I know what you’re thinking. How can a feminist not unconditionally support #MeToo, arguably one of the most significant manifestations of the late 18th, early 19th-century feminist movement? Before you jump to numerous conclusions about how privileged I am or what direction my moral compass is pointing in, consider that there are many women, even victims of rape, who have qualms about #MeToo. And with good reason.
The first time I heard about the #MeToo movement was when actress Alyssa Milano came out with allegations of sexual assault against Harvey Weinstein. My timeline exploded with one key phrase common to all posts: “#MeToo…” CBS News reported that the hashtag was tweeted nearly one million times in only 48 hours. About 4.7 million Facebook users globally posted over 12 million posts, comments, and reactions in less than 24 hours. At first glance, I thought, “Brilliant! Women are banding together to call out the toxic and perverted degenerates who have hurt them.” This was inspiring.
In what seemed like a matter of just minutes, more and more women began speaking out. Behind every woman who publicly made an accusation of sexual assault, an accusation that should never be taken lightly, there was an accused man. A filmmaker here. A Congressman there. Producers, coaches, actors, athletes, network analysts, chefs, political figures, businessmen, conductors, journalists, average Joes, you name it. All of these men…sexual predators? While it’s certainly true that there are disgusting and abhorrent men like Harvey Weinstein who have assaulted multiple women, there must be many more than just a small handful of men accused of sexual assault by the millions of women who came out as victims. Behind every single #MeToo post in the world, there is supposedly a morally corrupt, perverted, and sick sexual predator who caused immense pain and trauma.
It occurred to me that, if this is true, previous generations must have done something fundamentally wrong in raising the men of today. All of these men have somehow been conditioned to sexually assault as a product of upbringing, culture, and/or education. #MeToo’s contention is that close to 18 million women have been sexually assaulted since 1998. This then must mean that slightly fewer, considering some men assault multiple women, than nearly 18 million men are criminals. This just doesn’t make sense! That number is too high to be plausible. When I think about the 1 in 5 statistic that I heard so often before starting college three years ago, I also think about all the men I’ve encountered on Duke’s campus. How many of them are sexual predators? I believe that very, very few actually are. #MeToo, and the modern-day feminist movement in general, has turned into a man-hating frenzy, instilling fear in men lest they exhibit any behavior towards a woman that can potentially be called “sexual assault.”
I recently read a New York Times article reporting that Mia Merrill, a feminist and former art history student, began an online petition to take down a 1938 painting by the artist Balthus from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art because it depicted a young girl in a “sexually suggestive pose,” which apparently constituted sexual assault. The petition had thousands of signatures. This ridiculous story reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend over dinner during winter break last year. We were talking about the image of modern-day feminism and she recounted her experience of what she directly called “sexual assault,” which went something like this:
“Last week, I was assaulted. I was sitting in a cafe and a man I had never seen before came up to me and told me I had really beautiful eyes. He continued to stare at me for about a minute before he left, and I felt very uncomfortable.”
What these two stories have in common is that they are heavily misleading. The Department of Justice defines sexual assault as “sexual activities that occur without the explicit consent of the recipient, such as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling and attempted rape.” To say that experiences like that of Ms. Merill or my friend constitute sexual assault and have just as much gravitas as any other experience of sexual assault is offensive to real victims. The #MeToo movement’s conflation of someone being catcalled on the street and Annabella Sciorra being violently raped by Harvey Weinstein is highly problematic. In failing to make an essential distinction between nuanced sexual experiences, the movement is undermining itself by giving so much attention to radicals who claim that sexual assault can mean anything from a nonconsensual touch on the arm (or bad sex) to forced penetration.
While it may seem as if such outrageous stories are rare, they’re actually more prevalent than we think. Their ubiquity makes sense. Why? Because it is highly, highly improbable that so many men, all the men who #MeToo blames, are sick enough to actually commit an atrocity like sexual assault. It makes no sense for all of these men to bear even the slightest resemblance to a monster like Larry Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics physician and child molester who sexually abused more than 150 women and was recently sentenced to 40-175 years. My contention is that women are prescribing a very loose definition to sexual assault and this “anything goes” mentality is hurting legitimate victims. Just like the story about the boy who cried wolf, there are only so many times women can cry assault before people stop listening. They not only stop listening, but they also begin to question the legitimacy of certain complaints that are, in fact, very valid.
As a traditional feminist, I believe women should be strong. They should certainly fight for their rights, but not demand special privileges to compensate for the years of oppression women endured when they didn’t have the right to vote or when marital rape was legal. As a feminist, I want feminism to be taken seriously. But assigning victimhood to an entire gender is not feminism; it’s a bad idea. It’s a reason to not be taken seriously. Calling millions of men sexual predators and condemning masculinity as a propeller of sexual assault is not feminism; it’s just making women look weak. Marching around calling people names and wearing pussy hats is not feminism; it’s failing to realize that we are undermining the struggles of actual victims.
