"I’m not a feminist, I’m a humanist." Synonymous -isms of equality

equality

Feminism. Humanism. Egalitarianism. All largely similar doctrines centering around a desire for equality. But you wouldn’t think so when you come across claims like, “I’m not a feminist, I’m a humanist.”

If you’re one, then surely you’re the other, right? So, why confuse things?

Yes, the term ‘feminism’ has a bad rep. It’s not an impartial word, its etymological origin is ‘feminine’, so people assume it excludes men and men’s issues. But history has shown there have been many male supporters of women’s rights, men commenting on the detrimental areas of masculinity and machismo, and female feminists concerned about aspects of men’s lives, like male rape.

Often people that claim they aren’t feminists, don’t know what feminism means. If they’re an unmarried, sexually active election-voting woman in work who wears what they please and wants to be paid the same as a man in the same job, then they’re probably a feminist. If they’re a husband and father, then I’m sure they want their mothers, sisters, wives and daughters to be treated with the respect any man receives. (I’m generalizing, I know. I’m sorry.)

A few myth-busting facts:

  1. Mistaking radical or niche feminism for mainstream feminism is all to common. We’re not all man-haters.
  2. There isn’t one specific agenda that all feminists must adhere to except believing in equality of the sexes in all areas of society. That’s it. There’s no agreed upon agenda.
  3. Feminists disagree with one another all the time. Feminists change their minds. Beliefs evolve and devolve with each passing day. Discussing with and challenging people is what feminists do. It’s how new ideas are formed, opinions changed, and ways to combat inequality are eked out.
  4. You can be a feminist and be pro-porn. Those two things aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive.
  5. Perfect feminists don’t exist. Humans are fallible and psychologically complex. Everyone has been a hypocrite at least once in their lives. Feminism is very much a personal philosophy, like religion and spirituality, so everyone approaches it in different ways and that’s why there are many ‘types’ of feminism.
  6. The thoughts and acts of one feminist are not those of all feminists.
  7. Despite antiquated definitions of feminism, modern feminists aren’t solely interested in women’s rights but men’s rights too.

Here are some definitions to compare with feminism.

Egalitarianism

…a political doctrine that all people should be treated as equals and have the same political, economicsocial, and civil rights – Wikipedia

Humanism

That man should show respect to man, irrespective of class, race or creed is fundamental to the humanist attitude to life. Among the fundamental moral principles, he would count those of freedom, justice, tolerance and happiness…the attitude that people can live an honest, meaningful life without following a formal religious creed. Pears Cyclopaedia, 87th edition, 1978

As a feminist, I’m also an egalitarian, and as someone who isn’t religious I subscribe to all areas of humanism as well, not just their equality policy.

To me, saying things like “I’m not a feminist, I’m a humanist” isn’t helpful. It’s splitting hairs. A knee-jerk reaction to quickly disassociate themselves from that awful cult of feminism while, at the same time, perpetuating ignorance and fear of an ideology we should all be embracing.

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