The discussion is getting more absurd as it continues, and I’m short on time today, so I’m not planning to wade into it again, but one tweet addressed to me does seem worth disputing, because it encapsulates a trope that’s being recycled a lot.
Beard Nihilist @borednihilist
One can dislike Islam as a religion, as both I and @OpheliaBenson do, but criticizing an individual woman’s choices seems anti-feminist.
So if a couple of friends discuss a mutual friend who has made the “choice” to (say) marry a man who has repeatedly beaten her up, and the friends criticize her “choice”…that’s anti-feminist?
I don’t see it. Feminism isn’t agreeing with all women no matter what. Feminism isn’t endorsing every choice every woman makes no matter what. Feminism is in fact all about being critical of some choices and endorsing others.
If a woman makes the “choice” to become a Quiverfull Christian, or an obedient, anti-birth control, anti-abortion, anti-ordination of women Catholic, or an ardent fan of Sarah Palin or Ann Coulter…It’s not anti-feminist to criticize her choices.
Feminism is substantive. It considers some things better than other things. That’s the point of it. That means it is going to be critical of some choices, including some choices made by some women. I’ve been critical of the choices made by Phyllis Schlafly for decades; ditto Anita Bryant; ditto Laura Bush. That’s not anti-feminist.
That’s the broad general point, but there’s a narrower one that should perhaps be even more obvious. What was at issue in this discussion wasn’t just an individual woman’s choices, but an individual woman’s public writing about her choices. Her discursive essay on the subject; her arguments; her goal of persuasion; her advertisement and promotion of her choices. I don’t mean advertisement and promotion in a pejorative sense, just a descriptive one – she was laying out her point of view on a subject to make some points. That’s often what people are doing when they write; it’s usually what I’m doing when I write; there is nothing whatever wrong with that. But it is what it is: it’s about persuasion and/or argument.
So how could it possibly be anti-feminist to reply to it or comment on it or dispute it?
It seems to me it’s a great deal more anti-feminist to claim that feminist women can’t dispute other women’s claims because feminism means never criticizing an individual woman’s choices or even her blog posts about her individual choices.