In its new phase, feminism has become a movement based on right to make choices. But, as it so happens, that at time our choices are inherently patriarchal.
Choice Feminism is termed coined by Linda Hirshmanin in her 2007 manifesto “Get to Work,” that a woman’s freedom to choose trumps her right to equality. Ever since then, the concept of ‘bad feminist’ has become too related to decisions of marriage, children, and beauty standards. But first, we must ask whether ‘free choice’ is really ‘feminist’?
An acceptable — yet slightly premature — definition of feminism would be the structural and systematic equality of all sexes. Feminism at its core remains a relevant political and social identity. A movement fighting for the issues of women, if put at large. While we must combat a system based on male supremacy, the current threat to feminism rouses from ‘choice feminism’. It is a general belief that ‘free will’ is never truly free. It’s based on prevailing contexts, conditions, and circumstances and yet, being a feminist inhibits any limitations on free choice, somehow.
It is choice feminism that has gotten us to a place whereby one woman can be both a super-feminist and a traitor to feminism for choosing to, say, get a boob job or become a housewife. Here, we don’t discredit the right to bodily autonomy, yet, we say that it must be done with the feminist intention, if at all. We do not ask you to thrash everything patriarchal, rather we can’t. Given how deep patriarchy has seeped, that would mean abandoning your life altogether. But, “if, say, wearing high heels or having short hair or feeling flattered by catcalls is what makes or breaks your feminism, perhaps it’s more fragile than you think.” (Andi Zeisler).
The fact that you might enjoy putting lots of makeup or high heels does not impact status of gender equality. There is nothing inherently feminist in making decisions, but if your actions go against the basic clause of equality, we’d not call it feminist. For example, the ‘free choice’ for a woman to change her maiden name and perhaps, middle name after marriage IS NOT feminist. Not only does it age back us to the time when such a ritual was undertaken to show ownership but, if it’s done with the intent to make ‘your man’ happy, it might be even more damaging.
‘Choice feminism’, has limitations and must be done with said intentions. If your actions — intentionally or accidentally — harm bodily autonomy or perpetuates the patriarchal tradition between men and women, then such a free choice is not feminist.
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