Feminism as a word and a movement has always had a primary meaning and purpose, to advocate for women’s rights in order to secure equality of the sexes. However not everyone is aware that Feminism has a many subsets, such as Gender Feminism, Radical Feminism, Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminism and Choice Feminism. These subsets all have the same goal as Feminism but that goal is filtered through, and skewed in favour of, a particular perspective or philosophy. Choice Feminism is a Feminism that advocates the idea that women are empowered and liberated through their ability to make choices for themselves and that men and women should have equal freedom of choice. I am a Choice Feminist.
It’s come to my attention that Choice Feminism is an unpopular Feminism among today’s Feminist media, a media which is mainly populated with Gender Feminists. Gender Feminist writers are writing articles that criticise Choice Feminism as damaging to the wider Feminist movement, saying that Choice Feminism does not address what they regard as the inherently unfair conditions and constraints upon women created by the Patriarchy, what they believe are the male created and dominated systems that control every aspect of our society. Recently Choice Feminism has been criticised in this article, written by Meagan Tyler to promote the book she co-edited Freedom Fallacy: The limits of liberal feminism and this article from The Guardian written by Finn Mackay.
“In privileging individual choice above all else, it doesn’t challenge the status quo.
It doesn’t demand significant social change, and it effectively undermines calls for collective action. Basically, it asks nothing of you and delivers nothing in return.
Instead of resistance, we now have activities that were once held up as archetypes of women’s subordinate status being presented as liberating personal choices. Sexual harassment has been reframed as harmless banter that women can enjoy. Marriage is reconstructed as a pro-feminist love-in.
Labiaplasty is seen as helpful cosmetic enhancement. Pornography is rebranded as sexual emancipation. Objectification is the new empowerment.”
This article has been highly lauded by Gender Feminists such as Anita Sarkeesian.
” There is an attempt, unfortunately fairly successful, to reduce feminism to simply being the right for women to make choices. Not choices about whether to stand for parliament, or instigate pay transparency in the office or lead an unemployed worker’s union, or form a women-only consciousness-raising group in their town; far from it.
Instead, there are choices about what amount of makeup to wear, whether to go “natural” or try mascara that makes your eyelashes look like false eyelashes, or what diet drink to buy, or whether or not to make the first move with a man – or other such modern and edgy decisions of the sort which face the feisty, sassy, pull-no-punches liberated woman of today. Excuse me while I am sick.”
First things first, they are right, Feminism is not about personal choice. What Feminism is about is equality of the sexes, that is women and men having the same rights and level of opportunity, and liberation.
Both of the writers of these articles talk about how Choice Feminism, while encouraging women to make free choices, does not address what they regard as the patriarchal constraints that affect those choices. I have news for them, the view that the world is ruled by systems of patriarchal oppression that keep women at a disadvantage is just that, a view. This is not a fact, not a scientific hypothesis, it is a perspective. As such it is not shared by everyone. Patriarchy has become a kind of archenemy for Gender Feminism, an evil upon which seemingly every single thing they perceive as wrong in society can be blamed. Hence this idea that women can only make choices but only within the constraints of that villainous patriarchal framework.
Rare photo of the evil supervillain known as “Patriarchy”
However what this seems to forget is that men also have constraints upon their choices. Most men have no choice but to work for a living rather than chase a dream or pursue a hobby, exactly the same as women. It is a myth that men have all choice in the world while women’s choices are limited, unless a man has the wealth to pursue his every whim the chances are his choices are also constrained Why? Because life is unfair, not just for for women but for EVERYONE. Some will try to tell me that this is because Patriarchy is bad for men too but if this is the case then it is not a system of male dominated systems lording it over women but rather the imbalances in life that we all face, some will always have more than others and they are not always men. Yes, as a caring society I believe it is right that we do all that we can to right wrongs, fix imbalances and remove injustice but to constantly lay blame upon the evil Patriarchy monster diverts attention away from other, more measurable issues, such as education, economics and distribution of wealth/resources. However you spin Patriarchy a wealthy woman will ALWAYS have infinitely more options than a homeless man.
Which brings me to my next point, both articles talk about how collective action is necessary in order to bring about the collective liberation of women. However women are not a collective, we are individuals. There is no collective, shared experience of womanhood, every woman’s needs and perspectives are different. This is equally true for men and to complain that men are well represented because “Westminster politics, for example, is nearly 80% male, and overwhelmingly white…” is disingenuous to say the least. What does the privately educated, born wealthy, career politician have in common with the 20 something young male in a hoodie that works on a building site? Not much apart from being male and maybe white.To make an issue as complex as representation as simple as “male” or “female” or “white” is blatant dishonesty. A 50/50 gender equal government would not somehow magically mean that every male or female perspective is represented. A single man cannot speak for all men and a single woman cannot speak for all women. I find this idea that Choice Feminism is bad because women must always consider the wider implications of their choices for other women to be quite disturbing. Why? Well really it goes back to the definition of liberation from above.
LIBERATION, that is FREEDOM FROM LIMIT ON THOUGHT OR BEHAVIOUR.
Men are not expected to curtail their choices any more than the expected social standard of basic courtesy and consideration for others because they are somehow liable for their collective gender. Why should women be? To say to women that they have the responsibility for the advancement of the entirety of their gender while men do not is not equality. Frankly it just seems to be a way of legitimising the bullying of individual women when they are perceived by the Gender Feminist Hive Mind to have made the wrong choice or disobeyed the collective.
The Gender Feminist Hive Mind
“Resistance Is Futile”
To devalue individual choice and make every woman responsible for the collective of ‘Womanhood’ beyond the understanding that our actions have consequences for others is in essence Gender Feminists saying
“Stop letting men tell you what to do! That’s Patriarchy! We need to be the ones to tell you what to do for the good of all womankind!”
This is an idea I cannot get behind. I am a woman but I am also many other things, I am a wife, a mother, and I am an individual. Don’t expect me to do what I’m told for the betterment of my gender and then tell me that makes me liberated. Don’t tell me that because I want to make choices for myself without being condemned as a gender traitor heretic that I have ‘internalised misogyny’ and that I should educate i.e indoctrinate myself to your point of view. You can hand me a piece of shit topped with cheese in a sesame seed bun all you like but I still don’t have to taste it to know it’s not a cheeseburger. Many that came before me, not just women but men as well, fought hard and died for the right to make their own choices. The ideals of liberation and freedom are ones that are held to be sacred by all of humanity. We are talking the salvation not just of one gender but of anyone unable to choose how to live their own life. No, Feminism is not about choice, it’s about freedom.