Well, i've never been a fan of feminists, experientially. The whole stereotype, along with the various characters that fit the stereotype to a tee, averted my eyes from the movement for a while. And, while I'm still opposed to many things, and rest, happily, as a complimentarian (though I hate the label), my eyes have been opened as of late to a few things that are, i think, important words from my feminist sisters.
Celia Wolf-Devine. I love what she does in an essay called "Abortion and the Feminine Voice." Its so clever and well, logical. Since, in general, feminists favor an "ethic of care" that elevates relationships, interconnectedness, and, yes, our responsibility to care for others, adherents tend to take this to its "logical" conclusion: an unqualified right to an abortion. Celia, as a feminist, sees things a little differently (and thus was a part of the initial prying open of my eyes to anything that looked in the least bit like a woman in business slacks wrote it...all in jest, all in jest :).
"If masculine thought is naturally hierarchical and oriented towards power and control, then the interests of the fetus (who has no power) would naturally be suppressed in favor of the interests of the mother. But to the extent that feminist social thought is egalitarian, the question must be raised of why the mother's interests should prevail over the child...The woman is supposed to have the sole authority over the child, but what of her interconnectedness with the child and with others? Both she and the child already exist within a network of relationships...Quite simply, abortion is a failure to care for one living being who exists in a particularly intimate relationship to oneself...But clearly those who defend unrestricted access to abortion in terms of such things as the woman's right to privacy or her right to control her body are speaking in the language of an ethics of justice rather than an ethics of care."
I mean, rock it Celia. (nice name, by the way) It is interesting to see how the feminist movement has defined itself, and I wish to do more research on the matter. These things she points out seem blatantly inconsistent, and yet she is the minority amidst a growing population of people who wish to deny systems based on rights, while still claiming the rights they want. Contradictions? Yup.
Alright, another feminist rockstar--Catherine A MacKinnon. The topic she wishes to address? Porn. And address it she does in her essay "The Real Harm of Pornography." You could say that this piece is a bit more of what one might expect from a "typical feminist," but I also think that if i didn't defend something "typically feminist" in this blog post then I would really just be ripping on feminists by using their own kind against them, and thus, i defend...or allow her to defend for herself, which she certainly can do (and she doesn't need a man's help..gosh darnit...again, only joking.)
"The fact that pornography, in a feminist view, furthers the idea of the sexual inferiority of women, a political idea, does not make pornography a political idea. That one can express the idea a practice expresses does not make that practice an idea. Pornography is not an idea any more than segregation or lynching are ideas, although both institutionalize the idea of one group to another...Pornography is the essence of a sexist social order, its quintessential social act..."
"The law of the First Amendment comprehends that freedom of expression, in the abstract, is a system but fails to comprehend that sexism (and racism), in the concrete, are also systems. As a result, it cannot grasp that the speech of some silences the speech of others in a way that is not simply a matter of competition for airtime. That pornography chills women's expression is difficult to demonstrate empirically because silence is not eloquent (if i may interject...WHAT A BRILLIANT SENTENCE)."
"Social systems are not isolated systems...If pornography is systemic, it may not be isolable from the system in which it exists. This does not mean that no harm exists. It does mean that because the harm is so pervasive, it cannot be sufficiently isolated to be perceived as existing according to this model of causality...The dominant view is that pornography must cause harm just as car accidents cause harm, or its effects are not cognizable as harm. The trouble with this individuated, atomistic, linear conception of injury is that the way pornography targets and defines women for abuse and discrimination does not work like this. It does hurt individuals, just not as individuals in a one-at-a-time sense, but as members of the group women..To reassert atomistic linear causality...is to refuse to respond to the true nature of this specific kind of harm."
I think that perhaps I why I liked these essays so much is that it is my own tendency to seek out faults in systems, or general systemic response (call me a critic), and both of these women do an excellent job of critiquing the illogical conclusions that have, repeatedly, been drawn within different frameworks--be they feminist, or democratic. Thanks guys, i mean, ladies (please pardon my use of a word that is, quite obviously, a result of a masculine system).