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Feminism and an egalitarian future

Posted Dec 27, '12 at 11:55am

Avorne

Avorne

3,224 posts

This is something that I've been thinking about for a while and I'd love to see what everyone else makes of it.

In some senses, feminism is like a religion, without the benefits of having an enshrined set of core tenets for people to follow (or criticize). The only definitive shape feminism is given is that it has women’s rights at its core. Far too much is left murky and dark and ripe for predatory animals to snap up resources and the unsuspecting in a bid to fuel their own existence.

A self-identified feminist can certainly claim that the radicals in their movement do not speak for them and that their actions are not condoned, and I have no reason at all to doubt that many feminists are not represented by the radicals, but if that’s the impression the outside world gets then of course the stereotypes about feminism are going to persist.

This means that radicals are free to put their own spin upon feminism and to imprint it with their own meaning and end goals - ones that may not necessarily be egalitarian in nature (and certainly not the best thought out in some cases).

To do away with such behaviours one must look to a cause that is more well-defined, if only by nature of simplicity, that or kick out the radical elements and make a public display of them being unwelcome in the movement.

I fear feminism is already too well ensnared within the probing tentacles of radical ideology and that leaves only one option:

Take the path of egalitarian thinking instead.

If someone believes in equality of opportunity for all, woman or man or anyone outside of those terms, then they would surely be better suited to the title of egalitarian.

Gender-based oppression has never truly been a force pushed only by men and only onto women, as the radicals who stole feminism seem more and more intent on claiming with each day, it is a systemic problem that hurts everyone in different ways and only through understanding the harm it causes both to men and women can we begin to address it.

Leave ‘feminism’ behind, mourn for it if you wish, because make no mistakes when I say that feminism is dead and the puppetry of radicals is the only thing keeping the movement twitching.

It’s like an ideological Weekend At Bernie’s.

 

Posted Dec 27, '12 at 12:02pm

nichodemus

nichodemus

11,842 posts

Knight

We may claim that women's rights are all in place, but the shocking discrimination against women that is unofficial, for example, in the work place is rather commonplace. Women get paid less than men, they have less of a shot for promotion, these are all the baggage laden onto them. All movements will have their radicals, but these are always in the minority (Kinda like an axiom, or ''radical'' would be the ''norm'' huh?).

Egalitarianism doesn't have that kind of spring and power to it. Labeling it as Feminism and Women's Rights gets the message out loud and clear. Whilst feminism is often viewed through extremist lens, and hence is treated rather derisively far too much of the time, branding it as egalitarianism seems to lessen the issue. Feminism focuses it crystal clear. As it is, we all preach for an egalitarian standing, yet have failed to do so, even though it has been decades since most of the world, or at least the First World, yet the fruits of these labours have not always been yielded.

Radical feminism is ugly, but rubbishing the whole movement because of these black sheep and reducing it to an ''egalitarian'' movement takes the punch out of it all, which might have negative consequences for women.

 

Posted Dec 27, '12 at 12:17pm

Avorne

Avorne

3,224 posts

I won't dispute that working men and women, when compared as a whole, do have a wage gap between them but I don't see it as being down to discrimination in the workplace - you'll have to forgive me linking to Tumblr here but this is a pretty well-worded and well-cited explanation of the wage gap as it really is.

I'm well aware of the fact that radicals don't make up the majority of the feminist movement but we must all consider that they are usually the ones being funded to do research, to lecture and the like because they're the most visible in society and the most likely to be 'out there' and advocating their ideology vocally. They use this position as a means towards an ideological end, an end that usually involves painting 'male oppressor and female victim' stereotypes, an end that is biased beyond belief in some cases and outright misandric in nature.

Egalitarian movements don't have to be seen as the 'weaker' option, it's merely that feminism has been the receiver of funding and public attention for a very long time, if we weaken feminism in favour of putting egalitarian causes forward then both Men's Issues and Women's Issues will get the attention that they deserve without feminists and MRA's going at each others throats every five minutes.

I don't even see how egalitarian thinking could have negative consequences for women - it's about advocating equality of opportunity. If feminism purports to be about the same then surely no ground would be lost by moving towards egalitarianism UNLESS feminism is not about equality and merely pushes for women's rights without thinking about the potential harm feminist 'research' and protests causes to men.

