KLo: Victim-blaming is feminists’ fault

For serious. I know I’m late on this one, but I just had to write something. (And no, it’s not because the article is from the same woman who called me a “bridezilla” for daring to question wedding culture.)
Behold the wisdom of Kathryn Lopez:

According to an article in the Boston Globe, an informal poll taken among 200 teenagers has revealed that almost half of them blame the pop star Rihanna for her recent beating, allegedly by her boyfriend, Chris Brown.
It’s just one survey. But it’s very bad news. And feminists are to blame.
…What has happened — and what Rihanna and Chris have to do with Gloria [Steinem] and us — is that by inventing oppression where there is none and remaking woman in man’s image, as the sexual and feminist revolutions have done, we’ve confused everyone. The reaction those kids had was unnatural. It’s natural for us to expect men to protect women, and for women to expect some level of physical protection. But in post-modern America, those natural gender roles have been beaten by academics and political rhetoric and the occasional modern woman being offended by having a door opened for her. The result is confusion.

Right, we’re just confused by all that equality – it’s clouding our ladybrains! Plus, everyone knows that women were never ever blamed for the violence done to them before feminists came around. Sigh.

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  1. Eresbel
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Or maybe she just thinks that violence never occurred before women got those fantastic washing machines and had enough free time to become feminists.

  2. spike the cat
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    It’s natural for us to expect men to protect women, and for women to expect some level of physical protection.
    Women need physical protection from whom exactly? The answer to that question is the real problem.

  3. Crashhooligan
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 1:34 pm | Permalink


  4. mollybee
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    It pisses me off but also pleases me that anti-feminists never have hard-hitting, comprehensive arguments against feminism and the work feminism has done.
    Most people with a brain, even those who don’t identify as feminists, can probably see that this lady’s arguments are not valid.
    Yes, anti-feminists will have an impact on feminism…but the degree of impact, when completely unfounded and untrue like this argument, is small compared to the impact of the pro-women movement.

  5. kawada15
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Well of course violence against women didn’t happen before Feminism because women were property.
    My biggest gripe is with the fact that she played the “natural” card. It is such a faux-physchological justification for saying the way things are should stay that way. I am sure that Lopez ( I am assuming is latino/hispanic or has some latino/ hispanic heritage) would not be too inclined to say that it is natural for latino/hispanic to be poor and unrepresented. Clearly she lacks the understanding of natural. My eyes are naturally brown; sexism is not.

  6. Kim C.
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    I particularly like her last line: it sums up her argument perfectly. When you argue that victim-blaming is the feminists’ fault, I hope you’re writing for the Onion, and even then it isn’t funny.

  7. danielle
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    What are we not to blame for?
    I’ve been told I’m trying to control women’s bodies by suggesting that cosmetic breast augmentation isn’t necessary (or shouldn’t be), I’ve heard women being blamed for male baldness, and that it’s women who subjugated themselves in the ’50s to be kept in the home.

  8. College Feminist
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    I don’t understand how confusion can justify a man beating a woman? Her theory as to why feminism caused this confusion/justification within our youth is biased and is her personel opinion with no logic or stats to support her belief. Her accusation towards feminists is truly absurd.

  9. Kim C.
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    I can somewhat understand the train of logic (derailed as it may be) for the ’50s women and the breast augmentation issue, but the baldness is a new one on me. Can you explain the reasoning behind that?

  10. College Feminist
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    I don’t understand how confusion can justify a man beating a woman? Her theory as to why feminism caused this confusion/justification within our youth is biased and is her personel opinion with no logic or stats to support her belief. Her accusation towards feminists is truly absurd.

  11. voluptuouspanic
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Feminism is also to blame for her having the education and freedom to be the editor of an online magazine.

  12. mollybee
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    If we named all the things feminism was to blame for (that KLo is callously ignoring) we could comment forever!

