Thursday, April 26, 2012

On Self-Worth and Feminism

[Content note: Discussion of abusive behaviors]

In relation to my recent MRA post, an anti-feminist dude recently informed me:

"You have a greater sense of self-worth than I'd imagined."

That sense of self-worth, I was to believe, was a Very Bad Thing.


I bring it up because this particular line of attack is a recurring theme in my interactions with anti-feminist men and MRA types over the years. It often makes me chuckle when it happens, because I'm like, "Really? No. Really? That's your Big Time Insult? And I should start groveling about that... why, again?"

See, around Internet, I have had a few dozen men or so scold me for being "very confident" and other variations of me Thinking Entirely Too Highly Of Myself For Being a Mere Woman.

That I exist as a feminist woman who doesn't hate myself, more than anything, is what seems to most irk some dudes about my Internet presence. Some men simply cannot fathom a woman who dares to value herself even if a man tells her not to, or that she shouldn't, or that she can't, or that she has no reason to.

It seems simple to say, obvious perhaps, but there it is. Anti-feminists just are not okay with women who are okay with ourselves.

On the contrary, it is a tenet of many self-defense and violence prevention programs to tell people, often women, that we are worth defending and that our boundaries matter. Many of these programs teach us to first recognize when abuse is happening, that it can happen in varying degrees, and that abusers are able to perpetuate their abuse by making people, often women, feel as though it is self-centered, egotistical, and All High And Mighty for believing that we and other people, often women, are worth defending and that our boundaries matter.

I guarantee there are MRA types reading the above paragraph in mocking contempt, as they often do when feminists and women start talking about boundaries, safe spaces, and aggression. Ever seen an MRA ridicule-fest on trigger/content warnings, which are often used in the feminist blogosphere to warn readers of potentially triggering material?

These acts of kindness, acts that I see as costing little to myself but potentially meaning a lot to someone else, are to MRAs and anti-feminists dorky, touch-feely, feminine, and further evidence of the irrational and hysterical nature of women and feminists.

This type of ridicule, this denigration of acts that show that other people have value, is no accident. It's just another way to undermine civility in the never-ending quest to make other people, especially women, feel worthless. Because when people feel worthless, MRAs and anti-feminists know that it's easier to convince people that their boundaries matter less.

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