Feminism Shouldn't Embrace Inclusivity
Feminists are told they must embrace inclusivity, even if it means letting in less desirable elements. In this post, Madeleine argues the case for exclusionary feminism, or at least some order.
Most writings from former-feminists detail similar reasons for leaving: the movement became man-hating, divisive, illiberal and did not align with their current values. The complexity of each individual varies. The reason why I left feminism, and haven’t called myself one for a while is different. I left feminism because of ‘inclusivity.’ This is the push for feminist spaces and movements to become more accepting, whether that is trans women, men or absolutely any woman. This has been a mistake.
The reason why feminism opted for inclusivity was for two reasons. The first one was a reaction to criticisms of white supremacy and classicism. The suffragettes, as third wave feminists love to tell me, were ‘anti-black.’ On one hand, I understand this reason. Many feminists born between the second and third wave focused on civil rights and the abuses done to Aboriginal Australians, Chinese women and African Americans. Inclusivity makes sense if it’s the main value expressed at universities, art centres, writers’ workshops and secondary school departments. However, the feminists eventually took their fear of excluding others to ridiculous levels. As this post argues, inclusivity isn’t the best approach to politics or culture.
The second reason was survival. There is no guarantee of future feminist waves, or women having affinity for it. Feminism had to ‘readapt’ to the times, lest it become old fashioned. Although it’s tempting to dismiss feminism as having no principles or backbone, it’s normal for any political philosophy to evolve somewhat with time.
Intersectionality Killed Feminism
Intersectionality meant you couldn’t discuss feminism without mentioning race or class. Although this fusion is not unique to third wave feminism, it is true that contemporary feminists are well expected to be ‘educated’ on current discourse regarding race and even religion. But this is a case of ‘biting off more than you can chew.’ Feminists are feminists because of gender dynamics, not due to race. It is foolish to expect a feminist to ‘stand up for Palestinian men’ or allow a higher intake of refugees. While it’s true there are some feminists who take progressive stances (like J.K Rowling during Brexit and the European refugee crisis), they are not making this argument because they are feminists.
No – it comes from progressive politics. A common misconception about feminism is the conflation with Marxism. This doesn’t come from nothing, but it’s certainly possible to be a feminist while rejecting various Marxist schools. The problem is, most young feminists do not know that. They are never given an alternative to ‘inclusive’ feminism.
The result is feminism that never has time to focus on women. One of the most vicious motifs to come out of intersectional feminism is the concept of ‘white women tears.’ If the goal of feminism is a united sisterhood (which I’d argue is a bad thing), then this is counterproductive.
Inclusivity let in the weirdos
There’s a meme about male feminists being secret perverts, domestic abusers and rapists. Although it’s tempting to respond with ‘they aren’t real feminists’, I caution against this. By its nature, inclusive feminism must mean letting in the weirdos.
I’m into fashion, and I follow the brand Dior (started by Christian Dior, a legend in fashion design). A few years ago, they released a shirt with the words ‘We should all be feminists.’ This mirrors a similar-sounding sentiment from author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She, and Dior, are not the only ones. Emma Watson has made appeals to a larger feminist tent that includes all. This is clearly a mistake. Do feminists really want weirdos in their movement? Such as rapist men who are sent to female prisons? From a strategic viewpoint, this practice is akin to suicide.
If your movement is all-inclusive and there are no barriers to entry, then now your movement must take care of everyone, including those who actively hate the core principles of feminism. Inclusivity has turned the once dynamic movement into a tepid, commercialised protest. And thus, feminism won’t attract truly wonderful, talented individuals who seek standing out.
If Everyone Is Feminist…
Growing up, I heard the statement ‘you are a feminist if you believe men and women are equal.’ This is such a basic, ‘duh’ statement. Even if I concede men and women are biologically different and thus will have different outcomes (which I do), women and men are still worthy of respect and worth. One point I convey to right-wingers on the traditional or biological essentialism side is that women are more than mothers. Women have their own aspirations, hobbies and interests, as well as opinions and thoughts. Without sounding overwrought, women are just as tragic and flawed as the men. Of course, right-wingers tend to have little interest in playing feminist games. I’m only mentioning this to express a different take on feminism, that’s neither positive nor overtly negative.
