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I call this particular issue the “YUCK!/YAY!” feminist phenomenon.
Here’s how it looks:
Feminist A: “I think it’s feminist when I wear____/behave like _____/ my significant others do _____ to me”
Feminist B ” What you think is feminist really SQUICKS ME THE FUCK OUT but you like it so jolly good times.”
(Just look at those feminist Alphabet people tolerating each other)
Why doesn’t Feminist B like Feminist A’s “feminist” acts? If they are discussing acts for their feminist value, isn’t Feminist B saying she, likely, doesn’t find Feminist A’s interests very feminist? Oh no pisaquari, it’s just not her cup of tea. BUT WHY!
We won’t ever know because the conversation never gets that far. We are okay at stopping at tolerance. That’s our endpoint or goal. Tolerance. Apparently, telling everyone everything they do is fine and dandy or vaguely suggesting one just has “different preferences” suffices. Feminist B would never divulge her reasons because that would likely cause a riff or something equally terrible like a debate. There is no greater Cardinal-Rule-To-Break than:
thou shalt tolerate thy sister
But the missed truth in these passing’s of conversation is an unspoken difference of opinion on feminist values and definitions. Pretty important stuff! Likely kind of compelling and eye-opening, as well. But we care more about not rocking the boat than digging in, than getting a little messy (this is all so AMERICAN the more I type it). And by ignoring these signifiers of root-level mutual exclusions, we are creating a dishonest movement. A false sense of sisterhood (and perhaps one of the reasons when shit hits the fan it REALLY HITS–we don’t have the means to fully express our disagreements b/c they go far too long unspoken and, so, we try to fit too much in in one breath).
What’s more, by valuing tolerance over dis-closure and upfront-ness, we further isolate ourselves. By never feeling our feminist values can shake up the ooey-gooey feelings of tolerance, we alienate ourselves at a very psychic level. This is a remarkably alone place to be in a movement that once promised so much more (I know, I’m sooo DoomsDay about this).
Were Feminist A and Feminist B talking, for instance, about the best ways to get their respective homes, the “YUCK!/YAY!” phenomenon might work. You live at different houses so you take different streets. But what happens when feminists stop showing up at the same house? If we scatter ourselves at an ideologically molecular level, what do we do then? Don’t we lose strength and purpose? Don’t we lose revolution?
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This is intended to be as short as it’s about to be.
Doing or thinking in a manner of opposites is not necessarily (and I would argue, hardly ever) a means of subversion. To reciprocate is to use the same original ingredients in perhaps a new way but the same ole junk pile nevertheless.
Oftentimes, people believe their particular mix is something revolutionary. If you dice instead of leave in large chunks, sprinkle this at this time instead of the other, convection bake instead of microwave (WHY the cooking metaphor you ask? I don’t know really).
And this action, of dwelling in the many versions of the same ingredients, is often a silencing tactic used by liberals, men and “great thinkers” alike. What they call “nuance” or “caveat” or “the spectrum” is merely a game of traipsing along a preset line or binary and seeing how many different ways they can land on the line. One never thinks, in this line of work known as flipping coins, to simply do away with the currency.