Writing from middle America.
There is a lot of hubbub as I post this in the waning days of 2017 regarding women, the treatment of women and the well-known persons who are or are not now paying their personal or professional costs for having mistreated women over several decades.
This isn’t a comment about that, per se.
Long back, when I was more open-minded (perhaps naïve), I would have considered myself a feminist as I understood the term at the time: women and men should be treated equally, period. Physiology aside, I don’t know that I was entirely wrong-headed in that understanding.
Prior to this calendar year by a few years, I decided I wasn’t a feminist since—from my reading and understanding, as well as acquaintances who liked to share their women’s studies education—the best sense of “equality” as it means to me wasn’t what feminists were talking about. I couldn’t be a feminist, since where once there was a “what’s good for women is good for everyone” had been replaced by a “zero-sum” feminism. That is, women’s gains were promoted to be at the expense of men’s positions rather than a rigorous pursuit of equitable treatment for all genders along with an evolution in societal norms. (Sadly, I see this zero-sum strategy regularly in today’s American national political discourse.) This of course suggests a finite amount of EQUALITY that allows for no growth, with women (or feminists) on one end of a continuum and men (or non-feminists) on the other.
Reading the comments on a review of how Joss Whedon’s sexist jokes & directorial changes hurt Wonder Woman’s presentation in the recently released Justice League movie, I see the current discourse on feminism and feminists is reflected here as well. Which got me to reflecting on how I might answer one commented: “THIS IS THE PROBLEM WITH FEMINISM. i didnt even notice anything weird with all the things she said except that flash joke.” But before I could do that, I had determined how I would define “feminism” for public consumption that meant what it did for me so many years ago. So, one way did occur to me.
While it fits the negotiation, terminology suggested by “zero-sum feminism,” I must admit that it’s less humane (as in “humanity,” rather than “kindness”) than I’d prefer (that a human is treated by any other human equitably, regardless of gender, physiology notwithstanding). Thus, “quid-pro-quo feminism” is an exchange of one’s equal treatment, rather than goods or services, for being treated as an equal, where “zero-sum feminism” shows women’s societal gains at the expense of men’s societal position.
THAT thought compelled me to search “quid pro quo feminism” AND “zero sum feminism” (hyphens left out for SEO purposes). Prior to this post, Google returned “About 238,000 results (0.63 seconds)” for “zero-sum game feminism” rather than merely “zero-sum feminism.” Meanwhile, “quid pro quo harassment” shows up on SRPs that include ”feminism” elsewhere, but nothing was returned for exactly “quid pro quo feminism.”
If I’m doing my site right, this page should show up if one searches for “zero-sum feminism” and “quid pro quo feminism” while reviewing the treatment of women in superhero movies… or not.