Saturday, January 28, 2012

What I have against 'feminism'

I have always felt reluctant to label myself with the term 'feminist', and I had no idea why.

In the last few weeks, a few minor events, and my own thoughts, got me to an answer.

Feminism is not about attempting to promote one section of the population at the expense of the other. Nor is it about being 'militant', burning bras and having same-sex relationships just to 'make a point'. It can include some, all or none of those things, but they are symptoms of the cause, not the cause itself. Sadly, though, some people make assumptions the moment that they hear the f-word.

Feminism is about Civil Rights. Martin Luther King didn't campaign for 'blackism'. No such word exists. It is beyond insulting to define someone by part of their physical appearance. Yet, for some reason, not only do we believe it entirely appropriate to refer to this detail, but we define ourselves, and an entire Civil Rights movement by this. In addition, it is so acceptable to see 'feminism' as a fair target for criticism that there are newspapers dedicated to arguing against it. Can you even imagine a book called, 'The Black Racket' which wrote about racial equality being nothing more than some kind of 'con'? Yet an anti-feminism book along these lines does exist.

At the heart of 'feminism' is the very real truth that by default we refer to humans as 'he', and that women are seen as 'other'. In addition, we view women not only as other, but odd/different/inferior etc. So, when attempting to bring this to the attention of others, when pointing out that 'separate but equal' really isn't about equality, when refusing to fill in a form with Miss or Mrs, or not addressing an envelope to Mr and Mrs, we aren't trying to scream, 'look at me, I'm a woman, me, and I'm trying to be pushy and overbearing and subjugate men. I'm political correctness gone mad.' We're trying to live out our Civil Rights, to be seen as an equal part of the human race, to be accepted not just tolerated.

You don't need to see someone's skin color to engage with their ideas, or assess their working abilities, and you don't need to know my sex either. Unless you are my doctor or having sex with me, it really is none of your business. As such I will avoid giving people that information unless it is on a 'need to know' basis. It may well be staring you in the face, but online and on paper, I choose to remain neutral.

And instead of 'feminist', I claim to be a Civil Rights activist.

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