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If Women Ruled the World, Nothing Would Be Different

“The biggest problem with American feminism today is its obsession with women.”

This article is 5 years old, but still very relevant. Lisa Jervis pretty much nails it here. What is wrong with feminism today?

…much of the contemporary American feminist movement is preoccupied with the mistaken belief—call it femmenism—that female leadership is inherently different from male; that having more women in positions of power, authority, or visibility will automatically lead to, or can be equated with, feminist social change; that women are uniquely equipped as a force for action on a given issue; and that isolating feminist work as solely pertaining to women is necessary or even useful.

Instead, she proceeds to make what is in essence a simple but oh-so vital point. It’s not about women, it’s about gender.

…a useful, idealistic, transformative progressive feminism is not about women. It’s about gender, and all the legal and cultural rules that govern it, and power—who has it and what they do with it.

After a little detour about we ended up here, she quotes various examples of women’s organizations and eventually gets to it.

But the problem with femmenism goes even deeper than these strategic missteps. Because it’s founded on gender difference, it retains a strong investment in gender divisions. Not only will we never dismantle gender discrimination as long as gender divisions are philosophically important to feminism, but we’ll end up reproducing the gendered oppression we’re supposedly fighting against.

Femmenism seeks a circumscribed set of qualities for womanhood the same way that conservative, gender-traditional patriarchy does. (…) This sort of gender essentialism can be particularly divisive when it comes to women’s and feminist activism, because it polices the boundaries of womanhood; implicitly or overtly, femmenist organizations, groups, and events require a certain degree of “femininity” for participation.

And the goal? Stop clinging to gender categories.

If we cling to any gender categories at all, we lose out on tremendous liberatory potential. In other words, the half-witted, sentimental obsession with women that is femmenism causes sloppy thinking, intellectual dishonesty, and massive strategic errors. Thanks to the tremendous feminist work of the last century, we have the opportunity to leave that obsession behind. If vital feminist work is going to continue, we need to seize it.

P.S. The copyright message at the end of that article isn’t exactly permissive. Nevertheless, I hope this post is still acceptable. If it’s not, let me know LiP Magazine.