After reading through some of the stoushes on Twitter recently, I got to thinking about different types of feminism and who calls themselves a feminist.
Rachel Hills talks about whether Margaret Thatcher was a feminist, what feminism means for her, and right wing feminism. This follows on from her interview with Melinda Tankard Reist. Rachel also discusses this on her Tumblr [links have been edited to lead to correct articles~M]
No Place For Sheep raises a few questions that she thought should have been asked of MTR (Rachel responds in comments).
I think of myself as a feminist, although there are a lot of things that other feminists no doubt think I should be doing to really earn that title. Some of them are right.
I don’t believe that feminism is in danger of falling apart, as was suggested on Twitter recently, because it has seemingly fractured into so many different factions. But I do categorise feminists in my head. For example – right wing feminist, anti-sex work feminist, anti-trans rad feminist, feminist who uses ableist language, feminists who think that their writing magically lets everyone know that when they make jokes about [x,y,z] then everyone knows they are joking as opposed to people who really think this way. This is somewhat of a cop out I know. But I know that I am not perfect either so I don’t want to point fingers and then find them pointing back at me. I also recognise that it is easy for me, as a cis, white, het, middle class woman, to let crap slide because at the end of the day it isn’t challenging my very identity.
Finally, a few thoughts on anti-abortion feminists, [ETA] such as Melinda Tankard Reist. I can understand wanting to create a society where abortion isn’t needed*, but I think this is something that we need to be completely sure about what is actually meant. I think it should mean a society where unwanted pregnancies don’t occur because contraception is 100% effective and sexual relations are always consensual^. Working towards this type of society as a feminist is fine IMO. However, this ignores the fact that there are other reasons for a woman to seek an abortion apart from contraceptive failure or coerced sex or rape. As a feminist I believe that women should have the right to choose a safe legal termination.
*This could also mean a totalitarian state ala Alias Grace, where women are merely vessels and so don’t need abortion.
^I don’t actually know how anti-abortion feminists define a society where abortion isn’t needed.
Please feel free to add links in comments, HAT authors please feel free to add links into this post.
[ETA further discussion] This was posted on Twitter, I have no idea if it was directed at me or not, chances are not, and I’m not going to embarrass myself by asking ‘Is it about me, it’s all about me right?’ 😉
Lesson in logic: labeling your opponent, even if the label is accurate, does nothing to prove you right or them wrong.
But it does raise an important point, why label other feminists at all? Well, because it allows me a free privilege pass – if I recognise that some of their attitudes are, from my POV, problematic then I can still call them and me feminist without having to think too hard about it. If I accept them as feminists because they call themselves feminists then I don’t have to call them out and bring down a hail of crap on my head, although some days I do choose to do so. But I pick my targets carefully.
In labelling I’m not trying to prove myself right or them wrong, and it does help if I want to link to something someone has said but that I think needs to have a warning for people who don’t want to be directed to somewhere that isn’t a safe space for them.