equalism – for a fairer world

one word .. just try it .. use it .. share it .. discuss it here

Other thinking on equalism compared


Equalism is not a new concept or word. Google equalism, or search Twitter for #equalism. Many others have proposed it and discussed it – even briefly on BBC4’s Woman’s Hour. Mostly, as there, it is linked to gender. It’s a simple idea, but a big complex jigsaw to put together. Most people only get to grips with a few pieces of the jigsaw. Below are some links to others who use and discuss equalism, plus our commentary. Please use the contact option to help our ignorance – someone must have written comprehensively on this topic … and probably better than we have!

What is special to equalism.org.uk

First, here are some ways we hope to distinguish equalism.org.uk from a number of sources on equalism. Here we:

  • Attempt to put together some coherent thinking through of a huge and complex field – the whole jigsaw.
  • Aim for a logical rationale that underpins both the broad and the particular areas of equalism.
  • Try to integrate the scattered bullet points made by many others who discuss equalism – the bits of the jigsaw.
  • Keep a definition always in view.
  • Include in the definition respect for diversity which makes sure that equalism is a continuing debate and process with never a definable ending, never blandly utopian, imposing or boring.
  • Recognise that equalism applies across the board – giving deep understanding of particular issues (like gender) but also to all the issues in the Social GRACES.
  • Value and critically evaluate all the -isms – the particular movements, ones that support or maybe even get angry and aggressive in advocacy for those sub-groups that experience inequality, are still part of an implicit equalist process, even though they may naturally seem not to be very respectful of difference.
  • Do not propose renaming -isms – because the sub-groups and -isms are a natural part of the process, there is no need to give up those names or rebrand them as equalism instead. Equalism is too universal to be useful without its specific sub-groups.
  • Use the principles of equalism to help the crucial process of distinguishing moderate (ie more equalist) and extreme (ie not so equalist) sub-groups of the same movement (e.g. in religion or feminism).
  • Remain grounded in pragmatic not ideological reasons for the project – an actual specific family case situation led to the wider issues and thinking and then on to creating this site. The motive throughout has been to help particular people – especially children when they are ignored while adults argue – in particular difficult situations that have been made more difficult by the heated ideological debates that surround but don’t help the particular situations. More about that story here. So naturally:
  • We do write in some detail about the particular gender -isms that have most relevance to our own practical experience while:
  • We also invite others to introduce or enhance discussion of how equalism relates to their own field of interest or expertise.

Other links and internet thinking on equalism

Will Shetterly and his blog: it’s all one thing has to be top of the list for the quality and quantity of his wise, intelligent, good humoured thinking on a huge range of subjects including the broad range of equalist topics – equalism (his account there of his own upbringing gives a compelling explanation of how we can achieve equalism on gender). Other categories include: feminism, race, classism, class and gender, class and race, povertyfairness, free speech (and the right to offend), social justice, and new concepts like identitarianism (meaning e.g. that men cannot be feminists, only allies of feminism), and many more.  If you  can’t find your own interest here, see the list a little way down his blog page.

Will Shetterly says he is hanging up his whatever-bloggers-hang-up to retire. But not before sharing this definition of equalism from the Oxford English Dictionary:-    equalist, n. rare. One who asserts the equality of certain (contextually indicated) persons or things. The examples of usage date from 1661, so it is definitely not a new word. A worrying quotation from 1880 is: “The Equalists were driven from one untenable point to another.”!)  Hopefully equalism will not be such a rare word soon. Our use of equalism “asserts” only that equalism is a principle that is worth working with and that the principle is implicit in many fields of inequality.

Wikipedia on equalism – because of the wide range of uses, Wiki links equalism to EgalitarianismGender equalityRacial equalitySocial equality etc.

Defending everyone from hurtful generalisations

Most of the internet discussion sites have comments that are each one small bit of the jigsaw – e.g. just gender, just one aspect or definition, just women / feminists needing to bring men down (a bit or a lot), just men fighting back against them etc. Most of the discussion has individuals asserting single viewpoints (often aggressively or abusively) without an overarching rationale to include all the valid views made. Google “equalism” for yourself and you will get pages of links. Here are some equalism discussion sites that fit the “bits of the jigsaw” description:

Roostertree,    Gender Focus (with youtube video to start),  tumblr (you need to register to read it), the token feminist, reddit, and  finally a feminism 100 blog.  Mommyish includes a long list of other new words for feminism.   Nirmukta (in India) gives a good account of why you wouldn’t want to give up feminism’s name, functions or movement. You can join an organised group, the equalists – but only  as part of internet game it seems!

