Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Feminism. You're doing it wrong.

I consider myself a feminist. And, although Marissa Mayer (stupidly) claims otherwise, it has nothing to do with a chip on my shoulder; it does, however, have everything to do with being for equality and against oppression. Who could be against equality? or for oppression? I mean, really? That's just gross. So now that we are all feminists, I have to say: sometimes I get really annoyed with feminism.

Like earlier this month there was all this in-fighting among feminists about how "good" feminists keep their last name. And "bad" feminists take their husband's names? (here, here, and here, and also this one kind of sucked, but this one was pretty good, this was a good discussion, and omg, they just keep going and going and going.) And I don't know about you, but I didn't get behind feminism because I liked being told what to do. In fact, that was sort of the opposite reason. Bossing women around, that sort of reminds me of something Andrea Dworkin said about using the master's tools. And also, if I wanted to join a cult, I would. But I didn't. So I'll pass on your kool aid, pushy ladies.

Anyway, the arguments I saw for "good feminists behavior" were basically stupid, in my opinion. Like you need to keep your name to make it easier for other women to do so? First of all, No. If more women doing something meant that we'd get more stuff done, then this country would have paid maternity and paternity leave, plus subsidized child care. And second of all, No. I don't need to be "one of the group" to advocate for their rights. I can be pro-choice without terminating my every pregnancy (or any pregnancy, for that matter). I can support LGBT rights even though I married a dude. There is a gigantic difference between living something and advocating for something. And while they might be correlated, it is stupid to assume they are prerequisites for each other.

And speaking of pro-choice, I have to be honest, I have a hard time with this issue. I feel very strongly about reproductive rights because I think it is the lesser of two crappy options (not because I think it is anybody's first choice or great idea). I don't think abortion laws stop abortions. I think they stop safe abortions. And I think there are more effective, safe, and compassionate ways to lower the abortion rate (without increasing the unwanted children rates, which is a ridiculously unfair and sad thing; and to all of you who only care about the bottom line, it is also a ridiculously expensive thing). And I think that there is so much more nuance in this incredibly delicate situation than an across-the-board ban can even begin to address. And I think the most important way to handle the debate is with the same goals: safety, effectiveness, and compassion. That is why crap like this makes me angry.

You can support reproductive rights without taking the equivalent of a political dump on pregnancies and fetuses. And you can certainly do it without coming across as an ableist. And oh, I get it. You're a "comedian" and it is a "joke." But guess what? On a scale from Sarah Silverman to Seth McFarlane? You are basically singing about side boob right now. So if you could go ahead and stop, that'd be great. Because you're not helping.

You can be pro-choice and still fall in love with a "useless clump of cells." Just like you can be a feminist and take your husband's name. And the more time we spend dichotomizing and villifying and ranking feminists' choices, the more energy we waste. (hello, Mommy Wars? fighting over crap like formula/breast milk or cloth/disposable diapers instead of advocating for better child services.) And while we're at it, let's not try to justify our causes by undermining them. Choosing your choice is great. But its not the crux of feminism. And people choosing a choice (which is not yours) isn't the antithesis of feminism either. The point is advocacy and equality. And it is about confronting privilege and oppression. So let's move along now, shall we?

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