It never really makes sense to me when people say that the “hard battles” of feminism are the battles for legal equality, the ones that have already been won … By definition, if women have been fighting for equality for decades, and have achieved equality in some, mostly legal, regards, and have not achieved equality across the board, then the battles that haven’t been won yet are the hard battles.
We can argue over the “hard” battles being legal or cultural. I tend to think changing cultural norms just takes a lot of time, whereas changing the law, particularly when that legal system has historically enshrined and reinforced inequality, is definitionally going to be the harder fight. But I’m open to discussion on that point. Also, far from taking a “cheap shot” at social justice academics, I was directing my message towards today’s 20-year-olds who are interested in social justice. I’m saying: don’t graduate college and become just another freelance feminist writer, or a struggling, adjunct academic. Anyone can blog part-time. Become a biologist, or a nurse, or an educator, or a construction manager, whatever, and make feminism an avocation, a passion, a worldview. Don’t fall into the belief that, unless you have a fancy graduate degree, what you say and think and do won’t influence people. Embrace your ideals, be kind to others, live your life with passion, try to kick as much ass as possible in your career, (figuratively speaking!) and the people around you will take notice. (And if you happen to want to be a mathematician or a physicist, I support the HELL out of you, bad post-doctoral job market notwithstanding).
[If you need a short break from reading, please enjoy this photo of otters holding hands.]
Now that that’s out of the way, the main point I want to make about this whole libertarian-feminism-fusion thing is this: I trust individuals to try to subvert, undermine, or beat an unjust system in their own private ways. I trust this odd, endearing nature of humans – pursuing their self-interest, interacting when it’s mutually beneficial – to affect their neighbor’s hearts and minds much more than I trust the ability of an intellectual movement to somehow “win” a culture war. While organization is necessary to change a policy, merely changing a policy or a rule doesn’t change minds. Individuals doing their thing, normalizing taboos, that changes minds, albeit more slowly than I’d like.
That’s what I lean towards believing, anyway (I know the above was a little abstract, abstruse even). But obviously, it’s up for debate. I may just be an idealistic libertarian, here, too. Agitatortots, what say you? Do you think social change is best achieved through an organized movement, or through individuals going about their lives, privately subverting an “unjust” cultural norm? Are the two mutually exclusive? How much did Queer Studies help the gay rights movement over the last 30 years, versus gays just moving in next door and showing us that they were, in fact, pretty normal? Do libertarians have a chance at changing policy through the movement, or should we say screw it and become agorists?