There’s a huge resistance to examining our personal life, and how The Rule Of Men influences our likes, dislikes, fears, aspirations. We think feminism is about the right to choose, which explains the popularity of third-wave feminism. We think that, as long as a woman ”chooses” to be a stay at home mom, everything’s A-OK. That we need not ask why she ”chose” to look after the children. Because, hey, it’s her choice, right?
Another problem is the resistance to group identity, and identifying with a group. We want to believe we’re free agents, who do things because we want to. Because we’re special snowflakes.
And hey, I, too, want to feel special. And I am, in certain ways: my mix of circumstances plus the things that have happened to me, are unique. But I share almost everything else with other people: race, nationality, education level, sex, gender, etc.
And there’s a reason why I’m sitting where I’m sitting right now: my curious mix of circumstances led me here. The ‘tribes’ I belong to influence my life in many ways: I want to ‘fit in’ with the ”cool kids”; I want to keep my job; and I want others to know I’m acceptable. So my behaviour changes to raise my social status, or to prevent social penalties. And other people are the same. Everything I do influences someone else in some way. Something becomes ”normal” when many people do it. Something like bungee-jumping, tattoos, ”sex change” operations.
It’s time to ask ourselves questions.
I can extend these questions to the things we do under The Rule Of Men: penis-in-vagina sex, wearing makeup, wearing high heels, getting pregnant, having heterosexual relationships, using birth control, etc. There are many influences on the everyday decisions we make. And we may not even know all the things that influence us.
The feminism I advocate, shall analyse everything we do under The Rule Of Men. This type of feminism shall acknowledge that we do not operate in a vacuum – everything has a context. And analysing issue X does not mean we’re judging the women who do the things that X entails. This last one is the hardest to realise, especially when dealing with issues such as BDSM, prostitution, and other things we’d like to label as ”personal choice”.
This idea takes us right back to the second-wave slogan ”the personal is political”. The slogan contrasts with individualism, especially the hyper-individualism of third-wave feminism. The slogan owes its origin to the materialist tradition that gave us Marxism. The tradition that sees the community as the basic building block. Not the individual. Because if the individual were the basic building block, we wouldn’t have racism or sexism. We’d have one or two individuals who do shitty things. And the shitty things would not find their way into our law system, or our philosophical traditions, or medicine, or our marriage laws.
Women’s liberation needs an analytical approach. And critiquing the choices we make is not a judgement on the women who need to survive under The Rule Of Men. If anything, it’s a judgement on men, not women.
Let’s analyse, sisters. Let’s figure out where, how, why, things fell apart for women. Let’s figure out why so many of us seem to be attracted to ”tall, dark and handsome” men whose physiques make it so much easier for them to hurt us physically. Coincidence, much? Or what about the other ”choices” we make? To create ”feminist porn” or to dabble in ”hipster racism”, which is normally known as plain old racism? Do we ”like” penis-in-vagina sex because we want to please the peen? Or because they’ll call us ”frigid” or ”prudish” if we don’t put out? Do we really like it, and why?
No choice sprang out to us, free from any influence. This is a sad and a scary thought. I mean, think about it. Why do we forget to do something? It’s because of a mix of things that either happened or didn’t happen to us. This means we have no free will aka ”agency” in feminist work. We still have criminal responsibility and we can still change our behaviour, but everything’s dependent on the things that influence us.
It’s in our best interests to look at the source code of our society. We might discover the program’s buggy, after all, and that high heels, burlesque, porn, and femininity ain’t as empowerfulising or as much of a ”free choice” as it seemed. We need to challenge everything, even that which seems so integral to our humanity.