Have you ever noticed that the feminists are eager to tell us what feminism is, but not so keen to learn from us what feminism is? Therein lies the crux of a sore difficulty. It is a simple point but a matter of prime importance, so I want to establish this very, very clearly and keep it in view always.
We must ask: by what authority do they hold a monopoly privilege to tell the world what feminism is? How do they get away with this? Is it by the grace of God or some equally royal power? We reckon not. Or does the word “feminist” confer a special mandate the moment you pin it to yourself? Again, we reckon not. Both theories involve magical thinking, which is best avoided.
That leaves just one explanation: that people who stick the word “feminist” to themselves have commandeered their monopoly privilege by exercising it unopposed for many years. They do it and nobody speaks against it, so they keep doing it.
We think this fits the case elegantly, that no other conclusion is possible or necessary. The feminists have gotten away with it for so long because nobody has called their bluff.
That said, what objective consideration bars us from inspecting feminism by our own lights and calling it as we see it? Who is to say that feminism is not indeed that very thing, or pattern of things, that we might clearly discover by using our own eyes and our power of critical judgement?
Most of all, what effectual force bars us from adopting a non-feminist definition of feminism and operating entirely on that basis? I submit that nothing ought to deter us, and I am aware of no feminist who has ever made a compelling case otherwise.
What is feminism really? Since reality (or “the real”) enters into the composition of this question, we suppose it must enter likewise into the composition of the answer. Accordingly, our search for an answer ought to probe something real, and what could be more real than the real world of objective facts and deeds?
However, before we go further, let’s be generous and entertain (as a thought experiment) some of the abstract notions about feminism which feminists themselves entertain. The canonical definition of feminism, as written in dictionaries, runs more-or-less as follows
Feminism, n: the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
There is a difficulty here. Feminism is defined as a “doctrine” advocating a particular outcome, but if you call it “masculism” instead of “feminism”, and make “women” and “men” swap places in the sentence, you will end with a slightly different doctrine advocating the very same outcome. Accordingly, if outcome is what matters, there should be no special reason to favor “feminism” over “masculism” or the reverse — in theory, both roads lead to Rome.
The canonical definition describes a thing which is conceptually unequal right out of the gate. Either “masculism” or “feminism” would load the issue unevenly on one side or the other, so the only linguistically unbiased solution would be “sexual equalism” or something like that.
We have heard the feminist response. A feminist would tell you that the board of power and privilege is tilted specifically against women (not men), that we must set the board level, that the word feminism simply acknowledges this.
However, their response begs the question because it takes feminist doctrine for granted. In non-feminist terms, it is not a fact that the board is tilted against women. It is simply an assertion that one may argue for or against, and it happens that powerful arguments have been made against it.
Indeed, ALL feminist claims and theories are open to question and always will be, and if you assert the contrary, that too may be challenged. A cultural and intellectual “all-stop”, in the traffic of feminist ideas, is in effect.
In summary: to take feminist self-conception on feminism’s own valuation has no value for us except as a thought experiment. We are not feminist, and our approach to understanding feminism should make allowance for this.
A cardinal rule of semantics is that “the word is not the thing”. When we talk about feminism, we refer not to the popular understanding of the word, but to the holistic factuality of the thing itself, ecologically embedded in a web of relations with other things. When we speak of this and the likes of this, we are probing something real in our quest for definition.
To “probe something real”, means to monitor reality where, when and how it really happens, and to extract real conclusions with pragmatic cash value. This keys upon the thing called feminism as opposed to the word called feminism. If there is any meaningful defining to be done, let it begin here.
We therefore discard the canonical definition of feminism because we find it both misleading and useless.
Don’t get me wrong; dictionaries are a useful thing, and all in all, a good thing.
But they are made by corruptible humans, and they can be used for corrupt
purposes by other corruptible humans. When this happens, we are bound to speak up. We mustn’t be in awe of “the Dictionary”. It is your friend, but not your God.
So, our non-feminist critique is radical. It suspends, on principle, every claim or theory which feminism puts forward, and does so “on the fly”, the instant such a thing pops up in conversation. We love to remind feminists that “endlessly repeating something doesn’t make it true.”
We also suspend the language in which feminist claims or theories are formulated. In this way, we dismantle the entire feminist thought-world and build again upon the basis of a non-feminist epistemic plan. Our method has affinities with Cartesian doubt.
Finally, we come to a reality-based understanding more in line with non-feminist experience.
For many years feminists have told the world what feminism is, but that order of subject and object is now reversed and the consequences are revolutionary. It is now the world’s turn to tell feminism what feminism is — such is the battle for feminism’s soul. The meaning of “feminism” is up for grabs, and non-feminist men and women everywhere are free to benefit from this.
The feminists needn’t bother whining that we non-feminists “can’t do that”. Have they not realized that what they permit to themselves they license equally to others? They should spare themselves the trouble of whining, because we aren’t listening. Neither are we believing. The point is that it’s too late — the plan is now swung into action. We manifestly ARE doing “that”, which refutes the notion that we “can’t” do it!
When we (as non-feminist men and women) speak of feminism, we speak the truth. Who can refute this? Who can discredit the basis of our non-feminist authority? We have eyes, we have ears, we have rational minds, and we are free to employ these faculties. We trust the facts to speak with precision on their own account, and we trust ourselves to register this with equal precision.
Feminism not only self-defines, it props up and predicates its self-definition with pronouncements about the nature of the world. Guess what? WE ARE THAT WORLD! As such, we reserve the right to answer back with pronouncements about the nature of feminism.
So in the end, feminism is what we say it is. That’s right. If these people have got the nerve to tell us what we are, then we are more than nervy enough to return the compliment. And if they ignore non-feminist input on the question “what is feminism?” they are being solipsistic and deserve so much the more to be told what feminism is.
There are many reasons that we may justifiably relieve the feminists of their self-definition privilege. It’s a rich vein of ore, it runs deep, and it would please me to see many people working that vein. Yes, I want to share the wealth, but I don’t want to do all the work for you — so grab your picks and shovels and head on down there.