There is a school of thought that says if a woman makes a choice then she should not be criticised because she makes her choice in the context of patriarchy and therefore her choice is not free. Nobody can be criticised for submitting when they have no free choice.
So: are women’s choices exempt from critical analysis?
Hell, no. I will examine choices I make critically, and I will happily comment on the political implications of alternative choices I could have made. I’m even willing to go so far on occasion as to remark that female “collaborators” are not doing themselves, or us, any favours.
But, and this is important, this is not the same as giving anyone a licence to slag off women.
As I’ve just said in comments to this excellent Boobs post at Diary Of Barbie’s Worst Enemy (paraphrasing to make it read better out of context):
Women like Jordan are responsible for what they do. I make no apologies for her poor choices. But directing the force of our anger at her is a bit like taking vengeance on a foot soldier, while the officers who make the plans and dish out the orders are sitting comfortably in their mess playing cards. Or like blaming a native collaborator for the evil done by an alien, occupying force.
When the system that makes a creation like Jordan possible has fallen, then I will have enough attention to look around at who collaborated and who resisted. But the system has not fallen, and until it does I don’t plan to waste my time getting angry at my sisters. I do not support what Jordan stands for, but I will not judge her as a person or as a woman, because I do not know her.
And that about says it all, really.
Except to add that I’m really tired of hearing feminists say bad stuff about women who are tools of the patriarchy. Sisters, this is what patriarchy wants us feminists to do. It is only by diverting our anger towards the system’s exploitees that the system can escape our wrath. Instead of getting cross with our exploited sisters, should we not focus on the people who are doing the exploiting?
Up with women! Down with Patriarchy!