Friday, December 28, 2012

Why I'm a Bad Feminist...

A writer friend said to be a good feminist you just have to love women and show it. Although she is a lesbian, she meant this in a platonic, political sense not in a literal one. And suddenly I realized, ah there's the rub, the defining problem, the friction between me and feminism. Do I love women? That seems like an overly broad question, very much like: Do I love children? or Do I love Jews or Muslims? Do I love African-Americans? Of course the answer to all these questions can only be, I love some of them, feel indifferent to most and despise a handful. It all depends.

When I first identified as a feminist and a lesbian, it was 1970. Women's style included big hair, high heels, an Mrs. degree and almost no job options. The question of breeding was big in a racial sense but in a reproductive sense having children was not viewed as whether or not, simply when. I found women attractive and, for the most part, fabulous. They/we were also more powerless then. I guess the romance of oppression held some validity for me. We had each other's backs, we were fighting for a big slice of what I had yet to recognize as a moldy pie.

I conveniently ignored the "moral majority" women who hated my very existence. I wrote the women who supported the Nazis, the pogroms, fascism in all its forms out of my exclusive distaff cadre. Did I love the wealthy women matrons or high-level managers or princesses who treated me like dirt? In theory, we were all one sisterhood, rising up together to build a new world. Beautiful as this sentiment may be, it was and is not realistic. The fact of a limited degree of shared oppression doth not a kindred soul make. Jews know this, we fight one another like cats and dogs. Thereby the expression, two Jews, three opinions.

Queers know this. When our movement was young, gay men thought nothing of not including lesbians in everything from books to classes to strategy meetings. It wasn't until the AIDS crisis in the eighties that gay men and lesbians came together to fight jointly for anything.

And, believe me, people from all other minority groups know this as well. The powers that be skillfully pit us against each like rats in a cage fighting for crumbs.

I love some individuals and not others. As a leftist politico, I love the ideal of a just and humane society where the basic needs of all are provided for. I love worker's protections and freedom from prejudice. Do I love all other leftists fighting for the same objective? Let's just say I respect our joint struggle as well as each individual's good intentions, if they seem to have them. The same goes for women. My love is not unconditional. I'm a demanding taskmaster, a loose canon, an unreliable narrator, a bad feminist.