Feminism is a lousy name…

January 23rd, 2009 by Pelle Billing

… for a movement that wants to create a better world by reforming gender roles.

I’ve often heard the claim that feminism is about achieving gender equality, and rectifying all kinds of social injustices that exist around the world. But there is a clear disparity between the word “feminism” and the agenda that the feminist movement claims to have. The word “feminism” implies a movement that focuses on women’s issues and women’s rights; it does not imply a movement that is working to reform gender roles for both sexes in a constructive manner.

At first glance this might seem like I’m nitpicking. After all, didn’t we need a women’s movement to allow women to enter the public sphere where they could work, vote and have their voice heard? We certainly did need (and in some countries still need) a movement that fought for women’s rights and responsibilities in the public sphere; however, I don’t believe that feminism was a good choice of name for such a movement. The intention that a name sets is tremendously important, and ‘feminism’ irrevocably sets the intention to only look at gender issues from women’s perspective, and to always assume that women get a bad deal in every situation – or at the very least a worse deal than men do. Furthermore, ‘feminism’ seems to imply that the end goal is a world where women are on top and where women dominate men.

I truly believe that a gender liberation movement was needed around the time that feminism arose, and that it has been needed ever since. What I don’t believe though is that it makes any sense to name such a movement ‘feminism’, whether we’re talking about the present day or the end of the 19th century when feminism crystallized into being. The intention to change gender roles for the better would have been much better served by calling it a “gender liberation movement” or a “gender equality movement”.

A gender liberation movement would be at liberty to look at gender issues freely, taking the perspectives of men and women as needed, thereby noticing that the gender role of men is as constricted as that of women. Men have a unique set of challenges to face, many of which are unknown or ignored by mainstream media, and as long as the word “feminism” denotes the only strong voice in the gender debate, then all male issues will continue to be suppressed. I’ll be writing a lot more about these men’s issues in coming posts, since I believe that men (and women) deserve a much more nuanced and accurate description of what gender roles really mean for both sexes, not only how women have been limited by their gender role.

Letting go of feminism wouldn’t mean any loss for women either, since a gender liberation movement would continue to look at all the issues women face, and work to improve them. In fact, I believe that a gender liberation movement would be much more effective in achieving real results, since men and women have co-created this world together, and we will only be able to change it by working together. The only thing that women stand to lose by letting go of feminism is the false sense of victimhood and entitlement that feminist theory can sometimes instill.

The time has come to move beyond feminism, and to liberate men and women alike. Are you ready to have your notions about gender issues challenged?

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2 Responses to “Feminism is a lousy name…”

  1. Ulf Andersson Says:

    Amen, brother!

    Ulf Andersson,
    Founder of and spokesperson for
    The Father´s Rights Group

  2. Healthy vs Unhealthy Feminism Says:

    [...] written several blog posts where I disagree with some of the core premises of feminist thinking and analysis. I simply [...]