Types of Feminists
by Lenore Levine
I recently read the classification of feminism's different subsidiary
movements, which is part of soc.feminism's FAQ. I would like to submit
my own, instead.
1) Moonbeam Feminism. Utopian idealists have been involved in feminism
since the beginning. They do not believe in making any compromise
with current reality; instead, they believe that society can be
made perfect, and, hence, that individual women can be made perfect.
The way to achieve this perfection is to follow some set of rules
exactly, and not to stray outside it
Moonbeam Feminists love to tell women what to do. As a matter of
fact, Moonbeam Feminism can be delineated in the following manner:
Make a list of your favorite wholesome pleasures, and you can find
some Moonbeam Feminist to speak out against them. (As a matter of
fact I tried this, and achieved success with every activity except
swimming. Takers, anyone? Are you sure my love of the pool isn't
This school of thought was founded in the 70's by female separatists,
who told women to give up having sex with men. I even knew a woman, at
the time, who complained about the filthy toms trying to sexually
assault her cat! (Meanwhile said animal was trying to climb up the
chimney to get at these toms.)
The torch of Moonbeam Feminism has been passed, in the 90's, to
soc.feminism's more aggressive male posters. These self-appointed
ideologues seem awfully eager to tell women to give up marriage and
other monogamous relationships. And, sometimes, of course, to offer
themselves as the person to give up monogamy with. Are you surprised?
2) Co-Opted Feminism. While Moonbeam Feminists ignore reality, Co-Opted Feminists
let it impose on them. This movement was started in the late 70's by the
old new Ms., and its imitators (Working Woman and the like). They told us
we should do whatever it takes to succeed in the boardroom, even if it
means wearing panty hose that bind and high heels that pinch, and spending
half an hour fixing our hair each morning.
Co-Opted Feminists never answer the following questions: 1) If women can
change reality enough to get jobs they never could have gotten thirty years
ago, can't they change it even further, in comfortable clothing? 2) Isn't
it more fun to hang out with four-year-olds than backstabbers in suits?
3) How many of us really want to sell aluminum siding the rest of our
lives? That is, are men really happy doing this, either?
Co-Opted Feminists can, of course, give some good practical advice, which
is certainly ethical to follow. But if they only talk about how to get
along in a corrupt system, and not about how to change it, is this advice
Co-Opted Feminism contains the following commercially oriented
2a) Mary Kay Feminism. The idea that a woman can do anything she wants, as
long as she wears the right makeup.
2b) Jenny Craig Feminism. The idea that a woman can do anything she wants,
as long as she isn't fat.
2c) Carole Shaw Feminism. The idea that large women should learn to accept
their own bodies, and recognize their attractiveness and personal
worth. And, that this self-acceptance is shown by buying large
quantities of grooming products.
There are also other, minor schools of feminist thought, which offer their own
perspective on the relationship between Woman and Reality. Among them are:
3) Dominatrix Feminism. Dominatrix Feminism arose in an error of logic: the idea
that because feminists are strong, all strong women are feminists. Now, what
is the most popular media representation of a strong woman? The dominatrix.
That is, a woman in a tight leather jumpsuit and spike heels, who "forces"
men to perform sexual activities, and pretends to enjoy this, for money.
Dominatrix Feminists have made a hero out of Madonna, for wearing a leather
brassiere on stage and pretending to masturbate. They love women of dubious
character who come on strong, such as Leni Riefenstahl, and just about any
female who appears on stage or screen in a tight leather jumpsuit. I'm
surprised they haven't said much about that female serial killer featured
on 60 Minutes; but I suspect she's next.
(I sometimes wonder about men who call themselves male feminists. I don't
mean men who are kind, or perceptive, or supportive of women's legitimate
interests. Believe me, I don't! No, I question the men who post on feminist
newsgroups, advocating a female superiority I don't accept, or expecting me
to assume a hatred of men I just don't have. Some of them may just be
ideological sheep. But I wonder if there are others who don't care that much
about women's liberation, in any true sense of the word -- but just want to
4) Honorary Man Feminism. Honorary Man Feminists do not question the separation of
male and female social roles, or their nature. They just believe women
should have the right to assume the male one. Honorary Man Feminism may have
been the only kind around in the 1930's -- which may explain why Honorary
Man Feminists adore butch 30's movie stars (like Dietrich and Hepburn) so
much. Honorary Man Feminists are typically annoyed with the post-1968
movement, since by blurring gender roles it's taken away the privileges
they worked so hard to earn.
The noisiest propounder of this movement is, of course, Camille Paglia
(though Florence King does the whole schtick much funnier, and with a lot
more honesty). And yes, I really think Ms. Paglia is sincere when she calls
herself a feminist. It's just that her definition of feminism goes back to
her youth, and is not very compatible with the current one.
Note that the Native Americans of the Great Plains were also Honorary Man
Feminists. That is, their culture made quite rigid distinctions in gender
role: males were fierce warriors, and females gentle homemakers. But they
allowed each individual to assume the gender they wanted.
4) Nicey-Poo Feminism. Nicey-Poo Feminists have taken the sensible idea that women
should be supportive of other women, and distorted it almost out of
recognition. That is, Nicey-Poo Feminists believe that feminism means never
saying anything controversial (at least in their own circles), and never
saying anything about another woman that isn't nice.
Nicey-Poo Feminism has been promoted by the new new Ms. (post-1990). This
magazine is afraid to print anything which any segment of their audience
might find offensive. After all, if they actually said anything mischievous
or funny, their circulation might increase. (A fate they seem determined to
avoid at all costs.)
5) Me Too Feminism represents the male wing of the Moonbeam Feminist movement (at
least, its proponents seem to be most active during the full of the moon).
Me Too Feminism is not the concept that men have their own problems with
stereotyped sex roles, or that many abuses typically inflicted on women
(such as sexual harassment) are also carried out on men. No, these ideas
make too much sense for Internet's Lost Boys, the Me Too Feminists. What
they are saying is quite different: that whatever problems women have, men
have to the same degree, or more. And that, therefore, the feminist movement
should be disbanded.
Me Too Feminists are quite inventive; but I would really like to see their
equivalent for menstrual cramps.