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Left Behind: About the Failures of Feminism

So Kinsey Hope, who some of you –but I’m betting not too many, which is kinda the subject of this post — might know better as Recursive Paradox (or even Genderbitch), wrote something about feminism that I think you should go and read. Not because I suspect you will agree with all, some, or even most of it. Not because I can guarantee that you won’t find it infuriating. Bits of it rub me the wrong way, and a lot of the people on her Shit List — yeah, she has an actual Shit List — are folks I respect and work with on occasion. But that is Kinsey’s paradigm, and I’ve never not been moved by her extraordinary passion.

You should read it, still. Because you’re not going to find a more brutal, honest, and passionate attack on the ways feminism has failed a lot of people. Most of whom are women.

Let me explicate a bit. I’m not saying feminism has failed all women, which is silly. I’m certainly not saying that feminism hasn’t been a remarkable force for the transformation of society and benefited a great many women all around the world; to say otherwise would be absurd. But let me tell you, there have been a lot of times that feminism has let people down, mostly women. Women like, for example, me.

Here’s a stupid example of why: Let’s say I go and embark in a self-taught intensive reading of feminist history via the works of great feminists (as indeed I am doing). Around the 1960s and 70s I’m going to find a great many books written by strong, intelligent, argumentative women, women who literally changed the world. A source of pride for any woman, right?

Well, not any woman. Not this woman, for example, because everywhere I look I am going to find plenty examples of people arguing that this woman isn’t even a woman.

That’s the stupid example why. A smarter example was Lu’s Pharmacy, where feminism was used to defend not giving prescriptions — any prescriptions, not just the obvious stuff like hormones — to trans women, because, areyoureadyforthis, we don’t bleed.

And I wish I could say that these were isolated things, but take a look at this comment from an interview I did with Amanda Hess a while back:

I have always been a feminist, despite growing up in a fundamentalist religious home. However, as you also call yourself a feminist, I will refer to myself herein as an XXist. Just to avoid any of the connotations you, as a non-XX, may have given the word.

Perhaps as a feminist you speak for women’s rights. I do not. I speak for XX rights. Whether they be man or woman, both or neither.

I absolutely uphold the rights of XXs to run businesses, charities or social groups solely for other XXs. I am not sexist. I am an XXist. It is my chromosomes.

(As a side note, I enjoy knowing that I! Ruined! Feminism!, and as always it’s great fun watching people make theory almost literally off my back.)

I could go on, but I won’t, mostly because Sady has already done it so well (and more than once.) My point is that if I, a person who suffers from both misogyny and transphobia, someone who writes and works towards feminist goals, feels left behind by feminism… well then, what the fuck?

Or to get brutal, how much easier is it for folks to consider Sarah Palin a feminist than to consider me one?

The problem is, I think, that there is a long-standing confusion as to what feminism is: should it be, as bell hooks insisted, a radical movement to change the patterns of domination, violence, and subordination that have characterized human society, or is it an advocacy movement for a special interest?

I believe it is, or should be the former; that anyone who truly is struggling to end oppression in all its forms must be a feminist, and that a feminist must be someone who struggles against all forms of oppression. I think that most feminists would say something along those lines, and certainly Third Wave feminism has done a lot to try and rectify the failings of previous waves (pick your favorites from: Racism, classism, nationalism, homophobia, transphobia, academic impenetrability).

But I can hardly be heartened when a entire series on Feministe about sexual abuse gets fewer comments than a post about whether it’s sexist to have special classes to teach female lawyers what is “appropriate” clothing (hint: yes), or the recent thousand-plus comments on a couple of  Feministe threads about, essentially, whether it’s okay to be cross with people who bring children to nice restaurants, and wherein it was seriously posited that the only way to be a real feminist (or woman, or human…I’m still not sure) was to be a mother. Leaving me SOL, I guess.

Which brings me back to Kinsey’s post. Because whether you like it or not, you have to deal with what she raised: That you can’t have it both ways, to say that claiming a feminist identity allows you to disown the nasty parts of the movement’s history and its present. She demolishes the logical fallacies people use all the time to do just that: The It’s Not Me whine, the That’s Not What I Believe dodge, and the No True Feminist evasion. Because, well, bullshit. Because if we can say Sarah Palin isn’t a feminist — and she isn’t — because she opposes just about every core element of feminist movement, we don’t get to say that Mary Daly or (spit) Janice Raymond aren’t feminists. They do support most of the core ideas of the movement; they just also include a lot of ugly bigotry. (Just like Betty Friedan hasn’t been disowned for her own classism and nasty homophobia, but celebrated despite it.)

