To all feminists: Stop using the word "choice feminism"!

It has come to my attention recently that the term “choice feminism” is gaining popularity in the feminist blogsphere, used by feminists on feminists. This has got to stop. Why? Simply put, there are some words that should not be in the feminist lexicon. “Choice feminism” is one of them and I’m going to tell y’all why.

First, some backstory. One of the widely accepted terms that feminists do not lob at each other is “feminazi”. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, the term was coined popularized by Rush Limbaugh specifically to discredit feminists. [Note: the term was actually coined by Tom Hazlett. I apologize for my mistake.] Through its usage, it has gained enough popularity to be listed in dictionaries such as

Secondly, because it is used to describe “extreme feminists” — which is itself a very subjective term — it is commonly used to reinforce the strawfeminist version of femiism: that we’re all angry, hairy legged, militant man-haters. For reasons like these, if feminists use that rhetoric against each other, we all lose, so, as a matter of principle, most of us don’t use it.

Now, as for “choice feminism” let’s first look at the origins. Linda Hirshman — who I have criticized for her anti-feminist rhetoriccoined the term specifically to create this pretend group of feminists who she could then attack.

So, parallels to the term “feminazi”. Created with the intention of discrediting certain feminists? Check. Is a term that no feminist self-identifies as, but rather is designed to create a strawfeminist that can be used to attack anyone who disagrees? Check. The popularization of it is contributing to the bad rap that feminists get? Well, no hard evidence on that one, but I personally think so.

Not to mention that the terminology tars with a rather large brush — to those unfamiliar with the nuances of the word, it is all too likely that they’d assume that any feminist advocating free choice as a driving factor of feminism is part of this crazy “choice feminism” that so many feminists have been ragging on.

The bottom line is that we don’t need any more terms used to attack feminists by creating these imaginary groups that don’t really exist. We don’t need to give our opponents more fodder, or give non-feminists yet another reason to distance themselves from us. And we most certainly don’t need any more divisive tactics.

So, I’ll say it again, if you’re a feminist who uses “choice feminism” please drop it from your lexicon. You’ll be doing us all a big favor.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Add to favorites
  • Reddit
  • Tumblr

8 thoughts on “To all feminists: Stop using the word "choice feminism"!

  1. I didn’t realize Hirschman came up with the term – and that she was actually referring to “real” feminists. (Because I’m a dork, apparently) I thought the term meant something different. As in, there are no “choice feminists” – just people who attack feminism by pretending it’s all about choice, and use this fake “choice feminism” to argue that feminists are inconsistent or that feminist movements are no longer needed.

  2. I do remember that Admiral Chowder got so angry that she used the term ‘feminazi’ to describe the girls at

  3. AC was someone on LJ (linked to at least one person involved with G-W in the early-ish period) who had a bit of a lob at the G-W people for being whiny, zealot-ish and not presenting the material in a way that suited her. I don’t specifically recall her using feminazi, but she’s locked down her original post, so I can’t be certain, and given the rest of her criticism, I wouldn’t be surprised.

  4. Oh, bless you for this. I’d had no idea Hirschman coined it; i just always thought it was bloody stupid. What does this -mean?- I-feminism? Then call it that. Libertarian feminism? Call it that. Existentialist feminism? A who?



    Or is it: “Feminism in which women not only make personal choices which i don’t approve of and/or make me uncomfortable for whatever reason, but apparently refuse to heap or even accept ‘bad feminist’ ashes and sackcloth on their heads for it! Maybe even freely cop to LIKING what they do! WITHOUT guilt!”

    I mean, more seriously: if your argument is -truly- that there IS no such thing as choice, why even bother?

    And if your argument is that there ARE choices but some choices are better than others, just frigging come right out and say it, you know? At least that way there’s something to work with.

  5. Ironically, many of the women that Hirshman flagellates for failing feminism by “opting out” may have little “choice” in the matter (because of the high cost of childcare, lack of flexibility in their career, and their partner’s higher wages). I ranted about her use of “choice” at length in my book review here.

Comments are closed.