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Stop Fem-Splaining: What 'Women Against Feminism' Gets Right

The latest skirmish on the gender battlefield is “Women Against Feminism”: women and girls taking to social media to declare that they don’t need or want feminism, usually via photos of themselves with handwritten placards. The feminist reaction has ranged from mockery to dismay to somewhat patronizing (or should that be “matronizing”?) lectures on why these dissidents are wrong. But, while the anti-feminist rebellion has its eye-rolling moments, it raises valid questions about the state of Western feminism in the 21st century — questions that must be addressed if we are to continue making progress toward real gender equality.

Female anti-feminism is nothing new. In the 19th century, plenty of women were hostile to the women’s movement and to women who pursued nontraditional paths. In the 1970s, Marabel Morgan’s regressive manifesto The Total Woman was a top best seller, and Phyllis Schlafly led opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment. But such anti-feminism was invariably about defending women’s traditional roles. Some of today’s “women against feminism” fit that mold: they feel that feminism demeans stay-at-home mothers, or that being a “true woman” means loving to cook and clean for your man. Many others, however, say they repudiate feminism even though — indeed, because — they support equality and female empowerment:

“I don’t need feminism because I believe in equality, not entitlements and supremacy.”

“I don’t need feminism because it reinforces the men as agents/women as victims dichotomy.”

“I do not need modern feminism because it has become confused with misandry which is as bad as misogyny, and whatever I want to do or be in life, I will become through my own hard work.”

Or, more than once: “I don’t need feminism because egalitarianism is better!”

Again and again, the dissenters say that feminism belittles and demonizes men, treating them as presumptive rapists while encouraging women to see themselves as victims. “I am not a victim” and “I can take responsibility for my actions” are recurring themes. Many also challenge the notion that American women in the 21st century are “oppressed,” defiantly asserting that “the patriarchy doesn’t exist” and “there is no rape culture.”

One common response from feminists is to say that Women Against Feminism “don’t understand what feminism is” and to invoke its dictionary definition: “the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.” The new anti-feminists have a rejoinder for that, too: they’re judging modern feminism by its actions, not by the book. And here, they have a point.

Consider the #YesAllWomen Twitter hashtag, dubbed by one blogger “the Arab Spring of 21st century feminism.” Created in response to Elliot Rodger’s deadly shooting spree in Isla Vista, Calif. — and to reminders that “not all men” are violent misogynists — the tag was a relentless catalog of female victimization by male terrorism and abuse. Some of its most popular tweets seemed to literally dehumanize men, comparing them to sharks or M&M candies of which 10% are poisoned.

Consider assertions that men as a group must be taught “not to rape,” or that to accord the presumption of innocence to a man accused of sexual violence against a woman or girl is to be complicit in “rape culture.” Consider that last year, when an Ohio University student made a rape complaint after getting caught on video engaging in a drunken public sex act, she was championed by campus activists and at least one prominent feminist blogger — but a grand jury declined to hand down charges after reviewing the video of the incident and evidence that both students were inebriated.

Consider that a prominent British feminist writer, Laurie Penny, decries the notion that feminists should avoid such generalizations as “men oppress women”; in her view, all men are steeped in a woman-hating culture and “even the sweetest, gentlest man” benefits from women’s oppression. Consider, too, that an extended quote from Penny’s column was reposted by a mainstream reproductive-rights group and shared by nearly 84,000 Tumblr users in six months.

Sure, some Women Against Feminism claims are caricatures based on fringe views — for instance, that feminism mandates hairy armpits, or that feminists regard all heterosexual intercourse as rape. On the other hand, the charge that feminism stereotypes men as predators while reducing women to helpless victims certainly doesn’t apply to all feminists — but it’s a reasonably fair description of a large, influential, highly visible segment of modern feminism.

