feminist once for their defense of the gendered terminology. (They spoke of gender as learned-behaviors / gender as a social-construct  / gender as a "spook").

This feminist person said that it was a sign of respect for the history of feminist work and a way for the history to be found again. This thinker was an anarchist, but worked mostly *through* feminism.  I can only speculate, but I imagine this was due to some sort of savior-complex. I mean, they could have found a place with a large population of anarchists and rarely would they have needed to confront sex-based hierarchies.
vinegar, you can use the "hide" button to effectively remove your old comments (you can still see them, but no one else can, save perhaps the moderators).
Oh, cool. I thought "hide" meant reduce the size of the comment box.  Thank you.
Continuation of my first comment.

If the the verb for anarchism is anarchy. And the verb for feminism is feminize, then, really, both "dreams" are defined by their opposition.

If total anarchy is realized, what point would there be in thinking about "rulers?"  It would be like naming myself "not that person that doesn't exist."   (cool band name)

If sex/genital based hierarchies are abolished, what point would there be in thinking about "patriarchs?"

Still, in whatever way the word "anarchist" might be loaded, I prefer it over "feminist." It's probably because I've been socialized to not value myself.  Just kidding.   Anarchy is waaaaaaaay  more fun and shoot for the moon, right?
cb, so you read this one book that may have stated all men are misogynists, or at least that's your interpretation of it. From that one book you concluded that all feminists think all men are misogynists? It seems your question is based on the stereotype of feminists thinking men are all asshole misogynists.
cb: if you are interested in a critique of feminism from a female anarchist, check this out:

https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/rita-katrina-andrews-only-a-tsunami-will-do-for-a-post-feminist-anarchy
Human, not my interpretation, it's there on the pages, Mick Jagger, Bowie, Iggy Pop, Jay-Z, Rock n Rollers, Country Singers, Rappers, Punks, Heavy Metal. All the guys are getting tagged as misogynistic, some rightly so but other stuff is taken way out of context.

And I do not conclude anything, that is a superficial knee jerk judgement. I have feminist friends, we've discussed these things over the years and I still think it's being taken too far. Sure we should all have equality, equal pay for equal work. An equal playing field with sex, with whatever. I totally support and endorse that, but I do not condemn all men as misogynists. Most are simply ignorant of what they do. I suppose that's my real issue with these types of books which take things to the extreme, they lack compassion and understanding. males are as much controlled as females are, we should not get into an unnecessary battle, but fight all inequality together.

I don't think much of any stereotype, I look at an overall view, and cannot help but report what I see. If anything too many females are getting sucked into stigmatizing males via stereotypical views of males. They need to break free, look for themselves, see what the real issue is.

Funkyanarchy, nice one, kickass read... "If you are already preparing your defense, gwan-get to a ‘safe space’ to vilify me as ‘maleidentified’, ‘manarchist’ or...", can totally relate with her.

Your responses and question suggests a superficial knee jerk reaction. From what you have wrote, you read a book and your interpretation is it's stating men are misogynists and your discussion with your feminist friends leads you to feel they are taking it too far you. So, you ask if feminism is a danger to "muh freedom" and is too extreme based on a handful of people.

Yet, as baa pointed out, you feel a handful of anarchists behaving in a way that you don't approve doesn't help their cause, but a handful of feminists saying men are misogynists is a danger to "muh freedom" because reasons.

Hmm... perhaps you've secretly found the answer to your other question. If anarchists just call people names their goals will be realized!

If I lived in Germany during the 1930's and spoke out against the Nazi's in a factual way, would you think that was a knee jerk reaction? To me many feminists are like the way the Nazi's branded the Jews by branding men as misogynists.

That whole book is full of this accusation. As I've said, some of the claims may be based on solid ground, but others vastly exaggerated interpretations.

Take the song Young Girl for example, which was used in the book to highlight misogyny...

