The fact that women believe the primary question, in terms of addressing sexual harassment, is whether or not they, as individuals, are hypocrites because they’ve had to subject themselves to sexist treatment in order to make a living, is significant of today’s neoliberal discourse that permeates feminism. Bronson feels guilty about her “choice” but also either chose or was encouraged to by an editor to frame this article in terms of her choice. Rather than focusing on men’s behaviour, this article questioned whether or not she and other women are complicit in their own sexist treatment and, beyond that, what that means in terms of their own individual identification as feminists.
I, too, struggle with the choices I make or am forced to make, as a feminist, in a patriarchal society. And I think it’s very important to think critically about and question our choices and why we make them. But not once have I wondered whether or not men’s sexist behaviour reduces my commitment to the movement.
Why are we not asking what we can do, collectively, to fight back? Why, in the end, does this come down to personal choice and identity?
The issue of sexism and harassment in the workplace is so far beyond individual choice. These are issues of class, race, gender and capitalism. When women should be talking about the labour movement and the feminist movement, the focus is rerouted back to personal identities, individual empowerment, and “good” vs. “bad” choices. Again and again. I think the Canadian group, F.E.D. U.P. has made a good decision to fight back collectively, sharing their stories and putting pressure on restaurants that encourage sexualization or engage in sexist practices to address the issue. Time to reframe the conversation, America.
QotD: “Yes, you can be a feminist and a waitress…”