In light of my prior post regarding my decision to enter therapy, there are those who will undoubtedly now take issue with the name of this blog or who will argue that my admitted problems somehow discredit the feminist positions I have taken.
With regard to the name of this blog, I should note that people with problems are capable of happiness. Much of the happiness I have enjoyed is attributable to personal strength derived from a feminist worldview and a lot of luck. And besides, "the Happy Feminist" isn't necessarily meant to be taken literally but was rather conceived as an ironic take-off on the notion of "the Happy Homemaker," or "the Happy Hooker" (that old Penthouse column by Xaviera Hollander), both phrases that imply a woman's unquestioning contentedness with her subservient role.
With regard to whether my personal mental health issues discredit my feminism, I've got lots more to say. There are those who argue that feminists are by nature miserable, maladjusted people either because feminism makes us that way or we are driven to feminism by our personal problems. Frankly, I don't see how believing in one's own self-worth and right to dignity and equality leads to unhappiness. After all, these things are never argued to lead to unhappiness in men.
As for whether problems in one's personal life lead people to embrace feminism, in my case feminism was part of my family's value system before I was born, going back to my grandmother. But if people are drawn to feminism as a result of problems in their personal life, I don't think there is anything wrong with that. The personal problems of a feminist do not discredit feminism itself, despite the endless efforts of those who rely on ad hominem attacks.
I was tempted not to go into my personal issues on this blog out of a fear of playing into anti-feminist stereotypes of the screwed up feminist. But freedom means not having to pretend to be superhuman just because I am a feminist. Although feminists are often very strong, tough women, being a feminist does not guarantee a woman invincibility, nor should we allow ourselves to be forced to hold to that standard.
And finally, as I argued in this this post, the purpose of feminism is NOT to make women happy:
. . . We never see articles that talk about whether democracy will make the Iraqis happy or whether equal rights for African-Americans have made them happy or whether our civil liberties make us Americans happy. I don't think those who fought the American Revolution said to themselves, "Wouldn't we be happier if we simply accepted taxation without representation rather than fighting this rather unpleasant war?"
. . . Feminism is about freedom and equality of opportunity for women as a class. Happiness, in turn, is up to the individual and there are no guarantees. To require feminism to serve up happiness on a platter for women is to ask of it something that is not asked of any other political or cultural movement or philosophy . . .
UPDATE: The name "Happy Feminist" is also meant to convey an upbeat, optimistic approach to the consideration of feminism. We have indeed come a long way, baby, although we also have a long way to go. That's not to say that I will never complain about the state of the world, or exchange barbs with someone, but the basic flavor of this site is meant to be positive.