Feminism

28 09 2008

I have said before I am a feminist. But there seems to be such an enormous difference in peoples perception of the word ”feminist” itself that I think this would be a very interesting word to discuss.

So, I’ll start by explaining my interpretation of the concept, and I’m looking forward to seeing yours.

Minoan snake goddess

To me it is a given that men and women Γ re different. We have some very different ways of thinking and doing things. I don’t think that’s bad, I think that’s natural and should be used as an asset.

What I do object against, is the cultural bias towards men. I do not think that our differences should be classed as ”superior” and ”inferior” I think they are equal in value.
I am firmly opposed to paying women less money for the same job as men. I don’t like the way all lucrative and highly appreciated jobs should be automatically ”men’s” jobs, and all jobs which consist of hard work, drudgery, boredom, little appreciation and low pay should be automatically ”women’s” jobs.
The in-equality we have to deal with in most places on the planet, is not right: it’s not natural, and it’s fairly recent. It is not inevitable that there is in-equality.
It has not always been so.
We can see in history how women’s rights have been stripped away, how peoples mindset has been altered to systematically view women as second rate human beings. It is a fairly modern development, and there is nothing original, new, and shocking about wanting to give each half of humanity their own credit and appreciation.

So to me feminism means: knowing who you are, appreciating your assets, and being fairly, and honestly treated. And being free to choose how you live your own life.

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17 responses

28 09 2008
Marahm

The fact that the word “feminism” has expanded such that must define it before discussing it indicates that perhaps it’s lost its relevance (the word, not the concept). I like your definition, Aafke, but I’d add, “…being able to choose the lifework of homemaking–that means staying at home and tending the family, the home, and all associated duties.”

Thirty-five years ago, “feminism” referred to the movement that women out of their houses, into the workplace and financial independence from their husbands. The unspoken corollation was that this “liberation” would be a choice. Women would still retain their prerogative to live the traditional role if they felt more comfortable there. Women in my age group (we silvery ones) will think of feminsim in this way.

Now, women are not only permitted to work, they have little choice in the matter, and still, we have “men’s jobs” and “women’s jobs,” though we do have equal pay for equal work. The result is that women are doing two full time jobs, not just one, and their pay is still less than their husbands’, unless they are doing a “man’s job”.

So feminism, orginally focusing upon women’s choice to work or stay home, make money or make children, and take care of both, or either, has morphed into the expectation that women do both, and do them well. Therefore, the original meaning of the word has become corrupted.

Until we can come up with another word to separate this new concept from the old, we’ll be stuck with the word “feminism.” Anyone else think we need a new word?

28 09 2008
Saudi in US

Marahm,

I agree with the concept of new word. Perhaps for a different reason. At least in the west most men support women rights in many issues like equal pay, work opportunities, etc. The Feminist word is segregationist in away and was required at one point to create a revolution in ideology. I think women issues can gain more with the use of an inclusive title that allows men to share in this rational ideology.

28 09 2008
Aafke

I agree with you, one mistake a group of ”feminists” have recently made is to equal ”equality” with male patterns,
So what I meant to include with each sex being itself, with it’s own qualities, and that none of these qualities should be regarded as more valuable, so I think that being a stay-at-home-mum should be considered a valuable contribution to society, and that the hard work and drudgery it involves should not be disregarded but valued.
I’ll add to the post something important: women should be allowed choice! And should get credit and respect whatever choice they need to make.

And yes, now the world has changed, and women need to work, and have changed, so do men have to change too, and take up their part of the ”home-job” It is too unfair to expect women to do that too.

I do not think we need a new word, but we do need consensus on the meaning of the word.

28 09 2008
Aafke

OK, we need a new word!

28 09 2008
Marahm

Saudi in US has a good point. Men need to come willingly into the ideology because it affects them so much, and not always for the better.

Many young, working women these days ask their husbands to assume some of the household duties, in addition to the traditionally male duties of maintaining the grounds and the house mechanics. The men grudgingly comply, but this arrangement merely shifts part of the overload from women to men.

I would love to see a social movement begin which would set up the goal of having one person stay at home every day, all day, not mornings only, afternoons only or every other day. This person could be a mom, a dad (yes, some dads make good homemakers) a grandmother, or an aunt. He or she would cook, clean, do laundary, create ambiance, peace and harmony to be enjoyed by all.

