Fuzz (rubel) wrote in i_witness,

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'Feminist' or 'Egalitarian?'

So I was reading a pretty decent article called Nerds and Male Privilege, and I ran across this issue in the comment chain... The issue was sparked by the original author stating that he is not a feminist, but more of an egalitarian. This is something I've said before, and the same argument that starts up when I say it did, of course, start up. Here are my thoughts on that--hope you can see the "fusion, differentiation, integration" theme here that you'd find in any Wilber-related writing...
Speaking to the "I'm not a feminist, I'm more egalitarian" comment and the moderate outrage that ensued:

I get this comment, I even say this when I'm being lazy. I'm not speaking for anyone else here, but here's what *I* mean when I say it:

My perception of how feminism is executed (which is not down to whatever dictionary definitions you want to throw at it to ignore the issue) has been that it is very focused on what needs to be done in order to fight for women's rights, ensure women's rights, keep women's rights in mind, etc. To use terms somewhere in the middle of this comment chain, it's all about what can and can't be taken for granted. In my experience, feminists tend to not take it for granted that they have a voice, that their opinions and identities are equally valued (and in the same priority, such as "not gender first," for example), etc. What strikes me a lot, living in a fairly liberal area, is how often feminists do this in social climates where this is largely unnecessary, and/or do so in a WAY that is a bit over-the-top.

This drives some people to want to distance themselves from the label of feminism without distancing themselves from respecting women's rights (including the right not to have to be eternally vigilant about infractions of those rights), identities, preferences, and opinions.

So the term "egalitarian" in this context sometimes means "I take both men's and women's rights, men's and women's opinions, men's and women's preferences, and men's and women's identities equally for granted because I consistenly and habitually value them both equally."

Other times it means "I equally take NEITHER for granted, because taking things for granted is a bad idea, and I consistently and habitually examine what's really going on in an equal and fair way with regard to gender."

Those are variations on the same thing, because honestly we only have the attention spans and interest enough to do some things habitually and other things deliberately, and once we've done something regularly enough in a deliberate way, it becomes habitual and less conscious--like digestion (imagine if you had to deliberately activate every process involved in your own digestion and how tedious that would be...you only check in when there's a problem that registers, or to make sure you're not becoming simply unaware of your own bodily processes and of all kinds of related problems).

To put it another way, feminism is CENTERED. It is centered on what can be done to make things equal on a gender basis, and that usually means being centered on women.

"Egalitarian" (in the context here) is DECENTERED. It is so because it already habitually does what is necessary to equalize things and consider things equally, so it no longer has a sore spot to focus on and can look at the picture from a less tense, less invested perspective. This isn't an insult; it's part of all growth of perspective. We are all much more vehement against the viewpoints which we just outgrown--it's part of creating the bounds of a new identification. But once we are no longer freshly out of our previous viewpoint, that vehemence--that centeredness--evaporates, we've formed our new identification with its new boundaries, and we've incorporated the necessary tools we lacked before. When we have a sore, we are rather focused on it. When it's healed, we aren't, but we are more aware of how to prevent them and what to do if we spot another one--there's just no longer the need to keep staring at that spot all the time.

[Disclaimer: this is not to say that those who identify as feminists have less mature viewpoints than those who identify as "egalitarian." I personally believe this is sometimes true, but that the main problem is one of language. Some people have lost this "centeredness" AND found that the term bothers them, AND they decide on a term they prefer. In regard to the term "feminism," this is much more likely to happen with men, because it feels like they are expressing a centerdness they don't feel and it is actively contrary to their identity (i.e. contradicts their masculinity). With the centeredness vanishes the need to champion femininity--including the feminine side of themselves--so the term chafes, registers as a problem, and demands a solution. Basically, ALL THREE of those steps have to happen for the term to change (when it isn't just reactionary regression to "women don't have it that bad...shut up!"). Two people could feel the same way about it and one could say feminist and the other could say egalitarian, and they could get in a very pointless semantic argument.]
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