I read this article by Helen Lewis in New Statesman, feeling like I’d read it before, it was so familiar:
‘The battles that remain involve telling people — often, but not exclusively, men — that I don’t like things they like, and I wish they didn’t like them either. I’m sorry, I know that you enjoy sexist jokes on TV panel shows, but they make me uncomfortable. I’m sorry, I know that you read lads’ mags, but I find them deeply depressing. I’m sorry, I know that you don’t think it’s a problem that women are under-represented in parliament, in science and in the media, but it is.
As a bleeding heart liberal, I feel hugely uncomfortable with trying to dictate other people’s tastes — and I certainly wouldn’t try to “ban” jokes or magazines or adverts or toys (or whatever) that I disagreed with. But fundamentally, feminism is about trying to change people’s minds. It just is. I am a killjoy.’
This sums up for me, how feminism ALWAYS assumes that its only project is to convince others that it is right, and to encourage (or coerce) people to do things how feminism wants them to be done.
There is no sense that a debate needs to be had, that feminists could learn from people who don’t share their views, that there can be compromise and discussion.
It’s my way or the highway.
But liberal feminists like Lewis tie themselves up in knots, claiming to not want to tell people what to do, but wanting people to do what they want them to do anyway, and sometimes lobbying to make their view Law.
I asked Helen in the comments if she, as a feminist respected the fact that I, as a woman, had differing views to her, in the name of independence. She said she did but I am not sure I believed her because deep down she knows she is right and I am wrong.
Photo via Lorraine Gamman: http://www.facebook.com/lorraine.gamman
Post script: This is Helen Lewis’s comment on men ‘contributing’ to feminist debate: