Moran has pushed the debate on how we define feminism and who gets to define feminism back into the media. Personally, I don’t like Moran’s brand of feminism. I think it focuses far too much on the individual and fails to acknowledge the oppression of women as a class or the multiple oppressions of non-white, heterosexual women. I’ve not read How To Be A Woman as I’m not really a fan of her work so I can’t comment on the text itself but I have found some of Moran’s columns to be, well, deeply unkind about other women. Her treatment of Samantha Bricks was unnecessarily cruel [and rather lacking in feminist analysis]. Her refusal to engage meaningfully with criticisms of her interview with Lena Durham was, well, silly. Moran’s focus on individualism obfuscates feminist theory and feminist activism within the UK. It elides some of the incredible work that British feminists are doing whilst simultaneously opening a space in which to have a debate about feminism. It’s an odd, problematic situation. So, whilst I am incredibly uncomfortable with the media constructing Moran as the best “British Feminist”, she has mainstreamed feminism within the media itself.
More young women are identifying as “feminists” which is important, but we really do need to start questioning what we mean by “feminist”. Rosie Kelly’s Guardian piece is quite problematic. In many ways, I think Kelly’s understanding of feminism is quite naive. I think this comment is quite telling:
“To me, what feminism boils down to is the realisation that, in some areas, women still have a harder deal than men.”
Women have a much harder deal than men in all areas, not simply reproductive freedom and rape. There are more than a few areas where gender equality is a problem. It is everywhere and this is the problem with Moran. Her, fairly lazy, definition of feminism has garnered mainstream media attention because it doesn’t question the status quo. It allows men like Kelly’s friend Dan to claim that most feminists are sexists and hate men. But, this isn’t the fault of feminists. This is the fault of a male-controlled and male dominated media who actively seek to minimise and ridicule women’s attempts to secure basic human rights. It is men who actively oppress women who spread the lies about feminists being man-hating harpies. I’m never surprised that men buy into these lies. After all, acknowledging their privilege might led to some unfortunate conclusions about their own behaviour.
It is Dan’s refusal to see the oppression of women which is the problem. It is his belief that feminists seek to “punish” men which is the problem. After all, Dan doesn’t seem to give a shit about how many women are punished every day in the UK by men through rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, street harassment, and simply by being paid less than men for equal work. Moran’s brand of feminism might be simplistic and problematic but the real problem for women in this country is men like Dan. Not women like Moran; although a little of self-reflection wouldn’t go amiss from time to time
I disagree with Kelly’s new “feminist chronology” being separated into Before and After Moran. Moran will never be one of the important feminist theorists or activists in the UK and I doubt very much Moran would speak of herself in those terms. Kelly is wrong about British feminists too. Young women aren’t being turned into feminists because of Moran. They were already there: on the ground campaigning. Kelly just didn’t look hard enough for them. A few hours on Twitter and Facebook will show just how many young, vibrant, brilliant feminists there are in the UK. “Informed women” who know that women have a far way to go before we can achieve equality. “Informed women” who are fighting back through grassroots activism and by serious political pressure.
And, for the last time, can we dump this man-hating, hairy lesbian shit. It’s rude, disrespectful and is predicated on the belief that lesbians are just not proper women. It’s perfectly acceptable for women to hate the men who have hurt them. After all, a whole lot of men seem to hate women and no one runs about whining to Ryan Gosling about other men who hate women. Frankly, all this “man-hating” discourse does is prove how shit scared men really are of feminists. Because we rock.