Feminism is a collaboration of different perspectives, experiences and ideas. It is a group effort to try and fix the injustices around the world.
As the movement has come to feature intersectionality more and more, feminism is no longer (and has arguably never been) about one single line of thought shared by all of us. Yet some anti-feminists have a hard time understanding this.
While anti-feminism (like feminism) undoubtedly has multiple trains of thought, many anti-feminists love presenting this monolithic straw man idea of what feminism is, thus making it easier to break down and critique. This method very much works in their favor and they are seen as the clever and rational people who have ridden the world of the illogical burden that is feminism. It’s cancelled, 2017.
To some anti-feminists (but obviously not all), feminism is seen as an anti-men cult where we sit around all day planning male genocide and preparing for the day that the better gender (women, obviously) take over the world. All we ever complain about is the wage gap and every Tuesday night, we all convene to sacrifice male children while watching the all-female version of ‘Ghostbusters’.
However, this process of criticizing feminism is flawed. In reality, since our different intersections and experiences influence who we are and what we fight for, not one feminist shares exactly the same beliefs as another. In fact, many of us are constantly critiquing the ways in which the behavior of other feminists is problematic. There are many of us who exclude people of color, trans men and women, people of non-binary genders, disabled people, immigrants etc. from our conversations. Feminists certainly do not all share the same ideas on how this movement should and should not run.
For example, in my many years of advocating for social justice online, I have not once discussed the wage gap. From my perspective, conversations about the wage gap are rarely ever inclusive of people other than cis, straight, able-bodied, white men and women, thus why I never feel the need to talk about it. However, I still get many people messaging me online, giving pre-prepared points against arguments for the wage gap which I have never made. They see that I am a feminist, immediately assume my positions on certain topics based on their straw man idea of what feminism is, and they then proceed to critique me based on that instead of actually reading my work and looking into what my feminism is about.
As someone who is multiracial, Chinese, gay, gender-fluid and disabled (but who has a lot of passing privilege), my feminism is uniquely mine. For me, I largely focus on issues of racism, transphobia and ableism, as these are the intersections that impact me the most. But I absolutely believe that other issues are just as important and making room for those of us with those experiences and for those conversations is vital.
Anti-feminism is and will always be a movement that is a response to feminism and social justice. Therefore, it follows that most anti-feminists are always looking for ways to diminish and challenge the beliefs held by feminists. The straw man technique is an unoriginal and childish attempt at a ‘gotcha’ attack at feminism. In reality, it really just shows an inability to listen.