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At the beginning of Helen Lewis' new radio program The Church of Social Justice, she talks about doing press interviews to promote her last book Difficult Women. Someone from a religious think tank asked her if feminism had taken the place of or played a similar role to the Catholicism she was raised with (and no longer believes in).

Do you think feminism, either in general or in your own life, fulfills a similar sort of purpose as subscribing to a religion would? Do you see any overlaps with any sort of belief system involving a "higher power" or the supernatural?

Or was this just a completely absurd question to even ask?

At the beginning of Helen Lewis' new radio program [The Church of Social Justice](https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001b420), she talks about doing press interviews to promote her last book Difficult Women. Someone from a religious think tank asked her if feminism had taken the place of or played a similar role to the Catholicism she was raised with (and no longer believes in). Do you think feminism, either in general or in your own life, fulfills a similar sort of purpose as subscribing to a religion would? Do you see any overlaps with any sort of belief system involving a "higher power" or the supernatural? Or was this just a completely absurd question to even ask?

44 comments

I think it's absurd and a trick question. Trying to make it seem like we're just following another religion instead of waking up to what the world really is. Feminism is deprogramming. We're all socialized and conditioned into patriarchy, a male supremacist worldview and mindset. But we're not males, so we're the ones the system is made to oppress.

Feminism is the first time you start learning to question everything you've been taught, to see the world more critically and to examine how you interact with the world. It's critical thinking. It's not following an ideology, it's just telling you that you are not made to serve. That everything you've been told that about what women are, how you should be under men, is wrong. Of course all this is based on actual feminism and not the consumerist patriarchal version that's been marketed towards women and girls.

Perfectly put! It definitely felt like a trick question coming from someone who can't fathom living without religion.

Exactly, feminism also isn't about following some idol, it's a frameworks of thought. It's dissecting what patriarchy is and how it impacts us, it's decentering men. It's centering women and learning about ourselves and each other. We women as a whole have been separated from our own selves, from even our humanity in many cases. It's a rejection of the imposed structure, if anything patriarchy is a religion women are forced to obey and operate under, with men being the god/idol. It's a reason religion itself is male supremacist and used to control women.

You worded it perfectly, thank you. We are told to believe that being male is the highest form of existence, that there is a "natural" order where women are second-class beings. And you always know who is most powerful by looking at who you are not allow to criticise.

Not following idols blindly is a natural result of thinking critically. "Heroes" should always be scrutinized.

To me, that question is just as absurd as asking if having a sense of ethics or conscience a replacement for religion.

Just because a person believes and lives their life to a set of values doesn't mean it is a religion.

Real feminism: fuck no

Pseudo/lib/transfeminism: 💯

[–] furyosa no, thank you 4 points

Agreed. Also a mini-rant around the complaints I see on SM about gatekeeping feminism, i.e. "real feminism" as you call it: It’s the same old boundary pushing/queering/dissolving things into meaninglessness that got us into the trans mess to begin with. Having boundaries, even for ideologies like feminism (the framework around facts regarding MVAWG and male supremacy/patrilineal societies), requires gatekeeping. A boundary is not a boundary without gatekeeping what goes inside of said boundary and what stays outside of it.

People would rather change an established idea to fit them, then actually change themselves. They'd rather call anything they do feminist then actually challenge anything. It's utter laziness as well as entitlement. Especially since doing the feminist work is just great therapy for yourself, it helps you grow and lets you break free from a lot of baggage patriarchy gives you.

[–] otterstrom 4 points Edited

I appreciate the conciseness of ‘gatekeeping is having boundaries.’ They try so hard to make it as power thing— which it vey well is, but my oh my have they done a good reversal a la DARVO.

[–] real_feminist 0 points Edited

It's not really about boundaries or gatekeeping though. That makes no sense in this context. Feminism is the movement to liberate women from patriarchy. If it doesn't fit within that, then it's not feminism. It's just a simple definition.

It's the same as if people wanted to push unproven theories as established science (as the TRAs are doing) and then claimed that people were "gatekeeping" science when they got pushback (which the TRAs have not been bold enough to do yet afaik).

I'm anti theistic but radfem so I'm biased here but isn't the big thing about religion that it's made up and requires blind faith while feminism is a reality based analysis of the worldwide phenomenon of males violently oppressing us?

The question wasn't if feminism is a religion though. It was whether feminism fulfills a similar need in people that subscribing to a religion does.

These kinds of questions come from people who can’t envision a world without the structure they have known through religion.

So they assume that if you take away one specific manifestation of religion, surely it must be an empty space that has to be filled with something. They cannot envision a world outside of that structure.

Given how many feminists belong to one religion or another I'd say no

I don't think it's quite the same. Religion is about making sense of the world through embracing a higher power or a spirituality that goes beyond the material world. Feminism is a reaction to the concrete reality that we're living in.

I think feminism can be similar to religion if you're lucky enough able to build a community around it. Both could lead to friendships and supportive social networks. Sharing your beliefs publicly can also help you find like-minded people, too.

What a strange comparison to try and make. Religion is based on blind faith and following orders. Feminism is real and tangible just like the struggles women face every day.

The question wasn't if feminism is a religion though. It was whether feminism fulfills a need in people that subscribing to a religion might.

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