Dec 25 2008

“New” feminism: plump, luscious, and kissable

An acute reader once informed me that “the ideas on this blog are not new,” which remark I was apparently expected to interpret as a real take-me-down-a-peg zinger. Old ideas? Bo-ring. Entertain me with some new analysis. Preferably something more fun.

This sentiment is echoed by a bunch of “new” feminists profiled in the lifestyle section of the December 21 Sunday Times.

Screw political activism. “New” feminism is a lifestyle.

The “new” feminists are embarrassed by the old-school feminist protesters at a beauty pageant; those old bats “looked a bit silly, a bit like a stereotypical idea of what a feminist should be.” The beauty pageant in question, a new feminist maintained, was not about men. It was for “girls.” I mean, what were those protesters thinking, pointing out that sexist bullshit? Those “girls” were in the pageant of their own free will.

You’re hardly gonna fall off your chair when I aver unto you that the feminists in this article don’t, alas, live up to the hype. They’re not “new.” They’re old, so old, so painfully, oldly old. They were old when they were Tallulah Bankhead, and when they were Madonna, and when they were Suicide Girls, and when they were on “Sex and the City,” and they’re not getting any younger.

That’s right. They’re choice feminists, the gals who say “I choose it, and I decided I’m empowerful, so it’s feminist!” They’re fun feminists, the gals who say (and I quote from the article) “As a woman, you can’t not buy shoes and wear dresses. Plus all of that stuff is fun — it doesn’t take away from your power as a woman.” They’re 12-step feminists, the gals who say “Take what you want and leave the rest.”

Seriously! It’s all there in the soon-to-be-published The Noughtie Girl’s Guide to Feminism. Quoth author Ellie Levenson, “In the past, you had to subscribe to a whole set of beliefs to be a feminist, including how you should look and behave. But Noughties women have made it their own. It’s like a pick-and-mix feminism, where you can choose the bits you care about yourself.”

Like when you choose an outfit! For yourself!

Scratch a “new” feminist, and you’ll find an empowerful girl whose lipstickin’, shoe-buyin’ ideology springs fully-formed from her immaculate, politically-neutral, sexyfun, patriarchy-free choice-lobes. Her “choices” are her very own brilliant ideas. Her behavior proceeds from her own empowerful personal desires. Her rights, including the right not to call herself a feminist because it’s too embarrasing, revolve chiefly around her right to resemble a male fuckfantasy to whatever degree she “chooses.” The “new” feminist weltanshauung seems a little light on political theory, a little insouciant about the global ramifications of femininity, but you know what? Us old radfem prunes should just respect that and quit being so judgmental already.

Hence the sub-headline: “Yes, you can wear lipstick and be a feminist. The F word is being rebranded.”

Rebranded, apparently, as a cosmetics marketing gambit (again). If it doesn’t involve lipstick, you can count these hipster chicks out. Because lard knows a political movement should have glowing skin if it wants to maintain its market-share in this day and age.

I wish they would rebrand funfeminism as “I Heart Patriarchyism” and be done with it.


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  1. Haley

    “I thought the protesters looked a bit silly, a bit like a stereotypical idea of what a feminist should be.”

    As…I guess a “new feminist”…I am scratching my head. It’s too early for me to contemplate the idiocy of this article. Although…of course I look at suffragettes protesting and the first thing I think is “Oh, those silly ladies who struggled for our right to vote!” Protesting is so, like, olllllld.

    Then again, this shouldn’t surprise me after reading this and this.

    Yay for patriarchal feminists! Woooo!

  2. Haley

    Oh, yeah, and just in case it was missed, the protesting thing was totally sarcastic. :P

  3. Mahamaya

    I wonder if Ellie Levenson realises how hypocritical and shallow she sounds? And why do these ‘fun feminists’ have to keep attacking ‘old-school’ feminists?
    When I hear of such people, I am reminded of a character in the novel of Jane Austen, the author who painstakingly detailed all the minutiae of life under patriarchal oppression (though I don’t know if she realised it herself). This character is Miss Caroline Bingley, who says of Elizabeth Bennet, that she is
    ‘one of those young ladies who seeks to recommend herself to the other sex by undervaluing their own’.

  4. Hollywood Marie

    I just finished reading Female Chauvinist Pigs and I think these women should pick themselves up a copy. Of course, the concepts in that book are not “new” either, but then, neither is the Patriarchy.

  5. liberality

    Her rights, including the right not to call herself a feminist because it’s too embarrassing, revolve chiefly around her right to resemble a male fuck fantasy to whatever degree she “chooses.”

