This topic is an attempt to more clearly understand what's going on on the Feminist Atheist part of the forum lately. 

 

I've seen myself as a feminist for quite some time, yet it seems that my definition differs from that of other self proclaimed feminists on the forum. I'm not arguing which group of people is "True" or "Better" because as of yet I do not understand the differences fully, which is annoying as it is a hot topic. 

 

One of the biggest problems seems to be that some people here, myself included seem to be convinced that feminism is about equalism (equality between the sexes). Others agree that this is partially true, yet they claim that equalism and feminism are not the same and that you cannot be both (or that's how I understood it, please correct me if I'm wrong).

 

I did a quick Google search and found the definitions below which all speak of equality when defining feminism. This does not necessarily mean that this equality necessarily  means or leads to equalism (or am I wrong here?).

 

Wikipedia:  Feminism refers to movements aimed at defining, establishing and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women

 

Dictionarythe doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.


Oxford Dictionary: Advocacy of the rights of women (based on the theory of equality of the sexes).

 

It seems that I'm not the only one that is confused, the wall at Feminist Atheists has sort of proven this lately. I hope that I (and others perhaps) can get some clarification and a better understanding of this subject.

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@ TNT666,

 

from the link you provided:

"As to why feminism requires a distinct agenda within the equalist movements?  The special and distinct problem of misogyny both oppressing and directly harming women, pure and simple. Unless misogyny is directly addressed and acted against, general equalist activism will not be enough."

 

So this seems to be about the difference in method necessary to achieve a certain goal, a practical consideration to maximize effectiveness so to say. 

 

The question to me would be whether or not feminism does have the purpose or goal to achieve gender equality? Or is this equality not necessarily a goal for feminists?

I would not call myself an "equalist" instead of "feminist", and I think Bruce calling himself "equalist" is not exactly accurate because he is so far exclusively arguing from men's point of view (not all men of course). Even so I agree that the common definition of "feminist" is related to men and women being treated as equals. I also agree with this quote from Feminism 101.

 

The only point of contention is whether you want actual equality of the sexes or if you want a matriarchal society. Wanting equality of the sexes doesn't mean that you think it has already happened or that you have to give equal consideration to things that are unequal (that's what I think the "equalist" here is doing). I say that a matriarchy is contradictory to freedom from gender roles/stereotyping and regards one gender as superior. Some have also felt that this approach focuses too much on gender binary and doesn't address those who are in between male and female. I don't believe a matriarchy would lead to utopia because human nature is still human nature. I would rather people are judged by the content of their character than what kind of genitals they have.

 

I don't think that addressing the ways in which sexism affects men (machismo, homophobia, double standards in reactions to sexual assault/domestic abuse, etc) is harmful to feminism, because even when sexism makes one gender dominant, it is harmful to both genders, and these issues are interconnected. It's true that some bring up these topics to derail the conversation, but some of these issues are simply not talked about much (esp abuse/sexual assault to males) and there isn't as much discussion or support for people who have gone through this. And I don't think that just because someone is male their life is so privileged and wonderful that they never have any problems worth discussing. Some other women here have also expressed that rape (for example) is not just a women's issue.

Sexism is wrong across the board, however since it has a more significant effect on the opportunities that are denied to women I tend to think the struggle that women face today to be more important then that of men. Simply said, there is more ground to be made for women then for men (in general).

 

I am highly critical of sexism, not in the least because sexism enforces gender stereotypes which I think are main contributors to the inequalities that are so widespread. Gays are apparently not man enough, studs vs sluts, bitch & butch, and other such remarks all stem from the idea that people should be, and behave in, a certain way.

 

I guess ideologically I would like to be an equalist, yet the current state of affairs forces me to acknowledge that efforts are best spent in the field of empowering women. The only known cure for poverty is the empowerment of women.

 

In the Netherlands we are ahead of many countries when it comes to the emancipation and equality of women, yet 1 in 5 women will be a victim of abuse (by a male) of some kind. Be it spousal abuse, rape, statutory rape, incest, forced prostitution etc. 1 in 5! What else kind of proof do I need to realize that I am privileged? 

