By: Athena Brown
If you’ve been keeping up with the nonsense coming out of the Third Wave recently, or the reactionary noise coming from the MRA camp, then you’ve probably heard it suggested more than once that feminism is a religion. This of course depends largely on what kind of feminism you’re referring to; the “women are people too” kind, which no one has a problem with, or the “Mario Saves the Princess so he Hates Women” kind – which is the one being called a religion.
So the short answer is; no, although Third Wave Feminism can be thought of as a religion , but more accurately we should simply say it’s “faith based”, as it has no holy book, rituals, and traditions that would otherwise make it a full blown religion. The original “Let Women Vote”, and the follow up, “Women Are People Too”, otherwise known as First Wave and Second Wave, were legitimate social movements, and had intelligent insights and fact-based arguments that could prove why they were right. Third Wavers often try to confuse this line, or outright deny that feminism can be divided into “waves”, even though this is a historical classification taught by most major accredited universities.
But in regards to Third Wave, sure it’s a load of nonsense – but you might be asking, “is it completely faith-based?”
Both religions and faiths have sacred truths that cannot be falsified, and a dogma that cannot be questioned. Whether it’s a 2000 year old Jewish zombie who was his own father and rose from the dead because a dirt man and rib woman ate from a magic apple, or whether it’s a magical sky wizard holding 72 virgins in a corner somewhere for when you die, these are ideas put forward as true. Questioning them results in fist-shaking tantrums, threats of violence, or passive aggressive disengagement (“I’ll pray for you”).
Personally, I’m 1,000% okay with anyone who has any belief system at all – so long as they admit from the start that it is, in fact, a belief. We do live in a free country after all, and you do have a right to believe whatever you want, no matter how much I may disagree with it. If you want to go to church and pay tithe, and you’re not hurting anyone else, I completely support your decision to do so. It’s when you present your beliefs as fact, and tell me that I’m a worthless person for not agreeing with you, or when you start seriously interfering with how other people live their lives, that we have a problem.
When determining whether or not 3rd Wave is faith based, the first red flag is how a Third Waver acts when their sacred truths are questioned.
What I mean is, if I question whether or not evolution is real, a scientist will simply show me the evidence that its real.
If I question whether or not global warming is happening, a scientist will simply show me the data that it’s happening.
If I question whether or not male privilege exists, that’s when I get the typical outraged religious accusations, get called names like “rape apologist” (worthless sinner), and insta-blocked on most forums, or passive disengagement, like “Women deserve equal rights!”, followed by being blocked (as if I ever said anything against equal rights to begin with).
Two of these responses are what we’d expect from a system based on fact driven evidence. The other isn’t. That’s your dogma that can’t be questioned.
And the Sacred Truths? Third Wave has 5 of them. They all work to support the ultimate truth: That men are vicious, terrible animals, and women are poor, innocent victims.
Sacred Truths of Third Wave Feminist Religion
Wage Gap – Women are paid less than what men are paid, with the insinuation that this is caused by sexism, or some other prejudice against women.
You can of course go down to Wal-Mart right now, and ask a female employee what she makes, and a male employee what he makes. They make the same. It’s also a bit strange that companies don’t hire only women, since you can imagine how much money they’d save by doing so. Third Wavers want you to believe that there’s no federal law protecting women’s wages, but there is: http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/epa.cfm – and there has been since 1963.
When reality directly conflicts with religious truth, then reality must be ignored. The only way to do this is to build a barrier around yourself that protects you from such fact based information. Keep telling yourself that the wage gap really *IS* because men hate women! That there’s a man in the payroll department of each company everywhere, who’s secretly lowering women’s wages in his spreadsheet software, and even though this is against federal law, they’re somehow all constantly getting away with it – and only Third Wavers are onto the truth of what’s actually happening. Insta-Block / ban everyone who disagrees.
It can’t be that women work part time twice as often, call in sick three times as often, work fewer hours, or take positions that are easier – even though that’s what every study ever conducted has unanimously found.
Objectification – Men see women as objects, or as a mish-mash of sexual parts they can use for their pleasure. Depending on the congregation of Third Wavers you talk to, this may or may not involve the “loss of agency”, or “actor-actee dichotomy”.
This is why you see men going up to chairs and tables and saying “Hey baby, nice legs! Let me buy you a drink!” Because clearly that’s how they treat objects, right? I saw a baseball in my backyard once and talked to it for an hour, hoping it’d come home with me. Hey if I did that to a woman, I’m treating her as an object. A baseball is an object.
Remember that this only applies to men. When I was a man, I was objectifying women. Now that I’m a woman, it’s considered my LGBT rights.
Moreover, most of the psychological therapy techniques I use on a daily basis as a certified mental health worker would not function if Objectification Theory were true.
Loss of agency is a tricky aspect to bring up, especially since in every dating scene all over America, it’s men who nervously approach women, and women who can reject any and every man they deem unworthy. The men don’t really have a choice. It’s the men who do everything they can to impress women, even going so far as to risk making total buffoons of themselves, and the women who laugh and reject them. To make this sound like a “loss of agency” requires some serious mental gymnastics and well-timed pseudo-academic bushwa to make sound reasonable, a-la Reverend Anita Sarkeesian.
