Feminism F.A.Q.s: Why “Feminism” (not “Equalism” or “Humanism”)?

by | August 7, 2012
filed under Feminism

I wanted to kill two birds with one stone in this video. The first thing I tried to address was the argument I’ve received since my video “What is Feminism?”, that if feminism is really about equality, it should be called something broader like “equalism” or “humanism”.

I’ve found people making this argument generally come from one of two places: one group believes work needs to be done on women’s equality but see it as part of a broader movement and might have a reluctance to call themselves feminists due to negative stigma (aka the “I’m not a feminist…but” crowd).

The other believes feminism is not necessary because men are equally or more discriminated against in society compared to women. Therefore they accuse feminists of talking about equality while ignoring male inequality. I think this video speaks more to the first group – it’s very hard to convince those who possess the intractable belief that men are disadvantaged that in fact women are still the marginalized ones, on the whole – no matter how many stats you throw out. But I will continue to throw out stats in other videos nonetheless.

The second “bird” I was trying to kill was the common misuse of the word “humanism” to refer to simply an extremely broad movement for equality for all humans. I know I get tired of hearing celebrities in interviews, not to mention friends and acquaintances say, “I wouldn’t call myself a feminist; I’m a humanist” to mean that they feel feminism has a negative connotation and that humanism is an adequate substitution that demonstrates their commitment to equality for all. In addition to erasing the specificity of fighting gender inequality, it misses the historical and current meaning of the term “humanism”, which also includes a commitment to the rational and scientific and a rejection of the idea of divine and supernatural powers. I’m sure some humanists get annoyed by this mischaracterization, too. At any rate, I h0pe this video helps to concisely clear that up.

I also wanted to give major credit to Finally, a Feminism 101 Blog, whose answer to this question helped me start writing my own for this video. They also address a range of other FAQs on their site that are worth checking out if you like these videos.

Transcript after the jump:

Hi I’m Jarrah Hodge, writer and editor at Gender Focus. Welcome to Feminism F.A.Q.s. One question I’ve heard a lot is about the term “feminism”. In my video, “What is Feminism?” I said feminism is about equality of the sexes. So why not another term like “equalism” or “humanism” some ask.

Feminists believe that our society’s gender inequality requires a specific lens.  Because women are generally marginalized compared to men, they need narrative space for themselves and allies to discuss women’s issues and experiences.

Without naming the issue of women’s inequality, without analysis of and action on the systemic power structures that generally privilege men over women in our society, there’s the possibility that it might get de-prioritized.

But being a feminist doesn’t mean you can’t be an “equalist” too or that you can’t focus on other forms of discrimination. I, for one, believe that feminism goes hand-in-hand with other movements for equality such as anti-racism, because feminist equality can’t be only for some privileged groups of women.

And if you’re using the term “humanist” to mean believing in human rights and equality, you might just want to make sure people understand what you mean.

The term Humanism arose during the Enlightenment in the 18th century and referred to a movement promoting reason, ethics, and justice while rejecting religious dogma and the idea of divine and supernatural powers.

There’s a strong and vibrant humanist movement today that draws its legacy from that time, combining a commitment to human rights with a secular and rational worldview. It doesn’t specifically focus on gender equality issues. So you can be both a humanist and a feminist like I’d define myself, but one doesn’t really substitute for the other.


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  • Tbyte

    Feminism is, and always has been, a women’s advocacy movement. It has never advocated for gender equality and has actively fought to preserve extant privileges of women at the expense of men. So it is not possible for someone to be both a feminist and an equalist. You are either one, or the you are the other. You either examine civil issues through a rational and gender neutral lens, or you view them through a lens of feminist dogma and mythology.

    • mika

      Nu-uh

    • SolarSystem

      @Tbyte:
      really true. Feminism is a successful movement asking for female privilege and female entitlement without any responsibility for any deed.

      • Pierce

        Not entirely true, actually. Probably further from the truth than anything. And completely dismissive of the very valid points made in this article. Women aren’t asking for any kind of privilege or entitlement that men don’t have, they are asking for equal ones that men have (I’m a man, by the way) or to dismantle the privilege system that generally men enjoy exclusively so that we can experience the world at their current level of privilege. There are always going to be ignorant people, and some ignorant girls who have perhaps considered themselves as feminists might have tried using feminism to shrug their accountability regarding something they’ve done, or to excuse their ignorance. But that’s not what feminism is. And that’s generally not who feminists are. I’m a feminist. I’m a man. I accept full accountability for all of my actions, as most of the female feminists do. But your statement is no less, if not more, ignorant than the women (or woman) you must be speaking of.

        • Eric Blevins

          See, I have a problem when people who compare the inequalities across the sexes. To say one suffers more inequalities than the other is prejudicial and close-minded. Everyone suffers differently because of their gender and just because you may not see as “that bad,” they may feel it is the worse kind of inequality. That is why I think we should just all root for opportunity equality, that both genders should be given opportunity and that each person should be held responsible for their actions REGARDLESS of gender. Let’s just call it what it is: equality, not feminism.

