Now I've read a couple of things from feminist blogs that surprised me recently. I was reading an excellent article by Jill from Feministe about health professionals that treat all women as pre-pregnant,* and I came across this sentance:
Now, I’m all for encouraging these behaviors simply because they’re healthy. It’s better for people not to smoke, to control their diabetes and asthma, to maintain a healthy weight, and to take vitamins.Now I imagine most regular readers will know which word was like a red flag to a bull. I don't believe that there's such a thing as a 'healthy weight'. But even if I did, I wouldn't use the term 'healthy weight', because I believe it reinforces the ideas of our eating disordered society. I believe that talking about women having a 'healthy weight' is anti-woman.
Now I don't know if Jill agrees with some, all, or none of this analysis. I'd like to have a discussion with her about it. But I wouldn't dream of questioning her commitment to women, or feminism. I know she's a feminist, it's just her analysis sometimes differs from mine.
On the other hand I do want to question whether or not Hugo Schwyzer is actually a feminist. Not just because he's a man, I'm kind of agnostic about male feminists, but because of what he has said and does. He has mentioned that he rejoices when anti-abortion laws are passed, and gives money to organisations that work to restrict abortions laws. I don't believe women who work to restrict other women's access to abortion can be called feminists, let alone men who do the same. This view was confirmed when he wrote about how he felt about women taking men's last name:
Perhaps for excellent reasons, I always sensed that none of my previous wives fully trusted me. It's deeply unfeminist of me to acknowledge this, I realize, but I couldn't help but interpret their reluctance to take my name as a symbol of a lack of complete commitment to our marriage.It is deeply unfeminist - and there comes a stage where if you're acting in an unfeminist way you stop being a feminist.
I agree that feminism is a large tent, but even with the largest tent canvas eventually hits grass. I think discussing at what point that might be is actually an important part of feminism. For the record I think Hugo and Cathy are both outside the tent, because they work to restrict women's choices.
*This gets occasional coverage in the New Zealand media as well. Mostly through suggestions that no woman should ever drink because she might get pregnant. Jill is exactly right that suggesting women base their health decisions around the fact that they may get pregnant is a pretty obvious example of believing that a woman is not actually a person.