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:
- makeup ‘n’ fashion
- five-inch stilettos
- stripping, burlesque, “sex work“, ‘kink‘ , more kink and p()rn
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, subversive, empowered 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.