    • grayrain

      Feminism is the belief of gender equality, for both males and females that are trapped in whatever forced role they may be in. Men’s liberation also means women’s liberation at the same time. The term feminism itself is there since it’s a focus on the gender that’s specifically been suppressed by the physically-dominant one.

      And it wasn’t humanism that freed women in the West, got them voting powers, etc., etc., etc. It was feminists who had to fight for their specific goal. Like the author says, the term feminist was born from a specific lens, to combat a specific issue (women’s rights). Humanism isn’t specific, and really, is a bit ironic – it was the creation of men in an era of scientific reasoning. Science itself has only become more open to women in recent decades, and again, that’s only in the West for the most part. And that wasn’t thanks to humanism – it was thanks to feminism.

      What you *could* say is that feminism is a specific category of equalism. On the men’s side, in the West anyway, there’s a growing movement to escape from their own set roles: men are more available to become homemakers more, gain emotions back, essentially escape rigid/insecure concepts of masculinity.

      People who hate feminists don’t understand the term – they just see ‘feminine’ in the name and automatically hate it, because they hate women.

      • Ian Bolton

        Hang on! You’re finishing that piece by saying ‘because they hate women’? How delusional and paranoid is that for a statement? We all have our differences and nothing will ever change that, but let’s not continue this stupid idea that because we don’t believe in feminism we must hate each other.

        • Pierce

          Ian, please consider your use of the term delusional. Delusional would be a comment that has absolutely no basis in reality. But the fact is, there are people who hate feminism because they hate women. That is a very unfortunate reality. What you’ve said can be compared to the dismissive statements women have to deal with on a regular basis that they’re “just a crazy bitch” so none of their thoughts are valid. I really don’t think that was your intention, but it could be read like that to someone sensitive to that type of experience. I agree it was perhaps a little paranoid, or rather judgmental to jump to the conclusion that anyone who doesn’t understand or appreciate the term must hate women. But men often tout that feminists need to be more “objective” (I’m guilty) so let’s keep the delusional statement out of it for objectivity’s sake.

          • Andreas555

            Yes delusional is wrong but maybe a bit naive and hateful as grayraine sais that people who hates femenism hates wommen. Wich is not true at all. I myself think that femenism should be removed and replaced by equalism as it is gender specific and the face out of femenism never speaks of male questions and often speak of wommen who should gain privliges.

      • Pierce

        Really appreciate your post and agree with everything said. Except the last sentence. I’m with Ian, mostly. I absolutely don’t think it’s a delusional statement because there are people who hate feminism because they hate women, but I think it is a little paranoid, and judgmental, to assume because a man doesn’t understand the term that he hates women. Perhaps he just hasn’t gained an appreciation for term yet, either because a negative stigma of it has been reinforced at some point, or perhaps because a feminist told him he must hate women for really no good reason other than that he doesn’t understand feminism as you just have to any man reading this comment who doesn’t understand feminism. I never understood feminism until recently, and even once had a negative impression of it. But I’ve never once in my life hated women, so I would be offended by what you just said and less likely to want to understand feminism. You might or might not agree with me, but I think it’s food for thought.

    • Pierce

      Of course feminism has always been a women’s advocacy movement. But by that very virtue, it is a movement of gender equality, because women have often been and still are oppressed in comparison to men. Does that mean that men are not oppressed? No. But do women experience greater oppression on the whole? Yes. If you disagree, then you are the type of person who needs to research feminism the most desperately. And will women gaining gender equality come at the expense of men? Maybe in someways. But it will be at the expense of privileges only men enjoy, not women. But it might also be achieved by allowing women to enjoy some of those privileges exclusive to men. For example, did men have to give up their right to vote so that women could also vote? No. But did they have to give of the privilege of having absolute power over the political spectrum. Yes. Because that was an oppressive privilege. You do not have to be one of the other. You are the one who thinks in those terms of extremes. Not feminists. There is no feminist mythology or dogma. Women never used to be able to vote. That’s a reality. Women aren’t allowed to become educated in countries all over the world. That’s reality. You my friend, are further out of touch with reality than any feminist ever could be.

    • CWebb

      Equalist and Feminists are not dichotomies of one another, rather they compliment one another… Feminists believe that we live in a patriarchal society where women are disadvantaged (I really don’t think anyone can seriously disprove this). In order to live in a more equal society, we have to challenge patriarchal institutions and laws. Hence, feminism is necessary to achieve equality

  • Joy

    Thanks for a great and useful post. I wish this humanism question could be over and done with. sigh. and hurray for radical anti-hierarchicalism!

    • Ali

      Imagine if we replaced the word “racist” with “blackist” since black people suffer the most racial injustice. Imagine if we changed the word “ageist” to seniorist” since seniors suffer the most ageist injustice. If you disagree with the above two examples, then why is society still using the word “feminist” instead of “humanism” even if females suffer the most sexist injustice?

      • grayrain

        Those are really bad analogies. If we go with your definitions, a “blackist” isn’t someone fighting for the rights of black people, are they?

        Feminism is a specific term that’s oriented towards the issues of women’s rights. At the same time, it automatically includes the liberation of men by context.

        What you *really* should be fighting for is the specific study of men’s woes, which is really about a liberation of emotions and not always having to prove they’re the ‘best’, especially over women (“I lost to a girl, wah wah wah”).

