Leftist commentary from a mouthy bitch
So, in the last post I referenced Captain Feminism who came in to tell a bunch of feminists how terrible we were at feminism.
I would like to thank Captain Feminism for illustrating something.
I’ve railed about “I’m not a feminist, but…” before. About how a lot of younger women don’t like the term feminist, and won’t apply it to themselves even if they are totally 100% behind the sorts of things that feminists do, support, and strive for. After dealing with Captain Feminism, I understand why.
Dude, seriously, if you want to know why there are young women who don’t identify as feminist, please go back to that conversation we had on Facebook. Now I want you to sort through it for all the things you demanded that we, as feminists, not do. Now go through it for all of the scolding you did. All of the dismissive bullshit you pulled.
THAT bullshit is why a lot of younger women won’t identify as feminists.
I’ve talked to a couple, and been completely baffled. One of whom is the daughter of a women’s studies professor. She spent much of her life subjected to that very laundry list of “Don’t do this, don’t do that, feminists don’t…” Last night I talked to another female punk singer (after our first gig! squee!), and once again I got the list of why someone who IS feminist, doesn’t identify as one. “I don’t want to hate all the men I know, because I know they’re fighting for my equality as much as I am.”
There’s a reason I identify more strongly with the Third Wave than the Second. Because the Second Wave had more “Thou Shalt Nots” than the fucking Baptists. Or at least a lot of the really vocal ones did. Who the hell says feminists can’t like dresses and skirts rather than pants (no, I’m not a stooge for the patriarchy, they fit better and are more comfortable than pants)? It’s my choice to shave my legs, or not, wear make up, or not, fuck men, or not. Feminism should not be a list of commandments, it’s supposed to be about choices.* I’m not about trading in one list of stupid, arbitrary restrictions for another. And that includes referring to myself as a “girl” if I want to.
And I know a lot of people are going to accuse me of Straw Man-ing here, but I’m not. Because I have encountered (and still, very rarely, do) feminists like this. I quit reading I Blame the Patriarchy for her dismissive and paternalistic views on kink and porn. I think Twisty’s brilliant and intelligent, and I agree with her most of the time. But I just could not take her incredibly ignorant declarations on kink dynamics. Because I don’t need anyone telling me my sexuality is wrong, and that if I enjoy that sexuality I am a Bad Feminist (TM). I have no reason to be ashamed of my sexuality, and I don’t appreciate anyone from either side of the fence trying to shame me for it.
Now, I’ve been dealing with this as someone who was raised with feminism as a core part of my personal politics. So I’m good with just saying, “Well, fuck you. I’m not letting you define my feminism because you find my sexuality icky or problematic.” But for someone young, who didn’t grow up with feminism, or someone who had it rammed down their throat as a list of “Thou Shalt Not”s, it’s probably easier to just say, “Fuck you, then, I’m not a feminist.”
And a lot of the Second Wave failed pretty epically on intersectionality. I love Mary Daly, but boy was she lousy with the transphobia, and I can’t even begin to list all the icons who really sucked on the subject of racism. Not to mention the paternalistic mess that was their stated views on sex workers and pornography, which came directly out of the patriarchy they claimed to fighting so hard.
I know you think you’re preserving the One True Feminism, but really all you’re doing is driving people away from it, and pissing the rest of us off.
I do have a couple of core things, where if you believe them, you really cannot call yourself a feminist:
1. Abortion – If you would never have an abortion yourself, that’s fine. But when you state that no one else can because you don’t like it. NO.
2. The vote for women – If you think women shouldn’t vote or otherwise be involved in running shit. NO. I’m looking at you, Kay O’Connor, you fucking hypocrite.
3. Women and work – If you want to be a stay at home mom, awesome. But again, if you advocate taking the choice away from other women, NO.
*My mom made the decision to stay home and raise my sister and I, because in the 70s daycare was incredibly difficult to find where we lived, and if she had found it, would have eaten up most of her paycheck. A lot of her feminist friends from college dumped her because of that. Because her choice was “wrong” where they were concerned. That isn’t feminism. So, one thing my mom did right was enforcing the idea that feminism meant you could CHOOSE, that it your life was yours to command, not anyone else’s.