Julie Anne Genter: feminism = gender equality

Feminism can be a contentious term these days. Like many things it can cover a number of things, from more general gender equality to extreme pro-woman anti-man stances. Some men embrace feminism, some men plead to go back to the good old days of male domination and paternalism.

An interview at Stuff of Green co-leader contender Julie Anne Genter on her feminist credentials: Minister for Women, mother-to-be, full-time feminist – but can a feminist also claim to champion gender equality without a balancing male rights ism?

BM: You’ve called yourself a “full-time feminist”. I was wondering, for want of a better phrase, when was your “feminist awakening”?

JAG: I was always really passionate about equal rights for men and women. But when I was about 19, I took a history class called Women in American History, and that was a revelation. It was the first time that I got to understand the history of North America from the perspective of women, who are often left out of the history books. Ordinary women who make society work. [Of course,] there are the Emma Goldmans [anarchist political activist and writer], who are incredibly inspiring… I had a bumper sticker that was a quote from Emma Goldman: “Well behaved women rarely make history…”

Most people – men or women, don’t ‘make history’. Most men who have been recorded in history stand out from the crowd. Same for women – but far fewer have been recorded in history.

Partly this has been due to societies being dominate by men. But partly it was biological – until not very long ago most people did a lot more manual labour just to survive, and most people died much younger than now. This means that women had little time to make history if they did what most did, had babies and raised families.

BM: Was there any particular woman’s story from that course that has stayed with you?

JAG: Women like Harriet Tubman, who were helping African Americans escape from slavery during a time of horrific injustice in North American history… And stories of ordinary women, who weren’t African American – white women – who went against everything in their education and their community because they saw this injustice, who helped lead the abolition.

There were ordinary men who did likewise – that doesn’t detract from what some women did, but fighting injustice and unfair power was a difficult challenge for both genders.

BM: In your own life, who has been a role model for you?

JAG: My mother Pauline, she is pretty inspiring. She’s a scientist and she raised three children. My father was a doctor and they were always champions for all of us. I have two younger brothers. So, I was the oldest. And the bossiest. I’m really good friends with my brothers. I was a bit of a tomboy… Our parents very much had the spirit of, “women are equal, women have an important role to play in society that’s more than just raising children”.

My mother was a significant influence on my attitude to genders and role models. She battled against being confined to feminine roles. Most importantly, she had a strong attitude of not caring what others thought or expected, and she just tried to do what she wanted to do. She was quite successful at this, and she was admired in circles she associated with. But she was quite selfish without knowing it – she assumed others (children and grand children) would love to do what she loved to do.

I rebelled against this a bit as a result – I learned a form of gender equality off my mother, in that anyone should do anything they wanted to do regardless of gender. But just as she did things that others didn’t expect or approve of, I also learned to do things that I wanted to do, and that wasn’t following her interests.

JAG: …I know that they believe in gender equality – and that’s all feminism is about. There’s nothing “anti-men” about it. There’s nothing “anti-men” about being a feminist.

It’s all feminism is about for some people, and it’s an ideal I agree with. For others (probably a minority of feminists) feminism is about of taking over roles from men, of having a turn at power.

Gender equality is an interesting term – it’s hard to argue against all people being treated equally, regardless of gender, but we all have differences – different circumstances and different needs.

A baby should have some equal rights as a human being, but no one suggests they should have the right to vote or the right to marry. At what age should everyone be treated equally (except for prisoners and people who are mentally incapable of caring for themselves) have equal rights to all those older than themselves? Our society has decided this is different ages for different things.

Back to feminism – it is actually a gender specific term. Shouldn’t feminism and masculism be combined into one gender neutral term if it means gender equality. Feminists don’t have an exclusive right to equality.

Equality should be a right regardless of gender.

In general I share Julie Anne’s equality ideals, but I don’t see myself as a feminist, nor a masculist.

