Feminism is more than 100 years old, so one might think that we pretty much know what it is. I would argue that we do, but still, about half of all public discussion on feminism is about its proper definition. Either that, or telling other people what the definition is.
.So here comes my own definition, and I will even top it up with a definition of definition. “De” is Latin for “from” and “finis” is Latin for “border”. So “de-finition” is the act of separating one concept from other concepts by describing a border that separates them. In other words: To define a concept, one must describe what it is, but also what it is not. One must always provide a clear border. Here, I offer a border to separate the feminist sector from the non-feminist sector.
What feminism is not
It is not the right to vote. That’s democracy. There are various forms of democracy with various rules for when someone has the right to vote. Long before feminism, men and women did have the right to vote when they made some manner of contribution to the state. This was either paying taxes (not everyone was paying taxes in the past) or serving in the military. Therefore, some women were voting before feminism and some men were not. In any case, the right to vote is the defining trait of democracy, not of feminism.
It is not equality. That’s the European enlightenment. The philosophers of European enlightenment have developed the idea of all people being equal by nature, and in the French revolution this idea was acted upon. Equality is a philosophical concept and it’s 300 years old.Marxism has borrowed this idea and somehow perverted it over the decades, but that’s another story.
It is not being pro-choice. That’s the European enlightenment also. Treating every adult as a sentient and autonomous human being capable of free will is a genuine European invention – not by feminists, though, but by philosophers centuries before feminism.
It is not equal rights. That’s human rights. After the second world war, the civilized part of the world wanted to prevent such tragedies from happening again and declared human rights as universal. Human rights are protecting the individual against an abusive government. They explicitly state that there cannot be different laws for women and men.
It is not anti-discrimination. This follows from the definition of human rights. Since human rights are designed to prevent discrimination, human rights are what you are defending when acting against discrimination.
It is not deconstruction. That is postmodern philosopy. Part of the concept of man and women is based in natural differences, part is a social construction. Postmodern philosophy has worked on the social construct part. Sociology has tried to verify the social construct part (not very successfully). Intellectual experiments such as gender theory are independent from and therefore something else than feminism.
What feminism is
Feminism has borrowed all the concepts described above and changed them. How it changed them is what makes feminism unique. Feminism demanded the universal right to vote, without accepting the universal duty of military service. Feminism demanded that women have equal results without equal contributions. Feminism demanded the maximum of free choice for women while at the same time negating free choice for men. Feminism demanded women get all the rights historically reserved for men and rejected any attempt of men getting the rights historically reserved for women. Feminism called any female disadvantage discrimination and refused to acknowledge any male disadvantage. Feminism demanded advantages stemming from the male role model for women on the basis of gender theory but rejected abandoning advantages stemming from the female role model.
Feminism has used a number of pre-existing values and concepts but consistently perverted them in support of female privilege. This leads us to the concise definition of feminism.
Feminism: A set of ideologies for promoting female privilege. Different types of feminism have used various pre-existing beliefs and values as justification for their cause, but have consistently dropped these values when they conflict with female privilege. First wave feminism has justified its goals with natural equality of men and women, but has abandoned this belief in the context of compulsory military service. Second wave feminism has justified its goals with equal rights but has abandoned this value in the context of family law. Third wave feminism is justifying its goals with gender theory but abandoning this theory in the context of affirmative action and laws governing sexuality. Feminism is constantly fighting with the inconsistencies between its purported goals and actual priorities, but has until now managed to keep its image intact by diverting attention to an elaborate victim narrative.
There you go. I have managed to do something which the feminists have not. I have defined feminism in a way that is consistent with all types of feminism.