Tuesday, 27 October 2009

What's in a name?

My mother adores my sister, and dislikes me for the reason that every time she says something adoring about my sister I inadvertently make a snide comment, just to balance everything out a little. The rest of the time she thinks I'm OK. Mostly because I stay the fuck out of her way.

I hear through the grapevine - well, via both parents and various sources - that my sister has become vice-president of her university's Feminist Society. This was surprising, as I didn't even know she was a feminist. When my mother repeated this fact with the air of God announcing Christmas would be extended by a few days over the dinner table last night, I put the point to her that I didn't know my sister was a feminist.

"Of course she's a feminist," my mother said. This was, of course, a perfectly valid and totally flawless one-liner to avert any argument that may have resulted. What an intelligent and witty person my mother is.

I have a problem with the concept of feminism when it's applied to the word "feminism". I don't have a problem with the general concept, insofar as it should be taken to imply that women should have the same rights as men. I mean, that's what feminist writers tend to be hinting at (with a few exceptions, notably Rosemary Radford Ruether, who wrote a whole book called Sexism and God-Talk about how God is actually a woman and therefore all men are actually wrong in every way), and it's what modern feminists - in general, anyway, the ones I have studied - say. Even the Spice Girls said in a magazine once that Girl Power is "about being friends with the boys and having fun with them." Exactly, Girls.

The problem, in my view, is that the word has the Latin "femina" in it. There's no masculine aspect of the word and in a theory which promotes equalisation between the sexes, that's remarkably - well - sexist. And because the word is thrown about everywhere these days, it gets applied to things which aren't actually feminist. You get people thinking about butch lesbians who want to kill as many men as possible, like that woman in The Naked Gun 33
. I don't think that sort of person actually exists. You also get positive discrimination, which I absolutely hate - robbed me of a perfectly good job in the library when I was 16, and scars run deep. (Incidentally, my sister went on to work in said library, and she didn't do the job properly, but I'm not bitter about that... well, not very).

Feminism shouldn't be called feminism. You go too far one way, and you get oppression; you go too far the other way, and you get oppression by the other side - normally the once-oppressed. The olives call the grass green and we start all over again.

So, I'm not a feminist. I stand for gender-equality-theory. It's not as snappy a name, but it's much more accurate. In fact, if you just discard all these theories and see people as individual people, we wouldn't need to debate about it... because there would be true gender equality.

And you know what? There is! It's just not been put into practice yet...


ladypandorah said...

There's always been something I never liked about 'feminism' and through reading blog posts like yours and Blacksilk's (wherever she is being a busy lady these days!!) I come to see that the whole practice of the well-intentioned concept has soured.

As you also mention, there is no 'masculine' aspect to it which has always disillusioned me to the movement.

Fair enough that the initial promotion of equalisation of the genders was hinged on the highlighting of women's rights, pay etc..but now, in the time we live in, there's no need to get militant any more. Just fairness. Full stop.

Fab post. Yay ILB.

LadyP x
(who just refrained from putting 'Period' to the end of her mini-rant)

Anonymous said...

You know, you three (BS, LadyP and yourself, ILB) never cease to amaze me by what you write. I only hope to write with such a high intellectual quality

Anonymous said...

That's exactly the problem with it, yeah. Feminism is, even at its very, very best, just the wrong word for something that should be trying to achieve gender equality. I mean, jeez, the name isn't even equal.
I go for 'egalitarian' if forced to define myself on this kinda thing, though that's broader than the gender issue.

Sigh, you've given me yet another reminder to do more 'ranty' posts.

LadyP: I'm going to try and pay more attention to my blog, I swear! I really don't want to let my awesome readers down :)

LS: Wow, thanks, hun! I dunno though, I always enjoy reading your blog posts so I wouldn't worry about thinking you're not as good. That's poppycock :)