What is funfeminism? And how dare you criticize my choices?!

Joan Mitchell

A painting that doesn’t objectify women by Joan Mitchell. Source

Someone objected to my use of the word “funfem”.  This abbreviation of “funfeminist” is a “slur”, I was sternly told, and I am not to use it.

For those unfamiliar with various flavors of feminism, “funfeminism” is the kind whose adherents believe they can achieve human status for women by Being Sexy.  This includes, but is not limited to:

They think Helen Gurley Brown was some kind of hero.  They adore Pussy Riot.  They have “Slutwalks“. They write things on their naked bodies a lot. They “reclaim” misogynist insults and bandy them around a lot to prove how empowered they are.  And yet, they get upset when someone calls them a word they don’t find flattering.

In other words, their intentions are feminist but their practices largely aren’t.

Calling this set of behaviors “funfeminism” is reminiscent of HGB‘s “fun, fearless, female” motto; a gently ironic way of saying fake.  It is this accusation of fakery, I suspect, that angers its practitioners so much.

It angers them precisely because it’s true.

We live in a culture which insists that women exist to serve men, that demands that women present themselves for collective inspection in a way which enables them to be categorized and sorted according to their perceived youth, desirability, social class, and sexual availability. We all go along with that to some extent.  We’re punished if we don’t.

But going along is appeasement, not activism.  Feminism is resistance.

Appeasement is not resistance.  Compliance is not activism.  Not even when you put ironic, subversiveempowered sprinkles on top.

That’s right, intrepid female activists for women’s sexual freedom.  Making a “free, fearless” choice to present yourselves as sex-ay is feminist in no way, shape or form.  Nor is it fearless, free, or much of a choice.

We appease because we fear being shut out, excluded, called ugly, losing validation through male attention and approval.  We fear losing even the secondary validation we get from being admired by other women who’ve absorbed the beauty imperative and are practicing this form of misogyny not only on themselves, but on others.  We fear losing our jobs and homes.  We fear living out the rest of our lives, rejected , impoverished, and alone.

No woman in a male-dominated society is free of these fears.  No woman who ‘chooses’ to go along with what men want has made a free choice.  Those who claim that acknowledging this patronizes women, or does not give women enough credit for having “agency”, are overestimating female agency and underestimating the power of the patriarchy.  Free choice is not possible for women in a male-dominated society.  We choose from an extremely limited menu presented to us by Dude Nation and none of those choices are all that good.  Certainly none of them are as good as what the dudes get.   And all of them stink of exploitation.  Funfeminism isn’t all that fun, really.

Pretending compliance is empowerment impedes the revolution, because we can’t challenge things we refuse to see clearly.

And it’s annoying.

So funfeminist, or funfem for short, is a nice way of saying antifeminist.  I will keep using it.   Sometimes I’ll come right out and say fakefeminist.  You’re welcome to consider that a ‘slur’.  I don’t mind.  Feel free to send me all the complaints you like,  but the form letter you will get from my customer service department will explain that only people who practice funfeminism think an accurate descriptor of their behavior is an insult.

Your choices are not immune from criticism just because they’re yours. You don’t have a vial of fairy dust that you can sprinkle all over your patriarchal compliance and turn it into feminist activism.  If you’re determined to play pretend, I can’t stop you, but expect your pretension to be criticized.  Pouting and accusations of “shaming” will not be accepted as credible arguments.

Liberals will be especially shocked by this revelation.   Choicey-ness is their sacred cow.  “How dare anyone criticize MY choices!” is their outraged cry. Choosy choicesters, you need to understand that the things you do don’t happen in a vacuum.  They affect other people around you.  The more antifeminist ideas and practices you personally choose to embrace, or even tolerate, the more you support male supremacy.  And that has immediate,  shitty consequences for all the women around you.  So stop it.

I recommend eschewing funfeminism altogether.  Here’s how:    Accept that not even the greatest among us can be feminist activists all the time.  And that’s OK.  Resist wherever possible.  Appease if you have to.  But don’t lie about it.  Lying just transports you right back into that maze of sucky little choices, all alike.

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43 thoughts on “What is funfeminism? And how dare you criticize my choices?!

  1. Pingback: There Is No Opt-In; You Cannot Opt-Out « You think I just don't understand, but I don't believe you.

  2. Reblogged this on de tweede sekse and commented:
    Over funfeminisme (reblog, wel Engelstalig)

    “Your choices are not immune from criticism just because they’re yours. You don’t have a vial of fairy dust that you can sprinkle all over your patriarchal compliance and turn it into feminist activism. If you’re determined to play pretend, I can’t stop you, but expect your pretension to be criticized. Pouting and accusations of “shaming” will not be accepted as credible arguments.

    Liberals will be especially shocked by this revelation. Choicey-ness is their sacred cow. “How dare anyone criticize MY choices!” is their outraged cry. Choosy choicesters, you need to understand that the things you do don’t happen in a vacuum. They affect other people around you. The more antifeminist ideas and practices you personally choose to embrace, or even tolerate, the more you support male supremacy. And that has immediate, shitty consequences for all the women around you. So stop it.”

