I started the research for this post intending to respond to Laci Green’s new video about Feminism. She’s says feminism is nothing more than wanting equality so why are so many women against it? I do get her point, its why I indeed identify as a feminist myself. I think women and men should be equal, obviously. However, I also understand why some women are a little pissed off with “feminists” because frankly some of them are not doing the cause any justice. Fair point Laci that there are extremists in every group, although where was that rationale when feminists were deciding the actions of a very troubled misogynist who went postal were from some great hive mind of men? Why is it that extreme feminists are just extremists but misogynist serial killers are a problem men need to deal with?
I obviously had trouble with the aftermath of that fiasco, including #yesallwomen, because sorry I don’t give out a fake phone number because I’m afraid of being murdered. I just don’t really know how to deal with a disappointed person in front of me. I don’t live my life in fear of being raped or murdered. I do try to live safely, as does my husband. There are indeed some real dickheads out there that will capitalise on any weakness whether that is a guy that they see as weaker or a woman they see as weaker. And it seems to me via this Wikipedia page (admittedly not solidly conclusive) that if 90% of murderers are men and 76.8% of murder victims are men that men kill more men than they do women. So, no, I do not feel like a sitting duck because I’m a woman.
I’ve also had trouble with feminists devaluing my decision to breastfeed my children, or even have my children at all in fact. Certainly, putting my children first is not a popular decision when it comes to feminists. There’s a very real feeling of judgement (which I’ll prove in a minute) that if you aren’t trying to climb to the top of the corporate ladder you’re just no good to the feminist movement, and so no good for women at all. There’s this Amy Glass piece which demonstrates the presence of the idea that actually women who stay at home with their children are practically worthless. Stay at home mothers are average apparently and we all must be striving for exceptional (or else why not just kill ourselves I guess). Lets not pretend it’s not what a huge number of feminist women believe but are afraid to say (out loud to the wrong people). That’s why she chose to use a psudonym; not so much to innocently “provoke conversation” but because she knew that it would do just that rather than merely create a one way backlash. She was purposefully antagonistic, she admits, but the sentiment is not uncommon. Clearly.
This is wrong. The feminist movement was about creating opportunity and choice both legally and culturally for women. We are closer to that reality today, however because the economy is crap and most people still can’t choose whether they want to work or stay home we’re not there yet. Most people, men and women, have to work. Culturally no one wins, everyone is judged no matter what they do, except of course men who go out to work full time. Women who don’t have kids are judged. Women who have kids and stay home are judged. Women who have kids and go out to work full time are judged. And also, women who have kids and work part time are judged almost as harshly as the stay at home mothers. Lastly, don’t forget that men who stay home with their kids are judged as well. (They can’t be real men can they?) No one is free from judgement and ironically everyone who judges these people are the ones doing society and equality itself further injustice. Even the feminists who think they are just trying to pressure women into making the right choices are fucking up any chance at real equality. We cannot be equal and free unless we are actually free to make whatever choice with our lives we want. Not just legally but socially. Feminists of the 60’s knew this.
This particular article on Feministe spent an entire paragraph explaining how she judges men and so as she said, “…yes, women’s life choices are up for judgment.” What she is missing throughout is that paid work and career is not the only valuable activity in life. Just because women have been having babies and raising them for millenia doesn’t mean that it holds no merit for the modern woman. That is up to us to decide! She says it herself “Corporate achievement in a capitalist society is of course not the only marker of success. But in our society, where we live now, money and success mean influence and power. And women have very little influence and power.” So, to her the answer is to bully women into meaningful careers whether they want one or not, instead of bullying the system into actually serving it’s citizens. Never mind what that means to the children, or even the adults they will become.
What people like this author don’t understand is that by sticking with the current patriarchal rules and just trying to fit ourselves into them we are not freeing anyone at all but instead enslaving everyone even further. Feminists like this are little different from the Fox News conservative who only value people in paid employment. As this Guardian article puts it, the second wave feminists have become capitalism’s handmaiden. The current neo-liberal, capitalist system is inherently unequal to everyone of any race, gender, sex, religion, nationality, and profession. Income inequality is rising, as everyone knows, and trying to bully everyone into work and their kids into childcare pushes us all further into the wage slave rabbit hole. If you really wanted to fight inequality, you would fight for real equality. You would want to see everyone respected for their choice whether that was a stay at home mother or a stay at home father or a working parent or (gasp) a childless couple where one chooses to stay home. You would fight for workplace policies that mean that both parents can work part time if they want and you would fight for that to be normal. You would fight for Universal Basic Income even though that would mean women with small children might choose not to work.
I found an absolute genius feminist at a blog called blue milk who said: “…as feminists, we are too often pandering to a neoliberal viewpoint that ultimately devalues care work and sees women acquiring legitimacy only through marketplace transactions.” She’s right, and I can hear the feminists now getting all pissy at the idea that women should just stick with care work. I didn’t say that and neither did blue milk. I certainly don’t think it either, but the fact is that its quite common for a woman to decide once she has them that her children are more important than anything else in this world and she wants to care for them above all else. One might even say it’s natural, maybe something that needs to be worked around rather than bashed repeatedly hoping it will go away.
Again you can read the blue milk piece here, I highly recommend it.