Banter in the Garden
|Presenting the 51st… on Guest Post: Women’s Refu…|
|Fuck off, Bob Jones,… on Risky Business|
|Daniel Copeland on Risky Business|
|Emma on Risky Business|
|Deborah on A plea for your voice.|
Tea and Strumpets
In last week’s Sharing The Love post, Deborah wrote this:
A post I (Deb) don’t agree with, for long and complicated reasons, but in the first instance because I think it creates a caricature to argue against. I’d be interested to hear what other people think about it. Why “Choice Feminism” is an Illusion (With Bonus “Lost” Analogy).
And I’ve been mulling it over for a week now. First of all, after that whole “birth control sucks LOl!” thing, I have a little trouble taking anything on xojane seriously.
I should point out that I have never defined my own personal brand of feminism as “choice feminism”, though people are often at pains to point out to me that’s what it is. I’m not going to go into what that means, except to say that if you try to tell me what to do/wear/shag, I will likely tell you to shut the hell up, regardless of your gender. If that’s choice feminism, then so be it. You can call it that, I’ll be over here glaring at you for taking away my right to define my own damn self.
I read this article, nodding along, letting it convince me, not putting in serious scrutiny. (It was Saturday morning, and I was reading it on my iphone, on the couch in my pyjamas.) I have a certain amount of sympathy for the argument, because I used to be one of those women. All “look, I can buy high heels because I WANT to, that makes me a feminist.” I’ve changed my thinking in the past couple of years. These days, I think calling yourself a feminist has to mean something more than “I am a woman who does things.” It doesn’t matter what it is informed by, what drives it, whether it is Camille Paglia or Buffy, but there has to be a structure to it. Feminism isn’t just “liking women”, it’s an ideology. An incredibly broad one, that means different things to different people, but nonetheless. It can be founded on a belief that you are a strong woman who does things because she wants to, but it’d be nice if some thought went into that.
So, I get what Jess Zimmerman is trying to say. Lauding your choice to wear heels and red lipstick and cleavage isn’t feminism. Oh. Except when it fucking well is.
And here’s where she falls down. Because it isn’t just about choice. It’s about informed choice. It’s about putting in the aforementioned thought. Emma and Megan know that by getting their tits out, they are, quite possibly, playing into patriarchal structures. They know that they are putting other women out in various ways. (Other women glare – I’ve seen it). They know that their boobs have apparently magical powers that turn men into slobbering predators, make other women feel shit and frighten small children. They (and I) don’t care. They do it, because it it their damn right to wear whatever the fuck they want, and anyone who doesn’t like it can go blow themselves.
What the article also fails to miss, in setting up the caricature Deborah rightly points out, is that it’s not an either/or choice. “Society” might like us to fall into a Madonna/Whore dichotomy, but that doesn’t mean we have to. Sun and Claire can have it both ways. The Patriarchy, that amorphous thing that is impossible to fight against, might like women to fulfill a certain role, whether it is homemaker or ballbreaker. But that doesn’t mean we have to. In fact, the best way to fight against it, is to make that choice constantly. Today, I feel like being quiet and dowdy and not making a fuss. Tomorrow, I may feel like donning my heels and most push-uppy bra and shouting at people who fuck me off. Both of those things are OK. It’s recognising that it’s not being a woman that gives you that choice, it’s being a person.
Or, my favourite feminist quote ever, from our very own Deborah, and I can no longer remember where she said it: “I’ll do my strumpetry my own way, thanks very much.”