When I last blogged about women and choices, I encouraged women to think about their own biases and to consider other women's situations before judging other women's choices. This may lead some people to the (erroneous) conclusion that I think all women's choices are equally good and empowering. Or that I think that feminists should never criticize other women's choices. (The latter would actually be a logical impossibility because I would be implicitly criticizing women's choices to criticize other women.)
Women make a lot of bad choices. Just like everybody else. Part of being a grown-up is accepting responsibility for your choices. It's accepting that people will criticize your choices. And when people criticize you, you have the choice to ignore them or to decide that they're full of it (just projecting their own issues onto you), or even to take their critique into consideration. Or some combination of the above.
On the other hand, I don't think it's a feminist argument to claim that another woman's (unempowering) choice isn't really a choice, or that she's somehow not responsible for that choice because of the way the patriarchy messed her up in the head. I think that if an adult woman is of sound mind and body, then she should be assumed to be competent to make her own life choices and she should be held responsible for her choices. Like a grown-up. Even if some women's ideas are negatively influenced by the patriarchy (or by something else), feminists should not argue that women need to be protected from their own choices.
Keep in mind is that being totally self-actualized and well-adjusted isn't the norm. It's not that women are messed-up by the patriarchy unlike ordinary people who aren't messed-up. Pretty much everybody has some kind of baggage. So when you see bad behavior, criticize away, and criticize with an underlying assumption that a grown-up woman can hear and learn from criticism -- she isn't just a puppet with a patriarchy hand pulling the strings.
Now, some of you probably thinking "Chanson, you're arguing with a straw-man! No feminist argues that the patriarchy renders women incompetent to make adult choices!" Not so. I've had this argument with fellow feminists more than once (though, fortunately, pretty rarely). And I was reminded of it just recently because of a discussion on MSP. On that thread -- in an interesting twist -- a gay man was passionately arguing that the hetero-patriarchy renders gay men unable to be held accountable for their own choices and behavior. If he (or someone else) had been arguing the same thing about women, I would have put up more of a fight.
That said, please note that often women's choices really are limited by ignorance, economics, and coercion. So when I talk about choices here, I mean choices among the range of real options and opportunities the woman has to choose from. Increasing women's educational and economic opportunities is the best strategy for encouraging women to make empowering choices on their own.