Choice feminism is the idea that all choices women make are feminist choices because women make them. It’s a very popular concept, especially in third-wave feminist circles.
I don’t agree with choice feminism because I think it sets a really low bar for what is and is not feminist, because I think it can be used as an excuse for a lot of shitty behavior, and because it assumes that women’s choices are made in a feminist vacum.
Take the above graphic, for example. Shaving and not shaving are both choices, right, but to say both are feminist choices is kind of naive. I shave my legs because I want to. However, I want to because I think shaved legs are more attractive (or will be perceived as more attractive by men), I like the way it feels because I’m used to it because before I was exposed to feminism it was my “normal”, and because it’s socially acceptable.
I may be a radical feminist, but I am still very much influenced by the patriarchy. I might shave my legs because I want to, but I want to because of patriarchal influences.
Choice feminism tends to not think critically about the choices we make, and how they might be influenced and how the choices we make effect other women. We don’t make choices in a vacum, even once we become “enlightened” and feminist we continue to make our choices steeped in patriarchal influence.
I think choice feminism is so popular because no one wants to think that what they’re doing might not be feminist, but I think that’s a problem with feminism in general. We’re not perfect, but we like to pretend we are. I’m a full blown radical feminist and I still do things that are very very patriarchal, that doesn’t detract from my feminist status it just means that I live in a patriarchy. The one thing that choice feminism and I agree on is that I don’t like calling anyone more or less feminist for the choices they make (unless, of course, those choices are oppressive).
Feminists can make non-feminist choices. It happens.