Feminism vs. Humanism: “The Same Thing”? Not According to the Dictionary…


Because I have just had a lengthy conversation with someone insisting that humanism and feminism are the same thing, I have decided to post this. I even got them to acknowledge that it is not up to them how individuals chose to identify themselves (not that he stopped.  Rude). He did that annoying thing that the A+ers do: assume that disagreement=ignorance (really, don’t do that. It’s rude too).  The response was a dismissal of contradictory definition of feminism as wishful thinking, while applying a completely aberrated definition to humanism.  In order to clear this up, as he somewhat precipitously left the conversation as soon as I posted the real definition (rude). The actual definitions are below, and he hopefully can see for himself that ‘Feminism’ is not a redundant term and nor is ‘humanism’ an equivalent. An example of what I just came up against can be found at http://redcelt.net/blog/?p=161

Definition of humanism [1]

noun [mass noun]

  • a rationalist outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters.
  • (often Humanism) a Renaissance cultural movement which turned away from medieval scholasticism and revived interest in ancient Greek and Roman thought.
  • (among some contemporary writers) a system of thought criticized as being centred on the notion of the rational, autonomous self and ignoring the conditioned nature of the individual.

Derivatives

humanist

noun & adjective

humanistic

adjective

humanistically

 

So there we have it.  Nothing to do with equality and nothing to do with gender. Humanism is an outlook derived from non supernatural reasoning.  That is all.  Whereas…

Definition of feminism [2]

noun

[mass noun]

  • the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.

The issue of rights for women first became prominent during the French and American revolutions in the late 18th century. In Britain it was not until the emergence of the suffragette movement in the late 19th century that there was significant political change. A ‘second wave’ of feminism arose in the 1960s, with an emphasis on unity and sisterhood; seminal figures included Betty Friedan and Germaine Greer

And again this is simply term to denote equal rights to women, not more rights, not special treatment, and nothing to do with rejection of supernatural explanations.

 

Conclusion

  1. The two are not the same and they are not interchangeable.
  2. Misunderstanding of one does not render the other redundant.
  3. If you are going to insist on accuracy, at least make sure you understand the definitions of the words you are quibbling over.

 

Sources.

  1. Definition of humanism in Oxford Dictionaries British & World English.
  2. http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/feminism?q=feminism

 

Also see

 

 

 

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Suspension of Critical Thinking, A+, & Why I’m Done with It.


Groupthink: thinking so dominated by the desire to maintain unanimity of thought in a group that critical thinking is suspended or rendered ineffective. (Chaplain, 2010, p.201)

Extrajection: attributing one’s own characteristics to another. (Chaplain, 2010, p.169)

Projection: 1. attributing one’s own traits, attitudes, or faults to others… 3. a prediction beyond the given data.  4. perceiving one’s personality traits, needs, desires, goals etc. in unstructured stimuli, such as ink blots… (Chaplain, 2010, p.358)

Psychological warfare: a general concept referring to all attempts to weaken the enemy’s ability to wage war by weakening their moral, with corresponding attempts to strengthen one’s own war potential. (Chaplain, 2010, p.366).

Groupthinking and extrajection…

In the last few months (and even years in some cases), I and others have been both witness to, and on the receiving end of all four of the above.  It seems a vast number of the Atheist movement are unable to exercise the same level of critical thinking that we demand from others or even mock people for apparent lack thereof.  This is not restricted to one side of the ‘A+?’ battle of wills, with one side declaring that what ‘A+’ is demanding (yes,demanding) already exists – humanism – and they do have a point, with some sneering before hearing them out, and the other side bull-headedly declaring that A+ stands for positive social justice and asserting that all who oppose or criticise them in any way are anti-social justice.  These assertions are rubbish.  For a start we only really have people’s online personas to go by.  We don’t really know any of the people we meet online.  We just have to trust, they are who they say they are and hope they’re not some cyber-stalking head-case.  So, that said, assuming we ‘know’ the politics of an individual that we meet, by sheer chance, based solely on a few comments made on a forum is utterly absurd.

