Peer Review by Hanan Adi (Germany)

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Modern radical feminists will have their male tears and drink 'em, too

By: Phoebe L


    Somewhere, a 16 year old girl puts down a riot grrl memoir, opens a laptop, and begins a spiel about "cisgender male trash" on her radical feminist blog. 
  
  During the 1960’s, the newly coined term “radical feminists” encompassed women who felt that a complete overhaul of society was needed in order to bring about full equal rights. These women fought to “smash the patriarchy," often staging protests against domestic abuse and sexual assault on college campuses. But today, this term has been hijacked, and the movement has devolved into a fight over tampons, posture, and male tears. Radical feminism can be necessary at times, but the modern form is ultimately detrimental to the progress of “mainstream” feminists. 

    This specific niche of young feminists can be found on websites such as Tumblr, debating over whether Kim Kardashian’s nudes are empowering while simultaneously ignoring the brutal oppression of women in the Middle East or the looming gender wage gap for minority and transgender women. 

    One cause gaining support from the Tumblr community is the free-bleeding movement. The belief that feminine hygiene products are oppressive towards women has lead dozens of protesters to freely bleed on public property, leaving a breeding ground for disease. They argue that because it is a natural process, women should not have to be ashamed of something they cannot control; fortunately, they don’t apply the same logic to a “free-peeing movement.”

    Another favorite is the “man-spreading” craze. Similar in the way that men supposedly force women to wear tampons, they also sit with their legs apart on public transportation in order to squish women into the corner of the seat and, therefore, both physically and mentally oppress them. They passive aggressively fight this problem by posting pictures of these men and shaming them on the internet, instead of using revolutionary tactics such as asking the men to move over.   

    But perhaps the most alarming are the Etsy stores filled with “male tears” mugs, women proudly labeling themselves as misandrists, and the hashtag #killallmen infiltrating the front page of Twitter. Feminist writer Jamie Horowitz claims that “a large part of the ironic misandry joke involves taking the things that represent overt and stereotypical femininity and turning them into ‘symbols of feminist anger.’(Speller)" It may be intended as a joke, but extremist feminists exclaiming that “all men are scum” demeans nice, perfectly respectable young men struggling with real issues, such as eating disorders and suicide; yes, surprisingly enough, men are susceptible to human suffering in the same way that women are. 

    So where exactly are these women when real feminist issues arise, like female genital mutilation, the right to breastfeed in public, or a lack of parental leave from work?

    They seem to have drowned inside their “men are scum” cups.

    While young activist Malala Yousafzi is fighting for female education rights in Pakistan, and Lady Gaga is using her fame as a public voice to expose the horrors of domestic abuse, and Emma Watson is launching her feminist #HeforShe worldwide campaign, self-proclaimed misandrists are wiping off every footstep forward these women have made.

     Extremist feminists may only inhabit the outliers of the feminist movement, but they often dominate public discussion.  This is why many people treat feminism as a four letter word. Actress Shailene Woodley shied away from the label in an interview, stating: “I love men, and I think the idea of ‘raise women to power, take the men away from the power’ is never going to work out because you need balance… (Alter)” And Woodley is not the first celebrity to do so; countless famous and powerful women scramble to explain that yes, yes, of course they love women, but they don’t hate men! This idea of feminists being man-hating and hell bent on world domination is saddening, but easily understandable when you see radical feminists gleefully sharing #KillAllMen posts on social media. 

    Of course, at some point, all feminism was considered radical. Romantic era feminist Mary Wollstonecraft was considered completely out of line during the 19th century for believing women were mentally capable of being more than arm candy for their husbands. Modern writer bell hooks has also written several books about feminism but yet, none of them lamenting the struggles of being forced to wear a tampon or men crushing her soul by sitting with their legs apart. Radical feminism has had its place in history. It is true that sometimes society needs a shock to push them in the right direction. But obsessing over trivial matters such as man-spreading, free bleeding and male tears threaten to erase much of the social progress women’s rights activists have made over the years. If we want feminism to be respected, we need to focus on real issues affecting our communities. 

    So, feminist extremists, I implore you: instead of buying hand stitched misandry throw pillows, help protect the mission of Planned Parenthood. Instead of complaining about having to pay an extra 20 cents for a pink razor vs. a blue, spread awareness of the significant amount of abuse towards the transgender community in our society. Instead of propagating false rape accusations like the Rolling Stone “A Rape on Campus” article, donate to a domestic abuse shelter. 

    There is not a single issue in the history of this planet that has been solved with hate. If you are tired of the bad rep feminism gets in the new millennium, then get out there and fix it instead of complaining solely through social media. 

Alter, C. (2015). “Shailene Woodley Still Adamant She’s Not a Feminist” TIME
Speller, K. (2015). “DO YOUNG FEMINISTS REALLY WANT TO BATHE IN MALE TEARS?” MTV

Message to Readers

Tumblr is kind of a subculture and can be hard to explain to those who aren't on it (believe me, my parents don't get it at all) so are there any parts that don't make sense or things that I reference that need more clarification?
I'm pretty passionate about this topic and my writing tends to be a little sarcastic, so please do tell if there are any parts where you're not sure if I'm being sarcastic or not, or come off as too critical of feminism (because while I am skeptical of modern radical feminism my goal here ultimately is to unite, not to isolate and exclude other feminists).
Any feedback in general is appreciated :)


Peer Review

You draw me in with a gripping scenario of a sixteen-year-old girl spreading hatred.


The argument is, "Radical feminists are inhibiting rather than promoting the true feminist cause."


You use all sorts of great examples to back up your essay. For example, your anecdotes, like the "free-bleeding movement" or "man-spreading craze," are clearly illustrated. You also make a strong point including real feminist issues that need to be fixed: female genital mutilation, domestic abuse, public breast-feeding, among others.


Nothing was missing! I don't understand Tumblr either, but I understood the essay completely nonetheless, so explaining Tumblr may not be necessary.


Yes, the structure works well. Your hook HOOKS. Your evidence of radical feminism is hilarious but also sad and thought-provoking. I like the varying lengths of your paragraphs, too. They organize the information effectively and concisely, while also maintaining interest and even helping your voice come across, like in your one-sentence paragraph, "They seem to have drowned inside their 'men are scum' cups." Lastly, your conclusion clearly summarizes the main points of your essay and includes a powerful call to action. Fantastic.


Frankly, I love your op-ed. Don't worry about your sarcastic voice: it's engaging, shrewd, and unique, but not so strong that it's confusing. It's the right length, the right depth, the right everything.


Reviewer Comments

Good day, Phoebe.

Thank you for sharing with us your fabulous op-ed. I expect the occasional typos in the essay will be corrected during proofreading? I highlighted one area where I was confused, but otherwise, everything is fine.

I would like to thank you as well for reviewing my piece, "After We Do." I am so glad you like it; I hope that someday soon, we'll all be able to "join hand-in-hand" and make the world a more wholesome place, in matters of equality for women, and in all matters in the world that are now amiss.

Have a splendid day, Phoebe, and good luck in the competition!