Posted January 14, 2015 by Sydnie Jones in Editorials

“Rowdy” Bec Rawlings equates oppression with weakness, denounces “feminism” (NSFW pics)

UFC fighter Bec Rawlings (5-4) went on an impassioned, misinformed rant against what she calls feminism today on social media, posting two nude pictures of herself holding a sign that read, “FUCK FEMINISM I BELIEVE IN HUMAN RIGHTS…FOR ALL!”

First, so we’re clear, let’s start with the definition of feminism. This seems to be a common misconception among people who don’t actually know anything about feminism, besides what anti-feminists tell them.

Feminism: : the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities : organized activity in support of women’s rights and interests – via Merriam-Webster

The literal definition is equality for men and women. There’s no agenda to hurt/oppress men in the subtext. And since other people, like fellow UFC fighter Josh Barnett, say they aren’t feminists because they don’t understand the definition and claim to be humanists, here’s some more knowledge. Humanism is already a thing. It’s been a definitive thing for 82 years and has nothing to do with sex/gender. It has to do with secularism and morality independent of religion.

Feminism is a social movement. Humanism is a philosophy. They are two separate things, unrelated to each other.

Let’s address Rawlings’ claims.

“New age feminists…”
Not a thing. A Google search reveals there’s no unifying definition, no group claiming to be new age feminists, no official (or unofficial) website for the new age feminists. So what exactly is Rawlings objecting to? Something she’s heard about from other anti-feminists? Trust the anti-feminists to be up on all the fringe feminist groups and have the true definition of feminism, you guys. Not, like, the dictionary. Or actual feminists.

“…don’t want equal rights they want to demonize men & belittle women who don’t conform!!”
‘Equal rights’ is literally the main tenet of feminism. And confronting society’s expectations of women is another core value, with the goal being not conformity, and not even non-conformity, but a culture in which women feel free to be how they want. Perhaps in this fantastical ‘new age feminism,’ observers have articulated some expectation of dress/behavior/belief and demand conformity, but…what are they?

Claiming feminism ‘demonizes’ men is inaccurate, and likely a misinterpretation of an idea far more nuanced than can be boiled down to something so simplistic. Feminism criticizes patriarchal systems of oppression and points out that cultural constructs of masculinity can be detrimental. In fact, it’s ascribing qualities to a gender that limits individuals and demands conformity. If supposedly “masculine” traits, such as non-emotional, aggressive, and competitive, are what constitutes masculinity, then males feel pressure to be those things – regardless of whether they feel that way. And, obviously, attributing a quality such as ‘aggression’ to the nature of being male provides both a form of circular logic absolution and a reassurance that if you’re a man, you’d naturally be aggressive. This negates autonomy, which is something Rawlings seems to be against.

“I believe in human rights FOR ALL.”
What even are human rights? Who decrees them? Who enforces them? Her implication is apparently that feminists only want rights for women. Does that sound reasonable at all? No. It sounds like something someone with no understanding of feminism would attribute to feminism.

“My boys are not monsters…”
The idea that feminism claims all human males are monstrous and awful is, again, not a real tenet of feminism. I guess if you wanted to act like there were actually any relevant groups calling themselves feminists and advocating for the total annhilation of human males, then I would say that a) they’re not relevant, and b) they’d be like the Westboro Baptist Church of feminism. So, irrelevant, and not germane to discussions about feminism.

“I am not a bad mother because I don’t like pants…”
Feminism doesn’t mandate that women wear pants to prove a point. Au contraire! Again, feminism is about autonomy and women feeling free to be themselves. If who you are is a pants-free person, cool.

“I am not being objectified… because I AM NOT WEAK…”
Unfortunately, as Rawlings is unable to control what others think, say, and do, it’s likely that she is, in fact, being objectified. This has nothing to do with whether Rawlings enjoys dressing up, or feeling sexy, etc; living in a culture that objectifies women means a woman doesn’t decide when she’s objectified. It’s a societal thing. If Rawlings doesn’t care that she may be objectified, that’s her prerogative – but it’s not anything she has any control over. Consequently, the relative strength of the subject being objectified is immaterial.

Rawlings also posted several screencaps from a piece on the notorious cesspool that is Thought Catalog. Although it is replete with sexism, slut shaming, and misinformation, what I’ll point out here is that in the screencap featured in this editorial, there’s this:

“…how about encouraging all students to simply dress with decency in a public institution…”

That’s blatantly anathema to Rawlings’ insistence that a) she not be forced to conform, and b) she not be forced to wear something she doesn’t want to wear. If Rawlings is willing to advocate that girls in school have to dress a certain way, she’s contradicting the things she claims to support. Never mind that it also imposes expectations on her sons, whose autonomy and individuality she seems intent on protecting.

For someone with so comprehensive an ignorance of feminism, it’s curious Rawlings would take such a resolute, principled stance.  Although, I suppose when you’re operating under such a fundamental misunderstanding, it’s easy to be whipped into an irrational furor of misogyny and misinformation…that’s what anti-feminism is.

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Sydnie Jones