Why Jessa Crispin really isn’t a feminist

Jessa Crispin

I just finished reading Jessa Crispin’s much-talked about new book and wonder if I’m the only one who did. With several reviews characterizing Why I Am Not a Feminist as “both feminist and against feminism,” it really is only one of those things.

Considering how the book has been promoted, I’d assumed it would offer a rigorous critique of liberal feminism and a call to something more radical, but Crispin doesn’t really call for anything. Instead, it feels like she had what she thought was a cutting-edge idea for a book, but when she sat down to write it, realized she didn’t have much to say, so was forced to stretch out a few disconnected rants into something that could pass as book-length.

At only 150 pages, the book is still full of holes — literally and figuratively, as the pages feature the kinds of triple-spacing and wide margins so many of us used in college essays that were meant to be 15 pages long but were in fact only eight. But the empty spaces go far beyond the pages, revealing Crispin to be way out of her depth.

When one believes the actual work of feminism is getting neglected,” a productive response would be to get to work… Or at least to reach out to some of those who are doing that work. But Crispin does neither. Nor does she offer any historical or political context for the problems she believes exist in feminism. Crispin seems to have limited her “investigation” of feminism’s flaws to mainstream media representations and a very tiny circle of people much like herself: white, middle class women working in the New York publishing industry. Ironically, while this limited vision made for a very limited “manifesto,” as she calls it, it’s also what enabled Crispin to receive incredibly wide coverage in the mainstream media. It seems she herself benefited and took full advantage of the very privileges she complains dominate feminism today, in order to sell a baseless attack on the movement.

For a book that claims to be critical of mainstream feminism’s rejection of radical second wavers, Crispin herself seems unfamiliar with most of the work produced by these women. She name-drops a couple, hoping to get by with some vague references to Shulamith Firestone and Andrea Dworkin, but doesn’t go much further.

Because Crispin made no effort to connect with movement women, her armchair critique misses the fact that there is a vibrant movement taking place outside her tunnel vision. If she truly is angered by mainstream feminism today, I’m left wondering why she didn’t seek out the rest of us. It’s not as though she is the first one to critique liberal feminism… Had her investigation had gone beyond a quick read through her social media feed, she likely would have come across Sheila Jeffreys’ and Catharine MacKinnon’s analyses of the liberal cooptation of the women’s liberation movement in The Sexual Liberals and the Attack on Feminism. Or perhaps she would have found Robin Morgan’s critique of The National Organization for Women (NOW), back in 1970, which notes membership was comprised of middle and upper class white women (and men!) and that they (mistakenly) fought for change “within the System.” She surely would have found Audre Lorde’s famous essay, “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House,” which explains that working within the system will never bring about genuine change “and this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master’s house as their only source of support.” Had Crispin engaged with the movement today, she would have found many more critiques of a “feminism” whose philosophy is “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”

With no understanding of how we got here in the first place, Crispin is left unable to comprehend patriarchal oppression as it exists today. She covers up for her lack of political analysis by saying things like, “the whole system is corrupt,” which is the kind of thing I would have written at 17 and fancied myself quite the revolutionary, but that doesn’t get us very far in terms of addressing actual problems with The System. Crispin’s repetitive references to female CEOs and politicians end up feeling transparent, revealing that she’s trying to appeal to an audience that wants to believe all feminists talk about is Hillary Clinton and someone named Mary T. Barra who, apparently, is CEO of General Motors.

It doesn’t take long to realize the title isn’t ironic, but is completely sincere: Crispin isn’t a feminist. She doesn’t believe that women share a common source or experience of oppression, writing, “The obstacles I face are different than the obstacles you face, because most of the universal obstacles have been removed.” (Huzzah!) It is here that Crispin veers into a very Christina Hoff Sommers-esque vision of feminism, that says if only women would stop thinking of themselves of victims of misogyny, perhaps they could move forward. Indeed, she suggests we start thinking of ourselves not as women, but as “humans first.” Focusing on our “powerlessness,” as woman, allows us to “blame someone else for the unfairness of it all,” she explains.

Robin Morgan noted in her introduction to Sisterhood is Powerful that “the most vicious weapon used against women is the psychological line that tells us, ‘If you’re not satisfied with your life, if you can’t adjust to the feminine role, then something is wrong with you; you’re frigid, neurotic, castrating, hung-up, a lesbian, a bitch.” It’s hard not to read Crispin’s assertion that oppression is something we need to overcome on an individual level in a similar vein.

