“Feminism”?

This one hopefully doesn’t require quite so much clarification as ‘communism’ or ‘anarchism’. For those who like to categorise, I cautiously identify with the idea of ‘radical feminism’, especially ‘second-wave’ writings that see the gender-system as sharing structural features with the class system and seek to understand it as something deeply rooted in society.

That said, I try to stay neutral on most of the ‘porn wars’ topics, so I’m not a ‘radfem’ in the way that this term identifies one side of that debate.

Women have acheived formal equality in some areas of the world. That is certainly a substantial advance. But they have not in any country acheived full equality. Even in countries like Canada, society is organised by men around men.

Consequently, ‘feminism’ is not, or at least is not on this blog, about securing equality between men and women in a basically ok system which happens to sometimes be skewed against women, as a result of a random smattering of people who are, as individuals, sexist, out of ignorance or personal character.

Feminism is the resistance to and assault on patriarchy: an organised, centuries-old system of male domination, a system which has conditioned the development of every part of society, and which is more powerful than any single individual. 

This system has been forced to adapt by the gains of the women’s liberation movement. It has not been abolished.

Some posts of mine concerning feminism:

A few posts about what a non-patriarchal world might look like

A few posts about Shulamith Firestone’s Radical Feminist book, The Dialectic of Sex

Often apparent opposites, like pro-sex and no-sex, are actually allies

Analogies of Feminism and Marxism, and then some more

Analogies of Feminism and Anarchism, and then some more

Don’t be scared of ‘making men and women the same’

17 Responses to ““Feminism”?”

  1. Qualities of the Future Wife | Tea Break Says:

    […] of the Future Wife”, and reflects the androcentrism that people like Freethinker and Alderson Warm-Fork have been blogging about. It presents a woman as an object to be acquired, like an animal to bought […]

  2. Anarcho-pragmatiste Says:

    You seem to dismiss the statist femi-fascist ideology in some occidental states, like Québec (a province in Canada) or Scandinavian Countries.

    Great post, tough. Real feminism is still necessary in the international scale.

  3. Alderson Warm-Fork Says:

    “Great post”
    Thanks. 🙂

    “the statist femi-fascist ideology in some occidental states”

    Could you elaborate what this is? ‘Femi-fascist’ seems a very strong word.

  4. Anarcho-pragmatiste Says:

    Maybe “femi-fascist” is too harsh. Another term is “femi-favoritism”, i.e. the positive dicrimination in favor of women by Québec and Scandinavian States.

  5. Alderson Warm-Fork Says:

    Well, you make it sound like women are favoured in general by, say, the Swedish state. That would imply that not only is there positive discrimination, there’s substantially more of it than there is negative discrimination – that it’s more substantial than everything working the other way. Given that, e.g. even in Sweden there’s still a substantial pay gap between men and women, that seems quite false.

    More broadly though, in the context of discrimination against women throughout society, I wouldn’t call positive discrimination in any given institution ‘femi-favoritism’, let alone ‘femi-fascism’, I’d just call it ‘feminism’, a policy seeking to promote women’s equality. Maybe some would say it’s a mistaken tactic, but I wouldn’t distinguish it from feminism unless I felt it was promoting an identifiable aim other than sexual equality.

  6. Anarcho-pragmatiste Says:

    Your position is not an anarchist position!

  7. Anarcho-pragmatiste Says:

    Maybe I’m wrong about Sweden but in Québec, politicians and government officials apply a statist-femi-favoritist ideology in their current matters.

    “That would imply that not only is there positive discrimination, there’s substantially more of it than there is negative discrimination”

    You describe the Québec State’s situation (not the Québec’s individuals!) here.

    “Given that, e.g. even in Sweden there’s still a substantial pay gap between men and women, that seems quite false.”

    Nothing to do with the femi-favoritist ideology here. This injustice is the result of the machist ideology in the past and this is not a argument to promote statist-femi-favoritism.

    “I’d just call it ‘feminism’, a policy seeking to promote women’s equality.”

    The femi-favoritist ideology is not a feminist ideology and it’s a prejudice to the feminist ideology.

    “Maybe some would say it’s a mistaken tactic, but I wouldn’t distinguish it from feminism unless I felt it was promoting an identifiable aim other than sexual equality.”

