Becoming woman

8 Mar

by Alex Dram via flickr


On International Women’s Day it seems appropriate to reflect on feminism.

I never imagined I would find myself in agreement with anything with that terrifying Janet Albrechtson said, but last night on ABC’s qanda she declared that feminism must be a broad church, the rhetoric of the sixties and seventies means nothing to young women now, and we must move on. Or words to that effect.

She also took Western feminism to task for ignoring all others, and mother of god, I agree with everything she said.

I’ve lately fought off allegations of being anti feminist, a victim blaming apologist for rapists, an exploiter of sexually assaulted women (because I once worked in clinical practice as a psychotherapist) not to mention being a “man fondler,”  a term of abuse I’m not familiar with, but don’t hold back, girls.

All this as a consequence of having had the temerity to suggest women have to take responsibility for our safety and well being, because nobody else is going to do it for us.

Anybody who bases their identity on an ideology is asking for trouble, in my opinion. Having held that opinion for some time now, I wasn’t unduly upset when some women started telling me I was anti feminist, pro male, and had a prick in my head. But what this torrent of female abuse did cause me to do was reflect on what it is women can do to other women in the name of feminism, and what a scary thing that can be.

There is no such animal as  universal feminism. Like it or not, it it’s already a broad church and always has been, even if there’s been a dominating voice from time to time.

Like any ideology, cliques and factions within feminism stake out claims and marginalize those who don’t comply. Feminism is as cruel, prejudiced and contemptuous of difference as any ideology. It always has been.

As ferocious as it can be to men, it is capable of equal ferocity to women who do not comply with the factional rules. That’s the nature of ideology. If you add an imaginary transcendental exteriority, you’ve got religion.

I know young women who are vibrant feminists, contemptuously dismissed by some older women as “fashionistas”  who shouldn’t be referring to themselves as “chicks” and “babes.” “Is the word woman too fat for them?” somebody’s asked. But young feminists have to do it their way. From this fresh perspective and energy, something new will emerge for women, even if as yet it is unformed.

Those of us who are their female mentors need first of all to respect their ascendency. Enough already with the moralistic prescriptives!

Get out of the new way if you can’t lend a hand, for the times they are….

There are young women who want to take responsibility for themselves, they see it as a badge of honour. Not for them the jaded diatribes of victimology.

This morning I heard a story of three generations of women together in a house with a man who was husband, father and grandfather to them. For years it had been his practice to drink, come home, and beat up his wife. On this occasion his forty year old daughter hid away as she always had, When the beating was over, the fourteen year old granddaughter took her grandmother aside and told her she didn’t have to live like this any longer. She took her grandmother to a refuge. They got help for her and eventually a place to live.

The young woman had learned about domestic violence and knew what to do. She’d been educated. She took charge, and her grandmother’s life was changed.

Who cares if she also likes to wear lacy panties and short skirts?

So  I’m giving the finger this International Women’s Day to any woman who tells me or anybody else how to be a proper feminist, after telling us that we’re not.

Rotate, honey. I like me just the way I am.

3 Responses to “Becoming woman”

  1. PAUL WALTER March 8, 2011 at 6:42 am #

    Nah. Albrechtsen’s statement is code for diluting The leftish elements of feminism. It’s a bit like the ABC’s “balance”policy. They actually mean diluting the truth if it offends vested interests.
    I almost watched QA last night, but Albrechtsen is the living end, for me. You probably noticed the body language and facial expression of Carleton and Albrechtsen, as they were forced to sit next to each other.
    But, as you say, its all contingent and relative. Noone can prove that god isn’t extant, any more than we can prove god is. What we don’t know and lack of closure defines people’s existence.
    You can subscribe to Pascal’s wager of course, but isn’t that just as hollow?
    Smarter people often find consolation in vocation, but that can unwind also.
    If you livein poverty you misery is defined by your circumstances in more obvious ways and you are miserable enough just struggling to survive.
    But for we westerners there is existential angst to substitute for poverty and ill health, so we don’t escape scot free,either… although, hang on, isnt that a value judgement?
    If you are a hedonist you’ll say well blow that, I’m off for a beer, if you are hard right you’ll think others less fortunate bought it upon themselves or if you are left or left liberal, you will be consumed with a desire to repair things.
    So you can have a broad church for starters but its hard to see contradictions reconciled when so many different temperaments and beliefs are afoot and when value and meaning are often non negotiable.


    • nechakogal March 11, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

      How I wish i had you for a friend when I was confronted by a militant radical fem assistant prof in sociology when I dared to air the merits in the arguments of essentialists in a paper. Great blog and thanks for the mention.


  2. Jennifer Wilson March 11, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

    There’s bullies everywhere, even in feminism!


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