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Is feminism a left-wing thing?

(134 Posts)
HirplesWithHaggis Tue 04-Aug-15 03:07:30

Inspired by a comment (is it the done thing to name the poster? I assume not, but it would be giving credit for inspiration/thought-inducing rather than slagging her) on the AI thread, that she is not a left-wing feminist; fair enough, we all self-define.

But I had kind of always rather assumed it was/is, perhaps because I've been vaguely lefty and always feminist (apart from moments here when I've been told that I'm not a feminist because I'm not radfem) for about 40 years now. Am I totally out of date?

BitOfFun Tue 04-Aug-15 03:40:43

It is in my world, because it's about fairness and respecting people's basic humanity, and understanding how the structures of society oppress women in general, and vast swathes of other groups by extension of this analysis. But there are right-wing feminists, who subscribe to the idea of individualistic capitalist advancement, but just want women to have as good a shot at that as men.

Obviously, I believe that means their comprehension of structural oppression is essentially flawed, but I don't think they are especially worried about that, because it doesn't fit their world-view. For example, the poster Xenia (also known here under other usernames more recently) advocates the advancement of women, but her view is that the route to equality lies in making career choices that lead to earning big salaries, not taking much maternity leave, and promoting private education for girls.

It essentially pivots around whether you are interested in liberating all women as a class, or focussing on levelling the playing field between men and women to enable women to compete as individuals.

Hazchem Tue 04-Aug-15 04:13:22

I'd say some branches of feminism are closet to right wing than left wing. I personally think choice feminism can be away of dressing up neo liberal ideology and liberal feminism always seams fairly right.
But I'm off the scale lefty so almost everything is right wing to me wink

JustTheRightBullets Tue 04-Aug-15 06:14:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JustTheRightBullets Tue 04-Aug-15 06:15:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SweetAndFullOfGrace Tue 04-Aug-15 06:25:31

I wouldn't identify as left wing (although nor would I as right wing, I mostly want to be left alone by other people's politics). And I think I'm a feminist.

I think it's massively unfair on an interpersonal basis that anyone would think they were superior due to an accident of birth. I can see how that adds up to class-based discrimination but I think the problem starts at the individual level. So I guess a traditionally left wing view of class based social re-engineering seems impractical to me.

eurochick Tue 04-Aug-15 06:32:54

I definitely don't identify as left wing. I'm definitely a feminist.

AskBasil Tue 04-Aug-15 07:18:53

I think radical feminism can't be right wing really, because right wing implies to me individualist, rather than collective solutions to structural problems and any radical movement seeks to eliminate the structural problems altogether, rather than just ameliorating them for a few, or enabling a few lucky individuals within the structure, to have opportunities to achieve things not usually possible in spite of the structure.

But liberal feminism can easily be right wing, it's easy to apply liberal (and libertarian) arguments to a version of feminism which doesn't actually challenge basic structures of inequality. That's why it's possible for tories like Louise Mensch and Theresa May to be feminist and that's why a right wing version of it, which doesn't actually challenge patriarchal structures, has been accepted by the media and our culture. It's possible for men who really hate women to think they're feminists, because they're in favour of women being able to compete with them on the uneven playing field they've constructed, which gives them an unfair advantage. Liberal feminism accepts the uneven playing field and tries to make it fairer - bring more of the grass over here, make the goal the same size as the one up that end, mark the pitch evenly on both sides, which leads to howls of protest from the men who perceive their loss of privilege as an attack upon their rights. Radical feminism just wants to the dig up the whole playing field and start a new game, one where men don't have an in-built unfair advantage.

That doesn't mean liberal feminism is always right wing - quite often it's quite lefty - but it has the usual weakness any liberal movement has: the potential to be hijacked by people who are fundamentally opposed to changing the basic conditions which led to the movement in the first place.

YonicScrewdriver Tue 04-Aug-15 08:27:53

Yes, I think it's possible to be left wing, right wing or centrist and be a feminist.

Surely many people are a mixture of views anyway? And vote for whichever party matches more of their views overall?

As I understand it, the Democratic Party in the US is the "left wing" party but would be considered to be more closely equivalent to the Tory than the Labour Party here. So I'm not sure the concept of left wing and right wing is universal.

On all the "basic" definitions of feminism (gotta vagina? Wanna be in charge of it?... Do you think men and women should be equally fairly treated and do you think they are currently?... People call me a feminist when I have opinions that differentiate me from a doorpost ... Feminism - the notion that women are people etc) - there's no right or left wingery required.

grimbletart Tue 04-Aug-15 11:25:22

I'm a feminist and am not left wing. It is perfectly possible. In fact, I suspect that I am like a lot of people (though not necessarily on here) in that my views are a mixture of left and right. I tend to be rightish on economic views but leftish on social views.

Left wing/right wing as measures of beliefs are over simplistic.

