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Why "Feminism" why not "Equality"?

(28 Posts)
RedMapleLeaf Thu 17-Dec-15 17:28:26

This is what two of my colleagues were asking me. I explained that different definitions of feminism exist, but that a good starting point is that feminism promotes equality of opportunity (social, financial etc) whatever your sex.
They agreed but said, "surely that's just common sense?" to which I replied that I agreed but unfortunately in the experience of many women it's not reality.
They said, "but why 'feminism' why not 'equality for both men and women'?" to which I explained that the emphasis on women is because for hundreds of years the balance has been in favour of men, and that it's the historical and overwhelming discrimination against women that needs addressing. Similar as how an emphasis is needed for gay rights or rights for black people but not heterosexuals or white people.
They didn't agree with this, because men are discriminated against too, e.g. with childcare rights. So my reply was, "fine, society can address more than one inequality at a time".

Finally they turned to how one had said to a female colleague earlier that day, "after you, ladies first, so what about that huh?". And I said, good point, that needs addressing and we'll get around to that as soon as we've sorted out the imbalance in rape statistics and FGM and education for girls...

One of them said, "well, there's not that much sexism around these days, it's all sorted" and I said, "well perhaps from your perspective, but then again you're a white, heterosexual, well-educated male so perhaps you need to defer to the judgement of other groups of society on some things?".

So, reading that, what do you think I could do better next time?

I must admit I was getting a bit exasperated by the end of the conversation.

AuntieStella Thu 17-Dec-15 17:33:26

"They agreed but said, "surely that's just common sense?" "

I don't see why you need to take issue with people agreeing that something sensible is, indeed, sensible. Quit whilst you're ahead?

RedMapleLeaf Thu 17-Dec-15 17:43:34

What, agree that there's no need for feminism you mean?

cailindana Thu 17-Dec-15 18:01:58

I just don't engage in this sort of conversation any more. It's too fucking depressing.

You did very very well though.

PlaysWellWithOthers Thu 17-Dec-15 18:22:34

I think you did really well, but being white, well educated, heterosexual men, they will never really understand.

Feminism has little to do with equality, who wants to be equal to the sex that perpetrates the most violence? It's about liberating women from patriarchy, the social system that places men firmly at the top.

iisme Thu 17-Dec-15 18:48:59

I find it's helpful to cite research. A couple of my favourites are the study in which they submitted hundreds of applications to academic jobs in the US, all identical except that half of the them had male names and half female. The male ones were significantly more likely to be offered the job, significantly more likely to be judged competent, and offered more money and more mentoring. Another one is the Harvard experiment where they read out a story about an ambitious and successful entrepreneur and asked people to choose adjectives to describe them. If they used a male name, people said stuff like 'powerful', 'successful', 'impressive', etc. If the name was female they used words like 'domineering', 'pushy', 'opinionated', etc. Obviously this only addresses some of the problems women face but it is a very clear demonstration of how far from equal the playing field really is.

0phelia Thu 17-Dec-15 19:03:20

Reminds me of this guy

Gender Pay Gap? It's Gone, Says Minister - huff.to/1NTtQjt

Apparently the gender pay gap has gone. Then the article shows it clearly hasn't gone but if you are selective with which statistics to present you can prove anything.

0phelia Thu 17-Dec-15 19:07:00

Why feminism and not "equality"?
There already is an equality movement called Marxism.

Feminist movements react to the fact that people with different biology have different needs. Equality doesn't work for everyone because everyone is different.

VestalVirgin Thu 17-Dec-15 19:38:03

Feminist movements react to the fact that people with different biology have different needs. Equality doesn't work for everyone because everyone is different.

Actually, one of the reasons why we need feminism is because women are thrown under the bus in all "equality" movements that aren't explicitly about women.

The biology would be another reason, but didn't really figure into it before, I don't know, the second wave, I'd say.

So, short answer: "Because men never had the common sense to fight for equality for women, too, when claiming to fight for "equality", so women had to found our own movement."

Nowadays, the time may be ripe to found a movement of uterus-havers, as most issues that aren't about women's biology directly or indirectly have been resolved.

PlaysWellWithOthers Thu 17-Dec-15 19:51:06

It's not about equality of things, but equality of outcomes.

We sure as hell don't have those.

grimbletart Thu 17-Dec-15 20:53:33

Equality doesn't work for everyone because everyone is different.

Unfortunately this is precisely the stance men/religion/misogynists use to bolster their views - the old "equal but different" argument i.e. to assign inferior roles to women. sad

It's why I shy away from it and prefer the level playing field stance of equal opportunities then I'll do the rest for myself. Yes, I know that's not likely to be popular on here, but I am an elderly second waver……grin

VestalVirgin Thu 17-Dec-15 21:02:01

It's why I shy away from it and prefer the level playing field stance of equal opportunities then I'll do the rest for myself. Yes, I know that's not likely to be popular on here, but I am an elderly second waver…

I think most people here are second wave, actually. The so-called third wave isn't really feminism.

Equal opportunities are nice enough, but I want to have a right to abortion. Men can have one, too, if they must, but I will not feel "equal" if nobody has a right to abort. (Because men don't get pregnant, so the outcome is NOT equal)

I also think there are problems with establishing a level playing field when women still are traditionally expected to clean up after men and children. That's how we end up with a society where women "cannot have it all" while men still expect to have a career and a family.

However, I do think we have come a long way, as women's two choices (marry or become a nun) have been expanded and "career woman" is now also an option.
In theory, the problem might solve itself as more and more women choose not to marry nowadays, because of the shitty deal it is.