“When women as a whole were discriminated against due to biological facts, and that discrimination was written directly into the law books, it made sense to claim solidarity,” Crispin writes. “There were universal needs and universal obstacles that could bind us together.” But no longer! We Are All Individuals is the Thatcheresque view Crispin has adopted, in glaring contradiction to her complaints about self-interested, self-help-style modern feminism.

Her claim that it’s time to stop basing “our ideology around our biological identities” also seems to contrast with her purported support for radical second wave feminists, who Crispin clearly views as stereotypical tropes as much as any third-waver… Just tropes she could use to sell a book.

So, what does Crispin want from feminism, if not solidarity among women based on their common experience of sex-based oppression? Well, for one thing, she wants it to be nicer to men.

Her lack of understanding or belief that patriarchy as a system even exists and impacts all women shows up more clearly as she laments the “casual hatred of men as a gender.” She explains, “It’s the same thing men have done to women for centuries.”

Really? Is women’s anger at the oppressor class really “the same” as inflicting systemic violence and oppression on an entire class of people for centuries? Despite her efforts to use capitalism as a talking point, Crispin doesn’t seem to understand how class oppression works, explaining that women’s negative perceptions of men are little more than projections. We feel bad about ourselves so we demonize and “demean the value of men” and, in turn, we become the oppressors ourselves. The System was us all along.

It’s very odd to read a book that appears to hate liberal feminism but that doesn’t acknowledge that there is more to the movement than the version of “feminism” sold by mainstream media. This whitewashed, toothless, let’s-fit-ourselves-into-this-system-rather-than-disrupt-it-entirely liberal American model is worth criticizing, but Crispin offers no alternative.

She says that what’s stopping young women from getting radical is the fear that they may need to actually do something. But what is she going to do? Her answer is oddly passive. After all that pomp and circumstance about how pathetic and useless feminism has become, Crispin’s only advice to taking the patriarchal system by storm is to “listen.”

“Our job, as feminists, should not be recruitment,” she states confidently. Really? As Aboriginal feminist Samantha Grey explains, “Momentum in the women’s movement cannot be sustained without engaging new women.” In order for the movement to continue beyond our own generation and in order to enable collective action, we absolutely do need to be speaking with, working with, reaching out to, and building alliances with new women. It is once women understand that the world need not be as it is now and that their suffering is not theirs alone that we can join together to effect change. Crispin calls this “conversion,” but in the second wave, it was called consciousness-raising. (Something she would know had she done some listening, herself.)

Oddly, considering her thesis (supposedly, that feminism is not about individual wants), Crispin says our jobs as feminists should be to listen to “the wants and needs” of other women. While listening to women is important, listening to what every individual woman “wants and needs” does not a movement make. Third wave mantras like “listen to sex workers” and “any choice a woman makes is justified because she is making a choice” speak exactly to that. In demanding we listen to and accept what any individual says, we paralyze action. Women want all sorts of things, but those things are not necessarily feminist things nor do those wants necessarily work towards the collective liberation of all women. At some point, we need to take positions, regardless of whether or not some women tell us the status quo suits them.

“Our attempts at conversion are asking women to devalue what they find valuable about their existence,” she writes, “to take on our values of independence, success, and sexuality.” So, if an individual woman claims prostitution or pornography is valuable or empowering to her, we must accept that? Crispin doesn’t answer this question or any others, and so this argument becomes just one of many contradictions in a book that claims opposition to “choice feminism.”

Crispin falls into the trap many young, inexperienced feminists do (though at her age and considering the task she’s taken on in writing this book, she has no excuse), which is to avoid speaking out about the oppression of other women because, she says, “rescue and protection are masculine ideas.” But this is exactly what has silenced third wave feminists: being told over and over again that they can’t have opinions on anything except themselves. Crispin has tried to sell her “manifesto” as a call to arms and to boldness, but instead it falls back onto ineffective third wave-style fetishization of the individual and empty virtue-signalling about rich white women.

