Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Is Calling Yourself an Everyoneist a Dick Move?

This year, I discovered that I am a Feminist.  This discovery wasn’t the result of any intentional action or reaction, it was that I only recently learned what Feminism is and what it means to be a Feminist.  And it made sense to me.  I was all, like, “Hey, yeah, I’ve always though that everyone should be treated equally!”  And henceforth, I considered myself a Feminist.  But now, as I read through my Twitter feed and browse links and posts on Facebook, I am coming across article after article that ends up inadvertently making a mockery out of feminism.  It’s obvious that the intention of the original article or message wasn’t to diminish the feminist theory, but the conversation starts to degrade into segregating feminists into classes beyond social, political and economical: white, privileged feminists, WOC feminists, cis-gendered feminists, able-bodied feminists…I could go on but I won’t.  Wait a minute, I thought the very principle of feminism was equality?  Why are we further isolating ourselves?  What gains can we expecting out of this behavior?
So I thought, ok, I do really support the basic theories and beliefs of feminism but I’m not too keen on this trend of splitting the ladies (ahem, and gents) up into different classes just to throw hate and call bullshit on one another.  We can disagree with one another and still all subscribe to the same values, can’t we?  I started thinking, well, maybe I’m more of a “Humanist”.  That sounds like the “can’t we all just get along and have equal rights” that I believe feminism was founded on but extrapolates it to include EVERYONE….right?  Apparently, Humanism is a real philosophy and has been around for much longer than feminism.  And it isn’t at all what I was thinking.

Humanism: A branch of philosophy and ethics that advocates for equality, tolerance, and secularism; commonly referred to as the “separation of church and state”.

Well….I may not be a religious person but I believe that people who wish to align their beliefs under an organized (or disorganized) religion should be free to do so.  Just as I don’t push my religious friends to “drop God” in favor of science, they don’t think any less of me for my sciency outlook.  And while googling humanism, realizing that my belief system was much broader, I stumble upon Egalitarianism and think, is that me?

Egalitarianism: A form of political philosophy that advocates all human beings are fundamentally equal and therefore entitled to resources.

That’s a bit closer but still not hitting the mark.  Entitled to resources?  What does that really address?  Equality needs to go beyond “stuff” and into the realm of action, reactions, benefits, and consequences.  You can’t just hand everyone a dollar and say you’ve done your part to make the world equal.  Maybe I need to revisit feminism.

Feminism: A social movement advocating for equal recognition of human rights and associated protections for all genders.

So if it’s a social movement for equality among all genders, why was it coined Feminism to begin with?  I really only ask this as a matter of rhetoric, I have done a fair amount of reading and I understand that the movement was founded in the blatant disparages between how things are for men versus how they are for women.  I get it, so I’m not going to go into the deep philosophical and social nuances of “why fem”.  Over the last decade, with the forward movement of acceptance (or at least acknowledgment) of the extreme diversity of human sexuality and gender identity, doesn’t the term feminism perhaps perpetuate a bit of exclusion to those who aren’t knowledgeable on feminist theory?  Sometimes I feel like the title alone prevents a feeling of all-inclusivity.
Personally, I don’t shy away from the feminist title.  Probably because, through life’s experiences, I have developed a semi-impervious shell to protect me against the backlash of haters.  Now I have to tip toe around again for fear of being labelled a “white, privileged, cis-gendered, able-bodied feminist” by other feminists who may not agree with a particular point of view or opinion?  What kind of crap is that?  What happened to maintaining a safe place for healthy, open dialogue about things?  What’s wrong with a heated debate between two feminists, where we listen to and respect each other’s views without compartmentalizing those views as “well, YOU can easily say that because YOU are/aren’t <fill in the blank with an external characteristic>”.
So why can’t I identify myself as an Everyoneist?  Of course I am all for the equality of men and women.  But I also wouldn’t want the rights of one “group” of people to suffer for the advancement of another.  Does using the term “everyoneist” make it sound like I’m being too…removed?  Too general?  Well, with social media trending with hashtags like #NotMyFeminism and #GamerGate creating such upheaval that people lose sight of where they even began, feminism is quickly becoming a place that doesn’t feel so welcoming anymore.
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