How To Silence A Feminist

An analysis of the comments I most often receive, both here and in real life.

"It's not as big a problem as you're making it out to be." 

I understand why people want to believe this.  I would like to believe it, too.  Pity it's not true.  We like to think of feminism as something that was necessary back in the Bad Old Days.  And it's true that women have made a lot of gains in the last 40 years.  The most visible trappings of misogyny have been eliminated.  Hooray!

But we're not there yet.  Women are still only worth 77 cents on the dollar on the job market.  Many industries continue to be male-dominated (e.g.  women comprise only 10-30% of the technology industry).  In marriages where both spouses work full time, women still do significantly more housework than their husbands.  (A recent study found that husbands create seven additional hours of housework for wives per week, whereas wives save husbands an hour of housework per week.)

And then there's those Axe Body Spray ads. LET US NOT SPEAK OF THEM.

"I don't like your tone/Don't be so strident/Why do you have to sound so bitchy?/Lighten up!"

Misogyny exists, and it's a serious issue, which people do not take seriously.  I don't care if you don't like my tone; I get upset about things that matter to me.  Things which are frustrating make me frustrated.  Things which are maddening make me mad.  Deal with it.

Insisting that people only discuss indelicate issues in a tone which you find appropriate is a great way to silence people. 

Make no mistake: I am not here to accommodate your sensitive nature.  I am here to get your attention, get you thinking, get you talking, get you to listen and look around you and reconsider your own privilege. 

I will not modulate my tone to better suit your idea of how a woman should speak.

"Stop blaming the patriarchy"

I get accused of this a lot.  Which is interesting, because I have never once blamed "the patriarchy" for anything.  In fact, I will pay you five shiny dollars if you can find an instance where I even used the word "patriarchy" outside this article, and not ironically.

If there's anything I have learned writing for this blog, it's that people bring a lot of their own baggage to every article I write. Not much I can do about it, aside from trying to be as clear as possible. 

(Besides, all the cool kids call it "the kyriarchy" now.)

"What about poverty/racism/genocide/disease?  Those things are way more important than whatever you're bitching about today!"

Well, for one thing, this isn't a blog about poverty, racism, genocide, or disease.  All of those things are bad, don't get me wrong.  But caring about things is not a zero sum game. 

Tell me your personal favorite cause, and I will give you another one more worthy.  We can keep playing this silly game of one-upsmanship, or we can admit that it's just a way to try and shut someone up when they're upsetting you.

[Edit: I definitely didn't mean that to sound dismissive of those causes. I particularly make an effort to call that stuff out when I see it, because feminism historically has had some nasty pockets of racism, able-ism, homophobia, transgender-hate, and all the rest.

I'm a straight white female.  That's my reality. My invisible backpack is as loaded as anyone else's, but I try to be mindful of its contents as much as possible. (My current project is expunging the word "lame" from my vocabulary. It's harder than I would have thought!)]

Photo credit: Flickr/Jay Morrison


Anonymous's picture


Thank you for this! Too many women want to shy away from that dirty word, the f-word, like it's some kind of disease. And I've noticed that the popular thing these days is being "egalitarian". Isn't that progressive? NOT! Setting aside that we don't have equal pay or even equal opportunity here in the states, the reality is that on a social level women do suffer more. And it is because of a lack of representation. Women are still treated like crap on many levels of society, and when our economy is bad, women suffer the most. It's a reality. Feminism covers more than just "pay me the same as a man", it is also about bringing justice to women. Reproductive rights anyone? Yeah, we're not done here. Egalitarian is a cop-out that refuses to accept that, sadly, yes, women are getting screwed on many levels. I'm not going to use to the P word, but let's not kid ourselves.