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Choices that are not feminist

(24 Posts)
CeliaHoover Thu 08-Feb-18 13:36:18

I was thinking a lot about the trappings of a traditional wedding (being "given away", wearing "virginal white", taking DH's name). What other day to day choices do you see women making that are cause you to say hmm.

SallyLockhartsDog Thu 08-Feb-18 21:22:52


I have taken DHs second name.
I wouldn't have voted for Hillary Clinton.
I'm a SAHM with no means to support myself.
I ask DH to do all the DIY.

Does that mean I'm not feminist enough confusedhmm

MaisyPops Thu 08-Feb-18 21:30:11

I would argue that a woman making an informed choice is feminist.
It's not feminist to judge another woman's choices for not being feminist enough. I had many a heated discussion with a university tutor over this because her smug version of feminism nearly put me off engaging with feminism.
She was very much 'this is how to be a feminist' but really all i heard was 'blah blah blah. If you do X Y Z or don't agree with me then you aren't a feminist and are happy to perpetuate ypur own oppression because clearly you're such a silly flower you couldn't think for yourself'
I hated feminism and anything to do with it because of her.

Oddly enough, my second round of feminism came at a bible study seminar when an amazing woman was discussing the trappings and problems of being a woman.

I took my DH's name. I made that decision knowing the history if name changing. I wasn't terribly bothered about my maiden name and was sick of spelling it. We looked at double barrelling and ut sounded stupid. I love being Mrs Last name. It's not an unfeminist action (but uni tutor would have said so). I found uni tutor's ridiculous 'agree with my view of feminism otherwise it proves how silly and oppressed and incapable of critical though you are' view much more insulting to women.

NSEA Thu 08-Feb-18 21:33:29

I would consider a wedding a trap if you marry a feminist too.

Weddings are about marriages nothing else.

NSEA Thu 08-Feb-18 21:33:43

Would = wouldn’t

Inthishouse Thu 08-Feb-18 21:34:08

What Maisy said. Women get enough shit without judging each other. I think it's quite right to encourage debate and critical interrogation of gender norms but I think we need an understanding that women don't have the upper hand and are normally just doing their best to get by while occupying a precarious position

HairyBallTheorem Thu 08-Feb-18 21:40:59

I think it's important to distinguish the act of making the choice from the choice made.

If feminism does its job right, then one (not the only) of the end results should be that women should be afforded the same range of choices as men (give or take a few to do with our reproductive biology) and be lauded/villified to the same extent, neither more nor less, for making those choices (no more praising men to the rafters for "babysitting" their own kids, no more having a go at women for going for a night out down the pub with their mates while their husband stays at home with his own children).

However, some choices that women are then free to make will be in direct opposition to feminism. For example, a fundamentalist Christian woman in America who actively supports Walmart in restricting other women's access to contraception is making an anti-feminist choice.

A lot of choices will be neutral (cheese on toast for tea - nothing either feminist or anti-feminist about that), some (marrying in white) will be open to interpretation, and hopefully we can adopt a live-and-let-live attitude.

But I reserve the right to say that any woman, for instance, harassing women on their way into an abortion clinic, is making an anti-feminist choice.

Trills Thu 08-Feb-18 21:43:29

We all make choices every day that are not the most feminist possible choice we could make.

You've got to decide for yourself which pressures are worth fighting - and you might be fighting others or you might be fighting your own conditioning.

RNBrie Thu 08-Feb-18 21:50:12

What I struggle with is that a lot of the choices we "freely" make are based on the society we live in which is patriarchal.

Humans generally like to conform (I say generally as I know not everyone does) and so we conform to standards set over many years living in a patriarchal society which are therefore unfeminist.

We think we are making a free choice to change our names when we get married but the reason we want to is because it's the "done thing" and really it's not feminist at all. If anyone says it's because they want the same name as their kids - there's another unfeminist tradition right there.

I would never judge anyone for choosing to live however they do and make their decisions however they like, but I do think it's worth recognising that we make unfeminist decisions as well. (Agree about harassment outside abortion clinics!)

GuardianLions Thu 08-Feb-18 21:50:50

wrt OP

- Hurting women
- Supporting systems and practices that hurt women
- Promoting the subjugation of women
- Enforcing sex-role stereotypes on girls and women through shame, fear and guilt.

Just that kind of stuff really... and it is up to the individual feminist to do the self-examination of her choices and to participate in consciousness raising to know what these things are, what sacrifices or compromises she will make in her actions.

SquareDot Thu 08-Feb-18 21:57:19

I don't think being a sahp should be a feminist issue. It's only a feminist issue if being a sahm is seen as conforming to the traditional gender role. Ideally, choosing to be a sahm should only be seen as feminist if that's what the father and mother mutually agree when there is no divide on gender role/pay gap inequalities. Unfortunately, there is, and that's what we as feminists need to fix.

