The trouble with feminism is …

… that we’re asking the wrong question. It all starts out innocently enough. An aggrieved woman asks, ‘Are men and women equal?’ If you answer, ‘Yes’, then the issue becomes, ‘Why aren’t they treated equally?’ If you answer ‘No’ then you’re a male chauvinist, even if you happen to be, you know, a woman.

So just what IS a feminist? I read an insightful post on tumblr that said a feminist is a person that advocates equal rights for women. The article further explains that lots of people are feminists, even though they may not know it. I don’t ascribe to feminism, even though most people think I do. I recognize that feminists from the past have done a lot for me. They got me an education, a job, jeans, the right to vote. Without them, I’d probably be a third wife to some old lout in a village somewhere.

Yet I say I’m not a feminist, because my idea of feminism is the radical females that have taken things too far. That doesn’t stop men (and women) who meet me from declaring me a feminist, because I’m a loud single mum with an opinion about everything. So why am I not a feminist? Because feminism answers the wrong question.

Teju Cole on Feminists

Men are not equal to women. Women are not equal to men. Men are not superior to women. Women are not superior to men. Neither gender is inferior to the other, because the two genders are complementary. The fact is that men can’t thrive without women, and women can’t thrive without men. They can live, they can survive, they can even be happy. But in order to thrive, they need each other.

Let’s look at the most basic point – population. For the human race to procreate, we need both men and women. Men need a womb and egg from a female. Women need a sperm from a male. You could spend lifetimes arguing about which of those components is more crucial, but the fact is if you took out either part, there would be no children. Then the human race would become completely extinct.

What about homosexual couples? A lesbian couple still needs a sperm from a male. A gay male couple still needs an egg and a womb. Even adoptive parents need a man and woman to collaborate and produce that child. Without that connection, there’d be no baby for them to adopt.

Fine, what about after the child is born, what then? Well, somebody needs to look after the baby. Feeding, changing, bathing, playing etc. And somebody needs to pay the bills so that somebody else can look after the baby. Who does what is not the point.

A man is better endowed physically for hunting, gathering, detaching from the child during work hours, and is therefore intrinsically better suited to provide for the family. A woman can learn these skills. A woman is more nurturing and emotional, and has breasts, so she’s intrinsically better at child care. A man can learn these skills.  So when it comes to child rearing, gender is a factor, but it’s not a deciding factor.

Modern feminism

Now, let’s look at gender inequality. Because a woman’s biological make-up is better suited to raising children, some people believe that’s all she should do. Because a man’s biological make-up is better suited for provision, some people believe that’s all he should do. These two beliefs have led to both genders being institutionally locked out of certain opportunities, at school, at work, and at home.

These opportunities are related to skill, not gender, and we’ve already established that these skills can be learned. It may be slightly more difficult for a man to rear a child or for a woman to hunt a mammoth, but it can be done. So, again, gender is a stupid basis for denying anyone an opportunity.

Now, let’s look at the things a man or woman CAN’T do because of their gender. A woman can’t fertilize an egg. A man can’t gestate a child. If there’s ANYTHING else that a man or woman can’t do based on their gender, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

So, as far as I know, the ONLY thing that can be denied based on gender is siring and bearing children. Which of the two is more important is a pointless argument, since taking any of the two out of the equation eliminates children, which means the human race is gone.

Now, based on men siring children and women bearing children, it would be insensible for a mother that is 8 months pregnant to climb the scaffolding on a construction site, or grab a gun and charge into battle. It would be equally impractical for a father to grab his hungry infant and hide in the closet without a feeding bottle.

If men and women were equal, then a couple in their eighth month of pregnancy could both climb that scaffolding I mentioned earlier. But just because the mother can’t (and shouldn’t) doesn’t make her inferior. If men and women were equal, then a couple with a two week old baby could both feed him using the liquids that flow out of their bodies. Just because the father can’t do that doesn’t make him inferior. In both situations, one parent needs to pay for the other to take care of the child, both within and outside the uterus. They complement each other so that their baby – and the human race – can survive.

Does that mean the kids of homosexual or single parents are missing out? No. It does mean they need the other gender to complement their parenting, and most kids get that through aunts, uncles, teachers, elder siblings, close friends. The point is the genders balance each other out, in all areas of life.

So, should men and women be given the same opportunities? Yes. Should they always take the same opportunities? No. Is either gender inferior to the other? No. Are the two genders equal to each other? No. Do the two genders need each other? Absolutely. Is the world doomed if we can’t make peace between men and women. Yes. Can we make this peace while one gender feels antagonized, attacked, and belittled by the other? No. And this is why I’m not a feminist.

♫ Let me be myself ♫ 3 Doors Down ♫

9 Responses. Yay! I like it when you talk back ... to “The trouble with feminism is …”

  1. James Wahome says:

    “They can live, they can survive, they can even be happy. But in order to thrive, they need each other” .. They can’t even survive without each other, I love this post though 3CB, its been on my mind this past month or so.

  2. crystal says:

    Speaking of which, it’s been about a year now, I hope you guys are doing okay 🙂

  3. Infinitepyro says:

    Hm… Feminism…

    Firstly, smashing concise argument. Would never have been able to pen anything quite like this.

    Now, feminism. Feminism is a branch of Gender Studies. Gender studies encompass, in theory, masculism and feminism and LGBT studies. I say in theory because the reality is that gender studies heavily rely on feminist social theories as pointed out in Helen Lindberg’s doctoral dissertation. The reality of it is, feminism as an ideology accepts no other voice in the room apart from its own. Yet the genders are complimentary.

    An example of feminism comes to us in the form of a custodial battle between husband and wife.
    Taking out the reason for the divorce for the metaphor’s sakes; feminism is the winning of custodial rights without question, explanation nor argument. Masculism is the man’s side of the whole argument and gender equality is the consideration of both gender’s needs.

    Right now there exists a distinction between masculism and masculinism but given that common feminist rhetoric is rampantly misandrious, masculism has every potential to become masculinism in this post-structalist age. And if it comes to that the cycle starts all over again. Chauvinism->Feminism->Chauvinism->Feminism->Chauvinism ad infinitum.

  4. James Wahome says:

    Yes we are :D, with more to follow.

  5. […] The Trouble With Feminism Is ( […]

  6. Bethy says:

    Was your post inspired by Beyonce’s new album? Did you see Chimamanda Achie’s talk? On her self discovery to feminism and what it means to her?
    As I work on women’s rights and empowerment its a constant question of what it means to me and more importantly, what its going to mean to my daughter. I posted an article on FB about this, check it out. It was from Huffpo I believe.

  7. y chromosome says:

    y chromosome

    The trouble with feminism is … « 3CB

  8. […] why I hesitate to call myself a feminist. In the house where I grew up, there was no difference between girls and boys. I have three […]

  9. tim bean says:

    I don’t understand the feminists any more. They have gone from liberation to Nazism. I search the web looking at man hater web sites, and I find more like this one, where truth is what is important and that is the solution. The man hater web sites are getting fewer over the years, but I just realized that the liars only care about the fight, and leaving as many casualties that pee standing up as they can. I was fired for sexual harassment a few years ago. I did not know that lifting stuff that was to heavy for my coworker to carry was bad. She was holding up the job, the truck needed to leave. I can carry 300 lbs and its not unusual to get someone that can’t carry the extreme loads. So I do their job and they do mine {moving a hydraulic lever up and down} its team work, I don’t mind, but she thought I made her feel inferior, for being a girl, on her first day. It was my last. My boss said she only had to prove how she felt, not NOT WHAT I DID.

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