We’ve been doing these Feminist Friday discussions for a while now. I’ve noticed commenters, on our posts and on feminist articles in general, often disagree with the need for feminism because they don’t want to single out one issue, they prefer to focus on “equality for everyone.” Sometimes this is just a dismissing tactic, other times it’s an honest preference. Either way, being feminist doesn’t mean I can’t be other things at the same time!
Everyone should be equal, sure, but not everyone is treated equally, and it’s important to point out which groups are disadvantaged and discuss ways to fix that. For concrete progress to be made, we have to move beyond ideology and start talking specifics. That doesn’t have to be a reductive or exclusionary process, though. Focusing on women’s issues also helps men, for instance, and women’s issues interact with other identifiers like race and class and age. That’s called intersectionality.
Personally, I’m very interested in queer rights and queer issues, and they overlap with feminism all the time. Gaybashing is about “not acting like a man.” Lesbian and bisexual women are raped to “turn them straight” or punish them for not being available to men. Trans-bashing is even more blatantly a “gender role” issue. Anyone who doesn’t fit into a neat, visually-obvious category of “male” or “female” is subject to hate and violence.
Feminism is about affirming the worth and equality of women. If our culture actually believed men and women were equally valuable, there wouldn’t be such a stigma attached to being “neither.” If it was okay for women to dress and speak and act as they please, it would also be okay for everyone else to do that. And likewise, as queer people become more accepted, there should be less and less of a pressure to fit into gender-based behavioral stereotypes for everyone.
Our culture thinks men are the default and women are something extra, and that “they” have the power and moral responsibility to police deviations. This hurts everyone — men, women, others, and anyone of any gender with the slightest “unapproved” interest. It’s not “ladylike” or “okay” for a little girl to play with trucks, for goodness sake!
When the culture actually believes that women are equal human beings, queer people will be much safer and better off too.