Inclusive feminism vs Hard-core feminism

The role of women in our society is still an important issue. (Although not as urgent to me as say tackling  poverty and stopping wars.)  This post will argue that inclusive feminism is more productive than hard-core feminism in changing social attitudes and achieving greater equality.

By inclusive I mean trying to get equal not ‘more equal’ status in legislation, policy and entry to events, like some hard core feminists want. (I am a bit scared of them actually).

Legislation

Some legislation, The Equal Pay Act 1970, for example, no doubt is an important step and leads to greater equality of opportunity. The reason for it, I think is that it gives women and men equal rights, rather than promoting women’s rights over others.

Legislation on parental leave that prioritises maternal leave actually perpetuates gender stereotypes. In today’s society women are expected to be a mother and have a career and if they choose one over the other, they are often looked down on, which is very unfair. (However, from the physical point of view you can’t get away from the fact that a woman actually gives birth and needs time to recover and feed a baby).  If men and women had equal rights about taking time off work to look after their child, social attitudes will change over time and therefore in time society will be more equal.

Nick Clegg has recognised this: ‘The Coalition is committed to encouraging shared parenting from the earliest stages of pregnancy – including through the promotion of a system of flexible parental leave.’ (http://tiny.cc/5gbxi )

Policy

In my opinion, Labour’s ‘all women shortlist’ is a very bad idea. How is positive discrimination an answer? Just because women were so badly discriminated in the past, it doesn’t mean that it’s our turn now!

Also, this kind of ‘help’ for women to get into politics is somewhat offensive. I don’t know what makes women less capable to be shortlisted on equal basis that they need extra help.

Events

‘Women only’ training sessions, swimming sessions, and other such events where entry is dependent on one’s gender are not any less sexist than ‘men only’ club.

If there was a ‘men only’ training session at conference, there would be a real uproar!

By isolating women we don’t achieve greater equality or change social attitudes. I am sure intentions are good but it comes across as counter-productive.

Conclusion:

What we need is more inspirational women in politics. Role models like Shirley Williams, Catherine Bearder, Lynne Featherstone and Sarah Teather do more to get women involved than any discriminatory policy ever will do.

Of course, there are differences between men and women, for example,‘where’s the foetus going to gestate, in a box?’. Also, a man probably couldn’t get away with writing this blog.

But let’s listen to Shirley Williams:

‘the most satisfactory societies are those that welcome the contributions of men and women alike, both to work life and to family life, recognising that they are complementary, and that neither needs to dominate the other.’

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4 Responses to “Inclusive feminism vs Hard-core feminism”

  1. Sanchez Says:

    I could agree with the notion of men and women completing one another (though I usually support one we could call “egalitarism”), but only if we freed them from biological determinism. There is a bunch of features we label as “feminine” and some other we call “masculine” in our culture – and they do complete and fulfill each other. Yet, which is the most important thing to underline, they not always go with the sex! There is “yin and yang” in every couple, every society, every community, but these don’t necesserily have to be women to procide the “feminine” energy, do they? I believe, this is of course just an assumption of philosophical nature, that we are as humans potentially able to represent the feminine and the masculine aspects and that the biological sex is of secondery importance here, which our everyday life seems to prove – we’ve seen it so many times, and I don’t mean drag-queens only, but also couples where the woman is the one who dominates… What I also believe in is that human development, intelectual and spirital alike, contains also an element of trying to combine these both aspects in oneself. And feminism helps here! So completing – yes, but of aspects and not individuals of concrete sexes. Let’s finally realise we are far more than what we have between our legs and notice how surprisingly different we turn out to be 🙂
    A propos the feminist theme… I found and interesting article contrasting the declared profound Marian devotion with social praxis celebrating the military; reveals something of our Christian attitude. Worth checking out: http://dstp.cba.pl/?p=2471

  2. David Rogers Says:

    As a father who was the main carer for my first daughter 26 years ago, to enable my then wife to establish her career, I sooooo agree with your point about prioritising maternity leave encouraging gender stereotyping! During that time, I also took my daughter to Committee and Council meetings of Brighton Borough Council, especially to the then newly established Women’s Committee – in effect to make the same point.

  3. Hoeeh Says:

    I was reading Paulo Coelho’s book entitled Eleven Minutes and I felt compassion for the main character in the story since life in general for her was cruel. The writer was really creative without losing grasp of the ruthless realities of these days which made the novel worth reading. I was at a recital last night with a friend and I was really glad I was there. It was an orchestra concert about harmonious pieces describing life in general. I had so much satisfaction that night that I even recorded some of the pieces that they performed on my video camera.

  4. Kelly-Marie Blundell Says:

    I am intrigued by the choice of words, “inclusive” and “hard-core”. This in it’s self makes an ambiguos and potentially detrimental title.

    Olga, I would be interested to know your position on the representation of the female and the male. Further to Sanchez’s comments, I loathe the post-modern derrogative “Esther” representation of feminism, embracing sexuality and the one dimensional woman to further degrade and repress.

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