    A very sad but true statement.

  6. Rachel

    I guess the radfems would call me a funfem, but everyone else would call me radical. I guess I must be doing something right.

  7. Isis the Scientist

    Her rights, including the right not to call herself a feminist because it’s too embarrasing, revolve chiefly around her right to resemble a male fuckfantasy to whatever degree she “chooses.”

    A male fuckfantasy…sigh.

  8. Jess McCabe


    Would just like to point out I am quoted in that feature, but I feel that the journalist misrepresented me – I’ve posted about this here.

  9. pilgrimsoul

    Why is it that power has, in the “Noughties,” become some kind of self-help construct? Society doesn’t happen in your head, and you cannot therefore will it out of existence.

  10. Hedgepig

    I read a great book once by feminist writer Fatima Mernissi called “Scheherazade Goes West”. She talks about growing up in a harem, and about the responses of westerners to the concept of the harem. She reckoned that the men and the women in cultures with harems openly acknowledge that the women are enslaved and unhappy.

    What I find fascinating and scary about the western brand of patriarchy is how more and more we are told that we are free and equal and when we “choose” to devote our lives to making ourselves inviting orifices and receptacles and domestic servants for men, that is us exercising our freedom and equality. How 1984 can you get! The Ministry of Truth is actually the propaganda factory; the “new feminism” is actually I Heart Patriarchyism. Perfect.

    At least in harem cultures no one expects women to believe they are free.

  11. yttik

    “Society doesn’t happen in your head, and you cannot therefore will it out of existence.”

    Nope, not without help from large amounts of alcohol and lots of pharmaceuticals. Hopefully Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan will make that connection someday. It’s the one thing that “empowered” young divas all seem to have in common, an intense desire to escape what is allegedly an ideal lifestyle full of fun and luscious choices.

  12. Adam Myerson

    Their definition of feminism reminds me of people who call themselves vegetarian, and then go on to say “but I eat some chicken and fish still.” Someone’s unclear on the definition of vegetarian in that case.

  13. cafesiren

    Seems like this post should also be bearing the “strawfeminism” tag, since the funfeminists seem so awfully invested in the idea that the rest of us are all the stereotypical bitter, can’t-get-a-man-so-I’m-a-feminist feminists. Fortunately, I don’t much care whether a twenty-three year-old things I’m cool or not. And I hold out hope that when age starts to set in, and they’re offered the patriarchal ultimatum between cosmetic maintenance of fuckability or a descent into irrelevance and scorn, they become more feminist, not less so.

  14. cafesiren

    And also (now that I’ve gone and read the article): Any argument that prominently features a quote by Katie Rophie to bolster its point has some serious structural problems from the get-go.

  15. gerda

    i noticed they used a quote from the editor of the f word site
    i wonder if she is horrified how it has been slipped into this piece, and how the name of her site has been used as the byline, as f word is a proper old fashioned hairy feminist site from what i read. we get loads of good stuff from there.

  16. Starlight

    That newspapers publish stuff as feminism I think tells the story.
    Somtimes you just wonder at Gloria Steinem’s famous comment about how women get more radical with age, and men get more conservative.

    I put this stuff up to a complete herstorical disconnect that is prevelent today. The radical choice is not the popular one, and if you want to be popular with men, then you are not fully in power. You are trying to fit in, and that’s not feminism, that’s just fashion.

  17. larkspur

    The grinding down is inexorable. Everything we do, everything we are, they have to try and commoditize it and make it little and palatable. And always, always the grinding down means to soften the edges, blunt the impact, douse the flames. The suffragists were relegated to a paragraph in school history books: odd, dowdy women who helped achieve a Good Thing, but oh dear, did they have to be so shrill and humorless about it? “Women’s Liberation” – a phrase immediately cutesied up and chopped down to Women’s Lib. That was a small humiliation they didn’t even attempt with the Black Lib movement.

    Even fucking breast cancer is girlified and empinkened.

    I guess we must be really, really scary, underneath it all. I sure would like to bring some of that scary up to the surface.

  18. Theriomorph

    From the linked article:

    At the same time as being more emancipated than ever, we have never been more obsessed with youth, thinness and celebrity. Ask any woman if she minds being judged on her looks, and she will say yes. But ask her if she would like to look better, and she will also say yes to that. Beauty is power, and our relationship with it is complicated, as are our ideas on sexuality. On the one hand, we feel empowered; on the other, drooled over. Where to go in between? Jordan may have fashioned herself as a caricature of male fantasy, but she is also an extremely rich and successful working mother — and what is unfeminist about that?

