The Problem with Feminism

“We have to stop expecting to be offended…”

Recently, I have been listening to some talks by Cassie Jaye, a feminist documentary-maker who decided to expose the ‘darkness’ of the men’s rights movements in 2013.

After a few years, she ended up making the opposite movie to the one she intended. ‘Red Pill’ demonstrated the story rather of a feminist ending up agreeing with the objects of her attack. See the trailer here.

In this emotive TED talk, she describes how and why she no longer calls herself a feminist – yet neither is she a men’s rights activist. She’s chosen a different path.

She exemplifies this new path by discussing her initial horror at being told by a man that when she went outside of the room, everything she could see was built by men, without any notion of celebrating or thanking men in general.

She then realised after her year of filming that feeling offended by such statements was a knee-jerk reaction – would she ever be offended by a woman stating that if you look around, every person you see was birthed by a woman? The question answers itself.

In the talk, she lists the following issues which men’s rights activists raised as being ignored by society and the media, which affect men:

1. Paternity fraud
2. Military drafts
3. Workplace deaths
4. War deaths
5. Suicides
6. Sentencing disparities
7. Life expectancy
8. Child custody battles
9. Child support
10. False rape allegations
11. Boys falling behind in education and the ‘failure to launch’ epidemic
12. Homelessness
13. War veteran issues
14. Male circumcision
15. Lack of resources for male victims of domestic violence
16. Lack of choice regarding abortion

In all of the above issues, men are either overwhelmingly disadvantaged, or uniquely disadvantaged, when compared with women.

And yet, there is no publicity surrounding these massive disadvantages.

Every year, South African and Australian cricket run Pink Day matches for women’s health – not for men’s. Legally, every mother could abort her child in most western countries without consulting the father. There is tremendous focus on the gender pay gap – but none on male suicide – and yet the latter is an undeniable problem, the former tenuous and minor in comparison.

Cassie Jaye concludes her TED talk very poignantly:

“It turns out, I did meet my enemy while filming – it was my ego, saying I was right, and they were sub-human.

“It’s no secret that I no longer call myself a feminist. But I must clarify. I am not anti-feminist. I am not a men’s rights activists. I still support women’s rights, and I care about men’s rights now as well… But if one group is being silenced, that’s a problem for all of us…

“If I could give advice to anyone in our society at large, we have to stop expecting to be offended, and we have to start truly, openly, and sincerely listening… We all are in this together…”

Men and women are equal in dignity. Yet biologically and culturally we are different. I don’t think feminism communicates either of these truths. Instead it creates a massive fracture between men and women, a chasm down which fall far too many children.

We live in an age in which the family is falling apart as the basic building block of society. Countless studies show that growing up in a loving family dramatically increases your chances of success and mental health. To create that environment, men and women need to be partners in good faith, bringing together the gift of the masculine and the feminine to create a little space of life.

Is it a coincidence that the rise of radical feminism has coincided with the dissolution of family and the rate of births in wedlock? It would have to be a massive coincidence in my thinking. As I wrote in my last post, it is quite likely that the overwhelming majority of South African children have no present father. That is a disaster for our society.

We tend to think in our liberal age that choice and freedom are always unmitigated goods. That’s not true – as anybody with children knows. Freedom always requires structure if it is not to turn to chaos. And feminism has tipped the scales toward chaos.

Intellectual activists assume every young girl can and should have the autonomy to carve out their own unique path in life. But there’s no reason to believe that (and that is probably more true for men, laden with rationality-clouding testosterone.)

That may be true of some men and women, who have the social and economic capital to blaze a trail. But the majority of people don’t have that kind of capital.

By creating this blank slate for women (and men) to carve out their own identity and life path, many people on the margins are left untethered from any kind of structure – and so we see whole swathes of young people with no direction or models of how to build a family, of how to manage their sexuality, or how to begin and pursue a career.

I truly think that this has contributed to the rampant illegitimacy, divorce, addiction, and suicide rates in the western world.

Obviously this is not entirely owing to feminism. Technology and urbanisation and consumerism have also contributed to a liberalism gone wild.

For clear thinkers there can be no doubt that western culture has lost the balance between freedom and order, the potentials of chaos and the boundaries of structure.

To restore the balance, we need to go back to basics. How do men and women fit together?

Feminism has shown its inability to help us answer this question over the last fifty years.