Trills Thu 08-Feb-18 21:57:38

I think the first step is in realising that your choice is influenced by having lived your whole life in this world.

e.g. I changed my name when I got married because my husband's name is nicer
If your names were the other way around, would he have changed his name to yours? Doubt it. So think a little deeper about your motivations.

moofolk Thu 08-Feb-18 22:05:04

I wear make up. Not loads and I know that
1. It's a 'choice'
2. It's not really an actual free choice it's something I feel I should do because I'm always tired and look like shit.

Many women shave etc with similar ideas that it's a choice. I may well start shaving my legs again in summer!

I have friends who do burlesque. It's liberating. And feminist. And empowering. And involves taking your clothes off for other people's entertainment, often in front of a baying mob. hmm

Gacapa Thu 08-Feb-18 22:05:11

We are fallible.

It very much resonated with me when Germaine Greer said that our problem is not that we hate men, but that we love them. And oh Jesus, has that been my downfall.

QuentinSummers Thu 08-Feb-18 22:05:47

Dying my hair! It's so grey and my inner feminist is annoyed about the tyranny and cost of 6 weekly dyes. But I hate it grey so I still dye it.

OvaHere Thu 08-Feb-18 22:06:21

I've made a lot of un-feminist (or maybe just bad) choices and I regret some of them.

I've made what I thought were feminist choices too and regretted a few of those.

Wisdom of age and hindsight I suppose.

MaisyPops Thu 08-Feb-18 22:07:15

He probably would.
But then again we are also TTC with a view thay unless our job situations change, we'll be sharing the parental leave, he'll be doing nursery drop offs and be the one leaving work/coming out of work for child illness whilst I do the holidays (teacher perks).

Choices aren't made in a value free vaccum but i find certain branches of feminism so insufferably smug that they almost come across as belittling women for their choices as in that's sweet you think it's a choice but the very fact you think you've chosen proves how oppressed you are. If you thought the same as me, then you'd be informed and could be a feminist (which is exactly what my ubi tutor was like - agree with her = feminist and totally a free choice / don't agree with her = not a feminist and a sign you are complicit in your own oppression)

Trills Thu 08-Feb-18 22:08:48

You can be a feminist and make LOADS of patriarchy-reinforcing choices.

Feminism is a belief system not a set of rules to follow.

TallulahWaitingInTheRain Thu 08-Feb-18 22:15:07

Hmm. One of the things women are encouraged to do under patriarchy is judge the fuck out of each other on all sorts of grounds.

I tend to assume people have good reasons for their choices which will often be a lot to do with the constraints on them.

We can only make feminist choices if we are in a context in which we are liberated enough for this to be possible and meaningful.

moofolk Thu 08-Feb-18 22:16:29

Also back to being a SAHP. I don't think it's harmful to women or un-feminist to be primary carer / home maker but I do think it's chauvinistic to deride that job as lesser than economic activity.
I think that respecting domestic work more is a better way to sex equality.
Patriarchal structures are the ones we should respect less - people go out to work to feed and provide for families, we don't breed workers for the capitalist patriarchal machine.

CritEqual Thu 08-Feb-18 22:19:36

The landscape is more complex than inventing some iron clad rule of what is and is not appropriate, or what is or is not feminist. Men telling women what to do or how to behave is a different beast than women telling one another what to do. Now obviously some women can reinforce patriarchal attitudes and this requires some unpacking, but generally women giving one another feedback is to be encouraged.

I'd say the feminist thing to do is make others aware of the context of the choices they are making, but be willing to support any choice made from a platform of knowledge and self awareness, even if that is not the choice you yourself would make.

HairyBallTheorem Thu 08-Feb-18 22:26:41

I do think there are some choices one can make that are anti-feminist thought (Guardian's list above of things that bring actual harm to other women, pretty much).

After all, if someone turned round and said "I'm a Christian, but actually I don't buy into all that being kind to people and doing unto others as they do unto you malarkey, and I don't believe in God and I certainly don't believe Jesus was his son..." you'd want to ask why they were using the word Christian to describe themselves.

Likewise, if someone turned round and said "I'm a Marxist, just the kind of Marxist who's deeply committed to private ownership, shareholding, exploiting the labour of the poor..." you'd want to say to them "that sounds more like capitalism to me."

I want to be able to say of a woman whose choices actively impact on other woman's lives - the "repeal the 19th amendment" supporters in America (who want to remove women's rights to vote) for instance, that making that particular choice means she can no longer describe herself as a feminist.

That1950sMum Thu 08-Feb-18 22:31:47

Great to know you're out there judging us all OP.

My Dad walked down the aisle with me when I got married, but he was the person I loved most in the world and it felt natural for him to share that moment with me. He would have been mortified at the thought that he was "giving me away", but was thrilled to be front and central on my big day.

Maybe give other women a bit of credit for making choices for their own reasons.

SallyLockhartsDog Fri 09-Feb-18 15:15:17

Feminism is a belief system not a set of rules to follow.
^This, 100%!!

I am trying to educate myself and my children in a feminist way and as long as I am not doing anything to harm women (or any person for that matter) or their equality, then does it matter?

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