A website for conservative women posted this list of “10 Questions We Need Radical Feminists To Answer Pronto.” I just love answering questions! Thanks to Francois Tremblay for showing me this list and answering the questions very well on his own. I’m going to answer them, too, just for fun.
There are no comments allowed on the article, so I don’t think this list is meant to generate a discussion. It appears to me that these are “gotcha” questions that are supposed to disprove feminism just by being asked. The questions don’t accomplish this, though—they only demonstrate that the author knows very little about feminism.
1) How is being pro-choice, or pro-abortion, supporting equality for all: mother, father, and baby?
It’s not! Reproductive rights for women are absolutely not about equality between mother, father and baby. They are about women taking control of our own bodies, and as a result, taking control over our whole lives. If women cannot help getting pregnant any time a sperm enters our bodies, then we are not in control over our lives. We are dependent upon whoever got us pregnant to provide for us while we are giving birth and raising young children. Men who get us pregnant are not always willing to support us and sometimes they can be abusive. In order for a woman to control when and if she gets pregnant, she has to have methods to prevent pregnancy. Abortion is one part of a reproductive health care system, and it’s necessary because sometimes birth control methods can fail, and sometimes a pregnancy is the result of a rape, and a woman shouldn’t be forced to carry a fetus to term if she does not wish to be a mother.
The only way in which abortion rights create equality between women and men is in the sense of levelling the playing field. Men can already go through their lives without the fear of having to care for an unplanned baby, because they do not get pregnant. With a full array of birth control options and access to legal abortion, women can also plan their lives as they see fit without being derailed or burdened with pregnancies they haven’t wanted. If you see feminists claiming that abortion rights are about equality, this is what they’re referring to.
Children are not equal to adults because of their age. Being immature and in need of adult care means that they cannot be considered equal to adults. Children cannot drive or vote, for example. This has nothing to do with feminism, and it has everything to do with their immaturity.
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?
It’s not necessary to use examples of human rights abuses from other countries to prove that women are oppressed. There are human rights atrocities happening to women right in America. American women and girls are being trafficked for sex, they’re being coerced into unwanted and abusive sex acts in the porn industry, they’re being underpaid in their work compared to their male peers and they’re overrepresented among the poor, they are subject to rape, assault, harassment, stalking, and wife-battering. Feminists draw connections between all the abuses that men subject us to and the relations of power that create these abuses. Men are overrepresented in positions of power in government and the private sector, they have more money than women do, and they have created the laws and the religions that shape our culture. They have created a world that puts their interests above women’s. This is true in both America and abroad.
The reason why you believe that women have it better here is because you have relative privilege. You are a student at Yale, and your economic class privilege has given you opportunities that other women don’t have. However, even a rich woman such as yourself can experience sexual harassment and rape. Your perpetrator would likely get away with it, since perpetrators are rarely ever punished. Please remember that there are many women less fortunate than you, even in America, and that the reason you are able to attend university at all is a right that was won for you by the feminist movement.
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?
I don’t hold myself on a pedestal, I’m just a regular person. Radical feminists are more about women’s liberation than women’s equality. We want to take away the power men have to abuse us and we want to stop the epidemic of male violence against women. The concept of equality is a liberal concept. I don’t, for example, want women to have the ability to abuse as many people as men do. I’m not gonna start campaigning that women have to do as much human trafficking as men do, in order to be equal to them. We do want to be equal in the eyes of the law but this doesn’t really address what the problem is. The problem is male power and the fact that they use it to exploit women.
I don’t think I “bash” women who don’t agree with me, but I’ll definitely call out a woman who is being misogynist or who is completely ignorant and nonsensical. Feminism doesn’t mean I have to support women who are doing something harmful or stupid, and it doesn’t mean that any woman’s behavior is beyond critique. Feminists fight for rights for all women, which includes the ones we disagree with. Feminism is not a therapy group where we have to support everyone’s dumb opinions no matter what.
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 don’t think the government should make personal decisions for people about their reproductive health or when and how to reproduce. As such, the government shouldn’t tell people they must have a specific number of children, or tell couples which form of birth control to use, or make decisions to sterilize people without their consent, etc. The government shouldn’t tell men when to have vasectomies any more than they should tell women when they cannot have an abortion. These are private medical decisions.
However, this doesn’t mean that the government shouldn’t collect tax money in order to do the things taxes were conceived of to do. The reason we have a government is to organize our political life and build infrastructure such as roads, schools, etc. These are things we need and someone has to pay for them. Consider this: the private sector would still have to build the same infrastructure we have now, even if they weren’t taxed, because they need things like roads and schools in order to conduct business. The money would be spent anyway, even if the private sector was in control of where to build roads.
I think it’s really poor logic to say that if I don’t want the government making private medical decisions for people then I also have to be against the collective organization of necessary public infrastructure.
“Dictating what healthcare people can have.” Is this about the creation of a universal health care system? I’m not all that familiar with U.S. healthcare, but I do believe in universal health care because it provides health care for the poor. Without universal health care, many poor people would simply die sooner because they can’t access medical treatment. This is morally wrong, obviously. I don’t think the government should dictate personal health decisions to individuals, though. I also don’t think the government should dictate what people learn in school. Students should choose for themselves what subjects to study. For obvious reasons, school instruction should stick to what is true and factual when teaching lessons—so no creationism, for example. This isn’t really about feminism, it’s about quality education.
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.
