Well, shift number 3 this week. Here’s hoping. One guy just walked in and couldn’t cope with the price. I feel a bit stupid for not negotiating down or at least getting him in the room first. Fuck. Anyways. I’ve been thinking a lot lately (oh noes!). About feminism. And me. This relationship got off to a rocky start, but a few years in we really started to get eachother. I felt like it explained everything- it helped me come to terms with and actively address my abuse history. It framed the world in a way that made sense to me. Keep in mind that I was reintroduced to feminism by a working class, queer, ecofeminism woman of color skirting the 2nd/3rd wave line within a green anarchist subculture. I’m not that well read, but what I have read of feminist lit is mostly q/woc and sex worker anthologies, feminist/working class fiction, and trans theory type stuff. Almost exclusively 3rd wave. So this whole gender essentialist/anti-sex worker/anti butch/femme thing is almost a novelty to me. Like, these people actually exist? Not in my world! Point being, the feminisms I’ve learned are very open, both including and extending far far beyond “women’s issues.”

Yet, my perspective has been limited in a very essential way until recently. I haven’t understood that to most people, feminism is an exclusive and/or taboo label. Thus, the “angry loud feminist” stereotype. It’s a way for mainstream culture to deny the relvance of feminism, because it’s a threatening set of ideas to the patriarchy, by writing off feminists as crazy and hysterical. Which is shitty. But I wonder, is this portrayal not also coming from people who have, in turn, been written off by feminists? Since labeling my world views as “feminist,” I’ve been very defensive of the word, especially when people I see as radical pull the “I’m not a feminist, but…” line. You ARE a feminist! Don’t you see?!

But maybe they aren’t. Maybe I’ve just been using this title in a way that’s empowering to me, yet very far from the common usage. After work last night, I ran into a friend at the coffee shop and we, not surprisingly, got on the topic of first world feminism vs. the experiences of women in the mid century Soviet Union. I realized not far into the conversation that I’ve had this voice in my head saying “they just don’t understand that feminism applies to them,” in regards to the general rejection of western feminism in Russia and the USSR. The assumption behind that statement, though, is that I understand other women’s experience better than they do. And therefore, they must be stupid and I’m really really smart.  And I realized, this is a really colonial way of thinking, and it’s pretty damn common, too. And it’s bullshit. Western feminism isn’t accepted by most soviet women because it doesn’t apply. Right to abortions? Been done. Equal pay? Yep. Right to work? Less, please! Rejection of feminity and gender roles? Seriously?

Is it a surprise that this realization comes shortly after being accused of being “anti-feminist” for being a sex worker? I thought feminism had evolved, or something, to be more inclusive, smarter. It’s not surprising, knowing the history of the rifts between radical LGBTQs and feminists, and other such ideological divides based upon the refusal of so called feminists to acknowledge difference. There will never be one faith, identity, or theory to sum up the experiences of everyone everywhere. Straight white first world feminism is relevant to straight white first world feminists, and may be a tool of liberation to them, but what about everyone else? I’m not saying that an ideology that has been empowering to one is “bad” because it’s not empowering to all. But as long as feminists, or white people (the rift between white queers and QPOC sounds similar) decide that their ideology is the ONE, and that those of us who “don’t understand” are just stupid or crazy or “not radical,” it will be alienating. And to those who have to bend their identities to fit into said ideology, it’ll be colonizing.

Feminism, I thought I knew you, maybe there’s too many sides of you to keep track of, but I’ve been holding onto you for so long now. I thought you were an ideology that you’re not. And now I know, it’s ok to go out in the world without you, still fighting the same fights, retaining what I see as a radical ideology, without worrying that I have to “defend” your name.

I hate to essentialize the issue, but why is it so damn hard to accept that people are just different.

Also, OMG. Wait for the song. This is now my “pick me up” song. Next up “I watched a girl play accordion on youtube and I liked it.”

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