Monday, November 24, 2014

Feminism vs. Responsibility

I’ve noticed a common, underlying theme of many feminist ideas and publications, and it’s a theme that I wasn’t convinced existed, despite the assurance of a few anti-feminists here and there. However, after spending more time in the midst of feminists (both online and in real life), this theme has become more and more pronounced, and I see it very clearly now.

This theme within many feminist ideas and publications is an appeal to pity in order to reject women’s personal responsibility…. which means what, exactly?

An appeal to pity is a type of logical fallacy in which the arguer attempts to convince you that her conclusion is correct by appealing to your sense of pity (for her, for the people in question, etc.), and in the case of feminists’ use of this fallacy, the conclusion they want you to accept is that women are powerless to fix whatever is causing their suffering: women don’t need to do anything, rather, men (or the society they control (patriarchy)) need to make the change, and we are supposed to just agree with the women who make this argument because they are suffering (appeal to pity). The story basically goes, “If women are suffering, then it's not their fault at all, and thus, there’s nothing they can do to fix their situation. Instead, other people (men) are the ones who need to do something about it.”

To illustrate how appeal to pity is used to reject personal responsibility in a general case, here is an analogous situation. Imagine I get into a car crash, and as a result, I become paralyzed from the neck down. As I'm lying in the hospital, I tell you that the car crash wasn’t my fault, and I beg you to believe me because I’ve been horribly maimed. Are you really going to look at me, as I lie in a hospital bed with tubes down my throat, and tell me that this is my fault? Of course not! But does that mean it wasn't my fault? Of course not!

While you may be extremely sympathetic to my current situation, your feelings of pity are irrelevant as to whether or not the car crash was my fault. However, it is very tempting to succumb to your feelings of pity and to simply agree with me.

"Broken collar bone? Awesome! Now it's not my fault!"

You can also see how this fallacy arises in a formal argument structure.

1. I was involved in a car crash.
2. The car crash left me permanently disabled.
3. Therefore, the car crash was not my fault. 

As you can see, P1 and P2 have nothing to do with the conclusion, except that P2 makes you feel pity, which kind of does make you want to agree with the arguer’s conclusion. Hence, the fallacy is called “appeal to pity”.

Many feminists do the same thing in order to remove women’s personal responsibility when talking about the following topics, and they often place the responsibility on men instead. Their justification? Women are victims, therefore, there's nothing they can/should do about it. In fact, if you listen to these feminists, it seems like there is absolutely nothing that women can do to improve their situation, and yet they persist that their brand of feminism is empowering to women.


This is one of the most popular talking points of many feminists right now: the pressure girls feel to conform to the standard of beauty, the criticism girls get for how they look, etc. Now, why does this happen? Well, anyone who’s been through school, or better yet, studied this occurrence, will tell you that the primary perpetrators of slut-shaming and of criticizing women based on how they look and act are, in fact, other women. And, as the linked article explains, not because society hates women. 

If a girl puts on different makeup, wears new shoes, and gets her hair done, it’s other girls who notice and critique her, not men. In fact, boyfriends (stereo)typically get scolded for exactly that: not noticing that their girlfriends altered their appearance in some subtle way. But guess who gets blamed for making girls feel bad about their appearances? Men; men get blamed for what women do to each other. 

And of course there are all those fashion magazines that tell women to lose weight and which make women feel bad by putting photoshopped women on the cover. But who writes these magazines? Not men, women. And who are these magazines written for? Not men, women. The people who have the power to make this change are women: women can stop buying them, and women can stop writing them. But once again, it's easier to blame men for being attracted to healthy-looking women with phenotypes that indicate good genes.

Men hate women's bodies, but is it men, or women?

Open this image in a new tab to see it more clearly.

“But you don’t understand: women are the victims! Are you really going to tell me that women are victims because of other women?”

Yes, yes I am. Maybe these feminists could organize a workshop on “healthy femininity” to work out what’s wrong with women, rather than telling men to rethink their masculinity, or shaming them for something they are not guilty of doing.

