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March 28, 2006

What is Feminism?

Ilkya rounds up a series of posts and links with some of the conclusions she's come to while asking "What is Feminism?". If her site is new to you, take some time and read the runup posts and links she provides. It demonstrates that "Feminism" is really not a narrow set of beliefs.

However, there is a lot left hanging at this point. (which is why I love the title of her post "Past Imperfect") One of the things she has had to confront is (and done in wonderful Laugh Out Loud fashion) is the strawfeminist; that series of counter-arguments, most not offered in good faith, that boil down to the phrase Why do you hate men?. Ilyka tilts at these windmills quite effectively.

My followup questions for her, or anyone, deal with both the "strawAntifeminist" and identification of the different "wings" of Feminism. For each time I get roundly flamed as a "manhater" from some MRA who goes through the whole Family Court is a Feminist Driven Conspiracy to Destroy Families and Hurt Fathers schtick, I also get flamed as a "womanhater" by feminists who don't like my asking pointed questions about 3rd trimester abortions.

I understand, too, that labeling different wings of feminist theory as either "gender" or "equity" feminism ALSO gets people hot and bothered.

But how do we... woman who actually do believe in our worth as human beings and our right to the same freedoms and opportunity as our brothers to choose what path we wish and to travel it as far as our talent will take us, differentiate among the pointedly different strains of Feminism? Equity/gender? First, Second, Third wave? Leftwing Feminism? Rightwing Feminism? Anarcho-Feminism?

Or is Feminism not really a separate political theory, but is just a chapter or two within each book assigned to different general political philosophy?

How will we identify ourselves so we don't have to spend so much time re-inventing the wheel each time we encounter a new debate in a new venue?

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Posted by Darleen at March 28, 2006 06:24 AM


Wonder what Maureen Dowd would have to say about it.

I read her latest: Are Men Necessary?

Some people think men will go obsolete in another few thousand years given the advances in the science of reproduction.

Gives a whole new spin on the idea of virgin birth, a theological doctrine they used to throw at us when I was a lad in a RC school....

Posted by: Carl W. Goss at March 28, 2006 08:00 AM

Thanks for the link to Ilkya's post, I found it amazing - as is yours. We can't be feminists without bravely and respectfully discussing our own differences. Feminists can fight for and against abortion, they can advocate for school prayer, they can hold picket signs demanding separation of church and state.

Here's where we can work together: Eliminating gender biases that keep girls from full participation in athletics and from academic success. Supporting young people in making good decisions about their bodies and having sex. Moving toward family-friendly work place policies that support mothers and fathers in combining families and the careers needed to support them.

There are no "right" or "wrong" feminists, there are only degrees of activism and variations in the values with which we were raised. In order to work together for a common good, we have to honor those differences, instead of picking and choosing to set up rules that justify our definition of the word.

There's only one definition of feminism. That's all there's ever been.

Posted by: Jo at April 3, 2006 10:16 PM