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How 'feminist' are you on a sliding scale?

(83 Posts)
DingDongMerrilyOutOfSeason Wed 13-Jul-11 12:58:58

I consider myself a feminist to the extent that I believe in equality for women. However, I refer to myself as a girl (as in girls' night out), wax my ladygarden and stay at home with my DCs, although have worked part time in the past. I am pro-choice, although have to admit to judging certain circumstances in my head in the past but aloud I am always supportive, I believe in equal pay for women, I hate sexism and generally think that women should have the same opportunities and acceptance in society as men do.

Where does this put me on a scale? I have posted once or twice on feminism and all I seem to do is argue with myself! Maybe I think too deeply but I cannot get my head around why I do not always agree with feminist points of view. Is feminism generally about equality or is it more than that? I feel I am missing something...

LRDTheFeministNutcase Wed 13-Jul-11 13:13:38

I don't think all the things you mention necessarily correlate to 'levels' of feminism. I think what's important about, say, radical feminism isn't having a hairy muff, it's feeling that the debate around whether or not women should change their bodies to suit society is important. So, a very 'soft' feminist might say 'oh, why do you care about such a trivial issue, it's just hair!' but a more radical feminist is more likely to think feminism pervades all areas of life.

Does that make sense?

I think it's only the last bit that determines whether or not someone is a feminist: 'I believe in equal pay for women, I hate sexism and generally think that women should have the same opportunities and acceptance in society as men do'.

Someone mentioned there are more SAHMs on this board than not, btw.

ItsNotUnusual Wed 13-Jul-11 13:15:44

I whole heartedly agree with the most radical of radical feminists even when the logic is taken to an 'extreme' point past my particular comfort zone.

However, I see that particular batch of feminists as pioneers. Blazing a trail, demolishing anything in their paths, attempting to civilise the wilderness of the prairies. Or something.

I'm the equivalent of 'I'll be there when the camps are set up, the wagons parked and the roads are less bumpy but shall I help you pack?'

I try to not beat myself up that I don't live up to the higher standards set by others and that I am bumbling along making a marginal net positive feminist difference.

I think it's important that I don't undermine those that make more of an effort / difference and wouldn't take it personally if anyone pointed out that I could do better.

So, self assessment at C+

sunshineandbooks Wed 13-Jul-11 13:26:14

I am definitely closer to the radical end than the liberal end because I believe most some parts of society need fundamental change to really make things equal for women.

Personally, I believe that anyone who believes in the role of SAHM is more radical than they might be aware of. While I want equality for women, I don't think this means 'exactly the same'. Instead of women just being given the the same opportunities as men, I want to see the roles that women have done throughout history elevated to the status they deserve. It would not be possible for some to chase the capitalist dream without others providing the unpaid labour on which that is built. I believe both are equally valuable and that men and women should be able to fall into whichever role suits them best including changing several times within their own lifetime.

joaninha Wed 13-Jul-11 13:53:48

I dunno about levels but I have a sneaking suspicion that I am a bit of a Socialist Feminist because I think the economic infrastructure we have makes it a hard for women to properly gain equality.

Reality Wed 13-Jul-11 13:59:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lubeybooby Wed 13-Jul-11 14:04:27

Middling to maybe just over.

I agree with many feminist issues at home and abroad and I'm gobsmacked by the lack of equality we still have and how girls/women are posed and portrayed in media and so much more than just that....but I personally wouldn't 'resist femininity' and I always wear make up and heels etc.

joaninha Wed 13-Jul-11 14:20:21

I think it's impossible to "resist femininity" if you're female and personally I wouldn't want to. I like to think of myself as feminine whether or not I shave, wear makeup, skirts, whatever. The simple fact that I am female makes me feminine.

Hullygully Wed 13-Jul-11 14:23:34

I don't think of myself as radical, but am aware that I am compared to a lot of others. And I agree with joaniha re economics. Capitalism is a major culprit.

Sunshinetoast Wed 13-Jul-11 14:45:59

I don't think there is a simple sliding scale. Different feminists recognise different underlying causes of women's oppression and therefore have different priorities about what they work on. I think there is a big over-lap between capitalism and patriarchy but they are not the same thing. I am a feminist who is also concerned about wider issues of inequality and human rights and I think that some things are about other structures of power than gender.

I used to identify more as a socialist feminist than a radical feminst, but am starting to think those distinctions aren't always useful. I campaign on violence against women among other things, which is often seen as a radical feminist priority. I worked for years at the Fawcett Society, which was seen as a liberal feminist organisation because it lobbied within existing structures of power, but I lobbied alongside some very radical feminist sisters.... People are more complicated than the boxes we put ourselves in.

As for the whole shaving, waxing whatever thing it's been said several times on here that the point is not feminists saying other women 'shouldn't' do these things, but questioning why we feel that we need to do them. I think SGB has made good points before about the difference between a human urge to dress up and specific pressures to look a particular way (sorry if I am mis-quoting, i tend to read at speed on my phone so may miss bits!).

