Feminism and Egalitarianism

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Feminism and Egalitarianism

Postby McKathlin » Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:23 pm

This Leftover Soup thread developed a side topic on feminism, which I'm spinning off here so that we can go into more depth without cluttering the thread that's supposed to be about the comic. To kick this off, here are the relevant quotes from the discussion we were having over there:

RyukaTana wrote:The idea that [a makeover for Gina] is somehow some terrible idea smacks of feminism, and I never use that word to describe something good.

Merle wrote:That is why you fail.

RyukaTana wrote:If failure means not fighting for equal rights by fighting for the rights of a single group, I'd absolutely rather be a failure. If feminism is about actual equal rights, then the word 'feminism' is absolutely worthless.

Bramble.Chappell wrote:"Feminism" refers to many different ideologies, (which is why I avoid using the term by itself) several of which, in my opinion, are at least as harmful to women as the things they're campaigning against, but let's remember that it at least began as a push toward legal and social equality, even if a lot of people today make it about promiscuity and eagerly perpetuating the dehumanization of women. You make a fair point about the word "feminism" being shifted to one side in spite of being at least theoretically about equality, but that's because most agree that women have been and continue to typically be the injured parties in a sexist culture. (Though, yes, of course such a culture is also harmful to men, if less directly.) You could argue, depending on what part of the world you're in, that that's no longer applicable, but, living where I live and having seen what I have, I have to say I strongly disagree.

Alex Starkiller wrote:Fuck, that's right. It's either describing radical "feminists" or it's just another synonym for "equality" and thus doesn't need to exist. I didn't think of that.

RyukaTana wrote:Yeah, there's a lot of people who really want to nag about the value of the concept of feminism versus egalitarianism (the proper term for people who support equal rights), but in the end, it really just has no value. I can be an egalitarian and support women's rights, but I also support men's rights and gay rights and everyone else's rights. Feminism, in relation to egalitarianism, really has no value as a term, unless you're describing people who only fight for women's rights (regardless of extent), and I wouldn't want to be, or support, such a person.

I realize it doesn't take a 'feminist' view to go with what the OP was discussing, but the 'No, stop, bad' nature of the post just smacks of this idea that the 'natural woman' is superior. Feminism often plays this game of decrying men for treating them like 'whores', but then insisting that women who enjoy being in the traditional feminine roles (including, and especially, the sexual side of it) are lesser individuals. The best part being, if you call these sorts of 'feminists' out on it, they speak so subtly that they will simply take refuge in audacity... How dare we imply that they are hypocrites!

The best part is that it's such a staple of our culture (men bad, women good, ironically), that I wouldn't insist or assume that the OP is doing so intentionally. When I say 'best', I, of course, mean 'worst-fucking-bullshit'...

yomikoma wrote:Do you disagree with the use of the terms "men's rights advocate" and "misandry" as well? Because, despite there being a few exceptions, the users of those terms are almost entirely misogynist assholes. Surely that's just as bad as the issues you have with "feminists".
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Re: Feminism and Egalitarianism

Postby McKathlin » Tue Nov 12, 2013 1:04 pm

RyukaTana wrote:Yeah, there's a lot of people who really want to nag about the value of the concept of feminism versus egalitarianism (the proper term for people who support equal rights), but in the end, it really just has no value. I can be an egalitarian and support women's rights, but I also support men's rights and gay rights and everyone else's rights. Feminism, in relation to egalitarianism, really has no value as a term, unless you're describing people who only fight for women's rights (regardless of extent), and I wouldn't want to be, or support, such a person.

Yes, feminism is a narrower subset of egalitarianism or social justice, but I don't think that makes it invalid. It is a good start to believe that all human beings are created equal and should be treated fairly, but it doesn't automatically translate to advocating all the best things and treating everyone as they wish to be treated. The cultural biases that stand in the way of equality are complex; much study and thought are required in order to overcome them well. Racism, sexism, ableism, etc. are all obstacles to equality, but they're different kinds of obstacles, and each person is more familiar with some than with others.

For instance, it so happens that I'm a white woman who grew up in a mostly-white community in the Midwest. Because of this, I know little about the obstacles to racial equality that are daily realities for people who don't look white. I do my best to treat everyone kindly regardless of race, but if I spoke up in an in-depth discussion on race I'd probably say something ignorant. So advocating for racial equality isn't what I do best. However, I do interact with men and women all the time. I've always been interested in gender issues. I promote the idea of treating men and women as the intellectual and spiritual equals they are, and I have something to say about it. Therefore, I consider myself a feminist.
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Re: Feminism and Egalitarianism

Postby RyukaTana » Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:14 pm

I realize that's the justification, and that you think that sounds so reasonable, it's pretty much impossible to argue against. In the end, I will never respect or think well of 'feminism', because it implies women's rights are more important. For that matter, do you not care about men's rights? You said you want to deal with 'gender' issues, but then declare yourself a supporter of a single side of the cause. The very concept of 'feminism' hurts the cause, and if you've dealt with it you'd have to be willfully ignorant not to realize that.

