Who Gets To Be a Feminist?
I am wary of the kind of feminism that views itself as an exclusive club, that provides at the door a checklist of beliefs and requires of all members a mind-numbing blandness and sameness. I admit I write this as someone who herself would not be allowed into the club for the occasional rogue view, but I am suspicious of a movement that wants to dictate a checklist of ideology, that wants to project into the world a party line of acceptable beliefs. Instead, to be vibrant and strong and relevant, feminism should include people with disparate and conflicting views; it should have room for Mary Wollstonecraft, and Emma Goldman, and Camille Paglia, and Christina Hoff Sommers. It should have room for those who are, for instance, pro- and anti-choice. Once we start itemizing: She is allowed, she is not allowed—admittedly a schoolyard instinct women seem to love and don’t ever really outgrow—we have to ask who gets to choose? Who will make that list, and where will it end? Instead those feminists who are so incensed at this incursion on their territory should take a step back and look at the big picture. Remember how disturbing it was to left-leaning people when politicians were tarred with the phrase ‘card-carrying liberal’, how distressing to the right minded that the word liberal itself should be such a slur, such a damning condemnation? Here we suddenly have the opposite problem. Everybody wants to be a feminist. Everybody is clamoring to be a feminist.