I truly believe that the women's liberation movement was not only a very good idea but the most important thing that has happened in our world in the last 100 years or so. But feminism is a different matter altogether. An argument could be made that in the early days of the fight for equality, feminism played an important part in freeing woman from the chains of patriarchal brainwashing but, even if that is so, it is now well passed its sell by date and has become part of the problem.

Any "ism" that is based on gender difference is counterproductive in the fight to get people to understand that gender cannot be divided up neatly into convenient little boxes.

We should not now be fighting for justice for specific types of people but for all who are oppressed. Once we divide ourselves up into such groupings the inevitable outcome is that certain groups will claim to be more worthy of justice than others and will often make gains for themselves at the expense of other less powerful groups or, at the least, make gains whilst ignoring the plight of other groups. You end up with different groupings of the oppressed arguing about who is the most oppressed, who has been hurt the most.

The feminist perspective (feminist readings, that sort of thing) is also a dividing hermeneutic. For goodness sake, people, we are all people. The only split in the human species that is relevant is the divide between the haves and the have nots (whether that concerns wealth, equality, justice freedom or any other moral right). Some people will always try and take advantage of other people and such people like nothing better than to see those they try to dominate splitting themselves into little, separatist groups that spend much of their time arguing with each other. The only way we will ever win equality for all is if we stick together. The 99% seem to understand this. I hope and pray that this wonderful new movement is the start of a true togetherness, a unity of purpose and the end of our false, selfish and divisive divisions of which feminism is probably the most dividing.



  1. Divide and conquer. It has always worked. Which is why we have concepts like “feminism” and its companion “sexism” (which really works both ways – sexism can be pro-woman/anti-man, as well as pro-man/anti-woman) and “racism” (which also works in all KINDS of interesting ways) and “nationalism” and “anti-Semitism” this ism and that ism….

    Some blame something called The Frankfurt School (and another ism, “Marxism”) for this dividing people up into social sub-groups and getting each other at each other’s throats. I’m not too sure, myself…haven’t really researched it well enough to know.


  2. Well, hey, ain’t my fault that in the UK, at least, “gingers” are apparently treated like black people were once treated here. I suppose if one had to put up with that crap on a regular basis, one would invest in martial arts training.

    Neener neener. Or something like that.

  3. I think that is an American urban myth, Tracie. I’ve never heard of gingerphobia. Heck, half of the Scots are redheads. And we don’t make jokes about blondes either.

  4. There once was a woman named Gwen
    Who decided she didn’t like men
    “They’re all despots, you see
    Who won’t let us be free
    And besides, they never call me again”

  5. A blonde walks into a bar.

    “Ow!” she cried.

    That aside, any attempt to segregate and “make special” any group of human beings is inherently flawed, as it fails to realize that the very nature of the protest, the feeling of separation, is a need to be valued and belong.

    This is not the same as saying that all beings are interchangeable – no individual can be replaced – simply that no group of people, whether because of mental, physical or emotional factors delineating them from others, is more special than another. It’s that ongoing denial of the need of community of all and for all that is endemic to all societal and philosophical failure.

    I say that, fully aware that I am a white male – but I’m probably more separate and different than any group out there, and that’s how I learned that different makes me absolutely invaluable, but not special or inherently superior.

  6. So when women earn on average 20% less than men, then it’s unfair to single them out from other groups of society, such as the men who earn 20% more and to demand pay equality?

    It’s because it’s about actual equality not just some kind of “we’re all equal” sentiment that feminism is still needed.

  7. I did.
    “An argument could be made that in the early days of the fight for equality, feminism played an important part in freeing woman from the chains of patriarchal brainwashing but, even if that is so, it is now well passed its sell by date”

    Until there is total equality in all levels of society, patriarchal brainwashing attempts continue and feminism is precisely the remedy for them.

    “You end up with different groupings of the oppressed arguing about who is the most oppressed, who has been hurt the most.”

    No you don’t. It’s quite obvious that if women earn less than men, they are suffering more.

    That’s not say we can’t at the same time fight for disabled people (who are also more oppressed as a group than non disabled people, so why would we not be allowed to say so), or any other group.

    As long as it’s possible to identify groups of people who are treated poorly simply because they belong to those groups it won’t help to ignore that in the battle for equality.

    You wouldn’t fight homophobia in church by ignoring lgbt people as a group and concentrating on some general wishy-washy “equal treatment for all” slogan.
    Why would you do it in the case of women in general society?

    Feminism rocks.

  8. I get that. But how does not naming excluded groups help?
    Isn’t the answer to ensure that transgender people are included in the group of “people disadvantaged because of sexuality and perception of gender” than to act as if that particular group didn’t really exist as a group?

    I’m observing this now with regard to autism. Most people think they follow disability regulations if they put ramps in, have wheelchair access, induction loops etc. And autism groups are fighting to be fully recognised in the public awareness as part of the “disabled” group so their special needs are also catered for.

    The fight is for inclusion in a group, not for disbanding the grouping alltogether.

  9. No. You are still confusing fighting for women’s equality with feminism. This post is about the idea of feminism. Please stay on thread or it just ends up with people shouting at each other.

  10. The fight for women’s equality is precisely what feminism is.

    Def: Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women.

  11. All animals are equal, some animals are more equal than others.

    Your “argument” bares a striking resemblance to those used against protective, anti-discrimination legislation. Why should GLBT individuals warrant special rites, special protection?

