Is “#Feminism” a politically useful label any more? #FeministFriday Discussion

“If we all decided to get together and make a real push for women’s rights, would it be smart politics to brand that enterprise “feminist?” And what would our alternatives be?” asks Gene’O Gordon.

I am not sure that feminism as a movement has always been popular as such. It started as a grassroots movement and its history is one of struggle, with each generation facing new challenges.
Feminists have always encountered opposition, either from sceptics or worse, and yet their ideas have been at least in part appropriated by the mainstream and women have gained certain advances in terms of effective equality as a result.
Is Feminism fragmented at present? Yes. Yet this fragmentation was perhaps inbuilt into the very nature of the project, since women worldwide belong to different types of communities, themselves divided, and therefore face different types of issues in their everyday lives from those experienced by the originators of that movement.
Would a different label fare better? Perhaps. Yet rebranding would no doubt fail to eliminate opposition on the basis of embracing a new name alone. Those who assert that women’s role ought to revert to pre-feminist times will no doubt continue to do so.
My question is, whether a new movement or association that would be feminist in ethos, but differ in name would be able to overcome the difficulties feminism encounters today?

Join the discussion on Sourcerer’s blog.

Sourcerer

If not, can we revive it? Or do we need to get creative?

(I’m not arguing that feminism is dead; it’s alive, if a little unwell. I’m asking: If  we all decided to get together and make a real push for women’s rights, would it be smart politics to brand that enterprise “feminist?” And what would our alternatives be? )

First, I’ll tell you a story, then I’ll explain why I’m asking this question.

I’m not sure when Diana hooked up with Gretchen of Drifting Through My Open Mind, but it was very early The Monster’s career. I realized sometime in January that Gretchen was a blogger I wanted to keep up with. She has a real talent for the sort of writing I enjoy: long-form posts that relate her personal life to larger issues. Whether she does it consciously or not, her posts are emotionally engaging, and that…

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11 thoughts on “Is “#Feminism” a politically useful label any more? #FeministFriday Discussion

  1. In the United States, in a political context, being labeled a Feminist will cause roughly 50% (I believe that we are fairly evenly divided on large ticket issues.) to tune you out, and others to view the message skeptically (who is the messenger? Does this person have hidden motives?)

    So Politically, the “label” is a killer.

    This is writ large.

    Even on “Writ Small” issues (to me anyway) people will insinuate into conversations to spread their agenda that they do not disclose.

    This happened yesterday on one of Conrads tweets.

    He tweeted a #Wine article about @Starbucks possibly selling wine in their establishment.

    And a Lady from Texas chimed in saying she was opposed, as AA members & kids have a place to congregate where alcohol isn’t an influence.

    Now I assume she means negative influence, but upon reviewing her TL, I found a hyper right winger with an interest in having zero alcohol, anywhere.

    And in the United States, most places (vast majority of public spaces, and business locations) prohibit alochol sales and consumption, and it must be done with a permit, for sale.

    Public parks prohibit consumption, and most places of businesses prohibit consumption (can’t bring your own in) and don’t sell alcohol.

    So she presented a narrow argument designed to stir emptions (poor kids and AA members) when her interest is zero alcohol anywhere.

    There are still many “dry” counties in America.

    Oh, and wine is a part of the Sacrament, so I don’t understand her opposition to wine. Wine itself is not evil. It’s just wine.

    I believe the individual should have control of himself, if not, I will help dry him out with my tax dollars. But I really wish people could control their tendencies…

    I have no worries about the woman and her not liking wine. I dislike that she tries to control others who may not have a problem with #wine, and her failure to disclose her interest in having no wine available anywhere.

    I believe her conduct is unethical.

    And of course Prohibtion failed here in the United States.

    And I am now talking about alcohol… haha.

    Anyway, I like to ramble.

    So yeah, being labeled “Feminist” is a deal breaker politically here in the US for a great many people.

    And many feminists actually present a superiority argument, which I oppose.