No one is arguing that sexual assault shouldn’t be talked about. It has been and to this day remains an extremely important issue, objectively. But let’s not forget how blessed we are to be women living in America. We live in a country where today, everyone is equal before the law. Our ancestors have fought tirelessly so that women can have access to countless opportunities and enjoy the same privileges as men. Our ancestors have fought courageously so that a young girl growing up in society today knows that she can do anything she sets her mind to. Women comprise 60% of students on college campuses nationwide and win more than 80% of custody battles. Meanwhile, in Africa, Asia, and South America, over 30 million girls will never have the opportunity to attend even a single day of school. It is objectively true that American women as a collective are of the most privileged in the world.
The only way the #MeToo movement can become a better movement is if feminists are more-open minded to criticism. Yes, the stories are personal and incredibly important, but that’s exactly why we should be striving to create a movement that serves those stories justice and doesn’t blow everything out of proportion. We need to take off our rose-colored glasses and recognize that #MeToo is not flawless just because it deals with an important cause. It needs to be better. Much better.
Does that mean trying to work with our President, despite disagreeing with him, instead of constantly labeling him as a misogynist and refusing to even consider anything he says or does? Does that mean listening to conservative women and realizing that they, too, believe it or not, have very important things to say? Does that mean taking a step back from being so self-absorbed in our “daily struggles as women in the United States” and paying more attention to women in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Eastern Europe, recognizing that our privilege puts us in a position to make their lives better? Does that mean hesitating before making an incredibly strong accusation like sexual assault? Does that mean being loud, strong, and resolute, but also open-minded, grounded, and rational? I think yes.
The Digital Drug Being Used to Self-Medicate
Pornography – The Digital Drug
Addiction, withdrawal, trauma, desensitization.
Destroying relationships with the people around you.
This includes, but is not limited to: family, friends, and your spouse.
Degrading your morality.
Harming your health; mentally, physically, emotionally.
Slowly deteriorating your soul & spirit.
I understand that to a common reader, this may sound a bit extreme. This may sound like something you would have seen on posters outside of a Heavy Metal concert during the “Satanic Panic” from the 1970’s to the 1990’s. The Baby Boomers reading know exactly what I’m talking about. As for my fellow Zoomers, this is simply the culture you’ve been thrown into. While I am completely aware of the overtly Puritanical tone of this piece, it is unfortunately a tragic reality for millions of people in our Nation.
According to Kirsten Andersen of LifeSiteNews, “Porn activates the same addiction centres in the brain as alcohol and heroin.” While this fact is startling, I don’t even need to come at this from a moralist, religious, or traditionalist perspective. The fact of the matter is, pornography is horrible for the developing (and already developed) mind. Why else, after dopamine is released from viewing it, do you feel ashamed after watching porn? This is because you know inherently that something is not right. Dopamine is known as the “feel-good” chemical of the brain, yet the vicious cycle that a dependency on pornography inflicts upon you, often results in the opposite. Over time, your consumption of the multi-billion dollar a year industry will lead to lower dopamine levels while viewing. This lowering of dopamine levels often leads the viewer to search for more “hardcore” (often violent and degrading) videos. Much like how people can fall back on booze, pills, or marijuana as tools of self-medication, pornography can also be used as a scapegoat to very real problems. These problems include: anxiety, insecurity, depression, body-image issues, and relationship problems.
Speaking anecdotally, I have heard the argument that “porn isn’t addicting, but the power structures of it is.” I would refute this in a simple way. The porn consumer, whether they want to take on “the dominant” or “the submissive” role in the video, shows that those power structures come from the sex acts themselves. It is well known that sex can become an intense addiction, so much so that it has its own terms for both men and women. Satyriasis is the “uncontrollable or excessive sexual desire in a man” while Nymphomania is the “uncontrollable or excessive sexual desire in a woman.” The reality is that pornography can become an addiction through the lense of a “digital satyriasis” for men or a “digital nymphomania” for women.
When most people think of pornography viewers, the majority of people will make it seem like a very male oriented topic, but according to WebRoot, up to one-third of visits to pornographic websites are done by women. The use of pornography is absolutely detrimental to younger, single people. For example, a recent UK Survey found that 44% of males aged 11-16, who consumed pornography, reported that online pornography gave them ideas about the type of sex they wanted to try. From desensitizing the viewer in exposing them to overly-aggressive sexual acts, pornography also provides incredibly unrealistic body standards for both men, women, boys, and girls. According to Consumer statistics from NCOSE, “64% of young people, aged 13-24, actively seek out pornography at least weekly, if not more often than that.”
