This is our truth, tell us yours
So its been a funny old weekend on the feminist interweb, a journalist and blogger told people that being happy with their sex lives was offensive, which Carter responds to with his normal panache here. She then went on to explain to one of the leading theorists on gender and race why people who agree with her are closet racists. Click the link, its vital reading.
Schoolyard bitchiness (there is no other word for the original glosswitch article, if was a particularly gendered attack of the kind anyone who has watched mean girls will recognise) was replaced this morning by the fuckwittery of the feminist times telling us that people who wear high heels are self harming idiots who don’t have the brains to realise they are tools of the patriarchy. They also threw in some particularly offensive comparisons to domestic violence which showed they get their ideas about DV from the Charles Saatchi book of marriage guidance. I am not going to link to their clickbait piece, read Jude instead, she destroys it beautifully.
At first the two incidences of “big feminism” telling other women how to be better feminists may not seem to have that much in common, but they are in fact both an attack on what they like to call identity politics. It’s a strange term, especially as it is used as an insult. Big feminism says that an understanding that people are oppressed by anything other than gender is simply placing your own identity above feminism. It is the triumph of theory over the actual lived experience of women across the world, and as always when experience is ignored, it is complete bollocks.
The huge blind spot these women have is that their feminism is of course based on identity politics, the identity they have though, as white cishet women is what they define as normal. Like all with power and privilege they refuse to accept that they are a group, or need any defining terms. Their identity is the one they see reflected on the TV, in books, it is the norm, and so needs no definition. Their identity is one they can impose with impunity, after all who doesn’t want to be normal? When you have this view-point intersectionality is a massive challenge. If the only thing that holds you back is your gender, then it is a huge step to accept that you are actually exceptionally privileged.
This is why feminism seems rife with women who are determined to police the choices of more marginalized and oppressed women. It takes a big person to say, yes, my life is actually not so bad, I will shut up about the minor inconviences a white western well-educated woman faces and fight for those who day in day out face racism, transphobia, whorephobia and a whole host of structural and endemic oppressions. This is not to say that women are not oppressed by their gender whoever they are, simply that the different levels of oppression have to be accepted. The refusal to do so says a lot about the victim mentality and external locus of evaluation of most plastic feminists, however that will take a whole other blog.
Which brings us to the title of this piece, and the other insult de jour, choice feminism. The idea is that some people (for which read white cis western educated middle class women) understand patriarchy, and have theories to challenge it, while other women need to be told how their behaviour is harmful to women as a class. Even in the process of writing this one of the plastic brigade has tweeted her concern that someone who understands things be asked to write about feminism and heels. By which she means not a woman of colour, or sex worker (you want to talk the structual oppression strippers face Caroline?) The only accepted theorists are university educated, white and middle class. Sex workers are particularly on the receiving end that theory trumps lived experience, as by some act of magic men paying women for time and content limited sexual services apparently makes them then go out and rape other women. (No I dont get it either, its THEORY)
The thing is, as we all have identity politics, just some of us are more honest about it than others, all feminism is choice feminism. These big name feminists are promoting their choices, go to uni, accept capitalism, do the partner, work, career thing, don’t wear make up, be a good girl and accept the head pats of patriarchy. Again they fail to see they are simply promoting their identity, their choices because they see themselves as the norm. When you condemn the sexual behaviour of others, or say campaigning against race is a hobby-horse, when you slut shame women who wear heels, all you do is reveal your prejudices and personal beliefs.
To call this a purer form of feminism, or a more desirable one is to simply say my choices and identity are the ones you should all aspire too. No different from their great grandmothers who sent clothes to darkest Africa so the natives could have the blessing of dressing like white women, they want to promote their identity and choices as the only acceptables ones.
Many people are ceasing to call themselves feminists, because in a time when women cannot feed their children and others are thrown onto the streets to face violence they wonder what it is for. This weekend we have had one answer, some seem to believe it is for making a world where they are comfortable, or should I say more comfortable than they already are. They are ready to attack any woman who disagrees with their choices, funnily enough i have heard that before. Patriarchy must be sitting back with a very smug smile.