This post is my answer to a question asked on Quora.
What is the use of feminism to me if I’m an Equalist since childhood and have treated men and women equally?
There’s a huge confusion regarding this and I’m going to strive and clear up the confusion in the following discussion:
For our example it should be known that – India is a country, Maharashtra a state and Mumbai a city in it.
Now let’s imagine that there is a huge drive initiated by the central government to clean India and make it greener by planting more trees. This campaign has been named, “Clean India Green India”.
It covers every district, every city and every village of the country. The drive is huge.
Now, if the drive at the country level – “Clean India Green India” – is successful, Mumbai would also become cleaner and greener. However, to make the whole drive successful it would only be beneficial if the campaign is run in different cities as well.
Therefore, the various state governments have also taken initiatives in their states to drive a similar campaign for cities. So the Maharashtra government has a huge campaign running in the city of Mumbai called, “Clean Mumbai Green Mumbai”.
Now there are two people – Ram and Shyam.
Ram is a social activist and believes in and works actively for “Clean India Green India”. He wants his whole country to be clean and green.
Shyam, however, lives in Mumbai and has to face the filth and green-less concrete jungle of the city on a daily basis. He therefore works actively to promote the “Clean Mumbai Green Mumbai” campaign for the betterment of his city.
Now Ram looks at all of this and questions, What is the use of “Clean Mumbai Green Mumbai” drive for me when I’m already campaigning “Clean India Green India” since childhood.
To answer Ram’s question, it is true he’s working towards a bigger picture and that includes the smaller picture so he’s already working for the smaller picture indirectly. However, for the ones affected by the smaller picture everyday it makes a lot more sense for them to work towards it directly.
The smaller picture in the example is Mumbai’s cleanliness drive and the bigger picture is India’s cleanliness drive.
Now, in the above example replace:
Clean India Green India Activists with Equalists
Clean Mumbai Green Mumbai Activists with Feminists
And therefore by extension, we get:
Ram = The Questioner
Shyam = A Feminist
Equality on the whole is a bigger drive and Feminism is a smaller drive particularly aiming at equality for women and men.
The following diagram helps understand this better –
B is a subset of A. If A is Equalism, B is Feminism, Feminism is a subset of Equalism.
..and U might be the case calling for equality for beings other than humans and then A would become a subset of U and B a subset of A. But that is like dreaming of utopia and won’t happen ever..