On one of my friend’s Facebook walls, I stumbled on the following item (this was posted by a friend of my friend, someone I don’t know, so I won’t name her).
My idea of feminism is self-determination, and it’s very open-ended: every woman has the right to become herself, and do whatever she needs to do.
— Ani DiFranco
(I’d never heard this quote before, but I’ll take the poster at her word and assume Ani DiFranco actually said it. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. Also, it so happens that I really like this quotation now that I’ve heard it, but that also doesn’t matter for right now.)
I don’t know what the word feminism is “supposed” to mean (whatever ” ‘supposed’ to mean” is supposed to mean), and anyway that isn’t what I want to talk about. So for right now, let’s just focus on the second part.
Every woman has the right to become herself, and do whatever she needs to do.
This is a pretty clear statement. If you agree with it, if you don’t agree with it, I think we all understand what it’s saying. So compare that with what you get by replacing woman by person.
Every person has the right to become herself, and do whatever she needs to do.
(No, it doesn’t bother me a bit that I’m using herself and she as grammatically gender-neutral in that sentence, thanks for asking; I do that a lot. If you’d rather mentally substitute himself or herself and he or she, be my guest.)
Today’s Question(s): So which is more controversial, Statement 1 or Statement 2? Which one would do more people agree with? Which one would more people be willing to put on a sign and march for? Which one would more people put on their car as a bumper sticker? Which one would fewer people disagree with? Or protest violently against?
I don’t pretend to actually know the answer to these questions. I do have a somewhat cynical guess, which I hope is not correct.
But whatever the answer, one thing is clear: statements 1 and 2 inspire very different emotional responses. Which is hard to justify, since there is no justification for agreeing with one of the statements and disagreeing with the other.