Tuesday, 15 August 2006

I don’t belong any more

I’ve been called a rabid feminist several times in my life: never to my face, mind you, this is the kind of thing women (it’s always women) say about you behind your back, but, you know, there are ways of finding out. I’ve always called myself a feminist. Rebecca West once said, ‘...people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat,’ and, since I’m not a doormat either... Until now I’ve been proud of the label (not the ‘rabid’ bit, obviously) because women who think it’s an insult and insist that they have nothing to do with it are just deluded: they believe that they are making free choices in every areas of their lives, when, in fact, in many of them, they are behaving exactly like men and society in general want them to behave, but more importantly they believe that the freedoms they are enjoying now are permanent and cannot be taken away. One almost wishes for Sharia law to come into force in the UK and take away all the things they take for granted and refuse to see as hard-won victories by the militant feminists of yore.

Enter the militant feminists of today.

In an article in The Sunday Times, Sarah Baxter, a Greenham Common campaigner, writes,
Women pushing their children in buggies bearing the familiar symbol of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament marched last weekend alongside banners proclaiming “We are all Hezbollah now” and Muslim extremists chanting “Oh Jew, the army of Muhammad will return.”

As a supporter of the peace movement in the 1980s, I could never have imagined that many of the same crowd I hung out with then would today be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with militantly anti-feminist Islamic fundamentalist groups, whose views on women make western
patriarchy look like a Greenham peace picnic.

The compassion for people of colour has been translated into feminists standing with terrorists who are terrorising their own women.
Please read the rest of her article here. I’m not a young woman who thinks she has it all, but I’m saying, ‘Over my dead body!’ to the future it conjures up.

Oh, and please suggest an alternative for ‘feminist’: I feel bereft without my label.


* If you’re not familiar with Sharia law Wikipedia can help. Here.

Update: If the links didn't work for you earlier, please try again. Naughty Blogger had replaced them with its own address. They should work now.


  1. I'm glad you said 'almost' with regard to Sharia law.

    I can't understand why people don't or won't see the risk that fundamentalist Islam presents to women and to civilised values. Probably, a lot of western men secretly think it's quite a good idea.

    Mind you having said that, I wouldn't especially want to be an Orthodox Jewish woman either, nor a Southern Baptist SAHM

  2. What a story, J. It is a very weird world we live in. But I'm sticking with "feminist" in honor of my mother.

  3. It's true what GSE says, that in fact no fundamentalist or orthodox religion is particularly favourable to women. But some religions seem to also encompass the desire to subjugate other people to their ideas, to impose their values on western liberal ones, and some don't, so I don't have a problem so much with Orthodox Jews or for example with the Hindu society that I grew up among (my best friend at school was Gujurati and I practically lived at her house with her five sisters - a happier bunch of moral yet joyful young women I have yet to meet). Fundamentalist Islam presents more threat to western women than almost anything else, especially in Europe, which they have declared to be their next battle zone, but it's not the only thing we feminists need to watch out for and shout about all over again. What about extreme Christians in the USA fire-bombing abortion clinics?

  4. I'm sticking with 'feminist' too, because it's my second-favorite F-word.

  5. Bela. Apprecitate the links, unfortunately there seems to be a glitch. It keeps saying Blogger 404: Page Not Found when I try either link. I wil look up the Saria law, I want to know more about this. The idea of women pushing baby buggies and being for Hezbollah is chilling to me. Thank you for posting interesting and relevant issues.

  6. Ooh. This all makes me very concerned. Everything makes me concerned these days.

    Anti Mindless Obedience to Unquestioning Patriarchist? AMOUP? In one gender related session of my degree course, when asked who identified themselves as Feminist, two women put their hands up. (70% were women, I'd say. Can't remember how many were in the room but wa more than 3) That'd be me and the blogger known as BB. We were quite scared, because the movement really had no relevance in the minds of the younger than us women and men in the room. (we were both slightly mature students and both parents which may have affected things.) Feminism was a dirty word. An ugly joke.

    I am a feminist, and the rabid doesn't bother me, (in predictive texting rabid is one of the words that comes up before you get to my other name and I find that quite amusing) but I am not only a feminist and can see how the aims of feminism can, in theory, collide with the rights of society as a whole, and western feminism without reference to the pressures of financial, social, racial etc etc etc issues, is a bit irrelevant to many.

    Where am I going with this? I pulled out my soapbox before I had my argument written.