  3. Pingback: There Is No Opt-In; You Cannot Opt-Out | You Are A Splendid Butterfly

  4. Pingback: Funfems, stop whining about the term “funfeminism.” | The Prime Directive

  5. Women’s “choices” under patriarchy is like “choosing” to hand over your money to the mugger who stick a gun in your ribs.

  6. I don”t understand why libertarian women call themselve feminists when all they do is helping the patriarchy society: they don’t criticize it, they don”t do any analysis against it… they just say “choice, bye”, all they do is criticizing radfem (“anti-sex, morals, not feminists” etc) … And the men are of course invisible and guilt free ..Epic Fail. No wonder why funfeminism has the “approval” and cooperation of many men. And they don’t even wonder why so many men (the oppressor) “prefer” them. DUH.

    IMO They’re libertarian but not feminists.

      • Is not calling oneself a feminist already dangerous, though? Regardless how much they try to appease the oppressor, it will never be enough until,maybe, one day, the very meaning of the word “feminist” will have changed.

  7. “But its empowering” they all cry, these porn actresses etcetera .
    To whom? Certainly not all those teenage girls pressured into pornified sex and premature motherhood by sleeze addled teenaged males.
    Definitely not to those of us who are left cold by the thought of coercive sex.
    I could go on.
    But you’ve all said it better than I could!

  8. Hi! I love your arcticle, it’s awesome.
    Would you mind if I translate it into Russian and upload the translation to my friends’ radfem website? With your copyright and link to the original, of course.

  9. Your argument breaks down when you think about the fact that in the gay male community, they also watch porn and act in porn, yet no one considers that to be degrading to men OR gays because they are able to be both sex subject and sex object at the same time. Is it only un-feminist if women choose to be in porn for men’s pleasure? Is it therefore feminist if they choose to do it for women? Or is it un-feminist to assume that the role of sex object is worse than the role of sex subject? Maybe what would be more feminist wouldn’t be that less women make themselves into sex objects for men, but that more men make themselves into sex objects for women. Maybe an egalitarian society doesn’t look like all sex subjects and no objects, but a world of “tops” and “bottoms” where neither role is assigned by gender.

    I also don’t agree that all choices are feminist, but you should re-examine how you are dividing things. This looks to me to be an extremely heteronormative analysis. And that isn’t feminist, either.

    • I never said p%rn isn’t degrading to men. It is. P%rn degrades the entire human species.

      However, the male who acts in p%rn has a lot less to lose than a woman does, because no matter how he degrades himself, he still has male privilege and she does not.

      Porn is antifeminist no matter who is in it or why.

      About sex objects/subjects: it is dehumanizing to reduce a human being to an object. There isn’t a feminist way to dehumanize someone.

      In a world without oppression, all people would be subjects, and none would be objects. There would be no top or bottom in that world, because there would be no hierarchy of dominance, because dominance would not exist.

      Nine Deuce’s analysis of p%rn is excellent. It and some of its comments specifically deal with homosexuality. Here would be a good place to start.

      Another sharp (and funny) analysis of the effect of p%rn can be found here.

      FYI: Telling me what I should do to earn your approval and accusing me of not being sufficently feminist are the kinds of asshole behavior that I don’t allow on my blog.

  10. It’s ironic that you feel Debbie is accusing you of not being sufficiently feminist, when that is precisely what you are doing to ‘funfems’ (I had never even heard the term before). It seems like you believe that women who like makeup and fashion, for example, can’t be ‘real’ feminists? So feminists aren’t supposed to express themselves with artistic clothing or makeup? What should we do, wear burlap sacks? I would think the point of feminism is to allow women to be who they want, regardless of what men want them to be. Not to be the opposite just to spite men. That seems pretty childish to me.

    • The point of feminism is to liberate women from patriarchal domination. It has nothing to do with “allowing women to be what they want”.

      Those who use make up and fashion to “express themselves” should have a think about why their methods of “artistic self-expression” just happen to go along with what men want, and why men get social approval without having to paint their faces or prance around in high-heeled shoes.

      Burlap sacks are itchy. I’m in favor of long, flowing robes, myself.

    • “I would think the point of feminism is to allow women to be who they want, regardless of what men want them to be.”

      Isn”t that just a way of “sterilizing” a debate? It’s not because you focus on “women” that your “Libertarianism” can be called feminism.
      Where is the fight here? Don’t you know that feminism is about fighting patriarchy, including what patriarchy has teach us? Slut or prude,sexy or ugly, prostitution or Religious vows, feminism or masculinism, etc etc

      We have to fight all of those things (everyone of them), if you don’t fight them I don’t care, but then I don’t think you’re a feminist…
      And it is not by saying “haha it’s okay, it’s a choice”, that there will be any evolution. The “choice” thing just help patriarchy, it doesn’t fight it.

      Why do you think many men approve funfeminism hm?

  11. Pingback: Quote of the day: Feminism On A Larger Scale | Exiled Stardust

  12. I really like what you wrote here. And I’m using your site to attempt to post a comment under the name of my second blog, which I think … is not going to work. I hope you don’t mind. Solidarity? 🙂

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