Kristi Winters Rebutting "Why I'm Not a Feminist"
Kristi Winters (Liberalism)
Katherine Revello (Centrism)
It’s difficult to rebut an essay based on personal explanation, regardless of topic. However, all persuasive writing must have cogent points that are presented in an ordered and logical manner, leading the reader down a path - as it were - to the view the author persuades us to hold. In contrast, "Why I'm Not a Feminist" is a mix of personal experiences, side issues, and a focus on a two-year old women’s activist group as the stand in for all of feminist activism. The author makes a bold anti-feminist assertion up front, but then seems to forget to substantiate the opening thesis for the rest of the article.
“Modern feminism’s doctrines require women to cede some of their personal autonomy and march in intellectual lockstep on certain ideas and positions if they want to receive the support of movement leaders.” Ms. Revello then describes her own negative personal experience; expresses further personal opinions; and claims, rather bizarrely, that misogyny is a form of the "No True Scotsman Fallacy", before again returning to their own negative personal experiences. To quote Christopher Hitchens, “That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” If her intent was to support their opening anti-feminist premise, then this piece is a failure. The assertions that follow the opening paragraph are not supported by evidence, thus no persuasive anti-feminist arguments are made.
The author fails to provide examples of so-called “modern feminist doctrines” or a source, which is important given feminism can refer to inter alia: anarchist, black feminism, difference, individualist, liberal, postmodern, radical, socialist or Marxist feminism. Where is the evidence that feminism requires ‘women’ (all women or just feminist women, and why not men?) to cede (how?), their personal autonomy (left unexplained) and march in intellectual lockstep (with whom?) if they are to receive support (in what form?) of movement leaders (unnamed beyond The Women’s March)?
The Women’s March is cited as the zenith of modern feminism. Why? Why focus on a nascent group instead of decades-old activist groups, e.g. The National Organisation for Women or Feminist Majority? Was Women’s March media coverage readily available in right-wing outlets and easier than comparative research on feminist organisations globally? It’s notable that the most egregious example of this supposed feminist control was that once in 2017 some anti-choice feminist groups were removed from a list of Women’s March sponsorship. Hardly lives up to the hype promised in the opening paragraph, does it?
If the goal of the Ms. Revello was to convince us to dislike feminists, they should have spent less time on off-topic logical fallacies/ tangents about collectivism vs individualism, and more on substantiating the points made in their opening premise. Overall, the piece lacks thematic coherence, a clear and guiding premise, thoughtful construction of a cogent argument that lasts the length of the article and supporting evidence to back its claims. In short,it amounts to little more than an unsubstantiated screed that leaves the reader with no takeaway point, purpose or sense of edification
Read More Articles on Third Wave Feminism