It’s time for feminists to stop falling for ‘good guys’

Good Guys have long been a problem for feminism. The desire for allies and supporters have led women to valorize men who talk the talk. In the West, increased political polarization offering the semblance of only two options — left vs right — has left modern feminists with the impression not only that they must choose, but that there is an easy and obvious choice. Give us Matt McGorry in a “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” t-shirt and tell us you love abortions, and far too many feminists swoon. We should have learned the hard way, many times over, that guys who declare goodness through their political proclamations are often not only the least good, but the most gross.

The truth is not that no men are good men, but that, in my experience, it’s the real, not the woke who can be trusted.

Back in 1969, radical feminists split from the New Left, with Shulamith Firestone announcing, “Fuck off, left. You can examine your navel by yourself from now on. We’re starting our own movement.” Tired of the sexism of so-called comrades, who were fighting the good fight on the race and war front, but still needed coffee and photocopies, women abandoned leftist men to fight their own fight. Why ally in fights with people who did not even respect women — mere creators of life and one half of the population; an indispensable source of labour — as equal human beings? Nonetheless, modern feminists continue to cling to the hope that this time around, things are different — that men who managed to avoid getting caught  talking about pussy-grabbing or who boldly support their girlfriends taking the pill were allies.

It may be difficult to come to terms with the fact that those who preach social justice do not necessarily have people’s best interests in mind, but it is important to look at reality, rather than an imagined ideal. Women in relationships with men are told this all the time: you can’t force a person to change, and remaining in a toxic or unhappy relationship based on hope that things could be different is most often fruitless. These leftist men have told us, many times over, how they feel about women’s rights — why won’t we listen?

Progressives have deemed feminists who support women’s rights and believe female spaces and sports be protected “TERFs.” They have called us bigots, and called for us to be censored, fired, and punched. They have made it very clear that the rights of males who wish to “identify” as women take precedence over actual women. They have long fought to legalize the sex trade, arguing that pimps, johns, and brothel owners be allowed to operate with impunity, as women and girls must have the “choice” to sell sex acts to strange men. Feminists who have pushed to decriminalize women in prostitution, but wish to stop the exploitation and abuse of those working in the trade — most of whom are there for lack of choice — have been labelled “SWERFs” (sex work exclusionary radical feminists). The very men who wish to exploit these women and girls — who delude themselves into believing these women and girls want them, rather than revile them — pit us against women in the sex trade, claiming we “hate” prostitutes.

On both counts, we are vilified, rather than understood. Woke men have always viewed feminists as enemies, but chose to coopt rather than fight openly.

Despite the fact that the left truly wants nothing to do with radical feminism, many radical feminists continue to hitch themselves desperately to the left. So much so that it has torn the women’s movement apart. No longer are women siding with women, so much as they are pledging allegiance to political parties and woke mantras, and rejecting the majority of women who really don’t want anything to do with political debates so much as they want to be able to live their lives with peace and dignity and feed their kids. In other words, feminism is failing women in the same way the left is failing regular, working class people. We are caught up in words and theory, and losing women in the process.

Endless infighting among feminists has pitted those who reject the left/right binary against those who insist any woman who doesn’t vote Democrat should be labelled a traitor and banned from the movement. Feminists online seem more invested in purging the politically impure from the women’s movement than finding ways for women to band together and affect change. The hatred women spew at women deemed traitors to the Party has become more intense and more destructive than anything that comes from men who simply believe they don’t like feminism. (Who even knows what that word means anymore.)

I myself spent many years insisting feminism was inherently a leftist movement, and couldn’t imagine engaging any man (or woman, for that matter) who didn’t identify with the progressive end of the political spectrum. But I finally came to terms with the fact that women’s rights are non-partisan, and that woke men are no more our natural allies than anyone else. Now, I work with, speak to, and engage with anyone who is respectful and open to conversation — an approach many feminists and leftists view as treason.

We have a perfect example in Canada, with our sparkly-eyed leader who loves feminism so much he doesn’t even know what a woman is, and is scared to defend his own initial statement that “prostitution itself is a form of violence against women.” In 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau emphatically supported the passing of Bill C-16, Canada’s gender identity legislation, the effect of which was to ensure all spaces previously designated for women and girls became accessible to males who identified as transwomen. His oh-so-woke Liberal Party, alongside the even more progressive NDP, refused to engage or acknowledge women with concerns, and today exactly what was predicted has come to fruition, as violent men are housed with female inmates in prison, and transition houses protecting women from male violence are threatened with defunding if they reject males.

One might think that protecting vulnerable women from potentially dangerous men would be the priority of a proud feminist, but it’s 2021, and doublethink dictates that supporting women’s rights means supporting men’s narcissistic desires. Hence the recent parodic successes of males in women’s sport.

That women continue to support politicians, activism, ideology, and parties who refuse to support their most basic rights (and, you know, material reality) boggles the mind, unless you recall that women now have oodles of white, cis, and Karen privilege, cancelling out their need for protections and boundaries.

Last week saw the inauguration of Joe Biden celebrated by women across North America, relieved to get that Bad Guy out of office. Surely, we are saved! I mean, Donald Trump was a total jerk. But as unpleasant as he may have been, it’s tough to beat Biden’s eager and immediate decision to sign an executive order that dictates that “sex” should now include sexual orientation and gender identity.

While we all must make compromises in terms of who we vote for, I am no longer making compromises for politicians who pretend they don’t know what an adult human female is.

Biden promised us back in the fall that, within his first 100 days in office, he would pass the Equality Act, which feminists warned would accomplish essentially the same thing his executive order will. So this action is of no surprise, and yet women voted for the guy anyway, insisting that anyone who is truly a feminist must do the same.

And while of course Trump is no feminist, and the choices for American voters are limited, it is also ridiculous to celebrate Biden’s win as some kind of victory for women. Especially considering his abject disregard for long fought for rights of girls and women.

Feminists have fallen prey to optics and emotion, their hatred for Trump blinding them to the fact that Biden, like so many Good Guys, is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It is not as simple as Trump=bad/Biden=good. When making difficult choices, as we are often forced to do in elections, we need to look not at an individual’s personality, but their policies. A man caught in his pussy grabbing may simply be the man who was caught. And the man who may appear more respectful or tame may be the man who will eviscerate women’s sex-based rights.

I’ve said many times that I far prefer overt sexists who you can at least have an honest conversation with, as compared to the subtle ones who insist they love and respect women, but also respect your local sex worker by paying her for a blow job and how dare you say transwomen aren’t women, you bigot.

Fuck those guys. Give me Trumps and jocks and rednecks and frat boys any of day of the week. At least then I won’t be forced to contend with the grotesque (but transparent) gaslighting of some Good Guy who loves equality so much he wants to fight us in the ring. Offensive authenticity beats phony wokeness any day of the week. And of course there is plenty room in between — most people simply don’t fit perfectly into “good” or “bad,” “left” or “right” categories. And when it comes to either operating in the real world or in politics, we need to accept that optics and labels and platitudes mean nothing concrete.

I no longer care about the left or the right — I don’t care what you are called, I don’t care what you call yourself. I care about doing what is right, rational, and strategic. And sometimes that is more complicated than your party affiliation.

No politician is perfect — we have to pick and choose, in terms of issues and impacts that matter to us. But in both the long and short term, continuing to support those who attach themselves to woke mantras or progressive causes, at the expense of our rights, protections, freedoms, and dignity, is bad strategy. Choosing “left” simply because of the label is over simplistic and naive in this day and age. While sex remains binary, politics are not.

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 The Spectator, UnHerd, Quillette, the CBC, New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, 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 very beautiful dog.