The Need for New Feminism

I've been called a lot of nasty names in my life, but misogynist isn't on the list, at least it's not one of the names I hear regularly from relatively well-informed people.

The truth is that I've always considered myself a male feminist and I've worked hard to that end. But, at the same time, I've found myself at odds with the traditional feminist movement and I've even grown to fear that feminism may be the very thing holding a lot of women back.

You see, I'm a feminist in that I'm an egalitarian. I believe that all people, regardless of race, sex, religion, etc. should have equal protection under law and equal opportunities in society.

With that in mind, it's hard to deny that women have been treated unfairly and, in many ways, continue to be treated unfairly today. I feel that it's important to support the notion that women, like everyone else, deserve a fair chance at life. I wholeheartedly support initiatives such as equal pay for equal work, equal access to education and other pillars of feminism that aim to expand the options and opportunities women have to further their happiness.

My problem comes when women's organizations try to decide what women can and can't do with that freedom, usually by taking up initiatives and objectives that have nothing to do with equality or fair play, but instead, personal choice.

For example, many feminist organizations frown upon “traditional” roles of women, including the role of the stay at home mother. Homemakers are frequently told that they should be out in the workforce earning money and building a career of their own and that, if they fail to do that, then they're dragging the feminist movement down and disrespecting those that are fighting for their right to do so.

The problem with this is that, just because a woman has a right and the capability to enter the workforce, that doesn't necessarily mean that she wants to. In fact, many women, and men for that matter, find that being a full-time parent is a very rewarding and challenging career. To deny them the right to be a full-time parent, or to even hint that what they're doing is wrong, even if it makes them happy, is no different than forcing women into the role.

A similar problem arises in the porn industry and adult entertainment at large. Feminists have long slammed the sex industry as being demeaning toward women and it's taken its aggression out largely on the women that participate including actresses, strippers and those that work in the business in non-sexual capacities.

Though the logic of “porn degrades women” is flawed on several levels, feminists have tried, often with reckless abandon, to regulate and hinder the sex industry. Though it's true some of the women that wound up in the field were forced into it, this is an issue for law enforcement and not raging political activism. Most of the women who get on stage or in front of the camera do so willingly and to deny them their profession because of a general fear that it “demeans women” is very telling of the feminist movement.

Basically, what it shows is that many, if not most, modern feminists have no interest in erasing gender stereotypes. Instead, they want to carve out a new one that mirrors the traditional male roles. They conclude, quite erroneously, that the true path to equality with men is to place as many women as possible in traditional male roles, even if it requires some degree of force.

Personally, I see equality and freedom as going hand-in-hand. Unless there's freedom, someone is being subjected and as long as someone is being subjected, there's never true equality.

If feminists want to center their movement around the idea of pushing women down paths they don't want to go, that's their prerogative. But while they might achieve equality in the eyes of the law and the workplace, they'll have done nothing to secure true freedom for women and will have only replaced one type of sexism for another. Worst of all, they'll have done very little, if anything, to further the overall happiness and richness of women's lives because they'll be denying many women the path that is right for them.

In the end, the only true way to embrace the idea of feminism, or any movement that is pressing for equality, is to first embrace the idea of personal choice. Because the minute we start telling people what they can and cannot do with their life, we find ourselves replacing one type of oppression for another, thus creating a “chasing the tail” scenario by which little is gained and nothing significant is accomplished.

That's something that we can't risk allowing to happen, equality and fair treatment is something that is too important to jeopardize over personal disagreements. At some point, we have to realize that freedom means people sometimes doing things we don't like (though, personally, I have no problem with either stay at home mothers or the sex industry) and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Basically, there needs to be a realization that feminism can't be about the vision of utopia shared by a few, but instead, about the freedom of all. That's the only way real progress can be made and any idea of fairness can be reached.

And, in the end, isn't fairness what feminism is supposed to be about?

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14 Responses to The Need for New Feminism

  1. Alysa says:

    Well, Raven I generaly have the same idea but… With your reference towards femenists i believe that you have a kind of a different view of their values then they actualy do. But that is just my opinoin

  2. Rose says:

    i completely agree with you raven

  3. Aubrey says:

    I have been saying almost the exact same thing for years… finally… someone posted it! youre very intelligent Raven…. ~~NiGhTmIsTrEsS~~

  4. Sue says:

    I have met a lot of people in my lifetime and have dealt with many difficult situations. After spending most of my 42 years fighting to retrieve my voice, beliefs and rights, I now fight for those that do not realize that they can lose that voice, belief and rights. I enjoy reading your work and I am absolutely amazed at the wisdom that I read in someone so young. I mean no disrespect or condescension to you in anyway by this comment. Much success to you!