I still call myself a feminist. I call myself one because I believe in it as a movement to end all human oppressions. I call myself one despite the fact that so many other feminists would disown me, despite the fact that working for feminist issues has very rarely ever resulted in my particular issues being even considered feminist issues. I believe, because I know that the movement I believe in ultimately won’t leave anyone behind.
But I may have to wait alone for a long time.

32 Comments

  1. Megan wrote:

    This was a really great post, thank you.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Permalink
  2. Sady wrote:

    @CL: Helloooo, lady! I am going to do something that I rarely ever do, which is be the first to comment on that post. And then something that I almost NEVER do, which is disagree with you a little!

    I see where you’re coming from, in regard to your take on those two posts by Mai’a on Feministe. And, yeah, there were a lot of people doing the “you’ll never know love and/or be a feminist if you don’t give birth to a glorious babychild” thing, which I find (a) cissexist like whoa and (b) also sorta homophobic, and (c) less importantly, kind of shitty to folks who can’t or don’t have kids, for whatever reason. However, I think that reducing it, and the fracas around it, only to mommies vs. non-mommies, and describing it as a piece about whether it’s ok to “get cross with people who bring their kids to nice restaurants,” also trivializes some of what was actually going on in there.

    Part of what was going on had to do with long-standing divisions within feminism and pro-woman (which, I guess, is my personally invented non-official term for anti-sexist non-feminisms, movements and people that don’t feel feminism is adequately working for ALL women, like you said) communities, and with history — not only in the smaller, pettier, which-blogger-is-on-which-other-blogger’s-shit-list thing, but in terms of a conversation about race and class in feminism that’s actually perfectly aligned with what you’re talking about here. There’s a point to be made that, by excluding poor or single moms — or, hell, moms who just don’t have childcare from other family members available to them at any given moment — from certain spaces, just because they have to bring their kids with them and those kids might be “disruptive,” we exclude them from a lot of life, including feminist organizing. Audre Lorde wrote about this, among others. And because of lots and lots of historical factors and atrocities (I wrote about them , actually ) motherhood is a particularly central point for some pro-woman communities and theorists of color. And, while I didn’t agree with all of Mai’a's post (nor do I expect to agree with everything that’s posted on Feministe, just because we’re committed to representing as many perspectives as possible, and perspectives clash) there might, at one point in time, have been the possibility to hash this out in a reasonable way that represented all of the complexity.

    Buuuuuut, then we got the Jezebel link. We actually got it from one of my favorite writers on Jezebel, who pretty much always does great work, but I think she way oversimplified the issue in this case by presenting it as a “mommy argument.” Maybe she just didn’t know the context of Mai’a's activism, and she almost certainly didn’t intend for us to end up with a crisis on our hands. But, once the post was up, the damage was done. Jezebel has a whole lot of readers; some great, some not-so-very. And so we got a whole lot of lifestyle feminists who are instinctively opposed to “mommy arguments,” because they have this shallow-ass conception of feminism that is about, like, being free! And independent! And not! Having! To be! A mommy! Because mommies are TRADITIONAL, and that’s BAD, because BETTY FRIEDAN. (Never mind that this is a white white white, rich rich rich, simple simple simple conception of “freedom.”) So they flooded the site. There was also some conspiring (very dramatic word, but that’s what it felt like when we were frantically redesigning the comment section at 10 PM to put out the fire) to flood Ye Olde Comment Section from “childfree” sites, probably linked to it via Jez, whose anger at “mommy arguments” is no less profound, and sometimes even less informed by social justice theory. So, long story short, a lot of people with very little context hit us in a very short amount of time. And things got stupid, and people got angry, and nuance and history were drowned out. It pretty much sucked.

