Just read a piece in the Huffington Post written by a self-identified feminist who endeavors to explain feminism to a purported audience of feminists who don’t want feminists to explain feminism to them.
Author Kat George’s article is titled “Six Things That Definitely Don’t Make You a Bad Feminist.” Like everything published on the internet these days, it is a list.
The gist of her list is that performance of femininity does not conflict with feminist activism. It includes permission for feminists to change their name when they get married, to get waxed, and to let dudes pick up the tab. Also on the list: it’s no skin of George’s nose if you like to watch “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” But just so you know, she’ll think you’re an idiot if you do. Not a bad feminist, but an idiot.
She also opines that “you don’t have to be a hairy, unwashed vegan to promote feminist belief.”
Good to know that even non-clichéd non-stereotypes can take up the mantle.
Re: Kardashians et al: it is the duty of the spinster aunt to note that passive mainstream TV consumption is so politically neutral it can barely be construed as an “act.” Watching TV is a bodily function regulated by the autonomic nervous system, like digestion, or sucking down a pitcher of margs. But I digress.
“One thing that really irks me about feminism,” complains George in an effort to tell other feminists how to do feminism correctly, “is that sometimes, feminists try to tell other feminists how to do feminism correctly.”
Well, of course she’s irked. That’s because she isn’t doing feminism correctly. Someone who, without compunction, suggests that vegans with body hair practice questionable hygiene is probably on the receiving end of stern feminism lectures more or less constantly. Anyone would find that irksome. But see here: if feminists who do understand feminism keep their traps shut when feminists who don’t understand feminism go around explaining feminism wrong, everybody loses.
Good thing I’m on the case!
For the public good it will be necessary to tweak Ms George’s definition of feminism just a smidge. Rather than a lifestyle accessory in the shape of some passive, nebulous, and capriciously applied “belief in gender equality,” feminism is in fact a political movement the goal of which is the liberation of women from patriarchal oppression.
It’s not just Ms George, either. So many of these ladies are flitting about the countryside with the idea that feminism is about believing in equality. Often they embellish the concept with vague notions of “empowerment” and the psuedofeminist mandate to “choose” “choices.” Suggests George, when you’ve got feminism onboard, “you can be whoever you want to be.” Particularly, it seems, when who you want to be is a woman who performs femininity, a set of behaviors specifically engineered to ensure the dehumanization and subjugation of half the global population.
Now that identifying as a feminist is the trendy fad of sexay celebs, “choice” feminism — the bane of all 7 radfems the world over — has never been hotter. Where on earth did this idea come from, the idea that feminism is a “belief” that one can process, through fashion and TV preferences, into some sort of persona?
From patriarchal forces of misogynist hegemony, that’s where. What we have here is a failure on the part of feminism to penetrate the monster force field that protects the dominant culture from incursions of reason and justice. Patriarchy is so insidious and invisible and impenetrable that feminism has failed, despite its best efforts, to sufficiently disseminate amongst the oppressed the actual gist of actual feminist ideology. The result is that megarich, hypersexualized entertainers can position themselves as feminist role models and swiftly neutralize the revolution by “empowering” the masses to view hypersexualization as a rewarding philosophical pursuit.
Sadly, making the simple assertion that “you can be whoever you want to be” in no way alters the reality that you cannot even remotely be whoever you want to be. Because, as the kids today say, patriarchy. All women are obliged by social pressure, the state, religion, pop culture and whatnot to practice femininity. It’s not a choice, at least not one that can be made freely and without consequence. Often it is a matter of survival. Women who acquiesce, who embrace the strictures imposed by femininity, are rewarded. Those who decline to or cannot comply are punished. No person whose fundamental agency has been stripped can choose choices.
Women cannot choose choices.