Why Tumblr Feminism Is Misguided

I recently received some backlash for disagreeing with a feminist who defended the happenings of Tumblr, and so I decided to write this post. Despite believing in equal rights and circumstances for both sexes, I still hesitate to call myself a feminist, and here I attempt to explain why, targeting certain ideologies of Tumblr feminism out of the many that I find illogical.

Female Oppression

There are millions of women around the world who are being abused, raped, harassed, and stripped of basic rights. They lack representation in government and live in highly misogynistic societies. They cannot vote or decide on important affairs. They are married off young, sold into slavery, trafficked, and devalued as human beings. They cannot wear what they want, or express themselves as they wish. They encounter great opposition when they try to further their careers. They live in fear. They face severe discrimination. They are oppressed. They need help.

Modern feminism fights against the “patriarchy”, a social system where men run society, assume roles of political leadership, establish a moral code, and control property, while women are considered to be their subordinates. Paradoxically, feminism thrives vigorously in highly developed societies, like the United States, where women are far from disadvantaged. The simple fact that women share literally every right with men in this country makes it an awful patriarchy. Women can vote, work, and live freely according to their wishes. There are laws here against rape and harassment. They have the right to speak freely. In fact, women here have a much better lot when compared to the rest of the world. It might not be perfect, but it is a very, very comfortable situation in America.

I notice that most feminists I encounter around my age that rave about oppression in society have not faced any real oppression whatsoever.  They are privileged college students pursuing a career of their choice in one of the most developed countries in the world, organized by one of the best governments. They are independently building their lives and careers. Again, this makes them better off than the vast majority of young women in the world.

I think feminism amongst students that have never faced real oppression during their lives has started a wave of female privilege. The main distinction these die-hard feminists fail to make is between real oppression and simple offense.

Are you being catcalled? Offensive perhaps. Is a man ogling disrespectfully at your breasts? Again maybe offensive. Are you being oppressed? No, you can now choose to take any action you want. You are not helpless in your society.

All over the internet, and especially on Tumblr, women come together under the feminist banner to gripe about how victimized they are by men, and how feminism empowers them to defy gender roles and live freely. The paradox that arises here is interesting: women on Tumblr are empowering themselves through self-victimization. It is inherently redundant. It is very easy to blame an enemy for your insecurities and problems; it’s a propaganda tactic. The idea is to pull large crowds of people to a cause with an emotional hook. The sheep eventually develop a mob mentality.

After calling themselves champions of their cause, these feminists don’t seem to be doing anything to help truly underprivileged women. Rather, they bash men of a relatively just society and gripe through social media. They share articles on Buzzfeed. They gain a sense of importance by labeling themselves, and begin acting as an authority on women’s rights. I’ve also noticed that that many moderate feminists maintain that they don’t hate men, but they never have anything nice to say about them, and they display silent approval when it comes to irrational feminist arguments on Tumblr. There exists a general tendency to speak about women’s issues while ignoring those of men, although the movement is in the name of equality.

Rape Culture

Men face their share of societal problems. Domestic violence against men is ignored, and sometimes glorified, whereas domestic violence against women is considered a major issue. Research has shown that females are not necessarily less aggressive, but tend to show their aggression in covert and non-physical ways, such as passive-aggressive behavior. Women are equally likely to engage in domestic violence, but sustain more injuries due to men’s use of physical violence to defend themselves (rather than initiate an unprovoked assault). Men receive longer prison sentences than women for the same crimes. The majority of violent crimes, homicides, aggravated assaults, and robberies are against men. If a man is falsely accused of rape, the woman is barely punished. Men are expected to provide for their families and work longer hours than their female counterparts, and account for the majority of workplace deaths and suicide victims. Rape and sexual violence against men is slowly gaining recognition as a valid concern. Both genders have their lot, and feminists do a poor job of promoting equality through their one-sided advocation of women’s issues.