  • syd

    Wrong Tbyte YOU dont get to define feminism. Feminist do. Im a feminist. Guess what, I also work with men issues.

    • man

      syd, we don’t want or need you anywhere near our issues. Back off.

  • Liam

    This general confusion with feminism is what makes me second guess its effectiveness. Don’t get me wrong, i am not anti-feminist but directly quoting the Wikipedia entry on Feminism i am to understand that “A feminist is “an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women”.[3]” Equality meaning between men and women of course which means overall gender equality. This directly contradicts Tbyte’s original comment. Please explain this!

  • jarrahpenguin

    Hi Liam,

    I think the fundamental confusion comes out of the disagreement about whether or not women have achieved equality. I believe that they haven’t. I do gender inequality hurts both men and women and that men have unique gender issues that need to be addressed in order to achieve equality. However, when you look at real material issues like the wage gap, severity of domestic violence, and the damaging impacts of objectification on women and girls, it’s clear to me that we aren’t yet at a place where we can totally abandon the word feminism. Because of the history of women’s oppression, there still needs to be space for women and their allies to talk about these and other key issues.

    That doesn’t mean we don’t talk to or about men. On the contrary – men are crucial to the movement going forward. But it’s a little like me going to an anti-racist meeting as an ally – it’s incumbent on me to examine my privilege and to listen to where other people are coming from, to understand I can’t fully appreciate what it’s like to be raised as someone who is characterized by race. Looking at something like Occupy is a good example of how, without consciously attending to it, even in an overall equality social justice movement, women’s and people of colour’s voices can get drowned out.

    Anyway, thanks for your comment. Hope this goes a little ways to answering your question.

    • Rashan

      I got totally shot down for being an equalist today by a hardline feminist and frankly I’m getting sick of it. And bloody angry.
      My belief is that all people should be treated equally, period, no matter what their race or creed is. If a feminist has a problem with being fair to all human beings, then that kind of feminist does not want equality at all, but to shout about how unfair things are to women.
      My point is – I don’t have a problem at all with a philosophy that aims for equally in any form, but if it attacks someone for wanting things to be fair for everyone, then it is plain hypocritical by definition.
      And here’s another thing – there are many things that are unequal to both sexes, but if it’s a man’s inequality issue, I gotta shut up and take it – LIKE A MAN – no sexism there, hey? I think not.
      If you do not like the word Equalism and you are a feminist, then you are a hypocrite, because, that is exactly what an equalist is aiming for. It’s just that an equalist wants a fair go for everybody. If you don’t think this is a fair statement, then you are a sexist feminist, rather than someone who wants true equality.
      I absolutely agree that there a hell of a lot of things that are unfair to women that need to be addressed, this is not the point.
      Equalism is the way of the future, if you can’t accept that, then this world is truly doomed.

      • grayrain

        Equalism infers that men and women experience equal discrimination as well. That’s horribly, horribly untrue, especially when you look at backwards places (in terms of women’s rights) in places like the Middle East, India, etc. Feminism is the specific study of that discrimination inequality.

        “I gotta shut up and take it – LIKE A MAN”

        It’s not women who created that culture, it’s men. I mean, just by you saying that, you’re admitting it’s a creed that you yourself have trapped yourself in. If anything, it’s women who come to your defense when you don’t ascribe to your set gender role – other men are waiting to beat you up for being “weak/a ‘fag’/etc.” the moment you fall.

        “But my wife is the one who wants me to act like a man…”

        She’s probably not for feminism, because she’s never been raised to have confidence in herself, in order to take care of herself in light of a dominant male figure. It’s like this weird form of Stockholm syndrome. Or she’s a religious nut.

        • David

          >> Equalism infers that men and women experience equal discrimination as well.

          No it doesn’t.

          There are a myriad of issues to varying degrees that lead to all kinds of inequality and those inequalities need to be addressed, some are large, some are small some are concentrated in certain sexes and certain races, but the concepts of bias, preference or privilege are the ones that need addressing.

          People need to learn that when they have an instant negative reaction to a Policewoman (can she handle the job?), or a man caring for children (is he a pedophile?), or a Black man (is he going to rob a house?) that they need to step back and ask themselves why they are reacting that way.

          In my own personal experience, in working with organized labour, in talking at conferences and in coffee table chats with friends and neighbours, I can say without exception that I have *never* met a feminist who was interested in anything other than “more” for women. I know feminists who are angry about the Movember movement, I know feminists who are vocally against the presumption of equal shared parenting.

          There is no rational position where you can equate Feminism with Equalism. Saying you are an Equalist, but are spending your time now working on the issue of Female inequality would be a more correct and acceptable position. That would be honest and “inclusive” not exclusive.

          The day I see a Feminist standing on a soap box fighting for my rights and respect as a single Dad I’ll start to consider changing my interpretation.

          What I see however is the opposite, I see otherwise bright, intelligent women upon finding out I’m a single Dad, narrow their eyes in suspicion and at best treat me as incompetent (which I am not), or at worst begin to formulate an argument against single Dads because *some* men are bad parents (so are some women), and *some* men are criminals, pedophiles, or murderers.