This statistic is significant because from the ages of roughly 13-17, young people are still trying to find themselves. From roughly 18-20, young people are building relationships in regard to a social circle, interest groups, and employment. From 21-24, young people should start getting serious about finding a viable career, getting into committed relationships for the plan of marriage, and family planning. The detriments of pornography throw off this cycle that has been in effect for the past 2 generations. Before these societal norms, the age group for the aforementioned 21-24 may have been reverted to the 18-20 years of age group.
While it is quite apparent the effects that pornography has on younger people in our nation, the outcomes it imposes on married couples and their families is equally worrysome. According to TIME, “Married people who start watching porn are twice as likely to be divorced in the the following years as those who don’t. And women who start watching porn are three times as likely to split, according to a working paper presented at the American Sociological Association on Aug. 22.” This divides families, fragments the future generation, and the conclusion of the results becomes harmful to society as a whole. Researcher Patrick Fagan Ph.D, conducted a study and found that an astonishing 56% of divorces had one partner with an obsessive interest in porn.
In my honest opinion, I believe that our culture has become increasingly hypersexualized. It seems like you can’t turn on a film created in the past ten years without witnessing (an often pointless) sex scene. The intimacy and love connected to a committed relationship involves much more than sexual acts. It involves sacrifice, struggle, honesty, and trust. I’m not writing this to shame you. I’m not writing this as a holier-than-thou stance. I’m not a radical individualist.
I want to see families thrive. I want communities to grow with social cohesion and a sense of belonging. Whether apparent to them now or not, people need help. Men, and women. Young, and old. I see this as nothing more than an important way of broadening the discussions that should be taking place in our discourse.
Reject the digital drug.
This is much more revolutionary than you think.
No Nation Is An Idea
The concept that “America is a timeless placeholder of ideas” is a common talking point that has been in circulation from both Conservative Inc., and the broader American Left for many years now. This saying is typically used as a divergence from addressing important policies as they pertain to mass immigration. Often, it is also used to stifle the growth of an American National Populist movement. Clearly, the unelected elites calling shots around the Western world seek to undermine valid and critical debate of the role of National Populism. Rather than emphasizing the importance of health, stable families, community, housing, and wages, our leaders have an obsession with growing GDP, doing the bidding of predatory crony capitalists who are constantly pushing to import cheap labor, and retaining power for generations to come.
The fact of the matter is, Americans (and humans in general) seek more than cheap, 4k television sets, quirky tupper-ware for last night’s leftovers, and salad shooters that break after a few uses. We are innately spiritual beings who long for community, order, and social cohesion. The United States of America is not an idea… actually, no nation is an idea. As further disorder ensues among the population, the elites have made sure to use their corporate-funded foot soldiers as a means to promote a very new, Neo-Liberal agenda. This agenda is the concept that the beautiful mountains, forests, and lakes of our Nation would mean absolutely nothing without this arbitrary term of “ideas.” The blood, sweat, and tears American workers shed producing automobiles in Michigan, the early mornings for the farmers of Iowa, and the dedicated fishermen of California, all mean nothing if this is but a plot of land where the British came to talk about the importance of small government.
Although we can appreciate the writings of philosophers like John Stuart Mill, John Locke, and Adam Smith, the “marketplace of ideas” means absolutely nothing to people who see the world completely different than you. It is apparent that the philosophy of our ancestors and founding fathers have changed the world. In an American context, the very concepts of things like liberty, freedom of speech, and the right to bear arms should be held in the highest regard. Among Conservatives and the American Right, these values are not even up for debate. Unfortunately, much of Conservative Inc. (who are just liberals who want to keep more of their money) do not recognize (or are blatantly ignorant to) the sacrifices made by the ones who came before them.
To put this into perspective, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk previously stated, “I have loyalty to ideas.” Kirk says, “Of course I love the Grand Canyon. I love the Rocky Mountains. And I love Boston. And I love Chicago. But if all that disappeared, if all I had was ideas, and we were on an island, that’s America. That’s Israel. And that’s what people have to realize, America’s just a placeholder for timeless ideas. And if you fall too in love with, oh, the specific place, and all this…that’s not what it is.” What Kirk fails to recognize is that the physical reality of a Nation is what manifests those very ideas he holds so dear.
Nations are unique, with celebrations and folktales that those who inhabit the land feel relation to. Nations are made up of a people. Nations are traditions. Nations are land, resources, and landmarks. Nations are history – the good, the bad, and the ugly. No Nation is an idea.
