Anonymous asked: What do you think is the best argument against someone who says that feminism no longer has any place in western politics?


I honestly primarily try not to engage with those people, to preserve my energy and sanity. That said, the fundamental argument against that is that feminism remains relevant in a culture and political system that remains dominated by masculinity. The argument you’re referencing is a pernicious one, called “postfeminism,” and essentially is an argument that tries to undermine Western feminism and feminism in general by saying that feminism’s goals have been achieved, making it irrelevant.

We are not in a postfeminist world just because women no longer stay at home and have the federal right to abortion anymore than we are a post-racial society because Obama was elected. The most classic and straightforward way I can think to explain why there is still a fight to fight is to use the metaphor employed by Marilyn Frye in her essay “Oppression,” an essay whose core thoughts I find to be a powerful way of interpreting the world.

It is perfectly obvious that the bird is surrounded by a network of systematically related barriers, no one of which would be the least hindrance to its flight, but which, by their relations to each other, are as confining as the solid walls of a dungeon.

It is now possible to grasp one of the reasons why oppression can be hard to see and recognize: one can study the elements of an oppressive structure with great care and some good will without seeing the structure as a whole, and hence without seeing or being able to understand that one is looking at a cage and that there are people there who are caged, whose motion and mobility are restricted, whose lives are shaped and reduced.

In terms of specific reasons to point to where feminism remains a necessary part of the political discussions, feminism remains relevant in politics where the right to choose and the right to sexual/reproductive health and family planning have become such a contentious area of policy and such a deliberated targeted set of rights. Feminism also remains relevant in western politics because in the US we have never had a president who wasn’t male, and have a 17% percent representation in Congress and only 35 women have ever served as state governor (currently there are 6 in office). It remains relevant in a political arena where female politicians are called ‘harpies’ and where female candidates are admonished not to ‘play the gender card.’ It’s important in a situation where ill-played political maneuvering takes precedence over preventing teen pregnancy. It’s important because women remain underrepresented and undervalued as voices in a wide variety of areas and so-called “feminine” work and areas of concern remain ridiculed and invalidated by their associations with women and femininity. It’s also remains incredibly relevant because of its relationship with the queer movement and LGBTQ rights, which remain a critical civil rights and cultural fight.

And Western feminism doesn’t solely concern itself with regionally relevant political issues. Feminism is, or ought to be, inherently global in concern. That doesn’t mean you aren’t absolutely right to separate Western feminism, it’s contexts and challenges are much different from elsewhere, and the Western context for constructed gender, race and class hierarchies and the Western relationship with the rest of the world make Western feminism so different. This needs to be acknowledged.  That said, global gendered issue, like the sexualized and gendered nature of war and conflicts (all of which the West has inevitably had some hand in or influence on) and global finance and economic development (again, in which the West’s ubiquity is undeniable) are concerns that matter to feminists.

Ask me more questions.

(via outspokenviews-deactivated20120)

  1. palindrome91 said: What is a decent comeback to “get back in the kitchen” (other than “go fuck yourself” which seems to encourage people further) I’m constantly torn between looking a “butch feminist” when I get angry at such insults or feeling ashamed when I ignore…