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Belle de Jour takes on Caitlin Moran's BS


It is perhaps a demonstration of irony that in the same week when a poll showing only 1 in 7 women are happy to call themselves feminists appears, so too does a column by the editors of Vagenda demonstrating exactly why that is the case.

According to Rhiannon and Holly, Caitlin Moran should not be called out for the now infamous tweet that she "literally could not give a s___" about whether the show Girls depicts women of colour (it is set in Brooklyn, where 55pc of the residents are not white).

Apparently, hoping that a movement that supposedly brands itself as being for all women might have prominent spokespeople endorsing the idea that someone other than white-middle-class women are involved, is "cloaking feminism in esoteric theory."

If that's what qualifies as esoteric these days, then we really are doomed as a species.

I stopped calling myself a feminist several years ago for the simple reason that many feminists don't like sex workers. I'm sort of the opposite of Groucho Marx: if a club doesn't want me, then I'm more than happy to chip off elsewhere.

Even Caitlin Moran, who is put forward as a model of all-inclusive, get-in-girls feminism, writes in her book that she doesn't believe people like me can possibly be happy. Cheers for that. And they wonder why I don't want a part of it?

At its core feminism is - or is supposed to be - about equality under the law regardless of sex. Sounds simple, no? Maybe even appealing? Absolutely! But the devil is in the details: women are diverse as a group, therefore their needs vary widely. Loads of women don't see mainstream feminism including them, so they go on and live the lives they were living anyway - without feeling the need to label themselves as feminists.

But that hasn't stopped me, and many other women who have rejected the label, from being constantly nagged about the f-word. Because apparently if you are a woman, you have to be a feminist. Which makes about as much sense as saying since we've all enjoyed the benefits of the Protestant reformation, this obliges us to become Lutherans out of gratitude.

So you have to be a feminist. Unless of course you're not. Because there are plenty of people queueing up to tell us who is in and who is out in feminism: you can't be a feminist if you're Conservative, if you're Liz Jones, if you're the Prime Minister of Australia, a trans woman, a man, or Katie Price. And that's just for starters.

It starts to look less and less like a movement that wants as many voices as it can get - and more and more like one that is prioritising the concerns of a particular slice of womanhood above all others.

I say this as a middle-class white woman who is not a feminist: wouldn't it be great if feminism was more inclusive and used its voice for minority groups? Many feminists in the UK seem, for instance, wholly unconcerned about the drastic changes affecting family route migrants (surely affecting loads of women, both native UK and migrants). Historically, women who are not able-bodied, or who are not born women, or who are not white, have had a hard time finding a foothold in the movement too.

And we are told, according to the New Statesman article, that this is because intersectionality - the idea that feminism could embrace the concerns of many different groups - is too hard for the public. Too confusing. Feminism should be "comprehensible or it will be bulls___." What's incomprehensible about embracing the full diversity of ways in which to be a woman, or - sod that - a human? What's hard to parse in the notion that all people are not the same?

The article appears to endorse allowing the extremely personable and funny Moran, who has sold shedloads of books about how her specific experience of growing up made her a feminist, to say whatever she likes and exclude whomever she likes.

Moran's entitled to her own definition, of course. I'm not going to tell anyone they have to include all comers in their movement.

That's their shout. But when you call your book "How To Be a Woman" (as if there is only one way to be a woman) and write about the "voice of a generation" (as if there is only ever a single voice) it does rather invite the criticism.


FYI, Dr. Brooke Magnanti is ~real~ Belle de Jour and the author of "The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl", which spawned the TV show Secret Diary of a Call Girl. And I call myself a feminist but I think she makes mostly good points about what's wrong with a lot of mainstream feminism, and why Caitlin Moran's behaviour on Twitter was inexcusable.

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