Archives for posts with tag: Equality

I’m sure anyone paying attention to the shrill squawks of horn-rimmed glasses wearing feminazis with unnaturally-coloured Pixie Bob haircuts has heard about the patriarchy, but what is the patriarchy? Why are they so shrill about it? Traditionally a patriarchy is simply a family or society where the eldest male is revered as the head of that group, but as it is understood today, patriarchy (with a more specific ‘the’ attached to it now) is a societal system within which men are in possession of the mechanisms of power (wealth, political and economic clout, access to healthcare, etc.), and women are largely excluded from the process. The feminazis wish to destroy this gendered distribution of power.

What is it specifically that the feminazis want to send to their SJW equivalent of a gas chamber? Is it the maleness of this discrepancy? I’m sure in some instances that is the case, but those people are what is commonly referred to as, ‘stupid.’ A matriarchy (the matriarchy?) would be an equally unjust distribution of power. Fighting against an idea while clamouring for its mirrored counterpart is, as previously mentioned, stupid.

Ultimately, it isn’t the gender of the puppeteers of the system at all, but unchecked, hierarchical power that is exploitative. The current masculine domination is only tangentially related to inequality, since its very nature of being masculine isn’t based on any essentialist differences between genders but on tradition alone. It is only called “the patriarchy” because that is best description of the current state of affairs. The issue is power.

This is another reason that feminism isn’t actually about equality. Equality in oppressive power is not a worthy goal. It’s why radical feminist Jessa Crispin dismisses the term ‘white feminism’ in favour of ‘power feminism.’ The legitimate critiques that exist against “white feminism” are describing nothing more than a group trying to grasp hierarchical power in an oppressive system rather than fight against it, seeking equality in an unequal system. Their whiteness is no more the issue than the maleness of beneficiaries of the patriarchy. ‘Power feminism’ suggests that any feminist, regardless of race, can maintain these views.

Unfortunately, the etymologically feminine background of morally righteous feminism as the solution to the etymologically masculine patriarchy places an unnecessary conflict between men and women with men in the villainous role, but hopefully I’ve argued cogently that gender is the expression of the problem rather than the problem itself. There is a power imbalance, and gender is only the form that that imbalance takes. Universal access to financial stability, political voice, healthcare, etc. would mean that there could be no power differentials at all.

Oh my gosh, you might gasp, are you saying that feminism necessarily requires an anarchistic lens? Um, yes. Yes I am.

Many people perceive the feminist quest as finding its ultimate success in complete equality between men and women, but this is quite easily disproved. Consider the following marital situations as a simple example:

  1. The husband and wife each have the exact same job, and earn the exact same pay. They both do an equal amount of dishes, an equal amount of vacuuming, an equal amount of yard work, etc. Each parent spends identical lengths of time with their children contributing in equal fashion in every aspect of their development. Each duty, household and career-oriented, are identical for each partner to promote total equality.
  2. The husband works as a police officer and the wife works as a nurse. The wife does the dishes, vacuums the carpets, and makes dinner while the husband mows the lawn, takes care of financial obligations, and maintains the family vehicle. The wife is responsible for prepping the children for school in the morning while the husband takes them to their extra-curricular activities. This could be considered the equal-but-different model.
  3. The wife works as the head of a large corporation while the husband stays at home. The husband does most of the childcare, while the wife provides financially for the family. The husband does most of the household chores as well because the wife frequently works long hours, though she does help out around the house on weekends when she has the time. This would be considered a reversal of traditional roles.

Which of these is considered the most feminist? The first is absurd. It’s like calculating the pennies when splitting up the cheque at a restaurant. No one ought to care that much. The second, though equality could be argued, is not feminist because it is representative of conformity to rigid gender roles. The last, though the relationship is unequal in its distribution of wealth dependency and household responsibilities, is the most feminist because it is clear that each partner in that relationship was not pressured to conform by outside social norms. Their roles are a definitive choice.

Feminism, therefore, is clearly not about equality but about the abolition of gender roles. If there were no roles forcing individuals into certain lifestyles, then presumably women and men would naturally navigate freely toward their own preferred choices. The distribution of pay and household responsibilities would become arbitrary since each family would have different motivations and goals.

Feminism is about each gender’s freedom to choose the life they want to live. Some might argue that it is equal opportunity that is necessary for this freedom to exist, but gender roles are the obstacle that must be overcome before equal opportunity can even exist. We must first believe that women and girls are capable of becoming doctors and lawyers or that men are capable of becoming nurses or homemakers before we give them the opportunity to do so.

The term ‘feminist’ gets bandied about a lot these days. It seems more and more people are thrilled to identify themselves as such. President Barack Obama recently declared himself a feminist, as did Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Presidential hopeful Hilary Clinton is banking on the success of feminism in America as she doesn’t really have any other progressive chops to stand on outside of her gender. There is a quaint meme circulating the social medias featuring the cultural icon Patrick Stewart with a quote I’m assuming is his saying, “People won’t listen to you or take you seriously unless you’re an old white man, and since I’m an old white man I’m going to use that to help the people who need it.” The image shows the second best Star Trek captain holding a sign defending the rights of women and girls. It’s a touching sentiment that highlights an uncomfortable truth about the nature of the dominant discourse, as well as a thoughtless meme that clutters up my newsfeed. Because what does it mean to defend women and girls? If you claim to be a feminist, and then turn around and punch out a woman, then the identity should in theory become invalid. Broad statements are pointless because they cannot be practically applied in real-life scenarios. Identity politics is inherently meaningless because it detaches itself from deeds.

