Instead of talking about the material realities of women’s oppression, and feminism as a social movement for the liberation of all women, mainstream representations have become stuck on feminism as the expression of an individual identity.
Of course, feminists have long critiqued high-heels and beauty practices as harmful to women. In asserting that the personal is political, feminists continue to challenge even the most intimate aspects of our lives — from the social construction of sexuality and our sexual desires, to the question of what these even mean in a culture infused with sexual violence. But all of these critiques recognise how, given the unequal power dynamics of white-supremacist, capitalist patriarchy, women are culturally coerced into subordinating practices, and some groups of women more than others. The point is to challenge the structures, and name the perpetrators, not to blame individual women.
I hope it’s possible to reclaim a truly progressive feminist politics. One that puts women, and ending the oppression of women, at the centre while still being unapologetically of the left, proudly anti-capitalist and avowedly anti-racist. One that isn’t about elevating individual choices for some, over the liberation of all. But the only way back to this kind of feminist politics is to focus on structures of power and inequality rather than individualised identities.