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Member since: Thu Jul 24, 2008, 05:59 PM
Number of posts: 5,018

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It's not what I'm doing here...

I'm not defining it. I don't know why you are accusing me of things I'm not doing. It's like you want to be intentionally combative.

I'm not saying gender neutral...

or equity per se, just gender equality, which would look at issues of both genders. Equal pay may overwhelmingly be something that effects women negatively directly at this time (though men are effected negatively secondarily in many ways), but the concept itself is not about just one gender. It's a concept that should apply in all circumstances now and forever in all industries. Equal pay is not just a women's issue in other words, and in the future who it effects can and will change as the economy and society changes.

Feminism has a lot of definitions...

and if that's what you think it is about, then you are right it's not about gender equality and shouldn't include men if advocating only for women is their goal.

There are quite a few others that disagree with you on that definition though, including women, if that adds legitimacy, so I guess it's not surprising that people will claim to be feminists with the understanding it's about gender equality.

I suppose a new word for gender equality is needed, but I think feminism was thought to align with that general principle in so many ways already that few thought it was needed, or even that feminism has evolved to include both genders (despite the "fem" part). Maybe a new word is needed though to avoid confusion.

No, that's not my stance...

My stance is that movements for racial equality are not just about blacks, movements for gender equality are not just about women, etc. etc.

If your advocacy group is just about blacks, then you may indeed align your group with a wider social movement that is for racial equality, just like if your advocacy group is just about whites, you may back in the day unfortunately align your group against that social movement for racial equality.

In other words, social movements are seperate from advocacy groups based on identity, and while they often overlap, they are not the same.

The women's movement is about women, the black movement is about blacks, etc. etc., they aren't about specific ideas or ideologies like social movements. So yes, these groups will only have members and leaders that, for the most part, fit their group identity. But for a larger idea, like racial equality, that requires a movement, racial equality doesn't apply to just blacks, or gender equality to just women. It applies to everyone. The movement is based on an idea, not advocacy for only one group.

There's a reason the women's movement and the black movement, as just one example, clashed at times (as all identity politics groups can and do). It's because their advocacy for their own group came at the expense of another group at times, because the well-being of their group was the primary goal, not a broader idea.

There definitely is tension created when one advocacy group becomes part of a larger social movement and then works against other advocacy groups who are also in that social movement on other issues.


If a social movement is about gender equality, then it is not a women's movement. Simple as that.

I'm not defining the women's movement, because a women's movement is about women's equality or women alone, not about men too.

I'm all for women controlling their own advocacy groups. The movement for gender equality is not a women's advocacy group though.

It seems you want to define "gender" to mean "women only". Funny how you project that onto me.

I didn't define feminism here, there is no one definition is why. So I just laid out what the goals of a social movement are. If the goal is only women's equality, then it's a women's advocacy group, plan and simply. If it's gender equality, then it's a society-wide movement, not limited to one group.

If men don't have any leadership or members, then yes, the movement will be all about women, and end up being just another advocacy group based on identity rather than a social movement. If that's what you want, go for it. There are already men who want similar groups of all men. I guess we'll see how effective these groups are at advocating for their respective genders rather than society as a whole.

Gees smirky...

If it's simply about human rights for only half of the world, then it's not about parity or equality as a whole, it's about parity and equality only for women.

You can't have your cake and eat it too in other words.

If you concern yourself with advocating for only one group, then it's impossible in many instances NOT to advocate for your group at the expense of others. If you ARE looking out for others, then you really aren't advocating for just one group.

Who Should (And Shouldn't) Be Leaders/Members of Social Movements

In reference to the numerous threads about feminism, and who can and cannot be a feminist, or be a leader in the feminist movement, I thought it would be interesting to address this idea that membership and leadership in a social movement can or even should be limited.

Social movements deal with society as a whole. They may, in practical terms, be advocating for the end of discrimination against one group in that society by advocating for equality for all of society, but their movement impacts all of society, as do the consequences of their particular goal. To be successful, ultimately, society must embrace their goals.

