Feminism can be perplexing to many because the terms feminists use can be ill-defined, and feminists use language in imprecise, confused even contradictory ways. Terms like “women as a class,” when compared to just saying “women,” can be really tricky.
For example, consider the recent “listicle” (list / article portmanteau) by trans-exclusive radical feminist Meghan Murphy, a Canadian ginger. According to Murphy, she has identified “nine actual things that really do make you a better feminist than everybody else:”
In point number 1 of her listicle, Murphy posited the gender stereotype that “Being a women,” and not being a man, makes a person a better feminist:
Being a women is central to being a feminist because feminism is a movement that is by and for women.
Yet, in her very next point 2, Murphy asserts that gender stereotypes (like “women make better feminists”) are BAD – so bad that using them disqualifies one as a feminist.
If you think that objectifying women or street harassment or male entitlement or gender stereotypes or sexualizing violence against women is good and ok, you aren’t a feminist. [Emphasis added.]
One can only conclude that, by her own standards, Murphy is not a feminist.
One might claim that my precision in using Murphy’s own statements is overly intellectual and that we should appreciate Murphy’s passion and not criticize her obvious screw up. Unfortunately for Murphy, her point 3 is cutting out this anti-intellectualist bullshit:
OMG you guys! Thinking is not a bad thing. Of course you don’t need a degree to do feminism, sheesh. But, by the same token, all this “Fuck yer ivory tower ideology fuck theory fuck yeah” stuff is counterproductive and ignorant.
Poor dear. Not only is she not a feminist by her own standards but she demands that we use her standards in a rigorous way to frame her ideology and define feminism!
There is no activism without ideology. Ideology is the body of ideas that frames a political movement. We need that, otherwise how the fuck do we know what we’re doing?
Not only is Murphy not feminist at all, but she doesn’t know what she is doing.
“Women as a class”
To qualify and quantify how “women” and feminism are related, Murphy uses a variety of terms from mathematics to describe collections of individual women, including:
- “women are the group of humans who are oppressed under patriarchy, as a class,” (Notice that if “patriarchy hurts men,” as feminists claim sometimes, then men are women!)
- “Empowerment, in the context of feminism, means social empowerment for a group of marginalized people (in this case, women).”
- “posing nude and feeling sexy in a fashion or porn magazine might feel good for the individual doing it (they will receive positive reinforcement, feel attractive, profit financially, etc.) but does not constitute “empowerment” as it does not lift up women as a class.”
What is “women as a class”? The term “women” itself is a collective term that includes all human females (sometimes as adults, but not always), so Murphy’s repeated references to “women as a class” is either a sloppy redundancy or indicative of some other factor that Murphy does not define. This other factor might well be the Marxist-inspired idea of a “class struggle” but even then we are left to wonder how a “class of women” is distinctly different from just “women”.
Murphy further argued that feminism is not about helping individual women or even subsets (groups of individuals identified as “woman”) but rather advancing (lifting) women as a class. If we are to help “women as a class” rather than just help women individually, we need to know what exactly this “class of women” is!
In my work as an MRA I seek to bring legal equality to all people and so I don’t often have to distinguish between women and men in any formal way – I have an instinct of the differences in men and women, I care about both men and women, but not “men as a class” nor “women as a class” exclusively. Degenderizing laws is enough for me:
- All people, not just men, should be subject to the military draft (or equally free from it);
- “Selective Service” shouldn’t be “selective” at all; if it exists and is forced on men as a class, it should be forced on women as a class as well.
- Forced circumcision should be eliminated for everyone, not just “women as a class”.
- All parents should have parental rights that do not depend on one’s gender or class.
- Laws that excuse people from parental obligations (abortion, adoption, child surrender, child financial support, and so on) should be the same regardless of gender or class.
- Exposing one’s chest in public should be equally legal, or illegal, for everyone.
While MRAs seek legal gender equality and thus do not need to care about splitting genders into classes, feminists purport to support gender equality but are keenly insistent that only women “as a class”, but not men, deserve equality.
Now, what is a class, in a formal sense?
A class is a set (collection) of things (in this case, people) who can be uniquely defined by a property that all its members share. It follows that, if we can define “women as a class,” we mean ALL women who have the “woman property” and NOT one woman alone, nor some smaller set of women, nor the “not women” – men.
