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I've seen a lot of self-described right-wing or anti-woke individuals on YouTube say that the Barbie movie is both feminist and anti-male. Here is an example:

MAN-HATING FEMINIST TRASH | BARBIE film FULL REVIEW

Do they believe that feminism is an inherently anti-male concept that promotes the idea that women are superior to males and that feminists are just women who want to replace the patriarchy with a matriarchy?

If feminism is either about economic gender equality, equality of outcome between the sexes, or the equality of rights between men and women, then it's impossible for a movie to be both feminist and anti-male.

If a movie is anti-male, then it's saying that women should have more rights or superior rights to men, if one believes that feminism is legal or political equality between the 2 sexes, then it would be impossible to conclude that a movie could be both anti-male and feminist.

How can a feminist movie, by definition, simultaneously propose that women should have equal legal rights to men and that women should have more rights or superior rights to men? Isn't this an obvious logical contradiction? The only way I can make sense of this kind of thinking is to conclude that right-wing people have a very different definition of feminism that makes it possible for a movie to be simultaneously feminist and anti-male.

It could also be the case that right-wing people like to engage in doublethink when describing movies they call feminist as anti-male movies.

I don't know if equality of opportunity necessarily requires equality before the law, but anyone is welcome to correct me if I'm wrong.

I've even read a few Black Pill incel books and listened to some audiobooks from Rollo Tomasi, the author of The Rational Male. But I still can't figure out what exactly the right-wing thinks feminism is about and how they define feminism. I feel that they always somehow dance around the issue of what feminism is actually about.

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    Question needs clear definitions of feminism and wokism. E.g., feminism is an ambiguous word - for some it means simply equal rights, for others erasing differences between men and women, yet for others a conservative concept of gender duality, it also may stand for excesses of the affirmative action, or for mental charge absorbed by women in their effort to seem equal.
    – Morisco
    Commented Dec 24, 2023 at 14:08
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    In a non-English Wikipedia article about feminism I just read they list about 20 (very) different versions of feminism. Some of them are probably each other's worst enemies, so in other words, some could be embraced by left wing extremists, while others would be hated by the same people, and vice versa for right wing extremists och centrists. The premises for your question is broken and invalid.
    – d-b
    Commented Dec 24, 2023 at 22:22
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    Several comments and answer criticise the question for having a "misunderstanding" about the definition of feminism, but I think the question is right on point. Using ambiguous words or words with more than one meaning is one of the main tools of demagogy, as it allows demagogues to make a logical jump from a factual premise to a judgemental conclusion. For instance: "You are in favour of equal rights for women and men, therefore you're a feminist." followed by "You're a feminist, therefore you hate all men." using two different definitions of feminism in the same argument.
    – Stef
    Commented Dec 25, 2023 at 22:34
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    Given the answers you have already received, illustrating the fact that some prominent waves of feminism openly advocate for (and have achieved) explicitly unequal policies, it is difficult to assume good faith in your updated question.
    – user48321
    Commented Dec 26, 2023 at 22:35
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    Is this question just asking about anyone with a YouTube account and what they think of feminism? It's normally a good idea to narrow things down a bit to avoid a load of entirely irrelevant answers.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jan 9 at 15:05

5 Answers 5

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The fundamental misunderstanding in the question is that the question defines feminism as an idea, whereas the authors of videos like those in the question are referring to the modern political movement and ideology. By way of analogy it is the difference between talking about communism in terms of its stated goals and in terms of its actual historical political implementations. It sounds good to say that the modern feminist movement's goals are legal equality between the sexes but their opponents would suggest that that has already happened and now the actual goal of modern feminism is to make women more equal than men. Certainly there can be disagreement on the point but that's the position in a nutshell.

There is a difference between the vast majority of the "anti-woke" group which are more along the lines of classic liberals or conservatives, compared to the much smaller contingent in Western social media who are actually opposed to legal equality. I'm going to focus on the former group because the latter is relatively small in the Western world, but the second is where I'd put Andrew Tate and the former is where I'd put Shadiversity.

To relate this to Barbie, while I have not seen the movie the criticism that it is anti-male are usually these points

  1. The Barbies at the beginning have complete political control over the Barbie world, while Kens hang around on the beach all day and are treated mostly like pets by the Barbies. That is, the world is fundamentally misandrist.
  2. Where Margo Robbie's Barbie's journey is learning about feminism, Ryan Gosling's Ken learns about the Patriarchy and brings it back to Barbie world
  3. The movie concludes with Patriarchy being defeated and returning the status quo of only the Barbies having any power in the Barbie world, with Kens again relegated to being pets, with a message that this status quo will continue until the real world fixes its sexual inequalities.