But I would like a faster solution, and also to not leave behind the women who decided to marry and found out that it doesn't really work afterwards.

Castrovalva Thu 17-Dec-15 21:11:44

I think you did really well, I dread getting into,a debate about this, despite being very passionate about it.

I've use the 'equality is a stare of being , feminism is a movement that strives for equality ' argument, bit I don't think I sounded as convincing as I'd like.

tribpot Thu 17-Dec-15 21:18:20

I don't understand why gay rights campaigners aren't asked 'why isn't this called equality or equalism?'. Or anti-racist campaigners aren't asked the same. Are we the only group who has to defend why we are focusing on achieving equality for ourselves?

I would agree that men are discriminated against too. What are they doing about it?

RedMapleLeaf Thu 17-Dec-15 21:24:33

Thanks folks. I think I did quite well, but I did feel a little bit patronised and exasperated towards the end. It's like it was a little bit of tourism for them, but for me this is something I live.

For example, it turned out that we'd had the same taxi driver the previous day. The driver had started to talk to me about prostitution. (That conversation is another story in itself). Anyway, on hearing this my colleague laughed and said, "Ha! He hardly said a word to me". I replied, "I wonder why? Personally, I feel I should be able to go about my working life without a total stranger, alone with him in his car, bringing up the topic of the sex industry. You know, like your experience".

tribpot Thu 17-Dec-15 21:28:51

I think I would just ask them if they would tell a black person that racism didn't exist any more. Or would they assume that, even though many of us don't see overt examples of it every day, if the people being discriminated against say it still exists, it still exists?

VestalVirgin Thu 17-Dec-15 21:30:36

It's like it was a little bit of tourism for them, but for me this is something I live.

Good metaphor.

Yes, it is like they are tourists, look around themselves in the barren desert, complain that they cannot take a bath when the natives have barely enough water to drink, and then drive off again, complaining that the country should do more for the tourist industry instead of solely focusing on its citizens.

RedMapleLeaf Thu 17-Dec-15 22:01:39

I think I would just ask them if they would tell a black person that racism didn't exist any more.

One of them is black. I think I did say something about this, along the lines of how I am not in a position to tell somebody that homophobia no longer exists or racism etc.

cailindana Thu 17-Dec-15 22:32:14

By questioning on you about why feminism is needed they are already telling you that they don't think you know your own mind and that they are the authority on what being a woman is like, despite being men. That is the reason feminism is needed, in a nutshell.

BreakingDad77 Fri 18-Dec-15 10:48:34

I think I would just ask them if they would tell a black person that racism didn't exist any more.

Exactly, we have a Equality Act - has that solved racism and sexism?

I would agree that men are discriminated against too. What are they doing about it?

Moaning that women haven't sorted it out probably, rather than getting off their arses.

UkmmTheSecond Fri 18-Dec-15 12:04:45

Moaning that women haven't sorted it out probably, rather than getting off their arses.

Watched the Reggie Yates Men at War programme on Iplayer last night and this seemed to be a common theme, along with complaints of how rights women have now means they can't do some activities like fuck drunk women anymore.

I wondered what the men featured doing actually do to help the men they say are discriminated, all they seem to do is be angry at what women have and the cynic in me thinks that that is their issue, they make more arguments about why women shouldn't have x y z, than they do for campaigning for those things for themselves. It comes across as they want it all taken off women, then they can go back to how they were before feminism. They can fuck right off.

A man saying sexism doesn't exist is the very reason why feminism is needed. In my opinion.

sashh Sat 19-Dec-15 07:08:13

They didn't agree with this, because men are discriminated against too, e.g. with childcare rights.

Er when and how?

When people use the 'I prefer equality' ask them who they want to be equal to and point out that the male perspective is always women being treated the same as men where as feminism is about seeing female as equal.

Eg when the police forces merged so you no longer had separate male and female forces the women all had to become like the men, which would be OK if that was the better model, however the women's force had its own strengths and these were ignored eg if a child ran away in one city they would probably be found via the female force's intelligence/network.

The same with the fire service, when women first tried to join they were expected to be as strong as the men. The male thinking, you want to join the fire service you must be as much like the current serving firemen (which is what they were called) as possible. The feminist perspective looks at the strengths of women ie it might be useful to have someone on a team who can get into smaller places.

ShortcutButton Sat 19-Dec-15 07:29:51

Poke them in the eye and walk away

Its quicker and you'll feel better

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Sat 19-Dec-15 16:52:03

They didn't agree with this, because men are discriminated against too, e.g. with childcare rights.

This can actually be a great point (if people are actually interested in talking about the issue properly rather than scoring points) and I've used it a lot when talking to men.

Society does discriminate culturally against men when it comes to looking after children - it almost always defaults to the woman. This hurts women wrt career, etc etc but it does also hurt men in terms of building relationships with their children, arrangements if the relationship breaks down, men then being solely responsible for financing the family, often at the risk to their mental health.

But feminists want to change that, for the benefit of everyone^. That's why feminists fought for, and welcomed, things like shared parental leave.

Obviously there's lots of other ways that true equality will help men, but this has been a good standby example for me in the past. It sounds like you did really well though.

grimbletart Sat 19-Dec-15 18:48:42

UKmm: The whole male resentment/discrimination issue was summed up near the beginning of the Reggie Yates film by that clot who said: "Women are no longer trained to submit to a man, to serve a man."

That's what they resent - the loss of their obedient servants.

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