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Suspending (Feminist) Judgment

MERVE EMRE’S PROJECT aims to center “particular peoples’ experiences of reproduction and care” in feminist advocacy, hoping in so doing that this will bring us closer to addressing the “vast structural inequalities of time, money, kinship, healthcare, legal protections, and bodily integrity.” Sign me up! However, later in her essay Emre complicates her own vision when she notes that “people’s bodies are unruly sites for politics.” And that is the trouble: the devil is always in the details.

Emre’s text makes beautifully clear that the personal will always trump the political. When facing “real” people with their “real” feelings, Emre wants us to suspend any (feminist or other) judgment. Because the private, like the body, is an unruly site for politics: as Emre’s subject B says, “for the possibility of this other kind of love, I will apparently do everything.” Indeed, when our own deep, uncontrollable, personal desires are concerned, we rarely act in line with whatever political choices we think should be made. Life is more complicated. You can call it hypocrisy, but Emre presents a more sympathetic picture that appeals to me because it opens itself to vulnerability, even as it risks complicating her project of inclusive feminism. I will extend in two directions what Emre started here.

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About Boston Review

From the breast pump to egg freezing, new technologies have long promised to “liberate” mothers, but the results are often uneven, freeing some women while worsening the oppression of others. Once and Future Feminist considers how technology offers women both advances and setbacks in the realms of sex, career, and politics. In the age of Silicon Valley, these issues are more pressing than ever, and this collection pushes readers to consider not only whether emancipatory feminism is possible today, but what it might look like.