Once again, Belledame complains about the use of the term “choice feminism” to tar any feminist who doesn’t think it’s her prerogative to tell people how to behave.
As far as I can tell, the term comes from Linda Hirshman, a feminist who thinks that her exhorting women to go to work is comparable to Socrates’ moral philosophy. She tries contrasting modern feminists with Betty Friedan, “who called staying at home ‘the problem that has no name,'” but ends up just making feminism look more like a religion.
Betty Friedan didn’t tell women to go out and get jobs. She complained that the system forced them to stay home, and that the media inadvertently caused women to mentally atrophy. The Feminine Mystique doesn’t even cite the studies that show housewives are unusually prone to depression (though I’m not sure any was available in 1963). Instead, it talks about empowering women to have the choice to be educated and to work.
As with most rhetorical terms, “choice feminism” refers to two things, one trivial and one odious. The trivial thing is that women should have more choices; some moralists don’t like that, preferring that everyone behaved according to the moralists’ prescriptions. That’s not choice feminism – it’s nearly universal among feminists, at least if the Yearly Kos feminism roundtable was representative of modern feminism.
The odious thing is the idea that since women can in principle choose whether to have children, no legal protections for working mothers are necessary. Strictly speaking a non-patriarchal society can exist without any protection for parents – fathers and mothers will just be equally burdened – but in the real world, not having protections impedes gender equality. The people at the Independent Women’s Forum, who labor hard to concoct some model in which if women behave in a certain way, they’ll barely be discriminated against, can be safely attacked for being choice feminists; people who want to expand women’s choices can’t be.
Incidentally, I can’t help but notice how rhetorically screwed the term “choice feminism” is. When you want to attack a group, you never associate it with a term with so positive a connotation as “choice,” especially given the importance of pro-choice politics to feminism. If you really want to disparage conservatives who say no governmental enforcement of equality is needed, that’s what “libertarianism,” “conservatism,” and “ifeminism” are for. Calling your opponents “choice feminists” associates you with anti-choice feminism.