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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

A different viewpoint on Choice Feminism

94 replies

GothAnneGeddes · 11/09/2010 13:16

This is taken from a website called FWD, or feminists with disabilities.

It argues that not all women can access the same choices, hence not all choices can be viewed equally. Well worth reading.

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ISNT · 11/09/2010 13:57

It's a strange article TBH. I'm not sure that I agree with it, but I found it a bit confusing. Maybe it would help to know who she is responding to? I only really talk to feminists on here, and I haven't come across anyone saying that all women have to work, or that disabled women shouldn't have children or wear makeup etc. I don't understand the thing about being expected to be virginal until marriage, and child abuse, at all.

If I had an idea of who is saying these things, then it might be easier to understand where the author of this piece is coming from IYSWIM.

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Prolesworth · 11/09/2010 14:03

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purits · 11/09/2010 14:30

What is she on about?
This sounds like she has been discussing it with her mates for hours and has written out a rant. I feel like I have come in halfway through a conversation and don't really understand what is going on.

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ISNT · 11/09/2010 14:39

Yes that's about how it felt to me purits. The context is missing.

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ElephantsAndMiasmas · 11/09/2010 16:30

I thought it was quite interesting. She's arguing with the idea that wearing lots of make-up, being a SAHM, wanting to be "a mother" first and foremost are "less feminist" choices. I can see why people here are finding that confusing, because I think on MN the idea that e.g. being a SAHM is "unfeminist" is never articulated (Xenia aside). But she is arguing with people - and I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt and believe that she has encountered some - who do express these views.

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NickOfTime · 11/09/2010 16:45

i'm struggling to find it - have you got a link?

it sounds as though it would be quite interesting - i've oft pondered that dd2's choices will be more restricted/ difficult - a woman with a disability becomes pretty much public property in the decision as to whether/ how she can care for her own child in many cases, let alone if you can get past the prejudice and actually get a job you want.

and tbh she'll never be able to put make-up on herself anyway. i don't wear any, but it has crossed my mind that she won't be able to anyway. we have enough trouble come the annual dance recital.

but anyway, i've no idea whether any of that is relevant as i can't find the article! (found the website...)

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NickOfTime · 11/09/2010 16:45

lol, never mind - just seen it was a link - colour turned down on screen! Grin

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NickOfTime · 11/09/2010 16:55

i found it very interesting - like a lot of people on here, she is arguing that choice feminism is not 'feminism', and for similar reasons - that they do not represent free choice. but she's saying choices are not limited solely because of the patriarchal nature of society (as some of the arguments towards choice feminism on here) but that the reasons go much deeper - that even the limited 'choices' that 'choice feminism' offers are not recognised/ possible choices for some women.

her arguments reminded me a little of the poster who wanted to talk about 'working class' feminism, (there was a busy thread) as she didn't recognise the sort of feminism and problems espoused by much of the mn feminist board. (although i grimaced a bit at some of the fwd author's phraseology).

interesting, anyway. lots to think about.

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NickOfTime · 11/09/2010 17:00

a bit like - whether or not to pole dance (lol)

whether or not to wear sky high heels and make-up (whether or not you have the right to be treated as a human being not a sex-object)

whether or not you want to be viewed as a sex object in the first place Wink

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Pogleswood · 11/09/2010 17:39

It chimes with what I'd read,possibly talking about The Feminine Mystique,saying the push to get women out of the home and into the workplace was liberating for a specific group of (middle class) women,while liberation for women who had historically worked out of the home might be to be able to be at home with their children.

A while ago I read a little about mining in the 19th centuary for another thread and was really struck by the fact that the laws passed to stop women working underground were widely looked on as being a good thing for women - but written down in other terms women were stopped by law from doing work which they had always done,and which was needed to support their families.The law did result in unemployment and hardship for women who had worked in mining.

But it was dangerous work done under awful conditions. So - good for women,or not?

I didn't think she was saying that even the limited 'choices' that 'choice feminism' offers are not recognised/ possible choices for some women.
I thought she was saying that while some choices might not be feminist for some groups of women,they would be for others...

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NickOfTime · 11/09/2010 18:02

lots of layers, pogles Grin

i think the main point is context, though? what is a choice, and what is feminist, from different backgrounds?

(fascinating trying to unravel how utterly irrelevant the make-up/ heels debate is to women who don't have that choice - it can't mean that it is not relevant to debate it, but i can see how (as a well-visited feminist trope) it would put you right off any brand of 'feminism' that didn't recognise it wasn't a choice any woman was able to make...)

and yes - very interesting trying to work out from another viewpoint what makes a choice 'feminist' or not... rather than looking through the patriarchal lens lol.

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GothAnneGeddes · 11/09/2010 19:00

I'm glad some people are finding it interesting.

I found the part where she discussed disabled women being able to be attractive/sexual beings very thought provoking.

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GothAnneGeddes · 11/09/2010 19:00

I'm glad some people are finding it interesting.

I found the part where she discussed disabled women being able to be attractive/sexual beings very thought provoking.

