Sunday, August 1, 2010

all kinds of -ists

I've always thought of myself as a secular humanist. I'm not sure if that's what exactly I am but it's how I identify. I don't care if you get inspiration for ethical behaviour from Grimm's Fairy Tales as long as you don't expect me to worship your source or expect your source to top laws that apply to everyone. Part of being a humanist to me is to try to support groups that make the world a better place.

That desire also leads me to identify as a feminist. One of the ongoing random arguments in my home space is when SO makes a comment that implies that papa x can't come out and play after working so hard all day because mama x demands papa x be ...OMG ...a parent. Our domestic unit now uses terms like flight attendant, letter/mail carrier, fisher, spouse that, at least mentally, takes the gender role out of the job. Guys who use the 10 weeks of paternal leave available gets my support because they are embracing their family role. If woman will trust me with her kids, I will look after/monitor them when she needs a break. To me feminism is about fighting patriarchal privilege by, at minimum, recognizing it and working to overcome that privilege.

As is frequently the case, this post at Feministe about embracing the label of mama'i rather than feminist was made more thought provoking by the comments. I am not black nor USian so much of the anger does not resonate with my experience, I can only empathize. I can understand the need to redefine feminism because is it so white and US-centric and has become a strawman to burn in the media. Much like art, music, socialism and most cultural changes, a formal feminist movement requires a group of comparatively affluent people wanting to initiate change. Most of society are busy just living their lives; affluent people have the time and resources to advocate for change. The unfortunate thing is they also end up defining the movement initially and frequently the movement fizzles out as the next generation thinks the battle has been won. It seems to me that the biggest difference between the black civil rights and feminist movement in the US is the recognition by the majority of blacks that the fight is on-going regardless of what mainstream media tries to say. Too many women are ready to narrowly define the feminist movement and call it done. Men are more than happy to go along with that because they don't have to try and change their thinking.

Which leads me to another type of -ist; the "New Atheist".  The NA is an expected extension of the Enlightenment movement which discovered less and less need for a god to explain the world or for a brutal justice system based on otherness...and a topic for different post.