Do feminists have to be liberals?

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rinn

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Do feminists have to be liberals?

Postby rinn » Mon Dec 5, 8:12 2016

So I had a question (that I think belongs within this question) that I don't think has been addressed yet--here or anywhere else on the forum. If it has already, feel free to delete this and/or show me where it is (because knowing me, it's been addressed already, and went over my head).

It's really hard for me not to associate feminism with liberalism/progressivism, because so many that identify with the feminist label also fit in with the liberal/progressive label. But now I'm recognizing that there are those that are *for* women's rights and women being on the equal playing field with men, but at the same time are conservative/libertarian/etc. Basically they are for equal rights for women, but want to go about it differently politically speaking.

I myself am not really liberal/progressive...or Democrat...To give you a general idea, I voted for Gary Johnson this year, not Hillary Clinton. And friends on my Facebook page were literally saying that I was against minorities/women/LGBT people because I voted for Johnson, and not Clinton. But I'm not against women equality. I just feel that the goal to getting there is different than liberals see it.

So am I basically answering my own question, or do others see it differently? Are people like me *not* feminists?

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Re: What is a "feminist"?

Postby octarineoboe » Mon Dec 5, 19:19 2016

First, I'm going to caution that this is pretty specific to the US context, and we have many non-US members here. A mod might want to split this question off from the FAQ.

But, to the substance of your question - I think you should ask yourself why most people who identify as feminists also vote Democrat. For me, it's because the Dems have endorsed policies that I think promote women's equality - protecting the legality of abortion, access to health care including birth control, raising the minimum wage, and paid family leave to name a few. How do you feel a libertarian administration is going to promote women's equality?

I think if you dig deeper you'll also find that many feminists don't support the Democratic party - they're to the left of it. But some of them vote for Democrats anyway as a pragmatic choice. I am pretty center-left so I align with the Dems on most things anyway, but on the things I disagree about I absolutely believe the best option in most cases is voting for them. Your friends are being pretty harsh on facebook, but if you consider voting as a means to an outcome, they're right. You voted in a way that did not promote the best possible outcome for minorities, women, and LGBT people, and may have contributed to a worse outcome occurring, depending what state you're in. That being said, people do disagree on that, and some think that you should always vote for the person who best aligns with your views, regardless of the chances of their actually winning.

Ultimately I don't want to say that being a feminist means you must be liberal/progressive/Democrat. However, I have not seen an alternative, viable political path for feminism in this country.

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Re: What is a "feminist"?

Postby rinn » Tue Dec 6, 17:14 2016

octarineoboe wrote:First, I'm going to caution that this is pretty specific to the US context, and we have many non-US members here. A mod might want to split this question off from the FAQ.


That's perfectly fine with me; I wasn't exactly sure whether to put this in a separate topic or not to be honest.

octarineoboe wrote:But, to the substance of your question - I think you should ask yourself why most people who identify as feminists also vote Democrat. For me, it's because the Dems have endorsed policies that I think promote women's equality ...


Yeah, I understand that much, and I agree with their intentions. But their approach to dealing with it through government policies is what bugs me.

octarineoboe wrote:Your friends are being pretty harsh on facebook, but if you consider voting as a means to an outcome, they're right. You voted in a way that did not promote the best possible outcome for minorities, women, and LGBT people, and may have contributed to a worse outcome occurring, depending what state you're in. That being said, people do disagree on that, and some think that you should always vote for the person who best aligns with your views, regardless of the chances of their actually winning.


I'm one of those annoying types that a) hates the two-party monopoly in the U.S. and b) hates the "lesser of the two evils" argument. I think of more people did the latter of what you said, then we'd actually have a better chance on getting a candidate into office that the majority actually agree on. At the same time, looking at it through a different lens, i.e. viewing it as a "means to an outcome", then I can see why they would not be pleased with my decision. Obviously, I didn't vote for the libertarian candidate because I thought he'd win. I could also go on about how inefficient the voting process is, but that's another topic (anddd I really suck at debating)

octarineoboe wrote:How do you feel a libertarian administration is going to promote women's equality? ...Ultimately I don't want to say that being a feminist means you must be liberal/progressive/Democrat. However, I have not seen an alternative, viable political path for feminism in this country.


I really appreciate your honest, well-thought-out response to this. I found an interesting link on an apparent Libertarian Feminist movement, which I had no idea about, if you're interested. I think I might try to pick up Exquisite Rebel: The Essays of Voltairine de Cleyre in the local library if they have it too. I'm still learning a bit about feminism, and I'm not the sharpest when it comes to politics either. But when you asked about how libertarianism could promote women's equality, I thought about the non-aggression principle (one of the things at the heart of libertarianism), which is "not initiating or threatening the use of violence against an individual or legitimately owned property of another".

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Re: What is a "feminist"?

Postby lexiewalt » Tue Dec 13, 9:30 2016

spacefem wrote:A feminist is a person who believes three things:

1) Both men and women should be treated fairly, regardless of gender.
2) More often than not, when someone is being treated unfairly due to gender, that person happens to be a woman.
3) Based on the first two facts, we should focus on improving conditions for women in order to make a better, more fair world.

Anyone can be a feminist. If you want to ask questions about why things aren't better for women, that makes you a feminist.


I know I'm about a year late in answering this, but I would hope that the first two are 'given' by now - anyone who DOESN'T think men and women should be treated equally is a moron, and anyone who thinks men are ever treated unfairly is a, well, a sexist man.
So #3 is where all our efforts should lie.

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Re: What is a "feminist"?

Postby Pikachu » Wed Dec 14, 0:05 2016

lexiewalt wrote:and anyone who thinks men are ever treated unfairly is a, well, a sexist man.


Christina Hoff Sommers and Karen Straughan are funny looking men eh?

