Monday, September 29, 2014

Emma Watson Feminism Follow-up


For an example of a (willful?) distortion of feminism and egalitariansim see #7 in conjunction with  #20 here.

Is there such a thing as feminism?  Does the word "feminism" have a definition and a limited semantic range?  Or are there only feminisms?  These are interesting but difficult questions to answer. Similar questions can be raised about religion, liberalism, socialism, conservativism, masculinism and the like.

 My problem is this: If you want to tell people to embrace feminism then let's be clear about what we're supposed to be signing up for.  If feminism is something which is to be praised, protected, and promoted, then let us know what it is we're supposed to be promoting.  If you don't think there is such a thing as feminism, then why keep talking as if there is?

Let me give an analogy with the so-called Problem of Evil against God's existence. Rarely will you catch me talking about THE Problem of Evil, since I believe there is no such thing; rather, there are various problems of evil, various arguments involving evil which have "God does not exist" as the conclusion and some "evil" in a premise.  Sometimes, depending on the context, I will make reference to the problem of evil where it is clear that I am picking out several arguments which share a a certain family resemblance.  But you won't catch me saying "the problem of evil" is a difficult problem to be taken seriously; that is because there are some forms of the argument which should not be taken seriously.

To Emma Watson's credit she does give a definition.  Emma clearly thinks there is such a thing as feminism.  In fact, she tells us what feminism is "by definition." But to my mind the definition is way too broad since there are plenty of people who would subscribe to the spirit, if not the letter, of that belief expressed in the definition who do not call themselves or think of themselves as feminists.  Why call basic legal egalitarianism feminism?  Are they really the same thing?  It seems not since there are egalitarians who are not feminists!  Are you telling them that they are wrong--they really are feminists but they are just too ignorant to know it even though they outright deny that they are feminists?

What's behind the agenda here for this bit of semantic distortion?  Here is a hypothesis subject to disconfirmation by each individual feminist (on the crazy assumption that not every classical-liberal is a feminist!): One is making one's definition so broad that no one could possibly object to or criticize the view (or agenda) as well as the subsequent remarks that follow.

 But maybe Emma is correct. Maybe she does accurately define feminism. Let's suppose so.  In which case, feminists should not criticize me for raising critical questions about feminism as if this is not an in-house debate; because I, too, am a feminist.

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