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on feminism and how it hurts us all

an essay by Lexi Summer Hale

as a woman who has a decent grip on her own weaknesses and strengths, i feel really, really bad for the women who’ve been caught up in this whole “strong independent woman” narrative that our culture and media have tried so hard to force upon all of us. insecurity is always unpleasant, and it’s even worse when you’re brought up in a political environment hell-bent on forcing you to be something you aren’t, that ties your worth as a human being with your ability to defy your own nature.

there are genuinely “strong” women out there. i’m not one of them. i’m ill-suited to independence, let alone leadership — i function best supporting and cooperating with others. i’m emotionally fragile and it’s incredibly difficult for me to deal with people i can’t let myself be vulnerable around. i’m not afraid to acknowledge these things or let others find them out about me, because i don’t derive my sense of identity or self-worth from strength or superiority. i don’t feel a need to be better than others, and it doesn’t humiliate me to see that a man is better than me at something. i’m upfront with my partners that i prefer a submissive role to an equal one. and you know what? none of those things make me less of a human being. none of them imply that anyone is exploiting me, using me, or abusing me. i feel no desire to change any of them, because that is where i’m most comfortable and happiest. i don’t need power over others to be happy. i don’t even need that much power over myself.

my strengths have nothing to do with wielding power. they have to do with looking after others, with making and keeping commitments, with comforting and supporting friends and partners who are suffering, with social and emotional and domestic skills. these are not lesser in worth and importance simply because they’ve been traditionally associated with women, and i’m not ashamed of having them. nobody — female, male, or nonbinary — should be. (i suppose i’m a decent C programmer — my only traditionally masculine skill — but it’s unpleasant and i try to avoid writing software when i can.) even if it was, as so many feminists claim, society rather than innate nature that made me this way — i don’t care. there’s no need to rebel against something that isn’t broken.

life is so much more pleasant when you aren’t driven by a need to show off. it’s kinder, calmer, easier to get along with people and make friends. i don’t worry about concealing or repressing needs that are ideologically inconvenient, because my life isn’t a political performance. it’s just my life.

the way so many feminist women are living sounds so painful, repressive, and lonely. i hope someday they’ll find a way to rehumanize themselves and escape the cage of toxic masculinity they have, ironically, locked themselves into — and that western society manages to survive until they do.

i feel even worse, however, for the men who’ve been caught up in this whole dumpsterfire. because, as you might expect from a massive cultural gaslighting campaign that has attached itself like a parasite to more mainstream leftist, even liberal thought, the feminist movement has done an enormous amount of damage to the psyches of kind, well-meaning western men who make up the majority of feminism’s targets and have been damned as biologically villainous for facts of their nature they cannot control. it has birthed the grotesque spectacle of the Male Feminist, “cucks” and “soyboys” in the language of the alt-right: the tame, passive, ineffectual and too often self-hating men who have had it hammered into their heads that they are Bad and must meekly submit to political — “matriarchal,” if you will — indoctrination simply to keep their intrinsically sinful nature in check.

as a woman, whenever i see or hear these pathologically guilt-ridden men spewing the kind of self-abasing drivel we’ve all become so familiar with over the last decade, i want to grab them by the shoulders and cry, stop! don’t do this to yourself. it’s heartbreaking. none of them deserve this — the constant screeching hatred, the endless scapegoating and villification, the sheer fucking psychological cruelty of mainstream feminist axiomata. and i can say that easily because the actually legitimately bad men? the psychopaths, the rapists, the predators you’re so afraid of being perceived as — they don’t worry about whether or not they’re good people. they don’t calculate their every move to try and make themselves small and nonthreatening. they don’t angst over being Cishet White Oppressors. the bullets of feminist hatred ricochet right off them and into the guts of our would-be allies and protectors. those who struggle to assert even the most positive and respectful kind of manhood are browbeaten into silence and ejected from the cultural mainstream — women too often underestimate our power to influence the thought and behavior of the heterosexual majority of men by sexual selection alone. far from the vast locker-room patriarchal conspiracy we envision, men who wander too far from the feminist path usually find themselves lost and alone with only the darkest corners of society for companionship. it may not have been like this ten years ago, but it most certainly is today.

so i just want to say to the men who are reading this: you are not evil. you are not broken. being male does not automatically make you a bad person. you are not a threat to anyone simply because of your gender. if you feel like you’re being gaslit — used, lied to, abused, and discarded — it’s because you are. whatever your race, your sexual orientation, you are human beings, exactly the same as we are. and you deserve exactly the same amount of respect from us as we do from you. and let me be very clear: treating us with respect doesn’t mean meekly accepting any demands we make. it does not mean disbelieving your own experiences. it does not mean relinquishing your masculinity. it does not mean subordinating yourself to us.

