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Feminism Kushay's Matter Bank

[AK] Choice Feminism & It’s Critics

This note will discuss the principles behind choice feminism, the most popular and mainstream principle of feminism and also the criticisms towards it.

The “choice principle” of feminism dictates that every choice that a woman make is good and inherently feminist, and thus, empowering. Attempts to analyze such choices in a larger context is frowned upon. For example, the choice of a woman to work as a prostitute is always empowering because it is personal choice, and it is her way of empowering herself.

The critics towards choice feminism is generally threefold:

1. It assumes that woman has an unrestricted degree of freedom. A “choice” belongs purely to the person if there is no external factor influencing it, and in this world, there’s a lot of negative external factor. For example, a woman might not want to wear makeup to work, but she’s subconsciously forced to do so because of the patriarchal work culture where woman is more valued if she’s more beautiful.

2. Having various options of choices is useless when you don’t address the inherent structural imbalance that makes one choice more favorable than the other. For example, right now woman can choose between staying as a housewife or a full time working mom. But this is still useless if the stigma of “women belongs in the kitchen” or similar things isn’t eradicated first.

3. It often leads to the victim blaming of woman. If a woman suffered (for example only receiving below minimum wage despite working hard), by the principle of choice feminism she isn’t suffering because of patriarchy, but simply because she made the wrong choice.

What all of these arguments is essentially saying is that feminist’s first and foremost priority is to dismantle the structural disadvantage that woman currently have, and that includes constant evaluations of the choices that every woman make. Choice feminism doesn’t allow this to happen.

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