The Shouty Woman

November 9, 2006

If there’s anyone still reading this…

Filed under: Feminism — by Lucy @ 1:50 pm

I’m back. Probably not permanently, but we’ll see. I’ve had bits of a post swirling about in my head for a while now, and thought I should get it down on paper (or at least screen) while I still know what I want to say. Apologies for the long, rambling nature of what follows.

I stopped blogging for various reasons, the main one being that I just didn’t know where I fitted in anymore in the (hideous phrase) feminist blogosphere. When I started this site I was fairly certain I knew what was what. Pornography and prostitution hurt women – all women. The feminist sites I visited confirmed and supported my beliefs. I identified, if not as a radical feminist, then as something pretty close.

Then all hell broke loose. As someone relatively young and without a long history in the feminist movement, the ‘sex wars’ were new to me, and I didn’t like what I was seeing. Suddenly I was being told that some sexual acts, even between consenting adults, were disgusting and wrong – that anyone who confessed to liking them was a liar, a ‘sexbot’, a victim of opression or simply not a feminist. Bloggers and commenters that I had previously thought of as liberal began espousing opinions that could just as easily have come from the Christian right.

It didn’t stop at sex. I learned that to be a true feminist I had to question every action, every thought, every aspect of my life. I could shave my legs, but only if I felt guilty about it. My love of clothes was not a positive thing, a sign of my growing confidence and love of my body – it was capitulating to patricarchal norms. Even my attraction to men came into question – apparently the more feminist ‘choice’ (as if sexual orientation is a bloody choice)was to opt for lesbianism. I began to question what I believed, and where my place was in this whole mess.

What I disliked most, I think, wasn’t the opinions in themselves, but the sheer bitterness and hostility directed at other women by bloggers whom I’d previously admired. If we were against porn because it hurt women, why was I seing post after post attacking women for their choices? Surely this hurt them too? I saw blogs I’d loved crack under the strain and disappear. I joined them, not because I’d come in for any personal abuse (unlike some), but because I no longer wanted to be part of a community that was tearing itself to pieces.

Although I stopped writing, Icontinued to read feminist blogs, including those of (for want of a better term) sex-positive feminists. While I disagreed with them – sometimes strongly – about certain issues, I found that there was plenty of common ground between us, particularly when it came to ideas of choice and bodily autonomy. Most importantly they agreed with me that attacking, belittling and insulting women was not, and never would be, feminism.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my beliefs, and I’m a little clearer about where I stand now. I’m not a radfem, and I don’t think I ever was, but nor am I at the other end of the spectrum. I’m in no-man’s land, poised between the trenches and watching the battle. It’s not a great place to be, but I’d rather be watching the battle than taking part. After all, this fighting is such a waste, when there are so many more important fights to be won. All over the world women’s rights are being denied and their bodily autonomy threatened. Why then are we attacking each other?

Unless we call a truce, it’ll be too late. One day we’ll switch off our computers, rejoin the real world and discover that while we’ve been fighting over who’s a better feminist, the real battles have already been lost.

We’re all feminists. Let’s not forget it.

Advertisements

15 Comments »

  1. You’re not in no-man’s land (interesting metaphor, by the way) but are more than likely experiencing sanity and rational thought. Any movement, position, theory or organization that pretends to understand what is “right” and – most importantly – what is “wrong” for everyone else should become automatically suspect.

    As a man who was raised in the 70’s in a progressive family, I have been horrified to find that feminism has been hijacked by the likes of those whom you describe in your post. The world is seldom black and white. Welcome to the mass of humankind and our state of persistent yet hopeful confusion.

    Comment by ach62 — November 9, 2006 @ 5:43 pm |Reply

  2. Welcome back.

    Comment by belledame222 — November 9, 2006 @ 6:51 pm |Reply

  3. Thanks. Not sure how often I’m going to post – I just wanted to articulate how I’m feeling. We’ll see how it goes.

    Comment by Lucy — November 9, 2006 @ 7:46 pm |Reply

  4. Hey, welcome back. I’m sorry about all the crap you saw happening – I didn’t really get it either. I mean, I felt that because I loved clothes, maybe I wasn’t a feminist; that my love of beautiful dresses, funky clothes and jewellery might be wrong. But I think that we all have something to offer feminism.

    While I don’t agree with pornography and prostitution (as I feel that these are not liberating and damage women’s sexuality), I think that if someone feels safe and comfortable and like they are making a choice that makes them happy by doing a certain thing (and are not bullied, coerced, blackmailed or told), then its up to them. I think we should be working together to fight sexism and doing some proper activism (reclaim the night, stickering, kicking up a fuss etc).

    Comment by Liz — November 10, 2006 @ 6:02 pm |Reply

  5. I am so pleased to see you back Lucy!

    I’m glad your time away has helped you become a little more clear about where you stand with things. You have a lot to say and I feel sad that a sense of ‘not belonging’ drove you away from your own blog.