This is where the groupthink has kicked in.  Anything less than 100% support to either side (in some cases) has become, to some, tantamount to an outright betrayal of  the ‘movement’ and condemnation of all ideas.  This is not the case as one can agree on principal with an idea and yet have qualms over the finer details.  The slightest criticism now results in slurs against characters, accusations of trolling,  and ‘questions’ about one’s moral integrity (you know, the same conduct that we condemn when we get it  from religious trolls that post on atheist threads). That’s one hell of an assumption to make about an acquaintance that you wouldn’t recognise in the street, and in most cases those making those assumptions and hurling labels around as epithets are the first to call people out when they are on the receiving end.

It is both naive and asinine to assume (or assert) that just being an atheist equates automatically to being ‘nice’.  It is equally naive to assert that those who choose not ascribe themselves to any particular cause or label are bigoted.  I have always had a humanistic outlook.  It’s how I was brought up.  I’m vocal about a number of issues about because I have neither the time or resources to apply that in a physical sense, but what I do is no less valuable an action than physically going out and ‘doing the work‘.  Many charities (such as http://responsiblecharity.org/ which I’ve been supporting Hemley on since day one) rely strongly on volunteers giving up their time to raise awareness in whatever ways they can, while other’s volunteer for the on site grafting.  Nor I do not think other humanitarian causes are less worthy of attention: I have merely had to narrow down what I do and others are free to follow their own causes: it’s not a competition.

I’m all for positive action to achieve REAL social equality but we cannot expect everyone to jump to and support every cause and project around especially if there is a ‘by fair means, or foul‘ clause attached to it.  THAT does not sit right with me.  It should be ‘by fair means, or not at all‘.   If we cannot do it honestly, then how are we fit to criticise other injustices? Just because an individual does not support our chosen project or cause, it does not mean they are lacking in empathy or necessarily ‘against’ us, or any number of negative connotations someone might dream up and hurl at someone else in order to defend their own position.  That is NOT debate.  That is NOT discussion. That IS browbeating and guilt tripping and those who engage in the practice should feel thoroughly ashamed of themselves.  Character is judged through action, and actions like that, I find sickening and I will not be a party to them.  Nor will I be tricked through, omission of information, into putting my name to a project which cannot live by its own standards of behaviour.  People will have their own reasons for joining in or not joining in: none of us are accountable to any but the laws of the lands we live in, and our own consciences. We give to charity and volunteer our time in other ways but must we therefore leap on the A+ bandwagon? No. It’s up to the individual and nobody has the right to guilt anyone else out of following their own conscience in favour of some hair-brained agenda or other.

When somebody disagrees with a course of action, or claim being made, it does not make them a libertarian or right-wing, or anything else: all it means is they disagree.

This is war psychology and it generally paired with projection as a result of group think, when other members cannot think of a valid counter-argument.  As we know, groupthink situations occur when there are a minority of critics/proponents of a course of action within a group situation and the majority is determined to either force, or not to allow, a change in either action or attitude.

Generally, on the online forum situations, it comes in the form of accusations of dishonest motives and projection undesirable traits such as aggression and other trolling behaviour, which weren’t actually there but were attached to the accusation in order to justify discounting any criticism.  It is used to attempt to discredit opponents and avoid giving an answer which might show the user of this tactic in a less than favourable light, rather than admitting that the criticism might actually be valid.  Other group members will chip in to argue the toss and try to bully any and all opposition (which is usually in the minority) round to their way of thinking by hurling labels around, and making negative assertions about their character.  When this fails the aggression is projected back on to the critic and they are threatened with banning (rather than just banning them) in an attempt to silence them and claim a virtual and public victory.  Any supporters of the minority voice are equally shouted down.

Suspension of Critical Thinking, Failure to Adhere to Equal Standards, & General Lack of Consideration for Others (when no longer convenient to need)…

It seems that the first project of A+ is in the planning stages: transcription of atheist podcasts and videos for the deaf and hard of hearing.  It’s a good idea.  My one concern when I first learned of this project, via Greta Christina’s blog, was that the producers of these videos and podcast would be consulted (a fair few in the atheist community are in strong disagreement with the A+ movement – or their conduct toward critics – and may understandably object to their work being tampered with by the off-shoot group).  I wanted to be sure, so I could make an informed decision before offering my assistance and then having to withdraw it after a disagreement, that if a video-blogger’s or podcaster’s decision was ‘no‘ then their wishes would be respected as they have a justified say over who does what to their work.   I did not suggest transcription should not be done. In fact, I repeatedly stated the that the project was a good idea.

