This wasn’t the post I was intending to write. Sometimes something just comes to mind and I have to go with it. I’ve been thinking about feminism and my take on it.
That feminism exists is bad. OK, I’ve probably ruffled a few feathers with that but I’m going to explain my position. I hope you’ll keep reading and see where I’m going with this.
Feminism exists because of gender inequality: that is its raison d’etre. As long as women have lower social status than men there will be a need for feminism. This social status is demonstrated by the lower average earnings of women and in the low proportion of women in top jobs.
The lower earner in a partnership such as marriage is usually dependent on the higher earner to a varying degree. This is an unequal partnership, and gives more power to the higher earner. And in the majority of cases the lower earner is a woman. Dependency is bad because it leaves the dependent vulnerable to being coerced.
The existence of feminism is a symptom of inequality. If there were true equality, if a person’s opportunities in life were the same regardless of the gender they present to the world at large — yes, I recognize that not everybody is cisgendered which is why this isn’t purely about what happens to be between a person’s legs — then what would that world look like?
It’s an interesting question, not least because there are physiological differences between the human sexes. One obvious difference is that men are, on average, taller and stronger than women. But that alone does not account for the levels of inequality.
Most inequality stems from a bias in society that favors men over women. As an example, studies have demonstrated that, other factors being equal, male candidates have a greater chance of being selected for most jobs, even when those performing the selection are women.
This is obviously something that runs deep, so how can it be changed? I believe the only way is to demonstrate equality in practice so that a generation grows up seeing it as the norm. But getting there will be a slow process. Some headway has been made: there are some women in government and in high-powered jobs. But they are still a minority even though the ratio of the sexes is close to parity in the general population.
We are ensnared by established stereotypes of gender roles: these stereotypes must be dismantled, discredited, discarded. The fact is that we still have a long way to go before we reach the point of equilibrium, of equality. And until that day feminism remains as necessary as ever. I believe strongly in equality, and that is why I choose to be a feminist. I hope I see a day when it is no longer needed.
15 thoughts on “Choosing Feminism”
This deserves a longer answer but the Halloween frenzy is about to kick of here I fear..
Feminism is necessary as long as there is still SO much happening to woman worldwide just because they are women. This transfers to any group of people, minorities or not and that’s why the ‘movements’ and the advocacy has to grow strong. Because sadly, inequality at work is really just the top of the iceberg, and resistance to these movements is just so strong, too…
I focused on work and economic inequality because it is a straightforward example, but as you rightly point out it is only a small part of the whole problem and ongoing effort is required to advocate for change.
Enjoy your Halloween!
Well put, thanks for adding your voice to that 🙂
I think some of the problems feminism faces today (in the western word, that is) are 1) people believe there already IS equality, because hey, women are allowed to work and vote, right? Which is very naive.
And 2) many people seem to have this idea that feminists are anti-men and anti-mothering. Not many people see feminism as fighting for real equality, something that benefits everyone (because, as has been pointed out by you before, everyone suffers from sexism and gender stereotypes).
So, although many peokple theoretically acknowledge there needs to be inequality, they are still hesitant to be feminist. That’s why it’s so great you put this out there 🙂
Yeah, that thing about there already being equality… I hear that a lot, and I never know how toy respond to that. Same with any mention of privilege.
There are so many stereotypes that reinforce inequality: women are worse drivers, a woman’s place is in the home, women can’t do X, Y, Z (such as fixing shelves, which I know you have done very well) and they are still socially accepted. As long as these attitudes remain, equality will still be lacking. And privilege is a result of inequality.
Thank you Petra. You are absolutely right about the problems facing feminism. I would also add that there are men who fear strong, independent women: I believe they enjoy a feeling of superiority and anything that upsets that causes insecurity. But that illusion of superiority is something that was learned: it stems from the oppressed passivity of the women they encountered as they were growing up. Good role models are needed to counter this and provide a positive example.
People definitely try to feel superior by bringing others down, in all sorts, not just sexism. I always feel uncomfortable saying or even thinking that, because it seems to suggest people do it deliberately, when they don’t. People subconsciously tell themselves things or behave in such a way to protect their ego. And that’s why feminism is perceived as such a threat.
We still have a long way to go. Role models, as you say, are very important. But currently a lot of media aren’t interested in providing role models, just in reinforcing what’s already there.
By far the largest part of the media is so risk-averse that they shy away from anything that hints of controversy, which is why they stick with the same tired old stereotypes year after year.
Sad, isn’t it? Portraying a balanced image, where real equality is normal, is considered controversial. It’s ‘giving in to lefty political correctness’.
Urgh. One of my pet peeves of the moment.
Absolutely. For “balance” in the media read “preserving the status quo”. Mustn’t upset the shareholders. Yes, I’m cynical about the media, but it doesn’t mean I’m wrong…
I’ve been considering a tattoo with Wonko the Sane 🙂
Very insightful post! Until all of society embraces the worth and value of every individual, male or female, white or black, straight or gay, abled or differently-abled, I fear that it will (unfortunately) be a long time until all can be treated with equality. I don’t like feeling pessimistic about this, but through my work I’ve experienced so many people that are simply not able to accept all people equally. In the long run, as you say, the next generation – those who are children now – are the best hope for an accepting and inclusive world, a world where feminism is not necessary, because sexism is no longer woven through the fabric of society.
Thank you. As I said in my reply to Petra above there is a pressing need for good, positive role models. Not as the exception, which is how they can often be portrayed in the media today, but as the norm.
There you are! I wondered where you went. I could not find your blog on Blogger anymore and I got nervous. Glad I figured it out. I knew that is what you were going to say about Feminism as soon as I read what you wrote about it being bad. I knew you wouldn’t be against anything like this but were unhappy that there is such inequality to begin with. It’s true and it is true for minority groups as well. I think such views of women date back so very, very long ago and have stretched on through the ages. So many things planted in the subconscious from the collective bias which could easily include religious viewpoints as well, that helped shape society’s idea that women are unequal to men. There are many layers to this.
Hi Bird. So good to see you found my new blogging home: missed you. You know me that well! Yes, it’s a complex issue that goes back many generations. Some things have improved. But there’s a lot of ground to make up.