"I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat, or a prostitute."
Apparently the Feminist of the today is Mary Quant, fashion designer. Now I understand other people classifying Margaret Thatcher as a feminist, I just vehemently disagree and would be willing to argue for as long as my opponent was still standing. I do not understand calling Mary Quant a feminist, let alone believing she should be the feminist of the day. She's a fashion designer. On the list of top-1000 professions whose sole purpose is to do the work of the patriarchy, fashion designer is near the top. So I'm not even going to write about her. But I am going to write about Rebecca West, who was feminist yesterday.
I've never liked that quote though - to me it screams a feminism of individualism, if you could say that you can't be looking at the lives of women collectively, which seems to be to be a vital starting point for any sort of feminism. That obviously wasn't her only thought on feminism, and I certainly agree with this:
Good God enlighten us! Which of these two belongs to the sterner sex - the man who sits in Whitehall all his life on a comfortable salary, or the woman who has to keep her teeth bared lest she has her meatless bone of 17s. 4d. a week snatched away from her and who has to produce the next generation on her off-days?But I do get an impression from Rebecca West (which may be unfair), that she saw hereself as an exception, an honourary man.
Which is odd, because it seems to me that her life was shaped by society's, and indivdiual men's, attitude towards women. This is an extract from a leter to her son:
You have one grievance against me, and one only: that I did not have an abortion and kill you. This seems to me a most peculiar grievance for a man who has, I imagine, had a good deal of happiness out of his life... You can't be so hopelessly stupid that you think that I, given my particular makeup, would have chosen to have an illegitimate child. I had a love affair with HG and I loved him then as I was always to love him, on the understanding that he would not give me a child, a promise he wantonly broke simply because he wanted the panache of having a child by the infant prodigy of the day. I was appalled by the situation when it arose, and the more so by the way that HG handled it... I felt I had to make every sacrifice to compensate to you for the suffering you might undergo. It was no difficulty to make these sacrifices because I loved you very much.
Conclusion: Her political beliefs appeared to have drifted rightward as she got older, but that doesn't make what she did in the first few decades of last century any less admirable.