In 2015, a Tumblr user whose profile declares, “Modern Feminism, Progressivism, and Antifa are dangerous embarrassments,” wrote a post in response to an anonymous critic. In the years since, the Tumblr user’s post about why feminists aren’t “strong women” has gone hugely viral, with interest flaring in the last 24 hours. According to Bored Panda, the post has racked up more than 200,000 views, with more than 10,000 notes.
In August of 2015, an anonymous user messaged a Tumblr called “Disgruntled Nut,” writing, “aw. aren't you the cutest? men who are scared of strong women are so adorable.” The person behind the Tumblr struck back, arguing that feminists are not strong women, a sentiment that many feminists would regard as a head-scratcher. He wrote,
I know what strong women are, Anon. I was raised by them. My grandmother grew up in Nazi Poland, watched nearly every adult male member of her family be gunned down or shot, immigrated to the States, married at 19, and raised 3 daughters in a working-class environment, and still did it with dignity, faith, security and resilient, indomitable love. My mother worked her way to TWO PhDs in STEM fields in the 70s. Oh yeah, she also did it while fighting cancer, and winning.
I know what strong women are, Anon. I’d want no one else in my life. Strong women don’t mew about manspreading, air-conditioning, or demand that men #giveyourmoneytowomen. Most of all, strong women, like any strong, compassionate human being, have the milk of human kindness in their hearts, they value the lives of men, their challenges, their future. They love men, and don’t find it a burden or taking anything away from protecting THEIR OWN rights to fight for them. Most of all, Strong women are not those who sit terrified of clapping, a man greeting them, or even catcalling, and they do NOT have to put anyone else down to make themselves feel stronger, or appear better.
No, anon, I don’t fear strong women. I value them. The ones I despise are these pusillanimous hypocrites who demand respect but show nothing worth respecting, and give no respect to others. Most of today’s feminist mouthpieces are NOT strong women. In fact I don’t think they’ve progressed beyond childhood.
OK, so, clearly there’s a lot going on here. I’m with this guy for the first paragraph — his mother and grandmother do indeed sound like amazing women — but things go off the rails after that. Obviously, this Tumblr user is not a fan of feminism, which is his right — not everybody has to be a feminist or feel the same way about gender or politics (or anything, really). But I would argue that his characterization of feminists as whiny babies who hate men doesn’t match with what feminism actually is. Feminism, at its core, is simple (though it is complex in practice): It’s the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities — and the acknowledgement that equality doesn’t currently exist. It does not mean that women deserve special treatment, or that they hate men, or that men should suffer. And feminism doesn’t mean “put[ting] anyone else down to make themselves feel stronger.” It just means fighting for equality.
And catcalling? Not OK. Being yelled at and harassed isn’t the price anyone should have to pay simply for being in public — and refusing to put up with it doesn’t make someone weak.
With thousands upon thousands of views, clearly this Tumblr argument has struck a chord with readers. Many have commented in support of the post. One person wrote, “As a woman I agree with everything here. I hate social justice warriors”; another commented, “He worded this very well. Feminism is equality not females being superior” (via Bored Panda).
Others disagreed with the post. A number of people objected particularly to the idea that “strong women” should just put up with catcalling. “I agree wholeheartedly,” one person wrote. “But the catcalling… It can really stop. Please :( It’s not fun.” Another said, “Walking down the street, a dude called me a ‘f’ing slut’ b/c I wouldn’t humor him. Doesn’t matter if women are strong, we don’t need that.”
Others took exception to the Tumblr post’s use of strong women to attack feminism. One person wrote, “If you’re using the ‘strong women’ in your life to attack feminism, maybe you should ask said ‘strong women’ what they think about it first.”
“Strong woman” and “feminist” don’t have to be synonymous. There are a lot of ways to be feminist, and there are a lot of ways to be strong, and they don’t always have to coincide. That said, women fighting for gender equality — for themselves and for others, in big ways and small — seems pretty darn strong to me.