This is a long over due follow up to my March 8 article, “We Need to Talk About Women: The Problem With Western Liberal Feminists”. In today’s post I will address some of the comments, questions and feedback that that article garnered. The main reason I decided to write this follow up piece is because, following the March 8 article on western liberal feminism, I received messages from young women who had shared that article on social media and received a lot of flack (mainly from other young women) over it. Today’s article is dedicated to the young women that bravely shared my article.
As a side note, the fact that some women were bullied for sharing that article, which was unabashedly critical of so called modern day feminism (what I describe as pro-establishment, liberal corporate/capitalist feminism) demonstrates just how intolerant and hypersensitive some of today’s “politically correct” Millennials are. But I digress. Back to the point at hand: Today piece addresses some of the concerns and criticisms that my March 8 critique of liberal, consumer feminism generated.
- The Article Bashes International Women’s Day
While the March 8 article was published on International Women’s Day, it was indeed not about International Women’s Day. The intention of the article was to make a statement about a certain segment of the female population in the west (liberal, consumer feminists), within the context of a broader critical analysis of identity politics. I chose to make that statement on international women’s day simply because it is a day where there is dialogue on women. Moreover, despite its title, the larger focus of the March 8 article is the critical analysis of identity politics. That is something I have been writing about for many years.
- The Article is Anti-Women
I was not going to reply to this one given its absurdity. But here it goes, anyway. First of all, I am a woman and I love being a woman; I revel in it. I am feminine or “girly” in my appearance, not that this is all there is to being a woman, and I am physically, mentally, and spiritually (in reference to the female essence, so to speak), in tune with and entangled with my femininity/femaleness. If I could be born a million times over, I would not choose to be a man instead of a woman. Well that’s not true, if I actually could be born a million times I would probably want to be a million different things—from an ameba to a giant tortoise and everything in between (including a man)—in order to have a million different experiences of existence. But in this one life that I have, I have never wished to be anything other than a woman; I love being a woman and cherish the experience thus far.
But these are all personal things. With respect to the non-personal stuff and to what people imply when they say that an individual is “anti-women” for writing a criticism of liberal, consumer feminists, I want to stress that being critical of a very particular segment of the female population does not make someone anti-women; it simply makes them critical. News Flash: As a social critic and writer, critical reflection and commentary is what I do. Writers are supposed to make critical observations about the world around them. And readers are allowed and encouraged to critically respond to those observations. Readers are free to disagree with my and any writer’s opinion; it is okay and it is healthy and necessary for society. Public debate and dialogue is a good and welcome thing. At the same time, however, today’s politically correct youth and “social justice warriors” have become so thin skinned and so anti-intellectual that they interpret any form of critical thought, opinion, analysis or commentary as ‘hate speech.’
Nowhere in the March 8 article did I generalize about all women. On the contrary, I explicitly state that I am referring to a particular segment of the female population in the west—liberal, mainstream, consumer feminists (LMCFs). I was not singling out all feminists or all of feminism; indeed I explicitly differentiate between LMCF and other forms of feminism. And while I am not personally a feminist (have not read feminist theory or literature, etc.), I venture to guess that some, if not many, traditional (i.e., first and second wave) feminists, socialist feminists, and third world feminists would also be critical of the type of ‘feminism’ I mention in the article.
What I critique in the March 8 article would not be considered traditional feminism (I do know enough about it to know the difference). I am talking about the co-opted, corporate, media hyped, establishment version of ‘feminism’ that we see in mainstream media culture today. A criticism of this version of ‘feminism’ is part of a much larger critique of identity politics, which, for me, it is little more than a capitulation by and co-optation of the much of the traditional left en masse. Of course there are still people that are true to traditional feminism and traditional left politics, in general. In the article, I am referring to those women (and “new lefties”) that represent the co-opted, apolitical segment of the “new left”, or fake left, as it has come to be known by many.
Indeed I received positive feedback from politically minded women that identity as traditional (i.e., non liberal, non mainstream, non consumer) feminists. Here is a quote from one woman—reproduced here with her permission—that has been a feminist for almost fifty years. She linked to my March 8 article on her site, stating:
“Editor’s Note: …thank you to Ghada Chehade for so eloquently capturing my own thoughts on the subject…. I became a feminist in 1970, when Ms.Magazine printed its first, authentic edition. I followed up with the ubiquitous Feminine Mystique, The Second Sex, and The Female Eunuch, for starters. I wrote, spoke, and ran a consciousness-raising group and a local chapter of the National Organization for Women. I am appalled at the insouciance and the complete misappropriation of the terms “feminism” and “liberal” today by women who have both the means and plentiful opportunities to know better, and who have become the willing pawns of the ruling class’ classic divide-and-conquer games.
Pink hats? “Inclusive” and “Indivisible”?? Seriously?? So, all women’s genitals are pink on the outside?? And, how do your hats apply to the male “women” you claim to champion? Is a hat a serious or formidable weapon against oppression? Do you have any idea what real feminists – male and female – have gone through to achieve the level of parity you are currently crushing beneath your trivial hats, your layers of makeup, and your preoccupation with sexuality? Again, many thanks to Ms. Chehade for her work…”
I posted this quote not because I agree with everything in it (I happen to enjoy makeup now and then) but because it demonstrates that there are traditional, vanguard feminists that are deeply critical of what passes for feminism today. This is but one example. There are many other female voices out there that are deeply critical of both identity politics–and its apolitical obsession with personal and trivial matters–and liberal, consumer, corporate media-based feminism.
But I will not speak for these women. I am not an authority on feminism or women’s critiques of either feminism or identity politics. I will let these women speak for themselves. If one searches online and elsewhere there are numerous examples of such critiques. I suggest that individuals, male or female, that feel the need to bully or “shame” young women for reading and sharing articles such as mine, explore the numerous criticisms of modern day ‘feminism’ and identity politics–and how they have replaced political thought and action with an obsession over personal issues, personal feelings and personal image–by women from all walks of life. Just some things to ponder…