Twilight asked in Social ScienceGender Studies · 1 decade ago

Are attacks on the meaning of Feminism deliberate attempts to discredit it or genuine misunderstanding?

In the book 1984, George Orwell gives many examples of words which have new meanings given to them which destroy the original meaning and intent. He calls it newspeak.

"newspeak - deliberately ambiguous and contradictory language use to mislead and manipulate the public"

It identified a trend which persists in the modern media, where the deaths of civilians are rebranded as "collateral damage". Coal fired power stations which wreck the environment have rebranded themselves as "clean coal" despite being just as polluting now as a few years ago.

There seems to be a systematic and deliberate attempt to rewrite the meaning of the word feminism, which, according to every credible linguistic definition is the advocacy for equality. The fact it starts with the prefix "fem" makes no difference, it's about womens rights attaining parity.

Are attempts to describe feminism as something other than its accepted meaning a systematic attempt to undermine efforts towards womens equality, or are they simple a misunderstanding of what feminism actually is?

20 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Absolutely! Very astute observation.

    Many of the anti-feminists here actually believe that feminists are "man-hating dykes" who are unattractive, posess vast quantities of facial hair and still believe that what a small handful of feminists said (some in jest, some in works of fiction, and some things that are strenuously denied - such as Dworkins *supposed* quote of "all men are rapists" and "all sex is rape"... )

    THIRTY or FORTY years ago represents ALL feminist's views. If they can use a few good *catch phrases* such as the ones I mentioned, they can continue to invalidate real issues, such as violence against women, b/c according to them, feminists are just hairy man hating lesbians whose opinions surely can't be significant because they're ugly, irrational and liars anyway. Say it a few times, and the term feminist becomes synonymous with "man hating lying dyk3"

    I've tried to ask anti-feminists on this forum how they can claim that domestic violence is 50/50 male and female perpetrated. When I've provided statistics from the Bureau of Justice that women are ten times more likely to be murdered by their male partners than men are, by their female partners, they claim that these statistics, like those of rape are false. Again. Say it enough times, and ppl will believe. Mention "false rape accusations" whenever feminists attempt to discuss violence against women and once again, feminists are made out to be liars.

    Language is an incredibly powerful tool. I've said this many many times here. If you can discredit the term feminist, you can discredit sources *even* like the Bureau of Justice reports on domestic homicide.

    Is it a deliberate attempt to discredit feminism? Sometimes, I think it is, particularly when we discuss issues pertaining to violence against women and children. MRA and Defence lawyers for rape and sexual assault LOVE the fact that "feminism" is synonymous with "liars".

    Is it a misunderstanding? I think in the most part, it is. I don't think that moderate anti-feminists *want* to hate feminists, but when they hear myths such as "all feminists hate men", it's easy to see why they would feel defensive of an entire movement that supposedly thinks that way. When they hear that women are "just as violent as men" they're going to think that feminists are hypocrites. And when they hear preposterous statements like "all feminists secretly want to castrate men" of course they're going to be defensive. Why wouldn't they be.

    Besides Orwell, Hitler too, made some interesting observations about propaganda, and discrediting/exaggerating issues to manipulate the public. He's said "By the skillful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make a people see even heaven as hell or an extremely wretched life as paradise" as well as his often cited "If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed" and similarly "Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it." and "The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force" While I detest everything Hitler stood for, these observations are correct.

    BTW, I remember the first time I heard both "collateral damage" and "friendly fire" When I realised what they meant, I was furious because of that propaganda and manipulation.

  • Kerry
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Every man that has to live in a society that feminism has tainted is hurt by it. Men have been demonized by feminism for 40 years. Do some research. If there were men's studies programs in colleges where anti-female extremists were required reading, I think you'd realize that might not be too "swell" for women. ...Might just "hurt" them. If the teachers in these programs taught about the evil "patriarchy" where women are keeping men down, that might just make men a little resentful & bitter & it might just drive a wedge between the sexes. The reverse of that situation if found all over the nation in our universities. That's just one example. Do some research. Katie Couric on the Today show can ask a bride that had been stood up at the alter if she'd "considered castration as an option" ...for the absent groom. Did she lose her job? If Matt Lauer had asked a man if he'd considered the genital mutilation of his bride what do you think would have happened? Ask Don Imus... Or Larry Summers.

  • 1 decade ago

    It think it has been a divide and conquer technique that has led to misunderstanding. By highlighting the most radical statements by academic feminists and ignoring the moderates, the opponents of feminism have managed to poison the minds of this generation and reap confusion as to what the intentions are of the average feminist.