Are Women Against Feminism ignorant and naive to insist they are not oppressed? Perhaps some are too giddy with youthful optimism. But they make a strong argument that a “patriarchy” that lets women vote, work, attend college, get divorced, run for political office and own businesses on the same terms as men isn’t quite living up to its label. They also raise valid questions about politicizing personal violence along gender lines; research shows that surprisingly high numbers of men may have been raped, sometimes by women.

For the most part, Women Against Feminism are quite willing to acknowledge and credit feminism’s past battles for women’s rights in the West, as well as the severe oppression women still suffer in many parts of the world. But they also say that modern Western feminism has become a divisive and sometimes hateful force, a movement that dramatically exaggerates female woes while ignoring men’s problems, stifles dissenting views, and dwells obsessively on men’s misbehavior and women’s personal wrongs. These are trends about which feminists have voiced alarm in the past — including the movement’s founding mother Betty Friedan, who tried in the 1970s to steer feminism from the path of what she called “sex/class warfare.” Friedan would have been aghast had she known that, 50 years after she began her battle, feminist energies were being spent on bashing men who commit the heinous crime of taking too much space on the subway.

Is there still a place in modern-day America for a gender-equality movement? I think so. Work-family balance remains a real and complicated challenge. And there are gender-based cultural biases and pressures that still exist — though, in 21st century Western countries, they almost certainly affect men as much as women. A true equality movement would be concerned with the needs and interests of both sexes. It would, for instance, advocate for all victims of domestic and sexual violence regardless of gender — and for fairness to those accused of these offenses. It would support both women and men as workers and as parents.

Should such a movement take back feminism — or, as the new egalitarians suggest, give up on the label altogether because of its inherent connotations of advocating for women only? I’m not sure what the answer is. But Women Against Feminism are asking the right questions. And they deserve to be heard, not harangued. As one of the group’s graphics says, “I have my own mind. Please stop fem-splaining it to me.”

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Men risk their lives in wars so women can enjoy societies where they can pursue feminist goals, such as punishing men for sexist language.

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Man who wants rape legalising is delighted with Donald Trump’s win

Describing himself as a ‘pick-up artist’, Roosh, real name Daryush Valizadeh, shot to infamy earlier this year when he was forced to cancel events in the UK.

The guy has some pretty horrendous views about women, so you won’t be surprised to hear that he’s a fan of Donald Trump.

The future president’s campaign was, of course, marred by scandal when an old tape emerged of him claiming he could ‘grab women by the pussy’.

While millions of people were disgusted, Roosh was delighted because, as he wrote in a blog, ‘if the president can say it then you can say it’.

‘When you talk like Trump, the first thought your listener will have is, ‘he sounds like the president of the United States’.’

‘I’m in a state of exuberance that we now have a president who rates women on a 1-10 scale in the same way that we do and evaluates women by their appearance and feminine attitude.’

‘Simply look at his wife and the beautiful women he has surrounded himself with to remind yourself of what men everywhere prefer, and not the ‘beauty at every size’ sewage that has been pushed down our throats by gender studies professors and corporations trying to market their product to feminist fatsoes.’

‘The president of the United States does not see the value in fat women who don’t take care of themselves, and neither should you.’

‘His presence automatically legitimises masculine behaviours that were previously labelled sexist and misogynist.’

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52 Famous Artists Who Committed Suicide

Thoughtco.com, Updated April 03, 2017

An alphabetical listing of dearly departed artists and art-world bigwigs who chose to leave this world by their own hands. Whenever possible, methods, motivations and mitigating factors have been included. Hyperlinked names indicate a path to an individual's profile. Attempted suicides and gradual suicides by substance abuse have not been included. Nor will you see here the multitudes of artists who unknowingly killed themselves, over time, by licking lead and arsenic off their brushes, or inhaling acid while etching in unventilated rooms.

VISUAL ARTISTS WHO COMMITTED SUICIDE
01 of 52
Alexander, Henry (ca. 1860-1894)
painting of Vincent van Gogh
American painter

Drank carbolic acid.

