The anti-social justice crowd is quite odd. Once they argued against ridiculous or misguided activism. Now, any moderately liberal belief gets one labeled a “social justice warrior”. A cultural critic who says video games might be sexist turns into a Solanasesque radical out to destroy an entire industry when see through these eyes.
Women concerned about sexism often discuss “the patriarchy”. Now, if you’re the sort of person who understands concepts you may think you know what the patriarchy is: a term for how society privileges men. When people blame “the patriarchy” for sexism, they do not believe a literal group called the patriarchy exists.
One Tumblr user thinks differently. Or, to be more accurate, several Tumblr users: their staff page lists off seven mods, including the moderator of r/TumblrInAction and I Don’t Need Feminism. Permutation of Ninjas, described as a blog that’s “dedicated to debunking SJ myths and encouraging open and honest discussion”, was asked a question:
Would you class patriarchy as conspiracy theory?
Not if you understand what words mean, no.
Feminist male-perpetration patriarchy theory shares many characteristics with what most people would describe as “conspiracy theories.” It would not, in our eyes, be terribly unreasonable to describe many formulations thereof as being close enough to warrant the label. (Weasel words, yes, but important ones.)
You acknowledge that you’re using weasel words, but they’re important ones, so it’s okay.
Social justice and anti-social justice bloggers are united by a mutual love for thesaurus fucking. They talk like they’re bullshitting a English essay, because that’s what they think smart people sound like. Why say “I think you could say it’s a conspiracy theory” when you can say the same thing in twice as many words?
When we look at conspiracy theories, there are a few key elements. The first is extremely high-level efficient covert organization, the “shadowy cabal” so to speak. The second is the clear division of the world into “good” and “bad” elements, creating an inherent moral simplicity and tracing all “evil” (so to speak) back to the supposed conspirators. The third is the concept of overwhelming odds, the idea that the “whistleblower” group is inherently fighting an asymmetric battle against a vastly superior foe. Two other characteristics are often (but not always) present: the argument of antiquity (ancient conspiracy), and the lack of factual or evidentiary support. (The latter is generally present, but one example of a factually-supported conspiracy would be Watergate.) There are many other common characteristics, but we’d describe these ones as the “core” of what makes a conspiracy theory what it is.
That’s…a decent definition, actually. Though I’d add that belief in a conspiracy theory usually means you assume that anyone who doesn’t believe is ignorant or stupid (aka “sheeple”).
So does male-perpetration patriarchy theory meet these criteria? We would argue that the answer is probably “yes.”
Besides not believing in a conspiracy, this idea I don’t understand is just like a conspiracy theory!
The first criteria is the most obvious: patriarchy theory, in essence, makes the claim that since before the beginning of recorded history men as a class have conspired to subjugate women…
No it doesn’t. It’s not a theory. No one’s claiming that someone just invented the patriarchy one day. Hell, patriarchal attitudes don’t even need to be conscious.
…have succeeded almost completely and universally, and have done so without any evidence of such a conspiracy ever coming to light.
Who’s ever seen any evidence of society favoring men?
They’ve succeeded at doing this despite (for most of history) having no way to communicate with each other over the wider world, and have never (to current knowledge) been overthrown in any major society.
Never in human history has a concept become ingrained in societies across the world without anyone communicating.
The second isn’t hard to see either. Male-perpetration patriarchy theory neatly divides the world into an “oppressed” and an “oppressor” group, which are conveniently split along sex/gender lines. Virtually all the evil in the world can be ascribed to the “patriarchy,” which in context is basically equivalent to “men.”
Those silly feminists. If I had a dollar for every time a feminist blames the patriarchy for their problems, I’d have 75 cents!
So what about the “underdog” viewpoint? Frankly, it’s not hard to see either. Feminism is one of the dominant social ideologies of our time, receives millions (directly and indirectly) of dollars in government funding, and has more lobbying power than any other social movement we can think of.
That’s why liberals claim there’s a War on Women on the part of the Republican party – because feminists are so powerful! They’ve received millions of dollars from the US government, which they’ve run zero times. Sexism is over!
The top causes among lobbyists seem to be corporations, environmentalism, corporations, government spending, corporations, labor, corporations, Israel and corporations. I have no clue where they found any of this information.
It’s wrought incredible change on our society, both for the better and (all-too-often) for the worse, and it’s been steadily gaining influence throughout the last five decades. Despite this, many feminists basically claim that nothing’s changed, that society is still completely against them and that they’re a small group of valiant freedom fighters rather than an extremely well-funded lobby industry feared by pretty much everyone. Feminism, in short, ignores its own power and influence.
This movement that can’t stop people from sending death threats to women who said mildly critical things about video games is a devious, all-powerful force that crushes all in their path. FEAR THEM. FEAR THEM.
I’m simultaneously curious and terrified of learning how feminism’s made society worse in their eyes. Thankfully, they don’t actually say.
Society’s changed, and sexism is a thing of the past. What feminist causes are left besides equal pay and harassment and sexual assault and domestic abuse and industry sexism and…
The remaining two are pretty simple. The “patriarchy” is generally accepted as coming from antiquity, no meaningful evidence of a global male conspiracy to oppress women, and much feminist evidence regarding the current status of women and men is severely tainted.
The patriarchy just means a society favoring men. It is where misogyny comes from. It is not, in any sense, a literal conspiracy. No one believes it is. No one.
If you’re wondering how the feminist evidence is tainted, keep wondering: they never actually explain how. Instead, we end on this:
Latour’s assertion that conspiracy theorism is to a degree derived from Marxist-inspired critical theory is particularly interesting given the context, as that same theory is a pretty fundamental part of most modern feminism. Surprising? Not really. This is something that has in the past affected a number of human rights movements. Most, however, have largely outgrown it. Feminism, unfortunately, has not.
Perhaps one day feminism will outgrow the conspiracy theories it doesn’t actually believe in. But unfortunately, not today.