In a meta narrative this is presented by the director of the movie as the feminist message of the movie. For example,

Director Greta Gerwig, who has built a devoted following for such female-forward movies as Lady Bird and Little Women, has labeled Barbie "most certainly a feminist film."

From this perspective it's easy to see the problem. If we consider the status quo in the start of the movie to be the inverse of sexual legal inequality prior to the 70's or so, then the logical "equality" outcome, and therefore "feminist" outcome, should be that the Barbies relinquish their control over Barbie World to include the Kens 50/50. However, as presented the feminist outcome is for Barbies to continue to hold all the political power until the real world fixes itself, which these commentators would consider has already happened decades ago. If instead it is interpreted from the position that it is the inverse of legal reality now, and this is feminism's interpretation of legal reality now, then clearly they do not share that same fundamental view of the reality of legal equality. From the commentator's perspective then the only thing modern feminism can be fighting for is for women to be more equal than men, based on feminists mistaken belief that equality hasn't been reached yet.

In the pop entertainment realm specifically, it has also not helped that the most famous proponents of feminism in entertainment espouse points which are disagreeable to the audience of the "anti-woke" channels. For example, Brie Larson saying that she doesn't care what 40-year-old white men think of her film, or Rachel Zeigler often saying that the original Snow White was misogyinst and creepy. There is also overlap with the "gamer" crowd, which sees pundits like Anita Sarkeesian from "Feminist Frequency" as the leftist version of "Satanic panic," both threatening to censor and mutilate the games they like (with the latter being much more successful at accomplishing it, which has earned feminism more derision from that audience). I'm not going to reiterate it here but you can also look up Gamergate for more examples of feminism as an ideology pitting itself against gamers. For this reason feminism has generally been a negative term for a significant portion of the modern male entertainment audience long before "woke" was a thing.

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    Describing GamerGate as "feminism versus gamers" (with the implication that the gamers were in the right) is a very gross oversimplification. I was there when it happened, and it's a lot more complex than you're suggesting.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Dec 24, 2023 at 18:06
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    @F1Krazy Multiple articles came out around the same time (many coordinated on the same day) talking about how gamers as an audience are bad people and companies shouldn't pander to their sexist members. As an example - archive.is/9NxHy#selection-615.7-615.81 You're free to argue that the intent wasn't to paint all people who play video games as anti-women, but that was a widely held perception. Commented Dec 24, 2023 at 18:18
  • Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on Politics Meta, or in Politics Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.
    – CDJB
    Commented Dec 25, 2023 at 4:24
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First, some feminists do, arguably, hate men. Andrea Dworkin comes to mind - this is a lady who allegedly even refused to talk with male attendees - presumably "allies" - at her talks. Not arguing they don't have their reasons to, only noting that fact. The over-use of the term patriarchy, by some people, no matter the context, hardly disproves that notion.

Second, feminists themselves do not always agree amongst each other on what feminism is, so your question is predicated on a rather reductive definition.

Third, some people may think that, to go with your Q on the Barbie movie - (which I enjoyed): feminist movie, by definition, simultaneously propose that women should have equal legal rights to men.

Well, what if you believe that women already have equal rights? (not expressing my opinion here, one way or the other):

  • if women already enjoy equality and are still critical of men, then it stands to reason that they want more than equality and possibly dislike men, making your entire argument around this question rather fragile, if you hold an anti-feminist PoV.

Forbes has a write up on this topic too:

There are millions of people who both inwardly and outwardly do not support the idea that there should be equal rights and equal opportunities for men and women

There are thousands of people who feel we’ve already arrived at equality for men and women.

There are thousands who believe in equal rights but find “feminism” a word and a movement that doesn’t align with their personal beliefs or values

It’s abundantly clear that our specific views on these issues are rooted deeply in our own personal and direct experiences, rather than on any data, research or science surrounding the issues. (In other words, if we’ve personally faced discrimination, we know beyond doubt that it exists. But if we haven’t faced it ourselves, we often doubt that it happens.)

In short, there is no definitive way to answer your question. Many anti-feminists, or those accused of being so, will give different reasons for their positions. Not all of those reasons will be rational, though some might be.

p.s. It's a fun movie, but let's not elevate it to a status of significance that it does not have. Perhaps the biggest deal with the movie is its, female, writer/director is doing a bang up job going through the Hollywood glass ceiling.