(If anyone is interested in the thought patterns driving male and female criminality, this article is worth reading)

A commonly brought up issue is that victims of rape and sexual violence are overwhelmingly female, and mostly under 30. This is fact. However, most women on Tumblr don’t seem to understand that there is a vast gray area between a man ogling at a girl and raping her. I see countless posts about women and their friends who were “eye-raped” by men as they left the supermarket, or in other public places. Many also discuss women who gave their drunken consent to sex, later regretting their decisions, and consider them “raped”, implying that women cannot take appropriate precautions or responsibility for their circumstances. Some state that, since men commit most rape crimes, women should not be asked to take safety measures. Instead, men need to be taught not to rape from an early age. Such posts ultimately make a mockery of the subject, trivializing the severity of real rape by attempting to broaden its context. They also assume that men are inherently hardwired as rapists and murderers, and need to be instructed otherwise, which is ludicrously sexist, especially since female perpetrators of rape, abuse, molestation, and harassment exist.

I’ve noticed a frequent complaint on Tumblr that “women just want to go outside without fear of rape” or “feel safe walking alone at night” in general. This is an unreasonable and idealistic expectation of society. No man or woman in their right mind wanders freely during nighttime, especially in suspicious places. Bad people of all kinds can assault you, rob you, and rape you, and you alone are responsible for your personal safety.


Every action has consequences, both good and bad. Ideally, this would be different, but in the world of reality, one has to weigh these consequences before making any decision.

Ideally, I could walk alone through any neighborhood at two in the morning in skimpy clothing while wearing real jewelry and counting a wad of cash, but in reality, people would agree that this is obtusely risky.

To give a less extreme example, ideally I could wear whatever I choose in any public place without drawing unwanted attention to myself. However, the fact remains that men and women are attracted to each other, and people will take notice. If bodies and curves didn’t turn heads, the human species would have a difficult time surviving. A man will see an attractive woman and think about sex. A woman will see an attractive man and have similar ideas of infatuation. The sexier the clothing, the nicer the body, the more pronounced the thoughts.

Women often desire men purely for appearance; this is not an inherently male characteristic. This is how most “crushes” start. This is what women are doing when they ogle at images of celebrities online. Men experience body shame when compared to those standards. Men are sexualized by the media. Men and women both watch porn, which places pressures of performance on men. Men are judged by the strength and musculature of their bodies. Men are predominantly valued by their successes. Society assumes that successful, rich, powerful men are products of hard work and determination, despite the dependency of success on luck and connections. Men face an image as unreal as female perfection.

Sex sells universally, to both men and women, albeit differently. There is a feminist argument that if fashion advertisements treated men and women the same way, male ads would look ridiculous, implying that female objectification is far more prevalent. This viewpoint fails to acknowledge that men and women find different things attractive, and they are sexualized differently. Men will never be depicted as wearing skimpy clothing while licking ice cream cones or clutching at their chests. Women find resources sexy, and that’s what industries manipulate. Advertisements feature muscular, influential, rich, intelligent looking men, which represent a tiny minority of society.

Feminists, ignoring this instinct of attraction, maintain that women should be treated in the same way, regardless of their manner of dress or projected image, and with the same level of interest. If a man admires a woman’s body and dwells on his lust without considering the personality of the woman, he is actively objectifying her, and that is a terrible thing, despite the fact that he doesn’t know her. He is immediately regarded as a threat, which is sexist and assuming, though women lust after men all the time.

Feminists victimize themselves by linking street harassment, “objectification”, and rape together as oppression. I’ve already explained above how this link presents a huge logical stretch. Furthermore, a woman can choose to express herself as she pleases, and she alone takes responsibility for the consequences of her actions. If a woman is harassed by a man or woman due to her clothing choice, she has the ability to respond to the situation according to her will. There is no victim here, nor any oppression. Simply disrespectful people.

Body Image

I’ve heard the trite phrase “everyone is beautiful” so many times that I almost began to believe it myself. “Beautiful” has many subtle connotations, but it predominantly refers to physical beauty, which a small portion of the population possesses.