02 of 52 Arbus, Diane (1923-1971)
American photographer

Took a lethal dose of barbiturates and slashed her wrists.

03 of 52
Blake, Jeremy (1971-2007)
American digital artist, painter

Walked into the Atlantic Ocean and drowned one week after his girlfriend committed suicide.

04 of 52 Bonvin, Léon (1834-1866)
French watercolorist

Hanged himself from a tree in the forest of Meudon, after a Parisian dealer rejected his paintings.

05 of 52 Borromini, Francesco (1599-1667)
Italian architect

Threw himself on a ceremonial sword, then lingered for another 24 hours.

06 of 52
Bugatti, Rembrandt (1884-1916)
Italian sculptor and draftsman

Put on one of his finest suits and gassed himself.

07 of 52 Bupalos and Athenis (active ca. 540-ca. 537 BC)
Greek sculptors

Rumored to have been driven to suicide by the nasty, albeit poetic, written attacks of Hipponax (who apparently didn't like their sculpture of him).

08 of 52 Carrington, Dora (1893-1932)
English painter and decorative artist

Shot herself a few weeks after the death of her companion, Lytton Strachey.

09 of 52 Crevel, René (1900-1935)
French Dada and Surrealist poet

Gassed himself the day before the Congress of Writers for the Defense of Culture met in Paris.

10 of 52 Czigány, Dezsö (1883-1937)
Hungarian painter

Committed suicide in a psychotic fit, but not before killing his family.

11 of 52 Daswanth (active ca. 1560; d 1584)
Indian miniature painter

Stabbed himself with a dagger.

12 of 52 Doort, Abraham van der (1575/80-1640)
Dutch wax-modeler, drawing-master and administrator

Left this world despondent over the thought that he might have misplaced one of Charles I's favorite miniatures.

13 of 52 Fagan, Robert (1761-1816)
English painter, archaeologist and dealer

Jumped out of a window in Rome.

14 of 52 Frank, Jean-Michel (1895-1941)
French designer

Leapt to his death in New York City after having been there for one week. Purely coincidental.

15 of 52 Fries, Ernst (1801-1833)
German draftsman, painter and lithographer

Slit his wrist.

16 of 52 Gagneraux, Bénigne (1756-1795)
French painter and engraver

"Fell" out of a window in Florence.

17 of 52 Gerstl, Richard (1883-1908)
Austrian painter and draftsman

Disemboweled himself with a butcher knife after a brief romantic fling with the wife of the composer Arnold Schoenberg.

18 of 52
Gertler, Mark (1891-1939)
English painter

Tightly sealed up a room and turned on the gas ring.

19 of 52
Gorky, Arshile (1904-1948)
Armenian-born American painter

His studio had burned, his wife had left him, his health was bad and he had no money. He hanged himself. 20 of 52 Greco, Alberto (1915-1965)
Argentine painter, sculptor and performance artist

Overdosed on barbiturates, and left notes about how it felt (for as long as he could, anyway).

21of 52
Gros, Baron Jean-Antoine (1771-1835)
French painter

Drowned himself in the Seine.

22 of 52 Haydon, Benjamin Robert (1786-1846)
English painter, teacher and writer

Shot himself, then cut his throat.

23 of 52
Hébuterne, Jeanne (1898-1920) French painter

Pregnant with their second child, she leapt from a third-story window two days after her partner, Amedeo Modigliani, died of tuberculosis.

24 of 52 Johnson, Ray (1927-1995)
American painter, collagist and performance artist

Committed "Rayocide" one Friday the 13th by jumping off a Sag Harbor bridge and backstroking away.

25of 52 Kahlo, Frida (1907-1954)
Mexican painter

We're fairly certain she overdosed on painkillers, though the coroner's report read, "pulmonary embolism."

