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06 February 2002 @ 08:42 pm
Some of the stuff going on in a couple of people's journals today made me think a bit about feminism. And the thing that actually prompted me to write it down for a change was seeing someone else use the phrase that I often feel it necessary to use when I get involved in a 'discussion' with feminists: "Maybe that makes me a poor feminist but ..."

So seeing it from someone else I stopped and thought "Hang on a minute". Maybe it doesn't make me a poor feminist?

I believe that whether you are male or female you are still a person. And people are complicated. Not a simplistic stereotype, but a complex bundle of often conflicting attitudes, experiences and thoughts. There are generalisations that can be made, of course. But most pertain to biological differences - women in general are capable of bearing children, men in general are not. Many of the differences flow from that simple fact, and from what our evolutionarily stable reproductive strategy is (I can't remember the proper terms, I think we're k strategists ie few offspring with a lot of care devoted to them as opposed to R strategists who have many many offspring and then leave them alone to live or die).

So there are fundamental differences between men and women, but it doesn't make either gender better, or either gender worse. Society has a lot of catching up to do to implement that concept, until recently (historically speaking) it was an accepted 'fact' in Western society that women were less intellectually capable than men for instance. We've come a long way from that, but there's a long way to go before we can really say that everyone is treated on merit rather than stereotyped.

However this change in attitude is hindered not helped by the knee-jerk 'feminist' reaction of victimhood and/or superiority. I mean the sort of reaction that says "All men are potential rapists, no woman is safe with any of them". The sort of reaction that says "If you find this funny then you are a misogynist who has deep seated insecurities to do with women". The sort of reaction that says "All men are messy, and won't clear up after themselves". Yes, I'm generalising myself. But each one is a paraphrase of something I have heard someone say over the last several years.

Feminism to me isn't about how women are better than men, or about how men are worse than women (which is subtly different). It was(is?) about women being able to choose what they do with their lives to the same extent that men do. So you shouldn't be forced out of a job because you want to have a family, whether you are male or female. So you shouldn't be forced to give up work when you marry, whether you are male or female. So you should be allowed to vote once you reach the appropriate age, whether you are male or female. So you shouldn't be forced to shave anything, whether you are male or female. Choice is the important thing. That things aren't closed off to you for an arbitary reason.

So maybe I'm not a poor feminist? Maybe I just don't think anyone is superior just because of a biological accident. It always cuts both ways, whatever your pet prejudice.
Current Mood: pensivepensive
Current Music: Radio 1
contents under pressure / handle with care: Anzhagraphxgrrl on February 6th, 2002 01:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you for saying all the things that I often have trouble articulating. As to the comment of mine that you quoted, I suppose I rather ought to have put feminist in quotes. It often infuriates me that because I'm not militantly fighting or getting upset about "feminist" issues I've had friends who are activists imply that I was somehow less concerned about "women's issues".

We're all people, some of us good, some of us not. But anyone flinging labels and similar because society hasn't yet caught up to where it ought to be is unescessarily inflamatory. To that end, by trotting out such lines of reasoning, such people are ensuring the future continuation of that mentality of victimhood and inequality.

We're people who should choose to do and not do the things that are best in our lives and let everyone else around us be free to make their own choices.
8bit plastic love machine: strangegravilim on February 6th, 2002 01:41 pm (UTC)

Thank you.

I stopped calling myself a "feminist" a long time ago, because for too long the only ones I knew were the seemingly humorless, kneejerk reactionary kind - I want equality. I'm not trying to proclaim superiority just because I'm female. I just want everyone to have the same chance, be it female, male, inbetween, black, white, red, or purple. That doesn't seem like too much to ask...it just seems like the logical thing to ask.

If we go by the actual dictionary definition(s) of "feminism":

Belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes and the movement organized around this belief.

Then I'd say you're a good feminist.
peagles on February 6th, 2002 01:45 pm (UTC)

Well said.
Dai Aku: auronstipe on February 6th, 2002 01:50 pm (UTC)
On the occasions that I start tossing around terms, I like to refer to myself as an "equalist" in my beliefs, rather than a feminist. I believe wholeheartedly in what you said, that everyone should be treated equally, regardless of sex (or race, or whatever).

I think the single biggest obstacle to the women's rights movement is the "extreme feminsts" who brandish accusations of "misogyny" wildly about and place men who tell sexist jokes at the same level as rapists and slave owners. They alienate men using the same thing they claim to be fighting against - stereotypes. Whether intentional or not, they give the distinct impression that they're not fighting for equality, but female superiority, and that's not a cause I can support.

There are women (and men) in the world doing great things for the cause of equality. Unfortunately, the more vocal portion of the feminist population seem to be busy arguing about sexist jokes, or insisting that the use of the word "Amen" in the bible is a symbol of male oppression.
Ceci n'est pas une viemarble on February 6th, 2002 03:01 pm (UTC)
I expressed the same view to someone once, and apparently I'm a 'post-feminist'.
I like to think of it as feminism+clue :) (Fortunately I was talking to a post-feminist at the time)
Ruheruhe on February 6th, 2002 10:30 pm (UTC)
"Belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes and the movement organized around this belief. "

This is what I consider myself to be when I say I'm a feminist. I don't mean anything more than that, nor do I mean less. While I'm quite comfortable with saying that men can be "feminists" too - I recognize that feminism has often been considered a one-way street. Robert(who would love to be a house husband and let me earn the money) recently told me that he was going to start calling himself a masculinist. I told him to go for it :)
Ytaya: purple headytaya on February 7th, 2002 12:36 am (UTC)
Perhaps it's not so much a case of good vs. bad feminist as rational vs. extreme feminist.

One of my own pet peeves on the subject are women who attack any positive discrimination as sexism - having a door held being the most common day-to-day example. Hell, I don't care who's behind me, I'll hold the door if I can. It's a courtesy, not a concession.

Men and women have different strengths and weaknesses. Acknowledging the former and allowing for the latter shouldn't be seen as a bad thing either, methinks.
peagles on February 7th, 2002 04:24 am (UTC)
Well put. I totally agree with your pet peeve. I was in London yesterday and held open a shopping centre door for a couple of women walking behind me and was less than impressed when I heard one of them say quietly to the other "I hope he isn't expecting any thanks for that!"

You are totally right that it is a courtesy and I see a simple "thank you" as the same thing.
Ytaya: purple headytaya on February 7th, 2002 04:48 am (UTC)
Smile sweetly and send a very audible, cheerful, 'You're welcome!' after them. Might not make a blind bit of difference to them, but it always makes me feel better :)
peagles on February 7th, 2002 05:48 am (UTC)
Normally I would have because it's not uncommon to be ignored after holding a door open but I was taken aback with the comment that I heard.