(an older outfit during warmer weather)
So far, I've read such great entries from other bloggers about what feminism means to them. I don't know how much I have to add to this discussion, but I will say something that I've been thinking about for a long time. I understand myself as a feminist, and I believe this can mean a diversity of things. I don't, however, believe that "feminism means choice," which is something I read in discussions at Jezebel or other feminist-themed websites. On the contrary, capitalism provides us with "freedom of choice." Feminism, however, seeks to investigate and deconstruct our choices-whether they concern our style, our life styles, our politics, our words, and our beliefs. While I agree that we all have the right to our opinions, choices, and other individual expressions, feminism has taught me to recognize that some choices are privileged and some are not. Some choices reflect the dominant norms and result in social benefits, while some result in social sanction. To paraphrase George Orwell, all choices are equal, but some choices are more equal than others. While my age has taught me to have compassion and empathy (and to try not to judge) a broad range of women's life choices, I continue to shudder when marketers attempt to couch consumption choices as feminist "freedom of choice." So for me, feminism is as much about the limitations and oppressions of capitalism as patriarchy on our lives.
Being a feminist also means that I am critical about how the powerful seek to undermine the less powerful. As I, and other members of Style Nation, keep an eye on Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana, I want to stress how attacks on public employees are gendered. The overwhelming majority are public servants are women, with a strong representation of women of color. Most public school teachers, health care workers, and social service workers are women. "Balancing the budgets" on the backs of women, as a means to create tax breaks for corporations, is dirty, disgusting and shameful. Harming their livelihood is one thing, but legislating away their voice and right to participate in creating the terms of their own employment, a universal human right, is a downright disgrace.