Yonic's final paragraph sums me up.

meditrina Tue 04-Aug-15 11:41:47

I have difficulty with the idea that some forms of feminism are 'flawed' because of differences in right/left wing political thinking.

Unless the aim is to make a specifically left-wing-only movement. Which it might be, for some.

I agree with yonic

Hazchem Tue 04-Aug-15 13:27:15

When I was 17 I went to my first women's conference. I sat at a table and was surrounded by young conservative's. It was the first time I realized you could believe in women's rights and not be left wing. It was also the first time I realized people under the age of 60 voted for conservatives.

LassUnparalleled Tue 04-Aug-15 13:32:31

I assume the OP means me. I don't identify as a feminist, either left wing or right wing.

I suppose I also "subscribe to the idea of individualistic capitalist advancement, but just want women to have as good a shot at that as men."

Economically I'm centre or just to right of centre (I am not impressed by say Nicola Sturgeon's views that we can just spend our way out of recessions)

On social policy I am left of centre. I am however definitely not pro-porn or pro- prostitution. That does not make me, as advocates of both might try to argue , a narrow -minded, anti-sex Christian.

On the contrary sex should be a free and joyful thing ; whether that's casual or comitted is not my concern. Porn and prostitution is neither free nor joyful and both are incompatible with human dignity..

HirplesWithHaggis Tue 04-Aug-15 14:29:29

Yes, Lass, it was your comment that got me thinking. Thanks all for your contributions, more grist to the mill.

LassUnparalleled Tue 04-Aug-15 16:46:02

Well here's a particularly nonsensical article by a journalist who probably has impeccable left- wing credentials. I saw about 5 minutes of this with my husband who politically is more to the right than me. His reaction was to ask me if he could turn it off as, in his words " buying a woman for sex , it's just wrong isn't it?"

A Very British Brothel review – ‘Suddenly, running a massage parlour seems a jolly, public-spirited pursuit’

Blistory Tue 04-Aug-15 19:11:58

I'm a feminist and I'm not left wing.

I'll admit to being a liberal feminist quite happily without feeling that I need to justify it as a valid form of feminist theory. I'm also happy that my practical, day to day application of liberal feminism coexists quite well with some of my radical feminist beliefs and the two combined give me a bigger toolbox to work with.

I have no discomfort with the idea that sometimes the needs of a particular individual are bigger than the needs of a group as a whole whilst still being able to believe in a general sense about the importance of community.

The notion that right wing = individual and selfish and left wing = community and sharing has always struck me as too simplistic and takes no account of the complexities of human beliefs and experiences.

YonicScrewdriver Tue 04-Aug-15 19:22:27

I agree Blistory.

WhirlpoolGalaxyM51 Tue 04-Aug-15 19:56:22

Agree broadly with what others have said.

Plenty of "right-wing" women have a lot of interest in / fight for a better situation for women and girls here and elsewhere in the world. Things like sexual violence, DV, abortion rights, these things all happen to / are needed by women across all parts of society / all political views. And similarly to look at fellow females around the world and empathise and feel horror at stuff that is happening again is not the preserve of a certain political flavour.

Also part of the idea to vote for a woman - of any party - than a man of "your" one, from a feminist perspective, because the woman is way more likely to have women's issues on her radar / have more of an instinct in tune with other women as to what is "right" or not on stuff. Hard to do in practice, obviously, and you've got some who are awful for women's rights!

Having said that I do think a lot of feminists are lefties.

Other side of the coin is the distressing prevalence of sexist tossiness / misoygny / poor treatment of women amongst lefty men. So right wing doesn't necessarily = not feminist any more than left wing = feminist. IYSWIM. I wouldn't be surprised to find some anti-feminist lefty women either, they must be out there.

MamaMary Tue 04-Aug-15 19:58:49

Er, no, it's not.


HirplesWithHaggis Tue 04-Aug-15 20:01:47

True about the misogyny with some lefty men. Not thinking about Mr Sheridan at all

LassUnparalleled Tue 04-Aug-15 20:26:27

Or Mr Galloway.

I don't agree with all female candidate lists for MPs. I would not vote for a female candidate just because she is a woman. Nicola Sturgeon for example and Mhairi Black are female but I would not make a common cause with them on anything.

JustTheRightBullets Tue 04-Aug-15 21:27:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JustTheRightBullets Tue 04-Aug-15 21:28:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HirplesWithHaggis Tue 04-Aug-15 21:33:15

I was just too young to vote in '79, but did feel very conflicted. I didn't want the Tories to get in, but I was excited at the thought of a female PM.

That didn't last long!

LassUnparalleled Tue 04-Aug-15 22:50:34

That was the first general election I was able to vote in. I didn't vote for her and never did.

The first thing I ever voted in was the first devolution referendum earlier in 1979 where I voted no (as I did in the second one and the indie referendum)

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