March 16, 2006

The problem with Feminism

As you can see in posts below, some of the other Cotillion chickies wrote stuff about feminism. At first I hesitated--no, actually I balked, because I really just couldn't think of what to write, so I'm going to deviate a little from the given theme.

This isn't going to be a feminist-bashing piece. If it weren't for feminists in previous generations, I'm sure my life would be quite different. Maybe not--I have great parents who didn't raise me with gender-based expectations. It simply wasn't an issue. It never really has been with me, and I've never felt like a victim of some "patriarchy." But I know that's only because I've been lucky, and times HAVE changed a lot since my mother was young. To pretend otherwise just ignores reality, and that change didn't just happen on its own. So I have a hard time saying "feminists are man-hating, angry, blah blah blah..." (and I can't stand the Godwin's Law-breaking word "feminazi"). Basically, though, I don't even know how to define "feminism," anyway. Not these days.

I think I'm a feminist, because I don't think women should be expected to be anything based on gender. I get pissed when I hear some numbskull talk about what women "should" do, but I think it's silly to say what men "should" do too. Sure, we all have personal preferences, but as a whole? Men and women "should" be responsible, honest, ethical, fair, not to mention be good parents when they have children. I also of course think women should get equal pay for equal work, but I don't see how you can legislate further than it already is. And yes, I actually have seen unfair pay differences during a short stint in the corporate world. Most of all, with regard to no expectations based on gender, I think there should be no expectation from others on how we women view political and moral/ethical issues. In other words, don't tell me I "should" think/believe something because I'm a woman.

All of this is to say that I'm just tired of feminists saying people like me aren't feminists because I'm (we're) not pro-choice, and/or not a left-winger. Is that ALL that's left of feminism? And why call it feminism, if that's the case? There are plenty of men who are all for abortion, and not always for such lofty, idealistic reasons (although they may not admit it). They might not be feminists, but "feminists" on the left will hold their noses and play nice with them because of their support for abortion rights. If abortion is the litmus test, why even bother talking about "the patriarchy," labiaplasty, hymen replacement (!), and all the other things that ARE so-called feminist issues? I have always considered myself a feminist, at least since the concept became something I thought about, but left-wing feminists ("Feminists") would laugh in my face because I'm pro-life, conservative, and I not only actually LIKE being a stay-home mom (SAHM), I really do believe it's better for kids if Mom's at home with them, if one has the option of doing so (or Dad, but that's usually not how it works out). But most of all, because I am pro-life. That's the ultimate deal-breaker.

And this "sex positive" meme they have--WTF is that? Who is that meant for? "Sex-negative" conservatives? Is that what they really think? I've seen repeated attacks on some of my blogger-chick friends (those who dumpster dive in the blogosphere can guess where the attacks come from) because they have the opinion that waiting until marriage for sex can be a good thing, and that there's nothing wrong with abstinence. How on earth that can honestly be twisted into something Of The Patriarchy is incomprehensible. So let me get this straight, a teenager or woman who chooses when and with whom to have sex is repressed? Since when did women lose the inherent right to decide when and with whom we have sex? When did it become a requirement for Real Women to make sexual decisions based on other womens' decisions--or worse, and more to the point--the sleazy popular culture? Why do they think we're "afraid of" (or hate!) sex, and that we all wait until marriage, and that we only have sex for procreation, and only when The Husband wants it? And we hate being women? Huh? Why do they assume this is who we are solely because we have different opinions on some issues?

If Feminists wanted to really effect some change, they'd allow for differences of opinion in such things as abortion, when to have sex, and whether women want to be a SAHM or not. Sometimes I think Feminism is just a job, a money-making or at least a power-grabbing venture for a lot of them--as is the case with any special interest group. Keep the issue alive yet unsolved, and you keep yourself viable. (See also: the NAACP, government bureaucracy, cancer and AIDS research, etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum). If "feminism" is about issues beyond abortion, what's the point if you don't care enough about them to involve (rather than demonize) people like me? Don't they see how self-defeating they are, if they care at all about feminism?

[Cross-posted, with minor edits, from MVRWC.]

Posted by Beth at March 16, 2006 10:49 AM | TrackBack

What it comes down to is a title, a label. And that's just non-sense. What matters is what you do and say, and how you feel. What you actually are is what you are and nothing else can define you. That's what "feminism" should represent. And I don't know if there really is anything wrong with saying how something 'should' be...if, in your example, you're 'pro-life' or 'pro-choice' -- then you're making a choice - deciding how something 'should' be, right? And hopefully you can cool your jets knowing I am a "left-wing" women's rights pusher. But I am also a humanist...there is a further distinction. Humans are complex creatures. Simplicity leads to stereotypes and false perceptions.

Posted by: reading material at March 21, 2006 10:19 PM

I agree. Modern 'feminists' dont know what they want, other than that its somehow related to doing whatever they want to without consequence. They have lost much of the idealism the movement once had, replacing it with a level of angst and complaining that would make any teenager with a livejournal proud.

While I am personally pro-choice (Though not to an extreme), I think a lot of the feminists have forgotten why they even take that position now. They arn't pro-choice, they are anti-responsibility, together with an element of backlash against those they percieve as obsolete moral-oppressors - ie, conservatives. They know who and what they dislike, but thats all. Only a few distorted, reflexive responses remain left over from when they had direction.

They do have a point about the anti-sex tendencies though. Abstinance-only education, fighting pornography, stronger fines for broadcast obscenity... given some of the policies, I can see where they get the idea that conservatives dislike anything related to sex.

Posted by: Suricou Raven at March 25, 2006 04:06 PM

(In re above, last sentence)

If I shut one eye, squint up the other one, and take off my glasses, I can see it, too.

Yes, it's called "myopic dislogia," and it's the hot-ticket item in political discourse. It's a bit like this:

When I was 6, I asked my mom why we couldn't have ice cream for breakfast. She told me it wasn't appropriate. In fact, I got this response a LOT when I would ask for ice cream at various times during the day; but Mom had a strict policy of ice cream being for dessert after dinner. Would it have been logical if I had determined that Mom disliked anything related to ice cream?

There are appropriate times for the "good stuff." That's the conservative approach to sex. Sex is good (very, VERY good), but not all the time and in all contexts. "They" don't have a point at all, really; "they're" just seeing only half the picture because "they" want ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

That's just my two-cents' worth.

Posted by: Minky at April 16, 2006 10:48 AM