After another episode of Beyond Feminism managing to piss off a good number of the feminist blogosphere, here’s my attempt to continue with the positive note of this blog by posting on why feminism feels like home to me.
Feminism feels like my home because in it I know that I exist.
When we dare venture outside the safety of feminism, we discover that as feminists or even as women, we are of little importance, or downright non-existent.
The Left hasn’t traditionally made much room for women, though that is thankfully changing now. Even so, it cannot rival feminism in its concern for women’s wellbeing, in its analysis of the experiences lived by women, in the impact that women’s viewpoint can have in changing long held and deeply hurtful ideas. We women are there, but we are very little. Women are a niche, and feminism is an even smaller one.
Outside of the Left, in mainstream society, feminism disappears entirely. Women’s views, thoughts and experiences disappear entirely; we become totally invisible. Unless we count the ocassional butt of a joke about a feminazi or a bra-burning complot, neither of which have ever existed in the real world, not that I need to remind anyone here. When a feminist does make it to the mainstream, she’s quickly put in her place. Not that long ago I read a piece by Julie Bindel in The Guardian. Lightweight and not all that radical, as anything that makes it to the mainstream media tends to be, it consisted mostly on reminding the world (which is, by default, male) that rape exists and that the perpetrators, men, are not being punished by it. All of it true and all of it easily verifiable by a quick glance at the rape conviction rates in the UK, which she handily provided. As we can imagine, in rushed the comments accussing her of hating men and of not being neutral. Many brought up bogus claims that “the justice system has to be neutral”. Indeedy, which is why we are complaining, you dipstick, because at the moment it ain’t.
A bit less long ago, another rush of hate-commenting was aimed at one of the most famous feminists of the new generation, who, I dare say, by virtue of being famoust cannot be too radical either. I’m refering to Jessica Valenti, of course, on an interview in which she discussed her new book, which I haven’t read but which doesn’t seem to rank very high in the list of the most radical feminism ever made. At any rate, in came the hating by non-feminists. Thankfully for her, us feminists can be equally vicious when one of us who dares speak truths we all agree with is attacked.
And that is precisely what I wanted to get at. Yes, we engage in Feminist Blog Wars ™ more often than would, perhaps, be advisable for the Feminist Revolution ™. But the important thing to remember is that we fight because we see each other. You are there and you have an opinion, and I am here and I have an opinion too. I see you and you see me and we talk, or fight or scream at each other, but we are aware of the other’s presence.
Outside of feminism, neither your opinion nor mine matter at all. Even when it comes to the Sex Wars ™. The Anti-Pornstitution lot (in which I place myself) don’t have a voice because it collides with the mainstream. But the Pro-Sex lot don’t have much of a voice either. It doesn’t matter what ammount of thought they have given to the topic, which shades of it they agree with and which they don’t. The “default” position is stated beforehand. You might as well not even bother thinking.
Such is our fate outside of feminism. But within it, we exist. And that’s why I find that feminism is the closest thing I ever found to a home. Because I am seen. And it doesn’t matter if we fight. Most families do, and they don’t care about their loved ones any less. As long as we all pull in the same direction on topics we all agree with, then we will move forward.