To say that the leadership or membership of a social movement can be limited or should be limited to only the group or groups being discriminated against is to miss the larger point in an unfortunate way. Limiting members and leaders to only members of one group is what you do when you want identity politics. Since the group is only advocating for itself, it wants its members and especially its leaders to be part of that defined group identity so that only they will make decisions regarding what direction to go. The members may have voting rights for example on where to go, whereas everyone else outside the group can help out if they want, but get no say on where the group goes. Groups based on identity politics can and do often advocate for their group at the expense of others, and this is because the goal of identity politics is their own groups well-being, not being worried with other groups, which can indeed be seen as competition.

The goal of social movements is an idea or ideology, and not the well-being of just one group. Some social movements end up overwhelmingly helping one group incidentally to achieving their goal, but their motivation is still quite different. I think identity politics and social movements overlap quite often enough and can be hard to tell apart in some cases.

If a social movement aims for gender equality, for example, then members and leaders should be from all parts of society, since this is not an advocacy group for one particular identity, it is for an idea that effects everyone and will take everyone to achieve. However, advocacy groups for only women would consider such a social movement, especially back in the day, as a great ally and as having somewhat overlapping goals as a discriminated group, while advocacy groups for men would see it as a threat. Indeed, the women's advocacy groups would be part of the social movement and leaders in it as well.

I would like to say that identity politics is not necessarily a bad thing (though there are many obvious cases where it is and quite a lot of downsides, but that's another thread), and for many minority groups out there, it is one of the few effective ways to influence wider society in some cases, but social movements are not identity politics. They are about whole societies, and to be the most effective, they need members and leaders from all backgrounds to achieve their goals.

I understand that leaders need legitimacy, and legitimacy can come from shared experiences that only come from your identity, but social movements include everyone. If there is a leader in the gender equality movement who is a male, that person will have more legitimacy for other males, etc. etc. And society as a whole is who the social movement must address. Certain identity political groups within the social movement will compete and even want to control the direction of the social movement in their favor, but this isn't what the social movement is about.

I have begun seeing quite a few conservatives equate social movements with identity politics, or to conflate them, and I really don't think we, as progressives, should do the same. The Tea Party is one example, of a "social movement" that is hijacked by identity politics, indeed, by several competing groups. The "social movement" turns out to be anything but, and the membership and leadership of the "movement' only confirmed the identity politics it was. The Tea Party is now cynically viewed by your average American as not a social movement but a lobbying group, a piece of identity politics. Occupy Wall Street was a great point of contrast, even though even it, like any other social movement, had to compete with identity political groups wanting to dominate the movement, it was much more successful at maintaining its role as a social movement rather than identity politics.

If you want your group to be seen as identity politics, then you should indeed have all members and leaders be of that defined group identity, but if you want a social movement to be effective, you'll want members and leaders from every group out there.


When it comes to equality, whether among gender, race, or sexual orientation etc. etc., we need leaders from every background. If leadership is only relegated to those who are being discriminated against, then the bigger point is being missed by that group and their advocacy will not be as effective.

Every movement NEEDS leaders from all backgrounds to be the most effective and persuasive in educating the public, which, guess what, is made up of people of all backgrounds.

If men can only be advocates and allies in a movement that is about gender equality, then it really is saying the movement isn't about gender equality, it is about women, and that is mere identity politics, advocating for one specific group at the expense of another.

I recognize white male privilege, yet I still oppose affirmative action...

because it doesn't work. The point of affirmative action is to close gaps among demographic groups that exist for a whole slew of reasons, historical prejudice and discrimination chief among them, and some present as well. But affirmative action doesn't solve this problem. Gaps are still just as bad now as they were when affirmative action was first put in place.

The reason why is fairly obvious. By the time affirmative action kicks in, it is already too late. Yeah, you can artificially boost a person into a position, but that won't take away the fact that that person, despite that position, is still underprivileged in every other way, except now maybe for salary (maybe). You might see affirmative action first kick in in college. Well, that's far too late by that point. If you want to solve those gaps in achievement, you have to go to the source of the problem: poverty. Especially areas of concentrated poverty. That's a much tougher sell politically and a lot harder to do though, so we have this affirmative action band-aid that doesn't really do anything to the inherent problem but make people feel good.