Young girl, get out of my mind
My love for you is way out of line
Better run, girl,
You're much too young, girl

With all the charms of a woman
You've kept the secret of your youth
You led me to believe
You're old enough
To give me Love
And now it hurts to know the truth, Oh,

Young girl, get out of my mind
My love for you is way out of line
Better run, girl,
You're much too young, girl

To me it sounds like an older guy has been caught by a younger girl who claimed to be older than she is. Another way to look at it (although a bit extreme) would be, the guy knows he has a pedophile tendency and is warning the girl off.

To say it is misogynistic is way off the mark based on crazy psychology.

What does "muh freedom" even mean? I said "our freedom", meaning everybody, both female and male if this extremism takes hold.

and it's a wrap.

Can't say that i'm surprised you irrelevantly brought up the Nazis and compared feminist to Nazis. jfc lol
cb, "feminists" are not some monolithic hive-mind, just as anarchists are not. folks that identify as "feminist" can have some widely divergent perspectives (just as can folks that identify as "anarchist"). i am probably as critical of feminism as anyone i know, and even i wouldn't paint the tendency with as broad a brush as you seem to. you read a book written by folks that sound like ideological idiots, and your feminist friend sounds cut from the same cloth. you appear to be generalizing and extrapolating beyond what could possibly be useful.

i personally find much to critique about feminism, as i do about any ideology built around group identity. but hear this: not all feminists think all men are violent, predatory misogynists.

CB, if it's relevant to you, many people i know call what you're talking about part of call-out culture, which is a thing unto itself (it uses jargon from many tendencies including feminism, anarchism, leftism, etc but isn't limited to them), and it's extremely common online and apparently among young folks, it's inappropriate to limit it to any individual tendency, since it crosses boundaries at will.

vinegar: love that band name idea. i would wear the teeshirt!

dot, thank you.

edit to add: and a great big happy thank you to all of the thinkers and feelers putting work in into this topic for our liberation

Human, obviously relevant enough to me to bring it up and I stand by every word. If some people brand some others as whatever, when they may be completely innocent of that whatever, that is a form of Nazism in my thinking.

I have not said all feminists, only pointing out what I've read, what I've discussed with self proclaimed feminists, and this discussion especially is centred around the book Under Your Thumb. That is the context of the discussion really.

How can I possibly have any form of discussion without using the term the authors use to describe themselves? Some people here seem a little over sensitive on this subject, very strange when we're discussing anarchic matters and this book in particular is sending out an anti-freedom message loud and clear in the name of feminism.

Here's another example; Michael Gira, a founding member of the band The Swans was accused of raping Larkin Grimm, a musician he was working with. Here's a quote by the author of the piece in Under My Thumb: "My first response to reading Grimm’s Facebook post was fear. I tried to shake it off by asking what I had to be scared of. Was I worried about professional reprisal for promoting the work of an accused rapist, or scared of ridicule for not realising I’d been played by a manipulative man? These concerns didn’t deserve to be called fear. I told myself I wasn’t in any danger. I should instead feel shame at my weakness and complicity. And yet I could not dispel a physical, wordless dread that something was at my back, on my back, telling me, as it had so many times, that I was not safe and that it was my fault. So I was scared, and I was ashamed; and I knew that I could no longer subsume these feelings into music and sound."

The above is sad really, the guy wasn't proven to be a rapist, he was accused on Facebook. My initial reaction to any claim is indifference as I don't know, so why would I react.

To me that is troublesome as it is indicative of the mentality which is being spread via the book Under My Thumb. Guilty until proven innocent, and in Gira's case it doesn't appear that he was charged with rape nor tried in court.

Hence the use of Nazi, for that was their means of stigmatizing Jews, Gypsies, Anarchists, and anybody who they thought was unworthy of living.

Funkyanarchy, what I don't get is the identification with a group title if you do not want to be identified with that particular group; feminist, anarchist, etc. Seems strange to me to call yourself something which is recognized by others as a certain ideology or philosophy and yet make it a completely individual interpretation, and yet, call yourself by the group name. By doing that wouldn't they really be breaking away from say feminism?