My support for the idea was consistently ignored in favour of trying to shut me down with accusations of  ‘derailing‘, ‘dumping on a project‘, ‘being aggressive‘ (I was on the receiving end of the aggression btw), ‘sarcasm‘  (I’ll give them that one) etc.  Yes, I am sarcastic at times,  especially when pointing out such blatant hypocrisy.  Okay, it’s not a problem which has occurred yet, however I work on a philosophy that prevention is better than cure.  If you pre-empt potential problems and plan for their avoidance (like not deliberately circumventing people’s personal autonomy over their work, for instance), the problems are less likely to occur.  I can see their attitude of “we’re going to do this regardless of what anyone else thinks, and if a few people’s rights get trampled on, it’s for the ‘greater good’, so they and everyone else can stop whining” is going to cause them a great deal of problems.  I will say this, if the A+ers truly care about social justice as much as they claim to, then the protection of everyone’s rights should be paramount to their concerns: they don’t get to ignore inconvenient truths whenever it damn well suits them.

The people orchestrating the project seem to disagree with the importance of a private person’s authority over their work. They ‘won’t let the project be bullied like that’ (because producers objections to their work being co-opted without their prior knowledge or against their wishes is obviously ‘bullying’ behaviour, isn’t it. The same way objecting to having bogus religions (tautology, I know) down our throats is ‘persecution).  By that they mean they aren’t planning on giving people even the opportunity to refuse participation, but instead to just charge ahead regardless and impose it on people whether they like it or not. Besides any legal considerations, asking first is just a basic common courtesy that any of us would expect to be treated with. What is so heinous about asking for some simple good manners to be exercised? Do they cost anything? No. Do they hurt? Not the last time I checked.

They have decided that their project is for such a good cause that it trumps the rights of any objectors and that this web-page has given them a legal free-pass to transcribe the work of private individuals with or without their permission. Never mind that the site refers to in-video closed-captioning* (rather than full and separate transcription located elsewhere and out of their control) of commercially produced video media, and says nothing at all regarding podcasts or radio broadcasts. Add to this the fact that those, referred to in the article, who objected to the legislation were registered entertainment companies. They were not private individuals expressing their own views on blogs on the internet.

*Doesn’t YouTube already have an automatic in-video closed-caption function anyway?

Other Sources

One Step Forward, Ten Steps Back.


The Times Educational Supplement is reporting this morning that the Prime Minister is planning to send a King James Bible to every school in the country, complete with a foreword by Michael Gove, the Education Minister.

Mr Gove is quoted as saying that the King James Bible was the most important book written in the English language. “It’s a thing of beauty, and it’s also an incredibly important historical artefact. It has helped shape and define the English language and is one of the keystones of our shared culture. And it is a work that has had international significance.” (Source NSS)

Freedom OF religion means that we should be free to practice (or not) our own religions (or none) without Gove and Cameron intervening in a bid to surreptitiously inject Christianity into our childrens’ lives. I quite agree they should learn ABOUT world religions, but that should cover them all equally and without expecting the kids to believe them. They should also learn that their religion stops with them. We already have RE lessons: the fact they are biased means our curriculum should be adjusted.

The works of Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis, Dylan Thomas (for whom my son is named), Wilfred Owen, Rudyard Kipling and George Orwell etc are just as valuable (and more relevant) to English literary heritage but you don’t see them handing out (or making an issue of handing out) copies of those books. The fact that it is this one version of ONE holy book is extremely telling of the agenda of Creepy-Cameron and the Tories. I won’t be objecting to religious speakers at my sons’ assemblies and RE lessons either but I shall be insisting that all major religions are represented, as well as the less ‘present’ beliefs including Deism, Pantheism, Humanism and those with a total lack of belief.

