Drop the *isms. Just say what you want, and be specific.

Today, I launched a new site areyouamasculist.com, which was heavily inspired by areyouafeminist.com. As the original, it contains only two questions:

  1. Do you think all human beings are equal?
  2. Do you think men are human beings?

By saying Yes to both of them, it gives you the honor of calling you a masculist:

Congratulations, you are a masculist!

If you are now saying that you are not convinced, I can understand. The same I felt on areyouafeminist.com.

As I can easily say Yes to both questions (as well as on areyouafeminist.com), I am not calling myself a masculist nor a feminist. And that is for a simple reason:

Both terms are way too abstract and have been used for too many different things to convey any useful information. For feminism for instance, you have can find Christina Hoff Sommers, arguing for equal legal and civil rights – as well as Valerie Solanas, arguing for elimination of the male sex. Both called themselves “feminist”, and both are seen by others as feminists. By labelling yourself as a feminist, you leave room for being anywhere in this spectrum.

The same problem comes also with criticsm of feminism, as in “Women against Feminism”: Because the term is so unspecific, some people will misunderstand you and think you also oppose other things they see tied to feminism – things you maybe totally support.

Too often I saw people discussing about an issue X, when somebody threw in “But you said you are a feminist, so you have to support X.” The discussion then continued about whether X is feminist (or not) instead of whether X is good (or not), barely helping the insight into X.

So what instead? I suggest: Be as specific as possible about the things you support (or deny). A good example are the following questions that I found in another “Are you a feminist” test. I liked them so much that I copied and tweaked them a bit in order to address also some inequalities which “masculists” see.

Now, try for yourself, to how many demands from both (allegedly antagonistic) camps can you agree?

Women should be economically and socially independent. They shouldn’t rely on men to take care of them. Men should not be economically and socially responsible for women. They shouldn’t be expected to take care of women.
There is no such thing as a “man’s job.” It is wrong for men to be given preference for any job position, even if women traditionally aren’t in that field. There is no such thing as “natural motherhood”. It is wrong for women to be given preference in child custody, even if men traditionally aren’t in that field.
Men and women should be held to the same sexual standards. If men can sleep around without judgment, women should be able to as well. Men and women should be held to the same standards of sexual abuse and violence. If women feel harassed and receive help for unwanted sexual advances and violent threats, so should men in the same manner. Violence against men should be equally condemned as violence against women.
Women should take an equal role in dating. Women should ask out people they are interested in and take their turn in paying. Women should take an equal role in dating. Men should be asked out by people who have an interest in them and not expected to pay always or most of the time.
Women should accept their bodies as they are. Women should not have to conform to wacky beauty ideals. Men should accept their economic situation as it is. Men should not have to conform to wacky status ideals.
A woman should be able to marry and have kids with anyone she wants – including another woman. A man should be able to marry and have kids with anyone he wants – including another man.
Women should have the right to choose any path in life – from being a stay at home mom to a Fortune 500 CEO. Men should have the right to choose any path in life – from being a Fortune 500 CEO to stay at home dad.
Women should be encouraged to pursue education as much as men are. In education, men and women should be held to the same standards when being graded.
Women should have legal, easy access to all types of birth control – including the morning after pill. Men should have legal, easy access to all types of birth control – the research on the pill for men should be supported.
You would support a woman for president (if you agreed with her politics). You would support an unmarried man for president (if you agreed with his politics).

4 thoughts on “Drop the *isms. Just say what you want, and be specific.

  1. Eric Manneschmidt

    Interesting article.
    I actually failed both tests: I don’t think all human beings are equal.
    All human beeings are different and unique.
    Having the same rights is not the same as being equal.
    Sounds like nitpick?

    But, could it be possible that sexism, racism, group-ism of any kind derives from the attempt to create at least a subset of human beeings that are (sufficiently) equal. To avoid confrontation with the fact, that we all are different and thus all have special and individual needs?

    Thus my plea is:
    Drop the *isms. Say what you want, be specific and precise! Reject statements that are wrong or unprecise – even if you think you can agree to what you feel must be the idea behind it.
    Try to live without beeing in a group that is defined by any non-specific ideas. Try to accept that there is little certainty…(there is some, at least)

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Feministische Forderungen und ihre Gegenstücke | Alles Evolution

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