Sunday, November 09, 2008

Blaming the "Feminist Movement"

Another fascinating postcard at PostSecret reveals a not so big secret that many women feel about the Feminist Movement.  I long to meet this person and hear what is her full story and what exactly transpired to blame a "Movement" for her unhappiness. I have to be honest, though, and say that when I read it,  I immediately nodded and empathized. 

I knew what she was talking about.  It's hard to find happiness when the Feminist Movement (leave the F and M capitalized) ignores you.  Or has misled you (or continues to do so).  It's difficult to be "liberated"  when your desires, sexuality, choice, and culture are absent from the Agenda. The Feminist Movement has insulted and hurt me more times than I can count.  It has pissed me off to the point of tears and hurling books across the room because of its unapologetic history of racism and deliberate short-sightedness of womyn of color and international feminisms.  It has rained on my footpath with its pathetic "first, second, third waves" explanation of progression and its ruthless inability to prioritize critical analysis of race, class, religion, and citizenship.  

Women's and Gender academic programs have bulldozed its own field and played the Master in the house of so-called freedom.  What is particularly nauseating is the US feminist's inability to unglue herself from either her navel or mirror and pay attention to transnational issues where she is asked to not be a savior or charity worker to other causes, but a vessel of understanding and soldier of true feminist journalism; to tell the stories of marginalized and silenced womyn.

That was me, my anger, before.  That was MY ecdysis about a year ago.

And it is that truth that has bolstered me through so many disgusting episodes in the feminist blogosphere, in the political arena, and in media.  And it is the community of like-minded feminists with whom I find a safe haven and courage to say, still, I believe in feminisms, plural. I believe there is much to till and even more to plant.  I believe in womyn of color and that their voices are the future of this nation.

Whoever you are, dear postcard creator, I hope I can someday hear your story and find out what or from whom you learned about the Feminist Movement.  I hope that you find the untold stories of women who are living evidence of choice, accountability, and deep joy.  So, it with great respect to your secret and to sharing it with the internets that I share this with you:
Find your community.  Find your cause.  Build your feminism.  Build your movement.  There, inside that sacred piece of collaboration and relationship, where passion and energy still have breath, will be your happiness.

If I still relied upon mainstream Feminism for deep sages or guidance with its icons, fames, and blindspots, I'd be pretty unhappy, too.  Luckily, and this is my hope for you as well, I learned how to define myself in relation to, and sometimes despite, the Feminist Movement.


  1. Thank you for this small piece of truth.

  2. One of the things about that postcard that struck me was that (based on the little scribbled bits in between the main text) was that it seemed like a facile understanding of feminism in any of its forms. The parts that I can read blame feminism for validating men's desire for one night stands, the abolition of chivalry, and a decline in gentlemanly behavior.

    There are many things I think feminism (and its painful exclusionary practices) can be blamed for, but I'd venture to say that a decline in gentlemanly behavior isn't one of them.

    I think your response is beautiful and the most generous reading of the card that occurred to me. But I wonder if you and the writer are coming from the same place. (Or even if that matters.)

  3. FR - thanks for dropping by with warm words.

    Evil Fizz - you have great eyes! I could barely make out what the handwriting was behind it, but I was on similar lines with your thoughts. I just decided, since I couldn't read it in its entirety - to just look at what was clear and go from my own interpretation. I have a very strong sense that the postcard artist and I are not coming from the same place. But, I wanted to reflect and respond nonetheless. Thanks for stopping in!

  4. I wasn't able to read the fine print either, so my first instinct was, depending on the day I could have been the artist of that card.

    And then I read your words and they reaffirmed that we are nuturing feminisms through the voices and with communities of womyn of color/poc. I remembered I do have a home!

  5. Thanks for the sweet linkage, Sudy, and for this thoughtful and compassionate post. Sometimes it seems like "feminism makes me unhappy" as a statement gets viewed only through the lens of "I blame feminism for making me feel guilty for liking S/M!" types of stuff, which elicits eyerolls mostly instead of consideration. I say that as someone who is prone to eyerolling that type of thing, rather than having my first reaction be the open-mindedness and identification you have in this post. So thank you for that. xo


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