The Guardian produced an interesting article on ‘non-left feminism‘. Four ‘non-left’ women discussed feminism (in broad terms) and explained the extent to which they did or didn’t identify with the label.
Personally, the very concept of a ‘non-left feminism’ confuses me. If the idea of feminism is to challenge the gendered construction of social norms (even revealing the way ‘neutral’ or ‘default rational’ social norms are in fact gendered), then we exclude ‘non-left’ people from the label by definition. It is inherently radical.
On Monday night’s Q&A, the panel discussed whether or not they were feminists but never — not even remotely — discussed what they meant by ‘feminism’. They used words as if we all apprehended their meaning — equality being the principle one. For the libertarian, ‘equality’ means something particularly conservative (it’s the only point of overlap that I concede with libertarians): ‘Everybody suffers external authority to the same extent.’ The conservative (of my stripe) then rejects equality as an ideal, while the libertarian champions it.
For the vast majority of feminist thinkers and theorists, this concept of ‘equality’ is unjust and inequitable, but you’d never have guessed it from the conversations currently taking place in the public domain. Instead, feminism is about (and is only about) to what extent women can compete in male spaces.
… and then you have the sea of guys (it’s almost always guys) who want to piggyback their pet causes on the feminist bandwagon. Feminism needs to be about the rights of homosexual males, they say, because homosexual males have become an ‘Other’. Feminism needs to be about the rights of non-human animals, they say, because non-human animals have become an ‘Other’. Feminism needs to be about the rights of non-fauna life, they say, because non-fauna life has become an ‘Other’. Feminism needs to be about every other fringe group under the heavens, they say, because feminism is either intersectional or it’s bullshit.
What we’d really find useful is a debate among feminists who can bridge the gap between the general public and feminism qua ‘the difficult and sophisticated body of intellectual work that has characterised the last two centuries of feminist thought’.