Teaching Feminism 101

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3 Responses

  1. Blue says:

    While what is behind most interpretations of feminism is about fighting for a more just and equal world, I do agree the term itself is outdated and only serves to reproduce a harmful binary system and an us-and-them mentality. It becomes meaningless to talk about biological differences between ‘men’ and ‘women’ when you realise that people come in more varieties than two.

    • rademacher says:

      I agree. People definitely come in more than two varieties. However, I would argue that as feminist scholars have augmented and expanded theoretical perspectives, they have challenged (and continue to challenge) the hegemonic. And breaking down the hegemonic enables us to critique a binary system.

      Clearly, one of the limitations of my posting was that I only focused on my students’ critiques of feminism and reflected on how my personal undergraduate professors addressed these critiques. My students frequently like to bring up biological differences when discussing gender equality. These comments always remind me of one of my undergraduate classes when a student told the professor she believed feminists wanted men and women to be the same and everyone knew men and women were different. I remember my professor pointing out that biological differences are minute compared to the ways in which these small differences become embedded in social norms, values, and structures, often reproducing inequality.

      Today, I think we can expand on that statement and use critiques related to biological difference to, as you pointed out, further critique the binary. Your response made me realize that when students bring up biological difference there is an opportunity to discuss diversity and further break down the hegemonic and the binary because I do not believe feminism is about “us-and-them.” Rather, I believe it is about equality for all.

      • Blue says:

        I’m not critiquing what feminism has done, or is doing, but rather pointing out the actual term ‘feminism’ is outdated for what ‘feminism’ is today, broadly speaking, but also the more that it can do via another term that avoids reproducing binary thinking. Feminism/masculinism? masculinity? Whichever way, I think it reinforces a binary, most particularly for people who have not studied feminist theories and for the people who most need to understand/learn about gender inequality.

        Of course feminism is not *about* an us-and-them perspective, but unfortunately I believe the term itself starts off/creates this mentality for many.

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