Atheist YouTuber says we don’t need second- or third-wave feminism…because religion isn’t male-dominated

Atheist YouTuber says we don’t need second- or third-wave feminism…because religion isn’t male-dominated October 10, 2016
Image via CollegeDegrees360 under CCL 2.0
Image via CollegeDegrees360 under CCL 2.0

(This is a guest post by Noel Zeigler on The Amazing Atheist’s second “Answers for SJWs” video)

The Amazing Atheist’s “Answering SJWs” series isn’t actually about having a dialogue, as in listening to the concerns of the concerns of those on the other side and giving real answers that debunk them.

It is yet another dog-and-pony show for TJ. It’s his chance to avoid answering insightful questions raised and just use those questions as an opportunity to go on self-serving rants, giving the impression to gullible fans that he’s actually in support of rational debate all the while.

The first question TJ answers in his second video is from Steve Shives, who asked that, if so many anti-SJWs abhor third-wave feminism as opposed to second-wave feminism, what second-wave feminist literature have they actually read and admire?

In case you missed it, TJ is being asked here about what he actually knows about second-wave feminism. Steve is betting that he hasn’t read anything about it.

Steve is brilliant, as TJ responds to his question very clearly: he has read absolutely nothing.

But even more delightful than the fact he hasn’t read anything from the movement he criticizes is the resulting utter lack of self-awareness he has about his own ignorance of the movement he detests.

He states that second and third wave feminism is the same to him, and the only real feminist movement that has any credibility was first wave. Then, he says that the problem with second and third wave is at the turn of the century society was very different from today, and that women didn’t have legal rights such as the right to vote. In his opinion, first wave feminism achieved those rights by 1920, in his opinion.

To say that’s ignorantly off the mark is an understatement.

First, a clarification. Yes, of course society was very different for women at the turn of the century. That’s exactly there are different waves of feminism. No one is pretending that women still do not have the right to vote or own property. Those days are long past, which is the reason second and third wave feminism succeeded the first wave movement.  The whole point was to move on and have conversations about other issues women faced.

I mean, TJ’s argument basically boils down to his annoyance that there are more waves of feminism after women’s status in society improved, and he doesn’t seem to realize that multiple waves of feminism exist for the express purpose of addressing women’s changing condition in society. If you think women’s entire social and legal inequality in America was due to their inability to vote, you are completely out of touch with the history of feminism.

So when he blurts such a colossal non-point as “American society was different in those times,” my response is that’s the idea. If you understood the first thing about second and third wave feminism, you’d realize that.

TJ also exposes how little he actually has bothered educating himself about feminism by further lumping second and third wave feminism under the same vague caricature of “controlling sex”, “controlling the media,” and getting “special privileges for women.” All are impossibly unclear and ill-defined allegations, as are most of his charges against feminism. But the most important thing here is that he seems to be laboring under the delusion that second wave feminism had nothing to do with achieving women’s legal rights and amounts only to the third-wave feminism’s goals of criticizing the perception of women in media and society.

He is wrong.

It’s easy to see that Steve Shives’s intention in asking him about second wave feminism was to expose his ignorance on it, and he did.

Because TJ says that he doesn’t need to read books by second-wave feminists because he can “look at history and what they’ve done and what they’ve championed.”

Cute, considering he clearly hasn’t done either.

We can do better.

Let’s not just run our mouths about it.

Let’s actually take a look at it.

Second-wave feminism’s primary purpose was to broaden women’s legal rights beyond the single issue of voting and property rights. It broke down the barriers that prevented women from actively participating in the public sphere. Not only did second-wave feminism draw attention to domestic violence and marital rape issues that were widely overlooked by the nation’s laws, but it also achieved the right of women to manage their own reproductive health without interference from the government in the form of the birth control pill being legalized. Women’s jobs were severely limited to being a nurse, a school teacher, or a secretary. Second-wave feminism sought to address gender discrimination in the work place, for which there were previously no laws to protect women.

