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Examining Antifeminism

Photo courtesy of NBC

The July 19 shooting death of Daniel Anderl is speculated to be the product of suspect Roy Den Hollander’s grudge against Anderl’s mother, U.S. District Judge Esther Salas, because she is a Hispanic female judge. Den Hollander, who was later found dead by apparent suicide, was a self-described antifeminist and men’s rights lawyer. Den Hollander’s attack against Judge Salas’s family demonstrates the danger that antifeminists can pose to women in powerful positions. Antifeminism preaches the belief that men are entitled to more rights than women, and hence that women are inferior to men. Individuals who are truly antifeminist, as Den Hollander was, can end up holding fierce grudges against women they deem unfit for a certain job. These angry thoughts can quickly turn into violent actions, and in this case they led to the death of Judge Salas’s son, and they could have easily led to her death as well. But while the dangers of radical antifeminists seem clear, the idea of antifeminism itself can be confusing for some people, given that feminism itself is a concept that is often misunderstood. As students at a women’s college, it is vitally important that we understand what feminism is and is not and that we feel confident enough in our understanding that we can educate those who are incorrect.

In the past, Den Hollander had unsuccessfully filed suits against bars and nightclubs offering “ladies’ nights” and against the federal government for its Violence Against Women Act. Den Hollander’s acts of aggression don’t only involve Judge Salas, either: he is the prime suspect in another case involving the death of fellow lawyer and men’s rights activist Marc Angelucci, whom Den Hollander allegedly saw as a rival. Additionally, a photo of New York state Chief Judge Janet M. DiFiore was found in Den Hollander’s car, leading authorities to believe that he may also have been planning to target DiFiore at some point. His violent acts in the name of antifeminism could serve as a gateway to more violence by others. One way to counter that possibility could be more education about what feminism really is.

Feminism is the ideology based on the fact that all genders should be equal. Feminists seek to ensure that all genders have equal rights and opportunities. Therefore, feminism is a fundamentally inclusive ideology that seeks to make everyone equal, including men, women, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming people. Recently, intersectional feminism has also become more widespread, and with good reason — intersectional feminism includes issues of race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, religion, etc., and acknowledges the ways in which they conflate plain gender inequality. Intersectionality seeks to acknowledge and work against barriers that impact people of all demographics, in contrast to the historical stereotype of feminism that only includes middle-class and wealthy white women. As is evident from these descriptions of feminism, the goal of it is not to oppress men and does not suggest that women are better than men. “Feminists” who believe that are not true feminists, as they do not follow the ideology that all genders are created equal and deserve to be treated as such, but instead want to reverse the inequality simply to be in women’s favor.

Many people believe that all or most feminists are the latter “feminists” that I mentioned above. This belief is the foundation for statements such as those that President Trump made at the 2018 World Economic Forum: “I wouldn’t say I'm a feminist. I mean, I think that would be, maybe, going too far. I’m for women, I’m for men, I’m for everyone.” Trump’s definition of a non-feminist actually fits the definition of feminists — feminism is for everyone.

Sometimes, feminists are afraid to identify as such because of the stigma surrounding the word. However, I argue that you shouldn’t be afraid to identify as a feminist, because that doesn’t mean that you think the men in your life deserve fewer rights than you do. It simply means that you want equality for all people, regardless of gender. If you do identify as a feminist, don’t be afraid to tell people so, because it might lead to a conversation that brings a non-feminist off the brink of antifeminism.

By Olivia Slack, Co-Editor in Chief


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