Feminism and choice

How might I understand the choices people make?

Sometimes people make choices because they are oppressed. Possibly, a Muslim woman in a hijab- head-scarf- or niqab, face covering, is oppressed, by societal or family pressure, and possibly she has decided to wear it as a positive affirmation that she is Muslim, and as a defence against the sexualisation of women in Western culture. Arguably the Koran does not require women to cover so completely, merely requiring their dress to be “modest”, and arguably the predominantly non-Muslim culture cannot do anything to relieve the oppression.

Do what you can to relieve oppression.

I want to turn heads. I want to attract attention and interest. While carriage and mien help, fashion is a good tool. That is difficult: I do not go where I may observe fashionable people, and most of my clothes purchases are in charity shops. Is it “oppressive” that something fashionable two years ago is now past it, that I must buy a new wardrobe twice a year?

Considering the examples of the celibate gay Christian and the housewife, there are many choices which could involve internalised or external oppression but few which do so of necessity.

Why do women stay with violent partners? Because their self-confidence is destroyed by that partner, and they do not see an alternative. People do things which they do not choose to do. I asked a woman if her husband hit her, and she said “Only occasionally”. Some of us have deep-seated psychological scars, and the violence fulfils some sort of strange need.

Why do women become sex workers? Some are trafficked and brutalised, some are privileged and sex-positive.

Choices affect others. Does the prevalence of pornography affect the culture in a harmful way?

Choices can appear irrational. I do not understand my choice to transition. If I say “I am a woman” I might not be explaining it, but explaining it away. There was a desire in me which I could not resist, however hard I tried- I would call the resistance “Internalised transphobia”- which was the most important thing in my life, which eventually I actualised.

I tend to feel that a person’s choice to harm herself is an attempt to make her life better: we drink to avoid consciousness of pain.

I am in favour of the freedom of every human being 
to pursue their own good in their own way, 
so long as they do not harm others.

But the political position that requires me to adopt on any particular issue is not always clear.

Evelyn de Morgan, Angel piping to the souls in Hell

8 thoughts on “Feminism and choice

  1. Choice is a funny thing – while extrinsic freedom to exercise it may exist, the intrinsic one may not match it; we may not have the courage or opportunity to realise to the full or to the ideal the choice we make…

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  2. I have missed your posts and your lovely way of clear-thinking through things. Even when no easy answer presents itself, as here, you somehow manage to set it out ‘how it is’ for me.

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      • I’m good, thanks. I’ve been focused on other things, getting some work published here and there, but mainly taking a break from the online whirl for a bit.
        It amazes me how bloggers such as yourself can write so frequently, and yet still make the words seem fresh and new. It’s an enviable gift you have! One thing I find, personally, is that the Internet can drain me after a time and I need to retreat every now and then. So I’m taking things much easier this time around.
        I may not check in every day, but you’re one of my favourites so rest assured, I’ll be back!

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