Ineffective and Inefficient: Why this Feminist has an issue with “Egalitarianism.”
You’ve all heard the rhetoric before: “Why be a feminist when you can be an egalitarian! You can’t have REAL equality unless you focus on everyone equally! Like, we’re all people!” Yeah. I’m here today to explain to you why I don’t buy into that.
If you’re just going to scroll past this post to the reblog button so you can yell at me, I’d like to take a moment and tell you to fucking not. Actually read what’s going on here.
My issues with Egalitarianism boil down into two delightfully alliterative issues: Effectiveness and Efficiency. The practical and the theoretical, if you will. Let me explain.
So, what IS Egalitarianism? One problem is that the word is VERY VERY broad, and there really isn’t a lot of actual activism happening under this label, so working definitions are hard to come by. The way MOST people seem to describe it through is this: it is a belief that ALL people, regardless of gender or race or anything else, are equal, and we should work on EVERYONES problems to make sure everyone gets to be equal.
So, why is this NOT effective?
Remember how I said that there isn’t a lot of activism happening under this label? Yeah, that’s our first problem. I’m not gunna sign up for an activism group that doesn’t really appear to be doing much, if any, activism. The tag here on Tumblr is nearly entirely “feminism sucks. Egalitarianism is better!” posts instead of, ya know, actual issues. And as an activist, I actually want to deal with issues.
But why is in not efficient?
This is the main issue at hand. Even if there WAS LOTS of activism working under this name, Egalitarianism is NOT informed and theoretically sound in the issues it claims to address, and thus is not equipped to actually deal with those issues.
When we, as intersectional feminists, look at a problem, we have to ask ourselves, what is the ROOT of these issues? We recognize that there are established social scaffoldings of oppression in place that favor male-ness, whiteness, straightness, cisness, thiness, and being able-bodied over everything else. These forces, such as Patriarchy and White Supremacy, influence people in a variety of ways based on their own identities.
Sometimes, even power groups take backlash from these systems of inequality. We know that the Patriarchy enforces increasingly strict and aggressive ideals of masculinity, which often works to silence male victims of abuse, for example.When we say that “Patriarchy hurts men too!” this is what we mean.
Because we understand these power relationships, we can work to dismantle the underlying power structures in our culture to help everyone.
Egalitarianism does not do this. The rhetoric at play here completely IGNORES these underlying causes and treats ALL gender equality problems as though they were unconnected and equally important. It buys into this strange notion that somehow MISANDRY is responsible for hyper-aggressive ideals of masculinity, or the silencing of male victims, or the draft. So they have to fight Misandry too! Or something?
And here’s the thing: If you don’t understand the ROOT of a problem, you’re never going to be able to fix it.
Egalitarianism sounds decent enough, and safe enough to not offend those in power. But revolutions need revolutionaries, yall. This weak-tea low-cal substitute doesn’t have the teeth to fight the battles it needs to fight. It is a neutered and de-clawed Feminism that can’t get things done, and doesn’t even try.
I understand the appeal. I do. But THIS is why I will never use that label, and roll my eyes in frustration when people try to paint it as the MORE EQUAL cousin of feminism. It isn’t. It’s Feminism’s daddy’s boy little brother who never gets his shit taken care of while Big Sister starts the revolution.
What those who say ‘egalitarianism is more fair than feminism’ fail to understand is that an egalitarian society is the end, not the means. Equality for all is our goal & feminism is one of the tools we use to achieve that goal.