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Essential feminism has, for example, led to the rise of the phrase “sex-positive feminism,” which creates a clear distinction between feminists who are positive about sex and feminists who aren’t—and that in turn creates a self-fulfilling essentialist prophecy. For example, in an essay for Salon, I wrote about Daniel Tosh and rape jokes.I try not to read comments because they can get vicious, but I couldn’t help but note one commenter who told me I was an “angry blogger woman,” which is simply another way of saying “angry feminist.” All feminists are angry instead of passionate.In discussing what good history looks like, she pays tribute to the human need for storytelling but notes the distinctive critical role of the historian.
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, described them simply as “women who don’t want to be treated like shit.” This definition is pointed and succinct, but I run into trouble when I try to expand it. I feel like I am not as committed as I need to be, that I am not living up to feminist ideals because of who and how I choose to be. As Judith Butler writes in her 1988 essay, “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution”: “Performing one’s gender wrong initiates a set of punishments both obvious and indirect, and performing it well provides the reassurance that there is an essentialism of gender identity after all.” This tension—the idea that there is a right way to be a woman, a right way to be the most essential woman—is ongoing and pervasive.And I think it’s too bad, but I do think that feminism has become in many ways a more negative word.You know, there are amazing opportunities all over the world for women, and I think that there is more good that comes out of positive energy around that than negative energy.The most significant problem with essential feminism is how it doesn’t allow for the complexities of human experience or individuality.There seems to be little room for multiple or discordant points of view. I am generally called a feminist when I have the nerve to suggest that the misogyny deeply embedded in our culture is a real problem, requiring relentless vigilance.For Mayer, even though she is a pioneering woman, feminism is associated with militancy.Despite the strides she has made through her career at Google and now Yahoo!The older we get the more labels and categories we collect.If labeling and categorizing ourselves is going to shut the world down, it has been a long time coming.She takes the idea of essential feminism even further in a September 2012 article where she suggests that a good feminist works hard to be beautiful. No liberated woman would misrepresent the cause by appearing less than hale and happy.” It’s too easy to dissect the error of such thinking.She is suggesting that a woman’s worth is, in part, determined by her beauty, which is one of the very things feminism works against.