Now I'm not saying that these issues of body image are not problems "because it's just in-fighting among women", I'm just saying that you cannot reasonably blame men for these issues. Unless, of course, you wish to blame men for being attracted to phenotypes that indicate good genes, good health, and high estrogen levels.


I’ve heard enough feminists talk about this that I’ve decided to talk about it here. This is the idea that if two people have sex, even when they are equally drunk, then the woman is a rape victim, and the man is a rapist, and it usually goes like this:

Not, "too drunk to consent," just, "drunk".

It’s funny how, when two equally drunk people have sex, these feminists declare the woman to be free from responsibility for it, saying that the man should have known she was too drunk. However, if someone decided to drive drunk after her equally drunk friends told her to, everyone would say (as our courts do) that the driver is at fault, despite the presence of her equally drunk friends "who should have known that she was too drunk to consent drive." It is understood that when you are drunk, and you choose to do something, even at the pressure of your drunk peers, you are responsible for you.

Once again, these feminists reject women’s personal responsibility. 


Even the simplest and most brain-dead obvious ways of reducing your risk of being sexually assaulted are decried by many feminists. There’s nothing more offensive than telling a woman not to walk through the bad part of town alone at night to reduce her risk of being raped… buuuut if you tell her not to wear a solid red t-shirt in the bad parts of LA, well, that’s just obvious and you should already know that. Idiot. 

Now, as I explained in a past blog post, I understand that most rapes happen between people who know each other, and the perpetrators are normally people who you should be able to trust. Furthermore, most of the time it is not the “dark alley”, “stranger in the bushes” scenario, and thus, in most cases of rape, there really is nothing the rape victim did that was as obviously dangerous; it is usually not comparable to wearing a solid red t-shirt in LA.

However, even in those few cases where the victim did do something stupid (like go to a party at a well-known rape frat), many feminists still insist that the victim had absolutely no power to reduce her chances of being raped, and advising women (or rather, everyone) to avoid bad neighborhoods is offensive…. even though this advice would actually reduce the number of rape victims.

This creates an interesting paradox: these feminists claim they want to see fewer women raped, but it sounds like they’re actually willing to see MORE women raped, just so long as those women don’t get blamed for it at all. I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer to not be raped. Please don’t force women to become rape martyrs in exchange for freedom from any responsibility.


This follows a similar vein as the previous topic, and although the sentiment expressed below is less common in feminist circles than those presented above, the level of blatant disregard for women’s agency in this instance was too astounding for me to ignore.

Now, the underlying idea is one that I can appreciate and agree with: you should be free to dress yourself how you want. However, these women then go on to pretend that we already live in this ideal world, and they act shocked that dressing provocatively... well, provokes people. 

“I know the way I dress is kind of provocative, 
but it doesn't mean I should have to deal with it.”

In a perfect world, appearances wouldn't matter, but failing to acknowledge even a basic level of self-awareness in the real world is simply childish and it ignores your own agency. A comparable situation might be if a man went into a business interview wearing a polo shirt and slacks, and then complained about being seen as "unprofessional".

In fact, my barber has told stories of men who have gotten their long hair cut and their beards trimmed, and then these men are amazed by how differently people treat them. Suddenly, people address them as "sir", hold the door for them, and take them seriously. It's quite amazing, and it illustrates the fact that this is something that everyone has to deal with.

Ideally, it wouldn't matter what you wear (or how you keep your hair and beard), but quite frankly, you're an idiot if you ignore the reality that it
does matter to at least a basic extent. 

Once again, we have a case of, "I'm a victim, therefore, it's not my fault."


During the civil rights movement in the United States, Martin Luther King Jr. got people organized for change; he didn't sit around complaining about the "white culture", demonizing white people, and assuring his supporters that black people were helpless victims.