Without the backing of the cultural acceptance (and the vehement opposition of people who stand against it), we wouldn't have such a large support of the 'typical feminist'. So, given that the only justification for feminism must be grounded in realism (because if it were just idealism, there's zero reason not to be an egalitarian), then the reality of the situation is that feminism does more harm than good. At one point, it was probably useful, maybe even necessary, to fight for women's rights, but at this point all it does is create a divide. You use the word 'feminism' and those who support it are going to find a bad guy. Since the 'good guys' are women the 'bad guys' must be men.

Anyway, I didn't actually want to discuss this, which is why I never actually made this thread. I'm not interested in converting anyone, because ultimately, I don't think it matters. People want to suck, I have no reason not to come to that conclusion. They don't generally want it consciously, but they'll fight tooth and nail for their right and ability to suck far more than they'll ever fight for a better world.
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Re: Feminism and Egalitarianism

Postby yomikoma » Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:24 pm

If you don't want to discuss these issues, why not stop volunteering comments like "The idea that [a makeover for Gina] is somehow some terrible idea smacks of feminism, and I never use that word to describe something good." ?
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Re: Feminism and Egalitarianism

Postby RyukaTana » Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:33 pm

I said what I thought, that's what I do. Obviously it lead to Alex considering what I meant, unless he was being facetious. However, actually arguing the point with people who will justify what they already think no matter what I say isn't worth the time.
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Re: Feminism and Egalitarianism

Postby yomikoma » Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:41 pm

Let me take a step back.

Are you only upset with the term "feminism" as a term meaning "breaking down gender roles that oppress everyone but in the majority women" because you think "egalitarianism" is more accurate and you disagree with what some feminists have done? You seem a bit strident for someone with a terminology issue.
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Re: Feminism and Egalitarianism

Postby crayzz » Tue Nov 12, 2013 4:13 pm

I realize it doesn't take a 'feminist' view to go with what the OP was discussing, but the 'No, stop, bad' nature of the post just smacks of this idea that the 'natural woman' is superior


Seeing as this seems to be the idea that instigated the whole conversation, no, it really doesn't. There is no mention or implication of superiority anywhere.

The word "feminism" is used because of the history of the term. There are hundreds of years of ideas and thought that the term envelopes. The only thing changing names accomplishes is appeasing people too myopic to see more than a label and their own personal inferences thereof. There's also no committee or central organization through which to change the name, making the whole endeavour a pain in the ass.
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Re: Feminism and Egalitarianism

Postby RyukaTana » Tue Nov 12, 2013 4:52 pm

This is why I'm not going to discuss it. I'm sorry it's too hard for you to understand how terminology alone can drive mindsets. I'm sorry if it's too hard to change how people say and do things... Isn't that a pain in the ass? If you missed the irony, I'm sorry you're not very bright.

Note, those aren't all the issues with just this one aspect, also why I'm not going to discuss it. I am not interested in wasting the time.
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Re: Feminism and Egalitarianism

Postby MysticWav » Tue Nov 12, 2013 4:54 pm

Seeing as this seems to be the idea that instigated the whole conversation, no, it really doesn't. There is no mention or implication of superiority anywhere.

The word "feminism" is used because of the history of the term. There are hundreds of years of ideas and thought that the term envelopes. The only thing changing names accomplishes is appeasing people too myopic to see more than a label and their own personal inferences thereof. There's also no committee or central organization through which to change the name, making the whole endeavour a pain in the ass.


Wow, that's actually very interesting when it's framed like that. It brought to mind another set of arguments and policies frequently associated with people who take up the label of feminist.

Isn't it feminism that gave us the idea that default lables like "fireman", "mailman", etc. are inherantly damaging in the way they set expectations and pushed for the replacements like "fire person" and "mail person", and didn't opponents pretty much use almost identical phrasing to the quote above? Does feminism commit its own labeling sins?

I don't have a horse in this race and I happily make it a policy to call people whatever makes them happy and avoid calling them whatever makes them sad since it's no skin off my nose. I just found the inversion fascinating.
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Re: Feminism and Egalitarianism

Postby McKathlin » Tue Nov 12, 2013 5:00 pm

RyukaTana wrote:I realize that's the justification, and that you think that sounds so reasonable, it's pretty much impossible to argue against. In the end, I will never respect or think well of 'feminism', because it implies women's rights are more important. For that matter, do you not care about men's rights? You said you want to deal with 'gender' issues, but then declare yourself a supporter of a single side of the cause. The very concept of 'feminism' hurts the cause, and if you've dealt with it you'd have to be willfully ignorant not to realize that.


I understand the issue with the term "feminism" being derived from "feminine" and therefore being all about women rather than about gender equality in general. As a matter of fact, I do care about the rights of men. I'm just as quick to call out the biases that limit men as the ones that limit women. (They're often the very same things.) Perhaps feminism's feminine title is justified in another of its facets: its purpose of bringing more attention to female role models, points of view, etc. than what we've been accustomed to doing. The point (ideally) is not to silence male voices, but to make female voices heard.

Anyway, it's a shame that the term "feminism" is so divisive yet so frequently used. I suppose that ideological labels in general have a way of polarizing people in a way that obstructs working toward a common cause, so I'd best use them sparingly.
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