There is a difference between religious people and people of faith. People of faith have their religion and are content to follow it without expecting others to do so. It makes them happy, it doesn’t impinge on the lives of others and they respect the rights of others to lead their own lives and follow their own beliefs in peace. People of religion, on the other hand, cannot rest until the rest of the world believe and live by their chosen brand of whichever religion they cling to. They go door knocking and some even go as far as to publicly and viciously lambaste the ideas of secularism (Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury), and members and ‘morals’ of those of others religions and of no belief (the EDL). They try to make laws (or in the case of the EDL, inspire pogroms) and bring in legislation (such as the incredibly dangerous ‘blasphemy’ law) based on their own belief systems as a means to force their own choices on the rest of us by stealth. They are who we need to guard against and the best means of doing that is to keep any form religious worship at home (or churches/mosques/temples/synagogues etc) and out of politics and state funded education.

The BBC Must Acknowledge Us…


“A man’s ethical behaviour should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.” – Albert Einstein

Hardeep Singh Kohli

Radio 2’s Hardeep Singh Kohli journeys to three of the most exciting cities in the UK, Cardiff, Leicester and Glasgow. In doing so he tells the story of faith in Britain today.

Share your experience. What does your religious faith mean to you? How has it influenced your life and continues to do so? We’d like to hear how important your faith is to you. Email, including pictures and audio, to: greatbritishfaith@bbc.co.uk

The BBC have done it again.  They have successfully managed to effectively ignore the fact that not everybody in this country has a religious faith.  If it were not bad enough that we are inundated by media reports of damning comments from religious leaders against atheists and secularism and complaints about being marginalised, we are faced with yet another census which asks biased and leading questions, but now a supposedly non-biased and publicly funded (by way of a compulsory license fee) media organisation, is now refraining to acknowledge the humanist, agnostic, and atheistic members of the population AND their contribution to society.

“While atheism is merely the absence of belief, humanism is a positive attitude to the world, centred on human experience, thought, and hopes.”

In their site, atheism is portrayed as being a wholly negative and individualist outlook, citing an example of why people become atheists is that it’s merely a symptom of damaging culture ‘so someone raised in Communist China is likely to have no belief in God because the education system and culture make being an atheist the natural thing to do.‘  It IS a ‘natural thing to do‘.  We are all born atheists with common sense while religious belief is an entirely learned part of any culture.  If anything is arbitrary, it is the imposition of stifling and oppressive ideas on young minds; there is nothing innate about it.  I have already sent my message to the BBC regarding their map:

“You haven’t included Humanism or atheism in your ‘Faith Map’! Please do so! Please stop pretending we are non-existent and not worth listening to. Please stop assuming that because we lack belief in a god, that we lack an interest in the outside world, compassion or morals. Religion does not own morality or decency. It’s time we were acknowledged, rather than dismissed as an eccentric minority.”

The BBC does have an atheism page (even though atheism is NOT a set religion or belief system) hidden deep within their Religion section.   Humanism and secularism do not feature on its list but are instead ‘relegated’ into being merely types of atheism. If they are to include these ism in their religion site then they should have a place on the map.  If they will not be then the BBC should acknowledge that they are NOT religions, and do so publicly, and then move Atheism from out of its Religion pages and into a non-religious one.  The BBC cannot have things both ways.  This is aside from the fact that while many atheists are also both humanists and secularists, so are people of other faiths. More disturbing is that Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses have been listed even though they strictly count as dangerous cults.  The BBC list of Religions consists of

According to the BBC ‘most’ atheists will concede there are some good things about religion, such as:

  • Religious art and music (Nothing to do with commissioned work then, no?)
  • Religious charities and good works (do NOT and will never atone for or negate more than a millennia of violence, persecution or bloodshed in its name that continues to this day.)
  • Much religious wisdom and scripture (Um, where?)
  • Human fellowship and togetherness (which is exclusive to those of the same faith and beliefs.  Others are to be converted, avoided or (in the case of Islam) eliminated from the earth)

