Feminism Isn’t Working and I Give Up


I GIVE UPby Admin Jen

I’m hanging it up.

Yeah, that’s right. I’m done with feminism. It’s not working. We’re getting nowhere. In fact it actually seems like we’re going backwards. Someone come confiscate my “Feminist as F*ck” t-shirt, buy me a beekeeper suit and leave me to my new, non-feminist existence which will entail popping out more children and possibly listening to a lot of Katy Perry, who is an avowed non-feminist. (The woman who dresses her tits up like cupcakes says she is not a feminist, are you surprised?).

Fighting double standards has become worse than passé. In that entire media whore-nado over Miley Cyrus and her VMA spectacle, the only person I saw pointing out that Robin Thicke is actually kind of questionable for grinding his bits on a girl who could be his daughter… was another dude. Even we in our own circular firing squad of feminism didn’t manage to catch that one, as we were too busy deciding whether to be mad at Miley because she was demeaning herself (maybe) or because she was treating the black women onstage with her like sex dolls (probably) or because “We Can’t Stop” is a mediocre song that has gotten far more play than it deserves (definitely).

The juggernaut of terrible anti-abortion laws just keeps coming despite our best efforts to stop it. State legislatures are in a race to the bottom and still they manage to exceed my expectations. I’ve stopped saying “It can’t get any worse,” because it’s become a dare. Statutory rape cases like the one in Montana just frustrate and depress me; a 49-year-old male teacher walked away with a 30 day sentence after a supposedly consensual relationship with a 14 year old student ended in her suicide.

I just can’t anymore.

I have arguments with otherwise entirely reasonable people who wonder aloud whether women really take enough responsibility for avoiding rape, that maybe they’re just not careful about what they wear and where they go, because women’s sexuality just isn’t the same as men’s, and we don’t understand how hard it is for them to control their penises. As if every woman in America doesn’t have a list of things in her head that she does to avoid getting raped. As if the staggering 35% of college aged guys who have admitted they would rape someone if they thought they could get away with it are beyond educating. As if we are completely wasting our time hoping for any better.

I love sex, I consider myself pro-sex, and I want to say that women should do whatever the hell they feel like with their vaginas, yet I feel like that’s a pipe dream and that it’s neither safe nor OK to do that. Because it’s not. You might get photographed and slut-shamed on Twitter. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to avoid the rape threats or the actual rapes or any of the other fun stuff that could go along with that. Though you might just as well expect that kind of treatment for, say, campaigning for Jane Austen to be printed on some money.

And god forbid you are, or have ever been, a woman in or near the sex industry. Men can pay for prostitutes and be back in the saddle after a tearful apology and a few years out of the spotlight. But not the women they patronize. They lose their jobs and careers and lives when that kind of information gets out, even if it was 15 years ago and the woman in question now is a professional with a master’s degree.

So I’m hanging it up. Let Ann Coulter come and take away my 19th Amendment. I don’t need it. I’ll clean house and maybe watch re-runs of “The Real Housewives of Who Gives a Damn.” It feels like the entire world is telling me to shut up and I’m tired of fighting it. Y’all can go on without me. I’m quitting feminism. I mean it.

Except, I can’t.

Every one of the issues that I bring up here is worth an editorial (or several) of its own. Most of them have already been discussed at length in many different venues including this one. Some of them are subjects I myself still have to do some heavy lifting on to sort out a position that makes sense. But deciding that I’m tired and want to lay down my sword is not an option. The world is going to keep kicking me, and us, whether I feel like kicking back or not.

Sometimes, when reading the news feels like living in London during the Blitz, it’s hard to remember that just because the opposition is fighting harder, it doesn’t mean they’re winning. The worst abortion laws are consistently losing in court challenges. Ohio recently passed a law wiping the prostitution records of victims of sex trafficking, a move that in America, disproportionately helps women. Republican Governor and Tony Soprano body double Chris Christie just signed an equal pay law in New Jersey (yes, really). The percentage of women in Congress, while still pathetically low, is higher than it’s ever been. And female leaders from journalism to politics to business are becoming household names and are standing as examples for ways to be a strong woman in the world. The Democrats’ current best hope for the presidency in the next election cycle is Hillary Clinton. People are flocking to the banners of Elizabeth Warren and Wendy Davis. PBS has turned The News Hour over to Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill. And I defy you to find one person over the Labor Day Weekend who wasn’t talking about Diana Nyad’s historic swim from Cuba to Florida. When it’s incremental, progress can feel like it’s not happening. When there are a lot of bombs going off, it’s hard to notice that a lot of the flying rocks are not actually hitting you.

So, yeah. I know you’re tired of hearing about rape culture. But I’m tired of my friends getting raped.

I know you’re tired of hearing about abortion. I am too. So stop trying to tell me what to do with my uterus, and I promise you won’t hear another word from me about it.

I know men and women are different from each other. I’m just tired of that fact being used to excuse the inexcusable.

I know you’re tired of hearing about income inequality. But fuck you, pay us.

