Warning: this is a long’un.
Stumbled across this absolute gem today. I was drawn in by the idea that this young Canadian woman – a Political Science student, libertarian and Youtuber by the name of Lauren Southern – might be about to shatter my illusions, that she would “destroy” feminism. Did she? No, not really. Is it even remotely convincing? Absolutely not.
Firstly, some early observations from me – it’s interesting that the original copy of this video that I saw (this one is from Rebel Media) was posted by a channel named after that giant of gender equality Playboy. I have no idea if the channel is officially endorsed by Playboy, but, judging by the channel art of a busty woman and the description “Watch this hot blonde girl explain why third wave feminism is a load of horse shit”, I’m going to assume it has much the same motivations. That is, the objectification and systematic dehumanisation of women. How nice for those viewers. Hey, here’s a pretty girl to tell you why you shouldn’t feel bad about all the shitty things society does to women. Keep it classy, gentlemen. Maybe she didn’t anticipate that her video would end up on the channel, but potentially she knowingly allowed them to use the footage. The patriarchy might be benefiting you now, my dear. It’s not doing a lot for the rest of us.
This is the sign she referred to.
Her first point is that she believes in “equality, not entitlement or supremacy”. Not to sound like Bianca del Rio, but really, queen? Ms Southern just happens to be a writer for the right-wing media outlet Rebel Media, and she’s suggesting she doesn’t tolerate supremacy? I’m sure she’s worked out by now that “right-wing” means “accepting of social inequality”. Besides, the people coming from a privileged position – in which they think they are entitled to something – are men: entitlement to women’s bodies, entitlement to spaces where women should feel safe, entitlement to women’s opinions and voices and autonomy. Perhaps what you mean , ma’am, is “deserving”, not “entitled”. Every feminist in the world thinks women deserve the same opportunities and the same rights as their male counterparts. I don’t think that’s a negative thing at all.
She later states that “… third wave feminism is NOT, in fact, a movement for equality”. This always baffles me. Does she think people like me just call ourselves “feminists” for the banter? Everybody who says “I’m a feminist” does it because the word means something to them. They’re dissatisfied with the current state of society and they want to do something to change it. How can a movement in which every participant wants a better and fairer world not be “for equality”? Utterly bizarre.
She then asks (what I accept as) a valid question: “If feminism is a movement for equality, why do we not see equal representation of both genders’ issues?” (For someone who’s so interested in social equality, she invalidates trans people in spectacular fashion.) The answer is, my dear Lauren, that there is fair representation of men within the feminist movement – you just choose not to see it. Feminists are aware that men experience violence and rape, and that their traumatic experiences are ignored. The people who believe that men cannot be raped or refuse to allow men to show emotions very rarely identify as feminists. She also states that “feminists remain silent on the issue (of sexual assault against males)”, which is patently untrue. The stigma surrounding men speaking up about rape and sexual assault comes from patriarchal ideas about femininity. To show emotion is to be feminine; to be feminine is to be weak. Feminism is all about challenging those ideas.
I find it particularly interesting that she was also embroiled in controversy for holding up a sign that said: “There is no rape culture in the West.” This took place at a SlutWalk in Vancouver, a protest against victim-blaming in rape trials. She was also seen holding a microphone up to the faces of victims and openly harassing them. Contrary to what Lauren seems to think, comparatively few rape cases, even involving women, actually result in a trial and a subsequent conviction. I wrote a speech about the issue for an English Language exam, condemning the inadequacy of the law in rape trials. Women are still stigmatised even when they are the victim; if they were dressed “provocatively”, then the rapist could not control himself. This is something feminists firmly disagree with – we don’t think men are unable to control their urges. We don’t believe that “boys will be boys”.
There is room for men in feminism; they’re just not the focus. Meninists, MRAs and anti-feminists have one stance and one stance only – that they hate feminists. They don’t really care about men’s issues, they don’t campaign to raise awareness of violence against men or of high suicide rates among young males.
I’m not saying men don’t face struggles or every man has an easy life. But it’s undeniable that, historically, men have held power over women. I will never perceive someone preventing women from reclaiming that power as anything but a sexist.
Lauren Southern’s fallacy here is to blame the lack of social support for men on feminists, as though we are the governing body. That is the fault of our society. Personally, I care very much about men’s issues. I want my three younger brothers to grow into healthy, happy young men who are comfortable talking about how they feel. We lost three grandparents this year and I am immeasurably proud of how the boys handled such a terrible situation. All three showed sensitivity and a willingness to talk about how the sad passing of our grandparents made them feel, even the youngest who is only five.
Lauren doesn’t really take issue with feminism- at least, I don’t think she does. Having looked at her work on Rebel Media, she’s concerned about a “politically correct” society. She just doesn’t want to get called out for being bigoted. Guess who can spot a bigot a mile off? Ooh yeah, us feminists. Her bibliography includes: “Be offensive in the defence of free speech on university campuses“, “”#GamerGate: is sexist games marketing a real problem- or feminist propaganda?” and “Is diversity really our strength?” (in which she argues that a diverse society is useless because it doesn’t have an economic benefit). She’s just privileged and reactionary, as most right-wing politicians are.
Lauren Southern hasn’t “destroyed” third wave feminism, not by a long shot. Every example she gave was an issue that I have heard countless feminists bring up. So to summarise: feminists know that boys do cry and that it’s healthy and normal for them to do so. Sorry, Lauren. Try again another time.