    Basically the argument is that we should all throw the baby out with the bath water because of a few bad apples. Most people who are thoroughly educated about feminism know that there is a clear difference between feminism and misandry, but showing both sides of it won't achieve the desired affect of confusion and distaste that the average anti-feminist wants to invoke in an 18 to 20 year old male or female. If you want to deter a youngster from "pure" feminism the easiest way to do it is by accentuating the negative by using radical soundbites while censoring out the positive and marginalizing all the progress that the movement has achieved for women and minorities.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I think the attempts to discredit it usually involve genuine misunderstanding, but there are certainly misogynistic exceptions.

    I'm old. I remember 30 years ago when everyone knew the meaning of feminism and everyone I knew considered themselves a feminist.

    I remember somewhere along the way, many years ago by now, I noticed women defensively asserting that of course they weren't feminists, as though it was something bad. The meaning of the word had changed in their minds. I always felt it was a misunderstanding that has now spread through a generation or two.

    (And it was the "peacekeeper missiles" that made me think the world had become a bit Orwellian).

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Its willful ignorance on the part of stupid people with no critical thinking skills. Take note of the fact that the better educated the woman is, the more likely she is to self-identify as feminist. This in itself speaks volumes. The stupid people are easily manipulated, and exploited. These people seek a target upon which to blame their unhappiness. They lash out with rage... signifying nothing (save their own ignorance).

    *Actually, the word "rape" has been replaced by the broader term "sexual assault". You won't have an easy time finding modern-day statutes where its still in use. *The word "radical" is subjective. It was once deemed too "radical" an idea for women to vote, or for blacks and whites to sit at the same lunch counter or for owners to spay and neuter their pets.

    *Ok Colonel, then lets use the word "ignorant" instead. Better? Ignorance is, after all, "bliss" for so many people. Its a choice, they choose to remain ignorant. "Remaining" is easy, it requires no effort whatsoever. Just coasting along the road of life. Educating oneself, on the other hand, does require effort; sometimes discomfort is part of the process. People tend to be averse to discomfort. As to your question, its a bit of both. There's a product for sale, and an eager consumer lapping it up.

    *Repost: obviously my post cut too close to the quick, and the ignorant saw themselves in the picture I painted. Here it is a second time.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I'm an anti-feminist because I mean to expose the hypocrisy and evils of feminism. If telling the truth about modern feminism is considered a 'backlash' or an 'attack' then so be it Mr Twilight.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Attacks on feminism are backlash. We've had backlash against civil rights, Muslims (post 9/11), being PC, China, etc.

    Backlash is an attempt to squash an issue, typically out of fear or mistrust.

    The attacks on feminism included labeling feminists as man-haters, as hairy & ugly, as dykes. These stereotypes stuck and many young women dont want to identify with these labels (rather than opposing feminism itself). So, on one front, anti-feminists won in getting these labels stuck to feminists. On the other front, I would say they have lost b/c despite these labels, many women say F U, I AM A FEMINIST. :-)

    Look at what these guys attack --rape, violence against women, women's ability to work, ---- apparently, it pisses them off that we want protection against violence and the right to work (shouldnt that be every citizens' right?)

    What often ticks me off is that these people have great (selective) memories of the 70s (like how many of them cant get passed the feminists (Dworkin) or organizations (NOW) of the 70s - several decades later when they are not even that relevent - but these guys choose to fight the ghosts). Don't they remember the chauvinists?

    I was a child in the 70s but I remember the chauvinists very well. How the he!! they arent remembered, or patriachy for that matter (which has ddone the most harm to impoverish women), is beyond me. Selective memory.

    And, by the way, the media is no friend to feminism either altho many outlets are liberal. There are dozens of books on that subject. They've contributed to making feminist a dirty word in the ways they associate it (often by saying women cant have it all, mommy wars, etc.)

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I think most MRA's hate the current setup which protects women and gives abusers their just desserts. They want to discredit feminism. They point ot a few noisy radicals as being representative of a huge movement.

    Feminism is for equality, and MRA's have no rights to discredit feminism because even in the USA (The Most Equal Country in The WorldTM), women are underpaid, the victims get blamed for rape and stereotypes operate against women.

    And MRA's calling women in court liars doesn't help one bit.

  • Kris W
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    Words change because the actions related to the words change.

    Once upon a time feminism did indeed press for women's equality, or equal treatment of women.

    For the most part since the 90's it switched over to a full blown female supremacy movement.

    But with your logic the People's Republic of China is a free nation right?

    Feminism might of stood for something good once upon a time but things change that is the nature of life.


    There is no backlash, because society is controlled by feminist ideology. The current situation is the begining of a counter revolution.

  • 1 decade ago

    Thanks for a great question that gives the members and opportunity to discuss openly the issues of how feminism is perceived. I agree completely with Jo and Pookie. There answers encapsulate the entire backlash and attempts to demonize feminism and all other attempts by groups to address the injustices and end marginaliztion.l

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