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Antifeminism is broadly defined as ideological opposition to feminism. This opposition has taken various forms across time and cultures. For example, antifeminists in the late 1800s and early 1900s resisted women's suffrage, while antifeminists in the late 20th century opposed the Equal Rights Amendment. Antifeminism may be motivated by the belief that feminist theories of patriarchy and disadvantages suffered by women in society are incorrect or exaggerated, that feminism as a movement encourages misandry and seeks to harm or oppress men, or by general hostility towards women's rights.
- 1 Definition
- 2 Antifeminist stances
- 3 History
- 4 Organizations
- 5 Stigmatizing feminism
- 6 See also
- 7 Further reading
- 8 References
- 9 External links
- That social arrangements among men and women are neither natural nor divinely determined.
- That social arrangements among men and women favor men
- That there are collective actions that can and should be taken to transform these arrangements into more just and equitable arrangements, such as those in the timelines of woman's suffrage and other rights.
Canadian sociologists Melissa Blais and Francis Dupuis-Déri write that antifeminist thought has primarily taken the form of an extreme version of masculinism, in which, "men are in crisis because of the feminization of society". However, in the same article, they also note that, "little research has been done on antifeminism whether from the perspective of the sociology of social movements or even of women's studies," indicating that an understanding of what the full range of antifeminist ideology consists of is incomplete.
"Antifeminist" is also used to describe female authors, some of whom define themselves as feminists, based on their opposition to some or all elements of feminist movements. Other feminists label writers such as Camille Paglia, Christina Hoff Sommers, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Katie Roiphe and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese with this term because of their positions regarding oppression and lines of thought within feminism. Daphne Patai and Noreta Koertge argue that by labeling these women antifeminists, the intention is to silence them and prevent any debate on the state of feminism.
The meaning of antifeminism has varied across time and cultures and the antifeminist ideology attracts both men and women. Some women, for example the Women's National Anti-Suffrage League campaigned against women's suffrage. Emma Goldman, for example, was widely considered antifeminist during her fight against suffragism in the US. Decades later, however, she was heralded as a founder of anarcha-feminism.
Men's studies scholar and a feminist Michael Kimmel defines antifeminism as "the opposition to women's equality." He says that antifeminists oppose "women's entry into the public sphere, the re-organization of the private sphere, women's control of their bodies, and women's rights generally." Kimmel further writes that antifeminist argumentation relies on "religious and cultural norms" while proponents of antifeminism advance their cause as a means of "'saving' masculinity from pollution and invasion." He argues that antifeminists consider the "traditional gender division of labor as natural and inevitable, perhaps also divinely sanctioned."
Some antifeminists view feminism as a denial of innate differences between the genders, and an attempt to reprogram people against their biological tendencies. Antifeminists also frequently argue that feminism, despite claiming to espouse equality, ignores rights issues unique to males. Some believe that the feminist movement has achieved its aims and now seeks higher status for women than for men via special rights and exemptions.
Some antifeminists have argued that feminism has resulted in changes to society's previous norms relating to sexuality, which they see as detrimental to traditional values or conservative religious beliefs. For example, the ubiquity of casual sex and the decline of marriage are mentioned as negative consequences of feminism. Many of these traditionalists oppose women's entry into the workforce, political office, and the voting process, as well as the lessening of male authority in families. Antifeminists argue that a change of women's roles is a destructive force that endangers the family, or is contrary to religious morals. For example, Paul Gottfried maintains that the change of women's roles "has been a social disaster that continues to take its toll on the family" and contributed to a "descent by increasingly disconnected individuals into social chaos".
|This section requires expansion. (September 2014)|
In the 19th century, the centerpiece of antifeminism was opposition to women's suffrage. Opponents of women's entry into institutions of higher learning argued that education was too great a physical burden on women. In Sex in Education: or, a Fair Chance for the Girls (1873), Harvard professor Edward Clarke predicted that if women went to college, their brains would grow bigger and heavier, and their wombs would atrophy. Other antifeminists opposed women's entry into the labor force, or their right to join unions, to sit on juries, or to obtain birth control and control of their sexuality.
