By publicly supporting feminism over the years, I’ve heard from many anti-feminists. In my experience, the majority of this group of people spout off the same few invalid arguments. In this post, I’d like to debunk some of the most common anti-feminist arguments I’ve come across. I doubt I’ll get through to the most dogmatic anti-feminists, but maybe a few more towards the middle will reflect on their biases from reading my article. Here are the top five most common anti-feminist arguments and my rebuttals:
1) “Feminists are mean, ugly, or stupid”
The most common “argument” I’ve seen anti-feminists use are ad hominems. Anyone who has to resort to name-calling usually doesn’t have much of an argument, but many anti-feminists fail to realize this. Too many anti-feminists use intimidation and harassment techniques to attempt to get their point across. Insulting or threatening the person you disagree with does not make their points any less valid.
2) “But that one feminist was actually being a jerk!”
Every group has its bad apples. I admit there are a minority of feminists who do mean/immoral things and even say they are doing them because of their feminist values. The Goldsmiths Feminist Group is a clear example as they supported the harassment of Maryam Namazie during her public talk (ironically, Maryam Namazie has been defending women’s rights for years). This group claimed that their behavior was justified in the name of feminism, but every single feminist I know has condemned their actions. There are also self-proclaimed feminists who do not support transgender rights (often called TERFS). Again, there will always be bad apples and misguided people. However, it’s important to not generalize that minority to the mainstream or conflate individual misbehavior with the message of advocating for equality of the sexes.
3) “Women and men are biologically different so women should be treated differently”
Women and men are biologically different, but any differences in their brains are trivial and certainly do not have much (if any) cognitive impact. Furthermore, such differences are likely due to socialization and are not “hard wired.” Psychologists have routinely found that “men and women are basically alike in terms of personality, cognitive ability and leadership.” Because the psychological characteristics of men and women overlap significantly, it would be foolish to make judgments solely on gender. To argue that women are “too emotional” or “not as smart as men” is based on pseudoscience and is bad reasoning.4) “What about the men? Feminists hate men. I’m a meninist/humanist, not a feminist!”
A major goal of feminism is to end harmful gender roles, which helps everybody. Without gender roles, men are free to express a full range of emotions, which avoids the physically unhealthy aspects of toxic masculinity. By supporting equality, men do lose some of our social privilege as people are treated more fairly regardless of sex. But this also means that violence against men is taken more seriously and we would be viewed as just as competent parents as women. Feminists do care about men’s issues as the goal is to end any sort of gender inequality or prejudice. An anti-feminist may still claim that humanism covers everything so feminism is unnecessary, but saying you are a humanist isn’t enough as gender roles that hurt men often stem from misogyny and humanism misses many important gender issues.
5) “Women already have equality, stop complaining!”
Women certainly are better off they historically have been, but there is still a long way to go. The attack on women’s health still rages on, women still earn less than men, and sexual and domestic violence against women are epidemics. These are very explicit examples of sexism, but we can see more subtle sexism in with dress codes and how women are treated at work. Finally, other countries may have even worse gender inequality, but that doesn’t negate the problems we have in America.
Featured image from Wikimedia Commons