 

Posted Dec 27, '12 at 12:33pm

nichodemus

nichodemus

11,842 posts

Knight

I'm well aware of the fact that radicals don't make up the majority of the feminist movement but we must all consider that they are usually the ones being funded to do research, to lecture and the like because they're the most visible in society and the most likely to be 'out there' and advocating their ideology vocally. They use this position as a means towards an ideological end, an end that usually involves painting 'male oppressor and female victim' stereotypes, an end that is biased beyond belief in some cases and outright misandric in nature.

The ''male oppressor and female victim'' stereotype may not hold much water in some First World nations, but it certainly does across the globe (Indian gang **** victims being hushed up recently spring up to mind. The portrayal and stereotyping of Indian women as confined to the domestic household is another).

The Tumblr post doesn't portray the full picture. Women still get discriminated, even if they work the same hours. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics cites women working 41 to 44 hours per week earn 84.6% of what men working similar hours earn. It gets worse as women work longer hours " women working more than 60 hours per week earn only 78.3% of what men in the same time category earn.

The problem we face now is different from what feminist movements took up swords against, years ago, at least in more developed nations. It isn't workplace tyranny that doesn't even have the decency to bother to put on a mask of kindness. It's camouflaged. Whilst the workplace is constructed as gender neutral, subtle discrimination still sniffs around. The World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report states ‘no country in the world has yet managed to eliminate the gender gap.

In their study of the Dutch banking sector, for example, Benschop and Doorewaard (1998) showed that gender inequalities continued to exist but were masked by a strong rhetoric of gender equality which made it difficult to articulate experiences of gender discrimination. Gill (2002) explored gender in project-based new media work and found that new media workers constructed their workplaces as meritocratic and gender egalitarian even though on structural level gender inequality persisted in the form of lower earnings for women.

Feminism, or at least mainstream feminism, has been about equality. But it has been overshadowed by claims that the workplace is suitably gender neutral and discrimination free. It isn't. Branding the movement as just the ''egalitarian'' movement, into one that presumably includes all discriminated people, racial minorities, foreigners,  disabled, elderly, broadens the issue and let's the details slip through the net.

 

Posted Dec 27, '12 at 12:51pm

Avorne

Avorne

3,224 posts

I think we'll have to leave third-world countries out of the argument for the moment because (sadly) they've never really been the focus of Western feminism and egalitarianism hasn't been able to stretch too far in that direction either.

Many first-world countries are already working towards at least some form of equality in terms of the remaining workplace discrimination, if legislation hasn't already been introduced to deal with it in a legal manner, the UK for example has some pretty stringent regulations on workplace equality.

I do agree that some countries do still have strong elements of discrimination remaining in some sectors though but I put forward for your consideration that any wage-based inequalities will even out as employers seek out the most educated/skilled workers to be able to outdo the competition, initially seeking out females who they can pay less (creating a demand for trained females workers), and so wages for trained females will rise as demand grows (especially if supply isn't able to keep up with demand). This will then free up those female workers to barter their skills to an employer for a higher wage than previously.

That does still leave room for discrimination against untrained/manual workers, I realize, but minimum wage requirements should catch that quite nicely (if not entirely). I realize that's not the only sort of discrimination that takes place in the workplace and that legislation is needed to codify the unacceptable nature of other forms of workplace discrimination but, again, I'm not seeing how egalitarian approaches to this would be any less effective that feminist ones.

Seeking fully-egalitarian laws or rules would help iron out any remaining groups that employers can take advantage of for cheap labour, not just women, evening the entire board in a single swoop and accounting for Women's Rights whilst encompassing everyone else's too.

 

Posted Dec 27, '12 at 1:08pm

nichodemus

nichodemus

11,842 posts

Knight

Many first-world countries are already working towards at least some form of equality in terms of the remaining workplace discrimination, if legislation hasn't already been introduced to deal with it in a legal manner, the UK for example has some pretty stringent regulations on workplace equality.

