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why is it so wrong to call yourself an equalist instead of a feminist?

(122 Posts)
IWouldNotCouldNotWithAGoat Thu 25-Nov-10 18:45:09

I have heard it quite often here that people are quite scathing of those who choose to call themselves equalists or humanists rather than feminists. Can I ask why?

sethstarkaddersmum Thu 25-Nov-10 18:49:53

I don't think people object to humanism or 'equalism' whatever that is per se - the problem is when people think it is an objection to feminism.
You can be a humanist and a feminist easily enough and quite a lot of feminists are humanists.
Feminists are happy with the concept of men and women being equal because that is what they too are trying to achieve, so when someone says 'I'm not a feminist because I believe in men and women being equal' they are confused

HerBeatitude Thu 25-Nov-10 19:02:24

Goat - it's generally because people who say they are in favour of humanism or equlism, generally are the same people who deny that patriarchal oppression exists. Not just in an unobservant, haven't noticed it, not had their eyes opened to it way, which I don't blame anyone for, but have ad nauseum had it pointed out to them and refuse to acknowledge it, because they are in fact, not in favour of equality at all - they're ion favour of male privilege, usually while being blissfully unaware that they are.

msrisotto Thu 25-Nov-10 19:19:33

Personally, it's because feminism on the face of it is more directed at righting the inequality that is so heavily weighed against women. "Equalism" takes away the emphasis. not saying we shouldn't have it as well, but it should not replace feminism.

scottishmummy Thu 25-Nov-10 19:21:59

yuk,id never use that.sounds weirdy sci-fi enforcer

matildarosepink Thu 25-Nov-10 19:29:55

I think it's better not to bother labelling yourself, but to be (and advocate, not argue) the change you want to see. 'Tis far more powerful, in my view.

Unprune Thu 25-Nov-10 19:37:08

What MsRisotto said.
I used to say equalist before I a) had a child and b) found out why feminism was necessary. (ie I was a plum).

JessinAvalon Thu 25-Nov-10 19:42:40

I think there are two issues with that term - one, as others have said - that the focus needs to be on raising women's status.

And secondly, it's a ways of distancing oneself from the word "feminist" which has become a dirty word.

There was a thread a few days ago about the use of the word 'feminism'. I think that using the term 'equalist' does a disservice to feminism.

And, as someone else pointed out on that thread, it doesn't matter what the movement is called, it will always be denigrated.

notquitenormal Thu 25-Nov-10 20:07:50

I would say I am a humanist, secular humanism being an general outlook that appeals to me.

I am also a feminist, being the political movement I have an interest in.

Never heard of 'equalism' throws up a few rather unimpressive woolly websites.

hannah459 Thu 25-Nov-10 20:39:20

So hard to put forward a succinct point in these circumstances without writing War and Peace, but since I was a teenager, I've realised there is another angle to things.

It may well be 'a man's world', but how many said men head off each morning with a sinking heart, to a job they absolutely loathe, because society bestows on them the expectation to provide for their family?

Both sexes can be caught in a trap of expectation. Do 'labels' have to be applied to either situation?

HerBeatitude Thu 25-Nov-10 20:44:50

hannah the usefulness of applying labels, is that you can analyse what's going wrong, address it and change it.

If you can't even name it, because you don't recognise the systemic differences in the situations of various groups, you can't hope to solve it IMO.

Before Karl Marx analysed capitalism, it was simply called "normal life". Giving it a label, helped people see that there was an alternative. That's useful IMO.

sixpercenttruejedi Thu 25-Nov-10 21:08:26

grin at unprune outing herself as a plum
<nothing useful to add emoticon>

Ormirian Thu 25-Nov-10 21:11:48

hannah - I reckon feminism has a lot to offer men. But calling it feminism makes if a female-driven movement rather than being yet another thing that society (men) do that may by pure chance happen to have an impact on women.

msrisotto Thu 25-Nov-10 21:12:37

Also, if you give something a name you can create lobbying groups, attract funding and raise the profile of the cause, things you wouldn't be able to do without a specific cause.

People generally don't like the term feminist because they associate negative attributes to it that would happen to any name of the cause tbh.

AliceWorld Thu 25-Nov-10 21:54:32

Not really adding much but as the person who put it on feminist bingo I feel compelled to reply.

Firstly a humanist is totally different. Humanism is in opposition to religion so I don't see them as connected. People can happily be both but I don't see a particular relationship.

