Though many women call themselves feminists for a variety of reasons, not every woman who adopts the title sticks with it. Both adopting and dropping the label come with political and social assumptions and consequences, and for that reason some choose to avoid the debate altogether. However, the women below have been involved in the debate – and they have seen it from the perspective of both sides. These four women detail the reasons they – and possibly many others – abandoned the movement.
Although she used to identify as a feminist, Jessa Crispin no longer has any allegiance to the title or the movement. Earlier this year she wrote a book entitled Why I Am Not a Feminist, which has been making her name increasingly prominent. Part of her rationale for rejecting feminism includes her dislike of its efforts to dismantle capitalism along with the patriarchy, as she believes that the two are inseparable. According to Crispin, feminists have simply assimilated themselves into the patriarchy that they used to fight against so vehemently:
"If you have women in positions of power behaving like men do, that is not a defeat of the patriarchy. … That’s just patriarchy with women in it."
Crispin also believes that feminists have made a mistake by becoming apolitical:
"…that was really frustrating as someone who became politically conscious through my engagement with feminism. It was disappointing to see feminists abandon their value system for the sake of assimilation and power."
Heather Wilhelm has written for multiple well-known publications, including the Federalist, the Wall Street Journal, Real Clear Politics, and the Chicago Sun-Times, just to name a few. A self-proclaimed feminist in college, Wilhelm believed that feminism was about having the ability to do anything a man could do. When this definition changed, however, Wilhelm felt abandoned by the movement and no longer identifies with it for several reasons. One is that feminists have done women a disservice while educating them about casual sex, but pretending there is no harm involved:
“…instead [of] addressing the infamous ‘sexual double standard’ in a positive way—say, encouraging guys to take sex seriously—feminists attempt to drag women down as well...”
Additionally, she believes that “Today’s ‘feminists’ eschew independent thinking,” as there seems to be a set of beliefs that feminists are not allowed to hold if they want to use the title.
The overarching theme to Wilhelm’s conclusions against feminism? Each one places young women at a disadvantage and advises them to behave in a manner which will act against their well-being.
Helen Pluckrose became a former feminist when she realized that the movement “had shifted from the universality of equal human rights to identity politics.” These identity politics play out in the following way:
“Individuals and groups of all sexes, races, religions and sexualities have their own truths, norms and values. All truths, cultural norms and moral values are equal. Those of white, Western, heterosexual men have unfairly dominated in the past so now they and all their ideas must be set aside for marginalized groups.”
Pluckrose explains that her own mother was a second wave feminist in the 1960s facing true sex discrimination: she was denied a mortgage because she did not have a male guarantor. Thus, the switch in feminism’s aims leaves her feeling quite exclude from the movement.
Pluckrose also argues that the legal battles have been won for women here in America, and thus the movement has confused itself with post modernism.
In March of 2017, Cassie Jaye released a self-directed documentary titled The Red Pill: A Feminist’s Journey into the Men’s Rights Movement. Having always been interested in gender issues and having produced other documentaries which examine gender, Jaye wrote that she initially became interested in the topic of Men’s Rights after visiting one of their online communities. She identified herself as a feminist at that time, but after filming and following men’s rights activists for over three years, she has come to see that there is truth rather than misogyny in their opinions. The Evening Standard reports Jaye stating the following:
"… I saw actions and things that I disagree with in feminists and ultimately it led me to believe that feminism is not the road to gender equality. … I no longer call myself a feminist but I am still an advocate of women's rights and always will be and I am adding men to the discussion."
[Image credit: Pexels]