Feminist Chat and the Politicization of Women’s Bodies

May 14, 2012 § 1 Comment

A sensitive and progressive acquaintance of mine recently brought up a feminist issue with me, hoping to bond a bit at work.  He said he was recently noticing women wearing power suits, and expressed how he felt uncomfortable with it.  I got caught between two minds, and had to express first one, then the other.

On the one hand, I think “power feminism” or whatever you want to call the prioritization of the interests of the small demographic of women who have economic and race privilege, particularly in the work force where they want to be equal with similarly privileged men, distorts the true meaning and cause of feminism, burying the vast majority of women under a blanket of invisibility and highlighting one small, relatively comfortable strata of gender oppression.  There seem to be two major strains of feminist thought, one that does not see capitalist consumerism as inherently at odds with feminism and one that does.  I am strongly on the side that says the commodification of human rights and of people is not feminist, even if it does not discriminate in regards to gender.  Equal opportunity exploitation is not equality in my book. I found a quote online once I lost the reference to that said, “True feminism seeks not to make women the equals of men within an exploitative system, but to liberate both sexes from oppression.”

However, the more immediate issue for me was less apparent on the surface of the dialogue, and had more to do with us launching into the conversation.  I could not help but notice how people simply feel more comfortable politicizing women’s bodies and choices than they do with men.  Anybody can talk about women, collectively, and argue about and pick apart their choices.  Women’s bodies are still seen to some extend as public property.  Everyone is allowed to have an opinion, and often that opinion is loaded judgment.  If you don’t believe that, just talk to someone who breast feeds.

Let’s face it, society has shittier boundaries towards women than it does with men.  We ALL do it.  Sometimes it manifests physically, sometimes emotionally, sometimes psychologically, and often so subtly and casually we don’t even notice it.



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§ One Response to Feminist Chat and the Politicization of Women’s Bodies

  • elizabethalex says:

    “Women’s bodies are still seen to some extend as public property.”
    Ah, so true! I immediately felt uncomfortable just hearing the term “power suit” but couldn’t pinpoint why. Not only is it the fact that people feel more comfortable having opinions about women’s bodies, it’s also the idea that women buying into capitalist consumerism does NOT feel like moving in a good direction. Thank you for articulating so clearly what’s problematic with that line of thinking.

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