I sometimes shave my legs and sometimes wear make up. Feminist readings haven't made me think I must stop, but they have made me aware of the extent to which these things are not free 'choices' but constructed and constrained by the society I live in.

Feminism is central to the way I look at the world and the work I do, so I guess the answer would be 'very'!

Hufflepuzzpig Wed 13-Jul-11 14:58:40

I don't know, I'm just me smile I'm not sure it can be put on a simple linear scale either really. I guess there are lots of different issues within feminism, and many people including myself only focus on ones that impact on their lives directly.

For example my main bugbear is gender stereotyping of children - toys, clothes etc. Also things like diet ads, airbrushing etc. But as I don't really encounter sexism in my daily life, I don't tend to think about feminist views of the workplace and so on.

DingDongMerrilyOutOfSeason Wed 13-Jul-11 15:15:47

Sunshinetoast It worries me that anyone would think campaigning on violence against women is a feminist issue at all, surely violence against anyone should be something everyone cares about!
Hufflepuzzpig I am guilty of saying things like 'It's a boy thing' etc, as it is related to my personal experience of having a girl first but still managing to have a boy who is obsessed by all things with wheels, despite coming into a house with no cars or trains and mostly gender neutral toys with the odd 'princess' item around.
joaninha at the risk of sounding stupid (possibly far too late) what do you mean?

I have always been confused by the shaving thing. I know that defuzzing is a style thing and has no real benefit, but I do feel less sweaty and uncomfortable if I have shaved, for example, my armpits. Then you get the cries of 'Why don't men shave under their armpits then?' to which I reply, maybe they don't care, maybe they keep it to feel manly, I don't care because I can't smell them, I am only aware of myself. On the other hand, is it fair that men feel that they can't defuzz for fear of being seen as less manly and therefore have to put up with being a bt sweaty and uncomfortable. And who decided that sweaty is a bad thing in the first place? Am I just conforming to stereotype? But I hate standing under a sweaty armpit on the tube!

<head explodes>

sunshineandbooks Wed 13-Jul-11 15:28:43

DingDong my personal POV on 'resisting femininity' is what a wise poster on this section once said to me: It's about separating the fun from the burdensome' (you could add personal preference to fun as well, but it's not as snappy wink).

I don't think feminists believe that women should stop shaving their armpits if they prefer the way it makes them feel etc. They're just challenging the fact that women are judged so much more on their appearance than men are, and that the standards of women's beauty is so much higher and often involves pain or even long-term physical problems. It's up for each individual woman to then assess how much she does because it's expected of her, how much she does because she's feels less attractive/worthy if she doesn't, and how much she does because she genuinely likes it. Some women will stop wearing makeup when they analyse this. Others will continue because because it's how they want to express their personality.

VictorGollancz Wed 13-Jul-11 16:09:39

Depends on the issue. Sometimes I feel that the patriarchy needs to be gotten rid of, no matter what the cost; other times I feel that patriarchy is never, ever going to go away and therefore we need to fight within it; other times I see very clearly that it's economics that needs changing; and on and on it goes.

I don't think it matters because I don't think any one 'brand' of feminism is any 'more' feminist than any of the others. I may take issue with certain beliefs of each brand (me and the 'poledancing is liberation for EVERYONE!' crew are never really going to agree, although if a woman is prepared to tell me that she personally benefits, I'm not going to tell her otherwise - see, woolly!) but none of the brands have all the answers. It's worth noting that 'radical' means 'root', not 'extreme'.

It can be loosely summarised by picturing an issue's proximity to the body. If it's very close - like access to abortion, for example, or pregnancy rights or beauty practices - then I adopt radical arguments. If it's very far away - like feminist analysis of a novel - then my woolly liberal/postmodern side comes into play.

I'm sure I'll probably think of plenty of exceptions the second I press 'post'...

joaninha Wed 13-Jul-11 17:19:22

Ding Dong, sorry, the words never come out right!!.

What I mean is it seems a bit odd that we should worry about being feminine when the reality is we are feminine by simple virtue of being female.

Why exactly is a spike on the end of a shoe considered to be feminine? Why is shaving considered feminine? Did Mr Ape look at Mrs Ape and think "you need a bit of Immac love!"

Why were corsets considered to be feminine? Why aren't nice little puddingy muffin tops not considered so? Cos I bet more women have them than 22 inch waists..