    Anyway, that’s one take on it. And now I am done mildly disagreeing with you for the first time ever! What an exciting time this is for us all.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Permalink
  3. Sady wrote:

    Whoops, I am the second commenter. Because I blather on interminably. OH WELL.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Permalink
  4. Eline wrote:

    Yes, so true. And not only transphobia but racism, ableism etc. is often found in feminism. Not only that but there seem to be many, many different kinds of feminism. I wish I could add a myriad of terms to describing any sort of ideology I stand for but I’d end up with a mile-long sentence instead. Let’s try to change today’s feminism instead.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Permalink
  5. Aliaras wrote:

    Yes, this to this post. And it doesn’t just apply to feminism — any idealogical group faces the same problems. The place where I usually see those arguments raised is when Christians are responsing to the latest homophobic crap the right wing are spewing out. And, yes, I appreciate that you’re not doing that and don’t like what they’re doing etc etc etc, but can we address a little bit the fact that large portions of people claiming the same label and basic beliefs are busy oppressing me and people like me? That’s why the whole Pride reconcilitiaion thing that went around a while ago was so powerful, because someone *was* saying that “yeah, people in this nebulous group I’m a part of have done some pretty nasty things”.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Permalink
  6. JfC wrote:

    I wanted to second what Aliaras was saying. If you want to claim membership in a group, and therefore make it bigger and more powerful, and some of the activities of the group are deeply hurtful to some marginalized body, the burden is on you to reconcile, apologize, or attempt to repair relations with that group. As a queer person, I am skeptical of Christians and Christianity, for obvious reasons. If a Christian wants to lend their power to a group that oppresses me, while trying to exclude themselves from the specific activities that are harmful to me and mine, they have to justify to me how they’re offsetting the harm done by their organization. I imagine it’s similar with feminism and trans women.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Permalink
  7. RPF wrote:

    “The problem is, I think, that there is a long-standing confusion as to what feminism is: should it be, as bell hooks insisted, a radical movement to change the patterns of domination, violence, and subordination that have characterized human society, or is it an advocacy movement for a special interest?”

    Can there really be any doubt that the answer is (b)? I would love it if such a movement as (a) existed in this country, but does it? Has it, at any point in the last thirty years? If it did exist, would it go by a name as limiting as “feminism?”

    There is no coherent Left in this country, no movement that hopes to radically remake society into something more just and humane for everyone. What we have are a multitude of, to use your adept phrase, advocacy groups for special interests. The very word “feminist” gives that away–”organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.”

    Note also that the word marginalizes you as “only” being concerned with the rights and interests of women. Everyone else need not pay attention–just like racism is only about “minority” rights and interests.

    Those rights and interests are important! But if they are not pursued as part of a larger movement to remake society for the better, then you have already lost. For then “feminists” or “trans advocates” are simply yet another way for the ruling class to keep us all too busy at each others’ throats to be able to resist them effectively.

    But what can you do? “…a radical movement to change the patterns of domination, violence, and subordination that have characterized human society” does not exist. Socialism is dead, and meanwhile women are raped, and trans persons are murdered. Advocacy groups can help ameliorate these problems and make people’s lives better in incalculable ways.

    So keep up the good work, but I don’t think feminism is–or ever can be–what you think it should be.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Permalink
  8. Abby wrote:

    I agree.
    I find that problem specifically with ableism. When Jezebel posted a video this morning mocking a intellectually disabled woman.
    When I speak for every persons rights, but when I still see ableism being ignored in feminism, when I read posts which list racism, classism, nationalism, homophobia, transphobia, academic impenetrability as problematic but I still don’t find ableism included.
    When the only place I can certainly find an anti-ableist perspective is when I go to a disabled feminist blog.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Permalink
  9. Sooz wrote:

    “If a Christian wants to lend their power to a group that oppresses me, while trying to exclude themselves from the specific activities that are harmful to me and mine, they have to justify to me how they’re offsetting the harm done by their organization.”

    So like this is the basic fix? I ask just because I am a privileged person in both versions of the argument and I honestly am not sure what I should be doing in these situations.

    Is the answer pretty much just agreeing, “Yeah, that is really ass,” and working against it? (Because I am totally down with that.) Or is there something else I ought to be doing to make things easier for folks?

