Part of the marathon The Name Game thread on Feministe, zuzu sums up, because some people are still playing the “but isn’t feminism all about choice? Support my choice!” card:
Also, let me co-sign with Sheelzebub, Rachel II and others who have pointed out that just because a feminist makes a choice, it doesn’t mean that it’s a feminist choice. You may feel you have great reasons for choosing the option which just happens to be what the patriarchy has greased the rails for you to do rather than taking the harder path of going against tradition. But having good reasons doesn’t mean that you’re not adding your own grease to those rails, or transform your choice into something feminist.
I mean, it doesn’t make you anti-feminist, either, but let’s not pretend it’s a decision made in a vacuum. You can acknowledge that you have limited options and are under tremendous pressure to do the patriarchally-approved thing, as are we all, and you can still make the decision that it’s not a battle you particularly care to fight. We all make our capitulations to the patriarchy to survive. Hell, you might even consider that getting married in the first place might be an even bigger capitulation than changing your name.
Just don’t act like it’s a neutral, meaningless decision.
Versions of this keep on cropping up on feminist blogs. It obviously needs to keep on being said.
- Feminists continually make choices that compromise their feminist principles, often for compelling personal reasons. Those compromises are not immune from critical analysis just because they are “my choice”.
- Anyone who acquiesces to traditional expectations cannot avoid contributing to the power those traditions subsequently exert upon others. “My choice” is not a magic wand that makes that reinforcement somehow transform into a “feminist choice”.
- Criticism is not compulsion, it’s a form of persuasion. Nobody is trying to force anybody to make a feminist choice just by offering criticism of non-feminist choices.
I’m thinking it’s worth its own FAQ on FF101. Anybody got some other relevant quotes to share?