The major effort of second-wave feminism was passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, making gender equality protected under the Constitution. The amendment ultimately failed because anti-feminists such as the notorious Phyllis Schlafly successfully campaigned against its ratification in 1972. What were their arguments against it? That the ERA would take away the many privileges enjoyed by women, such as the luxury of not being drafted.

Consider the irony here.

The Amazing Atheist has previously argued that the fact that women aren’t drafted in the military is a failure of feminism, ignorantly unaware that the refusal to draft women into the military is a product of anti-feminism that destroyed the primary goal of second-wave feminism!

Remember that The Amazing Atheist also claims that second-wave feminism was about fighting for the “special privileges” for women – but those were actually the arguments of ANTI-feminists at the time who opposed the second wave!

Clearly, The Amazing Atheist doesn’t know the first thing about second-wave feminism.

Here is someone who in one breathe insists that he knows all he needs to about it in order to condemn it, and yet in the next breath, in under a minute, he thoroughly betrays just how out of touch he is with the history and the most basic fundamentals of the movement. His understanding of feminism is like his understanding of most social progressive movements. He projects his own personal conjecture as if it is actually a sober-minded critique. He exists in a perpetual state of intellectual self-validation. He is his own echo chamber, and his followers will gleefully rally around him and solidify his bubble of ignorance. TJs mentality is, “I already know everything I need to know because it suits what I want to think, so nah. Screw your feminist books and screw history. I know things.”

He fell right into the trap Steve Shive’s question was meant to create, and shows off his ignorance.

TJ further insists he understand feminism perfectly well. He concedes that feminists argue that women are objectified and commodified, and that we still live in a patriarchy. He rightfully says that feminists believe that media is male-dominated, the political system is male-dominated, entertainment is male-dominated, and religion is male-dominated. Yet according to TJ, none of this is true. There’s no evidence that any of it is true and it’s all bullshit, right in the face of the fact that the disproportionate amount of men versus women in these fields is well-documented.

Let’s take the two that are in my opinion the most bold-faced of lies. First, TJ’s claim that there is no evidence that politics are male-dominated. Any reasonable person should be shaking their heads at this.

Yes, the fact that women make up 51% of the population and yet only 18% of Congress is bullshit. The fact that only recently in the year 2016 has a woman been nominated for president by a major party for the very first time is bullshit. The United States currently ranks 60th in the world in women’s representation in politics, behind even countries with a long histories of the oppression of women like Rwanda. The vast majority of the politics in the United States, including policies about women’s own bodies and reproductive health, are being decided by men.

But… politics are totally not male-dominated, you guys. Move along. Nothing to see here.

As if this wasn’t as ridiculous on its own, TJ actually argues that religion is not dominated by men.

Did you read that?

He argues that religion is not dominated by men.

Seriously.

Let’s not even get into the fact that the Bible routinely sanctions taking virgins as spoils of war, stoning women for not being virgins on their wedding night, and calls for women to be submissive to their husbands and quiet in churches. Most atheists who read this blog are fully aware of this, and TJ as an atheist who has built his channel are criticizing religion absolutely should be, too.

Let’s talk about the fact that most of the major Christian denominations the United States, including Southern Baptists, Mormons, and Catholics, still do not allow women to become ordained.

Anyone who grew up in the church can tell you that women are still widely taught to be submission to their husbands and allow him to be the spiritual leader of the household.

And of course, there is the treatment of women in the religion of Islam at the hands of Muslim clerics which brings me to TJs most unbelievable and pitiful gaffe in the entire video.

When asked what he is doing to actually empower moderate Muslims and work with them to solve problems, TJ responds by saying that people should be less concerned with him refusing to actually do anything about the things he ceaselessly complains about in regards to Islam and to be more worried that other problems exist, such as the fact that Saudi Arabian Muslim clerics like Dr. Salih bin Fawzan issue fatwas declaring that girls of any age can be married off to older men.