I’m not a gender neutralist either: “describes the idea that policies, language, and other social institutions should avoid distinguishing roles according to people’s sex or gender, in order to avoid discrimination arising from the impression that there are social roles for which one gender is more suited than another” sounds like a description of ‘too PC’ to me.

And not adhering strictly to equalitism given the age and other exceptions that seem necessary, I don’t know what to describe my gender/equality views as.

Back to Julie Anne Genter – is someone promoting themselves as a feminist in their bid to become a female co-leader fine because they are balancing themselves against the role of the male co-leader (but does James Shaw promote himself as a masculist?). Is JAG really a champion of equality?

23 Comments

  1. sorethumb

     /  March 4, 2018

    • sorethumb

       /  March 4, 2018

      Funny
      Green supporters disagree?

      • sorethumb

         /  March 4, 2018

        I would like to see JP debate Catherine Delahunty (the King Kong of identity politics)

      • PartisanZ

         /  March 4, 2018

        Watch one generation ‘hand the baton’ to the next in this video. Watch especially the ‘cuts to audience’ –

        Thing is … I ain’t handing my baton of personal or ‘socio-cultural’ sovereignty – insomuch as I prescribe them – to the followers of Jordan Peterson … no matter how ‘right’ or ‘Right’ Jordan Peterson may be …

        “An injunction to be combative …”

        Lobsters exist in hierarchies. We evolved from Lobsters. Therefore “the idea of [human] hierarchies has absolutely nothing to do with socio-cultural construction” … “It’s absolutely inevitable there will be continuity between the way animals [specifically lobsters] and human beings organize their [societal] structures … ”

        This is DEEPLY, DEEPLY FLAWED THINKING …

        So, in other words: Before money, money was inevitable, preordained … “it plays the part which … thousands of years ago, was performed by brute force. Labour was then performed by captives and slaves” (Frank E Warner)

        “To what moral depths must humanity have sunk for man arrogantly to view himself as the pinnacle of creation, and yet not to feel unutterable shame … that he treats his own labour as a commodity, like coal or fertilisers!” (Ibid) …

        Or, for that matter, that he defends his position of moral depravity by comparing himself to lobsters, from which his physical, cultural and social ‘evolution’ diverged three-and-one-half million years ago!

        If money was preordained before there was money … That means its perfectly feasible there’s something else beyond money … the next stage of socio-cultural evolution … Brute force …. Money …. ________ ???

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  March 4, 2018

          Silly me, I was under the impression that we were paying her to be an MP. Her views are her own business, but she should be looking after the country as a whole, as she was elected to do.

          • Gezza

             /  March 4, 2018

            Well, yes, but she’s the Minister for Women as well as an MP so she gets to talk about women things.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  March 4, 2018

              Some women things. We are not clones who all think alike.

            • Gezza

               /  March 4, 2018

              Well, yes, but she’s entitled to argue things like women’s rugby teams should be able to play the All Blacks.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  March 4, 2018

              Women things ! Women are individuals, not a homogenous group. I think that this Ministry is patronising and insulting. We can speak and act for ourselves, thank you.

            • Gezza

               /  March 4, 2018

              Well, they had to give her something to keep her out of mischief …

          • robertguyton

             /  March 4, 2018

            Key was great at… not sticking to his knitting. He had views about everything and graciously shared his opinions with us all. And yes, Kitty, we paid him to be an MP!! Go figure!

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  March 4, 2018

              Oh, drivel. He was never like Ms Genter in that way. Go figure is one of the silliest Americanisms aped by non-Americans. It’s meaningless.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  March 4, 2018

              He never described himself as a fulltime anything except an MP and PM as far as I know.

            • Key readily shared his style preferences when it came to the proposed flag.

            • robertguyton

               /  March 4, 2018

              And Key was never “full time PM” – the hats, remember, the hats!!!