Male Privilege – In social theory, a “privilege” is defined as an “unearned advantage belonging to a particular race, gender, or group”.
So when examining the numerous claims of male privilege, it’s important to keep that definition in mind. Male Privilege allows me to ask women to smile. I’m not making that up: http://amptoons.com/blog/2004/10/07/smile-damn-you-smile/ — that is seriously one of the privileges. In Syria today, a woman got stoned to death. In America, a woman was asked to smile. The outrage! One day, we’ll get our rights… one day.
It also begs the question: why can’t a woman ask a man to smile?
As you might imagine, most male privileges follow a story-telling format, and use a hypothetical situation with one-dimensional characters who act in predictable ways and are simply used to prove a point that runs counter to common sense, much like what you’d expect to see in a chick tract.
Rape Culture – The idea that our society trivializes and downplays rape, which includes blaming rape victims.
Did you know that until 1977, rape in the US was punishable by death?
Did you know that capital sexual battery is *still* punishable by death in Florida and Montana?
Did you know that you cannot find a single broadcast or mainstream publication created anywhere in the first world over the last 50 years that endorses blaming a victim of rape?
To be clear, I’ve had this challenge answered a number of times by people showing me news stories were a single individual person was quoted on something to that affect. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying there is no report or portrayal of rape where the victim was blamed in a way that would reflect a public consensus that “Yes, that’s okay, blame her, because it’s partly her fault”.
In fact, the only time I have ever seen things like “What was she wearing” or “she was asking for it!” broadcast in media, ironically… has been only ever been from Third Wave feminist.
Patriarchy – This is the belief that there is a system of domination by which the wealthy, white, male ruling class has authority over everyone else. And before you think that’s a strawman definition, see:http://everydayfeminism.com/2013/05/patriarchy–and–how–it–shows–up–for–everyone/ – that is the exact, verbatim definition.
Right now, there’s a bunch of rich white men who have authority over you. They’re the ones responsible for creating male privilege, the wage gap, objectification, and rape culture.
How do we know patriarchy is real? Well we have the wage gap, for instance. And the wage gap is caused by the patriarchy. We know that the patriarchy is real because where else would we get the wage gap? The wage gap proves the patriarchy, and patriarchy proves the wage gap.
http://www.justice.gov/ovw <— it’s really strange how this can exist… an Office for Violence Against Women… in a patriarchy, where rich white men control everything.
The Ultimate Truth – Each and every one of these sacred truths are easily refutable, whether it’s through a simple thought experiment, common sense, or whether it’s from actual statistics and data from the Department of Justice or the FBI database proving that the famous “1 in 5 women get sexually assaulted” statistic is pure bogus. But the purpose of each of these is that they mutually support an underlying central truth – that men are villains, and women are victims. There is nothing involved in any of these points that actually addresses real inequality, or touches on real issues women actually face.
Every act of kindness is vilified; saying I’m attractive is objectification, wishing me well is harassment, holding a door open for me is sexism, telling me I’m valuable is benign sexism, and the moment any of these stop, it’s due to privilege. The whole of 3rd Wave narrative is based upon policing male behavior and punishing male identity with vitriolic persecution, all under the guise of pseudo-academic terminology meant only to make this sort of man-hating appear legitimate.
Third Wave isn’t about hating men, they just want you to believe men earn more and get more because penis. They want you to believe men control everything, and that gender norms aren’t the result of thousands of years of societal evolution, but were purposely designed that way, by men, just to make you miserable.
Third Wave isn’t about hating men, they just want you to believe that anytime a man takes notice in a woman, it’s because they see her as an object, not as a person. They want you to believe that men shouldn’t have the right to comment, or express their opinions in public, without a woman’s permission. And yet men are privileged.
Third Wave isn’t about hating men, they just want you to believe that men are okay with raping women, that nearly every woman experiences rape or attempted rape, because men are always on the verge of wanting to hurt women because that’s what men do, and they’re just barely able to hold themselves back somehow.
And the ultimate result of accepting this incredibly toxic view is the complete inability to find any sense of community. You can’t build relationships with other people in the place where you live, because if a man talks to you on a bus, it’s only because he’s thinking about you in some sexually perverse way. If a man looks at you in the park, he must be staring at you with some sinister intention. If a man pulls out a chair for you, he’s insulting you and thinks you’re a child. It can’t be that white heterosexual cis-men are just being nice, because even if they are just being nice, it means they’re being a “nice-guy” and expecting sex. That’s what all men want, and it’s the only reason they’re nice, because they think about it every 7 seconds. They can’t just be normal people like everyone else.
In conclusion, it’s perfectly understandable why Third Wave Feminism is often called a religion. It’s a faith-based movement with sacred truths which are asserted without evidence (and often completely divorced from reality), and which cannot be questioned.
And it’s a faith movement we can beat into obscurity through critical examination and rational inquiry.