So what does it mean to be a feminist? The dictionary definition is that it is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes, but again, that’s really broad and doesn’t exactly answer any specific questions about how feminism would apply in real-world situations. Let’s assume you, the reader, said yes when my title asked if you are a feminist. Maybe you can help me out.

Do you support a menstrual leave? It’s women being given extra time off to accommodate period cramps. It’s being practiced in multiple Asian countries and is being considered elsewhere as an employment solution to the unavoidable feelings, from discomfort to unimaginable pain, that menstruation can inflict on women. Should it be paid or unpaid? Is it reasonable to ask a business to support an employee who will produce less output in a deadline-based industry? Is it right to draw attention to a woman’s private affairs? Should greater flex time be available to everyone, allowing women to take menstrual leave without concern if they so choose, without bringing gender-specific problems into the discussion at all? How should the monthly female cycle be incorporated into the functionality of modern businesses?

What about the minimum wage? In the US, 62% of minimum wage earners are women. Similar numbers exist in Canada. Should the government enforce regulation on businesses to increase the wages of women as a means of decreasing the wage gap? How do we prevent economic flight in the face of an increased burden on businesses? Should it even be an economic discussion, or are different social forces at play that condition women into the lower paid service professions? Women make up a greater percentage of social assistance recipients, quite likely due to the aforementioned disparity in precarious employment. Do we ask the government to increase social spending? How does that get paid for when our country is already in debt? Does feminism necessarily require serious economic reform? What alternatives are there for improving the female condition if economic reform is out of the question?

What about motherhood? Should we wade back into the economic debate and suggest a government funded child care system, with all the costs and other problems that brings in? Should stay-at-home mothers be paid an income for their traditionally unpaid labour, or does that merely turn child-rearing into just another corporate enterprise? How long should businesses extend a maternity leave? How long should it be paid? How long should it be unpaid? At what point does it become unreasonable to hold a job for someone? A year? Ten years?

How do you feel about prostitution? Do women possess autonomy over their sexuality allowing them to enter fairly into the market to do business as equals among other professions, or is it inherently oppressive for a woman to be considered a product to be purchased as a sexual object?

Can a feminist be pro-life, or are they strictly pro-choice? If a fetus is considered alive, then it would be considered a separate human being from the woman inside whom it is developing. Would not a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body be akin to a woman shooting herself through the hand in order to kill another human being standing behind it? Do we need to degrade the value of a human life in order to be a feminist? If a fetus is not considered alive, at what point does it become a human life? When there’s a heart beat? Brain activity? After birth? What about babies born preterm? Are they not identical to fetuses still in utero at similar developmental stages? Do we need philosophical insight into the nature of life in order to appropriately label ourselves as a feminist?

What about the difference between being an ally and solidarity? Should male feminists take an auxiliary role in the progressive movement, or stand beside their female peers? Do distinct male voices distract from the conversation, or add to it? If male voices are socially louder, and men do not live the female experience, would that not mean a male voice cannot express the truth when it comes to women? But if a man shares his own experiences as to why he believes in the social, political, and economic equality of women, is that not just an addition of another truth? Should masculine issues be discussed in a feminist context, or as a separate issue? Women have fought for years to eliminate the suffix “-man” from their professions because it does not appropriately define them; do men need to adopt the prefix “fem-” in order to discuss their own social problems? Yet feminism is the precursor to gender studies and already addresses many of the masculine issues facing today’s men. Further though, do women discussing men’s issues face the same problem as men discussing women’s issues?

I hope I’ve avoided implementing my own biases into these questions to give the proper nuance of what exactly it means to discuss women’s issues, though I’m sure they seeped through. Some might say that it doesn’t matter the answer anyone gives to these questions, that only the broad acceptance of the term is necessary in order for feminism to be a success. It all comes down to the identity. Emma Watson said that if you stand for equality, you’re a feminist. Regardless of how the equality is implemented, it seems. Christianity has long claimed that morality is intrinsically linked to God, giving them a monopoly on the subject. Today though, one can be opposed to murder and not identify as a Christian, but you can’t support equality and not identify as a feminist? It seems the monopoly on morality has shifted from one ideology to another, and to be an acceptable human being the identity associated with that ideology must be adopted.

Except identity politics does nothing. The answers to these questions matter. Gleefully exclaiming, “I’m a feminist!” does not alter the well-being of prostitutes. The American Democratic party can claim to be feminists all they want, but if they do nothing to address the economic issues of women, the mantle becomes void. The domestic abuser can claim to be for equal rights all he wants, but no one in their right mind would say he’s fighting for the improvement of a woman’s status in the world. This is an extreme example, but it illustrates that there are wrong answers. Just as Christianity does not lay exclusive claim on the antipathy to murder, neither does feminism hold the rights to “equality,” whatever that means. Broad strokes do nothing save create a self-righteous identity, when the importance of equality lies in the specifics. Claiming an identity does not change the world for the better. It is the deeds that are important.