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Permalink
  10. Geek wrote:

    Feminism today is definitely very white middle-class cis-female oriented. It seems like people don’t realize that racism, ageism, ableism, child-hating, transphobia, etc, maybe affect women sometimes.
    Women that feminism might, you know, want in the movement.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Permalink
  11. Sady wrote:

    @RPF: Eh. I also don’t think that any class-based, Marxist or just “leftist” ideology which erases specific identities and histories will ever fix the problem of oppression. If anything, it makes it worse. Marginalized people are told to sit down and be quiet about their rights so that the progress of the “left” won’t be slowed by their “divisive” rights-needing, and real problems within the community, like sexism and racism and all sorts of other issues (seriously: I’ve even seen domestic abuse excused this way) are swept under the rug because there’s no “special interest group” to insist that they matter and have to be dealt with.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Permalink
  12. queen emily wrote:

    I think Kinsey’s correct on this one. I’d actually be stronger in some ways, because as the Equality Act disaster in the UK is currently making patently clear, trans people continue to have our rights denied or even taken away in the NAME of a certain kind of feminism. And there’s a history of (some) cis feminists using what access to power they have in a destructive manner against trans people.

    Like it or not, that real material harm is relevant to how some women relate to feminism – and that was definitely the case with the Mary Daly eulogies, and will be when Germaine Greer or any of the other notables dies too.

    I agree with you that even with all of that feminism has an emancipatory dimension that should be embraced, but I don’t really fault other people for choosing not to.

    >>>But I can hardly be heartened when a entire series on Feministe about sexual abuse gets fewer comments than a post about whether it’s sexist to have special classes to teach female lawyers what is “appropriate” clothing (hint: yes)

    This one thing which I think is less inherent to capital F feminism as just a sign of the times. We get the same with inconsequential posts at Questioning Transphobia versus ones about death, law, whatever. Internet commenting is basically a form of entertainment, and it shows.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Permalink
  13. genderbitch wrote:

    It’s heartening to see more and more feminists acknowledging this shitstorm brewing in the movement (that has been since forever), even if some have no real choice cuz of being trans, poc or disabled (well no, that’s not true. There’s apologists for feminism in every form).

    Heh, sometimes I wonder if I should change the name of the “shit list” to more accurately reflect its purpose as a list of problematic places with a history of issues that one should be wary of. But then I remember this is the internet and no one would read the list if I called it something nice. That and I’m done being nice. Have been for a while.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Permalink
  14. JfC wrote:

    @Sooz When I made my comment I was sort of thinking specifically of Christians, in keeping with Aliaras. Like hir, I really love the Pride reconciliation thing. You can read about that on this blog: http://naytinalbert.blogspot.com/2010/06/i-hugged-man-in-his-underwear-and-i-am.html Beyond that, sticking up for us in your congregation is god. As a feminist, I’m working on how to reconcile with trans people and other neglected bodies. A lot of it was learning on my own; learning not to get defensive when womanists explain why they reject feminism for example. In feminist spaces I try to tell everyone that Mary Daly is full of shit. I try to engage in trans advocacy. And I try to reassure marginalized people that might be skeptical of me that 1. I mean them no harm and 2. I’m trying to steer the movement towards intersectionality without being defensive or an apologist.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Permalink
  15. JfC wrote:

    *god=good

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 6:18 pm | Permalink
  16. JfC wrote:

    I also sort of resent that advocacy for 50% of the world’s population is a ‘special interest’.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 6:27 pm | Permalink
  17. Gnatalby wrote:

    I think this post is great. It’s important to face the problems in feminism. I think that for me it can be difficult to talk about because feminism is so important to me that I hate talking shit on it when I know there are people listening who think the whole venture is stupid, but that’s not very brave of me.

    I do find the scolding about comments personally irritating, and I know it’s something Sady has brought up before. The blog medium is better suited to quick responses which makes it almost certain a fluffy topic will get more responses because it doesn’t take as long to make a coherent response, it doesn’t mean people aren’t paying attention. I would think pageviews would be a better indicator there.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 6:29 pm | Permalink
  18. emjaybee wrote:

    Re the “you get more comments on trivial topics” thing, well…I don’t think that means that no ones gives a shit about sexual abuse survivors. It’s that sexual abuse is everywhere and insanely depressing, and something many of us feel helpless and angry about, and a lot of the time, there’s just nothing *to* say.

