There are those who are abusing feminist theory. Yet, we rarely call them out as we stubbornly pursue the illusion of solidarity. I prefer to attribute this abuse to mainstream or popular feminism – feminism as the every day, unread Joe has come to know it. It is this brand of feminism that wreaks of hypocrisy: it is intolerant of critiques or opposing opinions, it is often one-dimensional and unwilling to admit or rectify fault. It concedes nothing…is extreme, off-kilter, and unbalanced. This is pop-feminism. Pop feminists haven’t explored their own identity as much as they’ve merely taken on a collective conscious, stitched together from pieces of what they perceive feminism to entail.
Pop feminism has told me many things over the years:
- That my God is not real and is instead a tool fashioned for patriarchal oppression.
- That I cannot be entirely fulfilled in child-rearing.
- That if I do not agree with abortion I am a pawn of the oppressor.
- That I am only truly celebrating my femininity when sexually liberal.
- That men are never right. Ever. Only tools and proponents of the patriarchy.
- That our ‘icons’ are above reproach, even if they do nothing to aid other women. Or worse, sabotage other women. (see: Beyonce)
There are definitely contrarians and misogynists alike who will have something negative to say about feminists and feminism regardless. They’ll do and say whatever they can to discredit its messages, simply because it is inconvenient to them. But then I have observed this pop-feminism is a weakness in our armor. I’m tired of detractors being able to pull examples out the woodworks in which we could’ve aided someone or lent collective support, hungry for social justice as we all allegedly are, and we didn’t because the victim was male and because the nuances of the problem at hand were too intimidating to tackle. There are examples of the feminist movement doing just that at times, but more often than not there is an extreme sector of this movement whose voices are louder than the other parts of it. It is that extreme faction that detractors remember us by, simply because we don’t speak up and correct these extremists. Instead we focus on correcting the detractors (people who won’t agree or come correct regardless) all while allowing our ideological sisters and brothers to continue in their arrogance and ignorance.
That is not right. But then again, who decides how one correctly goes about being a feminist? That is my issue with pop feminism: it asserts that there is only one way to be a feminist.
There is no reason that we shouldn’t ring the alarm on domestic violence perpetrated against men, on the double standard that exists when it comes to men and child rearing, or at the very least, concede when we’re being hypocritical. Pop feminism gives the requisite acknowledgment of these issues, but treats them as secondary.
Many times in the constant narrative to eschew victim-blaming and shed light on rape culture, among other things, we purposely ignore the role personal responsibility plays in some of these cases. We put our blinders on and remain stubborn in our insistence that a faceless patriarchy is at work when there are many different forces at work. And some of these forces are actually in our control. There is a non-exhaustive list of –isms that can be attributed to any social problem, depending on how you choose to see it. Feminism is just one of these.
I would love to see more individuality in this movement. I’d love to hear more from both conservative and liberal women alike in this sphere, but often I see a regurgitation of the same opinions, the same rabid and unyielding defense of what have been accepted as social absolutes… and I am not entirely surprised that people tend to roll their eyes at the mention of the “F’ word.