On “Feminist Judgements”


On Friday’s Women’s Hour in BBC Radio 4 one of the issues discussed was the presence of feminist politics in judges in court, a concept raised on account of the case of a woman who had frozen the embryo of her and her partner when she was diagnosed with cancer, with the view of having children in the future. Now, later on, the couple have split up, and, after a trial during which the woman fought to be allowed to have IVF, despite the partner’s refusal, the courts have ruled no, against allowing her the IVF treatment. This case, amongst others, has lead to a book which considers the presence of female and feminist judges in court. This is discussed on the 2nd chapter of the programme, available at the above link.

I have several problems with this discussion, which, I feel highlights many problems that the term “feminist” encompasses. The case essentially, is almost irrelevant; it’s the issues invoked that are important.

Firstly, the indication that being female is being feminist. This is seized by one of the interviewees who denies any correlation between gender and politics, quite rightly claiming that there are feminist men, and misogynist women. The fact of the matter is there seems to be a lack of BOTH women judges AND feminist judges. This is another issue regarding the position of women in high up and powerful jobs.

But secondly, and most importantly, what has enraged me is the questioning of feminist politics as a prejudice. Jenni Murray questions “why is is acceptable to bring a feminist prejudice […] but not a misogynist one?”. This to me highlights and underlines the massive problem faced by the term feminist within today’s society: the idea that feminism is prejudice, that feminism is misandrist, that feminism is inherently unfair – which goes against the essential ideology of EQUALITY that is inherent within feminism. Feminism is not akin to misogyny. Yes, it fights it. But not with misandry.

These issues are so important, and really need combating. And I am shocked that those interviewed didn’t pick up on them. I think that this section demonstrates how much fighting must be done, not just against the inherent misogynist values which govern our society, but also against the ideas which wrongly condemn feminism as the promotion of another form of hatred and inequality.

This leads me to another article I’ve read today, published on the F Word, entitled “Are You Feminist Enough?” http://www.thefword.org.uk/features/2010/12/are_you_feminis

It highlights the ongoing and eternal passion needed for a feminist activist to keep answering back, keep fighting, keep arguing every single day. And it’s hard work standing there, presenting the same ideas again and again amidst a sea of sceptical faces who have written you off before you even open your mouth on account of the negative implications  promoted by the media (wrapped around patriarchy’s little finger, perhaps??) of the label ‘feminist’.

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