Post-meetup: Just the Way it Is
Friday night, we had a discussion on the topic of ‘social constructs vs. essentialism.’ The calibre of the conversation was awesome and so was the fact that though the 7 of us have very different backgrounds and knowledge of the topic, everybody was really lit up by it. We discussed the way that certain constructs are used to control people and the way that second-wave and ‘subsequent-wave’ feminists react differently to using those constructs; whether a social construction framework is equally useful to ‘diverse’ feminists as it is to white, middle-class(, etc.) ones; the different definitions of essentialism that we operate with; which gendered attributes we each attribute to nature and whether that can compromise our feminism.
I wanted to talk a bit about an interesting challenge that came from the conversation. One of the assumptions underlying the discussion was that “It’s natural” is a common rationale for maintaining a lot of gender standards: from cooking, cleaning and babymaking to emotionality to math intelligence to physical strength to – well you get it. Valerie pointed out that a more omnipresent argument these days may be that women have the freedom to do what they want but they are choosing to behave in accordance with the old stereotypes nonetheless.
Do you feel that “It’s natural” is passe? What more nuanced versions of that same old argument are you hearing these days? And what other important anti-feminist arguments should we be steeling ourselves against now?
Again, thanks so much to everyone who came out and made it a wonderful and really enriching discussion:D