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    Saturday, October 14, 2006

    It's Official: I'm Not A Feminist

    For a long time, I really thought I should keep identifying as a "feminist", even when I hated everything I saw of feminism, as a sort of rehabilitation of the term, or a claiming of it, or something.

    But now I wonder: when I say I'm a feminist, am I actually just dredging up a bunch of crap I don't want spread around. So, for the moment, I'm avoiding it.

    I don't want to link to the blogs that are making me furious right now, so I won't. Suffice it to say, I'm sick of the thoughtlessness, the pettiness, the racism, and classism that go unacknowledged and/or willfully misunderstood. I'm sick of the hypocrisy and the bizarre sense of ownership. I'm exhausted by the mind-numbing sameness and, frankly, intellectual emptiness, of most "feminist" discussion.

    I could discuss the burqa thing or the disturbing consideration of the "choice to wax" or the stupid Playboy-Pandagon thing, but all of those have been tackled with aplomb by bloggers I respect. I want to talk, briefly, about the whole "Amp's a sell-out!" controversy.

    I have a few things to say about that.

    1. Unless it is actually your blog, not just a place you enjoy commenting, then it's not your blog. All these ideas around the blogosphere about how it's a blog propreitor's duty to protect people from stuff they don't like - grow the fuck up, people. I've seen it in the past when someone didn't immediately ban someone who was an anti-feminist. And now this. Amp doesn't owe you anything. You should feel lucky that he entertains your complaints at the frequency he does.
    2. Maia was awesome in admitting how she'd done something for money that she didn't support politically. If you have not, you must be pretty wealthy or ascetic. It's a basic precept of capitalism that we all become complicit in our own oppression. It reminds me of a "real life" feminist group I was involved in (back in my youth) wherein one member wanted another member out because that member worked at Loreal cosmetics. Again: grow the fuck up, people.
    3. If you can't handle running in into porn, you may want to get off the internet. Because I don't think you'll like it much. The other option is to set your homepage to The Margins and never, NEVER click a link or check your email again. (I'm not saying you can't critique what you see.)

    (Right about now, Amp is going, "Why did EL jump to my defense!? Shut up, EL!" :) )

    Recently, a certain someone called the burqa issue a "flame war". Why? Because the uproar over something like Amp's selling his domain name, sadly, matches the intensity of people's critique of the appropriation of a burqa. Whether your waxing appointment is grounds for revocation of your feminist card warrants as much fevered commenting as the class considerations of a $40 wax. Seriously fucked-up priorities. So nothing looks bigger or more important than a petty "flame war".

    Okay, so am I really "not a feminist"? I don't know if I'm quite ready to say that because I don't want feminism, a movement to which I've devoted quite a lot of time and energy, to be totally stupid. But ... let's just say that, for the first time, I'm beginning to think that shedding the label wouldn't be much of a loss to me.


    Anonymous eninnej said...

    I hear you, EL. I've identified as a feminist for more than half my life, and I'm loath to give it up, but I am so incredibly weary of the 'we decide who belongs in our club and what it's okay to do and talk about as club members' attitude that so many self-identified 'feminists' seem to have.

    10:33 PM  
    Blogger Winter said...

    I actually had a nightmare about the Alas thing last night. I can't believe the feminist blogologosphere is now giving me nightmares.

    In this dream, another feminist blogger had written a post about my hypocrisy (in de-linking Mind the Gap from Alas), but worse she had found out my real identity and named me throughout her post.

    I think this dream reminds me about the issues of power at play in the whole argument.

    A lot of people are calling Ampersand 'Barry' now that they are able to take power over him.

    Very powerful things names.

    2:35 PM  
    Blogger Corinne said...

    ok. pause.

    i have no idea what you're talking about.

    but go for a long walk in the park, or somewhere. and think about feminism without looking at the blogosphere.

    blogofeminism - sure leave it. actual feminism. i'm not sure.

    9:01 PM  
    Blogger Winter said...

    You don't want to know. It's too late for us, but maybe you can still save yourself! Save yourself!

    6:40 AM  
    Anonymous Jay said...


    and fwiw, i lost/relinquished my feminist card a long time ago.