The definition that gets bandied around in the mainstream to get new people to join feminism is it's defined as simply equality between men and women.

Why do they never add on the part that you need to believe in Patriarchy theory and male privilege too?

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Re: What is a "feminist"?

Postby Nech » Wed Dec 14, 7:39 2016

Pikachu wrote:Christina Hoff Sommers and Karen Straughan are funny looking men eh?


Referencing those two around anything to do with Feminism (considering they're both anti Feminism) seems really silly. Of course they will disagree with the main points. Could probably link a video of Donald Trump saying the same thing, but that doesn't build your argument because he has no weight behind his name when it comes to the topic.
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Re: Do feminists have to be liberals?

Postby lexiewalt » Fri Dec 16, 8:58 2016

Nech, thx for leaping to my aid, I guess I should just say "sexist" then. Women can be sexist too. When I drove a girl home after a party once, she said she HAD been nervous about being driven by another girl cos "we're not usually good drivers" !!! I spose it was a sort of backhanded conpliment for me tho.
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Re: What is a "feminist"?

Postby rinn » Fri Dec 16, 9:22 2016

lexiewalt wrote:I would hope that the first two are 'given' by now - anyone who DOESN'T think men and women should be treated equally is a moron, and anyone who thinks men are ever treated unfairly is a, well, a sexist man.
So #3 is where all our efforts should lie.


well....you'd be surprised. culture is a powerful thing. parts of the middle east culture (particularly radical Islamists) definitely wouldn't feel the same...to them, women are underneath men. so while it may be obvious to us both, I still think it's important to underline those things.

as for the second part of your answer, I would hope that you aren't saying that men are *never* treated unfairly by others. I agree with the fact that women more often than not are unfairly treated, but it'd be ignorant to say that men always get fair treatment.

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Re: What is a "feminist"?

Postby Pikachu » Fri Dec 16, 19:07 2016

Nech wrote:
Pikachu wrote:Christina Hoff Sommers and Karen Straughan are funny looking men eh?


Referencing those two around anything to do with Feminism (considering they're both anti Feminism) seems really silly. Of course they will disagree with the main points. Could probably link a video of Donald Trump saying the same thing, but that doesn't build your argument because he has no weight behind his name when it comes to the topic.


Christina Hoff sommers identifies as a feminist actually. Only Karen S identifies as anti feminist. Calling CHS an anti feminist is invalidating her identify and voice, making you a misogynist man.

I was responding to someone who claimed that only sexist men think men are ever treated unfairly. I proved without a shadow of a doubt that this claim is nonsense. Feminists claim that sexism is institutional power plus discrimination, right? And also claim women lack the institutional power to be sexist.

And even if you believe they are sexist, they aren't men.

I win either way.

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Re: Do feminists have to be liberals?

Postby Sonic# » Sat Dec 17, 10:27 2016

Being a feminist is not an identity like being a particular gender. It can be important to me in the same way being a liberal, conservative, libertarian, or so on is important to someone. But calling Christina Hoff Sommers not a feminist (or as I'd say, not a mainstream feminist) doesn't invalidate "her identify [sic] and voice."

Here's what I'd say, "Christina Hoff Sommers doesn't fit the ordinary descriptor of a feminist today, but perhaps call herself an 'equity' or 'first wave' or 'freedom feminist,' concerned with strict legal and civil rights but not with social policy, cultural dynamics, or intersectional politics." If I were to map out the forms of feminism available taxonomically, she'd be on a tree that is largely unconnected to third-wave feminisms, except to say that she's against them. So there are reasons why many people wouldn't call her a feminist - meaning feminism responding to current issues and trends - but there's also room for Sommers to call herself that no matter what other people say.

To the original question, does that mean that feminists have to be liberals? No. I think, given the option of being a pragmatic libertarian (like government to take a limited role regarding economic and social policies, but recognize that sometimes federal intervention is necessary to prevent encroachments on rights from other groups) and an idealistic libertarian (anti-federalism all the way, even if anti-federalist policies give greater power to states to take rights away from people), it's easier for a pragmatic libertarian to be a feminist today. I guess the ultimate question to ask would be: how do your current politics help you address inequalities that you see through feminism?

To be clear, I think lexie was wrong in one way - implying that only men could be sexist. You ignored her admitting otherwise. But I don't think the situation you set up did anything more than take advantage of that point to make an errant point about who gets to be called feminist.

And also claim women lack the institutional power to be sexist.


It depends on what you mean. Obviously women have some institutional power, but they have (a) overall less of it than men, (b) there are proportionally fewer women than men in important positions, and (c) these institutions have traditions and standards that encourage continued biases against women.

That said, women most definitely have enough institutional power to be sexist.

I win either way.

If all you get from a discussion is winning, you must be a boring conversational partner. :)

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Re: Do feminists have to be liberals?

Postby Nachos » Sun Dec 18, 18:12 2016

This is a really interesting question and I'm going to add to the discussion by adding religion and differing levels that culture and tradition have in varying faiths. I am also going to make gross oversimplifications.

I am Jewish and I am a liberal Jew, in some countries that is known as Reform. We believe that men and women are both allowed to lead the service and take part in community life and become rabbis. Orthodox Jews do not believe in this egalitarianism. In an orthodox service men and women have to sit separately. The service style also differs with either everyone taking part or a rabbi or cantor leading the service. But there are also many different levels between these two such as Masorti. They are conservative HOWEVER are egalitarian. There are women rabbis but with a quite traditional style service.

Now there are Jewish women at all facets of Judaism, from the most orthodox to the most liberal. Whether they believe in being egalitarian is up to them, but many choose to not want that. They might still be feminists, but choose to not practice that in their religious life.

So as an answer, you can be a feminist and have totally different political, religious or social views.

People are complicated.
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