Huh? I’m generally totally unconcerned about fictional rape. I mean, it sucks when TV shows unnecessarily include rape scenes, just to titillate the viewers who love rape, but I have to say that even radical feminists like watching Game of Thrones, so we must not be that pissed? I don’t watch Game of Thrones myself, but I do watch Family Guy, which makes jokes about rape. Sometimes feminists need to take a break from fighting the patriarchy and just watch some TV. If we were in charge of creating TV shows, we’d definitely decide not to include the rape scenes.
False rape accusations are not an epidemic. They only occur with the same frequency as false accusations of other crimes. What there is is an epidemic of men who really have raped and get away with it. You are citing Rolling Stone here. That is a mainstream magazine and is not connected in any way with radical feminism. I would advise you to never trust what a mainstream magazine says about feminism—they almost always get it wrong.
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”?
I’m really embarrassed for you that you think an actress/comedian is a spokesperson for radical feminism. That is some incredible ignorance right there.
First of all, there are no leaders in radical feminism. Radical feminism is a movement to liberate women from oppression, and it’s happening all over the world as women work to change the conditions they are living in. Radical feminism is an analysis of women’s oppression and a call to action against male violence. If our movement did have leaders, they would be the women who are leading campaigns to change the conditions for women. Celebrities such as actresses and pop singers are definitely not the people who are doing political work on behalf of women—they’re just women who happen to get attention from mainstream media since they work in the entertainment industry.
If we were to consider the women in America who have become well-known because of their political work to liberate women, we could name such famous second-wave feminists as Andrea Dworkin, Catherine MacKinnon, bell hooks, and Gloria Steinem. Currently, Gail Dines is a famous radical feminist living in America (although born in England). Of course, there are many more. Most radical feminists work on the front lines in places such as women’s shelters, and they aren’t getting attention from mainstream media.
It sounds like your knowledge of “feminism” is coming from scanning magazine articles about celebrities. You are a student at Yale, so I think this is not only a poor reflection on you, but also a poor reflection on Ivy-League education, if you think that hastily-written and poorly-researched magazine articles about celebrities are a place to learn about serious social movements.
Meghan Murphy wrote about the Lena Dunham situation here. Dunham was still a child herself when she looked inside her sister’s vagina to see what was there. The situation wasn’t even sexual, she was just curious about human bodies. Most kids are curious about human bodies, and I remember kids showing other kids their parts when I was little, too. Conservatives have spun this situation into something that it’s not just because they hate liberal women.
7) Do you really think being able to walk around topless is a freedom that women need to live a good life?
No, I don’t. I’d like the world to be safe enough for women that we wouldn’t get assaulted if we were topless, but being topless in public just for the sake of toplessness isn’t generally a thing that women want. Are you confusing the publicity stunts that some women pull while topless with radical feminist political work? Because once against, I’m embarrassed for you.
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?
The right to legal, safe abortion is one part of the reproductive rights that women need in order to be in control over our bodies and our lives, as I’ve already mentioned. The reason some societies perform sex-selective abortions is because women and girls are undervalued and considered subordinate to men. Feminists are working to change this so that women and girls are considered fully human persons. We do not approve of the selective killing of either female fetuses or born females, because this is wrong.
It’s really poor logic to say that because women are being killed for being female, we therefore shouldn’t have reproductive rights.
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?
Yes, men are taught to rape. This doesn’t mean that parents sit down with their young boys and give them a talk about how they should rape women when they grow up. It’s not something that is named and taught so explicitly. Boys are taught that they are superior to girls, that men are the head of the household, that men are better at decision-making, that women and girls exist to please them, that a woman’s job is to be a wife and mother, that certain women are “whores” who are asking for it, and that men shouldn’t be held accountable for coercing women or taking advantage of women. They are taught this by law, religion, custom and culture (particularly porn). This all adds up to making men think they have the right to use women’s bodies as they see fit, and that women should accept being used as sex objects.
“Teach men not to rape” is a slogan that refers to teaching men to think of women as fully human persons who have their own autonomy and agency, and who have the right to decline sex. It means teaching boys that coercing women and taking advantage of women who are drunk or otherwise vulnerable is unacceptable. It means teaching men that they don’t own women, whether it’s their wives, their daughters, or women who are being prostituted. Men don’t own us and they need to stop behaving as though they do. No matter what a woman’s relationship is with a man, she always has the right to say no to sex. Even in 2017, there are men who believe that being married to a woman, or paying a woman money, means they have the legal right to rape her.
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?
Radical feminists aren’t fighting for the right to “bare our lady parts.” Where on earth are you getting this from? It’s liberal, sex-pozzie women who fight for the right to be naked and act as sex objects, and this is more aligned with anti-feminism.
Children don’t get aborted, since children are already born. Only fetuses get aborted. In fact, most abortions are performed in the first trimester when the fertilized egg hasn’t even reached fetushood yet.
I’m not sure who’s trying to “shame men into submission.” It certainly isn’t radical feminists. I don’t think anyone else is either. I don’t want any human to be ashamed or submissive. I want all humans to be happy and healthy and behave ethically.
I do think early feminists would be proud of the current work that radical feminists are doing. You seem to know absolutely nothing about what radical feminists are doing today. You appear to spend all your time making fun of what you see in celebrity gossip columns and thinking that that is feminism. What radical feminists are actually doing today is campaigning against pornography, prostitution, surrogacy, and other human rights abuses. We have succeeded in getting the Nordic Model passed in several countries and we have brought awareness to large numbers of people that pornography is a public health crisis. We’re doing great work—you should really check it out sometime.