    What is different about this new wave is that it is careful to allow these contradictions to play out.

    No. What is different about this new ‘wave’ is that it is careful to not confront anything which would actually rock the boat, and to co-opt the word ‘wave’ to dismiss the reality of all that has not yet been changed in any substantive way – rather than deal with the sad truth that there is no truly free choice within institutional oppression.

    Also, please to note the illustrative illustration next to this paragraph:

    http et cetera then women.timesonline.co.uk/multimedia/archive/00428/TTU080145—06-11-2_428801s.jpg

    It’s called the “Party Diet.” It’s fun.

  19. angryyoungfemme

    Cafesiren, I’m 24 and I’m too radical for everyone I speak to (I’m with Twisty on, well, everything). Seems I can’t find fellow rad-feminists anywhere but here on IBTP. I have yet to meet another woman, whether my age, younger or older, who agrees with or thinks that radical feminist analysis of patriarchy is reasonable. If I wasn’t so dang stubborn, I’d’ve given up long ago, but I just can’t let one instance of patriarchy go. My ex-boyfriend used to ask me, “Can’t you turn it off?” when I couldn’t stop pointing out and getting outraged at every misogynist expression in whatever media we were consuming or in whatever converstations with whoever we were having them. I told him I wish I could turn it off, return to the days of ignorance, but once the blinders come off, there’s no going back. There’s a reason philosophy departments the world over have become nearly obsolete.

    Radical feminism can be awfully lonely, but I wouldn’t have it any other way (well, other than revolution).

  20. thebewilderness

    It takes a steady diet of high impact propaganda to make a woman’s place in the patriarchy seem sensible.

    “This competition wasn’t about men. It’s for girls.”

    That “bride Show” in 830 where the emperor chose Theodora was all about the girls too.

  21. Twisty

    Hi Jess McCabe! I feel like a big chump, because an early draft of this post contained a remark along the lines of “I bet Jess McCabe is surprised to discover she is a funfeminist” or something like that, but the paragraph got eaten by WordPress and I was too pressed for time to fix it. I’m so glad you posted about it.

  22. Gwytherinn

    I am confused. Somehow I have been able to refrain from purchasing dresses and shoes.

    And I’m still trying to figure out what a Duffle coat is.

  23. mandor

    Duffle coats are what Paddington Bear and Ted Koppel wear.

    I’m sad because my choice to not wear heels and lipstick leaves me out of this noughtie revolution.

  24. donna darko


    Brilliant. I will call Third Wavers patriarchists.

  25. Ron Sullivan

    You’ve come a long way, baby!

    Looks like another Bingo card to me.

  26. cafesiren

    @ angryyoungfemme: no offense intended. A too-casual stereotype. My apologies.

    Now, may I rage over another quote from the article? “…as angry young women in duffel coats protested at cute young women in ball gowns..”

    Well, if I thought these were my only two choices, I might invent funfeminism, too.

  27. thebewilderness

    That was my favorite line.

    “…as angry young women in duffel coats protested at cute young women in ball gowns..”

    Who was comfy, and who was squinched, do you suppose?

  28. angryyoungfemme

    @ cafesiren: definitely did not take offense; in fact, I’m sad that I’m the only young women I know who proudly wears the rad-femme button. In my hyperbolic way, I was trying to express my agreement with your take on young women my age. I’m sure there are others like me out there, I just wish there were more of us and that I knew a few to shoot the breeze with and rant over margaritas with after a day of patriarchal-ass kicking.

    It seems, however, that the allure of the funfeminist have-your-dominant/submissive-sexcake-and-eat-it-too meme is simply too appealing an alternative to facing the blatant, in your face fact that men-hate-you in our “Girls Next Door” and “Girls Gone Wild” age. I’m 24, 5’10”, athletic, blond and busty–the patriarchy shits on me with a smile on its face day in and day out and it makes me sick. It would be entirely too easy (and depressing and soul-crushing) to capitulate; indeed, 99% of the people I meet expect me to, the opportunities and invitations present themselves daily–but hell fucking no will I ever. No one takes me seriously until my rad femme fangs come out, and then I’m branded ‘crazy’. Same shit, different day.

    I blame, oh do I blame.

    I’ll leave you with this fun fact: I got my first awesome job based on my “gumption” for proudly saying outright, “I’m a feminist,” in the interview. Because, obviously, who’s proud to be a feminist these days? Ha.

