has written an essay
about labels that I think provides a great deal of food for thought. With her permission, here are a few excerpts. Because I think abortion should be legal, I think it's necessary sometimes, I don't want to live in a world where I get investigated for a miscarriage. But I also think abortion is a horrible thing that should be avoided. So I since I wasn't pro-abortion, I figured I was pro-life. Then one day a little voice in my head said to me, "Abortion is a hugely political issue right now, and your politics are about choice. Every time tell people you're not pro-choice and why, you're also telling them that pro-choice means pro-abortion and that's why you refuse to identify with it. You're telling them that you think pro-choice people love abortions and want to encourage everyone to have them, even though you know that's not true. You want to act like you're above all these labels because you don't need a flag to fly under, but you're hurting the things you care about most, just for your own image."
I've always called myself feminist. My reasons have evolved but the label has always been there. And sure, if you really think we can face our culture's fucked up gender issues WITHOUT focusing specifically on women, you don't have to call yourself a feminist. And if you think that the situation for women in this world is just as bad as it is for men, you don't have to call yourself a feminist. If you think we should just work to improve the lives of everyone in countries where there's no consequence for treating
women specifically like property, owning them, raping them, abusing them, and you think that we don't need feminism
as a specific discipline to pay attention to those facts, then you don't have to call yourself a feminist.
I think this is where third-wave feminism has taken a wrong turn. At one point in time, the people in the movement knew there was a bigger cause than just themselves and their own choices, or even the fate of middle-class women in America. They knew the push for equality could, and should, benefit women across the globe, and they were willing to fight for it. (And yes, I know there was, and still is, considerable issues with women of color and how their concerns were pretty much ignored, but that doesn't mean the early feminists weren't largely united, with definite, tangible goals.)
Sadly, I don't see that anymore. The focus has splintered, and never more so than in this odious brand of "feminism" called choice feminism--which to me is just another word for sticking one's head in the sand and ignoring what is happening around you. Just because you have the freedom to make a so-called "choice"--to stay home with your kids, for example--doesn't mean the majority of women can afford to do so. Just because you have the freedom to make a so-called "choice" to become a stripper or a prostitute, doesn't mean the majority of women and girls aren't forced into that kind of life. Therefore, your trumpeting your "choice," it seems to me, is a slam in the face of other women around the globe, who have no such thing.
The old cliche, "United we stand, divided we fall," would seem to apply in this case. I think people should look outside their own restricted little circles, and see how their "choices" might affect others. We've gotten away from the idea of being our sister's keepers, and I think feminism has suffered for it-