Another “feminists should stfu” message

Update March 8 See Justin Millikan’s comment @ 38 – he hadn’t read the article when he posted it, and apologizes for doing so. In turn I apologize for the rude things I said about him!

So, it’s International Women’s Day on Saturday. Well how fucked up is that, am I right? When is it ever International Men’s Day? When is it Rich People’s Day? White People’s Day? Straight People’s Day? Are we not all human beings???

Fortunately, the president of the Humanist Society of South Australia, Justin Millikan, is on the case. He posted a super-appropriate item on the HSSA page to make this very point. What super-appropriate item is that? A link to an article with the brilliantly aphoristic and wise title:

It is about humanism, not simply feminism

Oh, yes; thank god somebody said that at last. The hell with all this feminism and anti-racism and anti-colonialism and gay rights, the hell with anti-poverty campaigns and affirmative action for dalits and First Nations and indigenous Australians; it is about humanism, period.

Elle Hardy writes:

It is assumed that all women want equality, when many of us simply want opportunity. Indeed there are many of us who stridently oppose quotas, and who believe the merit of the individual should be the sole determinant of success.

Damn, why didn’t I think of that? How stupid of me to think genitalia or skin color or country of origin should be the sole determinant of success.

Except I didn’t think that. What I did think is that the merit of the individual is already not the sole determinant of success, it’s just that people like to assume or pretend it is when in fact other factors play a part in whose “merit” gets evaluated at all. There are filters on who gets called for an interview that are not labeled “merit” but rather things like “similar to me” and “the kind I want to have lunch with” and “the type we are used to seeing in jobs like this” and “looks right for the part” and “seems authoritative and tough.”

Opportunity for women in our country is generally not lacking. We are no longer institutionally subordinated. To phrase it more crisply: one is far better served by being a white female than a black male in Australia.

Er…that’s not the relevant comparison. Is one far better served by being a white female than a white male in Australia? Is one far better served by being a black female than a black male in Australia? Those are the relevant comparisons if you’re trying to claim that women are treated equally or even better.

A couple of women on the HSSA page handed Justin Millikan his head. It’s too bad one of them isn’t president instead of him.


  1. says

    Er…that’s not the relevant comparison.

    I’d say it’s even worse than that, given the title starts with “It is about humanism”. What about, then, white males compared to black males? If you’re going to claim it’s about humanism, then all of these are important. (Which leads me to the conclusion it isn’t about humanism.)

  2. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    To phrase it more crisply: one is far better served by being a white female than a black male in Australia.

    It seems to have escaped this person’s notice that not all women in Australia are white.

  3. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    I posted the following on my Facebook page. I would post it on the HSSA FB page, but commenting is restricted to “friends”.

    Atheist/skeptic/humanist organizations: I’m stating something explicitly that I’ve been thinking for a while. I will not give time, money, or word of mouth to any organization that is not explicitly pro-feminist. WAIT. Stop. We will not be having the conversation where you hem and haw and tell me “but that’s not our issue,” or that “what kind of feminism do you mean,” or “blah blah blah blah blah.”

    Again, we’re not having that conversation here. Is that clear?

    This is a very simple proposition. If identifying as pro-feminism is more troublesome to you than identifying as pro-LGBT rights, or anti-racism, you have a problem. And you do not have me as a donor.

  4. Abdul Alhazred says

    But seriously folks …

    Does anyone pay serious attention to “International Women’s Day” in their everyday lives?
    Or am I seriously lacking in cluefulness to say that?

    Yes I include serious feminists of all sexes in “anyone”.

  5. cuervocuero says

    “I’m a humanist, not a feminist.” smug look.

    Why then, do such self-proclaimed ‘humanists’ find it an investment in time and energy to claim ‘it’s a post-misogyny world you over-sensitive politically correct flowers’, instead of investing time in saying ‘because I’m a humanist, I am going to apply myself to fighting social inequality however I come across it, which includes understanding the goals of feminism and the barriers women face, micro and macro and intersectionally.”…?

    Is it because treating all people with grace and respect and breaking down archaic boundaries between them is too much work?

    What is so hard about “I’m a humanist and because of that, I’m a feminist.” unless it’s about talking the walk and heaving a sigh of relief nothing more is needed becuz….handwaving about Something Superior that’s Vague Enough to Create a Fog That Lets Me Off the Hook When It Comes to Icky Women’s Issues.