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"If feminism is about the equality of rights between men and women"

This is a position many feminists proclaim. But this definition is unintuitive. Why is it called feminism? Wouldn't it make more sense to call it "Equalitism"? (Obviously this is rooted in history, and because Feminists believe Women are currently disadvantaged. So to achieve equality you need to help women).

The very name of the movement is biased. Critics of feminism also see this bias play out in the real world. You will not see prominent feminists speak about the problems men might face. I hope it would be easy to see, why feminism in reality is seen as a movement to gain a more "advantageous" position for women. (Which feminists would argue is needed, because they are right now disadvantaged.)

So yes: Anti-Woke/Anti-Feminist people know about the theoretical definition used by Feminists. They themselves reject that the definition reflects reality and replace it with "Feminism is a movement to "help" women" to put it mildly. Or if they believe that equality has already been achieved: "Feminism is a movement to put women above men".

A lot of this confusion hinges on the believe whether women right now are disadvantaged or not. And whether you believe that men are discriminated against right now or not. Personally the only legal codified inequality I know of in America disadvantages men. (Forced Military service, men can't legally be the victim of rape). And in the legal system women also get lower sentences, custody more often, and in general society are less likely to experience violence than men. Women also live longer and get into college at a higher rate.

On the other hand, women also face unique problems that should be addressed. (Though they are more subtle in my humble opinion). But that's why I (and many anti-Feminists) would describe ourselves as exactly what Feminists proclaim they are. Striving for equality between the sexes.

It is useless to look at what a group names themselves. Antifa (anti fascists) sounds great, sadly in reality their primary tactics are fascist themselves. So you have to judge them by their actions.

Sometimes there is an effort made to distinguish between what a movement should be, and what it is. For example Anti-Feminists often talk about "extreme feminists" instead of "feminists". This is to signify: "If you are a reasonable feminist, who actually believes in equality, then we are not talking about you".

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Feminism is an alliance of vastly different interests. The most obvious being:

  • Equality/equal opportunity
  • More rights for women
  • More rights for the self, which is a woman

If we take a situation where women as a whole clearly have less rights than men, there's a natural alliance between these groups.

Reality however is complex - there have always been gender exclusive rights to both genders, yet it's generally agreed that there was a stark and obvious imbalance in favor of men, and much of that imbalance has been addressed in the last 150 years.

This creates a situation now where the imbalance is no longer stark and no longer obvious - there is still a lot of work to be done to improve equal opportunity for both genders, but simply improving women's rights is no longer the obvious next step to fix to the imbalance.

Thus the natural alliance between people fighting for equal opportunity and those fighting for more rights for women is no longer a natural one. It's now an alliance built on historical inertia.

What OP observes is a consequence of that now misaligned alliance: Against the backdrop of a steady number of feminist activists that are perceived as fighting for more women's rights at the expense of both men's rights and equal rights, the anti-feminist/anti-woke pushback against feminism is about dropping the good faith assumption that a feminist wants equality/equal opportunity (which was how feminism was perceived in the 90s), and replacing it with an assumption of bad faith: that a feminist selfishly wants more rights for women, at the expense of equal opportunity.

In reality, both kinds - and many other kinds - of feminists exist at the same time.

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It's probably hard to give a global answer to a Q like this, but from

Anti-Feminism: four strategies for the demonisation and depoliticisation of feminism on Chinese social media [...]

four strategies used to demonise feminists and depoliticise feminism online in China are identified: feminists as deviant women, as betraying the nation, as connected to Islamists, and as “fake-feminists.” The article highlights a kind of intertwined anti-feminism that draws power from distinct features—nationalism and Islamophobia.

The most common form of online abuse directed at women feminists involved criticising their appearance, marital status and personality. For example, the following comment was made on an influential grassroots feminist account:

Judging from the women I personally know, no women who call themselves feminists have good looks, have a good personality or receive love from men. Feminists are pathetic. They are all ugly and do not enjoy any gender privileges. Feminism is good because it shows who female losers are. (February 28 2016, 03:19)

[...]

