What is Feminism?

I’m running late so poke your heads in here.  Here’s the only tangent I would want to go off on, if I had time.  I think I reject a definition of feminism that says “men and women are equal” unless there are a ton of caveats, because I think masculinity, as currently performed, can be pretty fucked up.

I think aiming for men and women being equal sets the bar pretty damn low and requires nothing of men but for them to “wait for us to catch up.”

I want men and women to change.  I want a paradigm shift.

To me, feminism is the radical notion that women are human and that being human is not equivalent to suffering.

7 thoughts on “What is Feminism?

  1. I like that definition as well, and I agree, it needs to be more than for men to wait for women to catch up.

  2. Pingback: Thinking About… » What’s in a name?

  3. *winces* I peeked. The conversation took some turns that I’m none too comfy with, so I haven’t said anything there.

    But yes… I think the base equality argument isn’t enough. And every time people start the “I just want us to be equal!” thing (especially in the ways articulated in the thread), I want to point out that “equal” ≠ “the same,” and that a lot of the things that get brought up are artifacts of this conflation. (Opening doors? Not wearing skirts? Unisex bathrooms? Not reasons to be or not be a feminist.)

    I like your definition, though I think I’d expand more on the ‘being human is not equivalent to suffering’ bit. I don’t want to ‘catch up’ to where men are now because I think where men are now is shitty too. I want all of us to live in a better place, and that means rethinking the way we interact, the way our structures are built, the way our daily lives pan out. More specifically, I want more choices for everyone and more opportunities to move between choices.

    I want to be able to wear what I want to wear, whether that’s an ankle length skirt and a corset or a pair of ratty jeans and no bra. I want people to be able to choose/enact/live as whatever gender construction feels natural to them, and sleep with whoever they feel like sleeping with (age and consent concerns taken into account, of course), no matter what their arrangement of genitalia, gender presentation, chromosomes etc. I want equal pay for equal work, no matter what I look like, who I’m sleeping with, how I learn, or where I pray (or don’t pray). I want the opportunity for equal work. I want to be able to have a baby if and when I choose to, whether or not I’m partnered, whether or not that parner is male, and whether or not my sex life meets with general approval. I want to be able not to have a baby if I don’t want to, and to have access to all the tools and information that will make any of these options work. I want everyone else to be able to make these choices, no matter how much (or how little) money they have. I want choices, and I want them to be respected.

    And insofar as those concerns are impacted by gender, sex, sexuality, or other more-or-less traditionally feminist issues, I want my feminism to work toward them. I don’t want to erase any of those things, I want them not to be a problem.

  4. Magniloquence, I wish the thread on my post had included your comment. I think feminism is about a lot more than whether we get insulted when men open doors for us, etc.

    I like what you said, and I agree that I want ALL OF US, not just women, to get there together. Does that make one a feminist? Or a humanist?

    What confuses me is, what is it that so turns women off to the term, so that they don’t even want to claim it as their own?

  5. I’m with B.

    J, I think part of it is social price. There are social prices to be paid for identifying with that word, and once I realized that social price was the only reason I wasn’t identifying with it and that I was therefore caving in to just plain bullying, I cheerfully started claiming that I am feminist. As far as I can see, feminist and humanist are two terms for really the same thing — we all want better lives, so lets get on with having them.

  6. I don’t understand the notion that the definition of feminism is that men/women are equal. It’s part of it, right? I mean, just because it isn’t the end-game, it is still a somewhat attainable goal, I think. Baby/bathwater. Or not?

  7. See, but here’s the thing, Mack. As an outsider, I look at y’all and I see a lot of deep fucked-up-ness. I see a broad spectrum of interesting ideas and talents ridiculed and medicated out of y’all until you fit into a very few specific gender roles. I don’t think most men have it that great. And, no offense, because you know I love you, but I don’t want to be equal to you if being equal to you means that I have it equally bad.

    I’m all for working for legal notions of equality, sure.

    But the real change I want to see is a whole paradigm shift, where everyone is recognized as wholly human and deserving of respect and where their choices are respected and even celebrated and where real justice and healing can happen.

    I don’t think that feminism is a moral position, as I’ve said before. But if you’re dedicated to the idea that every person on the planet is a human being, which I am, then radical transformation can come from that, I think.

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