Sunday, 28 December 2014

Why I am not a feminist...

Feminism is not a singular entity
Like any movement that has lasted more than a single evening of big talk and alcohol-inspired ambitions, feminism has evolved over the decades: during the 1990s, there was a clear split between the followers of Dworkin - who advocated censorship of pornography - and Paglia, who claimed that 'a day without pornography is like a day without sunshine'. Schisms aside, there is plenty of friendly disagreement about the application of feminist theories to specific events. The current fashion for supporting sex workers is resisted by feminists like Julie Bindel, who would prefer more legislation to prevent sex work altogether.

While these positions all claim feminism, and they share a concern for the rights of women, they are sufficiently different to offer any consistent definition of 'feminism.'

Existence precedes essence
The recent legislation against pornography has been attacked as revealing a bias against female pleasure. Since it includes a ban on the representation of weaponry being inserted into the vagina, I would humbly suggest that it is a smorgasbord of censorship, based on vague ideas of what is offensive, rather than an expression of patriarchal control. It is controlling, but more from a general liberal set of worries than a hard-line assault on women's right to make money by getting pumped on film.

Being against censorship is one thing, but connecting it to feminism is irrelevant. There are feminist thinkers (see WAP, for example) who won't be joining the protest to allow piss fights on screen.

The writers who decided that the censorship was an act of patriarchal aggression are acting on a pre-existing belief that a conspiracy exists, and is intrinsic to the British justice system. The essential nature of justice is misogynistic, by this assumption.

They may be correct, but it is difficult to prove  - especially by selective reading of the list of banned items. Also, this just happened. The assumptions behind this decision are clearly based on a common feminist position about the rights of the mother.

I like adjectives
Picking up on the first point, the word 'feminist' is thrown about like shit at a shit-flinging competition. My favourite use of the monolithic 'feminist' (meaning bitch who ought to shut up) comes from the Men's Rights Movement (YouTube branch). They see it as a big conspiracy to castrate men. They are real good with the selective reading. 

By favourite, I mean least favourite, although the Jezebel website is catching up. This used to be a provocative place for me to read opinions I could consider. It is slowly descending into a click-bait Cosmopolitan. Latest article:  know your bros. Utter trash.

From now on, I want to be specific. This week, I am a Cixous Feminist: interested in ecriture feminine. Next week, I might use another adjective. But feminist is not enough. It means that the feminist is concerned with women's issues but, like Christianity and Marxism, it can manifest in many ways.

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