Feminism - Barry Johnson and Mandy Geal

The issue of equal pay has once again washed through the news. There has been much in favour of the concept, but sitting beneith the words used is an avoidance of some issues. One of the issues is the use of the word feminism. It seems to us there is a lack of understanding of the the two main approaches taken by the drivers in any sex issue.

The question is whether the word is used from a ‘Gender Feminist’ point of view or an ‘Equity Feminist’ point of view. It seems to us there is muddled thinking on this issue. Just to clarify:

Equity Feminism opposes sex discrimination and other forms of unfairness to women. It is part of the classical liberal humanistic tradition that grew out of the enlightenment. It guided the first wave of feminism (Suffragettes etc.) and launched the second wave post WW2.

Equity Feminism is a moral doctrine about equal treatment that makes no commitments regarding open empirical issues in psychology and biology. They accept that the brains of men and women differ visibly and are constructed with some differences; favour behaviour that is different but in many, and perhaps most respects, they are remarkably similar. The difference leads to the average man being more proficient spatially and the average woman being more able verbally. There are still some views that this is due to the evolutionary manifestations of survival for some hundreds of thousands of years, going back into our very earliest ancestors among the apes. Men and women are remarkably similar in numerical ability but men have a greater interest in these things and so tend to fill more of the roles that require the skills, not because they are better, but because women are more interested in social aspects of life and choose to follow them. It is also true that women have greater innate skills in the social aspects of life including motherhood. However, the spatial and verbal/social stereotype is a statistical generalisation. Any particular woman may or may not be more or less spatially proficient, or more or less verbally/socially proficient than any particular man. Equity feminists recognise this.

Gender Feminism holds that women continue to be enslaved by a pervasive system of male dominance, the gender system, in which ‘bisexual infants are transformed into male and female gender personalities, the one destined to command and the other to obey’. It is opposed to the classical liberal tradition and allied instead with Marxism, post modernism, social constructionism and radical science. Gender Feminism is an empirical doctrine committed to three claims about human nature.

  • The first is the difference between men and women has nothing to do with biology but is a social construct, or socially constructed.
  • The second is that humans possess a single social motive and that is Power, and social life can be understood only in terms of how it is exercised.
  • The third is that human interactions arise not from people interacting with one another, but from the motives of groups dealing with other groups – in this case the male gender dominating the female gender.


It follows that Gender Feminism is a massive political driver in society, as it brooks no opposition. It displays disdain for analytical rigour and classical principles.

The new generation of Gender Feminists have also claimed that love, beauty, flirtation, erotica, art and homosexuality are pernicious social constructs. With this they have declared war on Equity Feminists and to some extent on the previous generation of Gender Feminists. Please forgive our bias in that we have put this diffentiation in the female context. There is a similar split in the male population, although little is written about it. Male equivalents of Gender Feminism consider male equivalents of Equity Feminism with some disrespect, and in a similar way to many views of homosexuals.

The basic question is, whether you are a female or male manager facing the equality issue, on which side of this fence do you sit? How does it affect the way you think or negotiate your way through the issue?

We declare our bias, we support the Equality route. As we have said, a person’s belief is true for him or her, or should we write her or him?

Reading: Stephen Pinker (Professor of Psychology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology) ‘The Blank Slate’, where he quotes the philosopher Christina Hoff Sommers and the biological basis of sex differences, neuroscience, psychology