Why We Don’t Need Feminism (Critical Reprise)


Soon after I published “Why We Don’t Need Feminism” on Thought Catalog, the comments started flooding in and all I could think about was how much I wanted to end my life. What have I done? I asked myself. Why didn’t I just keep my big mouth shut? In tears, I called my professor, a respected historian and feminist, at her house. She read the article and the comments. At first she was filled with dread. Then she pointed out that the bulk of the comments were merely vitriolic spew. This wasn’t like getting a bad grade on a test for which I’d failed to comprehend the material and was scolded with constructive criticism. It was just a bunch of angry people making awful and hurtful assumptions about my identity, intention, and work.

The most popular comment, with 217 upvotes, said: “This is the worst article I have ever read on this website.” Beneath it, someone added: “This author is evil and deserves to die a painful death.”

The next comment, with 193 likes, was neutral. “We need feminism so that men aren’t only perceived as violent and aggressive apes.”

I agree; who wouldn’t? The linguistic gulf here is just superficial semantics. You say we need feminism. Other people think we need post-feminism. Other people just general democracy. And so on.

With 139 likes, the next commenter notes:

Masking internalized misogyny and patronizing rhetoric towards your own gender by flippantly trivializing the male psyche and lumping them all into the neanderthal category therefore absolving men of any responsibility and making the systematic oppression of women their own fault. Wow, how original. NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE. Bravo, you’re an example for us all.

I don’t “trivialize the male psyche” anywhere in the article. I just offer a quick summary of the general consensus in evolutionary theory about why men tend to be more violent than women across all cultures. The answer is one detailed at length by Harvard biologist E. O. Wilson, who believes men tend to be more violent than women because of innate (non-cultural) genetic wiring. Scholars with feminist perspectives like Barbara Smuts, Sarah Hrdym and Patrica Gowaty use this intellectual framework to understand men’s behavior too. Moreover, it does not follow that just because you are born with a certain tendency you must act it, nor that your aren’t responsible. In fact, it means the opposite: being aware of certain tendencies can help us overcome them.

With 129 likes: “I am constantly baffled as to why feminists are seen as ‘man-haters’ when the author legitimately just compared men to violent chimpanzees.”

Is one also a man hater if one simply states the very true statistic that men commit 88% of all murders in the United States? Or that humans are related to chimpanzees? Why are we so incapable of dealing with uncomfortable facts?

With 125 likes: “:( This article actually proves the opposite.”

Why the sad face? Of course it does and that’s the whole point. The title is a rhetorical move, not a logical one; one of the best ways to empower something or someone is to critically challenge it. I mean, telling a kid don’t think about sexDon’t do drugs is only going to make them hornier and more interested in getting high. Same with this article: what forbids, titillates.

With 73 likes: “This is a joke article right? It’s not possible for anyone with a brain to be this stupid or ignorant.”


I’m sure if I met any of the people who called me names, made fun of me, or wished that I die a painful death – in person for a coffee and we chatted about the intersection of biology and sociology, gender, the intricate link between war and progress – we might disagree at times, but we would have a wonderfully stimulating conversation, and we both could learn things from each other. But there is something regressive about comments. Something that just makes us want to yell. Which, I suppose, should be expected because, after all, we are just animals with clothes on.

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Conversation About Sources

From Gabbie:

Just because we are biologically hard wired to do certain things does not mean that we want to act on it. I know women who can honestly hold their own against men, yet still make much less than their male counter parts. These women work twice as hard as the men in their careers, but are treated differently because of their gender. That shit still happens. Not every woman teaches for pete’s sake.

From Caitlin

What’s really troubling is that the readers of Thought Catalog, a website whose own mission statement declares that “TC contributors are diverse” and “Important conversations happen here”, are up in arms about a diverse contributor that’s clearly sparked an important conversation.

From MJL

Some thoughts from Michael Kimmel that I thought might be worth sharing… “It turns out that testosterone has what scientists call a “permissive effect” on aggression: It doesn’t cause it, but it does facilitate and enable the aggression that is already there. What’s more, testosterone is produced by aggression. In studies of tennis players, medical students, wrestlers…winning and losing determined levels of testosterone, so that the levels of the winners rose dramatically, while those of the losers dropped or remained the same. This was true of women’s testosterone levels as well (Kemper; Kling). What these experiments tell us, I think, is that the presence or absence of testosterone is not the critical issue—but rather the presence or absence of social permission for aggression. Thus, arguments to let boys be boys are likely to exacerbate precisely the problems they attempt to alleviate.”

From Jelly

But we do need some form of feminism. We need feminism to say that yes, it’s true! Women ARE biologically different than men. That means we have different needs and different vulnerabilities. And those needs need to be addressed and accepted, not ignored or shamed.

From Egalitarian

Now, I read this article, then read the comments, read the article again, read the comments again, and, after reading the article for a third time, now I’m writing a
comment of my own.

This is one of the best, if not THE best, articles I’ve read on TC. The comment shitstorm by people, who apparently love to infer the author’s opinion from it, according to their own (lack of) logic, only serves to prove its quality, and is, to be
honest, hilarious.

So here’s my poke at the comments, which strives to stay true to what the author wrote.

#1: The author doesn’t try to say that men are (like) chimpanzees.
She only says that we both have a similar genetic configuration, which is scientific fact.

You do agree that humans and apes are genetically related to a large degree, don’t

#2: The author doesn’t condone violence, rape etc. or claim that violence against women as a subgroup of the population doesn’t exist.
She only says that it doesn’t stem from misogyny.

You do realize that women don’t have to be the center of attention the whole time,
don’t you?

#3: The author doesn’t claim that women have to take on conventionally male traits (and jobs) PERIOD.
She only claims that women have to take on conventionally male traits (and jobs) IF THEY WANT TO MAKE MORE MONEY.

You wouldn’t go SCUBA diving without the SCUBA gear and then complain why you can’t breathe underwater, would you?

#4: The author doesn’t say that ‘effeminate nations of love and equality’ are a bad
She only says that those nations won’t be nearly as productive as more ‘masculine’ ones.

You do agree that the major technological advances came about because of (the threat of) war, don’t you?

#5: Finally, the author doesn’t say that we don’t need equality.
She only says that we need a movement that would include ALL people, not just women.

You wouldn’t believe the KKK, if they suddenly began to claim they fight for
equality for blacks, Latinos, etc., would you?

To sum up – unless you’re incapable of keeping your emotions (theoretically and
traditionally a male trait, I might add) at bay, while you’re reading something
like this, don’t think any sane person will take you seriously, when you wage
your Quixotic war against straw men you yourself put up.

And to the Author – keep writing. Women like you are what this world needs, not more of whiney brain-washed wannabe victims. Kudos to you!

From Kathleen Frazier

How about this for a future paradigm? “Be and let be.” The reason I think we no longer need ‘feminism’ or any such term can simply be boiled down to a wonderful quote by Jiddu Krishnamurti- “When you call yourself an [Insert Term Here], you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.” Although I understand that education is incredibly important to our current generations, by even debating the differences between religions, genders, sexuality, beliefs, etc., you are already creating divides and labels. This creates the foundation for these differences to continue to exist and grow, no?