As social animals, we subconsciously admire, trust, and desire attractive people. It is a sign of health and good genetics. Our reaction to attractive faces is inborn; studies show that babies are more likely to play with and smile at attractive dolls compared to ugly ones. There is an instinctual drive to stand out from one’s own gender and appeal to the other, a race to be the most desirable and reproduce with the best person one can find. 

To the feminist Tumblr post that states shaving is “slightly mutilating the natural state of your body in order to be deemed acceptable” (around 62,000 notes): everyone alters their appearance to attract a sex partner. None of this is oppressive, nor is it due to a patriarchy, nor is it superficial. It is simply a bottom-up effect of human nature. A woman decided to shave a part of her body to appear more attractive, the word spread, and demand increased. Certain women rubbed some makeup on their faces to look younger, and the rest wanted that benefit.

Men shave their beards, get implants and wigs to counteract balding, and enroll in gyms to build muscle mass, but this is no matriarchal standard for men. These behaviors are not pre-determined, rather they were driven by basic human instinct to appeal to the opposite sex, and eventually became widespread. People universally get plastic surgery, inject Botox, and dye their hair. So if you hate shaving those legs, you can blame your fellow women for raising standards of attractiveness.

In our culture, it has become possible for women to be increasingly more attractive by using cosmetics, fashion, and Photoshop to their advantage, granted sufficient time and money. Industry knows it has women on an emotional hook, so it relays garbage such as “you’re beautiful just the way you are” to women. It’s nice to hear, it boosts the self-esteem, and Tumblr feminism seems to buy into this nonsense.

Everyone is not athletic. Everyone is not an excellent musician. Everyone is not a good friend, or a good person, and everyone seems to agree on these points. But for some reason, everyone gets to believe they’re beautiful and base their worth on it, instead of valuing their other qualities. Relatively few people are born with the physical advantage of beauty.

People will retaliate that the phrase implies “inner beauty”, meaning that everyone is valuable and worth loving, but this is a logical and connotational stretch. Ultimately, girls receiving this unnatural message will feel dejected when boys flock towards someone more attractive.  

I often see this post on Tumblr that goes: “If you think a girl is cute and awesome and really cool and genuinely like her but won’t date her because she’s chubby or fat and you don’t want people to judge you for it, then please remember you’re a piece of shit okay, promise” (around 85,000 notes).

Being overweight is not attractive, it is a sign of poor health and letting oneself go. Feminists on social media emphasize that they’re not obligated to find a man attractive, so why this double standard? If a man is singling out a person to date, it is only reasonable he ensures both her appearance to be attractive and her personality, engaging. His right of personal choice doesn’t need to compete with the insecurities of other women.

On another note, it is impossible to be fat, underweight, or inactive, and be healthy at the same time. These are mutually exclusive qualities. There is no justification for that condition. Each person has one life and one body, and it makes sense to maintain physical fitness. Words such as “body acceptance”, “fat-shaming”, and “sizeism” ignore this priority and condone laziness. Physical and mental health should never be compromised.

It doesn’t matter if you’re fat, skinny, muscular, or something in between. Here is the real meaning of body acceptance: it’s not that “you’re beautiful just the way you are”. It’s accepting that “you can always use some improvement”. You’re only going to have one body, and you can always make it healthier, fitter, stronger, and by extension, more attractive. Be happy with improvement, not complacency.

Male Tears

It wouldn’t be fun to end this post without giving a few examples of the crazies populating Tumblr. These are the kinds of people who think freebleeding was a real movement, not a joke on 4chan. Here they are:

When a man tells me to edit my language to make him feel more comfortable when I’m discussing a social issue, he is telling me that his feelings are paramount to what I’m trying to discuss.

Calling all men dogs is seriously offensive to dogs.

The moral of maleficent is don’t trust men, drop them from towers.