FreudianSlipper Wed 13-Jul-11 17:33:45

i am a Feminist with a big Fuck off F grin

not really i am jsut a feminist, the more i learn the more struggles i see. i want us to be equal, but i understand the differences. i want women to no longer be second class citizens in this world. i hate this idea that all feminists are man hating, do not shave their legs and all think the same. surely feminism is about women being themselves, knowing their own mind and that we do not all agree is a great thing

if asked i will always say that i am and very proud to be a feminist and that i admire famous feminists. that does not mean i agree with everything that is said by them

Riveninside Wed 13-Jul-11 17:33:56

More at the radical end and i think capitalism is detrimental to feminism while giving the illusion of potential equality. So im a socialist too.
Oh, and im all about reclaiming my religion from the men who have hijacked it and used it to keep women down. Right on sisters.

I am more at the radical end too as I think that the current systems need to be changed to enable equality.

With regards femininity, this is a construct - i.e. society has decided what is feminine and what is masculine in order to put people into boxes (stereotype them). That is separate from what sex we are i.e. male or female. I think if you recognise where the impetus to do things such as wear makeup, shave legs and pubic hair etc comes from and recognise why men are not required to do this to the same extent then that is the feminist analysis. The fact that you participate in some of those feminine activities is only natural because of societal pressure.

berkshirefem Wed 13-Jul-11 17:57:43

The issue of what you look like is not a feminist one to me. i mean, i get that is is I'm not naive. I realise that a lot of the beauty practices we perform on ourselves is because of pressures from society to be a certain way.
But as someone else said below; we are females therefore we are feminine. I don't think I am more feminine than another woman because I have long nails. We are all an equal amount of woman.

The sliding scale to me I suppose would be how active you are... not whether you shave your pubic hair or not.

Fennel Wed 13-Jul-11 18:02:20

I am very definitely a diehard feminist with socialist leanings, i see gender everywhere, I agitate about sexism and equality, I'm involved in feminist activism and i'm interested in feminist theory.

I am not a radical feminist though, not a fan of Andrea Dworkin etc, and therefore on some mumsnet threads I'm a sad apology for a feminist, one who's long ago rolled over for the patriarchy. But that is just on the slightly bizarre alternative reality of mumsnet.

malinois Wed 13-Jul-11 18:56:32

I think that I'm a liberal/socialist feminist. I see the oppression of women as a strand in the wider oppression of the weak by the strong. I think that patriarchy is bound up in themes of class hierarchy and power structures that oppress not just women.

I do believe that rape and violence, and tolerance of rape and violence, is systematically used to keep women in their place but that's about as close to most radfem thinking as I get.

I'm dyed, inked, pierced and generally dress like a refugee from a nuclear attack on a burlesque show though, so I think I would fail the Dworkin test.

Catitainahatita Wed 13-Jul-11 18:56:43

I also think that there is no "sliding-scale" of feminists really, or a tick box you can use to diferentiate between them. I also think you can be a feminist while sometimes still holding on to ideas that are probably not compatible with all forms of feminism. This can cause friction, however, and you should be aware that it is not an obligation for feminists to agree with everything other feminists say.

Me I am fairly radical in my opinions, but less so in my approach. I think even the most radical positions can be achieved gradually through the exisiting political structure. I see it as a long term struggle which isn't going to be won in my lifetime and quite possibly not in my daughter's. But I am a historian and do tend to see things through that perspective. I also think that a top down approach will never work on its own (ie changing laws); change has to be enacted at the most basic of levels in society before it will have an impact. This requires education, campaigning and the example of many role models.

Portofino Wed 13-Jul-11 19:14:38

I'm never sure where I fit - I am learning all the time and thinking hard about how to bring up my dd with a strong believe that she as equal as anyone, and can achieve what she wants if she works for it.

I believe rape and dv is totally unacceptable and that we need to educate our boys that this is the case, and our girls that they should not accept living under the male "thumb".

I don't agree though on the focus that achieving equality is having the most money or the top jobs, more that we should focus on equal parental leave and that there should be much more importance/value placed on caring roles in society. These roles are traditionally done by women and are undervalued. I want to see a culture where men equally take time off to care for sick kids/elderly parents.

joaninha Wed 13-Jul-11 19:58:54

Portofino, I totally agree. When I go into my work and see the work that LSAs do for special needs children and for very little money I realize how undervalued those caring roles are. I think our society has been derailed by this love of money but because it has been like this for so long I can't envisage how any other system would work.

BumperlicicusTotalus Wed 13-Jul-11 20:32:26

I like to think of myself as a nouveau feminist. At school I grew up with the belief that women could have it all, a career and a family. at college I kept up with the boys and indulged in their misogynistic games in the name of liberation and openness. At university I had one night stands and talked about sex a lot with my girlfriends, we were so SATC, we didn't need men, we had friends. We didn't need feminism, we were free, we had won.

Late 20's and 2 daughters hit as did reality. We are nowhere near free, the game is nowhere near over and I find myself ashamed and embarrassed at my past behaviour and naiveity and am making up for it now, boring everyone with my 'hi I'm a feminist' like a newly outed teenage boy who's just discovered the gay scene.

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