  29. Lock

    What is this patriarchy-friendly fuckery?

    “As a woman, you can’t not buy shoes and wear dresses. Plus all of that stuff is fun — it doesn’t take away from your power as a woman.”

    Power as a woman, tee hee,

  30. yttik

    Just for the record, getting older is absolutely delicious. I would not go back to my 20’s for anything. I remember feeling like a commodity. I also remember caring about what people thought of me. I don’t know how else to put it, but there’s some freedom that comes from getting older. You lose your desire to seek anyone’s approval. Guilt fades, you don’t absorb shame as easily, such as that which is supposed to come from wearing a duffle coat in public. I hear it gets even better and I’m looking forward to it.

  31. pisaquari

    I hear funfeminism comes in 16 different shades and can last up to 8 hours a day, without rubbing off.

  32. Bridget

    Sadly, nearly every woman I have spent time around recently, who is under 40, fits into the funfeminist category. If/when I say something “unfun” or radical, they laugh and talk about how behind the times I am.

    I guess I could buy new shoes and lipstick to see if they would feel differently …

  33. delphyne

    What’s getting ignored here as the journalists try to frame this as an argument amongst women, is the very new idea of having beauty contests for female undergraduates. As far as I know even the misogynists of the 50s and 60s never went that far.

    I’m surprised that the universities, who have teams of lawyers these days for all sorts of things, aren’t suing the organisers, 121 Entertainment, for misuse of their institutions’ names. You’d think they’d make some kind of effort to protect the female half of their student population from this kind of degradation.

    It’s all in a good cause of course – some of the profits of the contests are going to be donated to breast cancer research. It’s marvelous to see yet again how there isn’t a single thing about women that men won’t exploit.


    Here’s the application form for it, maybe blamers would like to make their feelings known directly to the organisers here:

    http://www .missuniversitylondon.com/register.php

  34. Zofia

    What I find fascinating and scary about the western brand of patriarchy is how more and more we are told that we are free and equal and when we “choose” to devote our lives to making ourselves inviting orifices and receptacles and domestic servants for men, that is us exercising our freedom and equality.

    As someone who left the corporate world a few years back I found this definition to capture my feelings about that experience, as well. We are free and equal when we “choose” to devote 60 or 80 hours a week to making ourselves cogs in their fucking machine. I sold my life an hour at a time to male owned and run companies for a paycheck that I used to purchase consumer goods and then proudly declared that I was a liberated woman because I wasn’t dependent on a man. Ha! What an illusion. We are still servants of some kind. Depressing.

  35. larkspur

    …and furthermore, the whole re-branding/marketing scheme as usual makes poor women completely invisible. Again.

    I’m not saying that poor women are somehow more inclined to be either radical or super-patriarchal-status quo. I’m just cogitatin’ on how effectively feminism, every time it peeks its head out and blinks in the sun, gets stepped on and stepped on, and then offered up to us in the most offensive, divisive, embittering way possible. It’s a pretty goddamn effective technique, and is I’m guessing, straight from the Big Lie Playbook. This episode is FunFeminism, chock-full of consumer items that the uncool girls can only long for and feel bad about not having.

    I don’t even like duffel coats, don’t wear ’em, and just layer up in second-hand sweaters and jackets. Sharpshooters, beware.

  36. PhysioProf

    as angry young women in duffel coats protested at cute young women in ball gowns

    This made me picture an SAT question:

    angry:cute::duffel coats:

    (a) combat boots
    (b) toothbrushes
    (c) ball gowns
    (d) eyebrows
    (e) none of the above

  37. Karen


    I feel you. I’m young too, 22. I am the only person my age I know in person that declares themselves feminist. In fact, thinking about it, I think I am the only feminist I know, period. I get a lot of ‘oh, it’s not as bad as you make it out to be’ ‘that is not the point at all’ and my favorite ‘you just look for things to get mad about’. Too many young women buy into the preset moulds of the patriarchy. You know who I blame.

    Where are you located? I make a killer margarita ;)

  38. Blue_Sky

    I just do not comprehend a definition of feminism that rejects social activism and is pro the objectification of women’s bodies. I cannot fathom what about this funfeminism is feminist… so why label it as such? Why not just refer to themselves as hipsters or some other, more appropriate term?