To state the obvious for the sake of his supporters, this is what a deflection looks like.

The question isn’t about whether or not people are more concerned about you or human rights violations in Muslim countries.

The question that’s being asked is if you care so much about what’s happening in Saudi Arabia, then what the hell are you doing about it? TJ didn’t have a response for this because he isn’t doing anything. So instead, he goes on an incoherent rant about the dangers of “illiberal, intolerant, and frankly disgusting” Muslims.

But hey, I’ll give him points for going meta and using the three words that most perfectly describe his positions on almost everything in regards to human rights.

Here we see the root of TJs feigned concern about the treatment of human beings in Islam. TJ, earlier in the video, also argued that if someone was to say women in Saudi Arabia need feminism, he’d be right behind that. Yet to say women in the United States need feminism is “ridiculous.” Because apparently, in order for women to need feminism, they have to be denied the right to travel or go into public without male permission, denied the right to drive, forced to cover their bodies in public under threat of legal punishment, and face the threat of honor killings for having premarital sex. There is no in between, ladies. Either you live under the most oppressive and misogynistic religious theocracy on earth, or you’re perfectly equal in every way to men and should shut up already. This is the cognitive wasteland TJs belies concerning the proper place of feminism.

The fact that it takes such extremes for TJ to admit feminism is necessary betrays something striking about him.

He doesn’t actually give a damn about women in Saudi Arabia. Their suffering is a convenient talking point for him to silence women in America about their own experiences.

This is a classic game of victim Olympics. Tedious and pointless, and meant only to silence one set of victims while shamelessly using the other as bargaining chip.

But, going back, remember what TJ said about religion, about it not being male-dominated? That’s bullshit, and there is no evidence for it. However, contradictorily, he states that Saudi Arabia, a country ruled by religious theocracy, is the only country where women are truly oppressed, and Islam oppresses women.

The fact that TJ can rationalize holding these two thoughts in his head at the same time tells me about the purpose of these videos. Whatever argument is the most convenient talking point to dismiss feminism, he will run with no matter how inconsistent and intellectually dishonest he has to be to do it.

If you say American women need feminism, he’ll say you’re not really oppressed, and he’ll use the oppression of women at the hands of religious dogma to make you look like a whiny crybaby who doesn’t have real problems.

If you then say religion is male-dominated, he’ll say he can’t possibly understand why feminists think that is true and there’s no evidence to support it.

I wish I was making this up.

So when religious oppression of women offers a convenient opportunity to dismiss women’s issues in the West, he’ll take it. When religious oppression of women means he needs to agree with a popular feminist argument, he’ll then rationalize away the same exact thing he just used as his own talking point.

In the video, these two things happened with minutes of each other. And the fanboys eat that shit up.

He will admit that religion is oppressive to women if that means that he can get out of talking about the disadvantages women face in America. But don’t dare ask him to actually have a conversation about the oppressive nature of religion because that would require him to have a real conversation about how women are disadvantaged rather than simply mentioning their marginalization in passing to make a point.

The only time that TJ is ever willing to admit that women are oppressed in any meaningful way is when he can use the existence of that oppression to diminish the issues women face in the West. And if he can also use that oppression to criticize Muslims and Islam, that’s all the better.

He’ll gladly talk about Muslims oppressing women, but the minute you point out that it’s also men oppressing women, his brain comes to a screeching halt and goes into denial mode.

Religion is not male-dominated, but Islam and Muslims are a problem. Right.

This endless game of hide the ball has been utterly mastered by TJ. He will admit that feminism is needed somewhere only when it can be used to deny that feminism isn’t needed elsewhere. Then when feminists say okay, then let’s talk about how religion is male-dominated, he then insists that there’s nothing to talk about. When your position on a particular subject changes dramatically based on the context of the conversation and whether or not that position leads to a conclusion you like, you need to stop pretending you are a critical thinker. You need to stop pretending that this bullshit has anything to do with the truth and rationality.

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