Someone recently asked me why I am not a feminist.
There are several reasons, a few of which I have covered briefly before (and which I won’t review in full here again). Many of the general reasons are differences in views on society and social and political structures, as well as a number of the issues plaguing the world today.
I don’t employ much feminist theory in my evaluations and critiques. I don’t subscribe to any theories of patriarchy in the ways that feminists tend to (I have my own perspectives on the systems of power in society). I do not believe in rape culture in the sense that most feminists do. And, I do not interpret social privilege as most feminists do. I could go on at length about each of these items, and many more, but those things are not the focus of this post.
Instead, I will provide a more personal reason for my refusal to align with feminism.
As some know from my first Q&A video, I grew up in an abusive home. I was not abused much myself, at least physically, but my mother and brother alike were, verbally and physically—black eyes, broken bones, bodily bruises—everything that one would expect in such a scenario, for years.
My mother was not a child abuser. She was a drug addict and the enabler of the abuse. My stepfather was the abuser. He never laid a hand on me, and was hardly ever even unkind to me. But, he regularly harmed my mother and, for reasons unknown, beat my brother on a semi-regular basis.
I believe that forgiveness is a virtue, so I do not hate my mother for any of what transpired, though I blamed her for much of it, and still do, but I do not hold any respect for her today (and I presently no longer keep in touch with her either). I strongly dislike my stepfather from that time as well, but I scarcely see him anymore.
Nonetheless, my mother was never fit to be a parent. An individual who is nearly useless throughout most of your childhood because they spend the majority of their time high to the point of almost being unconscious, and who brings abusive partner after abusive partner into your home, is not a fit parent.
After a while, her parental incompetence became too blatant to ignore, and so my brother and I spent some time in a foster home along with other children, and again we were met with abuse. Though more of it went to the rest of the children than to us, our foster mother might have been one of the most monstrous and disturbed people that I have ever had the displeasure of encountering.
During our period living with her, she managed to give a young boy third-degree burns all over his body by dropping him into a sink of hot water (and got into no trouble for it). When we upset her or did something that bothered her, she would frequently enact bizarre punishments such as sitting on us, on top of a pillow, for hours as she watched television (among other things). She was never penalized for that or any of the numerous misdeeds that she carried out, but she, as well, certainly wasn’t fit to care for any children. She wasn't even fit to be free and unsupervised.
Throughout the entirety of all of these events, and despite my (essentially) utterly useless and indifferent family, I had one individual in my life who wanted to help, wanted to be there, who truly loved my brother and I deeply, that we both loved as well, and who actually was fit to be a parent.
That was my father.
I loved my father nearly more than anyone else in the world then, and longed every day during most of my childhood to be able to live with him and escape everything that went on. He desired that as well, and fought for it persistently, and yet I was only able to see him on rare occasions.
My mother, along with the assistance of the state, notwithstanding her clearly being an unfit parent to the extent of my brother having to visit the hospital over injuries inflicted by our stepfather, and later us having to move to a foster home for a brief stretch, was able to keep our father from seeing us for the better part of our early lives.
He did everything that he could, but he simply had no power to rescue us because of her and the authority that she undeservedly had over our lives (and later due to the lies that she had spun about him before and when she lost us for a bit). And not a single person would help him.
Now, what does this have to do with feminism? Well, the answer is simple.
I do not pass the blame entirely to feminism, particularly for the outdated manners wherein the legal system works from the past (and including the chivalry bias in courts which tends to favor women), but there is a certain amount of fault that can be ascribed to feminism for its overall lack of progress in correcting imbalances of this nature.
And feminists with any interest or authority in these sorts of realms of activism ought to gladly accept a portion of the blame for such failures because they, more often than not, contend that they fight for everyone and against all inequalities in society, impacting women and men alike. In fact, they commonly claim to be the only ones needed.
Where were or are they to correct these kinds of issues? They seem to have done a fine job in several other legal realms where rights related to children are concerned, and yet they can’t manage, after decades of relentless advocacy and advancement, to make it possible for a man who is far more fit to parent children to achieve that against a mother who is so unfit that it endangers the physical, emotional, and mental health of her offspring?