    I repeat, but it’s not an anarchist position here! An anarchist can’t be agree with positive discrimination using the State violence. And the femi-favoritism (paradoxically promoted in majority by men!) has the aim to promote the superiority of women. They call it “substantive equality” (sic)!

    http://www.ccppcj.ca/e/rights/rights-charter.shtml#substantive

  8. Alderson Warm-Fork Says:

    ‘My position’ is what? I haven’t expressed support for whatever specifically it is that you’re objecting to, I’ve suggested that it should be seen as part of feminism, not distinguished from it by a special label. Fighting for equal numbers of women in positions of economic power is also feminist, though in a capitalist way.

    I wouldn’t recommend capitalist or statist forms of feminism, but I wouldn’t single them out for attack either. And since it seems to be what you take issue with, yes I do think that structures of oppression can be, in very limited ways, emancipatory relative to other such structures.

    I oppose capitalist markets, but when a crackpot government is taking all the food, black ones can feed people. I oppose patriarchy, but if I were a women who avoided being drafted into the army and sent off to die, I’d be glad of it.

    So I see no contradiction in the idea that a state policy can be, within limits, emancipatory.

    I’m confident enough that the state is, by and large, an impediment to freedom, and definitely not something that can be used to acheive genuine proper freedom, that I see no need to deny the obvious truth that sometimes people can be better off due to a state policy.

  9. Anarcho-pragmatiste Says:

    “More broadly though, in the context of discrimination against women throughout society, I wouldn’t call positive discrimination in any given institution ‘femi-favoritism’, let alone ‘femi-fascism’, I’d just call it ‘feminism’, a policy seeking to promote women’s equality.”

    “‘My position’ is what?”

    You seem to use the argument of the inequality of salaries between men and women to justify statist positive discrimination against men. Maybe I’m wrong in this, though. I hope I’m wrong!

    “I’ve suggested that it should be seen as part of feminism, not distinguished from it by a special label.”

    Femi-favoritism is not a form a feminism because it do not promote the equality between sexes. This is why this special label is relevant. I describe the situation in Québec here.

    “Fighting for equal numbers of women in positions of economic power is also feminist, though in a capitalist way.”

    I agree but not when the State legislate to coerce people (mainly in State’s organisations) to hire incapable women in place of a capable men for a job.

    “And since it seems to be what you take issue with, yes I do think that structures of oppression can be, in very limited ways, emancipatory relative to other such structures.”

    It depends of what the State measures do. Increase nurses’ salaries in state-run healthcare or legislate for sex-equality of pay for the same government job is a good real feminist policy. Legislate to coerce people (mainly in State’s organisations) to hire incapable women in place of a capable men for a job is a femi-favoritist policy that anarchists must disapprove!

    “I oppose capitalist markets, but when a crackpot government is taking all the food, black ones can feed people.”

    Though the use of State’s money (better would be the use of a private money), Black free markets aren’t capitalist markets. Black free markets can be used to fight against capitalist markets or nationalized monopoly markets.

    “I oppose patriarchy, but if I were a women who avoided being drafted into the army and sent off to die, I’d be glad of it.”

    I oppose patriarchy AND terrorist draft!

  10. Alderson Warm-Fork Says:

    I’m not particularly in favour of positive discrimination, but I disagree with the way you object to it.

    So, firstly, you say that positive discrimination isn’t supporting equality, it’s supporting the superiority of women. I disagree, because I think oppression is a systemic phenomenon, not one localised in discrete sections of society. More generally I think different parts of society should be seen in their connectedness. Something that benefits women, in the context of other things that hold them back, overall promotes equality.

    Secondly, you suggest that positive discrimination means ‘hiring incapable women in place of capable men’. But there’s ample experimental evidence that the mere fact of someone’s gender influences how intelligent, capable, etc. people rate them as being, generally to men’s advantage. As a result, positive discrimination can certainly be argued to be correcting a bias, so as to increase ‘meritocracy’, albeit crudely.

    Thirdly, you characterise state hiring policy as a coercion use of state violence. I think that stretches ‘violence’ too much. The state creates the institutions being legislated for – including private companies (because state force establishes property). So between two situations in the internal running of those institutions, no one policy rather than another requires state coercion – it’s just re-arranging the chairs in parliament. Any other hiring policy would be equally ‘coercive’.

    Violence means interfering with some natural activity like walking somewhere or eating something.