As I wrote and as I've just said to Human, my reference is not to feminism as feminism, it's more about certain females who claim the title feminists. So I'm not "painting anybody with a broad brush" as such. Sure I've used generalizations, but that's the way I talk within a context as I'd have to continually back reference every sentence and that would be both laborious and tedious.

I love this "but hear this: not all feminists think all men are violent, predatory misogynists". Sounds like Mr Davidson.

I am aware of that, but some do too, and put it in print for all to see!

CB, women calling men misogynists or saying something that you don't like isn't remotely comparable to the nazism. That absurd comparison you used comes from Rush Limbaugh iirc, and is still used by like mra's and socially conservative folk, and some other right-winged groups. The ridiculous feminists are nazis comparison is meant to attack, degrade, discredit, and put women on the defensive for discussing something that folk that make such crappy comparisons don't understand or challenges their view.

If your question is based up this book you read, you should've put the name of the book in your question or mentioned it in some way. What do you mean by freedom, anyways?

There are different kinds of feminism as someone said above.

1 Answer

0 votes

To answer your question, CB, I am most critical of the versions of feminism which elevate "Woman" to the status of a collective social category that seeks "representation" at the table of political power. So-called "First Wave" and "Second Wave" feminists tend more strongly in this direction, but I've seen a few self-professed "Third Wave" feminists fall into this tendency as well. In my experience, these are the sorts of feminists who are most likely to get caught up in the moralistic "privilege-checking" of "call-out culture."

Strictly speaking, I don't think that the various "waves" of feminism have any basis in reality, but the fact that some feminists feel the need to make such distinctions helps to illustrate the point that they aren't all unanimous about what "feminism" actually is. There are certain feminists that I think are completely out to lunch and others that I think have some genuinely interesting and worthwhile things to say. For instance, in her book Gender Trouble, Judith Butler (who many would classify as a Third Wave feminist) devotes herself to deconstructing "Woman" as a collective social category and, in stead, argues for recognizing each individual woman as unique unto herself. 

An interesting article on this subject is "Beyond Feminism, Beyond Gender," from Wolfi Landstreicher's Against The Logic of Submission series. You can listen to it here in audio format:

http://www.audioanarchy.org/submission/09-Beyond_Feminism.mp3

answered Nov 27, 2017 by Matt Dionysus (840 points)
if i had wanted to say female, then i would have said female.

md: what i found interesting was not how the category was defined (social, political, etc), but the fact that the description of the concept deconstructed from the category continued to use the category label ("woman") to supposedly refer to a unique individual. however a category may be defined, for me it is specifically the "unified set of desires, interests, and goals " that i find problematic. not to mention, of course, being in need of representation.

i largely agree with most of what you have said, i was just commenting on what i thought was an interesting use of words - assumedly by butler. i have known quite a few self-proclaimed "third wave" feminists, and every one of them is/was a dogmatic identity politician, even those i enjoy engaging with (including one of my sisters). yet i still don't paint all feminists with that brush.

i do think that anyone whose desire is "equality" - especially as defined by the systems of domination that control so much of the modern world - does not view a liberatory life the same way i do. my desire is to treat every individual and every interaction as unique, while of course using all my existing experience/knowledge/memory/intuition/etc and current observations to contextualize as best i can. i would never want to treat all individuals "equally", nor would i want them to treat me "equally" with everyone else. to me, "equality" either completely ignores context, or makes the context so broad as to be meaningless. for me, context is one of the primal aspects of individuals relating with each other.

funkyanarchy:

Without exception, I am in 100% agreement with everything you said. Completely, totally, and without reservation. If my choice of words was less than ideal, it was because I was deliberately "dumbing them down" for the benefit if the person who initially asked the question. I was trying to avoid muddying the waters of comprehension by introducing excessive nuance about the nature of individual subjectivity. If my words were less than totally faithful to Butler's argument, this is why.

"if i had wanted to say female, then i would have said female."

The phrase "non-male bodied/identified" just seems kind of clunky to me. What was your purpose in using it?

md: i have not read butler's work, so i have no idea how well your words conveyed her meaning, but i appreciate your clarification (and your reasoning).

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