Guest post: She is told to shut up about her body and experience

Originally a comment by Myrhinme on Those theorists whose lives are most directly affected.

I recently decided to stop identifying as a feminist. This was a big decision for me but the recent developments in feminism have bothered me too much. There was a time that I would have said that any woman (and even any man) who supports equality is a feminist. I was puzzled when I heard women who often talked about equality saying that they were not feminists. I assumed it was because of negative stereotypes.

In recent years, feminism has become fashionable and I was glad to see young women becoming engaged. I still am glad that young women want to stand up against sexual violence and other problems that they face. However, I now see a situation where any woman who wants to call herself a feminist is told that she must actively support a range of causes even if she knows little about them or simply disagrees with some parts. She is told to accept orthodoxies about gender, that she may never question a trans woman’s understanding of what it is to be female but that a trans woman may question hers and trash her if it does not toe the party line. She is told to shut up about her body and experience and definitely not to utter the heresy that she only feels female because she has a female body.

If a feminist is white, she can expect to walk on eggshells. She can talk about race but if anyone disagrees they can call her a “white feminist”. This is an insult but if she protests that it is wrong to use a description of what she is as an insult she’s just demonstrating what a spoiled privileged white women she is. She can diplomatically avoid the subject of race but then she’s a white feminist who only cares about white woman things (as if no other women are raped, or suffer domestic violence or need contraception and abortion). What is the alternative? Absolute submission. She must defer absolutely to the views declared orthodox and never disagree with a person from a marginalized group. She must accept that she is racist but she can pay Everday Feminism a fee to help her atone and heal from her toxic whiteness.

I could not encourage girls to get involved in feminism if it means being submissive and letting people treat them like shit. They, like everybody else, should feel entitled to a basic level of respect. They should be encouraged to question orthodox views and form their own opinions.

There have always been feminists that I had a problem with but they were usually on the fringes. The ones I have a problem with now are dominating the discourse and I don’t want to be associated with them. I have a background in human rights activism and want to continue with that rather than waste time with people who would argue whether I am a proper feminist or a white feminist or whatever. I want to get things done that will really make a difference.

I can only add that I am female, bisexual and have suffered from a disabling chronic condition since I was a teenager that has blighted by life. I am exactly the sort of person that social justice enthusiasts claim to represent. However, I want nothing to do with people who shut down all dissent, vilify everyone they disagree with, however small the disagreement, and attack free speech. I care too much about human rights and intellectual freedom for that.

So, I’d rather not call myself a feminist. I want to go back to being a human rights activist and I’ll choose independence of thought over dogma.

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