The dialogue around the feminist movement is profoundly frustrating to me. I feel deeply committed to the cause of gender equality and I was raised by strong women. I grew up in a community that loves its strong women, especially since there were so few adult men. I was never quiet in school and I was very confused by the gender inequality I saw at Stanford. The problem is that I don’t belong to the current feminist movement, and I therefore try to stay out of it. Any discussion about what I consider to be the real issues around gender, like violence and worker’s rights, are ignored and every discussion about them immediately devolves into a trivial discussion the revolves around the self interest of the already privileged. This is why there is a separation between “black feminism” and “white feminism”, and while I am not black, I feel far culturally closer to what we would identify as “black feminism.” This doesn’t just frustrate me though because of the lack of inclusion and how profoundly intellectually stupid these conversations become, it frustrates me because it has real consequences. And when you look at feminism in other countries, this seems to be a problem very specific to us, so it is time to reframe the discussion.
1) Any Feminism that doesn’t, as its primary focus, address the issues of inequality and access to basic rights is not doing what it should be doing.
It will be fine to talk about things like consciousness, how women in board room positions need to speak up more, and whether or not slut shaming is an issue once: Every woman is able to provide for herself and her children, until then the central focus of our goals should be: equal pay, building working conditions that make it possible to build families, educational equity, early childhood develop and care, and eliminating sexual violence
2) Any group that doesn’t acknowledge, appreciate and advocate for intersectionality and fight alongside racial, socio-economic, and sexual justice at this point does not get to be in a position of leadership. We should be past that point.
Seriously, I’ve had enough of this ish. Privileged white women need to educate themselves and get on board or relinquish their positions of leadership at this point.
3) Any feminism that spends more time talking about how we should be allowed to express our sexuality and how we’d like and be a sexually free as men than they do about sexual abuse and exploitation has its priorities out of order.
First of all, the fact that men get called “studs” for taking advantage of women is terrible and not something we should be striving for, we should be fighting against that definition of sexual freedom and towards one that advocates for a sexual freedom that allows everyone to experience true intimacy without social repercussions. I’m not interested in obtaining the right to be a terrible human being, I am only interested in building a world that is better than the one I entered.
4) Any feminism that as its central focus seeks to ignore the primacy of changing the beliefs and behaviors of men needs to check its message.
Dealing with gender related issues doesn’t happen if we continue to exclude the other side of this discussion and to fail to advocate for love. Sexual violence, is at its core, not a woman problem, it is a man problem, but is a function of gender. So the feminist movement needs to start extending to a discussion around gender.
5) Any feminism that ignores the unique struggles of being a woman by screaming “equality” and not “equity” at this point is delusional. We’ve lost sight of our actual struggles and goals and I am sit of sitting around speaking theoretically when there are real and serious problems that need to be addressed.
Our insistence that there is no biological difference has shaped the discussion around labor conditions and sexual violence in a negative way that has backed us into a corner. We are the only nation in the West that insists on framing it this way and we are also the only nation in the west without maternity leave, that is not an accident.
6) Women with privilege need to be ok with taking a back seat to the folks that don’t have privilege and need to use their positions of privilege to advocate for those without it, not use it to dominate the discussion around their self-interest.