Now, what property makes a person a woman? Is this woman-property found in genetics, body type, brain type, mental image, or is it malleable and subject to individual whim? To be unique and unambiguous, a women class property must define all women and only women.
We might think we know what a woman is, but our instincts for this woman-property can fall apart when examined in detail.
In genetics, a human woman is distinguished from a man in that a woman has a double-X chromosome (denoted XX) and a man has a pair of chromosomes (denoted XY). Is this genotype unique enough to be a “woman property” that defines “woman as a class” for feminists?
Unfortunately, it is not: some people have chromosomal abnormalities but are still referred to as women, such as, people with Turner Syndrome, who have only a lone X chromosome (genotype XO, where “O” indicates one chromosome is missing or damaged) and are usually referred to as women even though they might also be viewed, logically, as “men” who are missing the Y chromosome (which would be also genotype XO).
One may also have three chromosomes (XXY), Klinefelter’s syndrome. These people are usually referred to as men even though they could be viewed as XX women with an extra Y chromosome.
As a practical matter, the woman-property is usually conferred at birth based on “phenotype”: the way the body is constructed. The woman phenotype has a vagina and no penis nor testicles; the male phenotype has a penis and testicles and no vagina. Unfortunately, this property is also imperfect as a woman-property; in genetic XY men with androgen insensitivity syndrome, some people called women are born with a vagina and no penis but they have men’s genetics and internal testicles instead of ovaries.
A variety of intersexual conditions exist in human society members and this means that our notion of the usual man or woman binary is imperfect and therefore, suspect. Some people will “identify” with a gender that is in contradiction to their genotype, phenotype, or both.
In addition, some people will try to transition from one gender identification to another. These “trans” people are a huge, ongoing and unsolvable problem for feminists seeking to define “women as a class.” They are no problem for MRAs like me who work for equal rights for all people regardless of gender.
Feminists who reject intersexuals or trans woman as members of “women as a class” are known as “Trans Exclusive Radical Feminists,” or TERFs for short. Although there are people who claim to be trans inclusive radical feminists (TIRFs) they are not as common as TERFs and are often frozen out of radical feminist discourse. Radical feminists often use as standard the woman property called “women born women” – women who appeared to have a vagina at birth, and still imagine themselves to be women throughout their lives.
Of course, one could just ask a feminist what his or her idea of a unique woman-property is but feminists dismiss such questions with the angry rejoinder that it is not their job to educate you (even though it is the job of an ideologue to explain their ideology clearly).
To be a feminist, or support feminism, one must work to improve the lives of “women as a class” (woman born women). Dictionary definitions that equate feminists with gender equality are flawed in that they do not reflect the feminist preoccupation with supporting women ONLY – woman as a class – and they do not give reliable definitions of women as a class.
Even feminist Emma Watson’s famous UN speech – that suggested feminism was also to help men achieve gender equality – was a bait-and-switch lie: both the phrase “he for she” and the one-sided pledge of her movement make it clear that men’s issues are not relevant to feminist work.
Indeed, if you work to advance yourself as a woman, or your woman friends, or the women of your country, or even women in your hemisphere, you are NOT a feminist because feminists only support women as a class – or so Meghan Murphy claims.
Consider alleged feminist victories like women’s suffrage and legal abortion. A lot of women opposed women’s suffrage because at the time suffrage was linked to the military draft and few, if any, women want to be drafted against their will. Since suffrage did not help these women, it did not help women as a class. Likewise, legal abortion does not help women-identified fetuses in the womb; it kills them. Again, this feminist “triumph” was not feminist at all because it did not help women as a class.
Is there anything that will both bring gender equality AND help lift “women as a class”? If gender is fluid – as some feminists claim – shouldn’t feminists actively work to lift women by lifting men?
I invite feminists to propose a change that will both bring gender equality AND help lift “women as a class.” But don’t be surprised if they have it dead wrong – as usual.
After completing the above article, I learned that Playboy Magazine, which pioneered the regular publication of nude, beautiful images of women, will stop showing nudity. Despite feminists’ opposition to pornography, the attractiveness of women’s bodies is a titanic source of power for women as a class. Additionally, the rise of Playboy helped trigger 2nd wave feminism – Playboy supported equal rights for women for decades.
If feminists were serious about empowering women, they would be storming the gates of the Playboy mansion, demanding the resurrection of the centerfold Playmate of the Month.