Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What is Feminism?

The word "feminism" is a lot like the word "ironic."  It's a word that a lot of people use, but don't quite fully understand.  The two words are similar in that there is some kind of gist or core idea that each word refers to that people typically grasp.  Something is ironic because it is unusual in some way.  Someone is a feminist because they advocate the rights of women in some way.  In both cases, it's the details that bring about confusion.

Being a feminist is not simply about being "pro-women."  This is too simplistic a notion of feminism.  Being a feminist also typically implies views beyond just positive attitudes towards women.  These views will often dictate what sorts of moral and political beliefs.

One important question related to feminism has to do with sex and gender.  Is there an objective difference between male and female?  Is there an objective difference between masculinity and femininity?

Does this question matter?  It seems like a similar question isn't really that relevant when we talk about racism and race relations.  Even if there are no objective differences between race, we can still talk about the rights of minority racial groups.  

The case with sex and gender seems to differ because there is a debate as to whether or not there is a perspective that is uniquely gendered.  Is there a feminine perspective on ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics?  Some would argue so.  This perspective can come into play when we discuss sexism.  Some people hold that the denial or belittling of this perspective can be considered a form of sexism.

So, it is true that feminism is a political movement advocating the rights of women, but it not entirely clear to what extent these rights encompass.  Some hold a more minimal view, advocating that women be given the same rights of opportunity that men have.  Others, hold a wider view, advocating furthermore that women's rights include the legitimization of their perspective.

I'm just writing this because it really bothers me how an ambiguous term like "feminism" is thrown around in debates everywhere you go.  This creates confusion and irrational dialogue.  That kind of stuff makes me sad.

No comments:

Post a Comment