Difference Feminism

Recently, I have come across the idea of “difference feminism”. I came across it in the context of Orthodox Judaism, but apparently it has its roots in Catholicism. Now, at first thought, you might say “What do these patriarchal and seemingly sexist organizations know about feminism?” and, from what I’ve heard of “difference feminism”, it appears “not much” is the answer. I have to wholeheartedly agree with this article.

In short, whenever any philosophy starts with “BECAUSE you’re a woman…” or “BECAUSE you’re a man…”, it has a definition. We can easily turn to Webster’s dictionary and find that definition:

sex·ism noun \?sek-?si-z?m\
Definition of SEXISM
1: prejudice or discrimination based on sex; especially: discrimination against women
2: behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex

Difference feminism appears to be nothing more than sexism wrapped in a pretty new bow. It is the patriarchy’s answer to the dangers posed by feminism against their male-dominated and sex-oppressive hierarchal structure. Instead of viewing women as equal to and as capable as men, it seeks to give them a “separate but equal” status.

By making women the “caring” gender, it seeks to pressure them to return home, take care of the children, and have the man’s dinner ready for when he gets off work. It seeks to push them out of the professional and managerial roles that feminism has fought so hard to attain for them. Aggression and other “manly” traits aren’t proper for the difference feminist. You should act more ladylike.

Of course, we know all of that is bogus. Men are just as caring when allowed by society to be so and they are biologically wired to care for children. Male doctors (including pediatricians), nurses, etc. are testament to the caring nature of men. The fact that men are equally suited to cooking can be seen by the fact that many famous chefs are men. In areas where women have been allowed equal access, they have shown themselves to be logical, aggressive, and whatever else their jobs demand of them.

Now, on a psychological level, are there some general differences between men and women? It is thought that it is possible, though less so than one might expect and sometimes flying in the face of traditional gender roles. Certainly, men and women process things differently, but that doesn’t mean one sex is particularly suited for one role than the other. What that means is that they may approach things differently IN GENERAL, but either may achieve the desired outcome when allowed to.

Gender differences are no more pronounced than individual differences and may, in many circumstances, be less so. When we treat men and women differently because of gender, we harm both sexes and we engage in blatant sexism. Calling it “difference feminism” does not change that fact.



2 Responses to Difference Feminism

  1. badocelot says:

    There are definitely some hard-wired gender differences. If you deny that, you deny that transgendered people exist, since if there is no statistically-normal gender, someone can’t be born with it reversed.

    That said, neurological genders (which is what is reversed in trans* people) and social genders can differ by a lot. You can’t argue that since we associate something with a particular gender, that’s biological. Example: we associate blue with masculinity and pink with femininity, but only a century or so ago, that association was reversed.

    Another example: Lots of people naively wonder why some cultures have fashions for men that we count as feminine. Well, because fashion is a social convention.

    Second, no male is 100% masculine, and no female is 100% feminine. Expecting that we be is not just ridiculous, it’s oppressive.

  2. Mike says:

    Transgender has little to do with hard-wired gender differences. It has a lot to do with social gender differences. A transgender person doesn’t feel comfortable assuming the gender role assigned to his body’s gender. It has a lot to do with stereotypes. In a perfect world, a transgender person wouldn’t even be noticed because we wouldn’t be trying to pigeon-hole everyone into roles based upon their gender.

    I think we both agree on the overall gist of it though – gender stereotypes do not work.

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