    And that’s the way it is here.

    Maybe that’s not how it is in the UK.

    • Things are different in the UK. There is more familiarity (at least those I have had the opportunity to engage with) about what feminism stands for. There are many here of both genders who will happily take on the label without fear of it being misinterpreted. Although whether that may constitute a majority… perhaps not.
      The example you give of the wine “incident” does illustrate the point you were trying to make.
      As for the “superiority” argument, I am aggrieved that this should have taken hold in some circles. It is counter-productive and certainly un-feminist as far as I am concerned.

  2. I said this over on my site, thanks for the reblog, and for giving us your thoughts, and would love to read anything you have to say about feminism in the future.

    Andy’s right about it being a dealbreaker for many people here in the U.S.

    And I agree with what he’s saying about disclosure. I probably have two or three thousand words in my archives at this point that explain my personal positions, and eventually, they’ll go on permanent pages so people can find them. I did that when it became clear that I wasn’t going to be able to avoid blogging about political stuff on a fairly regular basis, and I felt as though I need to have that stuff where I could get at it and link to it when It’s necessary to disclose my commitments before proceeding with an argument.

    • Thank you, Gene’O. Your support is greatly appreciated and I look forward to writing more on the topic. In discussing these issues in this context I find that it is easier to clarify for myself, as well as for others, the nuances of my position when it comes to feminism.
      My knowledge of feminism in the US is limited when it comes to its present condition, although I have studied some of its history, so it is always interesting to find out how the movement has evolved and what problems it faces. Thank you.
      Regarding disclosure, I think Kavalkade raised a very important issue (sorry – I’ve adopted this nickname for Andy early on in our acquaintance and I find it difficult to change 🙂 ) Likewise, I have a “Feminism” category on my blog that I hope elucidates some aspects of my position. I agree with you that it is good practice to disclose one’s commitments beforehand, and if you think it will be useful for other commentators on your blog, I could include a link to one of those posts.
      Once again, thank you for opening up the discussion and I look forward to reading more of the comments in the days/weeks to come.

      • you’re very welcome, Vic. I like where this is going.

        On the disclosure issue, I think I understand where you’re coming from, and I don’t get the sense from your comments that you have an agenda that I’m not understanding. So I don’t think it’s necessary for you to disclose your position at this point – don’t think anyone’s questioning it. But I will browse your feminism tag at some point so I can get to know you better.

        Thanks for going back through that thread this evening and leaving those comments. I haven’t read them all because I’ve been writing a post about that guy at the very end of the thread who I banned. Don’t know if you saw it, but it’s an opportunity to bump the link back to the top of the page, so I kinda have to smack him in a post.

      • That is very helpful, Gene’O. Thank you and best of luck with the post. I think I know who you are referring to. Look forward to reading it.

  3. Interestingly, I posted about this recently (The Last Straw Woman). I think feminism need not be a movement any more, because it is now a given for most Western women under the age of 80! The movement was necessary to put us where we are today, i.e., in a frame of mind that we can simply be considered equals/equivalents in every regard, to any man anywhere. This may still be a serious problem (the mindset and self-view) in the developing world. In fact, I would say in Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America a inferiority position in self-view still dominates. But, even though there are many women in the US, who still see themselves as secondary to men, that view is in the minority and shrinking. I think we can just go forward with “equalism”.

    • I read your post: very well written and I struggled to find anything to disagree with in your arguments. I certainly agree that in the West, feminism has achieved its primary aims and now it is a matter of ensuring that legal change is followed in practice as well.
      In developing countries, on the other hand, particularly in those areas you mention, there is still much more to do.
      Thank you for your comment: food for thought as always.

  4. Pingback: On Individual Choices & Freedom of Speech Vis A Vis Feminism | Andy Kaufman's Kavalkade Krew Featuring The Wandering Poet

  5. Pingback: On Making Stuff Up! | Andy Kaufman's Kavalkade Krew Featuring The Wandering Poet

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