Quick note on a topic we've alighted on from time to time: the aggressive tribal zealotry of (some) social progressives. You know the broader movement has a snowballing PR problem when young, intelligent, otherwise liberal woman are complaining about feminism/feminists. I'm not going to name names (I've mentioned them here before), but two women I'm close to, both in their twenties, recently expressed their distaste for feminism/feminists and the rhetoric of the social justice conversation. (One was referring to activist cliques in West Philly; the other is just fed up with quote-unquote SJW harangues in online fora.)
Their complaints were of the same tenor. "They're shrill, they take everything to seriously, everything offends them. They don't want equal treatment, they want special treatment. They hate men, they treat men unfairly. They're just mean people, I'm tired of them." Etc., etc.
Question: is it Problematic for a man to tell a woman why feminism is a good thing?
Last night I read a piece in 1843 ("It's a Boy Thing") examining the greater likelihood of married couples with sons to stay together than couples with daughters. When I came across this passage, I immediately thought of my feminism-fatigued friends:
Playgrounds in hip neighbourhoods may be full of sprogs with unisex names like Sage and Riley, and big-box retailers may be ditching gendered toys and clothing, but changes in public behaviour haven’t necessarily changed private attitudes. This can perhaps be seen most clearly in parents’ communications with Google——those quiet, furtive moments, when the site’s autocomplete feature absolves even the most neurotic questions (misery may love company, but anxiety needs it). A recent analysis of anonymous search data found that Americans ask “Is my son gifted?” more than twice as often as “Is my daughter gifted?”, even though young girls are more likely than boys to be enrolled in gifted programmes in school. Parents also ask “Is my daughter overweight?” nearly twice as often as “Is my son overweight?”, even though boys are more likely to be fat.Yes. That's fucked up. To challenge and change such attitudes is why we still need feminism.
The so-called regressive left poses some real dangers, one of which is the risk that its antics (taking trigger warnings to a conclusion that's neither logical nor useful, weaponizing "safe spaces," bullying dissenters, making a mountain of every eligible molehill, judging the worth of an argument strictly in terms of how many oppressed groups its speaker can claim to belong to, etc.) won't just discredit the fanatics and the Tumblr kids, but provoke a backlash against social progressivism in general.
When I hear a woman (one who staunchly supports gay rights, is pro-choice, voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary, etc.) averring that feminism is bullshit, I have to believe she's been exclusively acquainted with a perversion or misrepresentation of its tenets. But it will all be the same if social leftism becomes such an acrimonious cesspool that a repulsed public tosses it, bathwater and baby together.