          So, to me Feminism does not equal Equalism. It is simply as it says: Feminism.

          If you want to be interpreted differently, pick a different term to label yourself with.

          • Gany

            So the issue is with the name. You’re saying that a feminist can still have the same beliefs as long as they call themselves something else. So that ‘Equalist whose focusing on women’ might still not stand on a soap box and fight for your rights as a single dad but as long as she isn’t called a feminist then it’s fine.

        • Erik

          I think the movement is stupid, and we’re always going to have to deal with our gender specific issues. The thing is men and women aren’t the same. I don’t know what kind of friends these people had, but if people weren’t listening to me I’d have them out of my life. This just sounds like personal problems, I don’t see why we need a global movement when the problem is just people not opening up or dealing with their own issues.

          I don’t know enough about the wage gap to really discuss it, but I think it’s hogwash. I see plenty of women driving around in expensive cars on their way to the biggest companies in Vancouver. I’m guessing survey results used to tout these wage-gap things are extremely selective or don’t take additional factors into consideration.

          Overall I think we’re at a pretty good place as far as equal opportunity goes, at least in “Western” societies. When it comes to social stigmas, sexist jokes etc… I think everyone needs to lighten up. Seriously why is stuff like saying “man up” an issue? It’s just common language based on traits we’ve evolved to understand.

          Men were traditionally the aggressors, the warriors. Whereas we see women more as tender and caretakers (also our brains are built this way; men more aggressive, and women more emotional by nature). Does that mean you’re limited to that? No. The only limits you’re in are what you limit yourself to. Social stigmas don’t change anything; they’re a result, not a cause.

          We see men as the tough ones because they were the warriors. They weren’t the warriors due to the social stigma (other than men physically being stronger, being more aggressive by nature, etc.). I can only hope one day people will realise that we aren’t equal and stop hammering on about the sexism in language et cetera.

          Equal opportunity, we pretty much have. Equal responsibilities we do not have and never will, because women need maternity leave, women have a maternal instinct to spend as much time with their child (therefore it’s ok for women to be stay-at-home, but a stay-at-home dad is a lazy ass, right?), and they’re more emotional so need more time to find themselves and whatnot. Everyone should be able to vote, and everyone should be able to make their own choices in life. But that doesn’t mean everyone is ever going to get the exact same results without some seriously arbitrary control over results.

  • Ajay Singh

    What a crap? Your post is too unclear. What are you trying to say?

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  • MrD

    Tbyte is correct.

    The author conveys a misunderstanding of humanism, perhaps only as a rhetorical device.

    “Humanism is a group of philosophies and ethical perspectives which emphasize the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively.”

    Its a big tent, join us.

    • jarrahpenguin

      I think humanism and feminism are both big tents and their philosophies are fundamentally compatible – we should be joining each other’s organizations and movements. But if you want action on gender inequality you’re going to get more of a focus on that in feminism, for sure. But my goal is not in any way to discourage people from exploring humanism.

      For the record, I consider myself a feminist and a humanist. And I built the definition from several sources – it wasn’t just created for effect.

      In fact the definition you use is from Wikipedia but with an important second part that you didn’t include:

      “Humanism is a group of philosophies and ethical perspectives which emphasize the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers individual thought and evidence (rationalism, empiricism), over established doctrine or faith (fideism).”

      Wikipedia has more on the links between humanism and secularism, but if that’s not a legit enough source you can also go to humanist groups and sites like Humanism.ca:

      “Humanist Canada (also known as HC or the Humanist Association of Canada) is a national not-for-profit charitable organization promoting the separation of religion from public policy and fostering the development of reason, compassion and critical thinking for all Canadians through secular education and community support.”

      Or ihumanism.org, whose “10 Points of Humanism” emphasizes a reliance on science and rationality in half the points.

      Or the British Humanist Association:

      “Think for themselves about what is right and wrong, based oreason and respect for others/Find meaning, beauty and joy in the one life we have, without n the need for an afterlife/Look to science instead of religion as the best way to discover and understand the world.”

      Or the International Humanist and Ethical Union:

      “…It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality.”

      I don’t see anything wrong with that, but I want people to understand the term rather than just throwing it out because they don’t like the term “feminist” and they think “humanist” is simply about equality for all.

      • Zk

        religion has often been the root cause of the irrational belief that women are inferior to men. Therefore, claiming that humanism doesn’t pay as much attention as feminism to gender issues is rather false. The idea of promoting dogma free, rational thinking is the key to overcoming all inequalities. If there is anything that will prove equality in every aspect for all people, is the right thing; that would be science. Any other attempt at responding to these issues will create conflict, confusion and bias..further weakening/slowing down the movement to equality.

    • grayrain

      Humanism didn’t do anything for women in therms of their plights. It was all feminists fighting to become free themselves.

      Humanism doesn’t focus on the gaps in gender inequality. It may at best set some ideal world to be in, but as far as the nuts and bolts of freeing women go, it hasn’t really done anything in itself.

      To be honest, I’m starting to feel that taking a humanist stance on gender issues is somewhat of a cowardly one. It’s basically saying “Yeah, genders should be equal, but I don’t want to get my hands dirty with actually getting us to that point.”