    3:37 PM  
    Blogger Jean said...

    Oh, EL, welcome to the ExFem Club. Well, I guess I'm in the same place wrt Feminist blogging, with some notable exceptions. And yeah, what corinne said.

    4:28 PM  
    Blogger Omnipotent Poobah said...

    Cap'n Dyke made me an honorary lesbian. Wanna borrow my membership card?

    9:59 PM  
    Blogger antiprincess said...

    some days it feels like I've cracked open a particularly tight exoskeleton and wriggled out to face the world in a shiny new skin that gives me more room to grow.

    other days it feels like I've lost my best friend.

    10:44 PM  
    Blogger Winter said...

    To be fair,feminist blogland doesn't have much effect on my feminist identity because I don't accept that feminist bloggers represent FEMINISM. And I have never in my life seen real-life feminists behave in the way people do on blogs and in comments sections. THere is something about the medium which does seem to encourage the most appalling behaviour. I think feminist blogging does some positive things and there are some great thinkers writing, but overall I don't think it's particularly advancing feminist thinking much-- we seem to have bascially tbe same old arguments going round ad infinitum. That said, I'm not going to give up on feminist theory because some people behave badly on blogs.

    5:34 AM  
    Blogger EL said...

    First of all, y'all are great.

    Second of all, if the blogosphere were so very different from the feminism I've seen in activism, I might be able to look at this and go, "okay, this just isn't feminism, but I find myself thinking, "this is just like [insert IRL point of complaint]".

    But I like you all very, very much right now for coming and chatting.

    12:18 AM  
    Anonymous Agnostic said...

    I agree with eninnej.

    The willingness of feminist bloggers to crack down on those they disagree with is only matched, in my experience, by the willingness of, well, men to shut women's voices out of the public discourse.

    I think it goes to show that whoever has power in a particular place, even a minute one, is almost irresistably tempted to abuse it for oppression.

    11:13 AM  
    Blogger brownfemipower said...

    Second of all, if the blogosphere were so very different from the feminism I've seen in activism, I might be able to look at this and go, "okay, this just isn't feminism, but I find myself thinking, "this is just like [insert IRL point of complaint]".

    absolutly el--I couldn't agree more that feminism in the blogosphere is just like feminism in the real world--I mean, esp. in regards to race--I could tell you some seriously fucked up stories about the real world and race.

    7:29 PM  
    Blogger belledame222 said...

    yeah, I've always been skeptical that online anything is -that- different from real-world anything; sooner or later, you know, people get offline and move around in the "real world" also. well, not me, but i've heard about it. a lot of people do. lord knows people like the genderberg folks are busy li'l beavers.

    that said, i am with winter in the general "don't let the turkeys get you down" sentiment. if you find even a handful of smart, sane feminists that you click with, online or off--hell, even one--hell, even yourself--well, by Gaia, that counts; you are a feminist. fuck the rest of them. Did they take out a patent on the word? Have the little (c) copyright around their feminism? No? Then they can piss off.

    The real problem of course isn't that a bunch of people are pissing all over one's beloved label; the problem is that they are mucking up the commons and making previously enjoyed spaces uninhabitable.

    Which is why I for one unashamedly heralded the "Alas" crap as a good thing; so, Heart and g-m-r and the rest of that bunch will no longer sully themselves there? Don't let the door hit you, you know?

    seriously, i'm being horrible, i know, but sometimes i wonder if maybe that's the solution: use pr0n on various sites in the same way that one would nail up garlic and crucifixes to wield off vampires. oh, dear! Some People are no longer honoring us with their presence! whatever shall we do. oh, wait.

    12:08 PM  
    Anonymous MJ said...

    First time reader here. I may have misunderstood, but you're giving up an ideal because some people who are supposed to share this ideal are stupid? But stupid people are everywhere!
    To me feminists are people who share a dream, who are aware of the situation and are trying to change the status quo of the patriarchy. How they go about it and to what extent is up to them and varies greatly.
    That said: that feminism has become a seeming synonym for angry lesbian man-haters is annoying, that feminists are trying to label each other is just weird and I can't blame you for wanting to get out of that. So drop the name, keep the ideals.

    10:51 AM  

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