What might seem like a mere linguistic preference has become a raging debate: is feminism still an important movement in and of itself, or has the term become outdated, better replaced by the more generalizing humanism?
To me, this is an inane question with an obvious answer.
Feminism continues to be relevant in our own society, not to mention an important banner to rally movements globally.
The term “humanism” erases the history and lasting struggle women face in patriarchal societies.
For one, humanism marginalizes the history of feminism and any other movement it professes to overtake.
Feminism has a long history of working towards the recognition of women as persons equivalent to any man, which cannot be assimilated into a similar struggle, such as, for instance, the struggle of the black rights movement for recognition of black people as persons.
Instead of creating a platform to better understand the intricacies of different identities and their individual struggles, humanism creates a watered-down platform of equivalency that instead erases intrinsic differences.
Furthermore, feminism is not outdated as an individual movement.
It is a well-quoted statistic that women are still earning 77 cents for a man’s dollar. To put it another way, men earn $1.23 for every dollar women make.
This gap increases when other considerations such as race are taken into account. In the United States, black women make 70 percent of what white men do, while latina women make 60 percent.
And, of course, these are only Western statistics.
The wage gap in countries with less human rights for women will have even greater disparities.
Beyond the wage gap, there is still misogyny in our daily interactions. Go into any men’s locker room and women will be associated with weakness; look at a women’s magazine and the focus will continually revert to what to do to please men; cat-calling still exists; rape culture is a thing; it goes on and on.
Sometimes it’s hard to believe that progress has been made at all, let alone that people think feminism is an outdated issue.
But humanism takes patriarchal society into account while also advocating for other human rights issues, one might say.
Well, if there’s anything that I’ve learned in life, it’s that if you put too much on your plate, you never finish anything.
Why should gender issues, race issues, queer issues, disability issues, etc. all be lumped together when they are all inherently different struggles that deserve special care and individual attention?
Amalgamation of all problems does not serve to create a coherent understanding of their differences.
So, instead of creating new terms to erase the differences in our history and lived experience, I would rather work towards change in each individual facet of society.