    I’m not a survivor, though I have friends who are, and I can only read so many rape or trafficking related stories before I want to slit my wrists. Or if I read it, I have nothing articulate to say.

    Whereas, throwing out a sarcastic comment about ridiculous lady-lawyer rules is easy.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 8:58 pm | Permalink
  19. That’s the problem with movements; it’s filled with people, and people is people.

    There are so many ways of being a bad feminist, but what is a Good Feminist? I already feel like a shitty feminist, aside from being a crappy white cis woman.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 9:00 pm | Permalink
  20. ibezdomny wrote:

    Another Maggie: I’m curious, what do you mean by “crappy white cis woman”? There can’t be anything healthy, from a feminist perspective or otherwise, about thinking of yourself as a crappy person just because you’re white and cis (or female, obviously). ‘Course, white cis people have way more opportunity to act crappily than non-white or trans people (privilege!), but no identity is in itself crappy.

    (If I’ve drastically misread you, please correct me.)

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 9:23 pm | Permalink
  21. Elise wrote:

    To C.L. and genderbitch: awesome posts – I appreciate them both, and they both make great points, especially on the shortcomings of feminism.

    Another Maggie: the reason you will have a very, very, very, very (VERY) hard time finding a definition of a “good feminist” is that such a thing really doesn’t exist, and furthermore, most people who have studied the second wave of feminism in the United States (like myself) are more than partially . . . allergic? I suppose that works . . . to the term. The phrase, “good feminist,” was used to exclude trans people, homosexuals, racial minorities, mothers, etc, from the second wave of feminism (in the United States), and further helped contribute to its collapse by becoming a weapon that could be leveled at anyone that you didn’t like. Say you got angry at a person because of something. Well, you now have a weapon against them (even if they were cis, white, straight, etc, etc, etc and otherwise fit the image of a feminist being idealized at the time) if they are dating someone, much less MARRIED, or (god forbid) have CHILDREN. Those things meant you were COMPLICIT IN THE PATRIARCHY and, well, that makes you a BAD FEMINIST (and therefore not worthy of being in the movement). Being declared a bad feminist was, of course, also a declaration that you were a bad person, at least in most of these discussions and groups, and . . . well, lets just say that this was a very effective way to silence people you disagreed with.

    So there’s my little rant about the term “good feminist” and why I don’t like self-righteousness getting involved in arguments about feminism and feminists/who’s a good person (even though I have a large amount of trouble keeping myself in check). And I know that my above comment does not apply to the full extent of the second wave of feminism, just like not everyone in the second wave of feminism (in the United States) was subject to fear of the “lavender menace” (lesbians).

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 10:42 pm | Permalink
  22. HeyyyyyyyPunk wrote:

    Thank you for this post. I’m relatively knew to the movement and haven’t had time to examine the histories of all the Big Players.

    I have to admit I was shocked to read about Melissa’s kind of pathetic excuses for her Mary Daly post.

    Thanks for calling out my privilege!

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010 at 12:54 am | Permalink
  23. Sooz wrote:

    Another Maggie, I think “Good Feminist” overlaps mostly with “Good Person.” If you are taking the time to think about your actions and try to treat people well (as opposed to just giving it lip service), you are probably being a Good Feminist/Person.

    If you are participating (directly or indirectly) in oppression without really wrangling with it, you are being a Not Good Feminist.

    Like there’s not a checklist. It’s all about efforts and motivation.

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010 at 10:17 am | Permalink
  24. Sooz wrote:

    Oyeah, JFC thank you for the answer and that link. I think I understand better what I should be doing to help now.

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010 at 10:18 am | Permalink
  25. scrumby wrote:

    This post seems to reaffirm my belief that second wave was the awkward adolescence of the movement. Feminism being against mothers for reinforcing the patriarchy and fearing lesbians just because seems right up their with being sixteen and hating your mother for not letting you stay out past ten and ignoring your best friend in middle school cause some other girl claimed she made a pass at her and you cannot be friends with a dyke…

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Permalink
  26. Tab wrote:

    Great post! I’m a little ashamed to say this was an issue I never really considered before blogging brought it to my attention – I’m so used to defending feminism from people who think it’s all about hairy legs and man-hating that my hackles used to automatically rise at the mere sniff of criticism of feminism.

