Hilary Mantel on feminism

Why do intelligent women who believe in the equality of the sexes, who would be enraged  at the notion that they are somehow less than men, hesitate to term themselves feminists?   Hilary Mantel talks about this phenomenon in this Guardian interview:

[Mantel]  is appalled by those who have forgotten what her generation, and her mother’s generation, encountered. “very annoyingly, you get women nowadays who are educated and have got on in their professions, saying, ‘Oh, but I’m not a feminist.'” Anger suffuses her face, an intensity almost indecent. “The only reason they can say that is that they’re standing on the shoulders of their mothers, who fought these battles, I think for a woman to say ‘I’m not a feminist’ is [like] a lamb joining the slaughterer’s guild. It’s just empty-headed and stupid.”

Perhaps they’re trying to distance themselves from a particular caricature of feminism?

“Yeah. Well, they need to inform themselves. Women now take a great deal for granted…”

I’m totally rooting for Mantel to win this year’s Booker.

Update: And she did!!
See a video of her win here

And here’s an oldish review of Mantel’s wonderful, eerie, and altogether masterly Beyond Black

8 responses to “Hilary Mantel on feminism

  1. Masculon the Powerful

    I think for some, feminism has come to connotate sexism, which is not PC. I think it’s fine to be happy you are the gender you are. I am a masculinist myself. However, that doesn’t mean I think women are lesser beings, or that feminism isn’t a legitimate perspective. Everyone should be proud of who they are.

  2. To be honest, I am one of those who calls herself “not a feminist”, but I do so solely because many of the women who brand themselves “feminists” behave in such an incredibly asine manner that I am ashamed to be one of them.
    But if “feminism” means cherishing the feminine side of you, while still taking your equal place in the world, I am proud to be a feminist.

  3. @ Masculon, Natasha: Yes, it’s unfortunate that the debate has been framed by the wing-nuts. I think Mantel is making the very crucial point that we should not allow the crazies to diminish the term or the issue–feminism is urgent and relevant as ever.

  4. I think your sentence “Perhaps they’re trying to distance themselves from a particular caricature of feminism?” says it all. But you’re right, the whole is so much more than the sum of its (nut-job) parts. The movement and its goals, ideals and ideas still have such a long way to go.

  5. @ Kamini: And so she did!

  6. > for a woman to say ‘I’m not a feminist’ is [like] a lamb joining the slaughterer’s guild.
    what a rocking line.

    I clearly am behind, having missed the play by play evolving of first, second and third wave feminism and what each meant in context and yet I’d still call myself a feminist because of misogyny that greets me as pushed into role of female regularly.

    to be an environmentalist is not exclusively to bomb factories.

    the radical element is never the whole. no need to throw out the whole notion of pillow for the sake of the fringe.

    thanks for referencing the book. I’ll look into it.

  7. @ Pearl: “no need to throw out the whole notion of pillow for the sake of the fringe.”
    Another rocking line right there.

    Btw, a heads-up that Beyond Black isn’t really a feminist work. But it is bloody good.

    Thanks for visiting my blog.

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