Dear fellow feminist,
Thank you so much for contacting me! I always appreciate it when a woman reaches out to me, and especially when they’re of the feminist persuasion.
It’s difficult to know where to start, so perhaps we can start with a Wikipedia article on feminism. It’ll give you a whole bunch of names to google. These names contributed towards the feminism that’s both loved, and reviled. The feminism that finally taught South African legislators, back in 1993, that rape can occur in the marital bed.
The feminism that women fought for by striking, starving themselves, and by enduring torture.
I’ll try to explain how I see feminism throughout this post, and what things I wish were in the malestream (not a typo, btw!).
For me, the one very most important bit to remember is that feminism isn’t a popularity contest. It’s also not about men. Nor is it a movement that aims to solve the world’s problems. We’re not your superfeminists, nor are we into equality for equality’s sake. And it’s a pity we sometimes forget it’s a movement for women, by women, to, as bell hooks says, end women’s oppression (pdf). We need a feminist public service announcement every now and again.
The other very tremendously important bit to know is that feminism has many flavours. There’s ecofeminism, anarcha-feminism, socialist feminism, libertarian feminism, funfeminism. Some of them have an analysis of how women came to be The Second Sex; some do not.
I consider myself a radical feminism because I stand in solidarity with the radicals who say our oppression comes from men as a class who oppress women as a class. My feminism looks at how the patriarchy influences our lives, in the subtle, and not so subtle, ways.
And my feminism will overanalyse everything, or it will be bullshit! If the following were a Facebook comment, I’d quote it and, underneath it, write “THIS!!!!^^^”
– Megan Murphy
I tried writing a something about the sexual offences act a while back. And I see the very same problem throughout the rest of our Western(ised) society: the cult of the individual. It’s every-fucking-where. Even in feminism. Especially in feminism.
People’s reluctance to criticise the personal, is problematic. And it’s sad that we’ve forgotten the very existence of the most famous feminist slogan — ”the personal is political”. People say being a SAHM isn’t problematic for the sisterhood. Funny, that. Is it OK that women do something, every day, for at least 20 years, with no pay? With no unemployment benefits? With no healthcare benefits? And with no retirement fund?
The other problem in liberalism is the insistence on autonomy and choice. ”My body, my choice” is one such flavour. Yes, I get it that abortion is a hard-won right, but we need to erase the need to have abortion. We need to make it superfluous. We also need to stop pr0n and prostitution, aka pay-per-rape.
“The language of choice has come to dominate discussion of women’s rights so much that it is in danger of losing its purpose. I find the language of choice around abortion patronising. I don’t want laws that protect my right to have absolute freedom to do whatever I choose with my body. I want autonomy.”
– Bonnie Johnson
And we need to realise that all our actions have repurcussions, even abortion, especially abortion. And perhaps, just perhaps, our 2nd-wave foresisters were correct about abortion –some said it’s a women-hating practise.
“I don’t think that either contraception or abortion is the ‘solution’ to women’s reproductive rights even though I fully support women’s right to access free, safe and legal contraception and abortion.”
– Gorgon Poisons
I want to touch on something else very briefly: Mary Daly urges us that we need to be ”naming the agent”.
“Naming the agent is required for an adequate analysis of atrocities.”
– Mary Daly in Quintessence
The term patriarchy is in danger of becoming an obscure term. All it really means is ”the rule of the father”. And yet we’re reluctant to use it. We’re so reluctant to use it, that we invented a new word to take its place, thanks to, I think, postmodernist writers. The new word is ”kyriarchy”, which obscures the agent, ie men.
”Domestic violence” is another term we need to GTFO of our feminism; we need to talk about ”MALE violence against women”. bell hooks does a fine job of talking about the ”white supremacist capitalist patriarchy”. I, myself, have used it a couple of times and it makes me feel kriewelrig (1) when I use it! I’m guessing it’s because it takes a while to acclimatise to ”naming the agent”.
This is where I’ll stop for now. The next post will be about penis-in-vagina sex, among others. It’ll talk about femininity, and why it harms women. And I’ll try to touch a bit on how systems of oppression work.