News flash! Women’s Lives Now More Than Bearable
This is a contentious time for feminism. In the age of #MeToo, Time’s Up, and the Weinstein effect, just a few of the many products of the fourth-wave feminist movement, women are continuing to push forward a certain narrative about men and the Western culture’s effect on women in general. It seems as if the conversation surrounding women and gender equality has seeped into virtually every realm of life: politics, culture, religion, and even medicine and technology. Fourth-wave feminists are expressing their distrust in men in many ways…celebrities are calling out sexual predators in front of public audiences, politicians are using sexual assault as a political tool, and students are marching and demonstrating. Corporations, eager to jump on the “let’s make a political statement” bandwagon, are even using sexual assault as a marketing tool, spouting controversial messages about toxic masculinity and the like. A prime example is the recent Gillette ad, which garnered more than 19 million views on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.
Many women are also writing about feminism. One example of this is an article, written last year in celebration of International Women’s Day, that has been circulating on social media for the past few months. The article, entitled “100 Easy Ways to Make Women’s Lives More Bearable” and authored by Dani Beckett, has been shared more than 300,000 times since its publication in March 2018. While we would not exactly call it “viral,” it is no secret that the article’s contents are becoming increasingly normalized, currently believed by a meaningful number of female millenials. Beckett’s article was published in Broadly, a subset of Vice Media, a digital media and broadcasting company that launched Vice, the Canadian-American print magazine that gave rise to Broadly. Broadly, a heavily leftist channel catering to women and designed to “provide a space for us to understand, express, and navigate our identities as we define who we are and where we’re headed next,” has quite a solid readership.
After I kept encountering the article on Facebook for several months, I figured it was probably worth a read, but before reading it, I could not help but linger on the title. How to make women’s lives more…bearable? Bearable means tolerable, able to be endured, not even touching the realm of pleasurable or happy. The title implies that women in this country are struggling so much that someone desperately needs to make their lives “more bearable.” In a country where the vast majority of workplace fatalities befall men, the chief victims of non-fatal violence are men, men make up three quarters of all murder victims, women are outperforming men at all levels of education (they even outnumber men at most medical schools), women win custody battles, and women legally win half the earnings and belongings in a household, apparently women’s lives are not yet bearable enough. I was confused, but intrigued, and proceeded to make my way down the long list of male-targeted demands, some of which are too good not to highlight.
The article is written in an incredibly patronizing tone, as if men in America need to be taught that forcing sex upon a woman is probably not a good idea, as if they apparently grew up in a society that conditioned them to rape. The first item on Beckett’s list is, “Before explaining something to a woman, ask yourself if she might already understand. She may know more about it than you do.” Well, is that not general logical advice for anyone? I know the point is to call men out for supposedly always trying to explain things to a woman, but if you are versed in the basic tenets of communication, then it must be the case that you know not to prematurely lecture someone on a topic you suspect they are already well-versed in, regardless of their gender. And let us suppose this is not the case and you have a habit of being didactical when not needed. Well, then this advice should certainly go for everyone, not just men. The point is, gender has nothing to do with it. There is no evidence that men are somehow more likely than women to try to explain something to women, simply because they are women, before considering whether those women might actually understand the topic. Fourth-wave feminists are pushing the narrative that men inherently feel entitled and better than women, so they feel it necessary to always explain things to a woman without thinking if she might already understand. It is a dangerous and baseless narrative to push forward. While it was certainly true fifty years ago when male professors would not even call on their female students in lecture, today, men DO listen to women, whether they like it or not. By virtue of the professional empowerment of women, which has become normalized in Western society, men listen to women explain things to them every single day. Consider this: women now hold 49% of total faculty positions in American colleges and universities. Women lecture, and men listen.
Beckett then states, “Related: Never, ever try to explain feminism to a woman.” Well, what if she’s wrong? Beckett would tell you, “Trust women. When they teach you something, do not feel the need to go and check for yourself. And especially do not Google it in front of them.” So, if she’s wrong, it doesn’t matter. No one cares about facts anyway. Women are so privileged that they now also have the right to be wrong and to lie without getting called out. This is an important reminder of “Believe all women,” the Left’s mantra during the infamous Kavanaugh controversy. If you feel the need to check something JUST because the person who explained it to you is a woman, then maybe you need to treat your misogyny and perhaps Beckett’s list is actually for you. But we live in a society where women are leaders in every sphere – politics, business, medicine, science, the law. At this point, men get it. The need to overpower women, of which remnants will perhaps always exist, has largely dissipated through the years as evidenced by the fact that women now control 60% of the wealth in the United States, for example. If men are such misogynists, why are they collectively not fighting tooth and nail to tear down successful women? Certainly some are, but it’s virtually impossible to prove patriarchy-enforcing men outnumber matriarchy-enforcing women. Instead of acknowledging that, fourth-wave feminists are resorting to feelings, as opposed to facts, to craft their man-hating narrative. What’s more, they are lowering their standards for women.
