Recently, a vituperative blog post christened “The Case Against Female Self-Esteem” went (regrettably) viral on the Internet. For those of you who haven't read it, it's possibly the most eclectic illustration of unchecked privilege I've personally come across, and needless to say, it's saturated with insolent, abrasive commentary that I don't recommend the sensitive in constitution read. Normally, I don't feel the need to actually opine on posts of this nature — they're typically exercises in an insatiable lust for attention — but I simply can't help myself this time, for two reasons.
My first reason is the author, Matt Forney, has put himself to the arduous task of editing every individual comment posted on his enormously viral post. As such, the article, which includes sentiments like “Insecurity is the natural state of the woman,” appears to have received comments like “Damn. Nice Article. You really, really nailed that.” Accordingly, droves of people on social media are vocalizing their anguish at the notion of a society so inundated in misogyny. Don't worry; our contemporary culture is a lot of things, but explicitly puritanical isn't one of them.
Secondly, while the real public sentiment to the “argument” has been overwhelmingly critical, I'm afraid some still do find the claims in the post to be compelling. This isn't some idle musing of mine. I made my public opinion on the piece very well-known, only to receive a distressing amount of personal feedback asking me to either explain how his positions were incorrect or to defend my own.
Setting aside my need to set a standard for my virtual friendships, I worry that if some feel connected to Forney's arguments, then others might as well; as such, here's my critical refutation of some of the most incongruous “arguments” this side of the 21st century.
Our author makes his case with three distinctive points: “Most girls have done nothing to deserve self-esteem,” “Insecurity is integral to femininity,” and “Women don't want to have high self-esteem.” Admittedly, a simple “not really, look” is sufficient to refute any one of the claims, but let’s be thorough.
Forney makes the assertion “women have done little or nothing to deserve self-esteem” by conflating the notions of respect and self-worth. In the voided prison that is Forney's psyche, the principal foundation for self-esteem is rooted solely in the engenderment of respect, through exploitation, of and from one's “fellow man.” A rebuttal of this argument is especially easy: Self-esteem is an intrinsic human right, and respect is a socially constructed, extrinsic phenomenon.
In turn, what he's doing is confusing correlation with causation; yes, self-esteem can be intimately related with respect, but no one in their right mind could make a sweeping, empirical statement that one causes the other every time.
Further, he suggests that “women claim they want equal rights as men, but they don't want the same responsibilities.” Pleasantly enough, this is an actual example of backward thinking, as the sentiment really is backward. Empirically, women already have similar responsibilities (which shouldn't be confused with opportunity, mind you) as men, and it's from such a perspective that feminists launch egalitarian campaigns. To prove the point, I'll simply offer a nod to vocational statistics; does the fact that women average 80 percent the income of men in similar fields of work sound like the shirking of responsibility? No, it doesn't. On the contrary, it sounds like institutional, systemic sexism.
In his next point, Forney actually suggests “insecurity is integral to femininity.” If we're actually to look critically at this argument, we'll just as soon realize that there isn't one; once again, our charming author has conflated terms and distorted reality into what might appear an argument upon first glance, but upon scrutiny, is a narcissist's masquerade of intellect.
This time around, Forney confuses notions of femininity with what he personally finds attractive in a woman. Indeed, he actually attempts to make a critical case completely from subjective anecdotes. Oh, and by the way, he essentially defines a woman as an individual in need of immediate psychiatric attention, opining they should be “beyond a low baseline to ensure they don't commit suicide or become psycho stalkers.”
Lastly, he asserts “women don't actually want to have high self-esteem.” There's little in the way of heaven and hell that says I'm actually going to address that ridiculous notion. Equivocating the female sex with ubiquitous masochism isn't worth a dignified response.
If I'm being perfectly honest, nothing Forney opines on — in this particular post, or his others — is really worth refuting. It's all fascistic nonsense that bears little impact on most people, and thankfully, sentiments held by Forney are, for the most part, dead in the public sphere. However, I stand by the need for this rebuttal, if not for any other reason than to illustrate just how ridiculous his arguments, or lack thereof, really are.
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