The other night I dreamed I was reading a book, written by Liz Phair of all people, on the state of feminism. It was this massive tome with meaty chapters on Elizabeth Wurtzel, Katie Roiphe, and Camile Paglia. Feminists of a certain age will recognize these names.
Okay, no such book exists, and if it did, I probably groan heartily and "hate read" it and then dash off a too-short blog post about the 90s, girl power, and feminism's failures. None of those women really have anything in common, except for being part of a loose collective of what's become shorthand for "strong, sexually empowered, yet ultimately flawed woman." A 2014 update would probably include chapters on Beyonce, Lena Dunham, and probably someone like Lana Del Rey, a person whose embrace by feminists I will never understand.
It's tempting to jettison the label for good. In the past few years, I've stopped commenting on feminist blogs. I no longer promote my sites there either. I still read most of the big label feminist sites daily. One in particular has been pared down to maybe a dozen regulars who maintain that it's "better" now. Is it? I'd much rather have a variety of ideas and opinions floating around with the caveat that someone's feelings might get hurt than a homogenized love fest. Having a community that's supportive of one another is a good thing, but not at the cost of diversity. And I mean diversity that goes beyond race and sex. I want to see writing by sex workers, by union leaders, queer writers who reject assimilationism, and anyone else whose voice isn't getting heard in the mainstream feminist blog world. I might not agree with all of them, but I like seeing something that isn't the same old rehash of what straight, college-educated, middle class feminists think.
So I don't know what I am these days. I've called myself a feminist in some fashion since I've been seventeen, and I don't want that part of my identity snatched away from me, but as I move further and further away from mainstream feminism (or it moves further and further away from me), I'm not sure.