By Sarah Waters
“Feminism literally means equality!”
We’ve all heard this trademark howl from today’s third-wave feminists. It’s their trump card (oh, sorry, their Hillary card), the place to which they retreat during any debate regarding the subject. If we were to simply look at the dictionary definition of the term, then technically they’d be correct. But if we are to face reality (something which many feminists are incapable of doing), we find that, in practice, present day feminism is anything but an ideology of equality. The toxic, cult-like movement bears little resemblance to the feminism of old. As an ex-feminist, I have witnessed firsthand the damage third-wave feminism can cause to unsuspecting young women.
Consider this your content warning. I was raped during my first month of college (note: I did not attend Binghamton as a freshman). My rapist, an older student, had threatened to mutilate my genitals and whore me out to his friends. I had to do exactly as he said and give him sex whenever, wherever. He went on to rape me dozens of times over the course of the semester. I was afraid and too innocent; I had never even kissed a boy prior to college. Worst of all, he made me believe I deserved the abuse for angering him, that it was normal. Going into my sophomore year, I was lost, I was confused, I was hurt and I was angry. Like many women, I turned to feminism in the aftermath. Feminism helps rape victims, or so I had heard. How wrong I was.
I entered into a world where the notion of a patriarchy was unquestionable. I fell into a bizarre fantasy where men were in control of everything women did; our failures and hardships were due to men. (Personal responsibility? What’s that?) Women were oppressed, and a utopia of equal rights was our dream. But the dreamlike state became a waking nightmare with each poisonous lesson I was fed. Far from helping me heal from the trauma of repeated rape, feminism broke me down until I became nothing more than a heaping pile of fearful victimhood. Men, I was taught, were not my fellow human beings, but walking time-bombs, vicious predators out to rape and abuse women. Men could not be trusted. I was told that rape was around every corner; every man was a potential rapist. I was told nobody would believe me, that everybody would blame me, that the police would not help me. We lived in a “rape culture,” where merely listening to Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” could drive a man into a sexual frenzy void of care for consent. I learned to avoid “triggering” material and class discussions even mentioning sexual assault. The paranoia was debilitating, exhausting, and unsustainable.
I started to open my eyes when feminists began decrying methods to prevent rape as “victim-blaming.” Instead, teach men not to rape, they screamed. Anti-rape panties, roofie-detecting nail polish, color-changing beer cups, self-defense classes, safety advice, everything else was rejected and maligned. Teach men not to rape. I was shocked. If something could spare a single woman from the horrors of rape, shouldn’t we be supporting it? No, they cried, that just teaches men to rape a different woman. Teach men not to rape.
Teach men not to rape. Teach men not to murder. Teach men not to rob. We already do these things, and yet, there are still rapists, murderers, and robbers. How about we teach women how to protect themselves? Bad people exist. We cannot expect to eliminate sexual violence by turning women into perpetual, helpless victims, treating them like children who cannot take care of themselves. My rapist was taught not to rape. Every freshman class took a first-year experience course that taught about sexual assault and consent (well, except for me, because I was out having surgery when we had that lesson, as I later found out). He was taught. He still raped me.
I began to question what I had been taught. I started to recognize toxic behaviors and thought patterns common to feminists. Demonize men, infantilize women. Deflect debate with circular logic. Ignore the wrongdoings of prominent feminists. Characterize all who disagree as misogynists and refuse to engage. When things get hard, claim sexism. Lather, rinse, repeat.
My eyes were opened. Feminism was not a movement to empower women as equals to men. Feminism today is designed to turn women into perpetual victims incapable of independent thought and action. Women who disagree with feminist theory and ideology are accused of “internalized misogyny.” Feminism paints women as damsels in distress who need to be saved from their “problematic” and “self-hating” opinions. According to feminism, women are too ignorant to understand what’s best for them and need a movement to show them the “right” way to think and act. A woman’s right to choose what to do with her own life is apparently only for women who make the “right” choices.
I saw the light. Then the real work began. The feminist reprogramming of the mind is incredibly difficult to reverse. For years, I struggled to overcome my fear of men. I still have trouble discussing sexual assault in class and reading articles about rape. Sex is still scary and confusing. The paranoia that took root in my brain still lingers. But I am healing. I can trust again. I refuse to be a victim. I turned to feminism to help me heal from rape, but it was only after I broke free from its chains that I was able to begin doing so.
I support women’s rights. I am not a feminist. The constant fear mongering, hypocrisy, logical fallacies, sexist radicalism, hateful attitudes, and demonization of an entire sex that I and many others have witnessed have irrevocably poisoned the term and the movement. “But wait,” the feminists cry indignantly. “People who do that aren’t real feminists, feminism is about equality!” Sorry, but if enough Scotsmen want misandry instead of equality, you start to lose your claim to true Scotsmanship.
It does not matter the dictionary definition of feminism in today’s world. Screaming it repeatedly will not change that. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Your actions speak so loud, I cannot hear what you are saying.”