Objective Importance …

So, I read this Cracked list of eight presumably invalid things that people say in any discussion about feminism. For the most part, these things seem to mostly be things that sometimes can be reasonable arguments/replies that can also be used when they aren’t valid, so obviously the article pretty much tries to define them as being obviously wrong. I don’t want to get into that. What I do want to get into is the #1 argument, one that I’ve heard and probably talked about before:

“I’m not a feminist, I’m an equalist.” They’re not an equalist, they’re an asshole. This doesn’t bring enlightened impartiality to the problem, it smugly pretends to bring enlightened superiority to the problem while implying that silly women are being distracted from the wider picture by their own selfishness.

Even if they had a point, and they really don’t, their first priority is branding.

Feminism is gendered not because women want to be treated better in the future but because they’re being treated worse right now. Insisting on “equalism” means defining yourself by ignoring that fact. As if sexism, street harassment, pay differences, and rape threats affect genders equally.

So … what would gender equalism, as a movement, entail? Well, you’d think it would entail nothing more than striving to ensure that the genders are, in fact, treated equally, without giving any a priori privilege to any one perspective. Given this, if it really is the case that women’s concerns are objectively more important or ought to be more of a priority than men’s concerns, then an objective movement striving to eliminate all gender inequality and that doesn’t have the resources to fix all of the problems still ought to fix those first. After all, they are objectively more important, right? The only way having an equalist movement should legitimately act any differently given the argument here is if there are issues that affect men that are actually objectively of a higher priority than some of the one that affect women. But if that is the case, then that’s what we should be doing; just because women might overall have it worse wrt gender inequality does not mean that every instance where they are being treated unequally is automatically a higher priority than instances where men are being treated unequally.

Which is what strikes me as very, very odd about that argument. Given an umbrella movement/organization that is dedicated to a particular cause or issue, it’s not usually the dominant issues that splinter off into subgroups. It’s usually the ones that are objectively less important that splinter off, in order to draw in resources that only care about that particular issue and, in fact, to actually get some attention for their issues or goals. A general computing support group, for example, is likely to form a subgroup to focus on say, Linux issues if the membership is over 90% Windows users than that you’d get a Windows subgroup first. The main group would be so much a Windows group that Windows users would have no reason to form a subgroup. Given this, it would make more sense to form a masculinist group than a feminist group if the concerns of women just are so much more important when it comes to gender quality.

Now, feminists may object that this presumes a reasonable movement, but that what happens in these cases is that if they formed an equalist movement then the issues of men would dominate despite the fact that the women’s issues are more important. Well, I don’t think this is necessarily the case, and note that this has actually never really been tried, as far as I know; women have pretty much always had their own movement, and the only case where that wasn’t true was when they weren’t segmented into gender at all, and so they tended to get drowned under issues of racism and the like. So more evidence is required. At any rate, though, ultimately women should desperately want an equalist movement that works, and feel forced into having a feminist movement, as opposed to the impression that this argument gives that even a working equalist movement is somehow not the right thing, because their issues are just so important that they could never be solved by a movement dedicated to solving the most important gender inequalities. That argument just ain’t right …



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: