In this series, we invited feminists all over the world to share their views on what we think are some of the crucial questions that we should be debating right now. The feminist movement is broad, diverse and sometimes divided. Is that a good or a bad thing? Please, share your opinion with us and your fellow feminists.
CAN YOU BE A FEMINIST AND SUPPORT MILITARY PRACTICE?
I assume here that this entails support for established national armies? Yes. Even though military practice in most parts of the world is hypermasculine and reinforces exclusion of and oppression of women and nonbinaries, I think you can be a feminist and support reformed military practice.
No – The military is an industry structured
on male hetero-normative violence and power.
Support military in general yes, but support any inequality between men and women in the military, no.
No, because it leads to violence and murder of women
in the areas targeted by the military practice,
also in “humanitarian” military actions.
It is also tightly linked to sexual violence,
both within and by the military.
The sad truth is that, without American imperialism in Asia, I would not exist. Seeing the effects of what occupation does, in spheres both personal and academic, to the cultures, societies and individual sense of self of people who have been colonised and/or occupied, I am absolutely against military practice.
American military practice abroad has devastated
countless countries and propped up numerous
dictatorships that force people to flee.
Speaking as an American, I can attest to the draining power that the military has had on the American economy and thus the country’s whole infrastructure. More money is given to the military than to education, health and maintaining modern, safe waterworks and strong physical infrastructures (to an extent here it is the same with Trident). The support for military in American culture has led to an acceptance of the militarisation of the domestic police force, which has led to a dramatic uptick in police violence, especially against people of colour. If feminism is for ensuring a fairer, non-violent society and working to undo harmful racial stereotypes that the police work upon, then it must be for demilitarising both domestically and internationally.
Yes, I’m not sure that military practice is in itself an issue
that concerns feminism (though obviously there is much
to be said about how female soldiers are treated in the army,
and how armies treat women belonging to the
groups they are fighting). If there is information to disprove me,
I’d be interested in engaging with it.
Yes, definitely. Military practice has to become more approachable for women, more fair for them. If a woman wants to join the military, I can support that. In fact, it should be easier for them to do so. In Germany they are talking about bringing back military service as a mandatory thing (which I don’t like) for men and women (which I like!).
I don’t feel like I know enough about this to say one way or the other –
I’m aware of the sexism, racism, homophobia, and transphobia in the military,
and of the atrocities they have committed, but in that sense supporting
military practice is questionable regardless of whether
or not you call yourself a feminist. Then again, when Trump pulled
American military forces from the Syria-Turkey boarder,
the Kurdish people were massacred. We live in a wildly imperfect
world and sometimes a military response or intervention is necessary.
No. Militarised violence and practices always play a fundamental role in upholding gendered oppression. How we decide who are targets, for what types of violence, and who is to be protected are all always gendered questions. Amongst other great scholars, Professor Laleh Khalili has done some excellent work on this. It seems antithetical to gendered liberation to support actual violently oppressive practices which are predicated on gendered categories.
I would be hesitant to declare this to be
incompatible with feminism in all cultural contexts,
but in my own Western one, no.
CAN YOU BE A FEMINIST AND ADVOCATE THAT CLIMATE CHANGE WILL AFFECT EVERYONE THE SAME WAY?
Yes, but only in the same way that you can be a Christian and claim that Jesus said all homosexuals will go to Hell. The passion is there and you believe in your plight, but you are literally wrong.
No, firstly because it is just not true, and secondly because
it depoliticises climate change and ignores the role played
by colonialism and environmental racism. Climate change
is a feminist issue because it will most severely impact the most
marginalised women of the Global South.
Climate change ultimately would affect everyone in similar ways, but not everyone is able to contribute the same amount of change and that needs to be considered.
You cannot advocate that climate change will affect
everyone the same way and make sense,
let alone be a feminist. Just read the reports on gender
and climate change by various United Nations bodies,
the International Union for Conservation of Nature,
the World Health Organisation, and so on.
This is clearly a lie because obviously it won’t. However, I personally (from probably a very naïve stance) don’t entirely see how this relates to feminism. This may be that I simply need to educate myself on the issue, but I suppose I’d say you can be a feminist and advocate that climate change will affect everyone the same because I don’t understand where they overlap. I’m probably wrong though. (Tell Vivi Bayliss if I use this).
No – You are knowingly or unknowingly participating in eco-racism –
Climate change disproportionately affects people
of colour around the world.
No, this will be based on class, wealth and gender. We have already seen the effects of climate change and natural disasters on the most marginalised of society around the world. While it is great to have people like Greta Thunberg and people listening to her en masse, I really don’t think that the majority of people understand what it will be like in the future with climate change, and they don’t understand (and I can’t say I know the full picture either) how certain groups of people will be left (are being left) to fend for themselves as climate change takes a toll on environments, industries, living infrastructures, mass migration, etc.
No. Climate change has unequal repercussions on people
based on their class, income and gender. Women are often rendered
much more vulnerable as they are more likely to be displaced;
women are more likely to experience poverty and so
experience more difficulty in recovering from disasters
which affect infrastructure jobs and housing; their roles as
caregivers often mean that they are additionally responsible
for children and relatives. It is important to recognise
these vulnerabilities so that so that facilitations can be made.
CAN YOU BE A FEMINIST AND DISTANCE YOURSELF FROM POLITICS?
No, because the patriarchy is highly political and will not be abolished without engaging with politics. ‘Feminists’ who claim to be apolitical are still being political by leaving the status quo unchallenged.
As a feminist you don’t need to be actively political. Politics is not everyone’s thing.
Most importantly feminists need to be inclusive in their own
lives and live by their ideals in their own lives. However, you can’t ignore
what’s going on in the world and should at least be aware of political issues,
even if joining protests or volunteering are not possible for you.
No, really the personal is political. I absolutely advocate taking breaks when you need to because feeling overwhelmed leads to no progress, but at the same time balancing it with a sense of duty towards what you COULD get done or who you could influence to act further.
For people who distance themselves from politics
or say they don’t care to pay attention,
they can get away with this because they won’t be affected
in the first instance when/if legislation changes for the worse.
Feminism can’t just be about sloganed t-shirts and superficial self-care (says she as she gets ready to do a sheet mask), as capitalist-feminism would like us to believe. Feminism is an ideology and life-practice that requires understanding of how policies could be altered to make society and the economy fairer, cleaner and more just, and then a drive to help them move in that direction.
Yes, because in politics it can often be harder to choose what
or who is right/ wrong. Politics are all about compromising
and at times I find that confusing. Nevertheless,
I have my opinion about how women
should be seen and treated in our society.
As feminism is based on the fact that things aren’t great right now and they could be made better by changing the way we think, act and interact, it is an ideology that concerns itself with both society and individual ways of thinking, so is inherently political.
I personally don’t understand how you could.
Feminism is a political issue, first and foremost.
The earliest roots of feminism lie in suffrage.
If you completely distance yourself from politics all the time
then your feminism can only cover the most basic,
surface-level topics and therefore isn’t worth all that much.
I find the notion that one could ever distance oneself from politics highly interesting. Stating such a thing is already a political statement with political consequences. I would simply argue that no-one can distance themselves from politics. So, no, you can’t be a feminist and distance yourself from politics because I don’t see that anyone could ever effectively distance themselves from politics.
I think feminism is a politics, and a political stance.
Illustrations by Svenja Heutelbeck and Hannah Wolny