Annie, and other things

Annie had a lovely post up about women in the army. A lot of people didn’t think so. One of them was a very popular blogger. He wrote a very vituperative post about it. People said nasty, and what’s worse, ill-informed-ly nasty things. Annie replied. Way to go!

Now, one of the things we learnt to do as lawyers (and one skill I’m not sure I’m happy to have) is to be able to see the many, many sides to anything. And how all the sides can be valid at the same time. So, setting aside the first reaction to all of this (guess what that was?), guess what I found? They’re not talking about the same thing!

GreatBong’s talking about equality. “Gender equality”. While equality, in the sense that he’s talking about it, is not what Annie’s talking about, is it? She’s talking about difference. GreatBong thinks Annie’s talking about wanting to be treated the same as mean. As are all feminists. Surprise, surprise! They aren’t!

Having taught that FemJur seminar, and teaching a Gender and Law course now, I know a bit about this, so let me let you in on a secret – feminists aren’t one homogenous group! The only thing, probably, that we all agree on, is that women are disadvantaged, and that that’s not right.

There are some of us who find the idea of ‘equal treatment’ difficult – women and men are not the same and cannot be treated the same. Some of us locate the source of the disadvantaging of women in oppression – oppression based on sex. Some of us locate it in culture – the culture that persists in treating men as normal and women only as non-men. Some of us believe it is rooted in the interplay of power that occurs between many groups, in many layers – and that the answer lies in understanding this intricate play of power. Some of us believe all or none of the above.

People who find such diversity of thought problematic are the ones who end up labelling feminists as nutty, or even, turning the word ‘feminist’ into a judgement. Imposing slogan-shouting, bra-burning images on a perfectly legitimate resolve to do something about the disadvantages that women face. (And before you ask, yes, I’ve done my share of slogan-shouting. And I do thank God that the bra-burning has led to the comfortable undergarments I wear today.)

Of course, there’s the little matter that if you find diversity problematic, you have a problem – may I suggest a shrink?

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4 Responses

  1. Been following the debate. Not daring to write about it because people like GreatBong make me furious. I mean…there have been several waves of feminism and here’s someone pompously spouting the same unbacked nonsense that they first threw at the feminist movement decades ago.
    I wish people would read just a little before feeling free attack others who clearly have done their reading (applies to affirmative action also)

    Am glad Annie responded though, she really is brilliant.

  2. Pardon my ignorance, but “the bra-burning has led to the comfortable undergarments I wear today”?
    When did this happen? In India? What was the logic?

  3. AB, see http://www.snopes.com/history/american/burnbra.htm. The reference to it having led to comfy UGs is, of course, not meant to be taken literally!–>

  4. […] 6 Feb 2007 Posted by erimentha under Uncategorized  I wrote this a while ago, and now I have to write something similar. In different circumstances, of course: […]

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