Now, the only person who's said anything that's made me reconsider that position is Megan, who basically said, don't let the fuckers own the label. Not in those words, I'm obviously paraphrasing, please don't take that out on her. Now, I think about stuff, deeply and often slowly: balance, consider, see how a piece of information or an idea fits with other information and ideas, weigh costs and benefits. You can pretty much take for granted that by the time I start verbal evisceration to defend my position, I've thought about it long enough to feel sure.
And the other day I tweeted:
Also, let me make this announcement publicly. @MeganWegan wins. While I'll never use it without the 'sex-positive' tag, I am a feminist.
Less than a week later, and I'm already having it called "lifestyle feminism" as opposed to "educated, useful" feminism. And in exactly the fight I didn't want to have. Cause, see, if I wanted to be a "proper" feminist, apparently I should have been reading books, not getting first- and second-hand experience of male-on-female violence and coercion.
So let me, in no particular order of importance, talk about my feminism. Possibly not very coherently, as I am tired, ill and angry.
- all freedoms are, at heart, freedoms of choice. There is no value, for instance, in having the right to vote if you have no choice about who to vote for. So any attempt to pressure an individual to the point where they lose choice (into a particular profession, out of a particular sexual practice) is an attack on freedom. I do not understand why "choice feminism" is a negative term, or is viewed as simplistic, when it allows me to support a woman's choice to wear a burqa, and her choice to wear a bikini.
- my feminism supports and embraces all consensual sexual choices. Vanilla sex, group sex, gay sex, consensual sex work and pornography, BDSM and other kink, polyamory and (just as importantly) asexuality and celibacy. It does not support telling anyone what kind of sex they should have, or broad statements about what kind of sex women (or men) enjoy.
- my feminism is not interested in excluding men from anything. I think it's important to acknowledge that sexism is damaging to men as well as women, and that it's good for everyone to have men involved in CONSTRUCTIVE discussions of sex and sexual politics. It also acknowledges that men exist who are victims of rape and domestic violence, physically and emotionally. It acknowledges that men are not inherently horrible, and therefore an individual man should not be excused when he is.
- my feminism acknowledges, and is grateful for, the gains made for women over history - the right to vote, to equal pay, to own property in marriage and decide who they marry for themselves, every step that has been taken to help me govern my own life. I'm very aware of the freedoms I have that my mother didn't. I also know that, because so much has changed, the fights women face now are different, and may require different tools and forms of action.
- activism can be positive, fun and frivolous and still be effective. Even if all a particular event or discussion does is make a bunch of women feel better, that's a gain. And TOFO and Boobquake didn't actually preclude anyone from taking "proper, serious" action. We understand they're not for everyone, but they are for us. I think it is actually okay to feel good about myself.
- women need to acknowledge their own privilege. If you are a white middle-class well-educated straight vanilla woman in a stable relationship, you actually have bucketloads of privilege. Respect that when you speak, and try not to speak about people further down on the ladder without speaking TO them.
- my feminism is interested in what you think, say and do. It is not interested in whether you call yourself a feminist (or a socialist, or an environmentalist) or not.
- my feminism is extremely tempted to say, if you find all this so enraging and disgusting, do us both a favour and just fuck off out of my face.