Indeed, Crispin trashes Gloria Steinem in one sentence, writing off her off as “banal,” white, and middle class. Steinem actually came from a poor family and has contributed more to feminism than Crispin could ever hope to in her lifetime, but who cares! Crispin has followed #TwitterFeminism closely enough to know that dismissing Steinem as a boring, rich, white lady will go uncontested by boring, rich, white 20-year-olds who are unwilling to contribute anything beyond radical-sounding statements that don’t extend beyond 140 characters.

Crispin complains that radical feminists have been rejected and slandered, but references Dworkin as though she is the only one, claiming that, by contrast, The Feminine Mystique is widely embraced. It’s not, in fact. No third-waver worth their salt would be caught dead referencing Betty Friedan when they could be quoting Janet Mock, but that’s beside her point, which seems to be that all feminists today are boring white capitalists except for her.

Crispin points out that older feminists have been vilified by the younger generation, “for arguing points that are no longer fashionable,” which is true, but she doesn’t name any of those women or their points. Either she is unwilling to stand in solidarity with these unfashionable older feminists, or she’s not clear herself on what they’ve said and is simply hoping no one will ask her about it.

While I agree with Crispin that internet outrage culture is purposeless and that popular efforts to have individuals fired and ostracized over bad jokes and misinterpreted tweets are deeply misguided, the fact that she seems primarily interested in defending individual men from this particular form of wrath is revealing.

“Revenge has become an official part of feminist policy,” she says, first in defense of Tim Hunt, a Nobel-prize winning chemist who was forced to resign from his university position after a bad joke went viral, then extending her hypothesis to victims of male violence who turn to the criminal justice system.

“Currently,” Crispin claims, “safety for women means strict prison sentencing for men, prioritizing revenge over rehabilitation.” Of course, this isn’t even close to true. Men who rape and abuse women very rarely get jail time, and when they do it is minimal. And if Crispin thinks women go through the criminal justice system out of “revenge,” she’s never spoken to a woman who has tried. A nightmare of epic proportions, attempting to hold men to account through the police or the courts is rarely successful and subjects women to years of humiliation, expense, and, often, even more trauma. Going to court, for women, usually means their personal lives are dissected and attacked in an effort to wear them down, trip them up, and construct them as unreliable witnesses of their own abuse. More often than not, there is no justice for victims at the end of this arduous process. Considering that, in Canada, only one out every of 20 sexual assaults are even reported to police and that, of those, one out of five reports are dismissed as “unfounded,” the notion that feminists are running around recklessly ruining good men’s lives for no good reason is ludicrous. For the first time ever, women exceed men as victims of violence — this is because, while rates of other violent crimes are way down, sexual assault remains prevalent.

What is clear is that the justice system should be doing its job, but continues to fail women badly. It is not men, by and large, who are being harmed by this process.

Nonetheless, Crispin attacks feminists who demand accountability for male violence from the criminal justice system, completely failing to understand that women continue to be victimized by men because they are so rarely held to account. She also creates a false dichotomy here, assuming that feminists who push for the police and courts to take male violence seriously don’t also address the “root causes of violence.” She couldn’t be more wrong, but it’s amazing she didn’t think to check.

“Dealing with misogyny on an individual basis” is not something radical feminists advocate for as a sole solution — we fight oppressive systems and institutions while also advocating to hold individual men accountable for their actions. But rather than acknowledge this reality, Crispin presents perpetrators as victims and victims as vengeful liars.

To prove this, she references what sounds eerily like the Jian Ghomeshi assault case (though she does not say so outright — refusing to “name names” is a technique used throughout the book, perhaps to protect her from accountability). Crispin makes clear that she doesn’t believe the complainant (only one is mentioned), because there was no physical evidence of abuse and because the woman sent emails “expressing love and desire for him” after the abuse took place. “The emails,” Crispin says, “opened up a world of doubt regarding the testimony of the accused, the huge possibility that this accusation was an act of revenge against a man who spurned her.” In the case referenced, the judge found the perpetrator not guilty, and Crispin believes feminists should have celebrated this “civil rights victory” because “the man, of Indian descent (not white), did not get railroaded into jail on nothing but one white woman’s word.”

Considering that Crispin labels dismissals of white males “reductive” and “lazy,” you’d think she would avoid doing the exact same thing to women. Instead, it seems to be her key argument, wheeling out the “white woman” trope as a means to dismiss not only victims of male violence, but the feminist movement as a whole.

