Ex-expat has beaten me to the punch a little bit, but I'd like to respond to a recent interesting post by Homepaddock about the future of feminism. (This is also a response to Noelle McCarthy. If you're reading this, Noelle, I'd be happy to discuss the issues over a pinot gris - except that like many women, my roles as mother, worker and student don't leave me much time or disposable income for self-indulgence).
Homepaddock questions whether feminism has ongoing relevance, and suggests that it needs to be superseded by peopleism - an approach in which 'issues and concerns are addressed by people because they are people's issues and concerns'. Given the different parts of the political specture HP and I occupy, it's not surprising that we don't see eye to eye on this one; but I think she points to the important challenge feminists face in convincing the world at large that what we have to say matters.
First of all, I don't agree with HP that feminism is in any way 'against' men, any more than anti-racism movements are against white people. I think feminism promotes values with the potential to benefit all of society - and if I didn't, I probably wouldn't bother with it. My son and daughter grow up in an environment where it's OK for both to kick a ball, play with their My Little Ponies, read a book or play with toy cars. They have a dad who has no hesitation or embarrassment in showing his love for them, and helps out with every aspect of their care, from homework to nose-blowing. My partner is one half of a relationship in which either or both parents can be breadwinner or at-home parent at any given time. Violence of any sort, including smacking, is prohibited in our family. Our kids know that, whatever their sexuality, they and their partners will be loved and welcomed in their parents' home. So the males in our feminist household don't have it so bad.
What's more, I don't know a single feminist woman who doesn't care about men's welfare, or cares only about gender issues. Every feminist I know cares about other social justice issues - workers' rights, the environment, human rights issues, colonialism - because we see the relationship between these issues and the oppression of women.
Secondly, as Ex-expat says, if we stop looking the world through the lens of gender, and stop responding to gender issues collectively as women, we lose the ability to stand up against this kind of injustice. Things like the pay gap, domestic violence and eating disorders don't just randomly happen to a bunch of people who just happen to be female. These are structural issues affecting women as a group because we're women. We could look to human rights laws/equal opportunities policies/men/common sense and reason/liberalism/whatever to fix the problems that affect us as woman, but we'll be waiting a bloody long time. Every single advance for women has happened because women identified a structural injustice and stood collectively against it.
HP points to an important problem, though. Why is it that some women don't see the ongoing relevance of feminism - including women like Noelle McCarthy, who acknowledges the gains it's made for women? That it is much trickier issue, and perhaps another blog for another day.