      I mean, trying to force the term humanism to replace someone else’s term for their own liberation is hypocritical from the get-go. Let them define themselves.

  • Raphael Eckhart

    Right from the start we have an inequality. Where do I, as a male, find representation in the word Feminism? While I don’t encourage the use of “humanist” to mean that one is for gender equality, calling oneself a “feminist” to mean that you are for gender equality is not adequate either.
    Would you join a group calling itself “Manist” that has stated goals of gender equality and promotion of all “mankind” and its individuals with respect and dignity regardless of gender?

    How would using the title “Manist” make you feel? Empowered and confident that the label adequately states that you are pro-everyone be they male or female? I doubt it. Yet here we are told that a man, calling himself a “Feminist” can feel that it is an adequate title. I call farce.

    Before I continue, let me state for the record that I am very pro gender equality. I married a strong intelligent woman and appreciated/encouraged her to speak her mind (she has since passed away). We made decisions jointly. I reject the idea of male supremacy just as adamantly as I reject female supremacy.

    But I have simply been exposed to too much male bashing and glorifying of the feminine to buy that “Feminism” is truly about equality of the sexes. Once Feminism fights as hard to get women into hazardous occupations as it does to get women into boardrooms, then we can talk.

    • Ayo

      Feminism does try hard to get women into hazardous occupations.

      Check out the debates on women in combat roles in the US recently. You think it was anti-feminists saying they should be on the frontlines?

    • grayrain

      The major fallacy with everything you’ve said is that you’ve automatically presumed that women and men go through the same levels of discrimination. They don’t. It’s the physically dominant sex in this species (males) that have suppressed the opposite sex, and so the ‘underdog’ sex focuses on their issues with a specific term – feminism.

      It’s also apples and oranges in terms of connotation, in the same way ‘white power’ is seen as hateful, while ‘black power’ might seen as more acceptable. It’s a dominant power vs. their slaves uprising. Dominant, white-men have basically painted themselves into a corner – while men do have issues to resolve for themselves, concentrating those issues into a male only term will instantly evoke their dominance.

      Let me put it this way – the term “manist” would only be a self-empowering term in a species that has always had females as the dominant force (like bees, for example). And then, you might see those female bees getting mad at the drones for not choosing a more equal, gender neutral term for equality.

      And then maybe, just maybe, you might see why a specific term is used for a specific gender’s issues while they’re suppressed by a dominant force.

  • mika

    Can’t support a video that doesn’t allow rating or comments. Censorship sucks.

    • jarrahpenguin

      Hi Mika,

      Shutting down comments and ratings wasn’t a decision I took lightly. My comments were open for several months and I appreciated the occasional opportunity to engage in respectful discussion, even with people opposed to feminism or my particular arguments.

      I thought long and hard about it after I found my videos being listed on Reddit downvote brigades and trolls calling on their friends to downvote the videos without even watching them. The amount of “go make me a sandwich”-type comments was such that I found myself without time to go through and really moderate to give legitimate comments and critiques the replies they deserved.

      But it’s not censorship. Folks are more than welcome to express their opinions in their own online spaces and as you can see, comments are still open here on my blog (subject to the comment policy which you can find on the “About” page. I think this article from Finally, a Feminism 101 blog explains that issue: http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2008/08/03/online-interaction-and-free-speech/.

      Anyway, again taking off comments and ratings on YouTube is really something I wish I hadn’t had to do, but unfortunately I think there will need to be a culture shift at YouTube before it can be a reasonable venue for reasonable discussion.

  • Bijan

    The fact that people don’t get this very simple thing is beyond belive. Actions of feminism is not only far from achieving equality but its million miles away from it. It’s purely about female supremacy. Even to associate the term ”Feminism” with equality is a huge joke.
    Its just like starting an anti-racism movement and call it Caucasianism then follow up by bunch of privileges and double standards and handovers giving to white people by considering them the victims of other races then have bare cheek face to call it equality. Wouldn’t it be laughable?
    Another example of United Nation that gives all privileges not to mention Veto rights to few countries and is head to toe covered in double standards for western countries in the name of equality and human rights. Today women are getting more findings,more rights,more protection ,more discounts and grants,punished much less for committing same crime by men if not forgiven ,hugely unfair advantage in family courts and parenthood rights and still play victims to get more and more.
    . There are only two conditions when a person call her or himself feminist,either hugely selfish and narcissistic opportunist person or one with huge lack of knowledge of what feminism is truly all about and is trying to achive. Either way it will come back to bite feminist when unfairness and injustice is done to a man they love such as their own sons. I say this to all my sisters ,do not go ahead and call yourself a feminist just because you are a woman before fully understand it. Atleast look into men hating comments of some famous feminists like Hillary Clinton and Sharon stone and others have made publicaly. Feminism is crime against humanity and its a shame for a good women to be a part of this madness.

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  • Dan

    “-it’s very hard to convince those who possess the intractable belief that men are disadvantaged that in fact women are still the marginalized ones, on the whole-”

    It does not matter in the slightest if women are in fact the more marginalized ones – you are presupposing a false dilemma. Namely that there is an either/or relationship between advocacy for men’s and women’s rights, and the decision for which to advocate is based on some calculus of net discrimination. The inevitable result of this approach is that, instead of achieving equal rights, we reach an equlibilurm whereby each sex is equally discriminated against. In this sense both feminists and MRA’s are equally culpable.