“We do not like to pay attention to how the casual demonization of white straight men follows the same pattern of bias and hatred that fuels misogyny, racism, and homophobia,” Crispin says without a hint of irony, near the end of a book that has mostly tried to cover up for a lack of knowledge and analysis by simply repeating the words, “middle class white women,” over and over again.

“It follows the same lazy thinking, easy scapegoating, and pleasurable anger that all other forms of hatred have… When this white male scapegoat becomes code for boring, privileged, and mediocre, it means we are no longer thinking, we are simply repeating stereotypes.”

I guess strawmen are only bad if they’re men…

Crispin writes:

“For all the space men take up in our imaginations, most of it is space we give them… Even in feminist discourse, the male audience is always presupposed and catered to.”

This statement alone reveals her lack of experience organizing, working in, and allying with the independent women’s movement, which explicitly works with and centers women only to be attacked for doing so. We have to fight simply to meet with other women and to write about females, accused of being “exclusive” every time we do. Yet we still do it. Crispin is awkwardly preaching to a choir she doesn’t know exists, who have been doing the work she has ignored for decades.

It’s too bad, because Crispin makes a couple of points I might otherwise agree with (namely, that capitalism will never liberate us nor will female CEOs), but these points go nowhere. She just hasn’t thought through her anger at liberal feminism and doesn’t even seem know this is what she is criticizing. Instead, it feels like she did a quick scan of the internet, and and figured she could pump out something that would gain media attention. The result is an incoherent rant against “feminism” that offers no solution or way forward. Not, “Seek out movement women doing the work, on the ground;” not, “Volunteer at your local rape crisis shelter;” not, “Start a women’s group;” not “Stand up against the objectification and exploitation of women.” Nothing.

If she wants work to get done, she needs to do some work. If she wants action in the women’s movement, she needs to seek out other women who are taking action, and support them. To write a manifesto about “feminism” from within a very tiny bubble, without climbing out of her tower to look around at what other women are doing and saying is to do exactly what she complains of.

Crispin fails to engage with any of the central issues and debates feminists are focused on, like prostitution, rape, domestic abuse, “gender identity,” or the fight for women’s spaces. She complains that women’s communities don’t exist, but then says women share nothing in common and doesn’t speak out in support of women’s spaces. She criticizes women who focus only on their individual success but then suggests we are personally responsible for our own sense of empowerment or victimhood, presenting  our anger towards men as rooted in our own personal unhappiness, which should be resolved within ourselves.

Throughout the book, I tried to imagine why on earth Crispin took it upon herself to write the thing — why she felt this subject, so far beyond her grasp, should have been taken up by her. All I can imagine is that Crispin thought the proposal sounded new and refreshing, which it could have been, had it been written by someone else. While she complains that feminism has become “just another thing to buy,” Why I Am Not a Feminist is just that: a novel-sounding idea that Crispin (rightly) thought would be sellable, but is, in the end, void of substance.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • calabasa

    Oh, God, this makes me queasy…

    Meghan, when is YOUR book due?

    • Meghan Murphy

      It’ll be another year yet. I wondered how she got hers out so fast, then realized the trick is to write a 25,000 word book and have a bunch of NY publishing connections. She shoulda spent another year on it, maybe then it would have said something of substance… Maybe not.

      • Lipstick_Traces

        I look forward to buying and reading it Meghan – it’s bound to be a thing of both substance and beauty!

        • Meghan Murphy

          Thanks sister <3

          • Marla

            I may have make a special trip to Vancouver for a book signing – providing of course if you’re having one in the first place.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Oh yes, I’m sure I will.

      • Jade

        I … this is the first time I’ve heard you’re writing a book. I cannot fucking wait.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Slowly but surely!

  • Lipstick_Traces

    It sounds like one of those university essays that is written the night before it’s due, and fueled by coffee and bananas. Who cares as long as it’s submitted. Who cares that it’s so contradictory that it makes no sense at all and just sounds like a personal winge. Or that the writer hasn’t read any of the suggested readings, let alone found her own new material. Cs Get Degrees.

    • Jade

      And, in America at least, what used to be considered C-level work, is now granted an A. Humanities departments in American universities have been gutted and grade inflation is rampant (and considered necessary).

      A largely uneducated populous can’t recognize mediocrity when they see it, because the business of universities is no longer to educate, but rather to hand out diplomas in Business and STEM. This has been going on since the 1980s, the result of which is now reflected in our Congress and can be seen all over Twitter (and this book, it seems).

