Friday, February 29, 2008

Humanism and feminism (by Suzie)

       In a comment to a previous post, someone suggested it might be better to be a humanist than a feminist, considering the schisms in feminism.
       For those interested in the differences: A feminist can be a humanist, and a humanist can be a feminist. But not all feminists are humanists or vice versa.
       Like feminism, people define humanism differently. Here’s how Andrea Rubenstein defines it: 
Humanism tackles the issue of humanity from a “truth”/rational-oriented perspective, rejecting spirituality and the supernatural as determinants of fate in favour of self-determination. There is both secular and religious humanism, but both reject the idea of deriving religion from moral ground. This movement also doesn’t necessarily include equality; one can seek rational truth in a way that gives dignity to all humans while allowing privilege to continue in some areas.
          Thus, some feminists who are religious might reject humanism. Ditto for postmodern feminists who question concepts of truth and rationality.
           Patricia K. Willis argues that, by definition, humanists should be feminists. Would that it were so. Some humanists might reject feminism, or what they think is feminism, and they may think they are being rational.