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Feminism doesn't confront its flaws?

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Jun. 16th, 2011 | 04:08 pm
posted by: secretrebel in feminism_lives

Deborah Orr has a piece in the Guardian today... (and I've just realised my previous post was from the Guardian too) about feminism.

Why is feminism still so afraid to focus on its flaws?

It begins with the contention that what most exasperates feminists is other women who don't call themselves feminists. (While this does irritate me on one level it's not the thing that most enrages me as a feminist!) Orr trots out some old stereotypes which feminism hasn't shaken off and moves into recessionomics as a reason feminism isn't catching hold with the current generation.

Orr claims that the flaws feminism hasn't addressed are:
- "the blunt and somewhat stubborn emphasis on 'equality'"
- "At its most strident, feminism can be mistaken for an ideology designed to make women feel they are wrong to want [to be a primary carer for children]"
- "feminism has accidentally promoted the idea that it's pretty easy to work and have children, with the right support in place"
- "Pro-choice minds have to be closed to the idea that science can alter the age of foetal viability, because such acknowledgement, even in theory, might offer succour to pro-lifers."

I really disagree with all of this. Also with Orr for using words like strident and stubborn in regard to feminism/feminists! The emphasis on equality isn't wrong, it's not being a primary carer but being EXPECTED to be a primary carer that concerns feminists, no one ever said it's easy to work and take care of kids, and WTF is this thing about pro-choice people being anti science?

Additionally, what really grins my gears is Orr's bald contention that after you have children "Your priorities change. Work is no longer the most important thing, for a while anyway. Ambition can dissipate." What is this anecdata?! It might be the case for some women but not for all and what about men, are they subject to this alleged effect?

Oh it makes me cross. Which in turn probably makes me humourless. I can feel my legs getting hairy and my libido more lesbian.

What do community members think? Does feminism refuse to confront its flaws? Are these 'flaws' correctly identified? Is it just me who wonders what Orr's been smoking?

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Comments {16}

Sushidog

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from: sushidog
date: Jun. 16th, 2011 03:19 pm (UTC)
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So emphasising equality is a flaw? That's... it... but.... what is this I don't even...

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Sushidog

(no subject)

from: sushidog
date: Jun. 16th, 2011 03:38 pm (UTC)
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Alsol, right, this; "feminism has accidentally promoted the idea that it's pretty easy to work and have children, with the right support in place". Well, yeah, it is. If you're a man. No-one ever wonders whether that's the case for men. And if it's the case for men, then actually, it _can_ be the case for women; that's just common sense, isn't it?

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etoile_violet

(no subject)

from: etoile_violet
date: Jun. 16th, 2011 04:03 pm (UTC)
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Ha - I came here to say exactly this.

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Jamie Hankins

(no subject)

from: wight1984
date: Jun. 16th, 2011 05:01 pm (UTC)
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My thoughts exactly.

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M'lisilinaath Thabana

(no subject)

from: naath
date: Jun. 16th, 2011 03:34 pm (UTC)
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I think feminism has flaws as a movement, it's often overly focused on middle-class white women for instance. But I certainly don't think those things listed there are "flaws" in feminism.

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Secret Rebel

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from: secretrebel
date: Jun. 16th, 2011 03:48 pm (UTC)
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Yes, that's a good one and something that Orr completely misses.

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imighthaveknown

(no subject)

from: imighthaveknown
date: Jun. 16th, 2011 03:37 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, I don't see several of them as flaws (like promoting equality in what sounds like just an "unladylike" manner), and the ones that WOULD be flaws, are straight up untrue. Feminism as a movement certainly has flaws, but none of them are listed here.

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The Lady (Marina)

(no subject)

from: the0lady
date: Jun. 16th, 2011 03:39 pm (UTC)
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The circular firing squad and the formation navel gaze are mandatory qualifying exercises for every fledgling feminist community. Only someone who knows absolutely nothing about feminism - *or* its flaws - could have written that dumb article.

But Orr has always been muddled and maddening; I think they brought her over from the Indie to dilute the progressive stew at G2 and garner some approving comments below the line for a change.

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bagfish

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from: bagfish
date: Jun. 16th, 2011 08:40 pm (UTC)
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The more I read her column, the less I like what Orr has to say. She's become more irritating by the week, mainly because she makes sweeping, ill-informed or downright incorrect statements about things that she doesn't appear to know very much about.

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etoile_violet

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from: etoile_violet
date: Jun. 16th, 2011 04:21 pm (UTC)
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"At its most strident, feminism can be mistaken for an ideology designed to make women feel they are wrong to want [to be a primary carer for children]"

All movements have extremists. It'd be nice if they didn't, but that's not the case. The problem is when society concentrates on those extremists as if they're the norm, thus causing the misconception she talks about - and this happens far too often with mainstream views of feminism. That's a flaw of misogynistic society though, not feminism.

I too shudder at the word 'strident'. At least she refrained from 'hysterical', I suppose.

I also had some serious misgivings about some of her points in this article (e.g. the idea that you shouldn't wear a vest and short skirt - presumably not even if it's a hot day - if you don't want to be treated as if you're sexually available).

Edited at 2011-06-16 04:22 pm (UTC)

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1ngi

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from: 1ngi
date: Jun. 16th, 2011 05:39 pm (UTC)
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Ha - perhaps Orr is hoping her misgivings will get taken notice of by FeminismTM HQ's PR department so that they can give her an official response. Oh wait, there isn't one? Well how do they expect to be taken seriously if they don't organise themselves! This was the trouble with that anti apartheid lot if you remember...

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1ngi

(no subject)

from: 1ngi
date: Jun. 16th, 2011 05:42 pm (UTC)
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Now I want to set up a website for FeminismTM HQ so that it can have a 'press & media' button to click on. I wonder how many column inches I could get with lazy journos cut-n-pasting my press releases...

*fantasises*

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The Lady (Marina)

(no subject)

from: the0lady
date: Jun. 17th, 2011 08:15 am (UTC)
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OH GOD DO IT RIGHT NOW PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE

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anthrokeight

(no subject)

from: anthrokeight
date: Jun. 16th, 2011 05:56 pm (UTC)
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I would say my first concern as a flawed feminist is being late to the intersectionality game. Coddling privileged women who think since they are doing okay so there must be no problems (I am looking at you, Orr) is not.

This was a really terrible article. And I, not being in an accommodating mood, would like to tell the author so.

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bagfish

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from: bagfish
date: Jun. 16th, 2011 08:42 pm (UTC)
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I read the article this evening and had pretty much the same reaction as the OP. I'm really glad that this has been raised here as I was thinking that I was alone in my reaction (over-reaction?) to her ill-informed and irritating opinions. And the pro-choice dig was incredibly patronising and again, ill-informed.

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The grumpton

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from: annifa
date: Jun. 17th, 2011 08:53 pm (UTC)
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The women in the pictures are the activists I am an activist with!! The blonde woman at the back has written an EXCELLENT response so hopefully it will be printed/published soon.

I was very cross with the article, and then spent the morning being patronised on Twitter about it by a friend's husband. Helen addresses all the points raised in this thread in her response so fingers crossed!

ETA for random wrong wordage!

Edited at 2011-06-17 08:53 pm (UTC)

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