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Feminism vs Humanism
A few years ago, a college friend and I were discussing feminism. For one of our projects, she had chosen feminism as her subject matter and had been approaching people with a related questionnaire. Upon my completion of her questions (on the subject of women's rights and their place within society) I was triumphantly told that I was a feminist. I countered that no, I was actually a humanist; I care about the rights and expectations of both genders.
Having high expectations for the rights of women does not make me a feminist. If I have peas and carrots with my rump steak, does that mean that I'm a vegetarian? No. No, it doesn't. I am no more a feminist than I am a masculinist. Humanism covers both, thankyaverymuch.
Stating loudly and clearly that I despise feminism, it should be noted (very strongly) that my views are not antithetical to feminism. My morality, my ethos and (more importantly) my humanism insists and demands that all of the ideals of feminism are sought after. Except, they should be sought after in unanimity with the rights of every other human… including men. Excluding men from your equation and (in some cases) contravening the rights of men is a step too far from the equality that I hold to be humanistically intrinsic to a just and fair society.
Feminism is a meme that steadfastly holds true (the type of true that is wrong). Men daren't challenge it in case they are labelled as misogynists. Women daren't challenge it in case they are labelled as the misguided puppets of misogynists. Some memes are determined not to die… they attract limpets, hugging them, enforcing them, justifying them and rationalising them.
This blog post, for all of the many (half a dozen = many, yeah?) people who will read it, is a small attempt at offering a better ship for the limpets to hold on to. Wave goodbye to SS Feminism and join us on SS Humanism; the passenger list is greater, it doesn't lean too far to port or starboard… and it sails in warmer climes of equality. Possibly on the Equal Sea.
Don't knock the puns.
Recently, I was on a (first) date with a woman who was telling me about previous encounters that she had had. One of which was an ardent anti-feminist who believed that women should be stay-at-home slaves to their male masters. I mocked his bizarre views along with her, before adding that I, too, was an ardent anti-feminist; but for very different reasons. When those reasons were explained, the potential death of the date was avoided, but it came up again in a follow-up conversation.
After sharing this article with her, I was given a number of reasons why the feminist drum should still be loudly beaten. Every single reason is, however, encompassed within humanism. I had a similar response from another female liberal – and (bizarrely) a humanist, at that. The arguments regarding the rights and abilities of women is one that I whole-heartedly agree with… but, to repeat my earlier position, it is an argument that is better done within the wider scope of humanism.
Here's a wee analogy which might help explain my point.
The Royal Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (RSPCA) looks after the welfare of animals. Now, imagine if there was an RSPCFA which just looked after female animals. If you were to make a contribution to an animal-based charity, would you prefer one that looked after all animals, or one that checked between the animal's legs before deciding whether or not they would help it?
Arguing that women have fewer rights than men and that, for that reason, feminism is needed until equality is reached (and humanism can replace it) is a nonsense argument. Some animals are treated much worse than others, but an organisation fighting for all animals is a much stronger and well-equipped beast than one that picks and chooses which animals it will help.
Despite acknowledging all of the above, a consistent reason for staying onboard SS Feminism is that a prolonged adherence to one meme cannot lightly be given-up without the person feeling a little foolish about being onboard the wrong ship. Ego is a strong motivational force and, when accepting that the fight for male rights shouldn't be ignored, searching for a more far-reaching self-label is easier-done if SS Feminism isn't totally abandoned for SS Humanism. And that's a shame, because SS Feminism has long-been sinking.
Humanism has had multiple meanings over the years, but in modernity it includes the fight for the equal consideration of all humans, regardless of their race, gender, sexuality or ethnicity. Any quality that is bestowed at conception/birth is not a quality that should be used to weaken the position of some humans regarding other humans. This includes gender, and the fight for everything that every feminist holds close, is done in the name of humanism. Apart from the whole disregard of men. That's the preserve of some feminists, and it is a preserve that tars-and-feathers everyone who claims the feminist mantra, when non gender-biased belief-systems are in place… which fight the same fight. Without the gender bias.
When my previously-mentioned date told me that she had male friends who were feminists, I revisited a previous search that I had done regarding men who embraced the feminism meme. Sadly, this included a comedian I'm very fond of: Bill Bailey. In the following image, the first T-shirt ("This is what a feminist looks like") is what he was actually wearing. The other 2 images were done by me to make the following point.
If you meet a man who tells you that he's a feminist, ask him if he's also a masculinist. If he isn't, ask him why he favours the rights of one gender over the rights of another gender – particularly when that gender isn't his own. If he claims to also be a masculinist, tell him about humanism.
If he maintains his claims to feminism, he's one of two things: a man who wants to better his chances of getting inside your pants, or an idiot.
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