Questions around #bringbackourgirls came up a number of times this weekend at the International Feminist Journal of Politics 2014 conference, and Megan MacKenzie brought up a number of like-minded concerns on the Duck of Minerva yesterday. In conversations that appeared unrelated at the IFjP conference, we also talked about some of the positives and negatives of the legacy of radical feminism. While I do not intend to solve the problems of sexism, feminization, racism, nationalism, and/or militarism that I see as inherent in the hashtag, or the complicated legacy of radical feminism, I think its important as the US military mulls intervening to “bring back” “our girls,” some radical feminist questions about property might be incredibly important.
In 1994, Catharine MacKinnon first outlined her view of the difference between womanhood and humanity in women’s ‘human rights’ advocacy, where “what is done to women is either too specific to women to be seen as human or too generic to human beings to be seen as specific to women.” This builds on an earlier argument that “sexuality is to feminism what work is to marxism: that which is most one’s own, yet most taken away.” I don’t think you have to buy the radical feminist outlook on the world to think that this position says something meaningful about #bringbackourgirls. And while I would never want to minimize the terrible tragedy that remains ongoing in Nigeria, I do think it is important to look at some of the tragedies its critics are generating and reifying.