Weekly report of a young feminist #4: The relation between feminism, fake news and anti-feminist movement
I decided to dedicate the first Weekly Report in a new year to the issue which I have studied for my master thesis. It is a rather complex problem and there is still a very little written and examined about the impact of fake news on feminism. I naturally had to renounce the final statements in my paper and also avoid the word impact, so I’m glad that my blog is not restrictive in this matter. However, the blog posts should be direct and entertaining, therefore the whole problem cannot be fully explained. It took me one year and dozens of pages to be able to pass my findings to the wider audience. To you guys.
The common indicator in the relation between two movements and fake news is internet, mainly social media. Mark Zuckerberg and his allies allowed the uncontrolled spread of misinformation in the digital space, which caused countless problems in the world’s politics. Several experts agreed that Russian funded fake news on social media contributed to the election of a current American president Donald Trump.
As the primary definition of fake news explains, the spread of misinformation is always caused by someone with a deeper intention. This premise has led me to the recognition of those being “responsible” for the establishment of fake news operating within the anti-feminist movement. The literature states that the European politicians who often holds the positions in far-right parties and claims pro-life or anti-equality rhetoric, profit the most from the anti-feminist agenda in the current political climate. Nowadays, we can see many clear examples of this approach – “Cristian” politicians protecting life by implementing anti-abortion policies, ranging from the fully forbidden abortion to countless nonsense restrictions created by populist with only one purpose, to win the next elections. Or right-wing extremists who are trying to enjoin women to only give birth and be silent for the rest of the days. Therefore, lobbying for not implementing the quotas or ratification of Istanbul Convention is very popular and fruitful, but not helpful at all. I’ll talk about it more in the next post.
So, we sort of explained, who is responsible for the anti-feminist rhetoric on a political level. However, the lies begin on a ground level where they target the primary pillars of feminist movement. Mostly, anti-feminists are young girls, women or individuals, who don’t understand the purpose of this movement. Can their posts be considered fake news? Well, mostly no, because there is no greater intention in doing so. However, when we take into consideration trolls or people spreading the online hatred and threats, the scales are not that balanced.
Some resources state, that anti-feminism started on Tumblr, when women of all ages started to post selfies with the paper in their hands showing a message elaborating on why they are not feminists. Texts usually consisted of sentences such as “Men and women already have equal rights where I live.”; “I am an abomination to feminists” (because I am a stay-at-home mother); “I was raised to be an independent woman not a victim of anything.” and so on. As I said earlier, these women simply don’t understand the notion of feminism. But the danger stems from the ideology, which inspires people to say and think similarly.
I’m talking about the ideology, which implies many things. Firstly, that feminists are ugly, hairy and fat, so if you want to find a man, you cannot become a feminist. Secondly, women who claim to be feminists are angry, lonely and actually alone, so if you don’t want to die on your own, don’t be a feminist. Thirdly, and there it starts to be serious; feminists only belong to extreme groups and are feminazis, and foremost don’t want equal rights but the suppression of all men. Eventually, we can’t be surprised if women truly hesitate to label themselves feminists and refuse to act like one. Surely, there is another sort of people, who don’t support labelling and prefer to live the ideology rather than say it. Or that contemporary feminism which is operating in a patriarchal society is insufficient.
These false allegations of the nature of feminism originate from the intentions of people, who are not politicians however benefit from misinformation consumed by ordinary social media users. Who are they? When I reached the point of my master thesis, when I needed a proof of hypotheses based on the information retrieved from the academic and non-academic literature, I asked several active female journalists to share their opinion and experiences on the issue.
Their background was always more than relevant therefore the biased nature of their responses was excluded. They defined people, apart from politicians, who intent to benefit from fake news circulating online. Identifications corresponded with the findings and consisted of recognition of different groups. Firstly, men try to retain the status quo, the order of things which favour them over anyone else. Secondly, Christians advise people to maintain the stereotypes in order to maintain the world’s most important institution. Thirdly, the power is extremely seductive, so if there are some who have it, there always have to be others who don’t. Women, migrants, disabled etc.
Finally, the solution is far from achievable. However, we must start to recognize the danger, particularly the jeopardy of fake news. Reliable sources and restrictions of social media platforms might be a good start. Furthermore, I would like to invite people to verify information before claiming the anti-feminist opinions, especially women who should always fight for equal rights. And that’s, dear people, what feminism is here for.