I’ll never be a choosy-choice feminist. My choices under the patriarchy are limited by my very existence. I’m female. I was a girl. I’m now a woman. And my choices have never been free.
When the suffragettes fought for our right to vote, it wasn’t about choice. It was about changing the status quo to allow ALL adult voices to be heard. It challenged the very core of a patriarchy which insisted that women were less-than, property of their husbands and fathers, best kept quiet and in the home, to raise children and be fucked.
When second-wavers fought for the right to make decisions on behalf of our own bodies, it wasn’t about choice. It was about challenging the still intact status quo that women were property. It challenged the patriarchal institutions of Government, Medicine and Religion to recognise that women are their own, and only they must make decisions about their health and reproductive abilities.
Patriarchy, mildly affected by these movements, still remains very much intact. Third-wave feminism seems to have forgotten patriarchy altogether, and simply views feminism as the right for women to choose what they want to do without recognising females as an oppressed class.
I realise this is sounding very Feminism 101 right about now, but the message is still not getting across. Women are not equal.
Where there are laws which intend to help make us so, there still remains beliefs, ideologies, and structures in place which prevent those laws from being adhered to and enforced.
Where there are “equal opportunities” in the workplace, we are still being schooled from a very early age in the fine art of gender, which ends up keeping women out of the majority of traditional “men’s work” while at the same time brainwashing us to believe that we’ve “chosen” those jobs which are less important, less high-paying, etc.
Where we have laws protecting our hard-won rights to protect ourselves from dangerous physical conditions such as pregnancy, those laws are being chipped away at by the kinds of people who still retain those patriarchal thoughts and beliefs, and who hold power within the structures which either uphold or negate those laws.
With all of the known damage that the sex industry causes to women, our male-centred media is constantly reinforcing that these “jobs”, which some women “choose”, are actually empowering, instead of insisting on the protection of women and children from the pay-to-rape industry which strengthens men’s belief in their own entitlement to the bodies of women and children.
When the scope of choice is so narrow because of economic and social systems and widely-held beliefs that reinforce female subordination, how can this ever be called “choice” at all?!
Choice implies that most or all avenues are available to explore, and in a world under patriarchy, for women, this is ludicrous.
Liberal Feminism cannot widen the scope of choice for women when it continues to deny that women as a class are oppressed in almost every aspect of life under patriarchy, and that their choices are in no way equal to those of men.
Feminism is about LIBERATING WOMEN, from men, from the patriarchy, from the structures which keep them oppressed and incapable of any real choice, not telling us that our available options are somehow empowering to choose, and insisting that we ought to be grateful for the scraps.