  5. Nevaeh says:

    I have never thought about it like this. I concider myself a femenist but I've never participated in any activity to help feminism. Howver the way you put your views on feminisim makes me wonder if I've been thinking about feminism in the right way. Thank you for opening my mind Raven

  6. Ka says:

    Hmm, somehow you've managed to condense the rantings of the many anti-censorship feminists (self included) into one little space. Congrats. It seems like in an effort to reclaim the Sacred Mother and Warrior Woman models, they forgot about the sacred slut, the crone (oh, just remembering that one), the lover (just remembering that one too), the maiden, the witch, and all the _other_ powerful female archetypes. It also seems like "they" (and by they I mean the pro-censorship, sex-negative variety of feminist) want to completely ignore the many male archetypes other than Big Authoritative Beard In The Sky…
    It seems like some of 'em just decided to mother the world to "make it safe for women"- by taking away women's freedom and range of expression. How sweet.

  7. Pia says:

    Personally, when I look at the Feminist Movement, its really funny to me. First, in my opinion, the Movement never covered every woman. Many women from different races, socio-ecomonic backgrounds, and up-bringings are either still waiting for their moment or have had to create a movement on their own. Second, and I agree with you on this, Raven, is that it seems the current Feminist Movement wants to impose a stereotype male personality on women and THAT is supposed to make it better?! It appears that rather than help lift oppression, they are an oppression in their own way.

  8. SaviourSelf says:

    i think 'feminisim' like many other isms has an aganda…

    not so much the rights of women…

    …it seems at time that the ism has zero respect for motherhood.

    …i of course will be told i'm wrong.

    it think it funny that the 'femeninsts' seem to feel that most of nature has the 'family model' wrong – and that their new model is right – or more beneficial.

  9. SaviourSelf says:

    …i do not remember where i read it (so you can discount this if you'd like), but i seem to recall that it was part of the agenda of the 'communists' (eg: communist manefesto style) that they would undermine america in part through the women and children…

    *force women (or compel them ) into the work force…
    *now the workforce has more workers…
    *this creates an 'employer's market'…
    *overall payrates go down because job applicants are SO plentiful that employers have more choice (supply and demand)…
    *hey there are 100 applicants standing in line behind you, why should we pay you more..
    *the 'workers to available-jobs ratio' gets diluted.
    *overall wages goes down because there is NO shortage of people who NEED a job.

    IF all of the MOMs who'd rather be at home with their beloved just QUIT their jobs… employers would be in NEED of workers… this would create a worker's market… and wages would go up…

    the need for expensive childcare (don't know that i feel comfortable calling the placement of your children under the guidance of an un-interested 3rd party "childCARE") factors into this equation HEAVILY too.

    In the long run it appears to dilute a family over all…

    oh but i forgot – these days family seems to take a DISTANT second to DUTY…

    You want to call in sick for what?!?! Your child is sick?!? Well we'll have to PENALIZE you for it…

  10. chrissi says:

    Feminism is not only for equality for men and women, but to redefine the whole idea of who women are as well as men. As a man, you may not feel that the job is that hard, but believe me, it's hard to know who you are as a woman. to understand where you belong. and yes, some feminist do push the idea of getting out of the house…my sisters were strippers, and yes, i was the "i think i may be demeaning type", but no i didn't cut them down. What is going on right now is a transformation i believe…a lot of people still don't know what feminism is. A lot of people don't want to label themselves as anything. I think instead of finding things that are negative about this movement, we need to look toward the positive things it is bringing. I am glad that you are, as a man, which is hard to say for me, involved in thinking about feminism. I'm not sure if feminism is really one idea to anyone in this world, as with anything else.
    PS: on the point of shoving women into men's jobs…or is it that when women do enter the workforce, everything has been designed by a man, and a woman must put on society's idea of the identity of a man to work?
    Saying that people are being pushed into the wrong careers is like saying that too many people are focusing on the fact that bush needs to be impeached.

  11. Sinsade says:

    It is too simple to chalk up feminism to the few women who are adopting male attitudes and actions. They feel this is the only way to break into a patriarchal order, and in some instances they are absolutely correct. However, humanity is represented by many manifestations of energy; dark, light, and all shades inbetween. There are many types of feminists out there and they do not all choose to shout their visions from the mountain top. Those women who truly see the need for a balance between the male and female energies here on earth are working in subtle ways.I see these as the feminine energies that will prevail. The repercussions of this subtly working energy are not easily seen, but are there nonetheless.

  12. Niccolo says:

    This is the first time I have ever come to this site, and I saw this article, so I thought I would read it. I don't have much to say, but I'll start by an introduction. I'm a young, middle class, caucasian American, and a Pagan. I believe firmly in equality, fairness, and respect of all living things. I just want to say, that it is nice to see someone writing something like this, especially when I wasn't looking for it. Seeing someone, who obviously has talent, knowledge, and a will to share it, has really made my day. It's nice to see a person with genuine concern for other people. Thank you.

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