On equalist:

It is usually used by people who are feminists in that they express feminist beliefs, but then use the term equalist to say they are something different. Doing this takes away some of the meaning of feminist. It takes feminist principles, but labels them as something other, which then reduces the meaning of feminism to not include these things. So it works in favour of those trying to perpetuate myths about feminism by removing the bits that people do accept. It then others the feminist as something different to this, and therefore less palatable.

It denies the heritage of a movement that people fought and died for. Equalism doesn't have this.

It removes the dimension of inequality from inequality. Women are the ones suffering from inequality. They are the ones who need to have their position changed to become equal. Equalism hides this and suggests that inequality isn't sex driven.

It is also usually used to attack feminism, and to imply that feminist aren't interested in equality.

I get why people are attracted to it at first. But those are the reasons I object to its use.

HerBeatitude Thu 25-Nov-10 21:56:04

Actually I think Orm has hit on sth. Calling it feminism, brands it as something owned and driven by females. And that's why people hate it, IMO, not because like every movement it attracts extremists, but because it's the only movement in the world, that is owned by females and not males. That's the real reason people can't stand it. It upsets the natural order of things.

IWouldNotCouldNotWithAGoat Fri 26-Nov-10 09:22:16

To me it is acknowledging that feminism is only one part of it. That is to say that the system that oppresses women also oppresses many other groups and it's all inter-twined.

I don't know if I am expressing myself very well here.

AliceWorld Fri 26-Nov-10 09:33:24

You're right, and I support those movements too. And that intersectionlality has been influential on feminism. But I wouldn't ask gay rights to be sexuality rights, or black power to be all-race power. I could also say I am pro-equality or egalitarian as more of an umbrella. But I think movements need to be explicit within that.

IWouldNotCouldNotWithAGoat Fri 26-Nov-10 09:39:13

I thought it was really interesting that Outrage supported the heterosexual couple who wanted a civil union.

AliceWorld Fri 26-Nov-10 09:44:29

Yes, it links in with exposing the discrimination between marriage and civil unions. Like feminists supporting that men against porn website or the white ribbon campaign.

You've reminded me also of the 'human rights' umbrella.

Beachcomber Fri 26-Nov-10 10:13:03

I was having a look for the origins of the term feminism and came across this;

I don't have time to check this info out just now but found it interesting that the name has already been changed due to 'bad press'.

"At that time, women's liberationist was actually the preferred term, but that started to get a bad name, so it was abandoned for feminism. Now, that has a bad name. "

I can remember people talking about 'women's lib' from my youth but it doesn't seem to be a term that is used anymore.

Being for equal rights for all, is different to being a feminist, which is concerned with a particular brand of inequality.

I very much agree with the notion that other specific cause movements are not expected to be all encompassing 'freedom movements' - for me the same applies to feminism.

IWouldNotCouldNotWithAGoat Fri 26-Nov-10 10:30:20

I know what you're saying. I think I just see so many circumstances where eg racism and sexism are intertwined, or capitalism and sexism or homophobia and sexism.

Also I am confused by the question 'do men suffer under the patriarchy or not?' I have heard both sides argued by feminists.

IntergalacticHussy Fri 26-Nov-10 10:48:37

the name implies the individual does not believe feminists want equality. which we do.

this is the reason the left is weaker than the right; we insist on dividing ourselves up into these pointless little compartments 'oh, he's a socialist, well i don't know about that, I'm a slightly right-leaning communist, blah blah blah'

we're all on the same side and could easily defeat the bastard greedmongering elite that runs this world but we're too busy bickering with one another to realise. rather than coming up with yet another label, and reason to differentiate yourself from those you basically agree with, why don't you throw your energy into actually helping those people to achieve the aims we share?

AliceWorld Fri 26-Nov-10 11:08:46

ICouldnot - I don't think I've met a feminist that doesn't see that intertwining too. I've seen myths than feminists ignore that though.

Yes I would say men suffer too. Depends on the man to what extent they do. The men who want to do things seen as female are hindered by patriarchy for example. So men benefit from feminism. But they aren't my focus. I would also say white people benefit from less racism, but they would not be my focus either.

Ormirian Fri 26-Nov-10 11:12:37

" 'do men suffer under the patriarchy or not?'"

Yes IMO. Under the patriarchy anyone who doesn't want to fit the mould made for him/her suffers. Women suffer disproportionately of course.

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