Wednesday, March 17, 2010

They Seek Him Here, They Seek Him There

Recently I've been feeling incredibly inspired. I am glad to report that I've now had my original Feministing community entries re-posted on the website's front page on three separate occasions. It amazes me how I have been able to incorporate my own knowledge with that of the established players and discovered so much richness there. I really do believe, at the risk of making some readers a smidgen uncomfortable, that God pushed me in this direction and, having embraced his design, has granted me the gift of eloquence and inspiration. Sometimes, during the process of writing, a particularly moving turn of phrase arrives seemingly from thin air and I know the words and sentiment are not mine to own, but they are mine to advance.

This is the latest entry.

I've always had an uncomfortable relationship with the radical voices within Feminism. While conceding them several well-founded points, what rubs me the wrong way most are not the ideas espoused but the spirit of presentation. Radical thinkers often draw sharp, highly defined, very definitive lines in the sand that leave no room for compromise. While there is always something to be said for being uncompromising and tough, this degree of didactic inflexibility often comes attached to Very Important Statements and Extremely Serious Viewpoints. I concluded a recent blog post about Lady Gaga this way.

Still, like my fellow feminists, I can't fault her for her intentions. Rather than lower the boom, I'd rather state that I appreciate anyone who is willing to risk being misunderstood. As I age I find myself increasingly disinclined to split hairs. After all, we come to a greater understanding in our own time, and each of us rests somewhere along that great continuum. Learning continues forever, as does development. Few of us fit neatly into the exacting parameters of any movement, and our unique humanity may be the reason why. Though we ourselves would never appreciate anyone who put us in a confining and vastly limiting box, we are often frustrated when our heroes can't manage the same trick. We may need to understand that there's a certain fluidity with labels just as surely as there is with human sexuality and gender. The same goes with feminists, Lady Gaga, as well as you and me.

Any philosophy that treats its adherents as though they ought to have read the handbook front to cover and scored 100 on the quiz seems far less fair and less egalitarian than the one that still grants membership to the reader who learns more slowly and has only, thus far, gotten up to Chapter 4. We all contribute to the movement in difference ways, in accordance with our ability, and often times, our own emotional and intellectual maturation.

I wish sometimes that we would spend less of our time criticizing those who may be a step or two behind, nearly demanding that we wish they would understand everything instantly. This particular approach separates enemies from allies in resolute phrasings, but sometimes confuses the new Feminist to the fold as an enemy of the cause itself. I never seek to exclude anyone's particular worldview from the big tent, but recognize also that if we are to be a true community, not a coalition, we might constantly seek discernment and clarity in any statement we hold true or any platform we lift on high. Coalitions fracture. Communities are forever.

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