Individualism, collectivism and feminism

Feminism is generally defined as collectivist. “Reclaiming the F-Word“, to name just one recent publication on feminism, is quite clear that feminism is about collective action, collective gains, and a collective approach.  If feminism is about collective action then those who focus on individuals rather than groups have a problem.

Conservatives and Liberals both tend to take an individualist approach.  They start from a position of individual freedom and individual choice.  With the exception of some strong socially Conservative ideas (which I don’t see as being representative of the current party), Tories tend to be pragmatic, without ideological or moral absolutes.

The problem with collectivism is that it assumes a simple, definable group identity. Collectivism quickly becomes essentialism, seeing members of the group as the same and willing into existence a definable feminine essence beyond biological characteristics. Firstly, belief in an absolute platonic form gives rise to reductionist issues hampered by the existence of individuals who do not fit into strict biological dichotomies. Secondly, women are half the population of the world: how can we be a group?

Starting from individualism doesn’t mean that collective action is impossible.  It simply means that we work together, towards similar goals, in similar ways. It’s perfectly possible to believe in the primacy of the individual while still recognising the importance of the community.

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About feminismfortories

Moderate Tory, Liberal Feminist. Based in the UK.
This entry was posted in Definitions, Media, society and state, Women in Parliament. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Individualism, collectivism and feminism

  1. 2020 says:

    I really like the way you think on this issue. I myself often find the atmosphere at most of the big feminist websites such as feministe for instance to be quite counterproductive and exclusionary in dealing with opposing opinion. To the point of being outright hostile to anyone who even slightly disagrees with the group. That’s why I much prefer the more individual feminist blogs like yours it allows for more diversity of opinion and I’m all about diversity, hope you post again soon.

  2. Pingback: Tory war on women | Feminism For Tories

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