This is how it works. We get mad, we fight, we get tired, we get mad, we start again. Rinse, repeat. Feminism isn’t without its flaws, and it doesn’t seem able to speak with one voice or crystallize answers on the darker, stickier aspects of human nature and sexuality. But if I may get Rumsfeldian for a minute, this is the army we have. The fight comes to us whether we seek it or not, whether we want it or not, and whether we are ready or not.

So might as well be ready. Ready, and maybe even happy, to die on the hill.


If you liked this post, please check out these other ones that we especially loved from our archives:

W:RUN’s Women of 2012 – Women Who Shaped the Year

Tired of Talking About Abortion?  Me Too.

Where the Action Is:  A Primer on State Legislatures

Messing With Texas, By Way of Galway

In Stunning Last-Minute Move, Congress Does the Right Thing for Once

Author: womenriseupnow

An awareness and mobilization site designed to fight back against recent attacks against womens' rights.

275 thoughts on “Feminism Isn’t Working and I Give Up

  1. Reblogged this on Physician Heal Thyself and commented:
    Try living in a third world country where women are commonly seen as little more than property,
    where a valid response to rape is, “But she shouldn’t have gone to his house”, where I cannot walk on the streets without getting comments about my anatomy. Abortion? *gasp* “But God…” And the woman is left holding the bag of shame, judgement, or an actual baby she doesn’t want. Sigh. Feminism is hard.

    • You know, you’re leaving a typical comment in response to a modern feminist. Saying its worse elsewhere doesn’t mean we don’t have a reason to continue to make it better. I would rather have a society that did better than the bare minimum. I’m sorry some women have to go through the horrors that you are speaking of – I know what you’re talking about.

      Here’s a thought, though. Women get yelled at constantly on the streets of highly populated areas as people comment on their anatomy – happens all the time in America. The Montana case referenced in the article regarded a 14 year old who was raped by her 40-something teacher. She committed suicide. She was villainized for ‘seducing the teacher’ while he got 30 days in jail. That happened earlier just this year.

      There is work to be done. I fully support women’s rights around the globe, and I’m sure many feminists do as well. But if we can do better… I certainly don’t think it would be right to stop at the bare minimum.

  2. When things become so far outside our ability to believe, I think it’s natural to want to quit. The problem is, women who are sure about themselves and do not have all of the other “chatter” going on in their minds, cannot quit. I believe I am describing you. There is no going back to an ignorant bliss. That’s gone forever because we cannot pretend anymore. We see the reality of the situation and dig deep to find solutions or create opportunities to ‘Inch’ forward with patience.

    With love, Amanda

  3. We will succeed one way or another. We cannot afford to quit. The world is in the state it is because women have never been part of the decision making process. What I hate even more is women who believe we are meant to just look pretty and shut-up. So next time you think of quitting know you are not alone and this is coming from a women living in a third world/developing country. Aluta Continua!!!

  4. Pingback: Feminism Isn’t Working and I Give Up | Of Cats and Femmes

  5. I really liked your article. I can understand exactly what you mean by wanting to quit, sometimes it does seem like things are getting worse and worse and it is extremely demotivating to talk about it to people who do not even see that sexism exists. I have felt like quitting so many times too; sometimes going through even a normal day at work seems to throw so much discrimination at you.

    You are right though, it is impossible to give up. If you are fighting or not, these cultural attitudes towards women will continue. So we may as well try to change them. Also, as someone else said, once you have come this far and realized so many things about discrimination and the need for feminism, it is next to impossible to go back into the not-knowing state.

    Thanks for the inspiring article 🙂

  6. Wake up …!!! women …….. we will succeed . And i beleive that when women will be given equal rights then our world will develope

  7. Reblogged this on CatharsisHungry's Blog and commented:
    Well written..!!
    Can’t resist reblogging it..

  8. I like your message a lot. Do you ever allow guest posts on your blog? Please advise…

  9. Yeah there is one thing I hate about my gender and it is its lack of control over its sexuality. The reason people want to ban abortion isn’t because they want to control you, its because they think its murder. Over all if you want to fight for good try being inventive or create a company at the moment those people are the ones leading and controlling world.

    • If its not control, then why do they want to outlaw contraception? I get the antiabortion part as “murder” in their eyes, but contraception? Barefoot and pregnant is how they want us…

  10. I’d like to think of myself as a moderate feminist, if there is such a word. But I know my biggest struggles with feminism is when I’m in argument with another woman about it. I feel I shouldn’t have to argue with other women about why they deserve to be treated equally. I mean, if I can convince my husband another woman should be a breeze right???

    • I have long considered the biggest enemy of feminism to be uneducated women. We must continue to bring the message to our unenlightened sisters wherever they live. It is aggravating to have to convince women that progress is in their best interest and you can be pro -choice and still be personally against abortion. The Fox News View is spreading dangerously and it is truly up to enlightened women to spread the message that women can and should make their own choices, be treated equally on the Job and Health Market and not denigrate our sisters for their sexual choices.

  11. I consider people first as a spiritual souls, secondly as humans with the right to be authentic, lastly, I consider gender with its many expression.