  2. sorethumb

     /  March 4, 2018

    The Greens are on the wrong side of history when Guardian and Atlantic praise Peterson

    • PartisanZ

       /  March 4, 2018

      Well … No! The Guardian and Atlantic are on the wrong side of rational, compassion-informed, ethical, logical thinking if they uncritically praise Peterson …

      The ‘Lobster’ syllogism is an unmitigated failure … 1 + 1 = 0.01, assumed to equal infinity … Darwinian Preordinance … It’s so flawed I don’t know what to call it. He’s hot on religious analogies though eh? Along with ‘crustacean brain’ …

      If people believe this *SHIT* it strongly indicates intellectual bullying on Peterson’s part IMHO.

      “There’s immense pleasure in momentary domination” … ? (He said it)

      I certainly get that feeling from him.

      • sorethumb

         /  March 4, 2018

        In one corner PartisanZ from Aotearoa. In the Other Jordan Peterson…….. Odds 20:1 on PartisanZ.
        Goodluck!

        • PartisanZ

           /  March 4, 2018

          It’s all over sorethumb … Done and dusted!

          “Lobsters exist in hierarchies. We evolved from Lobsters. Therefore “the idea of [human] hierarchies has absolutely nothing to do with socio-cultural construction” …

          “It’s absolutely inevitable there will be continuity between the way animals [specifically lobsters] and human beings organize their [societal] structures … ”

          This is DEEPLY, DEEPLY FLAWED THINKING …

          Perhaps you just love to be intellectually ‘dominated’ by him …?

  3. Kitty Catkin

     /  March 4, 2018

    I’ll believe that people like JAG want gender equality when they demand that women be conscripted and sent to the front line, that women make up half of rubbish collectors, furniture removers and roofers and that women can be legally obliged to support a child who is their partner’s but not theirs.

    Or that half of all the safe jobs that are dominated by women be given to men. When was the last time that a checkout operator or teacher was killed in an industrial accident ?

    When did you last see a woman working as a road digger or concrete layer ?

    Who is overwhelmingly likely to be on the DPB with the children ? I once read about a man whose wife had died, leaving him with several children, one of whom had cerebral palsy. He was refused the DPB equivalent, which he applied for in desperation, because he was a man.

    What people like her seem to want is equality at the top, not the bottom.

    Labour doesn’t even want men to have half the parental leave, and I bet that the Greens don’t, either.

    Historical male dominance is to a large extent a myth.

    Men were the ones who were in the armed forces, and in the days of the press gangs, were kidnapped and forced to join the navy.

    Men were working in mines and still are, but in the 1840s it was decided that the work was too heavy and dangerous for women and youths,

    Men could be and are obliged to provide for children who are not theirs, or for children whom they never see and were tricked into fathering.

    Men could be imprisoned for their wives’ crimes in England – hence the usually misquoted words of Mr Bumble that ‘the law is a ass – a idiot,’

    Women were seldom hanged even for crimes that would have sent a man to the gallows.

    Men have been legally obliged to pay maintenance to divorced wives, which is like forcing an employer to pay a worker who no longer works for them.

    Women still talk about sacrificing their careers to have families. Men don’t talk about sacrificing anything to provide for these.

    Prostitutes are often described as being exploited when they are the ones taking money for sex, not the men who pay them. NB, are male prostitutes considered to be exploited ?

    JAG seems to have failed to notice the number of women judges and doctors who are seen on the news.

    She might have a very unpleasant surprise if there was gender equality.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  March 4, 2018

      Well said, Kitty. I respect the right of all to live to their full potential without discriminatory barriers but that will take many forms as do the yin and yang of male and female roles and strengths. Human interactions are infinitely variable and subtle.

    • PartisanZ

       /  March 5, 2018

      Many people have a very unpleasant reaction of antipathy towards any continuing calls for gender equity, which I think is what JAG is really talking about …

      Equality implies equality of outcome … (or has come to mean this through uncritical, exploitative application and misuse of the word) … rather than equality of opportunity …

      Equity implies fairness, impartiality, even-handedness …

  1. Julie Anne Genter: feminism = gender equality — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition