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Why do we need a name for "women's rights"

(27 Posts)
sivvaje Sat 09-May-15 13:31:12

Why are the labels "feminism" and "feminist" so necessary according to those who use those labels? And why do feminists attack celebs who, despite advocating for gender equality, refuse to label themself a "feminist"?

Minorities can be victims of oppression, but people who advocate for those rights don't call themselves "Minoritist" or "Asianist" or anything like that, can you see how silly that would sound? Or imagine if someone who advocates for the rights of gays calling themselves a "gayinist"? They just say they advocate for the rights of whatever, they don't have a need for any fancy label to stick on their foreheads.

(Yes they could call themselves egalitarian, but most don't see a need for any special label, they aren't obsessed with words like "feminists" are.)

Pagwatch Sat 09-May-15 13:33:52

I would quite like a name to define advocating rights for people with disabilities.

So I don't agree with you and I don't really understand why it bothers you.

FenellaFellorick Sat 09-May-15 13:35:23

It's good that there is.
There should be words for people's beliefs.

almondcakes Sat 09-May-15 13:48:40

I'm quite happy to use women's rights activist/supporter in the same way I use gay rights activist/supporter, disability rights activist/supporter and so on.

Would you prefer that OP?

I suspect people just use feminist rather than women's rights activist and supporter because feminist is shorter and easier to say.

TheBlackRider Sat 09-May-15 14:39:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JassyRadlett Sat 09-May-15 14:48:52

The trouble with 'anything rights' is that many who don't want true equality use it as an excuse to smother debate and further work once equality in legislation is sorted out.

It's a 'look, you've got equal rights under the law, what are you going on about when you have the same rights as everyone else?' thing. When the isdues with discrimination of all kinds is a fuckload more pernicious and ingrained.

Why does the word bother you, OP? Do you have problems with labels such as fascist and socialist? What other 'isms' bother you to this extent? Capitalism? Pluralism? Humanitarianism? Monotheism? Nihilism?

Pagwatch Sat 09-May-15 14:54:39

If we are getting rid of words can we get rid of sanpro instead?

JassyRadlett Sat 09-May-15 16:45:15

If we are getting rid of words can we get rid of sanpro instead?

I would wholeheartedly support that.

Pagwatch Sat 09-May-15 16:48:31

Thank you.

(Anti sanpro activist)

almondcakes Sat 09-May-15 16:56:11

Jassy, rights under the law actually requires the country to be constantly Implementing them to achieve certain outcomes - the government is required to reduce gender stereotyping for example.

Human rights are not just a matter of, well here is the law, don't break it. Signing up to human rights conventions requires the country to actually do things to ensure better rights for various groups.

I far prefer the term women's rights activist or supporter. It makes it clear we are talking about what is best for women, not some notion of gender equality.

JassyRadlett Sat 09-May-15 17:04:14

Almond, I don't disagree with you. I'm just pointing out how ive seen terms like that used as a get out by those who don't want change at all.

But then, I do want true equality. The patriarchy is utterly shut for women, but also isn't positive for a lot of men.

almondcakes Sat 09-May-15 17:17:14

Yes, I agree it isn't positive for a lot of men, but there are other forms of activism better suited to dealing with those issues.

BuffyNeverBreaks Sat 09-May-15 18:53:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JassyRadlett Sat 09-May-15 19:12:46

I'm not sure - I think a lot of the issues are intertwined or have shared solutions (eg gendered toys, shared parental leave, status of 'caring' roles).

JassyRadlett Sat 09-May-15 19:20:48

I can see where you're coming from - but for me, one of the things about feminism and fighting for equality is that it should make things better across the board. And it's involved me checking some of my assumptions - ie about making automatic choices about childcare/child rearing/parental leave and expecting to be deferred to as the primary parent, it surprised me how ingrained in me that attitude was.

almondcakes Sat 09-May-15 20:25:07

Primary carers usually aren't deferred to. It is a major gobal problem. It is completely contrary to women's rights to be fighting for primary carers to have even less power. That is why the government has a commitment to giving resources directly to primary carers.

Shared parental leave is just about giving extra options to families who have the societal seal of approval of having a man in them, with no consideration for anyone else. One of the policies put forward (and implemented in other countries) was to make parental leave transferable to people other than the parents.

