Month: October 2015

What Can Feminists Learn From A So-Called “Anti-Feminist?”

Self-proclaimed anti-feminist Suzanne Venker was scheduled to give a speech, titled “One Step Forward, Ten Steps Back: Why Feminism Fails,” at Williams College as part of its “Uncomfortable Learning” Speaker Series. Ironically, students at the college were so uncomfortable with the prospect (one student accused the student who invited her of “dipping [his] hands in the blood” of marginalized people) that the event was canceled. However, Venker later made the speech she planned to give available online. Curious, I looked into it, and, as absurd as it may seem, I think there is a lot that we self-proclaimed feminists have to learn from her.

What I learned was surprising. While Venker refuses to align herself with feminists and has been highly critical of feminist movements, there is nothing she says that is inherently “anti-feminist.” As such notable people as Aziz Ansari, Hillary Clinton, and Emma Watson have all reminded us, feminism, by definition, is the belief that women and men ought to have equal rights and opportunities. Therefore, as Watson says, “If you stand for equality, you are a feminist.” Interestingly, Venker’s opinions do not violate that definition.

Asked why she is not a feminist, Venker explained that she does not subscribe to the notions that (a) women in America are oppressed or (b) the only difference between men and women are their genitals. She may be wrong about whether women are oppressed, and we can argue about whether women and men are by their natures different, but—by our very own definition of feminism—those positions are not inconsistent with what feminism is.

Far be it for me to force someone into a movement they openly disavow, but it is worth pointing out that Venker does not disavow what equality feminists so desperately desire. Rather, she (harshly) criticizes the feminist movement for failing to truly obtain it. And if her accusations carry any weight, then they are accusations that any true feminist might want to take seriously…



I wrote this article for Verily Magazine, where the full article was originally published.


Yes, “My Clothes Are Not My Consent,” but Clothes Still Matter

By Mingle Media TV

Photo via Mingle Media TV

This past weekend, actress and model Amber Rose took to the streets of Los Angeles dressed in black lingerie to lead a so-called “slut walk,” a protest aimed at combating the notion that any woman, regardless of how she is dressed, deserves to be sexually assaulted. About 250 women and men joined her; some women wore underwear, and others went altogether topless.

The walk is not the first of its kind: Slut walks originated in Toronto in 2011, after a police officer suggested that women should “avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” Since then, these protests have taken place across the country and the globe.

A former stripper, Amber Rose is no stranger to slut-shaming. Rose has suffered very public negative comments from two of her former partners, Kanye West and Wiz Khalifa. And she has made many public statements sinceEarlier this year, Rose and her friend Blac Chyna attended the MTV Video Music Awards in outfits covered in offensive slurs used to denigrate women. Rose also appeared in a Funny or Dieskit entitled “Walk of No Shame,” where she reversed the so-called “walk of shame” by strutting home confidently after spending the night at a man’s house.

I believe that Rose’s message—and the overarching point that these slut walks are designed to make—is a good and vitally important one. There are no circumstances that justify sexual assault. There are no circumstances that justify the kind of venomous language that women, even women perceived to be promiscuous, are so often subjected to. If you truly believe in the dignity of the human person, then you must acknowledge that all of us deserve love and respect—regardless of our behavior or appearance.

That being said, I wish there were a different method employed to deliver the message. Yes, it gets headlines and news reports and think pieces (Verily included). I get it; you’re making a splash. But the slut walk seems to employ the same eye-catching tactic that Maxim and Sports Illustrated (along with 99 percent of the media) have been using for years. The fact is that to see a famous woman in lingerie in broad daylight while walking the streets of L.A.—or anywhere else, for that matter—is, at this point, nothing out of the ordinary. Women’s bodies are constantly on display, and our sexuality is constantly exploited, to devastating ends….



I wrote this article for Verily Magazine, where the full version is published.