2012/08/21

Liberal gadfly

I spend two weeks writing and re-writing a long post about feminism and political correctitude. I go to Feministe, late, to contribute it to Shameless Self-Promotion Sunday. And lo and behold, someone has contributed a link to a SelectSmart quiz about what kind of feminist you are. So, being a sucker for quizzes, I follow the link and take the quiz. According to the quiz, I am 100 percent liberal feminist, 78 percent socialist feminist, 50 percent radical feminist, and zero percent anti-feminist.

It's only a SelectSmart quiz, of course, but those are done pretty well. For each statement, you choose to agree, disagree, or express no preference. And for each answer, there is a slider to let you rate how important the statement and your answer are.

I am unsurprised that I am totally a liberal feminist. After all, I just wrote that post defending free enterprise (though not the current incarnation of capitalism), and I know I'm not in sync with some of the tenets of feminism as expressed by some of the sites I read. I am happy to be in the company of Betty Friedan and Jessica Valenti, and perhaps somewhat less happy that the list of liberal feminists includes Naomi Wolfe, given her recent writings.

I am also not surprised that socialist feminist rated as high for me as it did. I'm not a socialist, but I'm definitely a social democrat. I am Canadian, after all! Even the current Conservative government, which I did not vote for, has so far left the fundamentals of Canadian social democracy alone (although I still don't trust them). I fully support our social safety net (which needs mending) and universal health care. Even though I favour free enterprise, I do not favour "unbridled capitalism." In Canada, some services are provided by Crown Corporations, publicly owned. Despite some complaints about the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, I think it is far superior to private insurers. And Canada Post continues to do a great job, despite a decline in mail volume, and it has not put itself into default as the United States Postal Service has.

There are probably a few reasons why I come up even 50 percent radical feminist. I do question whether certain sexual practices should be considered feminist rather than neutral. I'm unsure how I feel about pornography. And I see that misogyny is a systemic problem.

I'm glad that SelectSmart finds nothing anti-feminist about me, and I did my best to be honest with my answers. So I guess even though I'm not always onside with the prevailing views of some of the sites I read, I am still a good feminist.

Perhaps there needs to be another category of feminist: the feminist gadfly. I'm not sure if I quite qualify for this label. I don't think I know enough to ask the right uncomfortable questions. I might stumble upon them from time to time,  but often I will just stumble. But I think of someone like Camille Paglia. She toes no one's line, yet I think her feminist cred is intact. The late Helen Gurley Brown might also qualify.

I still think that liberal, socialist, radical, and even gadfly feminists share core beliefs that allow us to stay united against anti-feminist and misogynistic forces. We might not agree on everything. We might attack the problem in different ways. But I think we agree on what the problem is, that it must be fought, and that we will all do what we can to make things better.

3 comments:

Pauline Probyn said...

Tough quiz. I wasn't sure how to answer some of the questions. My prediction was right - I am a liberal feminist as well. What surprised me was a high social feminist score. I was a liberal feminist during my Women Studies' years. Radical seems...well, too radical for me although I agree with some ideas. I was surprised that the test did not have a maternal feminist category. This is a strong group out there - much different than liberal but not anti-. I have no idea how to change the system or the constructs but have seen much evidence over the years, personally and through others, to still feel sadly oppressed. I think that many feminists from the '70s are disappointed with the ripples, rather than waves, and the increasing wage gap between men and women - YES,INCREASING! So much for burning bras and the pill. Speak and you will likely get fried; don't speak and you will turn to ash inside. Let's hope for Generation Z?

Véronique said...

What would the characteristics of maternal feminism be?

I totally agree that in a lot of important ways we're losing ground. Not to mention that in much of the rest of the world, women have never gained any ground in the first place.

Pauline Probyn said...

Maternal feminists, led by Eleanor Rathbone in the 1920s, embrace gender difference and support the role of motherhood with a focus on family life. They have campaigned for family allowance and protection of women in the workplace. Other examples of maternal feminism are Frances Willard's campaign against alcoholism, and Josephine Butler's campaign against state regulation of prostitution. The goal is to elevate the woman's role in the home and have protective rules in place when she must work outside of it. [ref: Making Waves: A History of Feminism in Western Society by Marlene Le Gates].

I have found that there are more maternal feminists in the Conservative political sphere in Canadian Politics although you will find them anywhere i.e. Christy Clark, a Liberal, has emphasized a renewed passion for the family model. Look for the focus on "Family Life" and "Embracing the Family." I strongly advise people not to vote for a woman just because she is a woman - it does not mean her views are the same is yours. You need to check out her platform first.

The main difference for maternal feminists is the emphasis on gender difference rather than promoting gender equality like the liberal feminists. Do not doubt though that maternal feminism is a type of feminism, for it is, and it is a powerful one at that!