    Clearly the false dilemma fallacy is avoided by a holistic approach to gender rights, predicated on the idea that unfair discrimination of any type in any area of society is unacceptable. Innate gender differences exist, and they do not grant license for unfair discrimination. Both feminism and MRA are archaic, adversarial organizations that must be subsumed under the common rubric of humanism if we are to live in harmony.

    • Drue

      I must mention that I fully support this logic.

      It seems that the people preaching Feminism have a disconnection between the historical event and equality. They share theory yes, but in context Feminism is exclusive to women’s rights. You’re just arguing with history if you disagree.

      I noticed that Dan posted this in April, I’m curious why the author didn’t feel a reason to respond. This is after all the root of the question posed in the title.

  • Michael

    Time and time again, feminists assert that the misunderstanding is merely a semantic one, that the “term” femnist doesn’t HAVE to mean only femmes.

    This is beside the point.

    In real life, day-to-day, face-to-face, women who proclaim themselves “feminists” regularly:

    1. Presume my guilt because I am a man
    2. Disrespect men in a “women gotta stick together” way
    3. Take harmless actions, male tendencies, and general traditions as GRAVE indignations
    4. Assault me.
    5. Post pictures online of female bodily fluids seeping through their clothes as a show of empowerment.
    6. Characterize men as rapists.
    7. Side with other women even by default, in the absence of persnal knowledge of an incident
    8. Twist the frustration of males at being demonized into some sort of “second wave” male empowerment

    …and so on.

    Feminists aling themselves against men. Not in the rrhetoric, not in some dictionary definiton on wikpedia. IN REAL LIFE.

    This message is a humble request to stop those things, because the abuse I have endured from women who have fallen for the belief that men are inherently evil has deeply scarred me.

    No kidding.

  • Michael

    #8 should have been “male entitlement”

  • Steph

    I’m very new to feminism and I believe we still have a long way to go to achieve gender equality. As someone that knows a lot of people who haven’t even started to look at feminism, I come across the “I’m not a feminist, but..” line a lot, and I admit I’ve caught myself using it too. Right now, I believe that women have won all the “obvious fights” ie. legal recognition, anti-discrimination laws in the workplace etc. and that how we travel forward is a little less obvious to the lay person. The patriarchy is still ingrained in pretty much all of us and everything we do and I feel that this is the next big fight. However, this means we will be fighting a number of “little fights” like maternity leave, pay equality and education equality and then the huge fight about the way we think about women in general- with no obvious ‘winning point/moment’. From an outsiders point of view, they only see these little fights, and see small men’s issues too. I’ve found in personal experience, that the term feminism puts these sort of people off feminism. It stops them from even considering it- even though their views and theories might align exactly with feminism’s theories. This makes it hard for me to accept the term feminism. I see feminism as a gender neutral fight but many people don’t see it that way simply because of the gendered title. I’m not trying to be rude or offensive here but I would very much appreciate it if you could point out to me what I’m missing.
    Thanks.

    • jarrahpenguin

      Hi Steph,

      Thanks for your comment. I don’t think you’re missing anything – it’s true that some people have negative associations with the word feminism. However, I think it’s a term (and a movement) worth standing up for. For one, I haven’t seen an alternative that I think encapsulates the same struggle.

      Second, I think that big fight that you talk about is actually won by the cumulative effect of many everyday encounters, interactions and campaigns. I’m talking about things like the #Fbrape campaign or lobbying against sexist ads, but also the one-on-one conversations we have with friends and acquaintances or the daily calling-out of sexist jokes or sexual harassment.

      I don’t think changing the term would be helpful or result in a quick win because it’s not a quick process to change how people have been socialized to think or act.

      Rosemary Brown said: “fighting for equality is like washing the dishes; you have to get up and do it every single day.” I find I connect with people through telling them my stories about why I’m a feminist and through showing by example that “feminist” doesn’t mean “angry, humourless man-hater”.

      I hope that makes sense. Thanks again for your comment.

  • http://stolenandsilent.weebly.com/ Jessika

    “When equal pay, equal representation and equal rights are achieved for all women across the world, I will stop calling myself a feminist.” – Rhonda Collins

