I just had a depressing conversation with Stingray, which she began thusly: “Well. It looks like Hillary’s goin’ down.”
She was bummed. Stingray wants a woman president, and she wants her now.
She enlarged on her point. It’s not so much that Hillary’s politics are destroying her, but the fact that, whether she advertises it or not (and she does not), Clinton is, by dint of her aspiration to ultimate personal sovereignty as the king of the world, de facto a feminist. Hillary isn’t electable, Stingray opined, because most people, particularly women, would rather die screaming than associate themselves with feminism.
Don’t I know it. These days even feminists are against feminism. Check out this post from a blog called, unfortunately, “The Pervocracy,” which I chanced upon at the very moment Stingray made her assertion about women’s antipathy toward feminism. The post was authored by someone named Holly whose online identity revolves around sex; it’s a twist on the venerable “I’m not a feminist, but …”, entitled, winsomely, “I love men!”:
I have to stop reading radical feminist writing. I consider myself a feminist, but with two caveats:
1) Some of my best friends are men.
2) Call me a rich white het cis privilegebunny, but I don’t feel very oppressed.
Young Holly seems to be sort poking fun at herself, but in a disingenuous, “Stuff White People Like” kind of way that really says “Damn, it’s great being me!”
I don’t have any hard data to back this up, but based on my experiences with this blog I have to agree with Stingray that American women overwhelmingly are invested to an enormous degree in patriarchy, and, like Holly, have no wish to confront the many ways in which this investment dehumanizes them. They would rather shoot the messenger. So they imagine that radical feminists hate them for wearing lipstick, or that we want them to castrate their husbands in their sleep, or that we want to turn them into dykes, or that we aspire to outlaw sex. And that all these things that they imagine we are makes us paternalistic Nazi sex cops who view all women as “brainwashed.” They all seem to be saying,”I don’t know if patriarchy even exists, but if it does, it doesn’t affect me, so fuck you.”
I don’t blame them. You kind of have to be in the mood to go mano a mano with patriarchy; it’s like getting hit with a piss balloon from a frat house window. But Holly’s view* reveals a certain lack of sophistication. Sexy feminists, there’s a lot more at stake with American feminism than exercising your right to bleach your asshole. Consider what Iranian feminist blogger Unitari had to say in a comment the other day at La Chola:
It is so important to understand that the condition of human and women’s rights in the US and Europe and the west indirectly affects what happens to human and women’s rights around the world. So it is important for American feminists to work on improving “their own” society while staying in solidarity with feminists in other countries.
I agree 100% with the assertion that many americans including feminists are blind to the problems in their own society and have a condescending attitude about the whole thing. In fact, strengthening human rights and women’s rights in this country helps all feminists globally.
In other words, even if you’re a rich white heterosexual American “privilegebunny” who luxuriates in what you imagine is an oppression-free bubble, feminism matters.
The aforementioned Unitari, incidentally, observes in her own blog that the seemingly endless Hillary vs Barack debate is a non-event from the feminist perspective.
[A]s I was thinking about this whole thing and arguing with my friends about this and that aspect of this and that candidate, I had a revelation. WOMEN ARE INVISIBLE. It looks like the discussion is all about women, but really when you look at it hard, women are the losers of this debate. Why? Because everyone is talking about who women will vote for, but nobody is talking about what is at stake for women. Nobody is talking about CEDAW and how it was never ratified in the US; nor are they talking about the Equal Rights Amendment. I didn’t hear anything about not-so-equal pay. I also care about what happens to my job when and if I get pregnant and whether my husband will be able to share the responsibilities or I am assumed the baby-care-taker of the house in our system? Anyway, I don’t even know exactly what all the issues are…! And I need to know so bad.
Unitari bemoans the lack of a feminist movement in the US. Well, here’s what I think. I think an American feminist movement doesn’t exist because you can’t challenge patriarchy if you haven’t managed to grasp that it exists.
*Holly goes on to characterize radical feminism as “[T]hrowing up your hands and screaming ‘we’re so oppressed we can’t even make decisions!’”, a perfect example of the spurious fun-feminist argument against radical feminism to which I alluded the other day.