Chinese anti-feminism and online misogyny are closely entwined with nationalist discourse, which is a site for accomplishing hegemonic masculinity (Joane Nagel 1998). This connection arguably legitimises anti-feminist rhetoric and attacks on women as a patriotic defence of, and sign of commitment to, the nation. For example, an influential feminist account posted a Virginia Woolf quote on Woolf’s birthday: “As a woman, I have no country. As a woman, I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world” (January 25 2018, 14:57). Some anti-feminists used this post as evidence to argue that acceptance of feminism constitutes betrayal of the nation:

We can see that feminism has been completely developed in the direction of anti-nation, anti-state, and anti-Chinese men. When feminism, which should fight for the legitimate rights and interests of women of our country, has completely deviated from the bottom line of our nation, then this feminist power has become the greatest evil. (August 11 2018, 22:33)

[...]

feminists are easily slandered as haters of Chinese men and worshippers of Western men. A good example of this is when a feminist account published a post encouraging more tolerance of diversity in intimate relationships (such as less discrimination against divorced women and inter-racial marriage) in a Western context, and criticised Chinese men for their intolerance of Chinese women marrying foreigners.This post attracted many anti-feminist comments:

This is a group of fucking bitches who worship foreigners. Get out of China … Our great motherland is not where you traitors should stay. Go lick your foreign sugar-daddy, idiot. (February 3 2019, 19:02)

[...]

anti-feminists’ nationalist rhetoric is not just based on the pretext of “Western-rooted” characteristics, but is also easily rationalised by the official discourse and actions of the ACWF, which is framed in governmental propaganda as the only correct and suitable organisation to empower women in China. The term “feminism” (and related terms, such as “feminist” and “patriarchy”) has rarely been used in governmental discourse. One of my interviewees, Yvonne, pointed this out when talking about why feminism is highly stigmatised in China:

Feminism in China is easily regarded as a Western anti-China force. However, the term “women’s liberation” [funü jiefang] also comes from the West, from Marxism. Unlike feminism, women’s liberation has been “officially qualified.” (Interview, March 14 2018)

So, yeah, Ted's answer is somewhat correct on this angle. Some (Chinese) nationalists see feminism as a threat to their idea of a nation. But it is slightly more complicated than that:

The phrase “women’s liberation” (funü jiefang) has been used as an official term in governmental discourse which is distinct from feminism (nüquan zhuyi) in the Chinese language. This distinction has an historical legacy in China as feminism was deemed a product of the bourgeoisie, and separated from the socialist women’s liberation (Dongchao Min 2005). Based on socialist ideals, the ACWF tend to carefully to distinguish “Marxist women’s liberation theory” from “Western bourgeois feminism.” [...] In contrast, the ideas circulated through—and the strategies applied by—grassroots feminist activists on social media seemly more closing align with the “Western” way of doing feminism; for example, advocating for “speaking out” in the context of the #MeToo movement, calling for LGBT rights and for policy change, and protesting against sexism in employment and education. These feminist ideas and activities are criticised by opponents as “middle-class oriented;”

More interestingly, perhaps:

The third main strategy in which anti-feminists stigmatise feminism is by linking feminists with Islam and using Islamophobia to stir up public panic about feminists and feminist organisations. Few academic papers have specifically focused on this online phenomenon, but several news reports have covered the linking (disseminated by others) of feminism with Islam. These reports, and the feminist account operators I interviewed, agree that an event in 2014 was the starting point for this specific kind of cyber-attack on feminists and feminist accounts. At a college in Guangzhou, a female Muslim student was asked to take off her headscarf during military training. After she posted about this incident online, some feminists supported her right to choose her own religious beliefs and how to dress. That night, an influential feminist account’s home page was hacked, and a cartoon image on the page was altered so it appeared to be wearing a black burqa. A simplified but “persuasive” rationale was then circulated online: removing the hijab was the liberation of Islamic women while putting on the hijab was a surrender to Islamic culture. [...] After this incident, posts claiming that feminism had colluded with Islam began to circulate on social-media platforms.

[...] The aforementioned three strategies show how anti-feminists or misogynists are aligned with other groups—such as nationalists, Han supremacists and Islamophobes—to form a loose and polycentric alliance.

IMHO most of those broil down to some form of social-dominance orientation. (FWTW, there's even a paper claiming in its title "Social dominance orientation among women is associated with the endorsement of benevolent sexism".)

Anyhow, the more Western perspective is also briefly summarized there:

Banet-Weiser (2018) summarises the logic behind anti-feminism and misogyny as the notion that society has been destroyed by feminists, and men have been “injured by women”.

For the latter, there's a lot more that's been written e.g.