TO ALL MEN WHO FEEL THEY DESERVE MORE RIGHTS: I have several hundred gatorade bottles filled with piss. Please come by my garage, take one, and pour it all over your head. You now have all the rights of a piss-baby-crybaby-piss-fuck covered in piss. Kneel down and clap your hands together and thank me for your piss transformation.

To be honest, I don’t care how patriarchy hurts men because I don’t care about men.

Misandrist Life Tip #2: Want the retro red-lipped look, but don’t want to spend money? Slay the next man who looks at your tits instead of your face, and apply his blood liberally. Also works great as nail polish!

I can’t make this up.

Misandrists (a sprawling male-hate subgroup of Tumblr feminism) have thought up something called a “Male Tears mug”, to collect male tears. They also write statements such as  “kill men”,  “abort male babies”, “we should have a Holocaust for men”, ““women are oppressed by their religions”, and “if you’re not a misandrist, you’re not a feminist”. Some practice transphobia. I’ve seen pictures of “man-hating” tattoos. The fact that such thoughts thrive on Tumblr is alarming. Many feminists believe that misandrists are not real feminists, and vice versa; the lack of common direction and the inability of both groups to discount the other lends an air of illegitimacy to the movement in general.

The Feminist Label

Some feminists want a complete dissolution of gender roles, but don’t see the impracticality of that idea. How many female firefighters do we have? Very few. Female plumbers? Female waste managers? Construction workers? Taxi drivers? Electricians? Auto mechanics? Operating engineers? Maintenance workers? Truck drivers? Roofers? Coal miners? Logging workers? Fisherman? Men are more likely to take high-risk, physically taxing jobs.

How many male nurses do we have? Receptionists? Fashion designers? Air hosts? Hairdressers? Babysitters? Cleaning maids? Social workers? Teachers? Librarians? Comparatively fewer than women. It’s commonly observed that women are very good at sales. People feel at ease and welcomed by a female presence. A family would not hire an unknown, large, towering man to take care of their small children. They are more likely to trust a woman.

Certain gender roles are based on human nature. Our society moves towards a balance of equity and efficiency, and completely dissolving gender roles violates both principles. Forcing an equal distribution of all jobs is unfair to those who are ill equipped, and making someone who excels at one role take on different ones is inefficient. Women are just fine as we are and would be weakened by becoming more like men, and vice versa. Granted, people should definitely have the right to choose a direction separate from these trends, and they have that ability in a country like the United States.

The fundamental problem with feminism is the unclear goal: the equality of both sexes and the dissolution of gender roles. This is similar to having a goal of “world peace”: it is idealistic, it goes against human nature, there are no practical methods of achieving this, and there is no particular direction for progress. Most importantly, there are no eligibility criteria for being a feminist. Literally anyone can call themselves a feminist and start preaching their own views, regardless of how irrational and sexist they may be. This leads to dissent within the group itself as to who is a real feminist and who isn’t, which just creates a big mess. What men and women usually associate with modern feminism is walking on eggshells while trying to talk to a self-proclaimed feminist about society. This is not the positive image a movement wants to project.

Now, there are still many issues regarding gender that are worth discussing. My question here is: why do I have to be a “feminist” to discuss them? A common feminist argument states that if i believe in gender equality, I am a feminist. If I’m not a feminist, then I don’t believe in women’s rights, because the two are mutually exclusive. If I criticize their practices, the emotional nature of their argument will make me seem like a bigoted monster.

This equation of rational person = feminist has a logical fallacy. By calling myself a feminist, I’m allowing a party to represent me and my views. I’m associating myself with the crazy people on Tumblr, who have made feminism a tribute to female insecurity. I’m aligning myself with points of view that I disagree with, and with people who make my gender look bad. So I will respectfully refrain from labeling myself, regardless of how people perceive it. As I have demonstrated, being a feminist certainly doesn’t make you rational.

-Aditi Devrajan

Edit: I’m a female, not that it should matter.