My former student and dear pal Lucia Fasano has submitted a post about equality vs. mutuality for your consideration (all of her posts can be found here). You can also see Lucia in my BLUNT VIDEO: Not Guilty– The George Zimmerman Verdict.
Please link over and read what this involved twenty-year-old has been writing. Here's her latest:
Mutuality an Actuality?
I’ve been actively involved in the feminist community since I graduated from high school and moved out on my own in 2011. I started reading feminist literature, went to rallies, made feminist friends and made feminists out of friends, praising the movement of “equal rights”. Recently, I was struck by the term “mutuality” and what it entailed. It was defined as a reciprocal relationship between interdependent entities-- and that, is what Bell Hooks and others would say, should be the ultimate goal, not equality.
It was a word that encapsulated the type of feminism I have believed in and strive for, but couldn’t properly articulate. Making your whole movement about equality was the problem with many approaches to various progressive movements to end oppression or educate others, because the opposition will always argue that total equality is unobtainable, so why even try? Or that if gay people can get married, or a woman gets the same pay as a man, isn’t the struggle over? And that’s just not true.
In the introduction to her book, “Feminism Is For Everybody”, by Bell Hooks, she writes: “Imagine living in a world where there is no domination, where females and males are not alike or even always equal, but where a vision of mutuality is the ethos shaping our interaction.” To me, mutuality is a demonstration of an ideal America and an ideal planet.
Another aspect of mutuality that makes it so perfect for the actualization of harmony and beloved community is the acknowledgement, in total mutuality, that we all need each other. The problem is, that doesn’t jive with Western Metaphysical Dualism. When mutuality is achieved, we all acknowledge that what feeds and helps the community enriches and strengthens the community as a whole. That one person’s job isn’t worth more than the other, that some people have more worth than others. Our government is supposed to have a welfare system, social programs, taxes, to create a safety net when members of our system need help-- implying that we’ll be there to catch each other and support each other in times of need. We all meet each other’s needs at one point, we all are parts of one big machine, and all should be oiled correctly.
People will put bumper stickers for equality on their cars or say from places of privilege that they wish for everyone to be treated entirely equal, when the truth is that people aren’t born into equal situations and to wish for that is unrealistic. So it’s easier to say than to actually achieve or work for-- because to really want total equality, you need to be very conscious of what goes into that and who actually wants that. But to be pro-mutuality, and to work for mutuality, all that takes is critical consciousness.
If you let go of your assumptions and separative-thinking, you’re giving yourself over to a world/community where everyone is playing a part or has the potential to. If you’re more conscious of what you consume and what you do and how you treat people, then you’re closer to realizing how truly dependent each individual is on each other. Even the richest people are dependent on the poorest. If feminists aim for “total independency, total equality”, then that makes it easy to ignore the people that aren’t reaching those goals once you achieve it for yourself.
I hear the term “equality” thrown around as a blanket term so often that its potency does feel diminished, when it was once a term that evoked a great fire in me and motivated me to stand up for myself and others. What is hard is that when we talk about equality, everybody has their own different thought and definition, usually influenced by the media, social status, political leaning, etc. Some people think it means being the same, some people think it means being treated the same-- but when we speak for everybody in our movements, and wish to include everybody, we have to acknowledge that not everybody wants to be treated the same, not everybody is the same, nor is it realistic to treat everybody the same.
Politicians would rather support an impossible or not serviceable goal like the idea of total equality than actually working toward better health care for the poor, raising minimum wage, or national mandated maternity leave. Those things are seen as unnecessary in the world of “total equality” and “meritocracy” that is America, because they’re easily labeled as “special treatment.”
The idea of Mutuality is a way of both trying to make reform within our system but in a revolutionary, radical way.