Fem­i­nism, fem­i­nist ac­tivism and ‘dis­si­dent fem­i­nists’

The Irish Times - - Comment & letters -

A chara, – Yes, I’m a fem­i­nist but I’m not with Larissa Nolan (“Women can’t be told any­thing any­more for fear of of­fence”, Opin­ion & Anal­y­sis, Oc­to­ber 12th). Nolan (and Camille Paglia to whom she fre­quently refers) are clas­sic lib­eral fem­i­nists – they have ben­e­fit­ted from the women’s move­ments over the decades, which by and large have priv­i­leged white-skinned, het­ero­sex­ual, mid­dle-class west­ern women. Life is good for them, so what are all these other women whin­ing about? Fem­i­nism 101 for Nolan’s ben­e­fit: the move­ment is not “anti-male”. It is (to use well-worn tropes) anti-pa­tri­archy and op­posed to the sys­tems and in­sti­tu­tions that re­pro­duce male priv­i­lege. Overly used terms be­cause they clearly state what the is­sues con­tinue to be.

I am not for emas­cu­lat­ing men, nor are any fem­i­nists I know, as many of them are men. I adore men. I love my hus­band, and my son (both fem­i­nists by the way). Fem­i­nism brings a free­dom to men to ex­plore all as­pects of their iden­tity, rather than be de­fined by tra­di­tional male char­ac­ter­is­tics, to re­de­fine “male­ness” for their own selves. Win-win!

The emer­gent in­ter­sec­tional move­ment high­lights how op­pres­sion op­er­ates across a range of char­ac­ter­is­tics – gen­der iden­tity, be­ing of colour, so­cial class, eth­nic­ity, and so on.

For me, be­ing a fem­i­nist means those who have ben­e­fited from the work of their moth­ers have a duty to stay with the move­ment, to work for change with our sis­ters (and broth­ers) so all women may one day ex­pe­ri­ence the equal­ity that Nolan speaks of so fondly.

Are you with me, Larissa? – Yours, etc,


Sir, – Larissa Nolan in her opin­ion piece de­cries cur­rent ex­pres­sions of fem­i­nism and fem­i­nist ac­tivism that have “di­verged from equal­ity into iden­tity pol­i­tics and grievance fem­i­nism”.

She then pro­ceeds to air a dis­parate as­sort­ment of her griev­ances and fin­ishes on the flour­ish of iden­ti­fy­ing her­self as a “dis­si­dent fem­i­nist”. – Is mise, CLÍONA SAIDLÉAR, Dublin 7.

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