The Problem is Bigger Than Gavin McInnes.

Gavin McInnes might have just been having a bad day yesterday. Perhaps his bout of hysterics was brought on by the unusual experience of being in the company of people who calmly disagree with him on live TV.  But afterwards (perhaps after a bit of time on the fainting couch), he had the time and opportunity to reflect on his performance and question his sudden and inexplicable loss of control. McInnes chose to do just the opposite, doubling down on his incoherent assertions in a blog post that personally attacked me a second time. Well, McInnes has made it abundantly clear by this point that he isn’t capable of self-reflection or following a logical train of thought. He doesn’t need any help making a fool out of himself, so I’ll let him keep doing that himself.

But it is worth saying a bit more about the kind of convoluted non-reasoning people like McInnes use, and to address a couple of the myths and lies they promote. Many, many people have addressed these before, and it’s a shame to have to debunk them once again, but perhaps this will be helpful to some people who are coming to this kind of conversation for the first time.

Lie 1: Feminism forces women into careers they don’t want and expresses contempt for women who stay at home to raise children.

The Truth: First of all, feminism is not a person, and certainly not a person with a gun prodding blindfolded women into executive suites. It cannot force any woman to do anything. What feminism has helped achieve is the possibility for women to work outside the home if they so choose, which means that feminism is also what makes it possible to choose to stay at home and be a mother. There is no such thing as choice without other options. Feminism does not tell women that they must work outside the home. It also does not tell women that they cannot. The only people who police women’s behavior this way are people like Gavin McInnes.

Lie 2: Any woman who is actually happy working or not having children is either a liar or an exception to the rule.

The Truth: It should be obvious that if the only way a person can counter facts he doesn’t like is to yell “liar!” or “doesn’t count!,” he doesn’t have a good argument. It’s a fascinating characteristic of bigots generally to assert that they know people better than they know themselves, and when that doesn’t work, to dismiss them as fringe elements.

This isn’t to say that some women aren’t happy or that some women aren’t exceptions. But that’s true about, well, everything and everyone. Some women hate their jobs and wish they could spend more time with their kids. Some women hate staying at home with the kids and wish they could work. Some women want kids but can’t afford to raise them. Some women don’t want kids but don’t have access to reliable birth control. Some women can’t have children and wish they could. And many of these things are true for men as well. But none of this is caused by feminism. It’s caused by people being complex and living in an imperfect, sexist, racist, and classist society. People change their minds. People evolve. People make mistakes. People take time to figure out what really makes them happy. People do what they can to take care of their kids. People do what they can to take of themselves.

The truly sad thing about people like McInnes is that if they were really concerned about people’s happiness or their abilities to be good parents or good members of society, they’d be trying to dismantle the obstacles that make us all worse off. They’d be advocating for gender equality, for paid parental and caretaking leave, and for fairer and better economic opportunities for all people regardless of gender, race, or class. They’d be challenging the violence and prejudice in our society that pose direct threats to people’s safety and well-being. Instead, they spend their energy yelling profanities at people they don’t know whose lifestyles they don’t like. What a waste.

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