    My general take on it now is that it’s like liberalism, conservatism, Christianity, Islam, environmentalism, any other large ideological movement you care to mention – it’s a broad term covering a wide variety of views, not a monolith. This criticism of the many failures in mainstream feminism reminds me a lot of how alienated a lot of left-wing people feel by ostensibly progressive political parties like the Democrats in the US or the Labour Party in Britain.

    I’m happy to still call myself a feminist and a socialist, but the more I read, the more I can understand why people would get so pissed off that they’d reject the labels altogether.

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Permalink
  27. Kathy wrote:

    @Tab

    “I’m so used to defending feminism from people who think it’s all about hairy legs and man-hating that my hackles used to automatically rise at the mere sniff of criticism of feminism.”

    This is why it’s so hard, even in the mainstream feminist blogosphere, to criticize feminism. As a white, cis woman, yeah, I largely benefit from feminism, but the more I learn about its history, the more I want to turn away from it, but in doing that, you’re immediately lumped in with the “Oh, I’m not feminist — I love men and I shave my legs” crowd. I still call myself a feminist, sometimes because I feel as though there isn’t a good alternative.

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Permalink
  28. JustDucky wrote:

    @Kathy – I hear ya on the calling yourself feminist thing. What else do you call yourself, even though you’re ashamed of those aspects of the movement that have been anything BUT progressive and equality-seeking? Is there a feminist version of “spiritual but not religious”?

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010 at 6:25 pm | Permalink
  29. A Nonny Moose wrote:

    Great stuff, thanks for the post, the links.

    Also, thanks Sady for saying stuff that I was going to say. I don’t want to go into all that clusterfrick again, other than to agree a chance was lost for constructive criticism of feminism.

    I guess it’s taken me a while to recognize the problems in feminism, but the recent racism/classism going on has really opened my eyes to what’s going on in various supposedly safe spaces. Jezebel is really worrying me, their editorial vigour is lacking, and the commentary is stuffed with privilege.

    So yeah, I’m finding it difficult having to do 101 with fuckbags, while on the other end wrapping my head around intersectionality and deeper criticism.

    You have a spot in my heart and head CL :)

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010 at 9:05 pm | Permalink
  30. A Nonny Moose wrote:

    Also re: ableism. Yeah, Jez is really raising my eyebrows at the moment with that. WTH?

    Can I have a consensus: is it “ableism” or “disableism”. I’m never sure which to call it. Ta.

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010 at 9:07 pm | Permalink
  31. monica wrote:

    Late to the party but wanted to weigh in, especially with regards to what @RPF said. The thing about feminism as ”organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.” The way I conceive of feminism as a comprehensive, progressive movement is by adding “all” to that definition: “all women’s rights an interests.” Women make up half the population; there are women in every oppressed group conceivable. Therefore, all issues of oppression are feminist issues.

    That really presented itself as fairly self-evident to me as I became immersed in feminism– maybe because I came to it through fat acceptance and some fairly intersectional blogs, or maybe because life circumstances have placed me at a pretty evident intersection of privilege (white, cis, hetero, middle class) and oppression (fat, invisibly disabled).

    I think what I’m saying is that because of its history, feminism is maybe not the ideal vehicle for comprehensive, radical social overhaul, but it’s the best shot I can see. I identify as feminist because a better word hasn’t been invented yet.

    @A Nonny Moose: I tend to see “ableism,” but I think either way people are going to know what you mean. I have a far more difficult time with “ableism” vs. “ablism.” I usually write it “ableism,” even though the “e” right next to the “i” breaks my brain more than a little.

    Saturday, August 14, 2010 at 12:14 am | Permalink
  32. Victoria wrote:

    @RPF: I also sort of resent that advocacy for 50% of the world’s population is a ‘special interest’.

    I resent the fuck out of this and think that, at least in part, the movement has been successfully externally defined this way. I don’t by any means wish to suggest that feminism doesn’t exhibit all the problems discussed here. But the modern US conservative movement has taken the redefinition of public and political language as a core tactic, and has quite successfully turned so much of any non-conservative movement’s terminology against itself that it’s really a complex and difficult situation, one that often leaves me feeling, well, hopeless.

    Sunday, August 15, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Permalink