    Binary thinking has always, to me, been a problem. It is as if we can make one set of evils go away by endorsing the opposing view. Which is nonsense. Extremism is never going to meet the needs of the many. But as a marxist, zionist, feminist, with a partly muslim heritage and a great deal of sadness over how Israel turned out what would you expect? As long as governments are sanctioning the death and suffering of human people I'm going to be pissed off at them.

    Do these people ever think about what they're signing into? Knee jerk reactions and lazy politics. Does anyone think anymore? Am I the only sane person. Oh dear.

    Slapping the ungrateful unfeminists.

    Slapping the braindead morons who'll sign up to a viewpoint without considering what it means.

    Slapping anyone who has insufficient respect for human dignity and life.

    Is that fair?

    Mimey the Amoup x

    Actually I like that as a name. Must remember it.

  7. GSE, If I could go and take refuge somewhere else I wouldn’t have said ‘almost’, but I wouldn’t want to wish it on myself. LOL! I came to this country because of Shakespeare; if I’d wanted to live in a country run by Muslims I would have moved to Morocco – the weather’s much better there. It’s been reported that very recently, instead of discussing with the government how to curb the extremists in their midst, the UK Muslim leaders asked again for the implementation of Sharia law. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, herself a Muslim, says it’s ‘A brutal law made by men, for men of the Middle Ages.’ (Did you read her article in The Evening Standard on Thursday? If not, read it here – link on main page under For More Info About - Sharia)

    You have a point there: men will always stick together against the common foe – women.

    I wouldn’t want to be an Orthodox Jewish woman either – I find the Orthodox impossible to understand – but the Orthodox Jews don’t seek to convert anyone (in fact it’s not possible to convert at all). There’s no comparison.

    Good for you, NST. I’m reclaiming the ‘rabid feminist’ label, actually.

    Yep, L. :-)

    I thought you might, WW. LOL!

    T, Sharia law is scary, isn’t it? I think a lot of women (and men) are misguided and deluded. They’re living with the sword of Damocles hanging over their heads and they’re not aware of it. The current terrorist scare might open a few people’s eyes. Julie Burchill wrote a wonderful article in the latest edition of The Jewish Chronicle – you can read it on their website or on this blog (link on the main page – under For More Info About - Sharia) .

    JvS, it does scare me that the feminism has no relevance in the minds of young women. I find it depressing that women who get outraged and bleat that feminists have the nerve to try and tell them how to behave readily accept men ruling their lives. I would love to see how they would ingratiate themselves to Muslim fundamentalists, in the same way that they ingratiate themselves to the men they come into contact with. I’ve never been able to see ‘how the aims of feminism can, in theory, collide with the rights of society as a whole’ – women are women are women. What is good for some of them is good for all of them. I know I could be more flexible.

    As for the way Israel ‘turned out’, I think, as Julie Burchill says in the above-mentioned article, that it is unfair ‘to think that Israel should exist not as a real, imperfect country full of real, imperfect people led by real, imperfect leaders, but as a sort of collective, kosher Mater Dolorosa, there to provide a selfless, suffering example to the rest of us.’ The country has been under attack from the very first day of its creation. Let its enemies show how ‘magnanimous’ countries should be towards their own citizens and those of their neighbours first. Once at peace and secure, Israel will follow suit, I have no doubt about that. It’s difficult to uphold grand ideals when hounded on all sides.

    Thanks for slapping those women who take pleasure in calling themselves ‘airheads’ (yes, there are some who do), as well as those who, by their behaviour, risk taking us back to the Dark Ages.

  8. Yes, Bela the Sharia Laws belong....in The Dark Ages. Thank you for fixing the link. I was going to look it up in the Encylopedia anyway, just haven't had the time lately.

    Depressing and scary...and unbelievable in a way. I feel very sad for the women who do live under this horrid law system.

    I Do respect different cultures and their beliefs...but this isn't just a belief system, it's a violation of human rights. Very grateful for living under U.S. laws... as flawed as our system may be ...they are not like Sharia. Thank God....and the original feminists in the US. and abroad who fought to get things and laws changed. Much thanks.

  9. Thank you for your interest, T. You are indeed lucky to live in a democracy (however flawed it may be). We are much less secure here.

  10. This made me very sad... and very angry. This (enduring) feminist is despairing over my sisters who claim solidarity with polical movements that would be happy to see feminism wiped off the face of the earth.

    BTW, I saw no report of this trend in the US media. Thank you for posting it.

  11. It's very sad. Perhaps it's only happening in the UK. Thanks for your support.


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