Feminism requires nuance, not sloganeering

4

2012/07/09 by admin

Mic Wright

The list of things I hate is so long that I am currently having it professionally bound together to form an encyclopaedia of irritations, gripes and complaints. One item that is definitely set to make the cut is the “This Is What A Feminist Looks Like” t-shirt and everything that goes along with it.

The trouble with the term “feminist” and pretty much all the tropes of feminism is that most academics and writers focused on the issue are deep in a decades long trench warfare on defining terms and explaining how feminists who are different to them are wrong.

If Jon Bon Jovi gave love a bad name, then Julie Bindel gives feminism a bad name. Julie, who writes extensively in the UK media both for The Guardian and that fetid pit of churnalist guff, The Huffington Post, regularly writes pieces that are hateful towards men and prescriptive towards women.

Here’s two examples: her Guardian piece headlined “Why I Hate Men” and her recent Huffington Post article about the politics of sex which essentially posited that bisexuals are just kidding themselves and that women should become lesbians as a political move.

I would define myself as a feminist. I believe that women are as capable as men. I believe in wage equality, in reproductive rights, in the right of a woman to make her own choices sexually, philosophically, educationally and socially.

I believe I am more feminist than Julie Bindel. I also accept and understand that sexuality is a broad spectrum, that what happens behind each person’s bedroom door is their own business, that dominant women in business can be submissive women in bed and vice versa.

A swift gear change here: my mother is the boss of our family. If we were a crime syndicate she is the godmother. But my dad is the figure we roll out when we want to make complaints, when we need a more aggressive face to present to the world. Conversely, he is also the one who does the lion’s share of the cooking and cleaning while my mum is a senior figure in her industry.

For me, to be truly feminist is to accept that women can and should be allowed to make all the same choices as men but to also realise that partnerships require compromise, that traditional gender stereotypes have some basis in fact though they can always be subverted or adjusted in individual circumstances.

To be dominant as a man in a sexual relationship with a woman is not to condone violence against women or to disrespect your partner. Human relationships are nuanced, complex things. The problem with many prominent feminists such as Julie Bindel is that they speak in the block capitals sloganeering of a dying 1970s argument.

4 thoughts on “Feminism requires nuance, not sloganeering

  1. jemima101 says:

    My own thoughts on this topic were entitled Fuck off Julie Bindel. AnotherAngryWoman gives a slightly more nuanced reply http://stavvers.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/wheres-the-politics-in-julie-bindel/
    She is simply a troll, paid because she creates internet hits and pushes up the advertising revenue. I think the policy Mailwatch takes towards her male counterpart (Richard “couldnt make it up but frequently does ” Littlejohn, is the only sensible one. Ignore everything she produces and stop feeding the cycle which gets her paid.

  2. The Julie Bindel school of feminist thought has always been the one that I think confuses and repels people from thinking about feminism and gender equality. It doesn’t leave any room for there to be men who aren’t patriarchal rapists or for straight women to be themselves without it being some kind of reprehensible political choice. After chatting about it with straight, bi and gay friends we all agreed it was best ignored.

  3. hetpat says:

    As someone on my twitterfeed put it:

    “Live your life in such a way as to piss off Julie Bindel”

    About covers it.

  4. jemima101 says:

    @Hetpat, on the wondrous Dr Magnanti’s sexonomics she gives pride of place to a comment from Bindel “I disagree with just about everything she has to say” . I would quite like that on my tombstone.

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