Those things that we are

// 5 March 2011

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End of the Tunnel.jpg [Image is of a tunnel in high-contrast black and white with a height sign above it. At the end of it there is bright light with a suggestion of cars and houses, and two bollards and a rock silhouetted against it.]

There is sometimes an awful temptation, in this struggle against the kyriarchy, to attempt to police oneself or other members of one’s group to make them more palatable to the wider society. It can seem as though this is the best way to achieve rights, to achieve a semblance of equality, to reach the light at the end of the tunnel.

I once heard a cis woman in a position of authority criticise another cis woman for being ‘anti-feminist’ when she was flustered over not being able to find a pen. No. That is wrong. The one who was being anti-feminist was the one who said that, especially from a position of authority. Being flustered has nothing to do with feminism. Being flustered has everything to do with being human. And if we’re not fighting for the right to be human, what are we fighting for?

I have been guilty of policing myself for greater recognition as agender. I tried to force myself away from anything associated with my assigned sex, for the sole reason that I thought it would help people understand my lack of gender better. Now I’m slowly remembering that yes, I did once like these things and that no, there’s nothing wrong with that. That realisation could have been caused partly by my development of feminist and anti-kyriarchal ideas, but was probably also due to the fact that it was starting to backfire. I was no longer fighting for recognition as myself, but for recognition of this JKBC I’d created that I thought was more palatable to the kyriarchal minds around me.

It will never be true equality. If we are embraced only on condition of conforming to a kyriarchal standard, we are not embraced for ourselves. And what are we fighting for, if not to be embraced as our true selves, to be allowed our own choices? It will also be inherantly oppressive. By holding oneself or one’s group to a kyriarchal standard, one is oppressing those who are outside that, who can’t conform to that standard, or who won’t. There are situations in this awful world we must police ourselves for our own safety (rather than for our rights and recognition), and that is wrong, a mark against the kyriarchy. The anti-kyriarchy movement is one that fights to remove that necessity. The necessity will never be removed if we police ourselves and others in the fight to conform to those standards.

Those things that we are do not affect our worth. We have the right to ask to be embraced as our true selves, physically, mentally and emotionally, through those alterations that we need for our selfhood and those things that we choose to express it. We have the right to like what we like, do what we do, want what we want, as long as it is not oppressive or non-consensually harmful. We have the right not to be punished for expressing ourselves in non-kyriarchal ways. Those rights are worth fighting for in their entirety.


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Comments From You

Laire // Posted 5 March 2011 at 8:04 pm

I couldn’t agree more. I don’t feel I can be myself as a feminist – talk and laugh about things like I normally would, and I’ve been called out by feminists timelessly. I feel like I have to be this godly entity as a woman and feminist (a double standard for feminists is they have to be stroking the other oppressions, where basically men don’t have to). I get so tired of it I really have stopped calling myself a feminist, because one incident fair enough, but it happens in every feminist topic.

I think we should have feminist writers, feminist causes and marches – but i think anything like an official feminist ‘spearhead’ or movement has too much potential to control and harrass the women in it. All i’m seeing for women in the feminist movement at the moment is a LOT of double standards and I don’t like.

We have a lot more freedom speaking as average women, not as feminists, to speak about our oppression. What does that say when joining the movement that liberates us stifles our voices further?

Writing and speaking as women is fine and what I do, I don’t label myself a feminist because I’m held to a few double standards. I’d like to say this is just by sexists, but it’s mostly by other feminists. Which raises the question is feminism with the double ‘stroke all the other oppressions’ standards inherently sexist?

I agree the women I see as feminists are not ‘women having a laugh’ and ‘free’. A lot of women are being hounded for being bigots where men saying similar things just would not be. It’s worrying and I’d rather at the moment there wasn’t an official movement than there was one.

p.s. I think the double standards involve many things, not just walking on egg shells saying the right things and not stroking the other oppressions before her own. Things like saying the word, ‘cunt’ and dressing fashionable for example. Fact is there should be no monitoring of women at all. It’s not a movement if it monitors us. A movement should merely direct our rage.

Amelia // Posted 6 March 2011 at 9:30 am

Great post, JKBC. I occasionally stop myself from doing/saying/wearing certain things because I fear it will affect my feminist credibility in the eyes of non-feminists, but your words “if we’re not fighting for the right to be human, what are we fighting for?” have really struck me. Politics at the expense of personality – that’s not the way this was supposed to be.

At the risk of fulfilling the humourless feminist stereotype even more than I already do, I think it’s worth questioning ourselves to make sure we’re comfortable with the origins and motivations for doing/saying/wearing these things. There may well be unexamined pressure there, or simply continuing something because it is a habit rather than a choice. Even then though, as long as it harms no-one, “Because I want to and I like it” is reason enough, and definitely the reason I have kept some of my clothes, hobbies and mannerisms that a “better” feminist would have thrown away by now.

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