Beware of organizations which carry the feminist label but follow a secret, or not so secret, agenda, such as:
- Feminists For Life
- The Women’s Freedom Network
- Independent Women’s Forum
- Network for Empowering Women
- Renaissance Women
- Rightgrrl – A take-off on Riotgrrls which is a feminist movement made up of young women with a punk attitude.
These organizations all have one thing in common: they are conservative, or are backed by conservatives. Am I saying that you can’t be a feminist and be conservative? Well, there’s a good case to be made for that. Ordinarily conservatives stand for the status quo and traditional values. They are not likely to be trying to shake up the system or promoting societal changes.
Another thing these organizations have in common is that it is fairly difficult to get information about them. It’s as if they know they have to stay off the radar in order to do their work unhampered by the protests of “hard-core” feminists. One example is the Women’s Freedom Network. They don’t have a web site, although I was able to find email and snail mail addresses for them. (I haven’t tried either.)
How can you tell if you’ve run into a false feminist organization? One of the deciding factors is where they stand on abortion. It’s possible to be a feminist and be against abortion but it’s not possible to be a feminist and be against choice. It’s a hard stance to take sometimes, especially when you view the photographs that anti-abortionists like to flash around of the “results” of abortions. (I’m not going to link to any of them here.) Feminists can’t argue that abortions are never done for what seem like selfish reasons. But neither can anti-abortionists say (if they’re honest) that giving a baby up for adoption, for instance, doesn’t cause as much anguish and guilt as an abortion would have (if not more). Or that every baby that is “saved” from abortion goes on to live a happy life. Many of them are unwanted and abused. And where are the anti-abortionists when those children–and their mothers–are in need? They’re off telling other women what to do with their bodies.
Another thing that false feminists do is…
to defend the status quo, or to even insist on a return to traditional values. The feminist movement is not about going backwards. And feminists are not afraid to critique the status quo. Even if you don’t want to blame patriarchy, which false feminists bend over backwards not to do, it’s hard to ignore the fact that men are the primary power brokers in this society–and look at how things have turned out with them in charge.
False feminists also love to play up the differences between men and women. They’ll say that they’re all for sexual equality, but when it comes right down to it, they still think that men and women should stick to their God-given roles. (False feminist also like to bring up God a lot. That doesn’t mean that they are more religious than “true” feminists, but that they are reluctant to criticize the church–whatever church that might be. And some of them love to quote scripture–that’s usually a dead giveaway.)
False feminists are also big proponents of the “pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps” mentality. They’re always complaining that the “other” feminists are stuck in thinking of themselves and all women as victims. They claim that we are always whining about injustice. (As if there were no injustice in the world.) They like to brag about how they made it on their own, so why can’t all women do the same? They like to ignore things like poverty, wage discrepancies between men and women, mental illness, domestic violence, lack of education, dead-end jobs, exes who won’t pay child support, and so on.
They also tend to be sexist, racist, elitist, quick to criticize the disadvantaged, the abused, the “ignorant” (uneducated), and the weak. They are fond of saying that women who can’t afford children shouldn’t have any. They blame women for their own difficulties and like to play up their own superior intelligence and morality. Need I say that they not very many of them are liberals or Democrats?
I may have made it sound as if false feminists are to be avoided at all costs. But we are no better than they are if we’re not open to debate. All too often we hold ourselves above the fray as if to answer our critics is to stoop to their level. But there’s a difference between being well-informed and sure of your convictions and being short-sighted and opinionated. Let’s make sure we’re the former while at the same time being able to discern the latter.