  • Jesse Wood

    Allow me to take a moment to wrap my head around this. Befor I start I will state im against male supremacy and female supremacy. In fact you could say im against human supremacy. Im a male however I do not define myself with any of the bias views both have on this subject. There is much to discuss though. Also facts will be presented if you answer anything I say unless you wish to offer yourself as just a idealistic and perception based person. I after seeing this video and reading the blog have saw very little facts or proof. Making assumptions or views of and theories is easy however hard facts are what matter. First thing I will address when you say most or even part of the feminist are for equality you’re wrong. If you cannot give same inportance on male equality and other ones then you cannot state that you are for that. If you wish to say that you have then provide me cited proof where you have. To the point of as much as dealing with female equality. I have went to numerous feminist groups and even investigated classes in colleges. However I find hardly any thing pertaining to male equality not just that but other places who suffer due to inequality. I have spent alot of time browsing the web on this matter yet nothing even comes up. In fact I see this instead males are not oppressed because the term does not apply. However I call false on that there is no hard facts to the claim oppression is a word we choose to determine the meaning of. In that retrospect females are using perception on what they feel the definition of oppression is. Another arguement is they say males ruled society is the reason for the oppression of both genders but im afraid this is a myth. I want a detailed explanation on how thats true and when I find the doc that disproves it I will link it. The thing I find interesting as well is that feminist try to debase mras who most are fighting for male equality. But when a person trys to debase the feminist he or she is given ridicule. You claim that your fighting for true equality yet you try to overshadow every other equality group. Then have no evidence to show your fighting for true equality only saying it. Then when you see the mras you say they are wrong and accuse them of saying you are all radical feminist or just hating on feminist note not all mras are like that I know. Understand that mras are not the enemy of feminist only the ones that you see that way. Then when you see even the slightest bit of male supremacist you jump on them. Why dont you show me where you have done that to radical feminist. In regards to feminist messing with equality mostly you have been around more then most equality groups it is natural. Also in terms of saying female oppression is more. Do you know that there are numerous factors in male oppression and saying you are moreso would be simply a view of what oppression is. If we start comparing factors males will have more if not equal the amount of females. It is easy to sit back snd say feminist are good when the court is in your favor. However when proof is shown or any factual information then it becomes much harder. Although befor you start thinking im bias im going to now start talking about mras. Now with mras you have problems to just like any equality group that at its base is to provide equality for one group. Just like radical feminist in feminist there are male supremacist in mras. This much is true however when we go by who has more you will see much more radical feminist then male supremacist. Still this gives them no right to just sit by and let male supremacist do what they want to even the playing field. Since this is a concept a good amount of radical feminist hold dear. Neither is right in this matter. Another thing about mras that are bad is they dont usually focus on the goverment they just focus on feminist this is a quality that is bad just like some of the feminist qualities. I do agree though that females are oppressed but not more then males. The only reason I would say males are more oppressed now is because they have problems that are completely overlooked and hardly and thing has been done for them. Not even from the mras but that is to be expected with a forming group like them. In my opinion neither group needs to continue both when you get down to it will become just like each other in the end. I think we need to focus in a unit and not take the word feminist or mras and form into a humanist/egalitarian group that is focused on giving equality fairly and through logic and not just pure dreams. Thats the problem with egalitarians they dont usually take what they do seriously humanist do somewhat but there is not enough to build over the old system we have. Even right now im working up funds to create a orginization at least the base of it. How much I need will range in the million zone but im more then willing to put up this amount of money for helping those around me. However since im not rich this may take a while or may not happen but I cant believe that or I definitely will not get anything done. I dont hate feminist though nor do I hate the other. I feel that both could do much better if they would give up their orgs respectfully and unite into one forming a truly fair and equal group. If either one was for true equality they would do that and change their name glady if it meant aspiring to the goal they so rightfully say. Still thats not the case neither one is. Which brings me to having to resort to going against both feminist and mras to pursue a true goal of equality since neither can accomplish this truly themselves. I by myself dont have much to offer and definitely will need others. So I ask you will you consider letting go of things such as this males and females so you may truly unite and understand each others problems. At the end of the day after typing this all with all the grammar errors I have because im busy I still come to one conclusion. True equality is very far off for most as long as certain groups isolate themselves from one another. The goverments fall into corruption was due to that. Certain higher ups isolated themselves and formed groups which started going against the very equality that amercia was built on. Also I will provide more information on the matter if asked although it may be a long wait since im busy conducting a few surveys and research on a few factors.

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  • an_equalist

    I do not understand which part of an equality statement people do not get, left side or right side? How hard is it to comprehend that “a equals b and b equals a” does not mean “I’m not a feminist/MRA/whatever but…” statement? I don’t even know why I have to remind people such an obvious statement? GRRRR!

    Feminism is a SUBSET of equalism, and equalism is a SUPERSET of feminism. Period. There is no dancing around the topic. Muddying it up with “these 2 concepts are not exclusive” is bullshit. Feminism is one-sided, whereas equalism aims *TRUE EQUALITY*.

  • ospapdapapapap

    did some of these trolls here actually read the article?

  • Gonzo

    Not relevant to your primary point, but you have confused Classical Humanism and Secular Humanism that grew out of it. Religious Humanism also grew out of it a few decades later. This confusion is understandable as all three are documented within a period of about 50 years and don’t do well at distinguishing themselves, but just as you would be offended if someone claimed feminism was about establishing female dominance, claiming humanism is anti-religious is offensive to a lot of humanists.

  • Neutral Observer

    Feminists are looking for female domination in society, not for equality. Ergo, only masochistic males would join the feminist movement. What everybody should fight for is equality, not domination by one kind.

  • http://reallyawesomesmileyface.tk S

    Gender Equalism is only true if the MRA and Feminists agree with eachother, and both sides finding out about how the other side is mistreated.

    If a masculinist called himself an equalist without talking about women’s rights, would you call that equalism “fake”?

    So why isn’t it the same if a feminist calls herself an equalist? Wouldn’t it be fake too?