  6. Jackie, all dressed in black says

    My Russian friends at school said that they celebrated it. Here in the states, I hadn’t even heard of it until my friends told me that my birthday was on IWD.

  7. noxiousnan says

    Elle Hardy writes:
    It is assumed that all women want equality, when many of us simply want opportunity.

    That is not assumed. As a young woman I learned all women did not want equality the first time I heard Phyllis Schlafly speak.

  8. says

    IWD gains enough attention here in Australia that our rather *ahem* unreconstructed Prime Minister felt obliged to give a a speech at an IWD breakfast in Sydney today. He didn’t look all that comfortable, and there were a lot of folded arms in that audience.

    I’m going to an IWD event at the State Library of NSW tomorrow with my daughter – it’s to celebrate a new documentary about the cultural significance of Wonder Woman, and has a great roster of guest speakers.

  9. Abdul Alhazred says

    OK I get it now.

    As is often the case “international” means “except the United States”.

  10. sailor1031 says

    …the merit of the individual should be the sole determinant of success.

    If only! As Andy Capp once remarked – “we don’t have a lack of talent, we have a lack of talent that can recognise talent”.

  11. anne mariehovgaard says

    OK I get it now.

    As is often the case “international” means “except the United States”.

    Yep. Pretty big deal here (Norway) as well. Marches, speeches, newspapers writing about it before & after, politicians having opinions about this year’s issues in public.

  12. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    @12 Abdul & @14 anne

    Indeed. In the US we’re too busy worrying about what consenting adults do while naked and trying to figure out whether killing black people can be called murder to trouble ourselves with silly things like International Women’s Day.

  13. spanner says

    Not really on topic and instead a response to comments, sorry, but, wow, way to inspire USian women to participate in IWD! Just tell them, as smugly as possible, that there is nothing going on and nothing they can do about it!
    Or, note that it’s not about the US, it’s international (right there in the name, and all), and …
    Check the website for events – “”
    Read Microsoft’s bit on 5 of their employees at “”
    If money is more your thing, check Forbes discussion of what’s going right for women in business in the U.S. at “”
    See a photo of Michelle Obama as she gave out the Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award and read about that at “”
    If you’re a twit, check the hashtag – today on Twitter I saw @USGS tweet:
    “Tomorrow is International #WomensDay. What do @USGS women scientists do? Everything! #WomeninScience “
    but note that the hashtag covers not just the US (again, “international” = “not all about US”).

    All of which (with the exception of the tweet) I found on a quick internet search, in far less time than it took me to write this comment. There’s lots more, too! In fact, all forms of media are trumpeting IWD and have been all week. Don’t know how y’all missed it.

    Also, not apologizing for the state of US politics regarding women, not by a long shot. Just pointing out that that is not the sum-total of what’s going on here, and I want to support and encourage women to look beyond the rhetoric to those who stand with them, and for them, rather than imply that it’s all dire and hopeless. Which is how I felt, initially, upon reading the standard “Americans are backwards idiots” comments.
    I feel better after my search, and sharing, so I’ll be off, now.

  14. says

    All I can say to this is “My Bad”….I rather foolishly didn’t read the article before posting it as I was rushing at the time. The article in no way reflects my thoughts.

    I fully agree that almost every paragraph in this has something wrong with it and the overall claim of the article that “women are not sitting in a position of current bias and therefore feminists are not needed” is abhorrent.

    I am suitably chastised and, with such clumsiness, I will consider my ongoing role carefully in concert with those who quite correctly criticised the choice of article.



  15. says

    Hi Ophelia,

    Can you please confirm that it was indeed Bruce that led you to the error I made in posting this article.

    If so, he
    1) knew the article I linked to was not an article I would agree with (ie knew the story he was telling was untrue) and,
    2) was a committee member at the time who, instead of contacting me to alert me of the error, ran to Butterflies & Wheels with the story. This would have constituted a betrayal of the role he swore to uphold when he took the position.

    It was ~6 days after this post was resolved that Bruce resigned.

  16. says

    Hi Justin,

    No, sorry, I can’t, because I don’t know. It was a year ago. It seems likely, but I don’t know.

    (I get sent a lot of links to articles and stories, one way and another, so I mostly don’t keep the sources in long-term memory.)

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