Mid 20th century
In 1951, two journalists published Washington Confidential, the novel that sparked the second Red Scare. It claimed that Communist leaders used their men and women to recruit a variety of minorities in the nation's capital, such as females, colored males, and homosexual males. The vast popularity of the book caused such a buzz that the Civil Service Commission had to create a “publicity campaign to improve the image of federal employees” in hopes to save their federal employees from losing their jobs. This ploy failed once the journalists linked feminism to communism in their novel and ultimately reinforced antifeminism by implying that defending the “white, Christian, heterosexual, patriarchal family” was the only way to oppose communism.
Late 20th century
Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)
The Equal Rights Amendment is a perennially proposed amendment to the United States Constitution that would grant equal rights and opportunities to every citizen of the United States, regardless of his or her sex. By 1972, the amendment was supported by both major parties and was immensely popular; but though it made it through Congress, it was defeated when it failed to get the vote of thirty-eight legislatures by 1982.
Jerome Himmelstein hypothesized that housewives opposed the ERA because they were content with being “economically dependent on their husbands” and did not like the idea of working for a living. Those housewives’ high-income husbands opposed the amendment because they would gain the least with it being passed. In fact, those men had the most to lose since the ratification of the ERA would mean more competition for their privileged jobs and possibly a lowered self-esteem.
Another method that the antifeminists used was getting the votes of politicians, who had the largest impact on the destiny of the ERA. Because of the support of antifeminism from conservatives and the constant “conservative reactions to liberal social politics,” like the New Deal attacks, the attack on the ERA has been called a “right-wing backlash”. Antifeminists maintained this proposal wholeheartedly. This new motive was driven by the “beliefs about the family and personal morality” and not so much for the mere social status. Their methods grew to actions like, “insults proffered in emails or on the telephone, systematic denigration of feminism in the media, Internet disclosure of confidential information (e.g. addresses) on resources for battered women” and more.
After the ERA was rejected, antifeminism grew a branch: masculinism. Once feminists began suggesting ideologies like same-sex marriage, single mother households, and ultimately opposing the root purpose of antifeminism, it created a division of antifeminism that feels the “masculine identity has been spurned”. Made up mostly of men, it is debated whether masculinism is a social movement or a scapegoat to the people who made them have to fight for the roles in life that they feel are due onto them.
Contemporary issues surrounding antifeminism include concerns of fairness in matters of family law, regarding things like child custody, paternity liability, child support, and concerns of sex or gender inequality in the criminal justice system, such as fairness in sentencing for like crimes.
BBC and Time, among others, have covered the 2014 social media trend "Women Against Feminism". These antifeminists say that feminism demonizes men (misandry) and that women are not oppressed in 21st century Western countries.
The Guardian and Jezebel have also reported on an increasing number of women and female celebrities rejecting feminism and instead subscribing to humanism. Several women who identify as being humanist and anti-feminist have argued in an article for the Guardian that feminism is a discriminatory ideology and continues to portray women as victims. The article was written in response to Australian Labor Senator Penny Wong's speech on the 11th of April at the Annual Jessie Street Luncheon where she defended feminism, stating, "Feminism is not an extreme term – it is a mainstream movement that has transformed modern Australia for the better."
In response to the social media trend, modern day feminists also began to upload similar pictures to websites such as Twitter and Tumblr. Most used the same hashtag, "womenagainstfeminism", but instead made satirical and bluntly parodic comments. In November 2014, Time magazine included "feminist" on its annual list of proposed banished words. After initially receiving the majority of votes (51%), a Time editor apologized for including the word in the poll and removed it from the results.