 

However, my privileged status does not hinder me from speaking out against certain forms of sexism and other inequalities that I feel are wrong. It can be that I feel obliged to point out that sexism also has a negative effect on many males as well, even in a Feminist forum. It might not make me popular, yet my conviction that gender stereotypes are a root cause for sexism forces me to do so. 

 

If and when I will be a father one day, I'll hope to still be the big nerd that I am now so that I can stuff my kid's head full with questions so that they be more free to decide for themselves what they should be like and whether or not that is related to having a Y chromosome.

 

I guess I'm a feminist because of pragmatic considerations, maybe in a few generations it would be more practical to be an equalist, I don't think I'll see that day though. 

 

Thanks for your explanation, I think I better understand the Feminism 101 bit, and I think I agree with the basic tenets.

Would you consider a female feminist calling you a feminist/feminism supporter/ally instead of a feminist per se to be denigrating? I ask this because once you have the title of feminist, you have equal part in "creating" the very definition of feminism. Frankly, I do not agree that men should be a part of defining feminism. Most of my male friends are feminist allies and do not begrudge that nomenclature...

Would you consider a female feminist calling you a feminist/feminism supporter/ally instead of a feminist per se to be denigrating?

 

Not necessarily denigrating, no.

 

Frankly, I do not agree that men should be a part of defining feminism.

 

Why? It's my future as well as it is yours, why should my voice be disregarded because of my sex? I have a stake in the struggle for equality for women too, albeit it indirectly. I have many women around me whom I love and/or care deeply about, it's my world as well as theirs and yours, as such we all have something to gain from each others experiences.

In the same way I do not feel men should have any say in abortion whether for one women or all women.

Fatherhood is no argument to me, fathers through modern history have been selling off their girls to marriage and slavery. Nope, nor fatherhood, nor parenthood, makes it right. It's the woman's body, the woman's choice.

In the same way I do not feel men should have any say in abortion whether for one women or all women.

 

I'm pro-choice because I believe that it's not my decision to make as it is not my body. However, I also don't believe that other women have the right to decide for another woman whether she is allowed to have an abortion.

 

Being a woman has nothing to do with whether or not you get to decide whether abortion is ok, it's about whether or not it is your body or not. 

 

I don't really see how your analogy works. Do you perhaps mean to say that only victims of misogyny are allowed to define feminism?

In all debates of rights in the world, the group at the receiving end of the problem should be in total control of how it is defined and framed. Feminism is women fighting patriarchy. Men can support us, but I don't consider men feminists. If you were selling your daughter, you'd use the same language, "I'm her daddy, and I want what is (what I judge to be) best for her", that has no bearing.

@ TNT666,


Thanks for taking the time to explain, I believe I understand your position a bit better. You are basically saying that men, not having the experience of being direct victims of misogyny basically do not have sufficient understanding of the issue and the consequences to be of value in defining the goals and methods of the liberation of the oppressed women, right?

What she is basically saying is that men have never contributed to their families, and that they have enjoyed the abject servitude of women throughout history.

What she is basically saying is that men have never experienced oppression, and have enjoyed lives of luxury for the las 10,000 years.

Therefore, men have no right to define what "equality" is.

What she is basically saying is "You men folk sit quietly over there in the corner and nod your heaa in agreement with everything we say.  We promise, we'll let y'all know when we feel like we have equality."

And mothers have also sold their children off to marriage, slavery, or prostitution.  They still do.

Once a child is born, a father should be PRESUMED to have equal parental rights as the mother.  Unfortunately, under our current laws this is not the case.

The fact that one in 5 women end up a victim of abuse from males indicates that males also have work to do. There have been some "men's movements" that weren't about "taking back manhood", and were actually about being comfortable having emotions and expressing their "feminine" side. 

 

I also feel that gender stereotypes and roles are the root cause of sexism, or at least, rigid adherence to them (people should not feel ashamed if they do end up doing "stereotypical" male/female things if that's how they are/what they like). Undoing gender roles and stereotypes is to the benefit of both sexes at the same time and in that sense women's and men's liberation are intertwined.

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