Blain Nelson's Abuse Pages
Blain and Feminism

Some folks seem to be interested in my views about feminism and how I get along with feminists. Some find the small marginal references to feminism on my site to be disrespectful or to be slams against feminism or feminists. I suppose that they might be right, as far as those words are concerned, although probably not in the way that they mean. To clear up at least some of this confusion, it seems appropriate for me to share my views on feminism and feminists.

First off, I don't view feminism as a large monolithic belief, or even as a fixed set of beliefs. It means different things to different people. Not everyone who calls himself or herself a feminist will agree on more than a few basic concepts like equal pay for equal work (something I agree with, for the record). In my limited experience with the feminist community, I've found quite a spectrum of beliefs, much as I've found a spectrum of beliefs within every other community I've known. Some folks believe that feminism means that people should be treated with equal respect regardless of their gender, and that's it. Others believe that feminism means that we need to root out every conceivable trace of patriarchal tradition and embrace a lesbian world in which men play as minor a role as possible. And lots of other folks beliefs fall somewhere between those points.

As such, there isn't any one person or one group which speaks for all feminists. This is what makes it very difficult to make any statements about feminism as a whole -- it doesn't fit neatly into any pigeon-hole.

There is also a movement that I call anti-feminism, which is a backlash to some of the more extreme beliefs of feminists. Interestingly enough, anti-feminists believe that all people should be treated equally, regardless of their gender. The main difference between anti-feminists and more moderate feminists is that anti-feminists address areas where they believe that men are being mistreated because of their gender. I find a lot of their points to be very similar to those being made by feminists a couple decades ago, and that they are being received in a similar fashion to how feminists were a couple decades ago. At their more extreme positions, you will find some things that sound misogynistic, and I reject those things, just as I reject the more extreme positions in feminism, which the anti-feminists call misandrist. I believe that a majority of feminists and anti-feminists would find that they agree on well over 50% of the gender issues that are important to each of them. They both agree that we live in a sexist world. The anti-feminists are pointing out that women aren't the only ones being harmed by it.

I do not identify myself as a feminist because I do not belong to any organized group that is considered part of the Women's Movement. Neither do I identify myself as an anti-feminist. Many of my personal beliefs will mesh comfortably with the beliefs of many feminists, and many would mesh comfortably with the beliefs of anti-feminists as well. Some will not. Rather than list those, and get into a tedious debate on matters of belief, I have chosen to not claim the label "feminist," and to not participate in the anti-feminist community, and to let my beliefs speak for themselves.

This probably wouldn't matter, and no one would care, were it not for the connection between feminism and the Abuse Movement. There is no question in my mind that the vast majority of the progress that has been made toward eliminating abuse from the world has been done by feminists. For decades, the Abuse Movement was nothing other than a subset of the Women's Movement, and they took the slings and arrows of a society that didn't want to see the ugly realities of abuse. Due almost entirely to their success in bringing an awareness to the mainstream of our society, these feminists have attracted a number of people who aren't feminists to get involved with the Abuse Movement. Some of these people are anti-feminists, and some are folks like me that avoid getting involved in that question. When feminists and anti-feminists disagree about abuse, it's usually based in what I call the Gender War. After having been involved in the Gender War, the combatants tend to look at everybody who doesn't completely agree with them as the "enemy."

So my comments about sites being "feminist, but not objectionable", and my warnings about anti-feminist sites is a bit of a jab at these latter folks -- a kind of tongue-in-cheek acknowledgment of their concerns without accepting them. None of these comments is intended to be a slam at feminism as a whole or anti-feminism as a whole. Both groups are making really good points, and if each would shut up and listen to the other for a while, I think they would join forces and be much more effective in helping to stamp out abuse. You may say I'm a dreamer....


Anyhow, this gives me an excuse and a place to include pointers to some of my favorite feminist sites. I've wanted to include these for a long time, but didn't have a place to put them before. I'm not going to comment on why these are some of my favorites -- I'll just leave them here for those who want to look.

Blain