Women have agency and responsibility, but many feminists are trying to take away women’s agency and turn them into victim objects with no power at all. Women are stronger and smarter than these feminists think. Women can improve their situation, they can think for themselves, and they can do it without blaming the men around them or asking men to be strong and independent for women

In the old days, it was believed that women couldn't make rational choices without the guidance of men. Nowadays, it is believed that women can't make rational choices without the guidance of feminists. I maintain that women are rational, they can make their own choices, they can deal with real-world problems in a rational way, and they can empower themselves. 


  1. English is not my first language, so please excuse me if I do not say something clearly or if I misunderstood something you said.

    To be honest, I think a lot of what you are looking at for feminism is a biased outlook, not necessarily because of you, but because of the fact that the people who act like that tend to be more outspoken and obvious and easier to recall.

    It is similar to how if you see a religion maniac, you would be more likely to attribute that to religion as opposed to if you saw just a normal person who also happened to be religious.

    I agree that a appeal to pity should not be used, and I also dislike when other feminist do this, because it gives people who dislike feminism a way to say "Look at how wrong feminism is, they have to use fallacy to defend their position". However, I think this is not as wide spread as it seems, and just happens to appear that way because of what I said earlier. You are more likely to remember a feminist who is using silly ideas or fallacies to defend their position then you are to remember one who just happens to be more 'proper'.

    As a note, I feel I should say, I am only saying this is a possibility that I happen to believe is the case, but I have no particular evidence to prove it is the case. However, I also believe the opposite is the same, that there is no particular evidence for the fact that a majority of feminist use appeal to pity. So I am only saying this to offer you an alternate possibility, which I hope you will at least consider.


    For body image, you are somewhat right. As far as make up and hair, or any other non-physical characteristics women are more likely to criticize others. But for actual body image, I think men are more likely to do this then women are, for exactly the reason you state, that a man does not particularly notice hair and make up, but instead they are more likely to notice if a woman is 'sexy' or not.

    My position on this is not particularly like how you presented it here though, as I believe the problem is that women are 'expected' to have a certain body image, not just 'criticized' for having that body image. So a girl who happens to have a bad body image is not just someone who a guy 'finds ugly', but rather, she is not seen as a girl at all because she is outside the expectation.

    And, while I believe it is more prominent for women, I believe this is also a problem for men as well.


    I agree with you that if two people are drunk and have sex, then both parties are equally responsible. I cannot particularly add much to this, except saying the same thing I said earlier, that people who complain about this are more outspoken and thus more easily noticed.

    This point (as far as feminism is concerned) has more to do with a man coercing a woman into drinking or forcing her too, and using her being drunk to have sex with her, that it is rape. I believe that is rape. And, even though I used pronouns there, I do not think it is one-sided, so in other words, a woman who coerces a man into drinking and then has sex with him, the woman is raping him.

    It is also important to note that when one is drunk I do not believe they can reasonably assess how drunk another person is. So they might think that someone did something that they did not actually do.

    And changing the blame when two people are equally responsible is something that happens in all different types of contexts, so I think it is a bit unfair to say it like it is an attribute to feminism.

  2. (My apologies, I had to put the comment into multiple posts)

    Although I do not necessarily believe that women who are dressed in a certain way are more likely to be raped (which I will explain in a few paragraphs), I think you can tell a woman that some place is bad if she goes dressed like that is dangerous before the fact, but mentioning it afterwards is a bit bad, especially if you make it sound like any part of the fault is hers. Because for one thing, it is rather rude to a victim of assault, and for another, even if you were right, a woman should have a right to go anywhere dressed like how she wants, without fear of being raped. It is completely the rapist who is at fault, regardless of if she did or did not do something to 'lower the risk'. For example, if someone got into an argument with another person and ended up murdered because of it, you would not say 'well he was at some fault because he got into an argument'.

    Furthermore, I feel that the definition of what constitutes 'sexy clothes' is undefined. At what point does 'revealing clothes' become 'unrevealing clothes'? And this is further assuming that everyone has the exact same taste, which is not the case. Where as some men might find a revealing skirt sexy, some men might find it unsexy, and so would not want to have anything to do with her.

