Goodbye, Indeed

If you had read Robin Morgan’s Goodbye to All That (#2) and felt both alienated and emotionally blackmailed, Kimberle Crenshaw and Eve Ensler write an excellent response to the kind of “either/or” feminism Morgan’s essay typifies:

Because we believe that feminism can be expressed by a broader range of choices than this “either/or” proposition entails, we again find ourselves compelled to say “no”–this time to a brand of feminism that betrays its inclusive and global commitments. We believe we stand in unity with many feminists who will say, “Not in Our Name” will this feminism be deployed.

Young feminists have been vocal and strong in critiquing the claim that a vote for Obama represents some form of youthful naiveté, a desire to win the approval of men, or a belief that sexism no longer factors into their lives. While paying respect to those women who carried the banner for so many years, these young women have reminded us that feminism is not static but evolutionary, changing in content, scope and tenor as new generations elevate their concerns and aspirations. And while we agree that this “either/or” brand of feminism fails to capture the imagination and hopes of countless numbers of women who refuse to entrust this capital into the hands of a candidate just because she is a woman, we think it important to add that this is not simply an intergenerational difference at work here. At issue is a profound difference in seeing feminism as intersectional and global rather than essentialist and insular. Women have grappled with these questions in every feminist wave, struggling to see feminism as something other than a “me too” bid for power whether it be in the family, the party, the race or the state.

For many of us, feminism is not separate from the struggle against violence, war, racism and economic injustice. Gender hierarchy and race hierarchy are not separate and parallel dynamics. The empowerment of women is contingent upon all these things. Despite the fact that we know that identity does not equal politics–especially an antiwar, social equity and global justice politics–we are led to believe that having a woman in power is the penultimate accomplishment. And even when the “either/or” feminists back off this claim in general, we are told, it is true in the case of the particular, Hillary Clinton. Experience and judgment go hand in hand, we are told, but one has to wonder how is it that so many ordinary citizens who were outside the beltway instinctively sensed what would come with the war, but the female candidate running for President did not?


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