Dismayed at Company magazine’s decision to take down her frothy feminism-lite quiz following none-too-happy feedback from other feminists, Ellie Levenson of “The Noughtie Girl’s Guide to Feminism” fame has now posted said quiz up on her blog.

So I’ve just given it a go.

And fuck me, what a surprise: I got mostly B’s.

Here’s what Ellie has to say to B-scoring-man-hating-second-wave-humourless-femnazis like me:

“You are definitely a noughtie girl – you are feminist and proud of it. Not only that but you’ve read all the literature and probably set up a women’s group of your very own to discuss the failings of men and society generally. But feminism has changed this millennium – noughtie girls know there’s more than one way to be a feminist, and that wearing pink doesn’t necessarily rule you out. Read on to find out how women in the noughties are changing the face of feminism.”

First off: “You are definitely a noughtie girl.”

No, I’m not Ellie, I’m really really not. I’m a woman. I actually stopped being a girl the day I turned 18, as did you. (And a note to Laurie here too, I’m not a sodding “lady feminist” either. {Click here for a great piece by Jemima Lewis on why the term “lady” should be banned.})

“you are feminist and proud of it”

Damn straight I am.

“Not only that but you’ve read all the literature and probably set up a women’s group of your very own to discuss the failings of men and society generally.”

You say that as though it’s a bad thing….

“But feminism has changed this millennium – noughtie girls know there’s more than one way to be a feminist, and that wearing pink doesn’t necessarily rule you out.”

Well no shit sherlock. And there was me all these years casting women out of the feminism club purely on the grounds that I didn’t like the colour of the clothes they wore. Sorry, my bad.

“Read on to find out how women in the noughties are changing the face of feminism.”

The problem is I have read on. In fact I’ve read “The Noughtie Girl’s Guide” several times now. And I’m confused.

I don’t get for instance how someone who admits to knowing nothing about feminist history, who admits to having googled “second wave feminist” to find out what it meant, can claim that women are now “changing the face of feminism”. How can you know you’re changing the face of something if you don’t know what that face looked like in the first place? What’s the expression again? “If you don’t know your history you’re doomed to repeat it” I think I’d add to that: if you don’t know your history you’re also doomed to making shallow unsubstantiated generalisations about people and to making yourself look completely fucking ignorant in the process.

What this all boils down to of course, the book and the quiz and the “It’s okay to laugh at rape jokes – here’s one I heard earlier, lolz!” articles, is a bid to make feminism more appealing to younger women. It’s a way of saying: “look, we know some of these older feminists can sometimes be a bit serious and hairy and all that, but you honestly don’t have to be like that if you want to be a feminist.” Which, to be honest, is an approach I don’t really have a problem with at all.

What I do have a problem with though is what I see as an attempt to take the politics out of feminism. An attempt to present feminism as something that encompasses all and everyone, no matter what their ideological position on anything, and in particular no matter what their ideological position on the things that actually matter, the things that actually make a difference to women’s lives: like abortion, or rape for instance (to take just two examples from “The Noughtie Girl’s Guide” where any political/feminist analysis is distinctly lacking) .

Because that’s not what it’s about at all.

There are some politics involved in feminism. And I think it’s patronising in the extreme to assume that those politics are too complicated for younger women to grasp, or that they need to have everything simplified and pinkified in order to get them to sign up to a movement, that at heart, at its most basic, is simply about fighting for their rights as women and girls.

And that’s why I, along with several other feminists, have such an issue with Levenson’s quiz. It’s not a case of “sour grapes” or “cyber bullying,” as Levenson tries to claim: it’s because that quiz is designed to tell young women nothing, zilch, nada, squat, about feminism. And because it’s premised on ridiculous stereotypes and fluffy empty headed shit that no one within the movement actually gives that much of a fuck about.


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