    This could also be turned around. A woman might find a man who wears a small-sleeved shirt that reveals his large biceps as being sexy and might rape him, but it would be silly to say "Well, you should not have been wearing such sexy clothes".

    And of course, this is all assuming that women who wear 'revealing clothes' are more at risk then woman who are not, which I am not convinced is true, as I have seen no evidence that this is true.

    And I have no reason to believe that is true, since, as you yourself have pointed out, a majority of rape happens with women who are dressed 'normally' and between two people who generally know each other, which seems to indicate that clothing might have little if anything to do with rape.

    Another point on this would be to imagine a very ugly girl wearing such 'revealing clothing'. It is unlikely that she would be raped because the men found her 'sexy wearing those revealing clothes'. The more probable reason she would be raped(if she was) is for the same reason why straight people might rape gay people (as a form of degradation, rather than because they want their sexual desire filled).

    And, obviously, if you look at rape in nature, since animals cannot 'wear sexy clothing', it is silly to say that, for example, a duck got raped because they wore 'sexy clothing', which would seem to indicate even more that clothing does not particularly have anything to do with it.

    I also feel like saying that women who wear more revealing clothing are at risk is self-fulfilling. If a rapist happens to know this is a common belief, they might choose to rape a woman who wears more revealing clothing, simply because if he gets caught, he knows he can get somewhat of sympathy by saying 'she was wearing revealing clothing'. In other words, they can become somewhat of the victim of the girl, which for them, is ideal.


    You are right that how one dresses affects how people treat them, but there is a large difference between how one gets treated and having illegal things done to them because of it.

    Your example is unfair, because the man who wears unbusiness-like clothing to a meeting does not have anything illegal happening to him. He is not being chosen simply by the fact that the employer believes he is unprofessional, and this is a perfectly legal thing for the employer to do.

    If a girl walked into a similar situation, that she went to get a job wearing provocative clothing, like the clothing in the video you give, the employer would be perfectly justified in not hiring her and they would almost 100% choose not to hire her.

    However, the opposite does not hold. If you put the man dressing unbussiness-like in the environment shown in the video, he would not likely be harassed, for wearing such clothing.

    Once again, the people are perfectly justified in treating her differently if they dislike how she dresses. By that, that means they can do things like try to avoid her, prefer not to talk to her, and even make jokes about it with their friends and other such things. However, how one dresses is not a justification for harassment or battery or any other type of crime against the person, no more then the fact that one person who happens to be richer than another is justification for stealing from them.

  4. I am sorry to make a fourth post, but I feel I should justify this for the street harassment since it is something that is often bought up:

    I do not believe that a man who sees a woman wearing revealing clothing and asks her to have sex is harassment, I believe this is 'treating her differently', which as I said, is something I believe is fair when someone is dressed a certain way.

    However, when she says no, and they continue to try to talk her into it, that is then harassment.

    1. Well I'm not sure I can respond to everything you said, but I appreciate the polite feedback.

      I do try to make it clear when I am talking about "some feminists" or "many feminists" or "those feminists" so that people don't think I am talking about all feminists.

      And to be fair, I also speak out against the more vocal religious people I encounter, and I recognize that most (Christians, feminists, etc) are not loud and crazy, but at the same time, the loud and crazy (religious people, feminists, etc) have a strong influence, and so I think it is good to speak against them when I disagree with them.

      However, in my experience, most of the feminists I've spoken to, both online and in real life, have used some form of "appeal to pity" to turn the blame onto men. Combine that with the article I discussed in my post called "An Open Letter to Privileged Women", and I think there is reasonably strong evidence that a sizable portion of "feminists" subscribe to this (fallacious) thinking.

      As to the rest of your comments, I can definitely agree with some of what you have said. The purpose of this post was to explain where I disagree with these feminists, so I did not clearly state that I do agree with them up until that point.

  5. Can you say the same regarding Anita Sarkeesian?