Saturday, March 10, 2007

FAQ: Why are there so many fights between feminists?

Updated twice on 02Apr07

Quoting from Sage's FAQ:

1. Why do feminists all disagree? Feminism isn’t a movement, it’s an argument!

We all want to raise the status of women to the level of men, to feel safe and respected, and to have a fair and equal chance for all our opinions to be heard. Since the movement is all about choice and the ability to make our own decision that affect us, then it’s necessarily going to be a group fraught with differences. We’re all making our own choices. That’s the commonality. Trying to actively be allowed these choices is the movement. Butting heads along the way from time to time is the reality.

Different feminists work within differing feminist constructs, and have different priorities regarding activism in the following three main (overlapping) arenas:
  1. Work and Family
  2. Sexuality and Health
  3. Social Justice
Often the tactics of a feminist working primarily in one arena can seem to be in conflict with the tactics of a feminist working in primarily in another arena. The ultimate goal of an end to oppression and inequality is rarely in conflict, merely the plan for how best to focus resources and actions to achieve these goals.

In particular, there is a strong perception amongst those feminists working for social justice that privileged middle-class feminists are so concerned with their personal stake in arenas 1 and 2 that arena 3 keeps on getting put onto the back-burner.


Happy Feminist: Feminism is not a monolith.

Clarifying Concepts

Some notable areas of conflict with respect to feminist priorities and attitudes are as follows, with the caveat that most feminists would describe themselves as aligned with multiple groups below: second-wave "essentialism" vs third-wave "post-structuralism", anti-pornography vs sex-positive feminism, feminine vs feminist aesthetics, cultural feminism vs liberal feminism vs radical feminism vs individualist/equity feminism, identity politics (groupings by gender/race/class), macropolitical vs micropolitical activism and many more. There are a few passionate posts on some of these conflicts below - please suggest more to fill the gaps!

N.B.some of the feminists linked below may be feuding with each other online either now or in the past. Don't assume when reading an old post that a feud described therein necessarily is still ongoing, and don't bring it back here, please.
nubian: gender does NOT trump race
brownfemipower posts excerpts from Lee Maracle on "The Women's Movement"
nubian:Blogging against heteronormativity roundup
ginmar (A View from A Broad): Can you cure racism with sexism? Do some guys get allowed to be sexist?
Alecto Erinyes (Sisterhood & Solidarity): on labour feminism, quoting from their FAQ
"There's lots of different kinds of feminism, lots of different ways to 'do' feminism. We believe that arguing about what's more important, class, race or gender, only hurts those on the down-side of all. We also believe that regardless of the symmetry of your chromosomes or the color of your skin, economic freedom is a precondition of political freedom. Industrial rights are fundamental to civil and human rights. So long as women labour in minimum wage, casual jobs to support themselves and their families, struggling to keep body and soul together, then feminism needs unionism, and unionism needs feminism. Sisterhood and solidarity go hand-in-hand. Federal Labor's Deputy Leader, Jenny Macklin, said it all in this speech."

[Editor: suggestions hereby solicited for posts addressing more on Race, Gender and Identity, Location vs Transnational movements, Second vs Thirdwave Feminism, and any more fighting-feminist categories.]

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