  • Meghan Murphy

    Yes, I think her sole motivation was financial. And no, I don’t think she is passionate about feminism at all.

    I was so confused when I first read about the book, because I’d never heard of her before and thought it was odd that someone I’d never heard of (and therefore not part of the movement) was taking it upon herself to write about feminism. I guess I was right to be confused!

  • Meghan Murphy

    Shockingly bad. I really was shocked that anyone was willing to publish it.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Can’t yet! Will let you know when it is, but it’ll be a while still… The publishing/editing process is a long one 🙂

    • Rachael

      Keeping fingers crossed for a kindle version!

  • Meghan Murphy

    But it doesn’t actually talk about any social movements? Like, at all…

    I think there are topics that could be of merit in the book, but she doesn’t understand, research, or explore said topics so the points she attempts to make don’t go anywhere…

  • Meghan Murphy

    It’s odd because she and her marketing team are clearly trying to sell the book as a ‘bold’ critique of liberal feminism, but she is not bold enough to even SAY anything clear enough to understand or reference any specific women’s work. Like, why bother writing this book if you aren’t willing to say anything?

    • esuth

      Exactly! She seems to understand that feminists like Andrea Dworkin have been lied about and maligned by third-wave feminists, but won’t say exactly what the lies are and why they matter. It’s like she’d rather no one talk about Andrea Dworkin at all, when the modern ubiquity of porn culture makes her critiques all the more relevant.

      • Meghan Murphy

        I honestly don’t think she knows what the lies are and why they matter… I got the impression she hadn’t actually read the work of any second wave feminists and just referenced Dworkin because she is one of the most well known and commonly referenced second wave/radical feminists…

  • Meghan Murphy

    It’s a very long critique. Sorry 🙂

    • Jade

      Never apologize for long, thoughtful articles. One of the many damages that the Internet has brought to society is the mistaken assumption that a 500-word blog post can substitute for in-depth analysis of anything.

    • Cassandra

      I think my phrasing was indelicate. I meant “Oh, Lordy another jerk writing a meaningless book.” I had to stop not because of your writing but because of the predictable assholery/bad ideas/nonsense you’re critiquing. These pieces are necessary; I just have no patience for handmaidens who have no grasp of what’s at stake and no historical knowledge. So *I’m* sorry.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Thanks John.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Ugh. I’d never heard of her or read any of her work prior to now, but I suppose this shouldn’t surprise me. She sounds like a boring person who wanted to make a splash somehow. I guess she succeeded! Honestly, listen to her interview on the CBC, if you can take it… It’s embarassing. http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-february-23-2017-1.3994457/why-this-literary-critic-rejects-modern-day-feminism-1.3994497

  • Meghan Murphy

    I hope so!

  • Meghan Murphy

    Thanks for your support, sister.

  • Rachael

    I have to admit, there are days I want to jack in my own writing (I write fiction just for info’s sake) and produce a diatribe about being a thirty-something and my (uninspired) views on love and sex because it’s far more likely to get published, especially if I get my tits out. It’s infuriating. But at least I know I’m not lying to myself just to get a book deal by doing it my way (if I ever get there!).

    Your description of her makes her sound like a slightly chirpier version of Elizabeth Wurtzel (who I admit I rather liked reading back when I had no sense), so that made me laugh.

    • Wren

      I read Wurtzel too in my gloriously ignorant youth. Wurzel may be annoying, but she’s whip-smart and can write.

  • Marla

    Now having read the book my self and going on Meghan critique alone What I gathered is Crispin wants to every women who calls herself a feminist to have a flag of her own – as long as she never tries to fly it. To say the problem with modern feminism is not enough listening and that the true pioneers in the movement are outdated only tells me she has zero idea what she is writing about. Jessa Crispin strikes me as reassuring feminism has no human nature other than to remain passive.

  • Jade

    It’s the little things, isn’t it?

  • Meghan Murphy

    Yes exactly! It’s SO weird. Everything she says seems to contradict her own points.

  • Wren

    God, if only I had the means to travel the world every time I wanted to kill myself.

  • Meghan Murphy

    I agree. I can’t imagine she was proud of the book, either… If you aren’t passionate about feminism, I doubt you would really be able to put much energy into writing a book about it…

  • Meghan Murphy

    I wanted to do that almost every page… I could have just quotes the entire book as ‘critique’ tbh. Soooo many ridiculous statements.

