Where Feminism Doesn’t Take Me
My brand of Mormon feminism has led me to plenty of feminist places. I kept my birth name. I want women leaders with equal opportunities to contribute in education, industry, government and church. I want equal pay for equal work. I would like Heavenly Mother acknowledged more often and more openly among Mormons. I am suspicious of gender roles and gender essentialism. I hope for less gender constriction for both women and men as they chart their lives.
However, Starfoxy’s excellent post from the other day, in which she discusses her feminist decision to not wear makeup, made me sit back and consider the places my feminism doesn’t take me. (And I’m not talking about extremist stuff – I’m considering the stands that many of my fellow Mormon feminists take.)
As I commented on her post, makeup is not a front I’ve chosen to make an ideological feminist stand, though I admire and support those who do. Likewise other “feminine” physical attributes — I wear high heels on occasion and highlight my hair.
My feminism has also not led me to personally embrace natural childbirth. I know several women for whom natural childbirth is an important feminist issue. Taking control of their own birth experience and removing themselves from the male dominated, intervention heavy typical OB experience is crucial for them as feminists, and I am absolutely supportive of them and their choices. I myself, however, have been very grateful for my epidurals, even if it does mean less control.
I also allowed my son to be circumcized four years ago. I don’t know if I would do it again if I had another boy, but at the time my revulsion against female genital cutting didn’t extend so much to male genital cutting. I had mixed feelings, so I stepped back and washed my hands of it, and it was done.
In considering these areas I’ve chosen to not take feminist stands on, it seems one theme that runs through them is the body. When it comes to mainstream medical practices, as well as mainstream conceptions of physical appearance, I appear to be willing to fall in line personally. I’m not sure why this is the case – have I been so influenced by contemporary conceptions of beauty that I am unwilling to swim against the tide? Am I so afraid of pain that I willingly cede my body over to medicine in ways that are disempowering to women? Interesting, since I am willing to make myself uncomfortable in other areas because of my feminist principles.
Where does your feminism not take you? Do you see any themes? Any ideas of why you do or don’t take certain feminist stands?