One useful bit, off tumblr‘s discussion of equalism, is Maeve’s blunt summary of equalism:  I defend everyone from hurtful generalisations. That’s what makes me an equalist. I honestly don’t care who the hell you are. I want to make sure you’re not hurt. Okay?

This US-based Spearhead weblog seems to have more men / male / legislative kinds of thinking in it. Among many other aspects – like views on the  American history of “all men are born equal” – it  discusses different kinds of equality. Rod Van Mechelen would like us keep an old distinction between “eGalitarian” about equality of outcomes (equalism, affirmative action, etc) and “eQUalitarian” about equality in the eyes of the law (equal rights, etc.). TDOM says s/he has “identified five types of equality, one of which (equality of outcome) is a pseudo-equality. The [other] equalities are equal rights, equal opportunity, equal protection of law, and equal responsibility.”  TDOM says these last four ensure that people are treated equally in all aspects of life. Otherwise “a society is doomed as equal outcomes ensure that the best, brightest, and most capable persons become handicapped. Societies with this focus become less productive, less innovative, and ultimately less relevant since it is impossible to raise the least capable to the highest level, but it is possible to handicap the most capable to lower them to the level of the least capable.”  We would hope that respect for diversity and attention to equality of outcome (see the fair test cartoon) is not primarily or only about legislation, and that it achieves the opposite of TDOM’s fear of dumbing everyone down.

equalist.org identifies the idea but limits it to gender only and there’s no further thinking there yet.

equalism on facebook is a recent page where equality for all is not just gender or race etc – “become an equalist, fight for the war against oppression”.

Mostly gender

Steven Fry here points out how “respect” and being hurt or “offended” can be used merely to block discussion and thinking. This is a valid point highlighting how some might strategically use valued equalist ideas to effectively hinder thinking and working for equalism in equalist ways. In the Redman-Bate appeal (against loud protestors who offended others to the point of being charged by the police), the ruling was clear and eloquent: “… Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having. …” See More on equalism in general on how to spot and respond to this polite way to block thinking and discussion.

There are unsurprising examples of unequal treatment in courts – here’s a UK example of a convicted violent woman spared from jail because of her gender (discussed further in More on feminism and patriarchy). On the other hand, there are extreme examples of what many would see as equalism gone wrong. Here is a video of a Nevada court sentencing a woman to life (with earliest probation after 10 years) for forcing an under 14 year old boy to touch her brassiered breast. What has been determined as the serious punishment for abuse of children by state law is applied equally to both genders and without apparent consideration of the different backgrounds or context or the effects on different victims.

Gender is by a long way the most voluminously debated inequality. Assuming that ‘patriarchy’ rules without variation or exception, ‘feminism’ is equated with ‘gender equalism’. But here is a short – Playboy sponsored?!! – video of Lauren Southern showing how gender-unequal the gender-specific term turns out to be in excluding men’s similar issues and services. There is nothing wrong with having one-sided support groups. But here is a key reason for promoting a non-one-sided neutral term for equalism. Which is not to suggest one side stonewalls or shouts down the other – here’s a longer rational rationale (about GamerGate) concluding (in Part 6) that we need to “talk to Angry Jack” and “listen” to how we affect others even if we are sure we are doing them no wrong. The need for a neutral term like ‘equalism’, and the need to keep talking and listening, are the main themes in this blog.

Other blog commentaries are often thoughtful but not thorough about equalism – eg Rob van Senten on the confusions in how some feminists resist equalism even though feminism is always defined as equalist.  Equalism is a simple concept that requires a more thorough treatment than short blogs can provide – for a start gender equalism is only one aspect of equalism. So blogs may often be  highly charged. The extreme comments about gender show how polarised the genders / positions can be, each laying into the other with venom. Each side might be presumed to seek an ultimately equalist outcome once the other side has been brought down to size. But a gladiatorial fight to the death would be closer to the tone generated in these internet comment wars. Gladiators had a kind of equal chance – winning and staying alive … which may be equalism of a sort. But this is not the constructive form of equalism we mean here.

Lastly something lighter than that. One characteristic of these discussions is that they are dead serious. There’s no room for humour. Humour would unfortunately cause offence and also be taken as signalling surrender. Here is Arlo Guthrie’s pacifist song, Alice’s Restaurant (here’s the words only), where conviction for littering may make you not moral enough to join the army and kill people. We can see how generalised systems of thinking and legislation applied unthinkingly to particular situations can end up putting the wrong people “on the Group W bench”.

Help us please

We’d welcome your help to improve this site and demonstrate the potential of equalism.


Nick Child

About Nick Child

Retired child and family shrink and family therapist living, working and playing in Edinburgh.

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This entry was posted on 1 July 2013 by in Equalism in general, issues & 'ism's and tagged .
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