  11. Anarcho-pragmatiste Says:

    “I’m not particularly in favour of positive discrimination, but I disagree with the way you object to it.”

    Ok, I feel a progress here. Why did you disagree with me in my way to object to this?

    “More generally I think different parts of society should be seen in their connectedness. Something that benefits women, in the context of other things that hold them back, overall promotes equality.”

    No way you could promote equality with state femi-favoritism. Femi-favorism is the same error than the machist ideology. You have to fight against ALL these errors to promote feminism.

    “But there’s ample experimental evidence that the mere fact of someone’s gender influences how intelligent, capable, etc. people rate them as being, generally to men’s advantage.”

    Again, this is a result of the machist ideology in the past and has nothing to do with femi-favoritism.

    I’ll be back tomorrow.

  12. Francois Tremblay Says:

    Although I see your points, Alderson, I am still not convinced that positive discrimination is just. But on the other hand, as you point out, all hiring policies are coercive by definition. So how can positive discrimination be any more just than any other policy?

  13. Alderson Warm-Fork Says:

    “I feel a progress here.”
    I think I’ve been pushing the same line all through.

    “Femi-favorism is the same error than the machist ideology.”
    Either you mean there is an identifiable ideology of female superiority, in which case I challenge you to show me statements of it, or you mean that it’s impossible to promote equality by ‘balancing’ one advantage against another, which I disagree with.

    “I am still not convinced that positive discrimination is just”
    I think it’s an open question whether it advances feminist goals – I’m staying agnostic on that tactical question. Whether it’s just, as a separate question – well, I look at the situation and see no-one who I could regard as ‘violated’, so by the sense I attach to ‘just’, it’s just.

  14. Anarcho-pragmatiste Says:

    “So how can positive discrimination be any more just than any other policy?”

    This is an important question here. I don’t think it’s more just that other policies. Moreover it’s more unjust than many hiring policies in government organisations. For example, take two candidates for teaching in a state-run school: 1) A capable male teacher 2) A less capable female teacher with the same experience.

    In a free-market anarchist system, teacher no 1) will be hired in a non-state-run school. In a femi-favoritist state-run school like those in Québec, teacher no 2 will be hired and teacher no 1, kids and taxpayers will be penalized. If there’s no femi-favoritist policy, teacher 1 will be hired like he will be hired in a free market anarchist system.

    That’s why a femi-favoritist hiring system is more coercive than a feminist one.

    “Either you mean there is an identifiable ideology of female superiority, in which case I challenge you to show me statements of it”

    They call it “substantive equality”:

    http://www.ccppcj.ca/e/rights/rights-charter.shtml#substantive

    “or you mean that it’s impossible to promote equality by ‘balancing’ one advantage against another, which I disagree with.”

    More important point here and that my main point. Feminism has nothing to win with femi-favoritism.

    “I look at the situation and see no-one who I could regard as ‘violated’, so by the sense I attach to ‘just’, it’s just.”

    Look again at my teachers example. Unemployed men and taxpayers are penalized with this femi-favoritist ideology. But I understand that you don’t know well the situation in Québec.

    Your position here is a lot more problematic than your animalist position.

    However, we agree that feminism is more necessary than ever in a international perspective.

  15. Alderson Warm-Fork Says:

    “In a free-market anarchist system, teacher no 1) will be hired”
    You have no right to assume this. Any number of things might influence that decision.

    The basic starting point that this whole discussion has to start from is that as society exists now, by and large, free choice of employees will lead to discrimination against women. That is, less capable men will be hired over more capable women.

    I repeat, discrimination against women exists. There is abundant evidence for this. You cannot keep framing the issue as though it does not.

    “I challenge you to show me statements of it”…They call it “substantive equality””
    Fail. I asked for explicit statements of a belief that women are superior. Your link does not contain that.

    “Unemployed men and taxpayers are penalized”
    Penalised is not violated.

  16. Lindsay Says:

    Hi, Alderson.

    Have you seen this?

    (Posting it here because I couldn’t find an email contact for you, and it didn’t seem to fit with any of your recent posts).

  17. Alderson Warm-Fork Says:

    That’s pretty disgusting – especially since, as you say, what’s basically happened is that she left an abusive relationship and formed an enormously rewarding one, and as a result is going to be deported.


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: