Feminism And Freedom




The reaction of the mainstream Feminist movement to the rise of an idea called “Choice Feminism”,  is probably the event that has done the most in recent years to reveal the true values that lie at that heart of that original movement.   Choice Feminism  declares that a philosophy that is truly interested in liberating women is one that will allow  individual women to live  whatever kind of lifestyle suits them as individuals. This is of course everyone’s natural understanding of the meaning of “liberty”. Mainstream Feminists have objected to this ideology in one of two ways. One approach has been to state  outright that  “Feminism is not about choice”.  It proclaims that women must  be concerned about the effects of their individual lifestyles on the  the plight of other women, and therefore they must  conform their lifestyle to the wider social objectives of the Feminist movement.  Feminism is not about the good of the individual, it is about the good of collective womanhood.  Under this theory It becomes one of a long line of ideologies preaching that the individual must surrender their autonomy for the sake of the collective.  Such Feminists may state that their goal is to  improve  the plight of women  (however we are to define the word “improve” independently of freedom) but they cannot state that their goal is to  liberate women.

The second approach is to argue that the individual is not actually free in the first place. As one feminist put it, while describing the actions of women who choose lifestyles inconsistent with Feminism:

When we valorize these women’s choices as entirely their own and inherently feminist, we stop asking why women make them...” [bold added for emphasis]

It is impossible for one to lay down any principle within an ideology that is more hostile to the idea  of individual liberty than one which questions the inherent capacity of a population to make their own decisions. Where will you go but to the individual if you want to know what that individual wills? We must keep in mind after all, that liberty is not even about what is best for a person, it is simply about what they elect to do. But It is apparently the Feminist academic that must tell a  woman what she genuinely wants, which of course means that she will receive what some other party desires, on the basis of what they have intellectually calculated is best for her.  She will receive what she would know she actually wanted, if she was a feminist academic. And so regardless of the approach, the result is the conformity of the individual to the program of the academic.

The mainstream Feminist frequently states that  everyone should  be a Feminist because  Feminism is simply supporting  equal rights for women.  But as we have just seen, the  core principle of Feminism is anything but simple.  While the movement declares  that every person should naturally be a Feminist because of the pure and generic meaning of the term, it restricts the right to use the term  to  any woman (such as the Choice feminist) that does not submit to a very narrow and specific doctrine that even the mainstream Feminist herself cannot clearly articulate  .

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