  13. anitasaber
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    I love that logic, it’s what makes me wonder how and why women can be anti-feminist and still enjoy their freedoms. This is half the reason I really hate Ann Coulter…without feminism, would she be able to write books and speak about them, much less write books and speak about politics? NO. So, her argument against the feminist movement and liberalism in general is severely flawed.

  14. danielle
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    I have no clue. A substitute teacher said it one day. He laso made fun of men who cry. He said something else, because I remember at one point writing down what he said.
    And the other issues-the people who i heard say that were staunchly anti-feminist. They think feminism limits women’s choices (these were their exact words), and society’s pressure on women to look a certain way is really no big deal. (i’m currently having a…’discussion’ with two men right now who are telling me that pressure to fit a beauty ideal is no biggie since men have pressure to own a big car. WHAT?)

  15. laurenanne
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Wow, just wow. I’m particularly impressed that she rolled so many topics into one article. 1) Feminism bad. 2) Poor, unappreciated (white) males. 3) Women are weaker than men and need to be protected, (which leads to) 4) Importance of “natural” hierarchy and 5) the gays, who apparently aren’t gay, just haven’t found the right man.
    Oh, and on behalf of Lilly Ledbetter, fuck you Ms. Lopez and the pay gap you don’t seem to believe in.

  16. danielle
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    That reminds me of the west wing episode where they’re trying to get the ERA passed and need only one more ratification, and they tell the female governor (er, I’m pretty sure she was a gov.) that she wouldn’t be where she was if it hadn’t been for the advancement of women’s rights. I do take serious enjoyment of telling anti-feminist women things like that.

  17. Kim C.
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Sometimes I’m tempted to respond to outspoken anti-feminist women with “I’m surprised your husband lets you say that” or something along those lines.

  18. Barbaragordon
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    shouldn’t it just be NATURAL not to hit people when you are mad?

  19. danielle
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    “poor underappreciated (white) males”
    Oh, I’m so sick of this.

  20. voluptuouspanic
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    My favorite: “How’s that right to vote working out for you?”

  21. voluptuouspanic
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Well, before feminism, no one ever hit each other.

  22. ucsbclassics53
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Victim-blaming is our fault?
    I guess that’s why we’ve been ranting against it all these years when it came to misogynists blaming rape victims and victims of domestic violence…who knew?!

  23. anteup
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    The only thing I can think of is “it runs on the moms side!”

  24. Kim C.
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    It’s times like these that I have to remind myself that if I beat my head against my desk, it’ll hurt.

  25. Oskar
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    This is some real “down-the-rabbit-hole/through-the-looking-glass-shit” right here. I mean, stopping victim-blaming is one of the most important things feminism is about (one of many), how the hell can feminism be blamed for something that it specifically critisizes and doesn’t do. It’s like blaming atheists for all the religion in society. Or blaming the rain on all the clear skies.
    This woman is completely off her rocker!

  26. VT Idealist
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    As flawed as her logic is, Lopez makes one really great point which she herself fails to grasp. Patriarchy is bad for men, too. I’ve been discussing feminism with my male roommate. His view, as a white, straight male, is that he is confused about the modern role of manhood and a little scared. As a society, we define what is a man by what isn’t female. As women make progress and break out of gender roles, men get painted into a tighter and tighter corner.

  27. nightingale
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Another fun one comes from Save the Males. She basically argued that men have societal appearance expectations worse because of all the “male enhancement” commercials. Men are constantly made to feel inadequate because of their penis size.
    But it’s totally different for women because they can just get breast implants.
    I’m not exaggerating at all.

  28. Kim C.
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    That’s why I think it’s better to define what an “adult” is and note that they can come in both male and female flavors. That way, no one’s view of themselves depends upon the oppression of another group.

  29. kawada15
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Hey, as a male feminist ( actually writing a thesis on male beauty culture) – I must say that there are male beauty expectations much like there are for women, but because we do not consider it beauty or advertise it as beauty ( rather naturalizing the needs and desire for certain looks) it is not as blatant or obvious. Understandably women, as systemically positioned subordinates in a patriarchal society, have a tough and rigid standard to follow. I think arguing about who has it worse does not help to solve the problem and especially disagree with saying don’t worry about it because “men have the same problem”.
    and yeah, I heard that male pattern baldness passes through the mother’s gene …but then again there is always scientific sexism so the quality of the statement is up for debate.

