Feminism Isn’t Supposed to Be United or Coherent

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Photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash

I have seen a few think pieces floating around in the wake of the #metoo movement that either gleefully point out that some of the recent outings of Hollywood men as creeps are dividing feminists, or that they demonstrate current feminism’s lack of cohesion.

Here’s the thing: Feminism has never and will never be a totally united movement with a crystal-clear objective. When the objective is as huge as equality across the gender spectrum, there’s going to be a lot of disagreement, even among good people with good intentions, as to how we get there.

That doesn’t mean feminism is wrong or, as they often like to say, “dead.” It means that reaching total equality for half of the entire population involves many, many objectives, some of which compete with each other at times. Especially as we try to move toward a more intersectional movement that includes women of color and working-class women, we’re going to run into some conflicts.

As Natasha Lennard wrote in an excellent piece on The Intercept: “The Ansari accusation did not create these fissures, but the debates it birthed have revealed where the fractures lie, along ideological, generational, class, and political lines. It hasn’t ‘chiseled away at a movement,’ as HLN host Ashleigh Banfield put it, but rather has highlighted that many of us are not thinking about the movement in the same terms. The schisms aren’t new: They came to fore in arguments over intersectionality during the Women’s March and existed long before that.”

Feminism is going to be messy, likely right up until the day when we, goddess willing, don’t need feminism anymore. Until then, don’t let anyone tell you that conflict among good people who call themselves feminists is a death knell. In fact, it’s a sign of great vitality.

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