Feminism Kushay's Matter Bank

[AK] Liberal Feminism & It’s Critics

This note will discuss the principles behind liberal feminism, the most popular and mainstream form of feminism and also the critics directed towards it.

The basic principles of liberal feminism are fourfold; choice, self-identification, privilege, and inclusivity.

The “choice principle” dictates that every choice that a woman make is good and inherently feminist. Attempts to analyze such choices in a larger context is frowned upon.

The “privilege principle” refers to a complex system of privilege, where some individual has an advantage over the others by the virtue of lottery birth. Privileges includes but not limited to cis, straight, white, male privilege, etc. Every person should constantly check their privilege and remind others to do the same. And if a person is considered more privileged than the other, he/she/they don’t have the right to talk about the decisions made by the less privileged.

The “self-identification principle” is that every individual has the right to claim every kind of identity he/she/they think is suitable. These identities are including but not limited to gender. To question or challenge the identity of an individual is unacceptable.

Inclusivity is pretty self-explanatory. Feminism is for everyone who believes in equality, no one is the “center” of feminism. We should all be equals.

The critics towards these four principles is generally threefold:

1. It silences discussion. Being oppressed doesn’t mean that all of your decisions are absolutely true. Sometimes people who are “privileged” needs to question, or even criticize, the decisions and experiences of people who are “oppressed”. It is necessary as a reminder to not make wrong decisions, or even for the “privileged” to recognize their privilege even more. Claiming that”no one can criticize you because it is your own decision” is wrong because it assumes that your experiences are 100% unique to yourself and no one else can’t relate to it at all, which is obviously untrue.

2. It is a philosophy about individuals and not about improving woman in general. By focusing on individual experience, there is rarely any acknowledgement of collective oppression of woman. And this is problematic because sometimes the “privileged” and the “not privileged” has a common oppression, such as poor white woman who can’t find a job simply because she’s a woman.

3. It assumes that all choices happens in a vacuum. Oftentimes woman are forced to choose between lesser of two evils, or don’t want to make a choice at all. Choices HAVE to be analyzed in a larger context, and liberal feminism doesn’t allow this to happen.

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