This I understand, which is exactly my point. We have very stringent and harsh, in a nice way, rules against discrimination, yet the subtle undertones are not being stamped out.

employers seek out the most educated/skilled workers to be able to outdo the competition, initially seeking out females who they can pay less (creating a demand for trained females workers), and so wages for trained females will rise as demand grows (especially if supply isn't able to keep up with demand). This will then free up those female workers to barter their skills to an employer for a higher wage than previously.

It's no use bartering with your boss on wages. Whilst the number of educated females increase, the number of males do as well. Demand and supply doesn't merely work by itself, elasticity of demand for labour is a factor (The degree of steepness of the demand curve itself). If the women are desperate for work, especially in the economic doldrums we are sunk in now, employers will be able to pay lower wages.

That does still leave room for discrimination against untrained/manual workers, I realize, but minimum wage requirements should catch that quite nicely (if not entirely). I realize that's not the only sort of discrimination that takes place in the workplace and that legislation is needed to codify the unacceptable nature of other forms of workplace discrimination but, again, I'm not seeing how egalitarian approaches to this would be any less effective that feminist ones.

Minimum wage laws are definitely good to tackle any discrimination against any group, but only for lower skilled employers. Furthermore, there's nothing to say that discrimination can't occur in such a situation, after a boss doles out the minimum wage.

Seeking fully-egalitarian laws or rules would help iron out any remaining groups that employers can take advantage of for cheap labour, not just women, evening the entire board in a single swoop and accounting for Women's Rights whilst encompassing everyone else's too.

It doesn't address the subtleties. What is defined as gender neutral behavior, however, is often modeled on stereotypical masculine behavior.

A particularly good example of conflicting perceptions of gender can be found in the so-called knowledge economy. In this new economy, economic change is induced by new technologies, which in turn accelerates the rate of economic growth. The epitome of this new economy is represented by high-end ICT workers. ICT work is commonly perceived as egalitarian and an area of work where success depends on performance (Gill, 2002). The assumption here is that if performance is the only relevant measurement, the ICT sector is a true meritocracy where differences like gender should not matter. This is also a sector, however, in which men form the majority (Crump, Logan, & McIlroy, 2007; Funken, 2002; Henninger, 2001; Panteli,Stack, & Ramsay, 2001; Peterson, 2007; Ruiz Ben, 2007; Webster, 2005).

In Switzerland, for instance, 75-86% of the ICT labor force are men (Funken, 2002;Huber, 2002) and there is a pay gap of 25% in favor of men (Funken, 2002). While women can theoretically choose to do ICT work, there are few women who enter and stay in ICT due to the strongly ingrained male ethos. Many women thereby forgo lucrative employment options and the chance to shape new technologies. 

Laws can only do so much. In a real-world setting, typically the most we can do is identify differences in outcome.  Laws can settle such instances, yet they cannot eradicate any deep gender bias.

A study by Yale University whereby scientists presented with application materials from a student applying for a lab manager position and who intended to go on to graduate school. Half the scientists were given the application with a male name attached, and half were given the exact same application with a female name attached. Results found that the 'female' applicants were rated significantly lower than the 'males' in competence, hireability, and whether the scientist would be willing to mentor the student.

If anything, it merely shows an ingrained bias, that can only be tackled by education over time, focused on the issue. Not the idea that everyone should be equal, because it does not target the specific bias at hand, but that females should be treated equally, bar other conditions. Egalitarianism merely removes the potent issue at hand and gives it a rather clinical edge.

 

Posted Dec 27, '12 at 1:10pm

nichodemus

nichodemus

11,842 posts

Knight

And now I will blame my female friends for arguing for hours with me, until they broke down all my ability to counter their words.

 

Posted Dec 27, '12 at 10:48pm

Xzeno

Xzeno

2,082 posts

Thanks for reminding us you have no idea what you're talking about, Avorne. You obviously don't have any idea what feminism even is, much less a legitimate platform to criticize it. It's not flaming if it's nicer the Nemo would be.

 

Posted Dec 27, '12 at 11:07pm

Freakenstein

Freakenstein

8,090 posts

Moderator

It's totally not, but you should totally take the time to totally tell him why in a totally detailed fashion because it would totally be a totally nice read!

 

Posted Dec 27, '12 at 11:11pm

nichodemus

nichodemus

11,842 posts

Knight

That's not a nice way to put it across.

 
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