Butterfly Cauldron

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

What flavor feminist am I again?

So, I'm still not clear just what the hell "choice" feminism is, but Yawning Lion has thoughtfully decided to tell the world what radical feminism is. Or well, actually she just calls it plain feminism.

Alas, I seem to not be a feminist by her definition.

That would break my heart, but since I've never really given a fuck what other people said about me, I'm surprisingly tear-free.

(Actually, I don't mean to sound too snarky. I like reading her blog and think she's a pretty cool person. I don't agree with a lot of what she says, but I respect her for being able to articulate her beliefs and doing her best to live by them. I also think we've got a lot of common ground and could probably hang out easily enough.)

Actually, I agree with a hell of a lot of things on YL's list. I also disagree with lots of 'em too. And, being the cranky, argumenative sorta girl I am, I'm just gonna talk about the stuff I disagree with. Because it's more fun than being an echo chamber.

So, here we go: Things I Disagree with Yawning Lion About or Why I'm not a Radical Lesbian Separatist Feminist:

  • First, there's the small point that I'm not a lesbian. I do agree, however, that we can choice our sexual behavior. I don't believe we choose our orientation, but I do believe we can choice to have sex with only men or only women or some mixture of the two. Personally, I prefer the mixture. It is certainly within my realm of possiblity to devote myself exclusively to women. I could date and love only women for the rest of my life and, it's possible, I'd be perfectly happy that way. However, I don't want to. I don't want to deny myself the company of men. I don't want to deny myself the differences between us. I don't want to deny myself the chance to experience being with a body so very different than mine. I don't want to deny the men I meet the chance to know me, to learn from me, to grow as people by taking part in my experiences. Quite simply, I'd no sooner deny myself the joy of being with a man as I would the joy of being with a woman. I'm not wired that way and while I could choose to cut men from my life, that would be a half-life for me and frankly, I want a whole life.

  • Pretty much the only thing on her "feminist oppose" list that I have a problem with is the complusive heterosexuality. Not that I'm not opposed to it, it just strikes me as hypocritical that it seems to be okay to insist on compulsive homosexuality or celibacy while insisting that no one has the right to force women to be straight. I agree, no one has the right to force you to be straight or to expect you to be straight or to expect you to be sexual at all. On the same hand, no one has the right to force you into homosexuality or bisexuality or any other sexuality either. Sex is personal, albeit with political ramifications. And the fact is, women who are guilted or coerced into any sex act, whether by force or by threatened exclusion from "the club", are being abused. Compulsive homosexuality or celibacy is sexual assault, as damaging as any other form of sexual assault. No true feminist is going to insist on this kind of litmus test, because feminist are opposed to sexual violence and abuse in any and all forms.

  • Actually, okay. There are other things on that list of "feminists oppose" that I disagree with, but they're not such a big deal for me to post about them. I can address them later, if anyone wants me to. Moving on.

  • On to the behavior section. Where do I begin? Okay, I'll start with the big ones for me. I've already address the "not having sex with men." Now, let's move on to "not having children." Again with the proscribing behavior! How is this any different than the Religious Right demanding that abortion be outlawed and that pregnant women be forced to give birth and/or die due to pregnancy complications? It all boils down to control of reproduction. Personally, I'm not a kid person. I've got a list of reasons not to have kids. However, if everyone agreed with me, we'd all die out soon enough. Which may not be a bad thing for the planet, but it's not so good for those of us who think the human race deserves to keep going. I'd say it's feminist to not have more children than you can provide for. I'd say it's feminist to exercise birth control and family planning. I'd say it's feminist to not have children if you're not the sort of woman who doesn't want/can't raise children. I wouldn't say it's feminist to just "not have children." Where would all the new feminists come from then? Sure, we can convert the masses, but that hasn't been going so well for us lately. And it won't change, not when we're telling them they have to be childless lesbians.