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NickOfTime · 11/09/2010 19:53

i listened to a woman with a daughter with sld speak at a conference about sexuality. very thought provoking.

dd2 is only 7 but i already worry about the choices she will get the chance to make.

she might be blonde and blue eyed (and have had her squint fixed Wink) but i so hope there is a man or woman out there who will be able to see her past the wobbling and slurring and allow her to experience the joy of a close relationship. or relationships, lol. and experience what she can give in return.

i worry that she will be more vulnerable to predatory attack if she is viewed as a sexual object at all.

which is worse? to not be viewed as a person capable of sexuality, or to be seen as an aberration easy to victimise and leave?

or worse to be viewed only as a sex object a la conventional mysoginist discourse?

of course, there is no reason why she can't be a loving wife and mother/ partner. but it involves someone else recognising that about her... and it's difficult to believe that's possible when you read articles like this, where clearly some adults with disabilities have been denied this role by society.

and that's only one aspect of course - the work thing is equally perplexing.

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ISNT · 11/09/2010 20:40

Which articles are those nick? I feel as if I have missed something here - the comments to which she is responding. Can you link? Are they on the site?

Is she talking currently in the UK that these things are going on?

I am still a bit Confused by it all.

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ISNT · 11/09/2010 20:45

Can anyone explain hher virginity/child abuse comments, what she was talking about there?

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dittany · 11/09/2010 20:56

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ISNT · 11/09/2010 21:01

Is it that feminists generally fight for a siuation where females can have autonomy over their bodies, and decide who they have sex with, and when, and not be subjected to virginity tests prior to marriage, or raped, or coerced, or sold?

And that some girls don't have any choice but lose their bodily autonomy because they are abused?

I don't see how that is the fault of feminists though, if that is her point. Feminists would certainly fight for the girl to have autonomy over her own body and be free of abuse.

Have I missed the point spectacularly?

All of the bad things cited, I don't think they are things that feminists have done, so why are feminists being lambasted about them?

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ISNT · 11/09/2010 21:05

"Ask a little black or brown girl in some poor neighborhoods about being expected to be virginal (a concept that depends on whiteness from the very beginning) until her wedding day. She?ll probably laugh at you. She?s been continually harassed, abused and assaulted since age six."

What feminists say that women must remain virginal until marriage? That would be a very strange statement for a feminist to make I would have thought.

Honestly it would be great to be pointed in the direction of what she is reacting against, because I have not seen these attitudes.

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ISNT · 11/09/2010 21:13

Sorry about a million posts in a row there Blush

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ISNT · 11/09/2010 21:26

Thinking some more, I can see her point aboutthe idea that people can make choices presupposes tehir ability to make those choices. And that people can be prevented from having free agency to make choices for all sorts of reasons.

What I don't understand is her examples, where she lists things that feminists say are the "correct" choice to make, and then says that come people have no choice. But the examples she gives aren't things that i recognise as being general feminist stances (maybe they are elsewhere in the world?). And the fact that she is lambasting feminists who look at the choices and say that one or another is the "correct/feminist" one, means that it is not choice feminists that she is attacking, but non-choice feminists (whatever they are called?).

eg a choice feminist would say that women should be able to choose whether or not to wear makeup. Some feminists (not that I've seen it on here) would then say that the correct feminist choice is no makeup. This overlooks the fact that some women are not able to choose whether or not to wear makeup - in her example due to disability, I suppose other reaosns could be cultural pressure, pressure from family/partner, no money, religious reasons etc etc etc.

So what is her final point? That because some women can't choose, feminists should not say that one choice if preferable to another? Because that excludes some women?

Sorry to keep going on, I am struggling to get a handle on what she's getting at.

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dittany · 11/09/2010 21:39

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NickOfTime · 11/09/2010 21:45

sorry - was really stream of consciousness around the subject, in line with sexuality/ disability discourses, personal experience etc, not referring to any articles in particular. (there's loads of stuff out there though)

i'm not sure that her specific points are valid (as i said upthread, her phraseology is about as good as mine lol - and the para about the little black or brown girl made me lose patience a bit) but rather that it was interesting to hear another voice who does not recognise choice feminism. but not because the choices are flawed by virtue of their restrictions in a male-dominated society, but by your own body. (or that society has imposed because your body does not fit the norm)

in the same way that whoever started the class thread didn't recognise the problems seen by mn feminists as relevant to her - (with due apols as can't remember her name) - she classed herself as a feminist, but felt that the feminist position on here (and in the media) was occupied by the white middle class woman.

i think it's weird that women who speak out against choice feminism would find her article irrelevant tbh. or need context - surely the only context necessary is that she is questioning the validity of choice feminism?

a little clumsy, and badly articulated in places if you're used to deciphering academic blah, but very interesting.

well, i found it interesting, anyway. Grin

but i suspect that without having a daughter with a disability it would have been nowhere near as interesting. often i find myself in a dilemma as to whether to foreground (and guard against) the issues she will face as a woman, or those she will face as a person with a disability.

it shouldn't be so.

she is an individual.

but as a woman, the 'choices' available to her are restricted.

as a woman with a disability, they become further restricted.

i was just interested in this from the pov of a writer who has been musing about feminism. in my opionion she should have skipped the culture/ races stuff and considered the subject further from the disability angle, but that's just me...

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JaneS · 11/09/2010 21:46

"Ask a little black or brown girl in some poor neighborhoods about being expected to be virginal (a concept that depends on whiteness from the very beginning) until her wedding day. She?ll probably laugh at you. She?s been continually harassed, abused and assaulted since age six."

That is a very strange statement. I know there's a long-standing association between whiteness and virginity, but how is it anything but metaphorical? As far as I know it's not an association that exists in, say, Eritrea, even though female virginity is also privileged in that culture.

Leaving aside the absolute patronizing bollocks about assuming all poor black girls get abused.

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NickOfTime · 11/09/2010 21:48

lol lrd, quite. but i ignored that and went with the questioning of choice bit...

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