Feminism as a word is itself a very controversial term. It has negative connotations attached to it, and if you are student of Gender Studies discipline then as a true disciple of this subject, it in many ways feels like it is your duty to dispel wrong image of feminist. To make people realize that Feminist can be a “normal person”.
Nowadays it is often believed in that feminism has entered into a post-feminism phase. This implies that the agenda of feminism is not required nor needed any more because now women have achieved their rights at par with men or in other words gender equality is mainstreamed, especially with reference to western society. At the same time in recent years there is sudden increase of anti-feminism sentiments in western countries as a form of backlash against feminism.
I used to think that anti-feminism thinking was usually supported by conservatives, because I believe that proponents of right wing ideology are not open to new things. Their world revolves around strict division of labour and their essentialist views on gender differences doesn’t let them to accept the fact that these gender differences are socially constructed. Conservatives adhering to right wing philosophy have gender stereotypes in their minds and they can’t think beyond superficial things. There is no doubt that Anti-feminism thinking often supports regressive behavior, while independence of women is perceived as a threat to natural order of gender relations. Anti feminist groups blame “Feminism” as the root cause for destruction of family system in the west. Men rights activist are also an important group in western societies who feels that women are dominating and having more rights than men resulting in discrimination against men. It wouldn’t be wrong to assume that such anti-feminist elements considers feminists as a group of arrogant pretentious women who are selfish and want to treat men as their lap dogs.
But with the passing of time, I started noticing that Liberal fascism is another kind of extreme that undermines feminism movement. Just take the example of FEMEN’s topless protests against oppression of women in Muslim countries. It’s a paradox because these kinds of topless protests are themselves a symbol of oppression because such practices objectifies women’s bodies and present women as a “sex objects”. I feel that so called Liberals Fascists organisations like FEMEN give a bad name to real cause of feminism and in fact such kind of “so called women’s rights organizations” actually promote anti-feminist behavior in conservative societies because they are extremely provocative for those whose views are totally different from them.
Liberal fascist intellectuals would consider women wearing “head scarves” as oppressed even if they are wearing Hijab /Headscarves out of their own will. Another bright example of liberal fascist intellectuals is that they will consider that women staying at homes are always being considered especially conservatives women even if it’s their own personal choice. Let me present a fictitious situation where a woman is working outside home and surprisingly and she is not happy with her life. She is suffering because of the triple burden (She has to perform three roles home, hearth and career).
The role of social media is also interesting in disseminating anti-feminist ideology because social networking & blogging websites provides an excellent outlet for expressing anti-feminism sentiments on the internet and the main advantage of using these kinds of sites is an “anonymity status” of commentators who can forget nasty cases of internet trolling.
Being Pakistani and a feminist, it is very interesting to observe and face anti-feminist sentiments because in my country feminism is often labeled as a “western concept” and feminist are considered as “maniacs” promoting western agenda for deteriorating moral fabric of society.
Many intellectuals believe that feminism needs to rebrand itself because it has lost its actual spirit and anti-feminism thinking gives rise to serious question that either it is true or just a myth that feminism has lost its appeal or actually there is need to rebrand it to make it more acceptable for common people and it’s unfortunate that women’s rights are politicized all over the word.
I think that both right wing ideology and liberal fascisms promotes anti feminist thinking all over the world because right wing ideology is too outdated, and the problem of liberal fascist approach is lack of mass appeal especially they are non-relevant in conservative societies. Therefore we need alternative approach which is moderate in its nature to make feminism movement more acceptable and popular because Common people can’t relate themselves to such extremes so therefore we need a balanced perspective as there is famous saying that “excess of everything is bad”.
Writer: Ms. Mehreen Qaisar (Ideas presented in this article are writer’s own opinions and views and readers discretion is advised and it’s not necessary to agree with above mentioned ideas. The article was originally published in The Moose Magazine Norge 2014)