Some parts of feminism will improve things for males, but a lot of it will make things worse for them, because as a group they benefit from women's exploitation.

Jackieharris Sat 09-May-15 20:38:18

We used to be called "women's libbers"


JassyRadlett Sat 09-May-15 20:49:28

Shared parental leave is just about giving extra options to families who have the societal seal of approval of having a man in them, with no consideration for anyone else. One of the policies put forward (and implemented in other countries) was to make parental leave transferable to people other than the parents.

Well, no, it's the societal seal of two parents living together, not just having a man. Imperfect, as you've pointed out, but it's a wee bit heteronormative to say that it's only available to couples where one of them is male.

I expressed myself poorly earlier I think. I don't think female caregivers to children have a lot of societal power (quite the contrary) and I think caregiving as a whole needs to have more power right across the board. But right now it's in a vortex of women having less power anyway and the work being seen as less valuable because it is perceived as women's work. Add to that the fact that until 4 years ago, the mother was the only person who could take protected leave to provide childcare during the first year of thei child's life, the common attitude that hiring women of a certain age is 'risky', that a woman is likely to go part time and unreliable after having a child because the children are her problem - and there are practical ways in which men having access to and being encouraged to take on 'female' roles can have benefits for women, despite it potentially requiring mental readjustments.

I want to work in a world where a potential employer sees hiring my husband as just as risky an exercise as hiring me. Where I'm not the automatic first phone call when my kid is ill because I have ovaries. Where I'm not told 'I don't know how you do it' by male colleagues with children the same ages as mine. Where my son will be an equal parent with any future partner he may have, assuming he has a partner and children. Because I think it's good for all of them. I focus on how to improve things for women because that's where the power imbalance is. That doesn't mean it's the only thing that interests me, or that equality isn't the end goal.

After shared leave has been around longer, I think it would be interesting to do studies on how many men who shared leave took up flexible working arrangements afterwards, relative to men who hadn't taken the leave.

Out of interest - in the countries where leave can be split beyond the parents, are there figures on the gender split of the non-parental caregivers who participate? Honestly interested in knowing more. I can see the attractions but worry that in Britain as it currently stands it would be 'granny's job' and men might be further dissuaded from equal parenting.

almondcakes Sat 09-May-15 21:18:57

Most women who help other women with childcare aren't in a romantic relationship with the mother.

I don't think you understand what heteronormative means. Lesbians living in a two parent household where they are the people who are given additional rights to the rest of society as parents and partners (usually based on them having to be married/in a civil partnership for both of them to have parental responsibility and be on the birth certificate rather than the father) is a heteronormative lesbian relationship.

Heteronormative and heterosexual do not mean the same thing. Lots of lesbian partners are not entitled to parental leave because they don't have parental responsibility in law.

And fathers don't have to live with the mother to get parental leave anyway.

Basically what you are saying is that single parents (usually mothers) should be viewed by society as the risky ones who will be taking parental leave so that other women in heteronormative situations will not be seen that way. And that people who help single mothers with free childcare (again usually women) should have to struggle with less flexible work commitments to do so.

JassyRadlett Sat 09-May-15 23:11:39

Apologies again for imprecise language, and thanks for the lesson. Although having done more reading now I'd say there's a strong argument that heteronormativity could be said to be applicable to same-sex relationships where the partners take on traditionally male and female gender roles in that relationship. A two-person relationship does not seem automatically heteronormative based on what I've read. Perhaps you can point me in the direction of other sources of information?

That said, your original statement was still utterly incorrect, and in the law, all couples who live together and with the child are able to share parental leave, regardless of status on the birth certificate.

Basically what you are saying is that single parents (usually mothers) should be viewed by society as the risky ones who will be taking parental leave so that other women in heteronormative situations will not be seen that way. And that people who help single mothers with free childcare (again usually women) should have to struggle with less flexible work commitments to do so.

I've said neither of those things - that's a ridiculous stretch based on what I've said. All women of childbearing age are discriminated against, regardless of marital status or current parental status, because they are seen as a risk. Men presenting the same potential risk to employers helps to redress the balance.

