Q: When you go into a bookshop or a library looking for a book about feminism, where do you go?
A: The Social Studies section, or possibly Sociology, Gender Studies, Special Interest, or Women’s Issues. Certainly not, never, under any circumstances will books by feminists or about feminism be, Goddess Forbid!, in the Politics section. It can’t be in Politics, it’s a special interest women’s thingy isn’t it? Like tampons? It should be hidden away!

Q: When you are putting together a booklet advertising the Very Short Introductions series (an excellent series of short, snappy reads introducing serious subjects to the casual learner) in which section do you place the VSI to Feminism?

A: In Arts and Culture of course*! Forget the Politics section. Feminism IS NOT political. Repeat after me, it is women’s stuff. That makes it culture, not politics.

[At least they included it at all. On the website, the Feminism title makes it onto only one of the three lists of titles – not onto either the alphabetical list or the by-subject-grouping list. Hmmm.]

The same goes for blogs, apparently. Although I don’t frequent “political” blogs, I do frequent women’s blogs which from time to time bemoan the fact that men’s political blogs bemoan the fact that there are no women political bloggers. (Are you following this?) The point being of course, that most women bloggers write from a female perspective. Therefore, they are not political, but feminist. And feminism is not about politics.

To me, feminism self-evidently is a political movement, a political activity, a political perspective. It is a view of the world which offers both a scathing, radical analysis of existing power relations and a vision for a better society (for both women and men). Feminist activism is designed to reach out towards that better society. What could be more political than that?

Yet, time and again, the message is: feminism is not politics.

Why is that?

Is it because, if we acknowledged that feminism is politics, we would have to take it seriously and respond to it sensibly, no longer able to dismiss it as some women’s fad of no great importance to the rest of the world (i.e. to men)?

Is it because, if we acknowledged that feminism is politics, we would have to acknowledge that it has the power to change the world?