Moreover, after I discussed all of this in a video, my first Q&A, and (fairly) blamed my mother for much of the abuse, including some that she took, which she routinely encouraged or even initiated despite the fact that her children were often in the same room, I happened to come across a thread where some feminists were discussing my video, and they took offense to my blaming her for any of what occurred (they accused me of lying and being an “MRA” because I faulted her even partially, around the same time that a small cluster of MRAs online were hassling me).
Meaning, because my past life did not conform to their worldviews, or made them uncomfortable, they attempted to delegitimize my experiences by questioning my “alignment,” so to speak. Or in other words, they aimed to attribute my recollections and interpretations of my experiences to some sort of ulterior agenda, when all that I did was plainly state what had happened and how I felt about it and thought of it.
I couldn't care less now who me sharing my reality does or does not benefit, and I didn’t care then. The fact of the matter is, I grew up in an abusive home with an unfit mother and watched my brother and her get brutalized every other day because of her and our stepfather, all while our father, who was a fit parent, who loved us and whom we loved, fought a futile battle—thanks to my mother and the courts—to help us.
Then, on July 16, 2007, twelve days after my 15th birthday, and following over a decade of all of this terribleness and him fighting continuously to make things better for us and for himself to no avail, my father worked late one night on overtime, fell asleep while driving home, and then died in an accident, and my brother and I were left with virtually no one decent or reliable to care for or assist us, except each other. I practically raised my brother on my own.
For years, I have witnessed hundreds of feminists, at times directly to me, undermine, repudiate, or attack experiences similar to mine because they make them uncomfortable, or because the existences of such experiences do not benefit feminist agendas and pursuits, along with smugly laughing at and making a mockery of the hardships of men like my father (or outright denying that they even exist).
I care not if a minority of feminists somewhere happen to concern themselves with these things (like some that I know personally and call friends); on a larger, general scale, most do not. Not unless it is convenient to them at any given moment to pretend to. I will care when any feminists with some measure of influence or authority, who can and are actually doing things, care. Until then, it is all meaningless, deceptive, and shallow. Hollow, worthless words.
So, aside from the numerous philosophical and interpretive differences, and my disapproval of how some feminists analyze and employ data, I do also have a personal reason for my refusal to adopt the label, born of years of interactions with hundreds of feminists, and reading countless statements from self-identified feminists.
As long as there are so many people within feminist circles who would belittle, dismiss, or erase my personal experiences for political reasons, or who would jeer at even the very idea of someone struggling as my father, who died while still fighting that battle only to lose in the end, did, I will never be a feminist. And, no, that does not make me an MRA either. Not everything is about some petty war chiefly taking place on the internet.
I can find outlets superior to each for pursuing fairness in society, which will, and have, not come with the additional baggage of misguided and callous people sneering at my past adversities and laughing at the wrongs faced by someone that I loved, and still love, dearly. Someone whose time, thanks to an unjust system and the cruelty of life, I will never be able to have, even though both of us wanted it when I could have had it, and he deserved it.
All else that I will say is this:
If you are an individual who genuinely finds even the very idea of someone such as my father suffering amusing, as if it is absurd to merely suggest the occurrence of it at all, then your views and efforts mean nothing to me, you will never have my support, and I will drive as many people as I possibly can away from supporting you as well.
I do not consider myself “anti-feminist” in particular, because I deal in few absolutes, but there is a special place of disdain and disgust reserved in my heart for some feminists and feminism in general, and that aversion is as unlikely to dissipate as my father is to rise from his grave and live again.
Thank you all for reading.
Author: Krista Milburn [@Femitheist]
NOTE: I am certain that a few folk can and will draw all sorts of silly assumptions from this. Regardless, it has been bothering me for long enough that I felt like writing on it briefly, so I don't care too greatly how anyone takes it in that regard at this point. If it loses me some “friends,” then that is something which I will gladly accept.
NOTE II: If you are feminist, and my blame of feminism in this post for these systemic failures offends you, don't waste your time getting upset, hand-waving, or apologizing for the odious behavior of your insensitive cohorts; work toward doing something about these problems. That will be the only thing that could make a difference.
NOTE III: I may discuss all of this at greater length in the future. Feel free to share your stories and thoughts below.
NOTE IV: One of the only pictures of him that I still have, including a little me (likewise linked above).