Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Feminism - First principles

I've been meaning to write about feminism (particularly, my feminism) for some time, but it's a fairly large topic. Here's an introduction to how I see the topic (more to come) as well as some of my relevant background:

I consider myself a feminist (categorically, and it is a (small) part of my self-identity). More specifically, I consider myself a second-wave feminist, recognising that there are many kinds of feminism as it's more of a topic than a single cohesive movement. It's a strange self-identity to have in that being so diverse an identity means that feminists are likely to often look at each other and say "that's not my kind of feminism", and as my undergraduate experiences showed me (in Women's Studies classes and otherwise), this can lead to intense and sometimes heated debate. For such an important topic, this is healthy, particularly because the concerns that inspire feminism will be carried forward for a very long time; unlike race, the sex divide is a natural category and will potentially always require a lot of thought.

My commitment to feminism is not (significantly) as an end-in-itself. It is tied into my personal and political philosophy, and derived from broader concerns for human welfare, potential, notions of justice, and other things. I don't believe this is unique to me; feminism almost never sits alone as a topic nor as a first-principle. I mention this though because the specific form of my (and anyone else's) feminism is significantly influenced by the other philosophical commitments I have. Differences in these commitments is why feminism is such a diverse set of ideas (for example, why for some third-wave feminists, their feminism is so tiwed with notions of deconstructing race, gender, beauty, etc). Feminism is not so much a simple set of values or solutions that commands fidelity, as it is a topic in a person's broader social philosophy; feminist movements are either for a much more specific set of ideas/proposals, or they are very broad movements that might not agree on much.

The basic intuition on which I base my feminism is the idea that for people of either sex (and probably people with unusual genetics too), there is roughly equal (in magnitude and specifics) potential for:

  • personal and societal development
  • philosophical growth
  • intellectual achievement
  • job suitability
and that it is wasteful and unjust to have systemic waste of that potential.

The rest of my perspective flows from that.

I am reasonably versed in feminist theory, gender theory, and other ideas related to feminism. I've taken classes on some of these and kept up with some of them since college, have participated in debates, and have analysed films in light of the male gaze. I recognise the concerns that fuel some of these disciplines, but don't agree with all of the theory (there are some ideas and worlds-of-terms that I entirely reject). I'll go into more detail on topics in feminism in future posts. As always, I'm happy to discuss what I'm writing about here (for those of you reading this on my proper blog rather than LJ, sorry, I turned comments off sometime back because I was getting spam; either email me, catch me in person, or use LJ for any comments).

Tags: feminism

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