A Feminist Party?

Why doesn’t the U.S. have a Feminist or Women’s Party? Germany does. Feministische Partei Die Frauen only won 0.1 % of the popular vote and no seats in the last legislative elections (2005). But at least it exists! It is a choice. Belonging to the party makes a statement.

I’m not saying that a feminist party or women’s party would find a huge following in this country. In fact, the opposite is more likely. But I’m tired of not being able to find a party that reflects my world view. And I believe, perhaps naively, that feminism has the answers to many of the world’s problems. And I’m not speaking as a Second Wave feminist here. Today’s feminism is a philosophical system that makes sense in today’s world.

What would be the platform of a feminist party? In Sweden the feminist party (known as Feminist Initiative) stands for gender equality and for the advancement of women’s roles in society–and especially in government. Do we need a separate party for that? The Green Party in Sweden doesn’t think so. In this article, the Green Party position toward the Feminist Initiative is presented. Basically, the Greens see the FI as divisive. I’m sure many people in the US (and around the world) would feel the same about a feminist party in their countries. I can hear the question being asked now: “How would feminist issues benefit all of society?” The reason this question is difficult to answer is the same reason why feminism itself has lost a lot of its punch since the 1960s. Feminists can’t make the case that feminism is a worthy guiding principle for all women, let alone for everyone.

We need a different description of what feminism stands for. Its main premise is that all of society–not just women–would benefit from being guided by feminism. When we dissect society by feminist priciples, we see the core issues that divide our nation: freedom to choose (and I don’t mean just abortions–there are many choices that women are not free to make), eradication of labels (racial, sexist, gender, economic, religious), concern for our children (day care, health care, education, healthy upbringing), economic justice (pay parity, removal of the motherhood stigma, job sharing or flexibility, access to and transferance of health insurance) and care of the world’s “under-dogs” (the homeless, children, the elderly, those who are unemployed or underemployed, people choked by debt and rising prices).

A feminist party would not be trying to set itself apart from the rest of society. If anything it calls for women–and men–to take responsibility for the world’s woes. I know that feminism itself is suspect in this society even (or especially) among women. That, too, I lay at the feet of the feminist movement. By becoming a party we would have more responsibility to clarify our positions. The way it is now, people don’t know what we stand for. Feminists don’t know what they stand for!

That’s the main reason why we couldn’t have a feminist party in this country. We don’t have the cohesiveness and common vision that a party needs to make any headway politically. Until we do, we might as well forget any dream of feminism “saving” society. We’ll never get the chance.