  • The image issues. Make-up, heels, body hair! Personally? Eh. I wear a little concealer and powder when my face is broken out or I'm having a flare up. And I absolutely adore lipgloss. But otherwise? I could care less about make-up. Usually, I don't wear anything. My skin is better for it, most of my acne disappearing when I stopped wearing make-up and found a decent cleanser. But not wearing make-up, for me, has zero to do with being a feminist. It has to do with doing what makes me happy. I never wear heels, because they hurt my feet and I don't like pain. I'm also nearly 6 foot tall, so wearing them makes me look like an Amazon. Which I like, but you know. Pain is bad, mmkay? And I only remove the hair from my legs when I'm going to the doctor, because I want to be certain the doctor can see any new bruises/Lupus related skin issues clearly. I do admit to shaving my armpits regularly, because if I don't I get ingrown hairs and that fucking hurts. See: pain is bad. And, I suppose, my doing those things does have something to do with feminism after all. I do/don't do what I like because I know, as a woman, that my choices are valid and correct for me. I don't feel compelled to wear make-up or shave. I haven't since junior high when I decided, since I was too big and smart to be popular, to fuck it all and do what made me happy. (Thus magically turning myself from 'weird and geeky' to 'indie and cool' and able to have cross-clique friendships by doing nothing more than being myself. It was a strange, strange world, Junior High.) Anyway, does all that make me somehow more feminist than a woman who wears heels and makeup and shaves every day? I don't think so. It would depend on her motivation. Does she do those things because she wants to or because she feels she has to? And even if she does it because she feels compelled to, that doesn't make her less feminist than me, it just makes me luckier that I've got a job and social life that accepts me as I am. If (when, dammit!) I change jobs, it's likely that I'm going to have to modify my routine. I'm willing to make concessions, because I want the benefits. I'm willing to wear a bit more make-up daily and to dehair my legs more than twice a year. But I'm not going to wear heels and I'm not going to shave daily. That's bullshit. In the end, all this stuff is just image, not substance. And it's distracting from the real problems -- poverty, abuse, the fucking Religious Wrong, sex trafficking, civil rights violations, the whole fucking Patriarchy. If they can get us bitching at each other about wearing fucking eyeshadow, we won't have the time or energy to spend on the fact that they're stripping our basic rights away on a daily basis.

    So, anyway. Reasons I'm not a Lesbian Separatist Feminist. I really don't know what "kind" of feminist I am, but I do know I am one. Not a radical one, which is funny because this may be the first time in my life I've been in the non-radical end of anything. My mother would be pleased. (Although, by her reckoning, I'm definately a radical feminist. Go figure.)

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  • posted by Zan at 4:58 PM

    4 Comments:

    I just read that list and I think it's the most pretentious bullshit I've ever heard in my entire life. It's like the most popular girl in high school making a list of things you can and can't be to be popular and cool just like her.

    Feminism should be about cooperation and compassion and understanding and sharing ideas about how things can be changed, not excluding people and blogging stupid lists that serve no purpose other than to ruffle feathers and alienate people. I can understand wanting to weed out hypocrisy, but some of the shit on that list is just unnecessarily petty, and some of it, completely irrelevant.

    I'd tell her so, but she doesn't care what I think because I don't fit her definition of a feminist. I wonder how many women actually possess all of those attributes and demonstrate all of those behaviors? I'm gonna go ahead and say not many. Hard to fight for a feminist majority when you're membership is so exclusive...

    7:19 PM  

    Clearly, I agree. I've just never found constructing lists of Do and Don't very helpful when trying to build a movement/change the world.

    And the more I think about it, the more disturbed I am by the thought of mandatory homosexuality. It really is sexual violence and just makes me skin crawl. How is it anything but rape? You're saying no, I don't want to and someone else is saying, I don't care, you're going to do it anyway, because what I want is more important than your right to bodily autonomy. Ugh.

    8:06 AM  

    Oh, absolutely. It's no better than those crazy fundamentalist Christians trying to convert gay people to being straight. It makes me sick to my stomach to think about.

    The only type person I will refrain from dating for socio-political reasons are skinny girls. Hahaha!

    3:31 PM  

    Well, skinny girls aren't my thing :) Skinny boys, I like, but not girls for some reason. Give me curvy, dark-haired, opinionated women any day. Preferrable with piercings and/or tattoos ;)

    Yeah, I'm kinda creeped out by the fact that her argument could be used by the Religion NutJobs to prove "See! Here's a lesbian that says you /choose/ to be a lesbian!" Very not good.

    5:51 PM  

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