“It is always easier to find your sense of value by demeaning another’s value. It is easier to define yourself as ‘not that,’ rather than do an actual accounting of your own qualities and put them on the scale.” – from here.
I’m not dead set against the movement or anything at the moment…don’t know enough to claim my judgment is fair – but there are a couple of things that feel wrong with the daily encounters I’ve had with feminists and feminism.
One is that it doesn’t feel very right to be claiming to be a female role model when you are born into relative privilege, have had all the scholarships you ever needed, where you look good by mainstream standards, when you have an inch-thick layer of makeup on your face. Nothing wrong with celebrating your strengths and your fortune but that’s the thing – it’s fortune. Some people’s stars are aligned and yours happened to be. Not everyone’s so lucky.
Ok, so you’ve worked hard, but so have millions of other women, who probably also didn’t get anywhere because of their circumstances. Why should you carry the brand? Why should I celebrate you rather than the next woman who’ve struggled, who still struggles harder than you? Why do your efforts look like it’s about you and drawing attention to you? What does holding a conference to talk about yourself do for other people? Are you seriously that inspiring taking into account your circumstances? What are you trying to prove, to whom (..to men?!)? What’s that I smell, self-victimisation?
It’s almost a hijack – stealing thunder from women who actually need it, Ivanka Trump style. Oh look at me I’m a working woman I’m a feminist mmmmm check out the 10000-dollar gown I so deserve because I WORK. It’s also giving yourself extra credit and significance – yes you are a successful person, you worked hard, you achieved lots…that’s great and you deserve to indulge yourself for that, but that doesn’t make you worthy of becoming a symbol for the struggles of millions unnamed women who face rape or abuse or oppression or can’t get loans because they don’t have ID cards or because their husbands don’t like the idea of them stepping out of the house without a man in charge.
I’ve also encountered a few men who associate women who do well and are aggressive with feminists. Oh, a woman does well at work and life, she doesn’t appear to be emotionally vulnerable or need your validation or please you, she doesn’t giggle or flirt or simper, she must be a man-hater, one of those feminist types. The fact that these sort of men are incredibly annoying aside, I think this is a sign that the movement has been counterproductive and self-defeating – when feminism becomes oh ha ha just a woman trying to be one of the boys. Women who are successful can be successful without having to be a feminist – labelling them one makes the fight about men when honestly, I don’t think all of us care.
So I don’t particularly understand this whole I’m-a-feminist-hear-me-roar mentality. I mean, if you think about a rural woman, less educated than her husband, unable to go to a bank because she doesn’t know how to use the services, or being able to be divorced by the husband but unable to initiate divorce herself…does she really fit in this idea of feminism?? How does all that posturing help her?? The more hashtags you apply, the more badges you wear, the more high-power suits you wear in your feminism-related social media posts – the more it oversimplifies the issue and conceals the numerous contexts behind the issue of women and gender and discrimination, the more people associate feminism with a certain fixed stereotype of beautiful successful well-groomed women, the more shrill you appear, basically – the more you lean in, the more you exclude everyone else without exclusive invites to the party.
Someone tell me there’s a larger reason or underlying benefit to all this!