Thursday, May 14, 2009

Are you a feminist?

There's an interesting discussion going on over at figleaf's blog about calling yourself a feminist.

My personal stance is that I don't give a damn whether you call yourself a dragon, what matters is whether you breathe fire.

Or, in other words, I've known people who called themselves "feminists" who were sexist lunatics, and people who never used the term who were thoughtful and respectful about gender issues. And frankly the word "feminist" is a little off-putting--"fem"? I'm not particularly pro-woman as opposed to men, I just want people to be decent to people!

And yet I call myself a feminist, mostly because there isn't a better word that doesn't carry its own weird baggage. My idea of feminism is really equality--that under the law and in the social sphere your gender shouldn't interfere with you living the way you want. That if you want to be a soldier or a Presidential candidate or a stay-at-home parent or you want to feel safe in your workplace or your home, no one needs to check in your undies first. (Or your partner's undies. Or, for that matter, your partners' undies.) Is that really "feminism"? It's what I believe and I guess it's close enough.


  1. I recently read somewhere that "if a feminist is aiming for equality, they're aiming too low."

    -shakes head slowly-

    why does it have to be about superiority?

    I suppose I'm a feminist, but I certainly don't identify as one. Too much stigma.

  2. I believe too strongly in using the word "retarded" in a derogatory manner to call myself a feminist. Ableist language like that is not allowed, at least not on the feminist blogs I read.

    a) Whatever.

    b) If you can't judge people by their abilities, what the hell else can you judge them by? No amount of tiptoeing around the subject will ever make severe cognitive disabilities just another way to be. I guess I shouldn't spend much time trying to justify my fondness for calling people retards. Again, whatever.

    Anyway, yes to everything you said.

  3. "Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition." Timothy Leary

  4. Because feminism has been hijacked by strident, entitled, women of means who treat poor and minority women very badly, when you get down to it. There is, still, a strong desire for payback over slights done to women including Susan B. Anthony. Who is dead. This, combined with a significant disrespect of men; and socialization of women that personalizes competition, makes feminism a very ugly word for a lot of us.

    Of course, according to folks like Twisty Faster, you're not angry enough, so you're not a feminist. Be grateful. Twisty concentrates all the bad parts of modern feminism and puts them out on her blog.

  5. I am a libertarian, which, in most way, I think, includes feminism. So I guess by extension I could call myself that. Maybe there should be an awesome new term though...equaliarian or something.

  6. Bardock, there is a word for that - egalitarianism. It's from the French "egal" or equal. It's a political doctrine in which all people are to be treated as equals and have the same political, economic, social, and civil rights.

  7. That is true, but I guess it also has some baggage attached to it. Like with most such words it applies to many very different ideas. With feminism you get the crazies like Twisty or actually quite sexist people calling themselves that, with libertarianism you get Objectivists or libertarian socialists (whichever you think are the crazies, i guess), and with egalitarians you get communists or whichever.

    Of course my suggestion was just a joke, inspired by me liking that the word reminded me of librarian, which I personally think is a funny word.

  8. HEY! Iwant a librarian. Particularly one who is stacked.

  9. Yes, yes, and yes. I'm also frustrated with "feminist" as a word, but I use it because it's the closest thing to describe my intense passion for breaking down barriers to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that are based on sex and gender.

    I care so much more about someone's beliefs and actions than the labels they choose. This goes for everything, including orientation, gender, and political leanings. Yay for flexibility.

  10. @OneFaller: "I recently read somewhere that 'if a feminist is aiming for equality, they're aiming too low.' ... why does it have to be about superiority?"

    Um. I believe the complete quote was "If a feminist is aiming for equality *with men,* they're aiming too low."

    Anyone who thinks it just doesn't get any better than being a man, and that all we've got to do is let everybody be like men and the job's done... doesn't have a lot of empathy.

    My take on the equality thing, maybe because I'm really old, is that "under Soviet system we all starve equally" is *equality.* But who in their right mind wants that?

    And if feminism was such a bad idea then life in Afghanistan must be a paradise for men, right?


    And not to change the subject or anything but WTF is this "stigma" business? Holly says she's a feminist, and it makes sense to me that she would. Are you saying you're ashamed to be associated with her? Susie Bright says she's a feminist. You ashamed to be associated with her? Or Jessica Valenti? Or Lisa KS at Punkass blog? Or Amanda Marcotte? Or is it Audacia Ray? Amber Rhea? Miss Calico? Germaine Greer? Me? Betty Dodson?

    Oh, I got it! Sarah Palin says she's a feminist. And she's pretty stigmatic. You mean her? Or maybe Camille Paglia? Ann Althouse? If that's what you meant I wouldn't blame you.

    Except it's *not* who you meant, right? You meant a small handful of kooks and extremists that front page for Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson... and pretty much nobody else.

    Well, if that was all there was to feminism I wouldn't want to have anything to do with it either. But damn, I think Holly's salt of the earth and worth ten Twisty Fasters, two Catharine Mackinnons, and the whole herd of assholes over at Fox News.

    And if she's a feminist (and I don't see why she wouldn't be) I don't see how her vote is worth any less, or here existence is any more stigmatizing, than any of them.


  11. Maybe the problem about the stigma of feminism, is less about the many good people associating with it, nor is it about the few kooks, it's just about the baggage the word carries around when perceived by others. The associations, or even just the vague and different understandings of the term.

  12. Hello, I've got a speaker at my college in Cambridge soon called Kat Banyard. I'm not very keen, here's how the event is advertised:

    In her new and ground breaking book, The Equality Illusion, Kat Banyard
    sets out the major issues for 21st-century feminism, from the growing
    power of the sex industry, and the myths and taboos which still surround
    rape and domestic violence, to the widening pay gap.

    Forty years after the Equal Pay Act, women are paid on average nearly
    25% less per hour than men, and 30,000 of us are sacked every year
    simply for being pregnant. Women make up only 12% of FTSE directors, and
    remain firmly in the minority in parliament and in the legal profession.

    Meanwhile, women's bodies are objectified like never before in
    magazines, online and in lap dancing clubs.

    At "What is feminism for?" Kat Banyard will discuss the timely and
    important resurgence of the feminist movement currently being
    spearheaded by young and politically active women in 21st-century Britain.
    this is her website.
    Sexy people of the internet. Should I attend and put some questions to this lady. If she isn't under a pile of opression that is.

    I find people who use sex work and rape in the same sentence hilarious. Can't let these women be trusted with what they do with their sexuality. No, no ,no