just to address some of the responses I’ve been getting…
calling feminism oppressive =/= calling all feminists oppressive.
but I shouldn’t even have to make that distinction any more than I should follow up every mention of male privilege with “But I know not all men are like that.”
I know about bell hooks, for fuck’s sake.
call it generalizing if you want but the truth remains that mainstream western feminism is rife with the problems I named. if you don’t see it, look closer.
this is about an entire movement. when oppression happens in the name of feminism it’s not about individuals fucking up (but that happens A LOT, too). it goes beyond that, to deeper, systemic issues within feminism.
this is not the same as misogynist anti-feminism or someone just “not getting” how patriarchy works. this is not the same as cultural stereotyping of feminists. this is not coming from an outsider. i identified as a feminist for the past 15 years of my life. i have PLENTY of experience to fall back on as well as facts we call “history”.
if you deny the well-documented oppressive history *and present* of feminism, you’re part of the problem.
if you deny the validity of my (and others’) lived experiences, you’re part of the problem.
and academia should not be your go-to resource on what’s going on in modern day feminism. academia is massively distanced from the rest of the world. hence, “ivory tower”. it’s also kind of hilarious to be told by someone that “well I have a master’s degree in women’s studies and I don’t see any of this”. “Women’s studies” itself is a fucked up term to use and I’ve heard countless stories of the obscenely racist, cissexist and ableist bullshit being taught in various schools under the title “women’s studies” so there’s a good chance you’re not seeing it because you’re just not looking.
but I digress. here are some of the things I’m referring to when I say mainstream western feminism (a lot of these are US-centric but still applicable to broader western feminism):
-attachment to “women’s studies”
-the national organization for women
-the way feminists (including higher-ups in NOW) publicly and loudly attacked Black women for supporting Obama over Clinton
-the idea that all women are united in ANY way
-the idea of a shared ‘female experience’
-“Muslim women are oppressed”
-“rap music is misogynist”
-the vagina monologues
-the pro-choice movement’s stubborn and consistent use of cissexist language
-Ms. and Bust magazines (Bitch much less so because it’s pretty ‘underground’ and third wave, but it still has major problems)
-the loudest feminist voices in the media like Jessica Valenti and Amanda Marcotte and the fact that they get the credit for repeating shit women of color said before them
-the fact that the date that is widely accepted and celebrated as the day when “women won the right to vote” is actually only applicable to white women
-the fact that the most frequently cited feminist statistics are about white & cis women
-slut walk, its origins, and the discourse surrounding it
THE PAST (except not really because a lot of this still happens)
-the exclusion of women of color (intentionally so; many feminists hated Black women and were QUITE vocal about it and this trend continues today in more subtle ways)
-the exclusion and oppression of trans women by second wavers and radfems (which still continues today IE: Michigan Women’s fest) such as Gloria Steinem, Andrea Dworkin, and Mary Daly
-eugenics. For example: Margaret Sanger (the founder of Planned Parenthood) openly expressed a desire to prevent people with disabilities from procreating
there is a LOT more information out there if you’re actually interested in understanding what I’m talking about.
some of you need to take a good, long, hard look at the arguments you’re making cuz they reek of privilege denial.
Definitely agree with all of the critiques here. I’m doing a degree in gender studies right now, but it’s nothing like the US academy courses — one day I’ll actually write what I’m doing here, meanwhile gathering spoons to just survive the best I can. You don’t have to solely be in the US to understand how mainstream white feminism has become the face of feminism globally — in a manner of speaking — this exasperation with feminism is an old friend of mine.
The only point of divergence I have with OP is the way we’ve both responded to the many —isms within feminism — I’m not going to give up just yet. Yes, I do have my moments of exhaustion where I want to just give up the label altogether. However (so far) I’ve been able to manage with taking breaks or disengaging wherever necessary, not sure if this is healthy at all either.
But the main reason I stay in the movement (besides that I can and haven’t reached my breaking point yet) is that voices like mine are so frequently erased or just silenced, right up. So I am a reminder that me and mine are not silent or wordless. I am the reminder that your movement isn’t as progressive as you think it to be. I won’t quit feminism because these —isms exist, rather work toward making feminists fuck up less.
Of course, tomorrow I may feel differently — and completely understand how OP got to where they did, just wanted to clarify that for me that isn’t an option as of now.