Have you heard about, applied or received the Feminist-O-Meter lately?
The Feminist-O-Meter is a tool that often appears in feminisms and women rights activisms, fostering power struggles, cliques, jealousies and -if that is not enough – encouraging the reproduction of mainstream socialization that fosters competition and alienation among women.
It can be summed in the expression:
“Not my way to see Feminism? Then, that’s NOT Feminism”
I see feminisms as revolutions of subjectivities based on the radical idea that women are people … and it turns out that people are diverse, we are the result of our experience and the way we interpret them.
So, I do not understand why there is so much drama, judgment, outrage and social punishment in feminist spaces when those involved are undertaking the process of discovery, of claiming back our personhood by legitimizing our different ways of thinking, our understandings of liberation, and our acknowledgment of what makes us happy and makes us feel feminist.
The Feminist-O-Meter makes activisms for women’s rights feel like programs of discipline in which we receive training on what to say and how to say it, how to behave and act in order to “not harm THE MOVEMENT” (Which one?) if we want the right to belong to it.
There are many examples in which a comrade who does not want to follow the group or challenges the views of the women in power, has her “Feminist Card” taken from her.
If she dares to criticize the “sacred cows”, to challenge ideas that are assumed to be absolute truths, it is very likely that she will feel the sting of the Feminist-O-Meter.
Differences in living out the tenets of feminist practices often serve as a reason to apply the Feminist-O-Meter. If an activist believes in #ForWomenOnly spaces, she can be shamed by her peers for being a “Man Hater”, she must not be a good feminist, “not like us who are so nice, wise and inclusive”.
The Feminist-O-Meter is also applied for more personal things like wearing make up and high heels, using menstrual cups or disposable pads, getting married or not, taking the name of your husband or not, language expressions, clothing choices, hobbies preferences etc, etc, etc.
Upon the Feminist-O-Meter and on behalf of the Highest and Most True Concept of Feminism, we discriminate against other activists because of their race, sexual identity, life style or social class; or we alienate or boycott them simply because we have to take care of our fight.
Nooo! It is not that we are prey to our insecurities or our desires for power and control; and it is not that we believe they’re taking “what is ours”, No, no, no, it is just that they think too differently and that then “is not Feminist”.
Yes, exactly like patriarchy and its “That’s not what a good woman would do”.
Perhaps it is a good sign that we have advanced in overcoming Patriarchy: obviously, if we are willing to exclude women and their talents and have time to focus on these petty issues at length, it must be because we no longer have to worry about sexual violence, maternal death and the feminization of poverty, right? … Right?
The Feminist-O-Meter is the Instant Gratification Monkey of feminisms and is very effective for those who desire an ego boost. The cost of this though, is rejecting the opportunity to grow both individually and collectively. If there is no acceptance of difference and debate in the name of “The Movement” then no movement is possible, only dogmatism.
Michel Foucault says that we get used to resistance, that we become domestic and if someone decides to question the status quo again, we alienate them. I guess feminisms exist to shake comfort zones, including our own.
It is the space for challenge and different viewpoints, that makes feminism an effective strategy to dismantle patriarchy. The radical notion that women are people, that we have the right to a life free of violence, and that our struggles demand the ethical and voluntary duty to recognize each other in our basic humanity, also includes women who we dislike or who are in confrontation with us.
Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente is a specialist in training and community outreach in Gender, Communication and Interculturality. She’s also a learning and social projects designer and a qualitative researcher; an awarded activist for women’s rights who too does independent scholarship in Religion, Gender and Social Discourses. Nomadic writer. A woman with stories and geographies, lover of books, cats and spicy Chai.
Credit images to the author.