Founded in the U.S. by Phyllis Schlafly in 1972, Stop ERA, now known as "Eagle Forum", lobbied successfully to block the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in the U.S. It was also Schlafly who forged links between Stop ERA and other conservative organizations, as well as single-issue groups against abortion, pornography, gun control, and unions. By integrating Stop ERA with the thus-dubbed "new right" she was able to leverage a wider range of technological, organizational and political resources, successfully targeting pro-feminist candidates for defeat.
||This section's tone or style may not reflect the encyclopedic tone used on Wikipedia. (August 2015)|
Feminism has grown an over-hanging stigma throughout its evolution. Scripps College English professor Jacqueline Wernimont analyzes the stigma of a daily feminist in the section “The Technosocial Scene and Visible Feminism” in her article “Whence Feminism? Assessing Feminist Interventions in Digital Literary Archives.” According to Wernimont, “’feminism’ has become worse than an irrelevance, a new ‘national dirty word’: a term that is meaningful as a warning sign”. She uses this new interpretation of feminism, as a male hating movement, to argue how feminism has become marginalized by society for its progressive social and political desires to change the disparity between sexes and between races, ages, and classes, as well. With most publication agencies banning printing feminist stories and preventing strong emergence of feminist scholarship, authors are forced to suppress beliefs they hold to be self-evident. In response feminist authors, instead of challenging the publication agencies, find methods to side-step the editing filter.
Wernimont describes two methods to smoke screen the concepts of feminism within publications in order to have the possibility of printing and for “appropriating the successes of feminist work for a more general, and more palatable, liberatory [sic] agenda”. To reach a further audience, authors have removed every instance of the word “feminism” and its relatives so all ideology is inherently implied yet not directly explained. Further along those lines, authors, some practicing this technique for years now, weave the principles of feminism into their scholarship as a fundamental foundation of thinking. If the mindset to create the publication is feminist, then the mindset of the reader will change to feminist. This type of feminism was coined “Implicit Feminism” by University of Illinois at Chicago sociology professor Danielle Giffort in her article “SHOW OR TELL? Feminist Dilemmas and Implicit Feminism at Girls' Rock Camp.” Implicit Feminism is the “strategy practiced by feminist activists within organizations that are operating in an anti- and post-feminist environment in which they conceal feminist identities and ideas while emphasizing the more socially acceptable angles of their efforts”. Implicit Feminism is the effect of a stigmatized association with traditional feminism. Those who practice feminism in this reserved manner are less concerned with the definition of feminism than maintaining an incognito yet practicing feminist identity. Teaching Implicit Feminism is in and of itself implicit. Rather than explaining a mode of thought known as feminism, taking the principles of feminism as a foundation of thought and teaching cultural necessities such as intelligence, independence, and self-reliance through the feminist lens accomplishes the transfer of feminist ideology without explicitly labeling it with the stigmatized brand of feminist. The risk of Implicit Feminism is in its inherent nature to stay hidden, even to those who are taught it unwittingly, so the inherent value of feminism can become distorted within the perceived culture of society. The greatest topic sacrificed by Implicit Feminism is the history of feminism, and without the history, one cannot understand why the principles being taught hold so much weight, personally and politically. Giffort concluded that “people can ‘do’ feminism without identifying or interpreting what they are doing as feminist and still challenge cultural ideas surrounding gender and other socially oppressive institutions”, yet still waffled at the idea of explicit teachings of feminism because while it allows for greater grasp of the whole feminist ideology, it also exposes the individual to cultural stigmas.
According to Amherst College sociology professor Jerome L. Himmelstein in his article “The Social Basis of Antifeminism: Religious Networks and Culture,” the stigma is a manifestation of antifeminism, which means it could have a grand multitude of rooting and stemming reasons of existing; however, two prevailing theories can explain where antifeminism originates. The first theory, proposed by Himmelstein, is the political opposition in the abortion and Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) debates, groups who consist primarily of individuals of lower socioeconomic status, rural, and older constituencies. The political view is labeled as conservative. Although these characteristics may perpetuate through anti-abortion and anti-ERA advocates, it is not a blanket definition and deserves to avoid stereotyping.
The second theory proposes that women in the antifeminist group perpetuate the “insecure housewife scenario,” in which women are to depend on men for fiscal support. The theorized opposition is a group of married, low education, low personal income women; however in numerous studies, no direct class can be differentiate between characters of feminism and antifeminism.
