Ok, so, here we go.
Yes, am a feminist and I have to say that some of the things people have been saying are really getting stuck under my skin.
You cannot group ALL women and ALL men; gender (if you are looking at it as a state of flux or that which is socially constructed [which can therefore be deconstructed]) equality needs to occur, yes.
It is not as simple as saying “all women” want [xyz] rights and “all men” are privileged.
There are many intersectional aspects that need to be considered; for example ethnicity, as well as social status and most importantly, power. You can not say that you are “freeing oppressed women” of their Burquas, when in fact they do not feel oppressed. Further indeed, that you even know what an Arabic or Muslim woman wants in terms of rights, the assumptions that they are the same as yours is you exerting power over their choice. This is not feminism, you are not ‘saving’ the rights of someone or bringing about equality, and you are being culturally insensitive to their needs, wants and rights. The exact opposite of what you intended, no?
If you are reading this with the “but… I am a feminist. I want equal rights between men and women”, that is good. Consider, however, your level of privilege. Where do you live? What is your skin colour? How much money do you earn? Do you go to school? College? University?
Gender equality is not JUST about the equalising of rights among the binary “all men” and “all women”. Now, I understand the reaction that you might be feeling, to get defensive. But in the context of social justice and movement building, if you are feeling attacked it probably means you are having your privilege challenged, and this in no way means that you are a bad person.
Becoming a good ally to those who you wish to stand by your side (and vice versa) means that sometimes you need to recognise that your input is not wanted, or needed for that matter, and that it is incredibly inappropriate and degrading to demand that a marginalised group (for example, women of colour within the feminist movement), restructure a conversation that is happening to serve their needs, in a way that is more ‘comfortable’ for the very people they are mobilizing against.
THIS is the very definition of flexing one’s privilege.
Feminism, is not ‘one size fits all’.
Feminism should not be about the advocating of forced sterilisation, completely disregarding he way in which forced sterilisation was used as a tool of genocide against black and native women.
Feminism should not be about throwing women of colour under a bus for want for body diversity and acceptance.
Yes, feminism is about breaking down social borders to better grounds for equality but it should not disregard the work that local and women in local communities are doing to achieve equality ON THEIR OWN TERMS, and obliviously parading their class privilege along the way.
Consider that you are a white, middle to high class citizen of a western industrialised country. Consider the thought of how people like Tina Fey and Lily Allen are celebrated but in the same breathe degrade Niki Minaj and Rhianna. Realise that whiteness is a privilege that is not afforded to all women. That it is not just about vaginas and penises and who has what; it is about levels of power and status and a multitude of other things that we need to alter to get to be able to even touch gender equality. Gender is not binary, and I know you all know that; it is a multifaceted, intersectional diverse fuckfest of power, social status, ethnicity and other things. Please do not belittle yourselves by saying things like “all men” and “all women”, because it just is not so black and white.
Ok, so, here we go.