The politics of enmity is central to contemporary conservative and populist movements, which seek a malign foe against which to posit the promise of national restoration. As Sanders and Jenkins discuss, right-wing populist ‘retrotopian’ fantasies promise to make the nation great again while pitting the interests of the ‘pure people’ against a cast of corrupting enemies, who must be cleansed. Many threatening figures have filled this role through time: immigrants, racial and religious minorities, socialists, ‘globalists’, the media, and that most amorphous of categories, ‘elites’. While populism is not inherently misogynistic (Moghadam and Kaftan 2019; Mudde and Kaltwasser 2015), today’s right-wing ‘patriarchal populists’ blend populism with sexism and increasingly deem feminists and sexual minorities dangerous, corrupting ‘enemies of the people’ (Graff and Korolczuk 2021; Kaul 2021; Korolczuk and Graff 2018; Sanders and Jenkins, this issue). Feminists are accused of emasculating men, lowering national birth rates, promoting sexual deviance and advancing ‘elite’ interests. False allegations about the dangers of contraception, abortion or LGBTIQ+ rights generate moral panics; [...]

Contemporary anti-feminism has a complex posture towards human rights. Political commitments to hierarchy and biological essentialism push against notions of individual equality and freedom. Women’s rights are threatening because they disrupt hierarchical social order and traditional values. [...]

Yet the current contestation and rejection of women’s rights rarely abandons the concept of rights altogether. Instead, anti-feminists undermine women’s rights by downplaying the legitimacy of women’s rights, by stripping women’s rights of substantive commitments to gender justice or by invoking competing rights narratives (Bob 2019; Corredor 2021; Sanders 2018; Schneiker 2019). [...] The Trump administration’s Commission on Unalienable Rights suggested that women’s and health rights constituted a new form of ‘ad hoc’ rights meriting less consideration than truly ‘unalienable’rights articulated in the 1776 Bill of Rights or the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (see Sanders and Jenkins in this issue). Anti-feminists’ hierarchical world-view applies not only to societies but also to a hierarchy of rights themselves.

Or if you prefer another source, less abstractly detailing some US viewpoints:

The use of the term “feminism” in this chapter reflects how conservative women activists conceptualize it. [...] Ann Coulter has published numerous books castigating liberals and commented that feminists are “marauding, bloodthirsty vipers” (2005: 325). Another commentator whose career is more closely defined by her ardent attacks on feminists is Christina Hoff Sommers. In Who Stole Feminism? she contends that women have been victimized by “gender” feminists—self-interested, elite, privileged actors who pit women against men (1995). She further chastises feminists’ alleged preoccupation with pain and oppression and argues that most women are not represented by feminists, either within the academy or in national organizations.

That article contends that the message is not so new in US politics, e.g.

opponents blamed feminists for trying to make women’s lives more difficult (Klatch 1987), framed the ERA [Equal Rights Amendment] as a burden not a right, and argued that the ERA “would wipe out the most basic and precious legal right homemakers now enjoy: the right to be a full-time homemaker” (quoted in Marshall 1985: 356). Compounding these explicit anti-feminist arguments, Schlafly and others claimed that feminists were miserable, whiny, and disgruntled (Marshall 1985) and did not represent women. In doing so, the countermovement she spearheaded constructed anti-feminist women as those who could truly speak to women’s interests.

I don't feel like belaboring the point on conscription, since that's been covered at length in another answer, but that situation is not unique to Russia, e.g.

According to a survey conducted in 2019, 34.5% of young [South] Korean women (aged 19-34) support feminism, compared to 38.7% of young Korean men who are opposed to it (Ma et al. 2020a, p. 317). Both support for feminism and hostility towards it are particularly strong among those who belong to the young generation. Korea’s press and politicians have termed this phenomenon the “gender conflict (jendeo galdeung) of the young generation.” However, at the center of men’s hostility towards feminism there is a public sentiment that the conscription system, which applies only to men in Korea, is unfair. This impression is directly reflected in lyrics such as “Why don’t you go to the military?” from a song entitled “Feminist” that was released in 2018 by a well-known 33-year-old Korean male rapper.

(That paper also has a poll [p. 487] showing that over half of South Korean males think "women should also join the military", with the proportion decreasing by age, from about 2 in 3 in their 20s agreeing with that, to roughly half of the men in their 50s.)

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    This seems to be an exceptionally low quality answer from a high rep user. The question is “How do anti-feminists and anti-woke people define feminism?” and nearly the entirety of your answer is how feminists are “abused” and “stigmatized” online. Not only is the answer greatly biased, it doesn’t even seem to try to answer the question. Commented Dec 27, 2023 at 17:40
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    @JustSomeOldMan: it seems I answer it aplenty. Both Chinese nationalists and some Western 'anti-woke' etc. views are covered. And they define feminism in derogatory terms, even if some defs are only vague any by association. If there is something to quibble about, it's that most of these critics might not self-label as "anti-feminist", but that seems to me to matter little, as long as they attack something they call feminism. Commented Dec 27, 2023 at 17:55

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