But back to the statement ‘you are a feminist.’ If everyone is a feminist, then being a feminist becomes less meaningful. Telling others, you believe men and women are equal gives little insight into your politics or philosophy. This is because calling yourself a feminist, and adhering to its label, has become more essential than believing in feminism. Because of this, ‘feminism’ as a political movement has diminished value. It’s not interesting enough to spark a conversation, or to urge others to pay attention. This is why feminism must reject inclusivity. It attracts low-energy, apathetic people who drain the life out of the movement. This mutes voices that are intelligent and creative. More than that, a movement’s success is not fully determined by numbers. It’s possible for minorities and small movements to wield power and cause change.
Feminism despises hierarchy, and I’m not referring to Jordan Peterson’s theory on masculine dominance. Rather, I use hierarchy to mean order and structure. Unfortunately for the feminists, many of them associate such traits with patriarchy. But I don’t believe feminism needs such a top-down approach, but it does need order. This means basic respect for previous feminists, and prioritizing ideas and individuals not based on intersectionality, but on effectiveness and strength. Currently, feminism is directionless. There’s too much feuding and fighting, with bizarre behaviour. This is partially generational.
The ‘TERF’ battles raging through the United Kingdom are surely done on generational lines. The ‘old’ feminists must battle the intersectional, younger women. The latter have no respect for the former, if anything, they are enemies at war. But the older feminists aren’t getting off the hook. Much of the 60s to the early 90s had feminists aligning with various causes: Black Panther, socialism, etc. Worse is how they brought it into feminism. Now you can’t discuss feminism without outside political pollution. Although I have no problem with intellectual diversity within feminism, it does make the movement without order.
Unfortunately, inclusivity argues against clear definitions (what is a woman?) and does not encourage excellence. Rather, it opts for quotas and grandstanding. If we want 50% of CEOs to be women, then it’s much better to tell women to work hard and strive for greatness. It’s off-putting when female STEM undergraduates brag about their scholarships and attention granted based on their gender. A more sophisticated form of feminism argues against this, as it already believes women are intelligent enough as it is.
During my late teens and early 20s, I was on Tumblr. I consider this to be a waste of time, and a poor reflection of who I am currently. Out of all my feminist experiences, this was the most telling. There’s a flipside to ‘you are a feminist if you believe in equality’ and that’s ‘no true feminist would believe this…’ or ‘if your feminism is not intersectional, it is not feminism.’ Again, this is about feminism having to include particular desires or people that it never intended to accommodate. But I saw young feminists bend over backwards, and concede their own values and positions in order to seem ‘feminist.’ If a movement asks this of you, it has failed, or you are not suitable for it.
Very rarely does someone pushing this fallacy ever explain why feminism ought to be ‘pro-black’ or ‘accepting of LGBT.’ The only appeals made are done on an intersectional basis, and that is not a strong enough reason to overhaul feminism. It’s also a terrific exercise in peer pressure, or shutting up inconvenient voices. This results in most women rejecting feminism all together. It’s not because of any ideological reason, necessarily, but because they are exhausted. No one should become a feminist due to wordplay games or soft bullying. This isn’t a result of inclusivity, but it is the aftermath of a former point, which is ‘everyone should be a feminist’ rhetoric.
As argued earlier, feminism is inheritably political. Being a feminist means attending protests, or at the very least, structuring elements of your life around it. The simple truth is that not every woman is prepared for it, and most are not cut out for it. One can’t shake the feeling that pressuring everyone to become feminist is more about activism. Being an activist is draining, it’s not easy work, and not everyone should do it. But in the age of ‘activist baby’ and children being pressured to skip school to attend protests, I must warn of negative consequences. When I was an activist for around three years, I could never enjoy any progress or achievements. Everything good was undercut by ‘it’s not enough’ or ‘we still have work to do.’ At the end, this pessimism became too off putting. Activism makes you feel like a failure, when you aren’t.
This is why feminism should embrace exclusion, because it can, and should, avoid hurting people. The history of feminism is one of politics and activism, and this only appeals to a small percentage of humanity. Within that group, an even smaller amount can hack it. Go deeper, and you’ll find those who have the power to give feminism a decent name.
I do not consider myself a feminist, and this is because I’m probably too right-wing for it. While I am sympathetic to arguments made by feminists (especially regarding the complex nature of women), I do not align myself with this movement. It’s chaotic and there’s weirdos in it. I never signed up for this, and thus, I had to leave it. The current stage of feminism is one of glossy commercialisation – think of Jen Psaki interviews with the New Yorker while AOC wears an ‘eat the rich’ dress to a Met Gala.
Feminism may be now inclusive, but I’ll exclude it from my personal philosophy.