Wednesday, August 5, 2015

On Lewis' Law

For the uninitiated, Lewis' Law was first coined on Twitter by prominent feminist Helen Lewis in 2012. It says, in a broad sense, that comments on any article about feminism justify feminism. Many antifeminists have labeled this assertion a fallacious one, meant to construct a reality in which feminism is beyond criticism. In their minds, leaving reasonable critiques of feminism in the comments of an article about feminism automatically makes them invalid. At least, that's the truth according to Lewis' Law.

That seems like a valid point at first blush. But after a little digging, we find that their ideas about Lewis' Law are deeply flawed. Here's why.

Helen Lewis in no way implied that all comments on feminist articles justified the movement, or even that most of them did. Merely that some comments would apply to her assertion. Reasonable counterarguments do not fall under this umbrella.

 Some examples of the sort of comments she is talking about are things like, 'get back in the kitchen', or 'That's just the way things are.' Simply put, these sorts of statements are indicative of the kinds of societal attitudes that feminism is attempting to address. According to the Law, articles about feminism will invariably contain examples of the attitudes that feminism exists, in the first place, to challenge. These comments justify feminism in that the object being justified is the further exercise of feminism.

Essentially, Lewis' law calls attention to the fact that sexist attitudes towards women still exist, and they rear their ugly head whenever feminists attempt to discuss their ideas. As long as these attitudes exist in any form, feminism will be justified.

Just something to think about.

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