By cook, I do not mean opening a can of soup. By clean, I do not mean clear the floor of toys. You know what I mean– a homemaker.

28 09 2008
Aafke

You are very right Marahm! I also think that as soon as the word ”feminism” pops up, or the concept of a more equal share in household chores, the tone so quickly becomes harsh, or agrressive. But it is in the benefit of everybody to be fair and equal. Everybody benefits in the end, and our children the most.

28 09 2008
~W~

I want women to be treated as independent adults, free to have their own choices in life and to be given the credit they deserve. Whatever you want to call this doesn’t really matter.

28 09 2008
Aafke

I agree ~W~ , but for the sake of argument we need words, and we need to understand these words to have the same meaning otherwise discussion is impossible.
When discussing ”feminism” it becomes impossible, because everybody I talk to seems to give the word a different meaning. I think up to now we all agree on the concept od liberation and equality for women. So do we call this word ”Feminism”? Or do we need to coin a new word, as the word feminism is burdened with so many different and even contradicting meanings?

29 09 2008
coolred38

How about “womanism”?

29 09 2008
Achelois

You too Brutus?!

I have a post in drafts on this very topic! That is so not fair because between you and Marahm you have said everything I wanted to say πŸ˜›

I basically don’t believe in that one word for all situations. That is why I don’t call myself a feminist. I want to have the choice to work but society will still want me to be a full-time mother and wife which will mean I get paid less and have to do double shifts – at home and at work so who is the loser in the end? Unless society learns to expect differently from us we can’t have equal rights.

29 09 2008
Tony

I emailed Flat Tony to your email address on your contact page.

I agree that Womanism is a good word.

I believe in equality of all people, regardless of sex, colour, race, nationality or religion. Now how do we get the majority of people in this world to agree with that way of thinking????

Although…..
I did read a definition of “Woman” once.
If you break down the word you have “Wo” & “Man”
Then the meaning becomes clear “Woman = “Woe to man” πŸ™‚

29 09 2008
always in the kitchen

The losers in the end are the children.Quality childcare is expensive,often unavailable and,after a certain age,children are often left to come home after school in an empty house.
My work is invaluable,but in case any one the family forgets that fact I have this posted on the refrigerator http://www.coeinc.org/Articles/HousewifeWorth.pdf
My feminist creed is this:http://beautifulmuslimah.blogspot.com/2008/04/adams-rib-poem-i-thought-id-share.html

29 09 2008
Marahm

“Womanism” does not include men. The new word must include men. Since “humanism” is already taken, we should stay at the drawing board here. Wouldn’t it be neat to agree on a word, and then try to spread it via our blogs?

One word designations are limiting, as Achelois has observed, but since “feminism” no longer indicates what we need, we should keep working until we come up with an adequate adjective. Notice, I haven’t suggested a word yet, simply because the task is difficult.

The children are losers, for sure, under the current system, but so are the parents. Everyone loses when the house becomes a crossroads instead of a refuge.

29 09 2008
Achelois

The word WOMAN breaks down to womb+man=wombman or a man with womb. So the word woman in itself is a derivative of man and so is human 😦

Let’s think up of some other name.

29 09 2008
Dragon

Strictly speaking, there will be no free men without free women. But, loosely speaking, the feminism, not all of it but most of it has been equated in my hemisphere with: masculinism and lesbianism and male bashing and the desire to be superior to men. But in the midst of all this, I find it easy to sleep with a feminist without being married to her. Yet, I remain single and womenless. I don’t want to partake in such riscky business. The heart says yes. But the brain says no. I exist somewhere in between.

30 09 2008
always in the kitchen

peopleism?peopleist? Believing in the human rights of all people?

2 10 2008
Marahm

Peoplism and derivitaives of woman are too vague. The new word must conjure up the meaning of all what we’ve been talking about, but some key points should be emphasized within it:

1. The right of woman to choose homemaking OR career out of the house, but not both, unless they REALLY choose to do both, and not out of compulsion.

2. If they do both, the right of the family to have a full-time homemaker.

3. The right of the man not to have do housework and childcare when he gets home from work, unless he chooses to do so.

I’m still thinking about a word…This may take a while.

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