Even though I’m pretty sure I’m going to get hate-mail over this, I’ve been seeing a lot of feminist-oriented things on my social media dashes, to the point that I think I’ve pinpointed the problem I have with modern feminism and wish to vocalize it.
It’s not that I have anything against the idea of an “empowered” woman (though that’s so vague it could mean about 20 different things), nor do I ignore the fact that modern society is still very male-leaning in social norms and some practices. But my issue with modern feminism is the way I see most feminists portray it. A prime example is the way Amanda Palmer (who’s one cool chick in general) recently defined the feminist on her Tumblr site:
“as far as i’m concerned, the most powerful feminist can do WHATEVER SHE WANTS.
THAT IS WHAT DEFINES A TRUE FEMINIST.
this includes: wearing heels, wearing combat boots, wearing nothing, sporting lipstick, shaving, not shaving, waxing, not waxing, being political, being apolitical, having a job, being homeless, gazing at men, gazing at women, gazing at porn of all sorts, glamming up like a drag queen, going in man-drag, being in a five-way polyamorous relationship,being childless, being a stay-at-home parent, being single, having a wife, having a husband, and gazing/cooing adoringly at those that wives or husbands anywhere they fucking choose, including elevators, restaurants, puppet shows (well, maybe keep it g-rated if there are small children present), ….or on theatrical stages at fringe festivals. are we getting the picture here?? the most powerful feminist can do WHATEVER SHE WANTS. the minute you believe you’re a “bad feminist” because you said the wrong thing/wore the wrong thing/got married/chose to have children…or otherwise broke some unspecified ”code of feminism”: DON’T BUY IT. THERE ISN’T ONE. you can do ANYTHING YOU WANT. ANYTHING. THAT’S THE POINT.”
I don’t take issue with her statement that a woman can do anything she wants. It’s the omission of whether or not she should.
And that seems to be the modern interpretation of it, that being a feminist means that you can do anything you want, when you want, and everyone else be damned.
It’s an empowering idea, yes, but also very scary. There is such a lack of any mention of morality or accountability or personal responsibility, that, to take such definitions at face value, it’s not unreasonable to assume there is no mention of morals because such feminists have no morals.
OF COURSE FEMINISTS HAVE MORALS, YOU GUYS. Please tell me you didn’t take that seriously. Whether someone’s religious or not, gay, straight, single, [insert political party here], or anything else, everyone has some kind of moral compass which they live by. And while I don’t agree with the moral standards of everyone I meet, I can usually follow the logic of their moral code when it’s explained. So…why not mention it?
Because there’s a stigma associated with making judgment calls on someone else’s actions? Because moral standards are presumed by such feminists to be present in the first place? Because they, perhaps, assume (incorrectly) that criticism is always, in every case, under every circumstance unwarranted? I’m honestly asking to know, because I don’t understand why.
If I were to guess, maybe moral implications are ignored b/c they’re seen as a minor detail given the presumed vastness of the injustice against women (so morals are collateral damage in the great scheme of things). Maybe, like I said before, they’re assumed to be present before the argument begins. Maybe, for some, they really are annoying incidentals that aren’t seen as important (an extreme-hedonism-type of view). I dunno.
But (obviously assuming moral responsibility is important in the first place) I think it’s dangerous not to mention it. People like soundbytes, and tend to remember ONLY those soundbytes, not the context of the message it’s in. It’s not a slippery slope to think that, after repeatedly hearing the same “feminists do whatever they want” soundbyte, which lists no boundaries, people will think that’s all there is to the message, that there really are no boundaries. After all, if there was more to it, people would mention it, right?
So that’s my issue. People don’t mention or question the moral responsibilities associated with being able to do what you want, and I think they should. Because it’s a fabulous thing for women to have the same action-power, social status, etc. as men. But you’re not helping women in society by telling them to do whatever whenever with zero restrictions.
“That’s right, we’ll take back those derogative stereotypes of women! For example, take the stereotype that all powerful women are selfish bitches. We’ll prove that wrong by….doing whatever we want…without regard to…others’ feelings…or opinions……… Wait a second…”
Yup, that’ll show them, ladies.
And I get AFP’s point, above: there is no pre-set definition of what a feminist is, so you can’t be a “good” or “bad” one (though, apparently, she says you can be a “true” feminist, which implies there’re also “false” feminists running around?). But the rest of her philosophy loses me because it, like so many other arguments in favor of feminism, talk about feminism in a vacuum, like it exists without the influence from or on other things. And some of the “other things” I’m thinking of here are personal responsibilities, moral standards, the post-action ramifications—those still exist.
Trying to force what appears to be a very self-centered ideology down your “male-dominated” society’s throat isn’t going to do anything more than gag them with it; it’s certainly not going to change anyone’s minds, which is what feminism wants to do, right? Change the way men view women and in a positive way?
In a very general sense, the whole goal of feminism is for women to be on equal playing grounds (socially, politically, and economically) as men in all aspects of our lives. A related (and mistaken) assumption to this is that men have the liberty to do whatever they want, but women can’t, for one reason or another. But ladies: if you think the way to change this is to bring yourselves down to the level of “doing anything you want whenever you want,” then you’re doing it wrong. At that point, you’re striving for equality with the lowest-class of male on the societal spectrum, the ones who act in complete selfishness, without regard to how others feel or think (e.g. the man who casually sleeps with as many women as he wants b/c he views women as playthings to be used and discarded at whim). You’ve chosen, literally, the least-ideal view of man to shoot for, and that’s something to be celebrated?
No thanks. If that’s the case, I don’t applaud your efforts. I’d rather be a liberated, societally-conscious woman who does what she wants, when she wants…as long as they meet my standards of A) not hurting someone else in order to do it, and B) making the world (within my influence) a cleaner, more respectful, more loving place. And I don’t see how doing anything I want without restrictions of any kind, achieves that.
So feminists, start tagging on the conditions under which a woman’s actions actually make things better (i.e. the standards we should be working towards), and I’m on board. Until then, maybe reevaluate whether or not your actions further cement negative female stereotypes instead of making women more socially-equal with men. Or maybe just reevaluate what kind of men you’re actually seeking to be equal to.