My notes for this post looked really quite respectable. Nested bullet points and margin notes, little stars pointing out the bits I felt might be a bit weak... good stuff over all. This was meant to be an even-handed look at "radical" feminism and how it seems to be not merely at odds, but openly hostile, to other forms of feminism and even rational criticism. Turning my attention to the previously mentioned stars, I began researching some of the issues I hoped to explore in greater detail. Minute by minute spent perusing self-identified radical feminist blogs I felt my mindset shifting, my attitudes changing, until one overwhelming thought filled my mind.
It's not just that these women don't speak for me, and they most certainly do not, it's the way they demonize anyone that disagrees, regardless of how reasonable that disagreement might be. It's the unbearable notion that they alone are capable of analyzing the thoughts and intentions that originated in the minds of others. It's the insistence that women are victims, whether they consider themselves victims or not and its the frequent villainization of heterosexual relations and sexual compromise.
To be clear, I consider myself a "sex positive" feminist - a title that automatically earns me the derision of radical feminists. My position that heterosexual sex is not automatically lacking in consent due to the patriarchal nature of society firmly places me in many of their cross-hairs. It's quite possible, in fact, that most of my sexual attitudes and beliefs run aground of radical feminist doctrine. While I've mentioned in the past how deflating it is for me to be sexualized in an academic context, I do not condemn my being sexualized in any context and I find it intensely insulting to be told that such attitudes brand me a "rape apologist" or that they're simply a result of my stubborn refusal to admit that I'm simply spouting what the patriarchy feeds me in order to stay in their good graces.
This post was intended to be an intellectual comparison between radical and sex-positive or moderate forms of feminism. Sitting down to write it, however, I realized there's simply no point. I've long held issue with the term "radical" feminism because it seemed intentionally dismissive and degrading. Today I've realized I have a new issue with the term. While "radical" may be descriptive of many of their ideas, "fundamentlist" is far more descriptive of many of their attitudes. I find little use in debating fundamentalists of any stripe. Having lost my original focus for this post I find myself struggling to pin down it's purpose... and I come only to this:
Fundamentalist feminists do not speak for all women. They deserve a spot at the table, as do all women, but they are not the ruling authority. I will continue to determine, as do all women, what behavior is and is not acceptable to me. I will continue to seek out and support those women who, like Greta Christina, so eloquently mirror many of my opinions. I will learn, somehow, to laugh at the transparent demonization of women by those who claim to be fighting for their equality. Fundamentalist thought is not free thought, regardless of it's flavor or who is serving it up.
I wish I had a grandiose statement with which to end this post, but I don't. I suppose, in the end, I simply wanted to remind everyone that the loudest voices often belong to the minority and that the crowd isn't as hostile as it seems.