On Feminist “Aggressiveness”




I can surely understand the complaint that, as a matter of pure political strategy, it makes no sense to have any conversation about a thorny social issue devolve into mudslinging.

I guess what I would challenge is the idea that the first mud being slung is by the feminist. The truth is, to be a woman can sometimes feel like being under siege. (Pre-emptive strike: if you do not feel like this and you are a woman, count your blessings, don’t invalidate the feelings of others who do not agree with you.) You can’t walk around alone too late at night, your breasts are of insufficient perkiness, you can like some kinds of sex but if you don’t like others you should grin and bear it or you’re a prude, you can have a job but make sure you don’t forget those kids you gave birth to and of course must love above all other things or else you’ve fucked them up.

In short, and I’m hardly the first to say this, you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. If you don’t say to your partner, “Hey, that thing you did made me uncomfortable,” he is highly unlikely to divine that for himself. If you do speak up, people say, “oh God, you framed it so aggressively. Why can’t you nicely explain your feelings?” Men say to me, “I’ve never raped a woman” – but how does that exempt you from the discussion of how this culture encourages men to brag, publicly, about their ogling of tits and ass? How does that mean that you get to do anything short of tracking a woman down in an alleyway and forcibly raping her?

Now we can talk about medium and we can talk about tone and we can talk until the end of the earth about sarcasm and understanding and strategy, but I guess sometimes, as a feminist, at the end of the day I want to talk less about methods and more about results for the women who are actually harmed by these practices.

Thank you.

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