Isn’t Feminism All About Choice Anyway?October 30, 2007
It’s not a choice if it’s your only good option. Now repeat that as often as you need to in order to take that on board.
Too often we see discussions of how if feminism is all about choice, then why can’t women choose to wear makeup (full disclosure: I’m wearing make up RIGHT NOW), or choose to stay at home and rely on their husband for full financial support, or choose to diet and lose weight or choose, choose, choose, choose, choose to perform actions that validate the patriarchy.
It’s not a choice if choosing otherwise would be an uphill struggle. It’s not a choice if sticking with it means you have to compromise your own fucking autonomy. Can I choose to go to work without makeup on, without fixing my hair, in a cheap pantsuit? Sure! But since attractive people do better in the workplace, that choice would put me at a disadvantage. I have no choice but to comply with the standards of beauty in order to be viewed as a competent professional. Yet, in having to spend time, effort and money to adhere to those standards, and in being a competent professional who is also trying to be reasonably attractive (don’t forget, I am fat) I am perpetuating the stereotype that people who don’t (or can’t afford to, or are making the political stand I am unable to) aren’t as competent.
It’s not a choice to stay home and tend house if the wage-gap means that my family would have 30% less income if my husband stayed home with the kids instead. It’s not a choice to go out to work and have a CareerTM if I need to hold down a job to make ends meet(whether I have a partner or not). It’s not a choice to work in the pink ghetto if those were the only viable options presented to me.
It’s not a choice to try another diet to try to be part of that 5% that might just not gain all their weight they lost back after 5 years because fat people are seen as slovenly and unattractive. It’s not a choice to undergo plastic surgery to look decades younger because eternal youth is associated with the only form of power consistently available to women today. It’s not a choice to reject that power either – how else are you supposed to navigate society? It’s like the Matrix, without the option of getting the fuck out altogether.
So when people say that Feminism is about choice, it is. It is about making it POSSIBLE for people to choose. And when it looks like we’re not validating choices that don’t fit into our ideology, sit back and think about it for a while. It might not even be a choice. Not yet, at any rate.