It seems a lot of people are having trouble commenting on my blog, including myself and my boyfriend. So here verbatim is the comment he wanted to make. Drum roll please...
Dr. Snark: "Being a feminist is a political affiliation, not a biological fact. You CHOOSE to ally yourself with people who have made explicit their hatred for me, as a male and for no other reason. They have laughed about the idea of me being raped and genitally mutilated. They have entirely dismissed my human rights and have wished the most grotesque tortures upon me. Not for being an MRA, but for being a MAN. All the while demanding that I must stand up and fight for THEIR issues. And you proudly wear that label 'feminist' then ask me to try to understand, to sit down for a nice reasonable conversation, and to reach a compromise."
Incurablesanity: Then you aren't like any feminist I've ever met. And I've met a lot. Aligning yourself with a group in the way you do means taking responsibility for some of the stereotypes that come with it. If you want an honest discussion on gender relationships don't come in waving a banner of a group that has damaged the discussion demanding you be treated differently."
AFOTC: "Well I liken this to christianity. People chose to be christian and as such align themselves with people with extreme views, such as homosexuals are evil and ruining society (marriage) etc. Do you think everyone calling themselves a christian should answer to why this is? I sure don't, I hold people accountable only for their own opinions."
Incurablesanity: "Are you saying Feminism is a faith based group or that Christianity is political? A. If feminism is faith based rational debate isn't going to happen. Just won't. So many reasons why. B. Christianity being political. Yeah I think you missed the point of religion some where. One can believe in gender equality and not be a feminist. However it is a lot harder to believe in Christ as the son of God and not be a Christian. I'm not going to debate politics and religion and where the line is here but it does exist." I think you should define what you mean by "feminist" clearly we have very different views on what this could mean."
AFOTC: "I was merely responding to your argument about choice, as in being feminist as a choice and being a man as not a choice, both feminism and christianity are choices so within that framework I think it applies."
Incurablesanity: "I really think I made my point that feminism and Christianity are not the same when it comes to being a choice."
AFOTC: "In regards to christianity and feminism, yeah I can't say much as your criticism seems to be based on the fact I can't call feminism religion or christianity politics, which I am not doing. I don't see how believing in god is not a choice.So I guess agree to disagree there. I attempted to discuss the issue with my boyfriend but he is busy with study. He said he would look at my blog and comment later, so perhaps he can help me clarify. (he is a genius apparently, 140+ IQ)."
I am the boyfriend :)
Apologies for the long list of quotes but I wanted to have (most of) the (most) relevant parts of the thread to the discussion I intend to contribute to. To start off with I would like to suggest a piece of common ground, hatred of a person due to their gender is seriously wrong ( I do not mean to suggest that it is worse than hatred for other reasons but nor do I mean to deny this). Also the treatment Dr. Snark claims to have received (and I see no reason to disbelieve his claim) from self-professed feminists is deplorable. It is of course ridiculous that there would be call to affirm this common ground but the call for it is created by the crazies who deny it rather than anyone posting here. Interestingly enough it seems that a further piece of common ground is that there is some notion of gender equality that is desirable but not fully realised or not fully realised on a broad scale. Holding this view is probably sufficient to get one labelled a ‘feminist’ among many of the people I talk to (unless you objected to being so labelled I would guess).I don’t mean to suggest that this is the only common ground or even the most important common ground, but it does seem to be common ground and it seems worthwhile to point it out.
Now to the argument between DR. Snark, IS and AFOTC (pronounced ay-FOT-chee or Cassie). It interests me since I think the posts of each suggest three different possible sorts of thing the act of identifying oneself as a feminist could be. It could either be:
1 declaring a political association,
2.identifying oneself as a member of a group define by family resemblance, or
3. it could be declaring one’s adherence to a particular ideology, world view, perspective, philosophical, political or moral position or something of that sort.
Dr. Snark is the most explicit on this in seeing feminism as a political affiliation. I suggest the second notion is implicit in incurablesanity’s suggestion that one should take responsibility for some of the stereotypes that come with a group that one aligns oneself to. For if a group is defined by family resemblance then to fit the stereotypes of that group is to be a member of that group. Hence identifying with that group at least if done voluntarily is to endorse the stereotypes, and hence one should take responsibility for them. Neither 1 nor 3 would explain why someone who identifies as feminist should answer for the stereotypes of feminists in the way incurablesanity claims they should (a claim I could argue for but wont unless asked to). It seems to me that AFOTC was explicit in using feminism in the third way in her original post, and is relying on it in her analogy between feminism and Christianity. Regardless of whether one can choose to be a feminist or Christian, to call oneself a Christian is to do an act of the sort listed under 3, and AFOTC’s analogy illustrates that in general declaring adherence to an ideology (or whatever) does not require answering for the views or actions of others who share that ideology (or claim to) when those views and actions aren’t themselves endorsed.
What to make of all this? Well it means that we have to decide how to use the word ‘feminism’ if we are to distinguish valid and invalid arguments (obviously). Now this choice is not made in a vacuum not is it free from various political concerns (as incurablesanisty notes ‘feminism’ is a charged term). In fact it seems to me that the best way to understand the point of contention between Dr. Snark, incurablesanity and AFOTC (I mean the point of contention highlighted in the quotes I made at the start) is over how to understand the word feminism and I don’t think it belittles that dispute at all. I suggest that what we want is the most expedient definition of ‘feminism’ which is plausible given ordinary usage. I believe that ordinary usage of the word (at least in middle class white Australia or the bits of it I’ve seen) would support definitions of each of the three sorts I distinguished. However given that Cass started this blog to discuss ideas it seems to me that a definition of sort 3 is what is required. As for what such a definition should be I think there are two main considerations of political expediency that should be considered, first of all we want it to be easy to denounce the nasty self professed feminists of the sort everyone who has posted so far has expressed concern about. Second we want it to be easy for people with concern for gender equality to express their views. The first consideration makes me sorely tempted to define ‘feminism’ in such a way that the nasty ones don’t fall under the definition. The reason is calling these people pseudo-feminists seems to me to be a particularly effective sort of denunciation. Calling them extremist feminists might have its own advantages but ‘pseudo-feminist’ seems better to me. On the other hand defining feminism as simply a belief in gender equality seems too thin, and has the potential to alienate men from discussion of gender issues. For example masculinism (I find masculism to be an ugly abbreviation, are there any reasons for it?) would seem to have little point since masculinist’s concerns would just fall under the heading of feminism. I thus suggest two different definitions of feminism:
D1. Belief that there should be gender equality and that there should therefore be a certain level of campaigning for women.
D2. Belief that there should be a certain level of campaigning for women.
I leave what it is to campaign for women undefined to avoid excluding any views we’d want to call feminist.
Using D1 would allow us to call the nasty views discussed pseudo-feminist, using D2 we could call them extremist feminists. Either would allow AFOTC to classify herself as a feminist in order to make a political statement and neither should have any tendency to silence masculinists (in fact defining feminism this way gives a clear way to define masculinism).
“I'm all for talking to lots of people on subjects but you really just came off as "I don't get it so I'm going to ask my boyfriend and then I'll tell you what I think" Also I grew up in a household of genius. I don't care what your boyfriend's IQ is, and no one else on the internet really probably does either. I'll be interested in what he has to say, but not his IQ”
Actually I think Cass’ remark about my IQ was an attempt at wry humour on her part. Perhaps you only get that reading if you know her. In fact we were laughing at how her comment might sound to people when she told me she’d made it.
PS I typed this up last night but could not post it explaining why it does not address more recent posts.