    I support individual freedom for each person. Laws, customs, and prejudice that restrict women and/or limit individual self-expression are morally wrong.

    Because some people have the power to treat anyone unfairly does not mean they have the right to do so.

    I have been honored to know many women who expressed themselves in many different ways.

    I respect each of those women.

    I accept them as they are.

    I have no expectations of how a woman ought to be.

  12. What a fantastic article I seemed to find by accident. You have such a wonderful way of writing such anger inspiring things in a way that doesn’t come across as a rant. I live in Scotland where abortion is legal if it is carried out within the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. The Abortion act was carried out in 1967 therefor it is so difficult to see some states in America lagging so far behind. It’s a woman’s body therefore it should be the woman’s choice…end of story. Everything you’ve pointed out in this post just shows how far we still have to go. As difficult as being a feminist is, feeling like your the only one that sees things straight, I just couldn’t suddenly go back to not noticing injustices against woman, it’s no longer in my nature. Keep fighting strong!!

    Thanks for such an inspiring post!

  13. My God I love you!!!!!!! Oh my God this is me. Has been me. Will be me again. I feel so deflated some days I feel as if I am literally the only woman on the planet who “gets it.” I often wish for ignorance and shallow thinking just so, well, so I don’t have to be aware. But then I wake up the next morning, and keep climbing up the hill. I loved this blog sooooooooooooooo much. THANK YOU.

  14. I won’t stop fighting til the day I die! Feminism FORVER! 🙂

  15. “Feminism isn’t without its flaws” – no shit, Sherlock, and those flaws include the casual disses of female pop singers and burqa-wearing women and women who work inside our homes “popping out” children and watching reality television while we “clean house.”

    Yes, I get feminist burnout. No, it does not mean you get a free pass to vomit your own tired, stereotyped bullshittery all over the women who are not you.

    Wake the fuck up. Horizontal hostility ain’t gonna get you any closer to the day when you can “do what the hell” you “feel like” with your “vagina”. In fact, that shit PLAYS into the PATRIARCHY. Duh.

    Intersectionality. Look it the fuck up, Admin Jen who can’t be bothered to grok your own damn subtitle: “equality lifts us all”, but wants sympathy for how frustrating it is that no one but you is willing to do the work.

  16. Oppressors and the oppressed have existed since the beginning of time, and will continue to exist. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. We need to lean on each other when we get tired, but the struggle to maintain victories won by sisters gone before, and perhaps win a little new ground along the way, is every woman’s duty for now and for all generations to come. Got to keep that sense of humour along the way – thanks for the chuckle Jen and keep on keepin on.

  17. This is awesome ! Loved every bit of your story, but I’m a woman 🙂 You keep rocking it !!! You give all the sane people hope 🙂

  18. You know what I’m tired of hearing? Feminists bash mothers and homemakers.

    Do we have to go there with “popping out kids?” Do we always have to go to having children as being the opposite of being feminist?

    “I’ll clean house and maybe watch re-runs of “The Real Housewives of Who Gives a Damn.” ”

    Screw you. I’m a mother and homemaker. That is my choice. I am a feminist, and I support intersectional feminism, the rights of sex workers, of trans-gendered people, of people of every gender shade and orientation, people of color… the whole nine yards.

    I speak out for feminism all over the damned place, loud and proud, but everywhere I turn, my life choices get thrown in my face and mocked.

    Now let’s hear from all the silencers and apologists. Trust me, it is NOT that I don’t get the “nuanced” idea of “what they are really saying here.”

    I am saying, why am I supposed to remain silent in the face of all the snide comments about my life and my choices?

  19. alot of you on here i commend for courage in face of evil but look at it like this. i will use two references. 2 face in the most recent batman movies with christian bale. said your either gonna stay a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.. reference 2 is that hitler also was so stubborn that his mission was perfect and right up until his mysterious death with no bodies found…his stubbornness cause a world war on a the devine belief that he was right above everyone else. so i wont say your wasting your time but all movements die..they become obsolete and or need to adapt. most feminist make a mistake in making american feminism the same standard as African feminism..big mistake. two different starting and ending points. along with traditions and goals. your the future of feminism. im a professional non feminist never needed or felt it helped me. with every change you make there also comes some bad with it.

  20. It is very important to understand three things.

    1). Since at least 1973, more than 50% of adult Americans have supported the legality of abortion in all or most cases. Generationally, the percentage is lower among those over 65, not among other generations. Sufficient patience will see a victory for those who outlive their opponents.

    2). You either genuinely believe in the main principles of genuine gender equality and the right to bodily autonomy and self-determination for individual persons, and genuinely believe they are in accord with truth, or you don’t. If you do believe that, you have to live it, with the understanding that there actually is no substantive opposition to truth. Falsity is louder in its death throes, but it’s still dying.

    3). It may not seem as much fun now as it was when the women’s liberation movement, in full swing, had that air of youth seeking to change the world which came from the huge boomer population. But it has already changed some of the world – there is evidence everywhere. A Burmese friend once told me, “Oh, you Americans. You always want everything immediately.” You have to keep on trukkin’ to get what you want.

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