Social Injustice Social Issues

Feminism is a radical struggle, not an Instagrammer trend

The latest pamphlet by American activist Jessa Crispin, entitled “Why I’m not a feminist”, lashes out against the pop and mainstream version of feminism, guilty of having defused her radical message, but her reasoning is precious for all radical thought contemporary

There is a game that is often played by children which consists in repeating a word endlessly, until it, as if by magic, seems to appear totally meaningless. What remains is pure sound, a pure signifier devoid of meaning which, while waiting to study semiotics, children more simply call a pile of letters lined up at random. But if this childish echolalia is fun, and perhaps even instructive, this same mechanism can become an inappropriate and powerful weapon of delegitimization, emptying, trivialization and finally killing of words, ideas, movements.

This is what happened, for example, with feminism . At least according to what the American activist Jessa Crispin writes in her latest pamphlet provocatively titled Why I’m Not a Feminist and just translated into Italian by Giuliana Lupi for the Sur publishing house .

Feminism, from its birth until today, like all revolutionary movements of thought, has had a cyclical history, with its violent and radical avant-garde phases and those of retreat. What has been taking place in recent years, however, is very reminiscent of the result of childhood echolalia and in fact, both the word and the philosophy that was at the basis of feminism, repeated endlessly in order to be able to universalize and become mass-produced, have its radical thrust has been diluted to such an extent that it has been weakened and defused .

«For feminism to be appreciated by everyone, we must ensure that its objectives do not disturb anyone; therefore the women who fought for a radical change in society are out. […] Therefore, while feminism is now fashionable, concrete feminist action to create a more equal society is as frowned upon as ever.”

Here it is, the result of popping echolalia : to universalize you must attenuate, not scare, not provoke, essentially deny yourself, therefore. And what was a car bomb ready to explode in the middle of the parlor of Western patriarchy transformed in the space of a few years from a revolutionary philosophy, or rather threatening to the social order, into a simple “lifestyle”. And as Crispin often wisely reminds us: it is not with lifestyles that you change the world.

It might seem absurd to say, as a man, that a book like this is important for everyone to read , not just the women for whom it was written and conceived by the author. But it is not at all because it is really important that everyone reads it, including men, certainly not because they have to become “feminists”, nor to further broaden the trend of a struggle transformed into a lifestyle. Everyone must read this pamphlet because it contains some of the best observations on what it means to cultivate radical thought in our time and in our part of the world.

Speaking about feminism, its trajectory in Western society, its contradictions and its modes of existence, Jessa Crispin touches on practically every weak point of every radical thought: from the inevitable failure it receives in the transition from struggle to everyday life to the innate difficulty of recognize within oneself the evils of the world that one wants to attack; from the threat of a certain individualistic tendency for radical and revolutionary struggles, up to the paradoxical and mocking fate that befalls every struggle that fails at a certain point to unite with the others: limiting itself to replacing the dominant with the dominated, recreating the same dynamics of exploitation he had struggled with.

There is an intuition that emerges between the lines of Jessa Crispin’s speech and which deserves to be preserved and reflected on in the years to come: every radical struggle for emancipation , if it wants to be a real struggle and if it really wants to aspire to the subversion of the dynamics of exploitation , must indeed start from its own particularity – women, temporary workers, migrants, the unemployed and so on – but it must nourish universal ambitions and know how to tend and flow into the mother of all battles that humanity sooner or later will find a way to fight: a struggle for universal emancipation which has as its objective the freedom of self-determination of individuals, communities and peoples.

A struggle whose enemy is not other men and women, but the structures of thought, that patriarchy that Jessa Crispin describes perfectly in the middle of her pamphlet, perfectly hitting the heart of the enemy: « Patriarchy is not just a question of freedom women’s staff . It’s not us against them. It is the system by which the powerful maintain their position through the control and oppression of the many.”

Here is what the enemy is: «it is our entire culture, the fact that it is based on money, rewards inhumanity, encourages divisions and isolation, causes great inequalities and suffering. And this is the only enemy worth fighting.”

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