I'm in favour of flexibility for all in the workplace, but also want to be aware of unintended consequences if what seen like good ideas that could actually make things worse for women by further entrenching traditional gender roles. Which is why I politely asked if you had further information on the schemes you'd mentioned. I take it that's a no?

almondcakes Sun 10-May-15 02:09:58

What I said is not incorrect, and you can read that for yourself at either the Stonewall website under parental responsibility and in the lesbian parents' guide at the Rights for Women website (the name seems ironic given the comments on this thread).

The argument as to why gay marriage promotes heteronormativity has been stated many times by numerous lesbian feminists. Society (and your argument is a good example of this) wants to promote the heteronormative, heterosexual two parent family as a means to various social ends, gives two parent families extra rights, and uses the existence of gay marriage as a moral justification for why this is okay. I am not arguing against gay marriage, but I certainly resent it being used as a justification for why heteronormative families (mostly families with a man in them) are entitled to more from society than other families (mostly families with only women in them).

Your argument is that people with caring responsibilities will be treated less negatively if men are half the carers. To achieve this outcome, it would require almost all mothers to enter into a relationship with a man and then privately negotiate so that he does half the caring so that she, and women more generally, are not seen as a risk. So to get equality you require women to agree to heteronormativity.

We live in a society where most women choose whether or not they want to be pregnant. As pregnancy carries health risks and is, at the very least, a bit of a hassle, the vast majority of women get pregnant because they intend to spend some time being with their child and be in that child's life. Who else that woman is intending to relate to in the arrangement of the care of that child varies. So a family is almost always mother plus children, but does not neccesarily have any man involved at all. Your choices to change that are a. force women to get pregnant and hand over the baby to a man or b. force women into relationships they don't want. Women not having rights in this country led to a little forced pregnancy and a lot of forced relationships.

I don't know who does secondary care in countries like Sweden who give a range of secondary carers leave, but the global pattern is that it is women who do a lot of secondary care. To not give those women leave is to say that to achieve the aim of women being treated equally, you are going to treat those women negatively now by making them fit in care around inflexible working patterns, in the hope that this will lead to a positive situation for women in the future.

We are never going to get into a situation where men as a group do as much childcare as women as a group because many women do not want to get rights or equal treatment by privately negotiating their finances and childcare arrangements with a man in a long term heteronormative relationship, but they still want kids. Their negotiation is with society - in providing affordable, high quality child care, working rights for both people with caring responsibilities and for the secondary carers (often women) they have chosen to raise children with.

Nobody else in the UK except mothers is expected to gain their rights by entering into a sexual relationship with someone from a different political class, move in with them and then come to a private agreement about what the other person is or is not prepared to do.

All women are discriminated against, but mothers in heteronormative relationships have more rights and are less discriminated against outside the home than other mothers. The price of that is the risks they face within the home - a situation many women do not want to enter or are desperate to leave. The way to improve things for all mothers is to provide decent childcare, strengthen carers' rights and maternity rights in the workplace, and give rights (including workplace rights) to whoever it is who supports children and mothers, regardless of whether or not that person is the other parent.

And if we want a society where men do equal caring to women, and it isn't actually about men controlling women's reproductive labour or women in LTRs with the father wanting to feel morally superior to other mothers, there are plenty of old people men could be providing unpaid care for.

ItsRainingInBaltimore Sun 10-May-15 04:09:51

I have always found it odd that 'feminist' is a pro female thing, yet 'racist' is an anti race thing and disablist is an anti disability thing.

It doesn't make sense.

lougle Sun 10-May-15 04:14:08

Why is there a word for anything. It's a collective term given to anyone who believes that women are oppressed by the social constructs of our society and that they deserve better.

BelleCurve Sun 10-May-15 08:24:54

I agree almondcakes, see also the rights of children to be financially/emotionally provided for by men which is now entirely subject the negotiation skills of the woman either in or out of a relationship.

JassyRadlett Sun 10-May-15 09:12:11

Almondcakea, thanks, some interesting points which I'll think on. I certainly don't think shared leave is a be all and end all (and in fact I don't love when feminism is reduced to parental issues, but the fact that women own uteruses vsts us there so often) but I also don't think it's a retrograde step.

I'm not sure which part 'wasn't incorrect' - can you clarify.

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