Quite recently I have realized that I have become more and more of a feminist over the past year or so. Earlier I would call myself equalist, and philosophically arguing for equal rights between sexes (and in general), but I did not really take a stand in any major equality issues. After several important discussions with my parents and net friends I have started to take more of a stand.
Before throwing myself into the minefield I must elaborate a bit about the current debate in Sweden about feminism. Sweden is as many of you probably know one of the most gender equal countries in the world and the country where the feminist movement have the greatest support. However, in recent Swedish media the feminists have been attacked on all fronts. Organizations aiding women in trouble (such as men assaulting them) have made several statements in the area of “men are animals” or nurtured some sort of cult mentality. Popular feminists have been questioned and dirt from their personal life have been exposed. So it is a hot and steaming topic in Sweden, especially with a newly created feminist political party.
So, I define myself as a feminist nowadays. What is the difference compared to before? Mainly, I argue that to make an equal society you have to give advantages to the women, not merely removing the obstacles for women. This is, of course, unfair as these advantages would affect the men negatively (e.g. a woman would get the job instead of the man). This is needed though, because at the moment the men are enjoying the advantages of society whether they like it or not, and this makes them preserve the system. To put an edge on it: many men agree that women should have the same salaries as men, but few men would agree to lowering their salaries in favor of women. I could, atleast principally, agree to lower my salary in favor of equality.
The advantages of the women must of course be temporary. But these processes take time, many years. Another problem is to know when to stop. I don’t agree with the zero-tolerance approach of many feminists – that no inequality can be accepted. That’s not just realistic and there could also be other factors (such as biological) that forces an inequality between the genders in certain areas.
Another topic where I disagree with the more hard-core feminists is how to distribute work at home and other issues concerning individuals and couples. I’m not really in favor of that kind of detailed governing of individual’s lives. You cannot legislate couples to be equal – that’s a matter of public information and education (which of course is a preferred method most of the time, even though it can be ineffective).
That would be my first lesson in feminism. I’m sure more will come.