Are Feminists Good People?
The amount of work it takes to keep a free-flowing, feminist collective sane is ten times more difficult with every few new people. The act of constant self-reflection, the only tool to dismantle privilege within, is an obvious requirement. But lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the question of morals. Should we assume that feminists are moral? Of course, I am not referring to social or cultural morals – I am referring to personal morals: manners, ethics, doing the right thing.
Is a feminist kind? Does she have a strong conscience? Does she struggle to do the right thing? Can a feminist cheat? Can she be corrupt? Is she polite and friendly? Does she care about others? Is she selfish or self-centered? Would she stab you in the back to get ahead? Does she hold grudges? Is she forgiving? Is she generous with her money or stingy?
Absurd questions, perhaps. It becomes obvious to us that politics have little to do with morals. One can imagine and has probably met a stellar feminist activist who is really mean or brash or selfish or passive aggressive. And not in the way that we often challenge socially, that it is, for example, rude for a woman to raise her voice in the presence of men. No, I don’t mean those. I mean plain rude, among friends, among other feminists. Someone who would hurt people’s feelings and not give a damn. A feminist who’s inconsiderate. Can one be a feminist and have zero empathy? Does feminism impose a moral duty on us?
Tough questions, perhaps. But are they questions that feminists should take up or do we leave them to the realm of spirituality? What is the link between privilege and morals? What is the honorable thing to do, if one wanted to give a new culture-ridden meaning to reclaim the idea of honorable doings? When does a feminist put others before herself without falling into self-misogynistic traps? What does sacrifice mean to us?
We want to believe there is something about feminism that would make us want to be morally better people. Perhaps we can find this in its understanding of oppression or the fact that feminism is, by default, a collective process. Perhaps we have to be moral and kind to one another because otherwise we can’t do our work. Perhaps we are left with utilitarian reasoning only and that there is nothing in political or personal identification with feminism that entails treating people with love. Perhaps love is its own political movement.