This thread is for general discussion of issues of feminism in modern society, of feminist issues specifically in gaming and geek culture, and touching on broader issues of kyriarchy in general.
This initial post is a placeholder for an FAQ in progress, and includes placeholder text between headings...
Existing threads of discussion
- How does feminism relate to the rights of men, or does it? Should we call it something different? (Page 1)
Feminism is at its core the idea that women should be treated like human beings. That women deserve equal political, economic, and social rights to men. Wikipedia says: 'Today the Oxford English Dictionary defines a feminist as "an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women".'
There are a variety of social movements and ideologies that have grown out of this core belief, and this can lead to a great deal of confusion. Much of the wide variety in feminist ideologies is tied to different approaches to understanding gender inequality, its origins, and possible solutions arising from those approaches.
And yes, some of those ideas are rather odious at times.
But the heart of feminism? That's simply equal treatment. Not preferential treatment. Not the destruction of cultural institutions. Not having everyone dress in unisex clothing. Just... equal treatment.
Also see the question about men and women being different for some more details about what this means in more specific context.
Because gender inequality is at the heart of feminist concerns, feminism also frequently touches on other aspects of gender inequality and stereotyping (including GSRM issues), and wider issues of inequality (kyriarchy and intersectional issues).
Finally, note that because feminism is frequently about rigidity of gender roles and gender inequality, it's also about breaking down places where men are treated unequally towards women: when people look askance at a guy who wants to make a career working with kids, that's a feminist issue, because it's founded on an assumption that certain jobs are "women's work", and that any man who engages in those jobs must have ulterior motives.
(Note for later linkage: "What Does Modern Prejudice Look Like?" (NPR))
There are some branches of feminism that believe that men and women will never truly be equal until all differences between men and women are stamped out. Fortunately, that's kind of a fringe point of view.
[em]Of course[/em] men and women are different. Physically, in terms of the effects of hormones on their bodies while developing in the womb and throughout their lives. Possibly mentally and emotionally based on the influence of hormones on the brain. Socially in terms of commonly preferred social roles, ambitions, interactions with others, fashions. There are a lot of ways that men and women are different.
But it's important to note a few things: First, [em]individual people are all different[/em]. Second, [em]different doesn't necessarily mean worse[/em]. And third, [em]some of these differences are choices[/em].
It is not prejudice, when you have two candidates for a task, to evaluate the two candidates on the basis of their actual ability to perform the task and to then pick the one who can do it better. It [em]is[/em] prejudice to look at the two candidates and make unjustified assumptions about their actual ability to perform the task, and then pick the one who you assume can do it better.
Women do, on average, have less muscle mass and bone density than men. However, the average is just the average. Actual individual women and men have a great variety of physicality, and there's a ton of overlap. So if you take an individual man and an individual woman, and you want to know which one is actually better at lifting heavy things, you need to evaluate those two individuals--not the averages.
There are also many many places in our world where men and women are treated differently, based purely on diffent assumptions about how one or the other "should" act. For example, the Guardian has a reaction piece pointing out how a Politico Op-Ed was sexist--not because it asserted that Jill Abramson is a bad editor because she's a woman, but because it criticized aspects of her leadership style that would be lauded in a male editor.
Similarly, in the famous case of Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, the issue was prejudicial treatment of a woman based on her failure to conform to gender stereotypes. Behavior that would have been accepted in a man was instead criticized in a woman. If it's acceptable for some people to choose to behave a certain way, it's unreasonable to demand that others not make the same choices simply because of their gender (or ethnicity, or so on.)
And yes, the same sort of thing happens to men who act in a more typically feminine manner, and that's also a feminist issue.
In short: Equality doesn't mean stamping out differences. It's not about physical equality. It's about equality in social, economic, and political [em]treatment[/em]. It's not about demanding that you ignore the very real differences, it's about demanding that the differences actually exist rather than being assumed into being.
(Note for later linkage: Shut Up or Get Out: PA City Punishes Domestic Violence Victims Who Call the Police.)
(Notes for possible later linkage regarding "slut-shaming" which often follows on from "victim-blaming", although maybe it deserves its own heading somehow: The shame of slut-shaming, I Was Detained and Interrogated at the Border for Carrying Condoms.)