So both theories cannot create clear cut, polarized socio-economic groups who dignify the pro-feminists and antifeminist. What cleanly unifies the opposition group is religion. Individuals unaffiliated with any religion, along with Jewish groups, are most likely to support feminist views, while groups involved with Christianity, especially Catholics, are most likely to oppose feminist views. Christian beliefs stress strict lives for women. The Christian doctrine includes regulating women’s sexuality and gender role in the family and in the world. So with evidence from various studies, Himmelstein concludes the feminist stigma stems from religious views that have prevailed for nearly two millennia. Analyzing core human nature, womanist author Audre Lorde tries to answer why a doctrine like religion would have one group hate another in her excerpt “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference” from her collection Sister Outsider.
Lorde defines the driving force of group separation not as simple personal difference but as “our refusal to recognize those differences, and to examine the distortions which result from our misnaming them and their effects upon human behavior and expectation”. According to Lorde, a patriarchal system at the core of society is held in place simply by belief that superficial differences make one superior to another, that one faith is greater than another. The system cannot be defeated from outside the system because a superficial difference cannot be changed thus the system never changes. The patriarchal, oppressive system ensures an oppressed group, so here is the source of feminist stigma.
Literature about antifeminism
- Nielsen, Kim E. (2001). Un-American womanhood : antiradicalism, antifeminism, and the first Red Scare. Columbus: Ohio State University Press. ISBN 978-0814250808.
- Redefining the New Woman, 1920-1963 (Antifeminism in America: A Collection of Readings from the Literature of the Opponents to U.S. Feminism, 1848 to the Present), Howard-Zophy
- Faludi, Susan (1991). Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women. Crown Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0-517-57698-8.
- Kampwirth, Karen. 2006. "Resisting the Feminist Threat: Antifeminist Politics in Post-Sandinista Nicaragua" NWSA Journal. Vol. 18, No 2. (Summer). pp. 73–100.
- Kampwirth, Karen. 2003. "Arnoldo Alemán Takes on the NGOs: Antifeminism and the New Populism in Nicaragua" Latin American Politics and Society. Vol. 45. No. 2. (Summer) 2003. pp. 133–158.
- Kampwirth, Karen. 1998. "Feminism, Antifeminism, and Electoral Politics in Post-War Nicaragua and El Salvador" Political Science Quarterly Vol. 113, No. 2. (Summer) pp. 259–279.
- Cynthia D. Kinnard, Antifeminism in American Thought: An Annotated Bibliography (Boston: G. K. Hall & Co., 1986, ISBN 0-8161-8122-5)
- Kipnis, Laura, The Female Thing: Dirt, Sex, Envy, Vulnerability (Pantheon, 2006).
- Mansbridge, Jane: Why We Lost the ERA, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1986
- Nielsen, Kim E. Un-American Womanhood: Antiradicalism, Antifeminism, and the First Red Scare
- Schreiber, Ronnee (2008). Righting Feminism. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-533181-3.
- Swanson, G. Antifeminism in America: A Historical Reader (2000) ISBN 0-8153-3437-0
- Helen Andelin, Fascinating Womanhood (1963; reprint 2007) ISBN 0-553-38427-9
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- Gilbert K. Chesterton, Brave New Family (1990; essay collection) ISBN 0-89870-314-X
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- Thomas Ellis, The Rantings of a Single Male (2005) ISBN 0-9762613-1-6
- Thomas Fleming, The Politics of Human Nature (1988) ISBN 1-56000-693-5
- Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Feminism is Not the Story of My Life (1996) ISBN 0-385-46790-7
- George Gilder, Men and Marriage (1992) ISBN 0-88289-444-7
- Steven Goldberg, The Inevitability of Patriarchy (1973) ISBN 0-8126-9237-3
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- Richard T. Hise, The War Against Men (2004) ISBN 1-930859-61-9
- Thomas P. James, Domestic Violence: The 12 Things You Aren't Supposed to Know (2003) ISBN 1-59330-122-7
- Mary A. Kassian, The Feminist Mistake (2005) ISBN 1-58134-570-4
- Linda Kelly, Disabusing the Definition of Domestic Abuse: How Women Batter Men and the Role of the Feminist State (2003)
