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Feminism and Choice: Personal Responsibility versus Judgement

(First post!)

A few posts from last week got me thinking again about choice. I again found myself torn between wanting to respect other women’s decisions, not make decisions for them, etc. on the one hand, and the desire to keep challenging societal standards in general on the other.

One question that kept occurring to me as I thought about women making choices that to me seemed unfeminist was: "But has she REALLY considered it? What if she’s just deceiving herself?" This was fueled, in part, by some of my own experiences with challenging standards. When I first wanted to stop shaving, I had a period of a few months where I was afraid of doing so because of the social stigma, and anxiously trying to justify continuing to shave by saying that it was my choice. I was deceiving myself. Eventally I owned up to the fact that I was doing something I didn’t want to, and stopped. Which was hard.

So this makes it sometimes difficult for me to accept other women’s choices, whether they concern shaving, letting men pay for them in bars, or engaging in traditional gender roles in general, when those choices seem unfeminist to me. It’s hard not to think – Is this REALLY her choice? This is further complicated by some strains of third-wave feminism, which do seem to attempt to justify any traditional behavior (stripping comes to mind) with choice.

Here is where I have my epiphany. The thing ...