26of 52
Kirchner, Ernst Ludwig (1880-1938)
German painter, printmaker and sculptor

Shot himself after the combination of illness and the termination of his career by the National Socialist Party proved too much.

27 of 52
Kruyder, Herman (1881-1935)
Dutch painter and draftsman

Committed suicide in a psychiatric hospital.

28 of 52
Kurzweil, Max (1867-1916)
Austrian painter and printmaker

On leave from his position as war artist in Istria, he did it in Vienna.

29 of 52
Lombardi, Mark (1951-2000)
American draftsman

Hanged himself in his Williamsburg, New York studio.

30 of 52
Lowthian, Gertrude Margaret (1868-1926)
English architectural historian

Overdosed on sleeping pills in Baghdad.

31 of 52
Malaval, Robert (1937-1980)
French painter and sculptor

Shot himself in the head.

32 of 52
Maurer, Alfred (1868-1932)
American painter

Hanged himself in the doorway of his father's bedroom.

33 of 52
Mayakovsky, Vladimir (1893-1930)
Russian poet, playwright and artist

Shot himself.

34 of 52
Mayer, Constance (1775-1821)
French painter

Cut her throat with the razor of painter Pierre-Paul Prud'hon, who'd been her teacher and then her lover but was not, apparently, going to be her husband.

35of 52
Min Yong-hwan (1861-1905)
Korean calligrapher and painter

Was so strongly opposed to living under the Protection Treaty being enforced by Japan that he decided not to.

36 of 52
Minton, John (1917-1957)
English painter and illustrator

Took an overdose of Tuinal.

37 of 52
Nero (AD 37-68)
Roman art patron and, yes, emperor

Decided stabbing himself in the neck was preferable to being flogged to death.

38 of 52
Pascin, Jules (1885-1930)
American painter, draftsman and printmaker

Hanged himself in his Paris studio, possibly depressed over the reviews of his current show.

39 of 52
Pellizza da Volpedo, Giuseppe (1868-1907)
Italian painter

Hanged himself after the deaths of his wife and son.

40 of 52
Robert, Louis-Léopold (1794-1835)
Swiss painter

Killed himself in Venice, in front of his easel, on the 10th anniversary of his brother's suicide.

41 of 52
Rothko, Mark (1903-1970)
American painter

Slit his wrists in his New York studio.

42 of 52
Seymour, Robert (1800-1836)
English printmaker and painter Shot himself in the garden at his home in Islington.

43 of 52
Staël, Nicolas de (1914-1955)
French painter

Jumped out of his studio window in Antibes.

44of 52
Stanley, Michael (1975-2012)
English gallery director of Modern Art Oxford, Turner Prize Judge

Hung himself in a friend's garden.

45 of 52
Tilson, Henry (?1659-1695)
English painter and draftsman

Shot himself through the heart with a pistol over the unrequited love of a wealthy patroness.

46 of 52
van Gogh, Vincent (1853-1890)
Dutch painter

Died, two days afterwards, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.

47 of 52
Vaughan, Keith (1912-1977)
English painter

Chose to overdose, rather than live with bowel cancer, kidney disease and depression.

48 of 52
Watanabe Kazan (1793-1841)
Japanese painter

Committed an honorable suicide after a run in with the Tokugawa shogunate (over its isolationist policies) led to his being under house arrest.

49of 52
Witkiewicz, Stanislaw Ignacy (1895-1939)
When the Second Army invaded Poland, he tied himself to his lover, fed her poison and slit his wrists. She regained consciousness. He didn't.

50 of 52
Witte, Emanuel de (1617-1693)
Dutch painter

Said to have drowned himself, after his body was discovered in a frozen canal.

51 of 52
Wood, Christopher (1901-1930)
English painter

Stepped in front of a train.

52 of 52
Xue Ji (AD 649-713)
Chinese calligrapher and scholar-official

Forced to commit suicide after somehow becoming embroiled in a plot to poison the new emperor.

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