- Karen Lehrman, The Lipstick Proviso: Women, Sex & Power in the Real World (1997) ISBN 0-385-47481-4
- Myron Magnet, Modern Sex: Liberation and Its Discontents (2001) ISBN 1-56663-384-2
- Harvey Mansfield, Manliness (2006) ISBN 0-300-10664-5
- Diane Medved and Dan Quayle, The American Family: Discovering the Values That Make Us Strong (1997) ISBN 0-06-092810-7
- Paul Nathanson and Katherine K. Young Spreading Misandry: The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture (2001) ISBN 0-7735-2272-7
- Paul Nathanson and Katherine K. Young, Legalizing Misandry: From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination Against Men (2006) ISBN 0-7735-2862-8
- Kate O'Beirne, Women Who Make the World Worse (2005) ISBN 1-59523-009-2
- Daphne Patai and Noreta Koertge, Professing Feminism: Cautionary Tales from the Strange World of Women's Studies (1995) ISBN 0-465-09827-4
- John Piper and Wayne Grudem, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (1991) ISBN 0-89107-586-0
- Erin Pizzey, Prone to Violence (Hamlyn, 1982; ISBN 0-600-20551-7)
- Mary Pride, The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality (1985) ISBN 0-89107-345-0
- Phyllis Schlafly, The Power of the Positive Woman (1977) ISBN 0-87000-373-9
- Phyllis Schlafly, Feminist Fantasies (2003) ISBN 1-890626-46-5
- Christina Hoff Sommers, Who Stole Feminism? (1995) ISBN 0-684-80156-6
- Christina Hoff Sommers, The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism is Harming Our Young Men (2001) ISBN 0-684-84957-7
- Howard Schwartz, The Revolt of the Primitive: An Inquiry into the Roots of Political Correctness (2003) ISBN 0-7658-0537-5
- Lionel Tiger, The Decline of Males (2000) ISBN 0-312-26311-2
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- Clarke EH. Sex in Education: Or, A Fair Chance for the Girls. Boston: J.R. Osgood; 1873.
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- Blee, K. (1998). Antifeminism. In W. Mankiller (Ed.), The reader's companion to U.S. Women's history. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.
- "The two major waves of antifeminist activity coincide with the two waves of the women’s rights movement: the campaign to secure female suffrage in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the feminist movement of the late twentieth century. In both periods, those holding a traditional view of women’s place in the home and family tried to advance their cause by joining with other conservative groups to forestall efforts to extend women’s rights."
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- "Antifeminism, then, repudiates critiques of male supremacy and resists efforts to eliminate it (often accompanied by dismissal of the idea that change is possible). Note that this definition of antifeminism limits its reference to reactions against critiques of gender-based hierarchies and efforts to relieve the oppression of women."
- Howard, Angela Marie. "Antifeminism." The Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History. : Oxford University Press, 2008. Oxford Reference. 2008. Date Accessed 30 Sep. 2015
- "Reform activity that challenged either the subordination of women to men or the patriarchal limitation of women's status provoked an antifeminist response that included an intellectual and political campaign to halt progress toward women's rights and equality."
- Blais, Melissa; Francis Dupuis-Déri (2011-12-19). "Masculinism and the Antifeminist Countermovement". Journal of Social, Cultural and Political Protest 11 (1): 21–39. doi:10.1080/14742837.2012.640532. Retrieved 2013-05-11.
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- Elizabeth Kamarck Minnich, Review: 'Feminist Attacks on Feminisms: Patriarchy's Prodigal Daughters', Feminist Studies, Vol. 24, No. 1. (Spring, 1998), pp. 159–175
- BITCHfest: Ten Years of Cultural Criticism from the Pages of Bitch Magazine, by Margaret Cho (Foreword), Lisa Jervis (Editor), Andi Zeisler (Editor), 2006
- Patai and Koertge, Professing Feminism: Education and Indoctrination in Women's Studies, (2003)
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- Wernimont, Jacqueline (2011). "Whence Feminism? Assessing Feminist Interventions in Digital Literary Archives". Digital Humanities Quarterly 7 (1). Retrieved 17 April 2015.
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- Lorde, Audre (2007). Sister Oustider. p. 115.
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