A reply to an unfair generalisation of feminism…

In a generalised attack, when it only really has merit as a specific attack, earwicga writing on Pickled Politics has an article about the “problems of feminism”. The author seems to misrepresent the actual direction and progress of feminism in the last few decades. Whilst second wave feminism had many problems, these were largely tackled by the subsequent third wave feminism (which consequently has its own problems) – a wave the author has interestingly discounted and failed to mention when he rightly points to the importance of intersectionality.

Third wave feminism is not perfect, but it has expounded from the specific focus on gender that the second wave feminists had. There were gradual realisations from the 1960s onwards about the ways in which the second wave feminists were arguably reinforcing the gender binaries by making women out to be different to men. We have seen the rise of intersectionality, different aspects of identity are now being considered in relation to gender, such as race (consider the formation of Riot Grrl’s in 1980/1990s – however, they themselves as an organisational set up have been accused of unfair racial representation) and sexuality (consider the Sex Wars in the 1980s, or Judith Butler, writing as far back as the 1990s talked about the need to consider how identities interact, especially focusing on sexuality with her heterosexual matrix, for example).

Therefore, instead of problematising the whole feminist movement as being full of “comfortable white middle-class fuckwits”, the author needs to consider more broadly the actual direction of the movement. I however, do agree with the concerns around the UK Feminista organisation. Whilst I think it is good that women organisations are continuing to grow, when I went to a talk by them with several other organisations at the Compass conference, they seemed to be set in their views and very tribalist when it came to other feminist perspectives.

Also, due to the problems that feminism has faced with incorporating many intersections of identity, we have seen international feminism take off, with Third World feminism becoming more and more prominent and influential. This has clearly influenced current feminism in the UK. Whilst there may be problems with certain institutions, there are many feminist institutions, groups, academics and activists who have a much more far-ranging view of feminism and its related areas. There is even transhumanism that relates to feminism, which tries to envisage a post-gender era.

What I am trying to say is that a caricature generalisation of the kind that earwicga has provided, basing this on one organisation, well it is outside the actual context of the far reaching development the feminist movement has gone through since the second wave. Whilst some feminists may still ascribe to the second wave as a dominant feminist position – lets face it, the movement was a breakthrough for women’s rights – there are many feminists who now recognise the intersectionaltiy of gender with areas such as class, sexuality and race. Yes, there are areas of improvement needed – feminism needs to create more international links, for example. But I object to the opinion that feminism is somehow still predominantly only made up of “comfortable white middle-class fuckwits”.

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