    Something I’ve noticed about communities – particularly online communities – is that when the shouting gets loudest the more considered members withdraw. But often it’s the voices of the more considered members that are needed for the stability of the community as a whole.

    I’m not saying that I’ve never posted an angry comment anywhere – I have; and I think I’ve been pretty honest about it – but I don’t think I’ve ever been one of those ‘loudest shouters’. I don’t like the pack mentality and I do try to avoid it.

    And it makes me sad to know that you – and others – have felt silenced by definition. For some women radical feminism is an academic discipline, for others it’s a way of life. But the reality is it’s just another label – a descriptor that gives other people some idea of where you’re coming from.

    I know I identify as a radfem. I do so because things were a tad more clear when my personal journey began and maybe I hark back to those days too much. I don’t know. But if feminism is a journey (and I believe it is) then it’s important that, as feminists, we continually question our beliefs and practices in order to understand why we do what we do – not to condemn them as ‘wrong’, just to understand the politics behind them and to grow.

    I mean, look at me. I’ve identified as a radfem for decades but it’s only this year I was able to stop wearing make-up – I wasn’t ‘shamed’ into it, rather I was ‘abled’. I’ve been married. I have children. I currently live with a man and I love the very bones of him and we do lots of the sex thing in all kinds of ways that wouldn’t necessarily meet with the approval of a political lesbian but she’d understand and if she didn’t then her kind of feminism isn’t my kind of feminism.

    So I, for one, certainly wouldn’t expect you to be set-in-stone-perfect!

    It’s a journey Lucy. Long and painful (at times) but it’s a journey you can’t stop once you’ve started.

    I’m just glad you’re back.

    Comment by witchy-woo — November 11, 2006 @ 11:13 pm |Reply

  6. Hi Lucy it is not ‘no-mans land’ it is finding a centre of balance, a good place to be.
    Welcome back Sparks

    Comment by sparklematrix — November 13, 2006 @ 10:32 pm |Reply

  7. Hey Lucy, glad to see you back 🙂

    You know what? Screw everyone else! If you want to blog, for whatever reason, just write what you want to write, be who you want to be and don’t give a crap about what other people think. You are a fantastic person and your opinions are no less pertinent, interesting or important than anyone else’s, just as your feminist views are no less pertinent, interesting or important than anyone else’s. I’m a Laura feminist and I say and do what I want – so what if someone thinks I’m colluding with the patriarchy and am less of a feminist than them because I have a relationship with a man, because I like to fuck men? I know that I am not and that’s what matters. I felt exactly as you described not long ago – I loved feeling like I belonged in the radfem/antiporn community – but I came to realise that even if we do all hate porn, we are still v different people with v different views on certain things, and that’s OK because I don’t need other people to verify what I believe.

    Sorry for the personal rant, but I guess what I’m saying is: be a Lucy feminist. Be yourself and screw everyone else. You will feel so much better!

    Hope to see you at RTN,

    Laura xx

    Comment by laura — November 17, 2006 @ 12:27 am |Reply

  8. Thanks everybody.

    Laura – that’s really good advice which I should try harder to follow! I’ve always taken things too personally – I really need to have the courage of my own convictions and not worry so much about fitting into particular groups.

    I’m planning to come to RTN – maybe see you there! x

    Comment by Lucy — November 17, 2006 @ 9:17 pm |Reply

  9. Hi Lucy, glad you’re back.

    I agree with everything the Laura feminist up there says, fuck everyone else’s rules! You’re not a sheep, you’re an individual, and what makes you happiest is the right feminism for you.

    Lots of love,
    an Andrea feminist.

    Comment by Andrea — November 18, 2006 @ 6:16 pm |Reply

  10. Glad to see you back, Lucy! This post was beautifully written and well-articulated. I look forward to reading more of what you have to say!

    Comment by Amber — November 19, 2006 @ 5:28 am |Reply

  11. Thanks Amber. 🙂

    Comment by Lucy — November 19, 2006 @ 6:04 pm |Reply

  12. welcome back!

    Comment by antiprincess — November 19, 2006 @ 6:04 pm |Reply

  13. Great to see you back, Lucy. 🙂

    Comment by Laurelin — November 21, 2006 @ 7:18 pm |Reply

  14. […] And The Shouty Woman is back! After three months away thinking about her beliefs and re-evaluating her feminism Lucy is posting again. Her come-back post is thoughtful, honest and refreshing to read. […]

    Pingback by Witchy-woo is totally wowed… « Well I’ll Go To The Foot Of My Stairs… — November 22, 2006 @ 9:18 pm |Reply

  15. I’ve declared that I’m a “Some of y’all are driving me up the fucking wall, but it sure beats being a Concerned Woman For America” Feminist.

    Comment by Veronica — November 30, 2006 @ 12:21 am |Reply


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: