Sunday, October 08, 2006

THANK YOU, Tekanji

...for finally putting the boot to the incredibly annoying term "choice feminism."

What I did not know: Linda Hirschman apparently coined the term:

Now, as for “choice feminism” let’s first look at the origins. Linda Hirshman — who I have criticized for her anti-feminist rhetoric — coined the term specifically to create this pretend group of feminists who she could then attack.

So, parallels to the term “feminazi”. Created with the intention of discrediting certain feminists? Check. Is a term that no feminist self-identifies as, but rather is designed to create a strawfeminist that can be used to attack anyone who disagrees? Check. The popularization of it is contributing to the bad rap that feminists get? Well, no hard evidence on that one, but I personally think so.

Not to mention that the terminology tars with a rather large brush — to those unfamiliar with the nuances of the word, it is all too likely that they’d assume that any feminist advocating free choice as a driving factor of feminism is part of this crazy “choice feminism” that so many feminists have been ragging on.

The bottom line is that we don’t need any more terms used to attack feminists by creating these imaginary groups that don’t really exist. We don’t need to give our opponents more fodder, or give non-feminists yet another reason to distance themselves from us. And we most certainly don’t need any more divisive tactics.

So, I’ll say it again, if you’re a feminist who uses “choice feminism” please drop it from your lexicon. You’ll be doing us all a big favor.

(n.b. I never used to much favor the term "anti-feminist" either, thinking it had a vaguely silly "Kryptonite" sort of sound, and could be--is, sometimes, i think--used to play "more feministier than thou" way too easily. still, after learning that people like Ann Bartow and even MICHELLE MALKIN are apparently considered "feminists" in some circles, i have reconsidered this stance).

Anyway, back to the topic at hand:

Like I say, I’d had no idea Hirschman coined it; i just always thought it was bloody stupid. What does this -mean?- I-feminism? Then call it that. Libertarian feminism? Call it that. Existentialist feminism? A who?



Or is it: “Feminism in which women not only make personal choices which i don’t approve of and/or make me uncomfortable for whatever reason, but apparently refuse to heap or even accept ‘bad feminist’ ashes and sackcloth on their heads for it! Maybe even freely cop to LIKING what they do! WITHOUT guilt, even!”

I mean, more seriously: if your argument is -truly- that there IS no such thing as choice, why even bother?

And if your argument is that there ARE choices but some choices are better than others, just frigging come right out and say it, you know? At least that way there’s something to work with.


tekanji said...

I never used to much favor the term "anti-feminist" either, thinking it had a vaguely silly "Kryptonite" sort of sound, and could be--is, sometimes, i think--used to play "more feministier than thou" way too easily.

I never considered it that way before, but now that you mention it, I can totally see it.

Personally, I try to only call people "anti-feminist" when they obviously define their stance in opposition to feminists. In terms of actions, I label actions that I find to be opposing the fundamentals of feminism -- that of achieving full equality -- as anti-feminist.

In terms of the latter definition, while it's clearly subjective, I try not to use it in terms of "those feminists" or whatever; I think we all struggle with our programming and therefore even the most staunch feminist will sometimes do or say things that are anti-feminist. It's only a big deal when we refuse to get called on it and change our usage, I think.

I also don't believe that any act that isn't specifically feminist is "anti-feminist" either (I use the term "non-feminist" for that), nor should it be labeled that way.

Anyway, rambly tangent over. Thanks for the praise :)

belledame222 said...

well, my knee probably ended up jerking harder than it would've otherwise in that i first got into a real argument involving the term with this kind of seriously annoying woman with whom we were already arguing anyway (about the apparent heresy of the former Wonkette in criticizing Katha Pollitt, who can apparently do no wrong). i.e. AMC is an "Anti-feminist." and BL and i were all like, "no way!" and she was all like, "way!" and then BL goes, well, what does this MEAN, anyway, this "anti-feminism?" and girlfriend goes, well well Camille Paglia, for instance, i MEAN and BL i guess said something she'd count Paglia as a feminist;

which in other circumstances, y'know, i'd probably argue with (for one thing, does she even call herself a feminist? consistently?)

but my main point being,

1) as i said (wrote) out loud, what's in a name? if Paglia wants to call herself a "feminist," nu, so she's a feminist. I still think she's an utter fuckwit; always have done; this changes nothing. I think Janice Raymond is a fuckwit too, in certain regards perhaps more hateful than Paglia (though certainly no more fuckwitted; it's not possible), but there's no question she's a "feminist." It's a particular KIND of feminism i find inimical, but, that is the glory of this our very large tent indeed, no? Oh. No, apparently.

