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Thursday, October 14, 2010

In a recent chat with fellow Abortioneers, the question arose of whether it is possible to work in Abortion Land without being a feminist. About a Girl recently expressed her discontent at the diminishing sense of feminism in our clinics, superseded by a for-profit model that shifts the focus from the woman to the service-payment exchange. I can't really begrudge that; you provide a service that people want, one that will never diminish in demand, and you've got a pretty steady stream of income. It's good business sense, not personal. Then again, it's not a dental office. It's an abortion clinic. Women go there to make some of the most important decisions of their lives. Shouldn't the clinics give a damn?

I suppose, by default, if you are providing a service that advances women, you hold some feminist ideals. Even if you are just a health care tycoon by day, the fact that you enter into the line of abortion fire confirms your feminist leanings. I would agree with that. But if I were to ask the manager of a large clinic chain if he were a feminist, what would he respond? Might he identify as a not-feminist, yet still commit to his position and intend to provide quality services? I would agree with that also.

I think there are two separate ideas at play: feminism and Feminism. You can be feminist, and believe in "the radical notion that women are people", or you can be a Feminist and officially align yourself with a cause that holds certain and specific ideals. And while this distinction may seem slight or nitpicky, I consider it important in distinguishing the who from the what, the estar from the ser.

Example: I have Depression. I am a Depressed person. This is a label that I wear, because having a clinically-diagnosed, chronic mental illness that necessitates treatment with drugs and/or therapy is a part of my being. It is a part of who I am, and not just a condition or a state. I rally 100% behind the Depression cause, because it is a struggle I will likely battle throughout my lifetime. On the other hand, some people are depressed. They feel sad from time to time, but not for unusually long periods of time. They may seek drug or psychotherapy, but those avenues are not essential to alleviating the condition. Depression is not an part of their being, but it is something about which they have some feelings, however strong, and experiences that do affect how they react and respond to life circumstances.

Wax philosophical, much?

The point is, I think that people are generally able to relate to feminist causes. People can stand behind women obtaining education, women receiving equal pay, and women having the same opportunities as men without too much debate. I believe in all of the above, and then some, but I can't say I stand 100% behind all Feminist ideals. Frankly, I feel there are too many different schools of thought, too many "waves" to keep track of, in order to arrive at a cohesive and concise definition of a Feminist movement. And so, I appreciate that folks can support and even enable a woman's right to choose without having to declare a commitment to Feminism per se. Maybe it's because they don't like labels. Maybe because they consider capital-F-Feminism to be a movement in a more stringent sense that they don't feel comfortable aligning with. Or maybe because, sometimes, you don't really need to give a special name to what it is that you do. Because you must. And no matter what you call it, you are in it for the women.

(That said, I absolutely adore About a Girl and love her post!)


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