Wednesday, June 27, 2012

On Choice Feminism

Welp, someone needed to say it*:
"In any comment section on the internet where feminism comes up, someone will pipe up and cry, 'But feminism is about CHOICE!' No. Feminism is not about choice – at least not insofar as it’s about saying 'Any choice women make is a feminist one and so we can’t criticize or judge it.' Feminism isn’t about creating non-judgmental happy-rainbow enclaves where women can do whatever they want without criticism. Feminism is about achieving social, economic and political equality for all people, regardless of gender. It’s not about making every woman feel good about whatever she does, or treating women like delicate hot-house flowers who can’t be criticized." 
A lot of people, especially anti-feminists and non-feminists, are confused by this concept. 

Anti-feminist men, especially, love to chime into convos about feminism, co-opt the "choice" lingo, and make wise-ass comments like, "What about Sarah Palin's choice to be opposed to other women making the choice to have abortions, hmmmmmmmmm? Seeeee, feminists don't really care about choice."

It's a close cousin to the anti-LGBT bigot's, "How dare you be intolerant of my intolerance of you! This proves you homofascists don't even care about tolerance."

Some women who stay at home and who are anti/non-feminist also seem to have it in their heads that it's primarily feminists, and only minimally or not at all a sexist, capitalist system, who HATE them and OPPRESS them and their CHOICES that they've definitely CHOSEN in a vacuum without any sort of external pressures.

So, what I find, in my interactions with them, is that these same women are somewhat sheltered, perhaps due to buying into the simultaneously condescending and pedestalizing narratives about "gender complementarity," womanhood, and stay-at-home-motherhood, and so they have strange notions of what both feminism and sexism are. Through their writings, they seem to harbor a strong fear of men, male aggression, and hetero male sexuality while simultaneously entitling men to engage in aggression and violence under the auspice that Men Can't Help It, while displacing their own womanly fear onto Others- such as gay men, lesbians, trans* people, feminists.

Some of these "Digital Network Army"/Opine Editorials types I've interacted with can really dish out the anti-feminist, anti-LGBT venom to their like-minded readers, but as soon as someone not sharing their views tries to engage them in dialogue like adults, they cower behind their own aprons of motherhood/womanhood, interpreting every bit of critique as though they've just suffered a human rights violation of international scale.

It's their choice to do so, but it is degrading nonetheless. It sends a message that "real women," which they alone are of course, are delicate flowers that can't handle participating in the public arena like civilized adults.

It's a choice to act out that infantilizing "don't you dare criticize me! I'm a mother and a woman!" role. But, it's not a feminist one, and certainly not one I have to support just because a woman has made it and that's what Real Feminists do.

*Other people have said it as well, but Internet regularly needs this reminder. And also, because this is Internet feminism, I suppose I should note that I don't agree with everything in the cited piece, or in the piece that is cited within the piece.

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