2) what i DIDN'T say aloud, but she cottoned onto anyway: girlfriend, you are ANNOYING THE CRAP OUT OF ME, and at this point you could argue that the sky was blue and i'd still want to kick you in the girl'nads.

so she flounced out in a huff. or a minute and a huff. or a taxi. buh-bye.


belledame222 said...

oh and of course 1a) but no less central to my point really: wrt Paglia, who even CARES about that hasbean anyway? she was like the anti(feminist?)Christ John the Baptist to Ann Coulter's (anti)Christ; there's no NEED for her anymore; she's so NINETIES. this whole conversation is so OVER, why are we still talking? You: why are you still talking? Your lips, your fingers, they move: they are annoying me. Desist, annoying person. Thank you.

tekanji said...

Reading your comments made me giggle (in the good way). I don't really have anything constructive to add, but I just loved where you said:
wrt Paglia, who even CARES about that hasbean anyway? [...] there's no NEED for her anymore; she's so NINETIES.

I'm gonna remember that for a while. :)

Zan said...

Seriously, what the fuck IS choice feminism? No one has ever been able to explain it to me and when I ask, on you know those bigger blogs, I get ignored. I get ignored a lot on those bigger blogs, but whatever. I kept trying to figure it out, because you know it doesn't /sound/ bad. I mean, choice is good, yes? And feminism is good, yes? So Choice Feminism should be good, no? No? What? Then what the fuck is it? ARG!

Makes me want to bang my head on the desk until my eyes bleed. But that would be painful, and I don't like pain. Well, not my own anyway.

I hate labels. Have I mentioned that? I think labels are just ways of putting people into boxes so you don't have to think about them, or examine your reactions to them. Labels suck. The only labels that should be applied to a person is the ones they choose for themselves. (Oh wait. That's a choice. And it's...bad? Now? I just...arg! Fuck 'em all with hot pokers. Grr.)

Labels are convenient ways of saying to yourself "Oh, s/he is X, that means I don't have to pay any attention to them because I believe Y." Huh? Seriously? Arg!

These people give me a headache.

Bitch | Lab said...

"choice feminism" -- floating signifier. it points at the speaker's phatasms.

belledame222 said...

Labels can be useful sometimes; it's just, y'know, generally i think it kind of works better if we all agree that we each of us decide for OURSELVES what label we want to be recognized by; and that, with the possible exception of gross and potentially damaging disingenuousness (i.e. the "anti-feminist" rationale i guess; something like Vladimir Zhirinovsky calling his part the Liberal Democrats) we respect each others' chosen monikers.

Otherwise, why even bother to have a discussion? Just turn on Fox News/CNN/the Wrestling Channel or one of the other talking/shouting heads channels and watch them fap away. pass the popcorn. whee!

yeah. you know, all this talk of "civility," and i think perhaps that is -another- kind of basic tenet that often gets missed in all this anxiety to get it all "right" and not offend or fuckitall i'll BE offensive, that was just too much of a strain, those five minutes of trying to not offend anyone, phew, that's a relief;

just, y'know, you could save a -lot- of tsuris by LISTENING TO WHAT THE OTHER PERSON IS SAYING IN THE DAMN FIRST PLACE.

Alon Levy said...

Seriously, what the fuck IS choice feminism?

The definition I've picked up along the way is, "The view that every choice is supreme." It's not so much about choosing to have children or not as about not expecting any kind of social support; for example, only yesterday Feministing had a conservative arguing passionately that maternity leave was not necessary because having babies was a choice.

That's close to ifeminism, but not exactly the same. Wendy McElroy's shtick seems to be more about doubting the ability of government or even grassroots social action to help women. So it's more ideologically libertarian in the sense that it doesn't trust government to do anything right.