Clearly, men and women are different, no matter what radical feminists want you to believe. But even though they are different, every society is founded upon a standard set of basic principles and values that every human, regardless of identity, should be obligated to follow in order to preserve civility. Lying does not all of a sudden become okay for a woman if it’s not okay for a man because women should not get special privileges. That is why Dani Beckett is also mistaken in suggesting “Be kind to women in customer service positions. Tip them extra.” Because they are a woman? This sentiment points directly to the pinnacle of feminists’ hypocrisy. Feminists want women to be treated equally, which naturally entails holding them to the same standards as men. Regardless of whether you are a woman or a man, if you don’t do your job well, then you should not be tipped extra. Regardless of whether you are a woman or a man, your customers should be nice to you if you do your job well because that’s the right thing to do.
Next on Beckett’s list is a whole compilation of demands centered around how to describe women. She states, “Examine your language when talking about women. Get rid of ‘irrational, dramatic, bossy, and badgering immediately.” This implies that women cannot be any of these things, which they most certainly can. Or perhaps it implies that they can be some or all of these things but they should not be called out for it, which once again, means that according to Beckett, we should hold women to a lower standard. Let’s be clear, women should not get free passes just because they are women and their ancestors have suffered through years of misogyny and oppression. If feminists want true equality, then they should not be cutting women slack and lowering their standards for women out of pity. Women are perfectly capable of meeting those standards. Pushing forward women’s rights legislation should not be done out of a need to prop up identity politics. Women deserve equal rights not because they are women, but because they are humans.
If that was not enough, Beckett certainly has more! “Never comment on a woman’s body,” she says. When describing women positively, men should say she is “talented,” “clever” or “funny,” but not “gorgeous” “sweet” or “cute.” Men also cannot call her unique, and “unlike other girls” because all girls are awesome. Long gone are the days when it was flattering for a woman to be told she has a nice physical appearance. And long gone are the days when men were allowed to make their physical attraction, the very basis of biological reproduction, known to women. I am assuming Beckett wants men to assign more value to women than their physical appearance, which is understandable, but assigning more value to personality and assigning some value to physical appearance are not mutually exclusive acts. A 2017 study published in Evolutionary Psychological Science found that most women are likely to choose physical attractiveness over personality and intelligence in potential partners. For a group of people who supposedly hate double standards, fourth-wave feminists sure do love double standards.
And now we arrive at the scariest portion of Beckett’s list: the postgenderism demands. Beckett states, “If you read stories to a child, swap the genders. Cast women in parts written for men. We know how to rule kingdoms, go to war, be, not be, and wait for Godot.” Right, and that is exactly why the parts of Katniss Everdeen, Hermione Granger, Wonder Woman, Lara Croft, Daenerys Targaryen, Mulan, and many, many more have been written. To show that women can indeed rule kingdoms, go to war, and do pretty much anything. Fourth-wave feminists are called “fourth-wave” because they are not the first. The women of the past have already proven that women are powerful and can rule kingdoms. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel by going to extreme measures (i.e. swapping genders) to show something that everyone, barring exceptions, already knows. Perhaps, then, the point of swapping genders is not so much to normalize powerful, masculine women. It is, in fact, to get rid of gender roles altogether. My prediction is that postgenderism will pave the way for fifth-wave feminism.
So why is one article like this one so important? It’s maybe just the opinion of one woman. Except it’s not. Between 70 and 80 percent of college women currently identify as feminists. The contents of Beckett’s article are at least somewhat representative of the mentality of young women in America today, even if some shy away from the label “feminist.” I fear that this association we have started to develop between feminism and fourth-wave values, some of which are exemplified in this article, will only become stronger until, eventually, first and second-wave feminists are shut out entirely. Women who are pro-life are shut out entirely. Women who want other women to be held accountable are shunned and considered anti-feminist. Criticizing obesity, pointing to false allegations of sexual assault, challenging the misconceptions surrounding the pay gap, holding conservative views about female sexuality, and acknowledging core differences between men and women will become wholly incompatible with any definition of feminism. Women should be encouraged to be strong, not feed their victimization complexes. Women should be encouraged to listen to other women, even if they disagree. Fourth-wave feminist indoctrination should not be something we stand for if we want to actually help gender equality.