  30. kawada15
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    I agree, that masculinity is the anti-fem, but it also a struggle for self assurance through dominance and power ( more masculine to be rich than poor, winner than loser etc). What blaming gender does for lopez is give Chris brown’s ( alleged) actions justification rather than seeing it as a human rights violation. Rihanna isn’t a human, she’s a lady – thus must be taken care of. Being confused of one’s gender expectations doesn’t justify hurting another human.

  31. Kim C.
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    The difference is, if a man doesn’t have sculpted abs and a dashing smile, he has his car, his job, his house, his money, his personality, ~his wife~, all to make up for that fact.
    If a woman doesn’t have the perfect body, it’s because she hasn’t been going to the gym enough, has been pigging out too much, doesn’t know how to apply makeup, ~is an ugly feminist~, etc.
    Generally, men can battle against unattractiveness, whereas women are blamed for it. Women do have it worse than men, and noting that, and how they have it worse than men, is important in understanding how and why women are under appreciated in our culture.

  32. Devonian
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    iirc, baldness is inherited from the mother’s side, isn’t it?

  33. Jeanette
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Er, I’m pretty sure that the gene for male baldness, or at least certain types, comes from both parents.
    On a totally off topic note, I went to Snopes.com looking to see if they covered the “gene for baldness is passed on by women” myth, and I came across this gem (filed under “rib removal”):
    “In these days of surgical modification based on the underlying belief that anything is possible provided one is willing to pay to have it done, the rib removal lie lives on. No one wants to acknowledge that the Beautiful People got that way by dint of hard work and self-denial (or maybe through the sheer luck of genetics). It’s far more satisfying to believe they brought in skilled surgeons to work magic on them. Such a belief provides comfort to those unhappy with their own physical realities; their failure to look like the model on the cover of Cosmo can be written off to the other gal’s using unholy tactics, not to their own lack of discipline.”
    (Emphasis mine.)
    I had no idea the writers at Snopes were so sexist. (And apparently uninformed. Have they never heard of Photoshop?) I’m definitely going to write them a howler about this.

  34. Jeanette
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Maybe she was trying to say that if Rihanna knew her place, Brown wouldn’t have had to beat her into submission?

  35. Ruchama
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    If I recall my genetics class from several years ago correctly, male pattern baldness is X-linked, so a man inherits it from his mother, who could have gotten the gene from either parent.

  36. Ruchama
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    I think that what she’s trying to say is that if Chris Brown wasn’t surrounded by images of strong women, then he’s know that women are weak and thus should be protected, rather than hit. But since he’s been told that women are strong, he thinks that, if a woman makes him mad, it’s OK to hit her.

  37. danielle
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    yeah, I just realized one of the guys I’m talking to is part of a community dedicated to women showing their large breasts.

  38. Roscoe
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 7:56 pm | Permalink


  39. Roscoe
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    Wow, ya, I can’t believe you salvaged a valid argument from all that garbage Lopez wrote. I mean, it’s a totally unsound argument and writing it out as clear as you did just elucidates its ridiculousness, but for a while I didn’t even think there was an argument to be made, just someone stringing a bunch of random words together…

  40. Roscoe
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    I mean, I think it’s just people’s insecurity about finding a partner. Why would people be scared (and not just guys, a lot of girls want to stick to strict gender roles too) of eliminating gender roles unless they were scared that if they couldn’t communicate what sex they were, they wouldn’t find someone to date? People need to realize that you can be a guy that acts “gay” but still likes vagina, or a really “butch” woman that still likes penis. Perhaps there is some fear related to this?