  • Meghan Murphy

    True, true.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Yes, exactly. Universities are just businesses these days. Or that has become their primary function, in any case… My mom is American and works in an American university and says that it’s waaaaay easier to get A’s than it used to be and that there is a ton of pressure on profs to award students good grades, even if their work isn’t up to par.

  • Meghan Murphy

    My parents, who did their PhD work at Canadian universities before my mother moved on to teach in the US (my dad remained unemployed, mostly — not many jobs in academia these days, especially for people whose expertise is the Canadian labour movement. ha) say Canadian universities are better. That said, Canadian universities have also been totally neoliberalized and see themselves as businesses as well. UBC seems to treat their students like customers, moreso than students, imo, and they are expanding in a way that’s focused on profit, rather than on high quality education. So it’s hard for me to say, especially because I did all my degrees in Canada. I think things are not going in a great direction here, either way.

  • Wren

    Makes perfect sense, but what a racket since the costs have gone up exponentially.

  • Meghan Murphy

    It was a mess…

  • Meghan Murphy

    You got it.

  • Meghan Murphy

    We will accept that compliment!

  • foamreality

    It’s quite amazing people don’t get that simple truth : that the reason
    feminism exists in the first place is that men, as a class, aren’t…
    very nice… to us ?

    But why arent men nice? We know they arent . Cripin knows it. The question is why? Don’t you think we need to understand that? Clue: Its not women. Its OTHER men. Men are shits to each other and underclass men are told its womens fault. So dont we have to stop those men being shits to other men, don’t you think that would help? And of course we dont stop them by pretending women are not the enemy by sucking their cocks (thats liberal feminism) – and cripsin opposes that idea- we stop those men by telling them who the real enemy is. Rich. White. Businessmen. And we need to remind Rich White Women not to join in on their game too.

    • Hierophant2

      Noah Berlatsky, is that you?

    • Witch

      “The question is why? Don’t you think we need to understand that?”

      We already know why. It’s because of women’s reproductive role in the human species. Men being “shits” to each other (your words, not mine) has nothing to do with the fact that only women are capable of giving birth, which is the root cause of female oppression by males.

      Patriarchy is certainly much older than “rich white businessmen” and would continue to exist even if all “rich white businessmen” dropped dead.

  • Meghan Murphy

    It wasn’t a radical book. It was a clueless, badly written book by someone who didn’t have any idea what she was writing about or why she was even writing the thing. Go ahead and read it, if you like. It’s a nonsensical nightmare from start to finish.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Did you read the book, foamreality? It feels a lot like you are defending it based and having read *about* it, but without actually having read the thing… I have a hard time imagining anyone intelligent (and I consider you to be intelligent) defending the thing, it was such a mess.

  • Meghan Murphy

    But she doesn’t bring *anything* up. Like, she doesn’t make any specific critiques or arguments that are rooted in anything real. She constructs straw men to tear down, and even does that badly. It doesn’t count as ‘making headway’ if you aren’t actually rooting your arguments in anything real and if you don’t actually say anything…

  • M. Zoidberg

    So, you’re saying that on top of fighting for women’s rights (y’know, the ones that men pay lip-service to whenever there’s a camera around?) that women should also take care of men’s problems?

    Most men don’t want things to change. They are perfectly happy sitting on the shoulders of women. So, “understanding and addressing mens[sic] problems” is just playing into that bullshit dynamic. I’m tired of carrying men. I’m tired of their tone deafness vis-à-vis the problems faced by women. Caring more for men isn’t going to do shit for women. They’ll gobble up all our labor and pat themselves on the back when we’re done.

  • Meghan Murphy

    It’s hard to even know if that’s what she’s even talking about… She doesn’t even name any of the ‘radical women’ she briefly mentions, aside from Dworkin, and, like you point out, doesn’t explain what is even being rejected/denounced. It was impossible to tell if she was afraid to explain or simply hadn’t paid attention enough herself to be able to… Either way, it’s pointless to say such things if you’re going to do so so vaguely that no one can understand what you are even talking about…

  • Meghan Murphy

    The point is not that there is nothing new to say, but that Crispin literally isn’t saying *anything* at all.