    The only way to be an equalist is to believe that both genders are mistreated in their own way.

    People need to take the fact that women (or men) aren’t the only ones being oppressed.

    Women aren’t being oppressed more than men, they just take it another way. The same for men.

    There is no doubt to oppression against women in the middle east, but you can’t use that as an example to why women are being oppressed in europe/america.

    Men shouldn’t need to act like a gentlemen, pay more insurance, or have less social benefits (such as “women only areas”).

    Women shouldn’t be hearing people using masculine pronouns in areas including both genders, or have a gender pay gap (if it exists though, I’m not sure). Though I have to say, rape, murder, and mistreatment of women has nothing to do with sexism.

    To be an equalist you need to accept the problems that both genders face, and not just take it to making women “equal to men”.

  • reazle

    I find it funny feminism shys away from being compared to equality – maybe it’s to with the majority if feminists coming from white, middle class backgrounds. If feminism was truly about equality, more time would be spent campaigning for women’s rights in 3rd world and developing countries and less being spent shouting at builders for wolf whistling.

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  • Emlyn

    “I’ve found people making this argument generally come from one of two places”

    Yet more generalities.

    The very fact that advocates for women’s rights (“feminists”) are so militant about ownership and use of the label “feminist” is, in and of itself, a key to understanding the mindset. Humanism does not imply–in any way whatsoever–that the rights of women are any less deserving than anyone else’s.

    Feminism, thus, has come to be more of an identifier–a call to arms–and there’s nothing wrong with that, just as long as those using it understand that it’s an area already covered by humanism, like it or not.

    Silly labels, ultimately.

  • Peter

    I have always attempted to treat everyone I meet with respect and consideration, I have never assaulted belittled derided leered at or as far as I’m aware done anything against any woman, I have actually put my life on the line twice protecting them.
    One night walking through my home town Newcastle I heard a woman screaming for help down an alleyway, thinking that a woman was being raped I called for the police as I ran to help, when I got close I was shocked to see two young women laughing at me, what I didn’t know was there was a third creeping up behind me with a
    baseball bat, the beating I took that night left me in hospital for three months.
    In court the reason given for the attack was that they were feminists and I happened to be born male, every day I live with the physical
    effects of feminism, every time I bring myself to look in a mirror, I
    can’t even take a piss without pain all in the name of feminism.

    If feminism is all about equality why do women allow extremists and
    outright violent hateful scum in their organisation’s.

  • Peter

    Just wanted to say that I don’t hate women, I could never blame an entire segment of society for the actions of a few, however I can not recall a single example of feminists ever standing up for the rights of men only women, not even once.
    Maybe there are examples I don’t know about I’m no expert on the subject, suffice to say I believe in equality perhaps feminism used to stand for equality however I just can’t see that it does anymore, perhaps it’s as I suspect an honorable ideal hijacked by extremists.

  • oretias

    Wage gap among men and women is all non-sense, looking from the first world perspective.

    The thinking behind is that women earn less even though they work as hard as men, and as long as men.

    So suppose you were a male business owner, who would you rather hire (they are equally qualified) :-

    1) A female that you can pay 15 dollars and make her work 12 hours.

    2) A man that you can pay 20 dollars and make him work 12 hours.

    I for one would choose the first option, even though I do not run a business. And my reasoning should be obvious from the business point of view.

    If a company is paying a man more is solely because, a) he was able to impress his employer or b) his employer saw more potential in him than other candidates for the job.

  • Yvzof

    Yes, my e-mail is one of my legitimate, used e-mails. This is not a troll post.

    But, for really? You’re just going to generalize and say “people that want to be considered humanist instead of feminist come from one of two places.”

    No, they don’t. And you don’t have the final word or any word on where they come from anyway.

    Men and Women both have inequalities in rights and in society in general. Men are supposed to be “boys, guys” and women are supposed to be “girls, ladies” and all that shit.

    Growing up I was expected to be masculine, expected to be this and that – just like a girl is “expected” to be feminine, and into dolls or some stupid crap.

    Sure, there are broader issues for those of legal age like marriage, pay from jobs, societal attitudes and outlooks on gender stereotypes…

    But honestly, even after reading this crap I’m still a humanist and am against MRA groups and feminism because they’re SEPERATIST MOVEMENTS.

    Anything that has starts with “fem” or has “men’s” in it that deals with equal rights is a sure shot to bullshitville. Humanism encompasses both genders (and more, cis scum! just kidding, it’s all buzzwords when you aren’t a head-case) and is actually about equality, not “women have it worse!” or “men have it worse!”

    Humanism names issues for both genders and wants resolve for everybody.

    Oh, and I do go by full definition. Scientific inquiry is extremely important to our progression as a race, as well as being rid of superstitious beliefs. Superstition and “skydaddy syndrome” are things that hold the ENTIRE RACE back.

    Please, move forward. See past your own nose and SEE PAST YOUR OWN GENDER.

  • RenatoFontesTapia

    Sorry, but I see this as pure bullshit…
    We could just call it equalism and focus on women issues if they are the ones being discriminated against in our current time….
    I think using the word feminism just states that you feel like a victim right now….