Thursday, 16 June 2016

Types Of Feminism - Response

This is a very impressive body of research. I've gone through it carefully over the last few days. I even followed much of it back to the sources you've quoted (a good practice for readers to see if the author is giving an accurate representation of the source, or is cherry-picking to back up an agenda) & found you'd been very fair & accurate in representing the source material.
As you no doubt realised whilst doing your research, this is a very complex subject, & the precise deliniations between different different feminist groups & schools of thought are sometimes not very clear. and it sometimes comes down to individual interpretation.There's always going to be a degree of disagreement about this (for instance, I wouldn't personally have put anarcho-feminism as a sub-group of Marxist Feminism) but on the whole I would say this is a good objective body of work that should be read by more people.

There are a few issues I have with some of this that are not the fault of the author, but instead due to the limitations of the source material. Even though you have used unbiased sources, even a lengthy source article is going to be a very condensed summation of a significantly bigger subject, & inevitably, even with the best intentions, a lot facts will have to be omitted.
Because some of the source articles reduce the subject to dry academic facts & political analysis, many of them fail to capture the real 'spirit' or 'feel' of the movement. I would recommend anybody wanting to further research some of these strands of feminism to find interviews with the key members of these strands, because that will greatly enhance your understanding far more than an analytic article can.
For instance, many branches of late 1960s / early 1970s second wave feminism were tied in with the counter-culture of that period, when people were very idealistic & had a real sense of personal empowerment. Many women involved in these strands (particularly what was known as the women's liberation movement) strongly believed that women should NOT get any 'special treatment', had to prove themselves by their own merits (equality of opportunity), were strongly against censorship of speech & ideas (no matter how 'offensive') & didn't want 'quotas' or 'affirmative action'. This 'spirit' of self-empowernment can never be captured in an analytic article (& is woefully lacking in the source material) but I think further research would reveal that in fact there was a lot of what was going on in certain strands of second wave feminism that was very much in alignment with the principles of egalitarian feminism (though equally there was a lot that wasn't).

There also is a 'lost period' of feminism between the death of the second wave (late 1970s) & the start of the third wave (circa 1990s, though one can never put exact dates on these things). This period hasn't been documented well (possibly because there was very few feminist 'celebrities' or best-selling books to have come out of it) but it was a period where feminism got away from the grip of middle-class academics & professors & went back to being a grass roots movement. In the u.k, this grass roots feminism was incredibly powerful. Feminists were major supporters of the striking miners in the great British miners strike of the early 1980s, showing that they were willing to support hard-working men when they were being beaten down by a tyrannical right wing despot (Mrs Thatcher - a woman no less). There was also Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp, showing one of the most incredible examples of female empowernent that's even been demonstarted. Thousands of 'ordinary women' were prepared to take on the might of the U.K & U.S military ! (& put up with continued arrest & eviction). Regardless of people's personal politics, or whether you agree with them, these women were truly inspirational in showing what women are capable of doing.

The other issue I have with some of the source material (& the conclusions drawn from it) is regarding 'Marxist Feminism'. I am extremely wary of the word 'Marxist' being applied to any any body of thought or group of people unless that group self-identifies as 'Marxist' or admits to drawing ideas from Marxism. The reason I am wary is that too often (especially in YouTube comments) the word 'Marxist' is used as a 'Poisoning The Well' term, People no longer have to explain what's actually 'wrong' with Marxism - it's taken as a given (by a certain audience) that 'Marxism' is inherently evil are  - so the use of that term can often just be like tainting an opponent with the word 'Nazi'..

Inevitably, when people stain their opponents with the 'Marxist' slur, what they're doing is commiting a deductive fallacy. ('Marx believed X. These people believe X. Therefore these people are 'Marxists'). In order for a belief to be truly 'Marxist' it would need to be a belief that was exclusive to Marxism alone (& not found outside of Marxism), & unfortunately this is rarely the case.
People usually apply the term 'Marxist' to anybody following a collectivist idea or principle (again stressing the point that people are using a deductive fallacy here - All Marxists are collectivists but not all collectivists are Marxists). However, forms of collectivism have been part of many human societies for at least ten thousand years. It is an idea that people will try out & return to again & again (depending on circumstances within societies). Recent historical research has postulated that hunter-gatherer societies were based on egalitarian & collectivist principles (& they certainly weren't reading Marx!) & Marx himself even refered to these societies as 'primitive communism'. (Interestingly, the earliest societies were more 'gatherer' than 'hunter' & the meat they ate was scavenged, so there wasn't a sexual division of labour between 'hunters' & 'gatherers').

Some of the articles I followed back to source (regarding 'Marxist Feminism') create the association between these two words by insinuation / association only - there's no genuine 'joining up of the dots'. I suspect this is because there's nothing some academics like better than showing off their knowledge of Marxism & Dialectical Materialism & Post-mOdernism, so they shoehorn all that blather into some of these articles whether or not it's applicable to the group of people they're talking about.
Yes, there ARE 'Marxist Feminists', but the only genuine Marxist Feminists are self identified ones, & we should (for the sake of intellectual honesty) stop using the slur 'Marxist' on feminists who are NOT self-identified Marxists (I personally am sick of idiots on Youtube calling me a 'Marxist' because I identify as a feminist). There's also a  problem with comparing Identity Politics to a Marxist idea of 'class' (the tired old chestnut of "Replace the word' 'men'' with 'Bourgeousie' & the word 'women' with 'the working class' & what you're talking about is Marxism). Again, that's a deductive fallacy, because the idea of observing societies based on the stratification of particular groups of people is NOT exclusive to Marxism, and in fact many societies DO have demonstrable stratification of different groups of people, & you don't need to be a 'Marxist' or use 'Marxist analysis' to point that out (E.G - Apartheid South Africa, where obviously black people were oppressed as a 'class'. Is that not self-evident, or could only a 'Marxist' be capable of observing that ?)

Much of second-wave feminism was actually a response to Marxism (in the sense of countering a Marxist idea). Because some strands of second-wave feminism were tied in with the counter-culture of the time, & because Marxist ideas held a lot of sway in the counter-culture, many second wave feminists wanted to challenge the Marxist idea that capitalism was the primary source of oppression. The idea that gender / sex was actually the primary source of oppression was an idea created in second wave feminism partly to counter Marxist ideas (& yet, second-wave feminists still get routinely refered to as 'Marxists' !),
Much as I personally have a lot of problems with Intersectional Feminism, I don't think that just because they share some ideas with those held by Marxists, that they can legitimately be described as 'Marxist' (or Neo Marxist') any more than I believe that just because an octopus has a beak it makes it a bird. We all have beliefs that overlap with beliefs with other groups (everybody reading this will share at least one belief with Hitler) but as any wise person knows - correlation does not imply causation.

These quibbles aside (bearing in mind that nobody is going to write a 'types of feminism' article that any reader will ever agree 100% with) I commend this piece as an excellent work of research that has been written very fairly & objectively.

Link to original article ~


  1. I didn't know about the miners strike support... go older feminists fighting for men and womens rights. Fascinating read. thank you