On “Radically Inclusive” Feminism

This article by Jamie Peck (“Stop trying to change feminism to suit your own personal ideology“) is emblematic of a kind of thinking on the left that’s become all but dominant. And, I think, seriously destructive.

What the author is doing is attacking my friend Marisa for daring to call herself a feminist while not holding a slew of far-left positions.
(Ironic, since the very title of the piece criticizes feminists who try to bend the movement to fit into their personal ideologies.)

The author insists that feminism must be “radically inclusive.” What she means is that it must emphasize the participation of, and advocacy for, marginalized women. Fair enough.

But what this appears to mean in practice is that feminism is only real if it also includes anti-Israel activism, specific views on sex work, opposition to capitalism, support for a $15/hr minimum wage, and so on. Feminism “ceases to function as a movement,” the author writes, if it doesn’t identify Hillary Clinton as an “oppressor.”

This is not only creepy. It’s politically impotent.

A huge part of successful politics is building coalitions. If you’re engaging people who are, perhaps, not entirely on board with your platform, you’re doing something right. Conversely, there’s no surer way of weakening a movement than excommunicating everyone who doesn’t adhere to rigid ideological standards.

Just as an example, your “radically inclusive” feminism is going to have a tough time if it excludes both Zionists and pro-life women. How many Palestinian women does the author think are “pro-choice”? I guess they’re out, too.*

This whole thing is nothing new, of course. It was brilliantly parodied in The Life of Brian.

“Whatever happened to the Popular Front?”
“He’s over there.”


*  A commenter on Facebook rightly pointed out that most Palestinians don’t live in Palestine, so I want to clarify that, in this sentence, I meant to refer to Palestinian women who live in Palestine. I have no idea what the prevailing opinions on abortion are in the Palestinian diaspora, but I assume they are varied.