    If this is all part of your fight for justice for the transgendered, I don’t know that singling out feminism as a bad idea makes sense. There is much in our culture that sustains the two gender, what’s between your legs, dichotomy. All of which work against the transgendered.

    Feminism is about self-empowerment. That is a good thing. To the extent that it drifts into restrictive definitions of woman hood, it gets complicated. For example, are Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann feminists?

  12. And people wonder why Joe, when he’s teaching, goes to such pains to define his terms right up front, so everyone is on the same page.

    What does each person here mean when they use the word “feminism?” Define this term clearly, please, before doing anything else.

    Otherwise you’re just talking past each other.

    Now just zip it and do it already, ffs.


  13. I for one almost didn’t want to comment, lest he be baiting us again. I’m going to be very wary of everything I read here from now on. I probably should have been from the get-go, but I’m just entirely too trusting, I suppose.


  14. Feminism is an ideology based on the completely false assertion that women have a particular take on stuff. It is obsessed by patriarchy which is ironic as most of my feminist friends are so domineering that they scare the bejesus out of me.

  15. Oh well, we’d better all bow to your superior knowledge of these things.

    Shall I write to the dictionaries to change their official definitions or will you?

  16. MP, this is preposterous! Let’s see: Jews, Muslims, feminists, Americans, Liberals,…you’re running out of cohorts to bait. I still suggest you go to your local pub and quaff some pints and instigate a good fisticuffs to burn off some of your aggression.

    Sooner or later, the silence here will be deadening.

  17. First time reader here, and I completely agree with MP. Although a post like this was always going to get some sort of agression from the bad type of feminist, the feminist with father issues who want women to be all-powerful in everything.

    Good post.

  18. Time for a recipe.

    Spoon Bread


    3/4 cup cornmeal, stone or water ground, if possible
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 cup boiling water
    3 tablespoons melted butter
    2 large eggs
    1 cup milk
    2 teaspoons baking powder

    Combine cornmeal and salt in a mixing bowl. Stirring constantly, gradually add boiling water, keeping smooth; stir in the melted butter. In a small mixing bowl, beat eggs until pale in color and thick. Add milk and beat to combine. Add milk and egg mixture to the cornmeal mixture with baking powder. Beat with an electric hand-held mixer or whisk to blend thoroughly. Turn into a generously greased 8-inch square glass baking dish or 1 1/2-quart casserole. Bake at 350° for about 30 to 35 minutes, until set and lightly browned. Serve the spoon bread hot, with plenty of butter.
    Serves 4 to 6.

  19. I’m slightly worried by Renz repeatedly opressing some poor squirrel by drawing our attention to it.

    Still, I’m not in disagreement with you ideologically, the problem is that ideology tends to directly inform and indirectly mis-lead once it gets to the practical application. It’s human beings that are the problem.

  20. MP, I used to share some of your negative feelings about this thing called “feminism” till I discovered that there were multiple varieties of feminism, just as there are of “Christianity”. Seems like you are upset by the sort of gender-essentialist feminism that talks about “women’s ways of knowing” and similar nonsense, and treats men and masculinity as the enemy (as if there were only one way to be masculine!). I agree, this is not helpful.

    But it is only one of many flavors of “feminism”, as Erika is bravely attempting to point out. There will be a need for some sort of gender-based social justice movement as long as women experience unequal treatment because of our perceived membership in the category known as “women”, whether or not we believe gender categories have objective reality. I personally subscribe to feminist theorist Judith Butler’s belief that gender is a performance.

    It seems presumptuous to me that you continue to argue that only your definition is legitimate. That’s like Dicky Dorkins attacking Christianity based on Michele Bachmann.

    Word verification: “vinglara” (as in “vinglara dentata”!)

  21. Jendi, I think your definition of feminism is the same as my definition of women’s liberation, the fight for full equality for women in all things. If you check out the first sentence of my post you will see that I not only applaud such an endeavour but that I think it’s achievements so far are the most important civilising thing that has happened in the last 100 years. I’ve made my definitions clear in the post. Work with them.

  22. First off, no one calls it “women’s liberation” anymore – that’s so 1970s. Second, now you say you define feminism as the same as women’s equality, which we agree is good. But in the post, you use “feminism” as the term for the divisive ideology you reject. “The feminist perspective…is a dividing hermeneutic.” “…false, selfish and divisive divisions of which feminism is probably the most dividing.”

    I’m just saying, I don’t think you have the right to say THIS is the one and only definition we can use in this discussion, when it’s not how the word is used by all or even most ACTUAL feminists.

    I know you’re generally a great ally of women and sexual minorities. That’s why I am hoping you’ll be receptive to hearing that your definition silences the diversity of voices within the women’s equality movement. That seems…dare I say…kinda sexist. I don’t have to “work with” your definitions if I feel they are deliberately misleading for purposes of provocation.

    Last point: I didn’t even see the need for feminism, women’s lib, whatever, till I became a Christian and noticed how much gender-based oppression was justified by religious ideology in churches today! And I include homophobia in this, of course.

  23. There would be no need to have a separate word for fighting for equality for women if feminism wasn’t so closely allied to separatist ideology rather than liberationist action. I should have written two posts, one where we could have argued about feminist ideology and another where we could have argued about semantics.