Sunday, September 27, 2009

Important Thinky Thoughts

So, I have hit a bit of a wall. I have begun narrowing down my group of activists and perspectives that fit what I agree with. This has left me with a group of people who I respect and who have perspectives that I value. There is a recurring theme within this group. They are largely trans women, women of color, people with disabilities and various combinations of each.

One thing that is very common is a rejection of feminism, not for the same reasons that many antifeminists do either. This rejection comes from the fact that feminists have and continue to engage in oppressive behaviors towards these groups and ignore the intersections which affect these people the most. And when called on it, a great deal of feminists will get pissed at the person telling them "hey, you are standing on my neck!" instead of examining their praxis, or their groups ideas to see if they are truly exclusionary. Then the whole thing turns into accusations of personal attacks and nothing ever gets DONE.

I think the problem is in labeling ourselves as feminists. We end up making it a part of our identity instead of a tool to help us achieve our aims. I don't know about you, but my aim is to end oppression, and I focus on oppression based on gender. Hence why I use feminism as my major tool. That is the only way that an anti-oppression ideology can work, in my view. It must be a tool.

There is a danger in making an identity out of an ideology. It leads to fighting about identities instead of discussing actions. It prevents us from being able to critically examine our theories and praxis and revise them when necessary. It renders our ideology and our actions insufficient, impotent and infertile because we end up missing the needs of those who truly need to be helped.

I'm considering eventually dropping the identification of feminist and instead becoming someone who uses feminism as a tool. I'm not sure I want a word for that...


  1. I agree with you 100%. I find that the feminist "movement" is fractured with half supporting reproductive rights - including the legal right to prostitution - and the other half hating housewives, etc. I know that I don't identify entirely with any of the established factions under the blanket of feminism: liberal, conseravtive, post, etc. What's a girl to do?

    I think I'm going to start my own feminist clique on the other side of the playground!

  2. Re: Identity out of ideology.

    I agree. In fact, I think this has been something I've been trying to figure out how say for a while. Thank you.

    Of course, the lure of doing just that is powerful.

  3. this is a truly awesome post.

  4. Could not possibly agree more than I agree now. My agreement is over nine thousand. XD

  5. Excellent points and a critique I strongly endorse, but I personally can't remove feminism from my political and gender identity. Feminism was a major part of my upbringing, and it's something that helped me survive adolescense.

    However, I'm not someone who sees any part of my identity as not being subject to critique. I'm able to criticize other parts of my privilege that are also parts of my identity for better or for worse. I critique my whiteness, my cisness, etc. all the time for being problematic. Feminism is another part of my identity that's reflective of my privilege, and that I seek to evolve through self-critique and by applying outside critique to my identity.

    Again, though, this is an excellent post that raises some excellent questions. Perhaps it would be prudent to remove identity politics from describing my own blog.