Friday, September 25, 2015

It's just logic. Feminists are the real sexists.

Parisian resistance fighter Simone Segouin, who killed an unknown number of Germans and captured 25 with her submachine gun, via Crafty Kryptonite Alpaca. Ann Althouse feels she is practically the same person because she's pretty rebellious too.
Hillary Clinton, asked by Lena Dunham whether she considers herself a feminist:
Yes... Absolutely. I’m always a little bit puzzled when any woman of whatever age, but particularly a young woman, says something like, ‘well, I believe in equal rights but I’m not a feminist.’ Well, a feminist is by definition someone who believes in equal rights.
Ann Althouse's comment:
Who writes the definition? We're still saying what X is "by definition" after all these years of scoffing at the anti-same-sex-marriage people who kept saying, tediously, marriage is by definition between a man and a woman?

Even if we are still doing "by definition"-style arguments, where was it ever established that the definition of feminism is just "someone who believes in equal rights"? If that could be nailed down, virtually every American would say "yes" to Dunham's question. They might not go around proclaiming "I'm a feminist" because if what you believe in is equal rights, what's your motivation to use a label that calls attention to a particular subgroup of humanity?

Hillary is being cagey though. She says "a feminist is by definition someone who believes in equal rights," but she doesn't say feminism is the belief in equal rights and nothing more. The reason for resisting the label is that you want to control the precise set of beliefs that you're signing onto and not to make yourself vulnerable to various definitions purveyed by writers and speakers who are more active and powerful than you are. Put that way, the resistance itself sounds feminist to me.
Commenter at Alicublog:

Assumes functioning gray matter not in evidence.
Honestly, I read what she writes and I think, "Either I am a fucking moron or she is" --- I can't make any sense of the words she puts together.
Me, in friendly response to the preceding:
Probably not really the alcohol.
The thing about conservative thinking, seriously, is that it starts out knowing the answer, like the side you prepare for debate team in high school. Whatever feminism is, it's bad, right? You don't need a definition to know that, you just need to know which team you're on.
The Althouse argument amounts to, well, liberals are the real definition-crashers, because gay marriage. How dare they talk about definitions when they redefined marriage?
(1) The redefinition of marriage took place starting in the mid-18th century and reaching its peak with Gertrude Himmelfarb's beloved Victorians, who finally ditched forever the traditional concept of marriage as a property settlement between two families in favor of the new concept of a relationship between two individuals who are best friends and exclusive sex partners. It was at that moment that the alternative of same-sex marriage became inevitable.
(2) It's not really relevant to anything she wants to say, of course everybody will continue using definitions as premises in arguments, she just wants to throw some shade on the opposing team.
(3) She regards Clinton's definitiion of feminism as a personal attack on her, since she does not regard herself as a feminist. Does that mean she does not believe in equal rights for women? That's so unfair! Just because she denies the relevance of the gender gap in wages? What on earth does that have to do with equal rights? So
(4) since liberals have redefined marriage, conservatives ought to be able to redefine feminism, and Althouse would like to redefine it as what you get when a woman resists the implications of a well-established fact, such as the fact that women are treated inequitably in the employment marketplace. Since Althouse resists the idea, however logical, that that means women are treated unequally, by the definition she just made up, she's the real feminist!
So that's totally clear, right?

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