  • Meghan Murphy

    The reason it won’t get coverage is because I have spoken out against things like the sex trade, BDSM, porn, and gender identity discourse. Jessa Crispin got coverage because she has connections in liberal media. In order to maintain such connections, you have to avoid speaking out. Are you saying I should have avoided speaking out so that I could get coverage/promotion for my book? I mean, what would I even write about, if I was to avoid radical arguments and truth-telling in order to get liberal media to promote it?

  • Meghan Murphy

    Perhaps. But I listened to Crispin’s interview on the CBC and it was awful. Just as awful, if not more so, than the book itself.

  • Meghan Murphy

    “I think you have misrepresented her by misinterpreting a few badly chosen words (which may be her fault too).”

    Definitely not. I had to cut soooo much out of this review. I literally could have just posted text from the book as critique. All of it was bad, from start to finish. I have no idea, honestly, why you are defending it and don’t believe you’re doing so in good faith. Perhaps you have some particular attachment to Crispin, for whatever reason, and feel protective of her? Either way, the book was objectively bad. Even if you are unfamiliar with feminist theory/the feminist movement in general. It was badly written, badly argued, says nothing, references nothing, ignores history, and relies on strawmen. I don’t care if there are other things she has written that are good. This book was bad. Period.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Not really. She doesn’t actually seem to know she is critiquing liberal feminism. She’s vaguely complaining about a thing that doesn’t even exist. She just doesn’t know her stuff, I’m afraid.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Sweeping generalizations about who? What?

  • Hierophant2

    What’s with all your rationalizations? You don’t know anything about the author, and neither do we.

    • foamreality

      Sorry, I don’t? I thought I did know /something/ about the author. On account I’ve read a lot of her work.

  • Meghan Murphy

    You have accused me of misrepresenting her arguments and words, which is dishonest and insulting. I also, quite honestly, don’t believe the quality of the arguments or writing are defensible. This is why I question whether your defenses are in good faith.

  • Meghan Murphy

    I really, truly disagree that that her vague, rambling generalizations will point women towards radical feminism. I mean, how will they know even where to look? They don’t even know that it’s liberal feminism Crispin is criticizing? (I’m not even sure Crispin herself knows…)

    Also, I didn’t argue that she was silencing anyone by not discussing ‘the issues I want to see covered.’ Please stop putting words in my mouth. The issue (well, one of the issues) with her book is that she doesn’t cover *any* issue accurately. She just doesn’t seem to understand what is going on in the movement now, never mind what happened during the second wave. The way you educate people is by teaching them — by providing them with information, teaching them how to think critically, educating them about history, ideas, etc. Crispin doesn’t do any of this. In fact it attacks feminism on baseless grounds. Like I’ve said many times over, she turns ‘feminism’ into a series of strawmen to knock down. How is that productive?? Her book is just a waste of time and space imo.

  • Meghan Murphy

    *What* is it you think they will ‘continue reading’??? They don’t even know what it is they are looking for???

  • Meghan Murphy

    All good. I suppose we will just have to agree to disagree! 🙂

  • Meghan Murphy

    That’s funny. I *just* typed “I suppose we will just have to agree to disagree!” to your other comment before seeing this one.

    I’m not sure I said it was harmful, did I? Just not helpful? And a general waste of time and space?

    That said, one could argue that the way she generalized and strawmanned the feminist movement is harmful… For people who read her book and don’t know any better, they will leave with a totally distorted, inaccurate understanding of what the feminist movement does/has done and who makes up the movement.

  • Meghan Murphy

    It’s true she did mention Dworkin’s work. Though Dworkin seems to be the only second waver/radical Crispin is familiar with… And, tbh, it wasn’t clear from the book if she even was familiar with Dworkin’s work herself.

  • Misanthropia

    Well, you are reading from a serious feminist website that has sincere contributors.

  • Misanthropia

    She comes off as a confused blubbering mess who has no real research and solid plan driving her book. It seems she just doesn’t understand things well enough. I can’t take her seriously at all.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Well, I read the book front to back, and wrote an expansive review…

  • April

    It’s funny, cause the title of the book is “Why I Am Not a Feminist” and then you guys are all like “omg she’s totally not a feminist >:O” and, yeah, that’s what the title says.

    No? Yes? Downvote me, go.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Yes, the title is accurate. The problem is the content of the book. Which is mostly garbage.