“Free to choose normality”??

This has to be one of the wackiest feminism-blaming articles I’ve read. It’s by Charlotte Raven, herself a feminist. She argues that feminism has let women down over the last 2 decades. How?

We’ve been too busy spending a fortune on power-dressing and talking about how to make feminism fun and sexy. We’ve totally ignored actual inequalities and oppression in the world because, well, we’ve had our heads up our own arses. As examples, she offers up her own lifestyle and those of her London journo friends. And doesn’t bother too find out whether other feminists might possibly have done something else. Nah, that would require, like, actual reporting. (And taking our heads out of our arses.)

What do we need to do now? Start talking about inequality and most of all vicitimisation. Stop pretending we just love everything about our lives. UNLESS we’re mothers. In which case we need to stop our whingeing and put the baby first.

Oh, and “recover our desire for the missionary position with the person lying next to us. In every sphere of existence we’d be free to choose normality.”

Yup. That’s the vision. Thanks, Guardian.

13 thoughts on ““Free to choose normality”??

  1. The Guardian is pathetic when it comes to feminism. Between this hetero nonsense and her best friend Julie Burchill and her anti-trans political lesbianism, it’s a wonder more people don’t don’t say, “I’m not a feminist.”

    And if normality didn’t choose me, how am I supposed to “recover my desire for the missionary position” with my lover, except with a strap-on?

  2. The word “feminism” has come to be broadly interpreted in the last 40 years. In his essay, Politics and the English Language, Orwell lists a number of political terms that in his day had lost all precise meaning. Instead of arguing which is the “true” feminism, perhaps we could find an adjective to differentiate the feminism that is talked about in this blog from the feminism that Madonna is supposed to represent.

  3. Amos, that’s a good point. It’s worth remembering that ‘feminism’ covers a vast range of different positions and ideas.

  4. I think frances is confusing two people in her post. The Guardian columnist self-identifying as a political lesbian who has been involved in controversy due to alleged transphobia, amongst other things, is Julie Bindel:-


    As far as i know Raven has no connection to Bindel. The professional iconoclast Julie Burchill is a friend of Raven’s, and indeed had a very public affair with her in the mid nineties, but is certainly not a political lesbian. The main theme of her columns the last time i was reading them was the excellence of her sexual relationship with a much younger man.


    Most likely the confusion has arisen because Burchill has also been a Guardian columnist, though i seem to remember that they parted company acriminoniously a few years ago. Whatever the reason, I rather imagine though that each would be mortified to be taken to be the other.

  5. All right, I’m confused by the responses to this article. I found it to be very accurate about a certain sub-group of young women–those who are educated, believe they can do anything, think that their sexuality empowers them (no matter how they express it), and say they have freed themselves from their second-wave feminist mothers’ inhibitions about being “feminine,” “sexual,” “free,” and “wacky”. This group of women, many of them in their mid- or late-thirties, refuses to grow up, thinking that adhering to the carefree, irresponsible state of adolescence is liberation. Fortunately, some of my students, both male and female, see through it: see through the sexualization of young women, the goal of servicing men and getting ahead by being attractive and thin, the lie that they can “have it all,” the assumption that babies are at most, pets or even fashion accessories, and the ambition of being rich, famous, and carefree. There IS, in my opinion, a very scary version of so-called “post-feminism” out there that we need to be worried about.

  6. Indeed there is. My problem is with blaming feminists for it. And with Raven’s proposed alternative picture– loving the missionary position and putting the babies first.

  7. @morgan, no, unfortunately I know rather well who Burchill is, though perhaps I was missing a comma, and substitute ‘Raven’s’ for ‘this in the first line.

  8. There is an interesting circumstantial link between Deleuze and Guattari’s anti-Oedipus — an attempt to overcome dour Stalinism by making capitalism fun — and the attitudinal stance of post-feminism.

  9. Introvertica, the piece may be quite accurate when it comes to that certain sub-group of young women. But its explicit target is not that group as such; instead, Raven chastises `feminists’: `Feminists have become increasingly frivolous’; `If any feminists had taken against all this, it might not have got so out of hand. Unfortunately, the people you might have expected to question these assumptions were dancing around in bra tops.’

    I was at a very interesting talk last Fall, on twentieth-century feminism in the UK. One of the most interesting things brought up in the talk were the interactions between the women’s movements and the UK class structure and labor movement. IIRC, the claim was that there were, in effect, two distinct women’s movements in the UK, one for working class women which was closely affiliated with the labor movement and one for middle-class, professional, and wealthy women. The two had very distinct aims and strategies, and didn’t interact much.

    The talk didn’t cover much history since Thatcher. But if the labor movement in the UK went the same way as the labor movement in the US, and the movement for working class women with it, then perhaps Raven’s made this mistake because this is the only sort of feminism she has access to? (That’s highly speculative, of course, and perhaps premised too strongly on a misremembered talk from six months ago!)

  10. I think it would be wrong to divide the women’s movement up into two distinct movements – one for working class and one for middle class women. There are lots of women’s movements in the UK, not just two, with different but overlapping interests and concerns. Also, not having access to other sorts of feminism doesn’t cut it as an excuse – she’s a journalist. Once upon a time, some reading up on a topic before writing about it was part of the job. (I don’t mean to sound like I’m ranting at you, Noumena, Raven’s article really annoyed me.)

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