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11 June, 2007

One of Those Thoughts to Save

Comment posted in response to Renegade Evolution at the Feminist Critics blog:

My ex commented to me last night that he had figured out why I had never been comfortable with feminism. He noted that there are (at least) two ways of thinking about oppression of women -- one concerned with with women's access to areas from which they'd been restricted, and one concerned with the cultural devaluation of the stuff women were traditionally limited to.

Basically, the feminism I grew up with was supportive only of women who wished to adopt traditionally-limited-to-male or at best gender-neutral roles: pursuit of career, pursuit of higher education, financial and social independence. All of the stuff encoded in your #1 and #2. And frequently, that support came in a context of perpetuating the other oppression of women -- adding layers of "women who are home-focused are throwbacks and pawns of the patriarchy" to the already well-established "domestic work isn't real work, childcare is taking time away from its rightful owner, the employer".

A more balanced approach -- one that addressed the access to choice issues and the denigration of the choice-set that's historically flagged "female" -- would probably have left me in the camp of those folks who say, "Damnit, I'm not going to let those jerks steal the word that I've been fighting for all this time." Probably even after I ran into the neo-puritans who want me to examine how bad my sexuality is to have a little more. As it falls, though, the "let me guilt and shame you into stifling your sexuality" crowd were just the sound of the door shutting.

2 comments:

Sunflower said...

I'm one of those who doesn't want the word to be hijacked - not by those who devalue "women's work", not by those who think sex itself is an invention of the patriarcy, not by historical revisionists, etc, etc, etc.

I call myself a feminist, while you eschew the word (sometimes for the same reasons I adhere to it), but you and I are very often fighting the same injustices. I think that's a lot more important than the identity labels.

Sunflower

Dw3t-Hthr said...

That's what often gets me about people -- every so often I run into people who are all about the identity labels and believe that I should adopt them. No matter that my decision to put down that identity was something that I thought about a great deal, dealt with a great deal of guilt over, and eventually determined that I needed to do in order to be able to deal with the emotional battering that I had internalised through said label.

I wrote a post about it a while back -- the whole, y'know, I'm not on the wagon, but I'm walking the same way. And damnit, walking the same way has got to be good enough.

To the people that matter, it is good enough.