Friday, August 31, 2007

Michael Benton: On Feminism

(Repost for students doing conceptual papers on feminism--I need to update this as it is two years old... --MB)

A response to a comment to an earlier post:

Feminism doesn't demand equality in the sense of Kurt Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron" (a classic story of PC mania)... rather it is a simple demand for equal opportunity, value and respect.

I'm sorry but I really do not understand your argument here--there are varying abilities in all people and the fact that some men may be physically stronger than some women is no more important than the equally true fact that some women are stronger than some men. I respect science, more and more as the Bush government seeks to discredit it, but when thinking about gender I think we should avoid a deterministic stance.

Feminism is an important word and theory. It is just as valid today as it was in the past, as we are continuingly assaulted by the decisions of backward-looking theocrats like Dr. Hager; the discrimination of American corporations like Wal-Mart who think of women as servants not leaders; the continuing culture of physical intimidation at a local level and on a global scale; emphasis on body as sole factor in a women's value because she only needs to worry about one thing; or where women's history is generally ignored unless it supports a patriarchal view.

I'm a man, often rightly determined to be chauvinistic in my attitudes... I was raised in the 70s... but damn, how blind must a person be to not recognize a continuing system that grossly favors men overall and that systematically attempts to cover up this reality.

There are abusive feminists, they are human, but you cannot discount an entire movement for the actions of a few members. And I am under no illusion that the world will simply become better if women were placed in power as they are just as capable of cruelty and oppression. This is simply a recognition of systematic discrimination in our society and the call to fight it.

I do not claim gender as a privileged position and recognize that it needs to be put into play with a multitude of other perspectives to understand the relationships of power (most definitely perspectives of class, race, sexuality and place--especially when they are used in a deterministic factor to perpetuate discrimination against groups of people).

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