Also, I'm kinda sick of all white males as always being portrayed as the most privileged. They aren't always, a large percentage of people of different colors and women do indeed have more overall privilege than many white males, and white males themselves indeed are the recipients of affirmative action in some cases, especially when it comes to class. I don't like the stereotype for a lot of reasons, but mainly because it gives the right ammunition to feel like a victim and to ignore the fact that affirmative action even helps white males indvidually (but does nothing to solve our income inequality, among other inequalities, for example). I rarely hear about white female privilege, or any other sort of privilege really. We all have privileges (hell, being an American is one hell of a privilege at the expense of many others in the world, for example), but it seems the ONLY privilege ever discussed is of the white/male/straight variety, which is pretty limiting. ESPECIALLY when you consider that privilege from money is the most powerful of the privileges today in most areas of life. I don't think that particular privilege should be ignored when it is central to what privilege is today.

I definitely think we need to educate people on how the US is NOT a perfect meritocracy, because if you believe that, then you will oppose ALL government actions to close gaps, including ones that actually work, like poverty reduction. Affirmative action is one that doesn't work and which gives easy ammunition to the right, after all, progressives are all about merit and NOT privilege, and having to betray this philosophy for "the greater good" of a policy that doesn't even work doesn't seem rational or consistent, because it's not.

Do I really care that much about affirmative action though? Beyond it being an ineffective political strategy and policy, not really, I'd rather get poverty reduction and discussion going than opposing affirmative action, that is my priority, and it involves a de-mythifying of the US as a perfect meritocracy, which helps all around anyways, and a discussion and understanding of privilege. Many white straight males in the Republican Party are underprivileged compared to their party leaders in many many ways, but getting them to recognize that, or even swallow their pride to see reality, is the hard part.

What a horrible analogy, and it's part of the problem...

Any group based on race or sexual orientation should be able to listen to legitimate criticism from any other person if they want to be halfway rational. They don't have to accept it and they don't have to agree with it. Can these groups be wrong, even about their own identity? Of course, considering that each group has opposing sides within them anyways. Log Cabin Republicans anyone? Can a straight person not legitimately criticize them? If their straightness is worthy of dismissing their legitimate criticism, then it's not rational. Can white groups not be legitimately criticized by black people? Really? I mean, there are many white groups I can think of that would never accept the opinion of someone else of another race on their group, and guess what, that's not a rational idea.

Course, these groups can never have someone be "the voice" for all gays or all blacks, much less all women, which is not what feminism is about anyways, because individuals don't get to choose their sexual orientation or gender or race, much less the "voices" of these non-chooseable traits. Political groups or activist groups within these social groups? Sure. You choose to be a part of them, or not, no matter your race, gender, etc.

I would hope that any group would welcome anyone who agrees with them, no matter their race, gender, etc. would welcome them to speak for them, or listen to others outside their group, or actually admit being wrong even if the person telling them isn't part of their group. I would also hope you could be welcomed as an equal participant. The fact that you think you can't and won't is the crux of the problem. It is not rational to act this way, it is the worst kind of identity politics, and it's not something that should be condoned or supported. It's what many on the right do, though, attributing people like Al Shartpon to being "the voice" of all black people, for example. And it also is the sort of logic that gives tokenism its power. As long as you're part of that group, so this logic goes, the ONLY other people that can legitimately criticize you must be part of that group. That is not rational.

There are many women opposed to feminism, and it is as legitimate for men to call those women out as for women to. Not more so. But just as legitimate. It is GOOD to have people with different perspectives agreeing on the same philosophy, and each perspective does nothing to diminish the legitimacy of a philosophy. Feminism isn't about who knows more about being a woman, it's why should women be treated equally, why should genders be treated equally.
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