Thursday, 11 December 2014
In defence of ..... reasonable feminism #notallfeminists
I read with interest Sam Bowman on Motte & Bailey arguments - essentially the action of advancing a reasonable point that nobody would really disagree with and using it to justfiy a more extreme point.
I would like to apply the opposite of this to some people's views on feminism - where people have used the extreme points made by some feminists to discredit the movement as a whole.
Some feminists say very strange things at times, which the more reasonable of us wish they wouldn't. Of course they are entitled, via their right to free speech, to express an opinion, however these do then get held up by our opponents about why "feminism" should be stopped. It's more responsible to think about how your personal hobby-horse or opinion may not help the movement if it's specious or poorly thought through. Especially if you are paid to have that opinion - your outlet may not have the movement's best interests at heart and could, perhaps, shock horror, be looking for clicks if you put a particularly bonkers opinion out there which will get them a lot of traffic.
An example of what I am talking about is Jessica Valenti believing that Dolly Parton's song "Jolene" is problematic, as she believes the woman at the heart of the song has no power. It's not about that - it's about yearning and longing.
Why don't these things get called out more by the feminist movement? It can be unfashionable to oppose causes that famous Twitterati people seem all over, but surely we should do it if we believe in it.
However some of the sisterhood, or cliquey aspects of the various strands of feminism seem to abandon critical faculties in order to have an "in-group". This can be shown also by the feminists who seek to exclude transsexuals from the feminist debate. In that case, both sides are right in a way - we shouldn't seek to exclude anyone who identifies as female (in fact in some cases we can learn a lot about how men and women are treated differently in the world of work) but there are things that you learn if you have grown up idenitifying as female - from the biological such as menstruation to the sociological such as street harrassment first happening to you as a young teen or pre-teen - and that lived experience should be respected and also learnt from - maybe even from men!
I've thought things like this for a while, and really resent how Jessica Valenti and others with very extreme opinions are both held up as "feminist" opinion by their outlets AND berated as such from the opponents to the movement.
Not all feminists want to ban Jolene - the song (or indeed the facial bleach). Not all of us want to ban Page 3 - though I feel my opposition to that campaign is disapproved of most acutely amongst my peer group. Some of us do think for ourselves and differentiate between nonsense and advancing the cause. Up Reasonable Feminism!