if you take my advice, you’ll steer clear of the feminist bullshit crowd. they have nothing to offer you and, ultimately, they will never actually reward you for your loyalty, no matter what it costs you. yeah, it’s frankly terrifying how many of them there are, but they don’t represent all of us. they don’t get to speak for all women everywhere. and they sure as hell don’t get to set the criteria for what makes you a good person.

so don’t let them rob you of your self-respect. please remember that there are still women out there who value you. you don’t have to be a meek, obedient feminist chewtoy to be a good friend, a good partner, a good husband — or a good comrade.

in fact, it helps not to be.

we don’t just value your humanity. we value your masculinity too. and while western masculine norms have long been ridden with toxic aspects (though to much less of an extent than many other cultures), that’s a problem we can only solve together, not by dictating terms to you from on high. women created this problem by trying to unilaterally reshape society — we need to acknowledge that no one segment of society is uniquely privileged in their access to unvarnished truth and unadulterated reality.

there’s a phenomenon that’s well-known to the alt-right, who’ve been talking about it for years, that nobody on the left seems to want to acknowledge or believe: the fact that heterosexual feminist women who claim they want a tame, feminist male partner almost always are lying to themselves. the more self-aware ones make outright contradictory demands of their partners, the others just find their relationships disintegrating and can never seem to figure out why. the fact is, as much as we might think we want partners who treat us as equals, it’s almost never actually the case. even those of us who aren’t heterosexual almost always want our partners to take a dominant role, especially sexually (it’s a running joke in BDSM circles that there’s a horrible shortage of tops, male or female). feminism has convinced many women they shouldn’t want this, that our natural desires and needs are bad and wrong and regressive, so feminist women try to repress them, but it never works. so if you’re a straight, single man, don’t think that playing by the feminist rules gives you a better shot at finding a partner — if anything, it’s more likely to sabotage your relationships in the long run. you stand a better chance of finding a sane woman who won’t treat you like shit than a feminist consistent enough to successfully appease.

the nature vs. nurture question is a thorny one and there are legitimate debates to be had about whether these preferences are natural or socially inculcated. but i’m of the opinion that they’re natural, biologically coded in some way, and that modern feminism seeks to impose fundamentally unnatural, alien, and uncomfortable conditions on men and women alike. it’s hostile to our basic humanity, and it’s only ever going to succeed in making us all miserable.

certainly, the fact that something is natural does not imply that it is good — humanity is replete with natural behaviors that are incredibly harmful, destructive, and damaging. but there’s no actual harm in preferring a submissive role, and it’s something that can bring a great deal of stability, comfort, and happiness. there is nothing to be gained fighting the tendency of voluntary female submission — it may be politically distasteful, it may contradict your pet theories, but if your theories cannot adequately predict human behavior, it’s your theories that need to change, not humanity.

if you’re a woman and you want to help fix this horrible situation, the single best thing you can do is to make space in your life for men who aren’t Male Feminists, and encourage the men already in your life to let go of this toxic and broken ideology. to value them as highly as the women in your life, treat them as human beings deserving of compassion rather than toys to use up and throw away, and fight back against your urges to use gender politics as an interpersonal weapon. to interrogate your own desires and be honest about them, to yourself as well as your partners. and to take your commitments seriously, rather than discarding partners at whim simply because the thrill of a new relationship is gone, or because your partner expressed the same kind of emotional needs that you rely on them for daily.

and queer women can help too, by accepting men as friends without treating them as inferior, or god forbid, trying to so thoroughly degrade their masculinity that they can be gaslit and peer-pressured into transitioning (or “egging,” as it is known). frankly, queer women can help just by not throwing more fuel on the fire, by ceasing to use the word “man” as if synonymous with “rapist scum.” so much needless hate has been wrought by such simple misunderstanding and division. i need to emphasize that, while i don’t like to call myself “queer” anymore for reasons that by now should be obvious, my partners have almost all been female or nonbinary, and for a long time i counted myself as ardent a feminist as all the rest, if not more so. i even used to call myself a political lesbian. my point is, i was one of you. and now, engaged to a man who’s as opposed to feminism as i am, i’ve never felt safer, more loved, or more hopeful for my own future, having escaped the grip of queer culture and its endless parade of narcissists, opportunists, and abusers.

a better world is possible. and it starts with simplest acts of mutual kindness and acceptance.