  41. Cory
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    That lady’s an idiot.

  42. Tiffanie
    Posted March 30, 2009 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

    How do you translate “Do not beat me or rape me” into a doe-eyed “Protect me you big strong man!”
    In Kathryn Lopez’s world were women never beaten, raped, or blamed if they were before feminism?

  43. Okra
    Posted March 31, 2009 at 2:31 am | Permalink

    Oh, voluptuous, how I WISH that would work on right wing anti-femmies.
    Unfortunately, here is their stock response:
    “The first feminists were justified in their complaints about society. These were the suffragettes, the women who fought for equal educational rights, the TRUE feminists. But the second and third wave feminists warped true feminism into man-hating, unnatural, anti-biological claptrap. The 2nd and 3rd wave feminists’ fatal flaw is that they never woke up and understood: EQUALITY HAD ALREADY BEEN ACHIEVED. So their misguided attempts to insist men and women are exactly the same [uh, do your research, anti-femmies; never heard of "cultural feminists"?] and to bash the White American Male reflect the Victim Mentality (TM) and Female Supremacy rampant in modern feminism.”

  44. Okra
    Posted March 31, 2009 at 3:22 am | Permalink

    This post by Lopez actually makes quite a lot of sense, and is logically consistent with the U.S. Conservative movement party line.
    As many of us know, anti-feminist ideologues’ bread and butter is the Straw Feminist. Led by moderate-right (oh, yes, only moderate) Pied Pipers like Limbaugh and Hannity and bone-chilling extremists like the Christian Patriarchalists, anti-feminists delight in tearing down the StrawFeminist.
    *But in order to tear her down, they must first create her.*
    Lopez & co. want their listeners to believe that The Feminist Agenda is fantatically focused on denying, denying again, and then obliterating all semblance of biological gender divergence. They have convinced their followers that [Straw]feminists are so far out to lunch they do not accept the verifiable fact of human sexual dimorphism.
    Then, they beat the biological gender role denial horse to death, using it as a call to arms. After all, if femmies are so deeply in denial about biological gender, that means that everything else they believe is suspect.
    By so focusing on the biological differences all reasonable people (including feminists) acknowledge, these doomsayers are able to obscure from their listeners’ REAL feminist agendas, such as: challenging the idea that our genitals in any way determine our mental capabilities or life paths; getting women equal pay for doing equal work; denouncing hypersexualization of young women when it is for the benefit of the male gaze; speaking out against domestic violence, generational poverty, and the immigrants’ and minority women’s challenges; and construing men as human enough, self-aware-enough, and responsible enough to NOT rape people.
    And now let me note one more thing:
    Lopez uses the peculiar construction “making women in men’s image.” To Jews, Christians, and Muslims, this phrase has a powerful connotation; where have you heard it before?
    In Torah (and, in different phrasing, in the Quran), when humans are described as having been created by God in GOD’s image.
    Lopez can deny all she wants that she was not intending the phrase to bring up such connotations, but the implications for anyone raised in a Judeo_Christian-centric society are clear. And distasteful to those of us who do not see women as having been made or needing to be made in men’s image.
    Men are not little gods; women are not little mirrors reflecting their images.

  45. kennina
    Posted March 31, 2009 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Pretty amazing how people can contort feminism. That Boston survey inspired a lot of hate this week.

  46. larana
    Posted April 2, 2009 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Well said!!

  47. jaydel
    Posted April 3, 2009 at 3:36 am | Permalink

    Feminists get upset when men open doors for them? I guess they’re just confused.
    So she also seems to be saying that men open doors for women because men are men, and it’s their natural role to be the door-opener, and women are women, so it’s their natural role to graciously accept any and all door-opening. I thought opening a door for someone else was just common courtesy. I don’t stand next to one and wait for a man to open it for me, and if I get there first, I open it for him.

  48. kennina
    Posted April 3, 2009 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    It’s hard to even think of a comeback to that ludicrous argument. Blame gets spread around in insane ways. BTW, there’s victim blaming galore in India Knight’s latest column about rape victims.

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