I am not one of them.  I have also found that those who cite these non-arguments more often than not are going out of their way to be nice as they really have not thought about what religious leaders call upon us to believe without question, to ignore the abundant hypocrisy within those positions of self-assumed authority.  It is in the interest of those men who having achieved positions of meaningless command that the rest of us follow their lead without thought or consideration.  Religious freedom luckily does not get privileges over the civil laws which protect us all.  In a culture of political correctness in the name of equality, we have now found ourselves in the unenviable position of being unable to criticise anything, including the intolerance of religious belief, without facing the severe criticism of equal intolerance.  This is not to say that people should be able to say whatever hateful thing is on their mind at the time, but to emphasise the fact that, at least in the case of certain individuals, the idea of political correctness has been used in order to garner an atmosphere in which those of faith may preach almost whatever they please (no matter how oppressive and unpleasant) in the cause of their religion and come up against almost no opposition from the rest of society for fear of being labelled a bigot.

Mean Atheists?

“You know what? God is an imaginary friend. Religion is a virus. Religion is a hoax. Religion doesbrainwash people (even if Brett seems to think that’s a positive thing).

It’s about damn time we get the courage to say so.

And if your feelings get hurt because some atheists are honest about god’s (lack of) existence, that’s just too bad for you.” – Friendly Atheist

Not only is it about time we had the courage to not hide our disbelief and be open about it, but we should be permitted the same platform as those who have a religious belief.  One Mrs Brett, Regina Brett of The Cleveland Plain Dealer is very unhappy with the recent slate of atheists billboards. This is despite millions of religious billboards across the US, claiming an eternity of torture and punishment for the ‘sin’ of not believing in the truth of Christianity. Harmless and inoffensive and legally paid for boards, with non-religious slogans are being vandalised and pulled down due to the complaints of religious adherents.  I say that if they have a problem with the non-religious boards then they must pull down their own and learn to live by their own rules.

Why believe in a God?  Be good for GOODNESS' sake

One of the mean, mocking and offensive adverts for the American Humanist Association. Yes, Mrs Brett thinks they highlight our smug arrogance. I'm detecting a lot of projection here.

“Atheists don’t have to share religious beliefs, but they also don’t have to share ill will, either” Regina Brett

  1. We don’t have RELIGIOUS beliefs TO share.
  2. We have every right to voice our displeasure and reach out to other atheists. (Quit with the divide and rule tactics; it’s getting very boring)

What Mrs Brett, has clearly misunderstood is that real freedom means that sometimes you just have to put up with things that might bruise some overly sensitive feelings.  She has chosen to ignore the fact that freedom of religion was NOT set up so that Christians and other religious groups could run their mouths (and poster campaigns) at other religions and non-religious people without any opposition. THAT is called bullying, people, and I refuse to become a victim.  The posters and billboards are not mean.  They are not mocking.  They are in no way inflammatory.  It’s time Mrs Brett and others like her (the Chrissy Satterfield twit for instance) stopped acting like a bunch of spoiled babies and woke up to the fact that the world does not work for or around Christians and Christianity.    One of the comments on Mrs Brett’s article reflected a startling attitude which is sadly shared and common within the religious community of both the US and the UK;

edwardiii
edwardiii November 21, 2010 at 4:15PM

The problem with any child raised as an atheist is that they believe they are the center of the universe. They have to. The individual as the centre of their own universe is the cornerstone of atheism. What a sad life. What a terrible thing to do to a child.

More projection there, I see.  WE DO NOT have the arrogance to assume a personal relationship with a supreme being which places us in a favoured position over other people and grants us rights over them and their property.  WE DO NOT assume that our world view is the ‘one true‘ anything.  Most of all, WE DO NOT consider those who, don’t share our lifestyles, or disagree with our beliefs in any way inferior to us or deserving of punishment or persecution of any sort.  The same cannot be said for theists because the tenets of their religions demands that they do.  I would say it was far worse to teach a child that they are naturally bad and scare them out of individual thought by telling them that without the belief in their relationship with a magical and invisible being in the sky that they must have complete unquestioning faith in, love unconditionally (but only loves them if they believe) and fear of regardless of the lack of evidence or they will burn in hell forever.  That really is a terrible and despicable thing to do to a child.  Thankfully Mrs Brett did correct him and this is half the battle: Convincing believers that we are not selfish, amoral, megalomaniacs who view ourselves as centres of the universe is not going to be an easy task but it IS possible.

Sources