Many open-minded and freedom-loving young adults do not like the term feminism because they believe it perpetuates gender categories. Is the world not ready to move on?, they ask. Being ‘nice’ to women is ‘common sense’!
That is not the case – here we discuss why.
In a thoughtful post titled Feminism: A Male Anarchist’s Perspective, Pendleton Vandiver highlights how the attitude toward women has indeed changed for the better – not because humanity has slowly come to its senses; not because some vague sense of justice has cured bigotry – but only because of the ongoing struggle of feminism that has pushed through the past two centuries and still burns passionately today.
To deny this struggle is to perpetuate a myth similar to that of the happy slave. Yet this is precisely what we do when we speak of feminism as somehow perpetuating a gender divide, or hindering our progress away from identity politics. Feminism did not create the conflict between genders: patriarchal society did. It is important not to forget that the aforementioned idea that women are fully human is not common sense but absolutely, emphatically, a feminist notion.
He goes on to discuss why many ‘freedom-for-all’ advocates, especially anarchists, have criticized feminism for being:
- Essentialist (“believing that a woman is somehow truly, deep in her core, identifiable as a woman; being a woman is not simply the result of different attributes and behaviors.“)
- A philosophy that asserts female superiority to men.
- A perpetuation of gender categories.
Vandiver walks us through the arguments against these views. Here is a good snapshot:
Feminism can perhaps be best defined as the attempt to get beyond the state of affairs where people are oppressed because of gender. Thus, it is not possible to go beyond gender without feminism; the charge that feminism itself perpetuates gender categories is patently absurd.
The post is well worth a read. Check it out here.
So, what do you think – is the struggle perpetuating the problem?