Tim Lieder

Feminism is Personal – Don’t Pretend Otherwise

I did not read Avi Woolf’s rebuttal to “Hey Everybody! Let’s Blame Feminism!” because some things need to be read in moderation – conspiracy theories, college term papers, sexy vampire books, anti-GMO articles, whatever your racist cousin keeps posting on Facebook – otherwise the amusement becomes anger, and then you start to hate humanity. Woolf’s anti-feminst articles definitely fall within this category.

I did, however, read the title (“Should Non-Feminist Men Just Drop Dead?”) which sounded like a hacky Jewish Mother joke and the first paragraph where Avi Woolf attempted to assert that his opinions were not based on personal experience, an obvious rhetorical strategy since intellectual arguments supersede emotional anecdotes. For example, someone that claims to literally poop their pants when eating non-organic food (or reading articles by Avi Woolf) is automatically less credible than a peer-reviewed scientific study.

Of course, Avi Woolf’s declaration of intellectual purity is doomed well before the passive aggressive title. Your view on feminism is always colored by personal experience because there is no way to avoid gender relationships. If you enjoyed being raised in a so-called traditional family where your father was never home and your mother always cleaned up after you, then you are going to view feminism with suspicion and fear. If you were raised by a single parent or two working parents, then you might even romanticize the Leave it to Beaver fantasy. Rejection, bad breakups, movies, friendships and peer pressure all color our views of gender roles.

Anyone with minimal reading comprehension can find a deep-rooted anxiety in Avi Woolf’s articles. Repeatedly, he has written about feminists pushing men away and making them feel useless. The more Avi Woolf attempts to take a rational stance, the more he sounds like a scared little boy, shivering at the idea of women not taking him seriously. He even uses the phrase “war against masculinity” as if any concession to feminism will culminate in someone confiscating his Scotch.

Unfortunately, this brings us to the Margaret Atwood quote “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” As much as we might want to wish that Avi Woolf is just one sad man in a sea of pathetic men who think that they are going to lose all respect if they aren’t automatically given an advantage, we live in a deeply sick society where rape and spousal abuse are constantly rationalized. After O.J. Simpson’s wife called 911, he could claim that they just had a very loud argument without challenge. Three years later, he murdered her. Bill Cosby spent decades drugging and raping women with the assistance of his staff. His accusers were dismissed as opportunists until Hannibal Buress told a joke. Roman Polanski brutally drugged and raped a thirteen year old girl and fled to France after spending 42 days in prison. He still has defenders. Alan Dershowitz, who may or may not have committed statutory rape, routinely uses his legal talents to defend wife-killers and rapists. In Revenge of the Nerds, the “heroes” install cameras in a sorority to watch women in states of undress (like Rabbi Freundel with his mikvah cameras) and one even rapes a woman by disguising himself as her boyfriend. This movie was a hit comedy.

Yet, people like Avi Woolf dismiss rape culture as a fantasy.

Feminism is personal. I am no shining example of feminism, but I am personally disgusted with unfairness and gender inequality. I have not always been a feminist. I have judged feminism by extremists like Andrea Dworkin. I have dismissed sexual harassment as innocuous. My Livejournal (going back over a decade) is full of sexist opinions, some bordering on misogyny. I don’t agree with all feminists because feminism is a large movement with contradictory viewpoints.

Unlike Avi Woolf, I am honest enough to admit that my perspective on feminism comes from a personal perspective. If Avi Woolf is going to rail against feminism, he could at very least be honest about his motivations rather than trying to sell people on his pathetic “just giving advice to Jewish women who want to get married” stance. He would still be wrong, but maybe he’d sound a trifle less condescending.

About the Author
Tim Lieder is a freelance writer who lives and works in New York City. He runs Dybbuk Press, an independent publishing house through which he has edited and published 9 titles including She Nailed a Stake Through His Head: Tales of Biblical Terror as well as King David and the Spiders from Mars.