    I’m a young feminist (also the most radical one I know); I do sometimes wear makeup and stereotypically feminine garb, but I don’t fool myself into thinking I’m doing anything other than complicity buying into the patriarchy. My preference is to admit it and critically evaluate it, rather than pretend that it is some kind of enlightened pro-feminist choice. The original article is just too much crap. Saying beauty is power (with no critical construction of what power is, or the difference between a feeling of power and ACTUAL power in the world) is pretty much the same as saying Freedom is Slavery.

  39. Hollywood Marie

    @ angryyoungfemme: You’re not alone. I’m 27 and the only one of my kind ’round these parts. Want to go buy duffel coats together? I heard one would look great with my combat boots. Seriously.

  40. Kozmic_Dwyn

    @ angryyoungfemme: You certainly are not alone at all. I’m also on the young end of things, just turned 18, and I am, as far as I know, the only radical feminist I know. Other friends aren’t exactly hostile to feminism but I do get a lot of the “You’re overreacting, life is GREAT for women, we don’t really need feminism anymore.”

    Sigh. I’m just hoping that before too long, people I know will finally decide we do need feminism. It’s lonely being the only feminist around here!

  41. fidele

    I don’t think the proximity of this article to the ads for corsets and lingerie is accidental. I mean, you have to consume so much more if you buy “sexy” understuff.

    If Victoria’s Secret were going into Chapter 13, I’d be happy! Along with the pilates joint in my town that offers pole dancing classes for “fitness.”

    Ick. Let me grab my duffelcoat.

  42. Hedgepig

    Hey, I feel really lucky to be here observing a whole bunch of young feminists meeting up. That is so cool.

    yttik: getting older IS great isn’t it?

    Zofia: you’re right, women are caught between the rock of private patriarchy and the hard place of public capitalism. Back when 12 or 15 hour days were enforced people had something solid to fight against. Now the fight itself is rendered invisible under the cloak of “it’s your choice to work insanely long hours”.

    Blue_Sky said “I do sometimes wear makeup and stereotypically feminine garb, but I don’t fool myself into thinking I’m doing anything other than complicity buying into the patriarchy. My preference is to admit it and critically evaluate it, rather than pretend that it is some kind of enlightened pro-feminist choice.”

    I think you’ve got it absolutely right here. It is nigh on impossible for women to avoid all patriarchally endorsed behaviours, whether it’s the urge to self-adorn, or the desire for men, or wanting babies. We can’t expect to be too pure. But we should admit to ourselves and others which behaviours are complicitous in the P and which are feminist.

  43. Veganrampage

    “(cover lines include ‘The magazine for women who aren’t silly bitches on a diet)”

    This captured my cold cold heart right away.

    Appointing these women as “feminist” spokespersons is like a advocating Sarah Palin to head Planned Parenthood.

    As my old felonious boss used to say “It don’t take no gymnastic intelligence to figure that out.”

  44. Itxaro

    @ angryyoungfemme and everyone else:
    Yep, same boat. 19 years old, stuck in that liberal-arts world of waifish ingenues and the Dov Charney-esque sleazebags that get them drunk and rape them (oh, excuse me, that’s way too blunt for the majority of my colleagues– I’m supposed to avoid the ‘r’ word).

    I even bring up this topic about how high heels aren’t symbols of power and I get fifteen ladies telling me how they’re tired of feminists trying to create strife between the genders and turning it into a fight of ME VERSUS MEN.

    Yeah. Things were just so much more peaceful when women were docile and obedient, weren’t they?

    I think my rage is showing. Things seem so grim for my generation.

  45. Rachel

    I’m also a 22-year old only-feminist-I-know. Well, I’ve been lucky enough to in fact speak to other (radical!) feminists in person on a couple of occasions, but it’s very lonely in my everyday life. I know a lot of liberals, who always seem to be shocked that I don’t think being a feminist involves posing for pornography. Literally – not every single one of them, but I got a lot of surprise when people found out that I was opposed to things such as pornography and the wearing of high heels. “But isn’t that liberation?” they would say, especially men, who couldn’t defend it as their own choice and so had to dress it up as some sort of advanced liberatory theory that I was too simplistic to understand.

    But, seriously, “As a woman, you can’t not buy shoes and wear dresses.” What? Usually, when I “can’t not” do something I’m not too thrilled about it. Maybe the fact that “power as a woman” is an oxymoron is beyond these people’s current level of analysis, but you would think they would realize that if you’ve only got one choice (such as 1950s shoes and dresses) it’s not a choice.

  46. angryyoungfemme

    @ karen, blue_sky, hollywood marie, kozmi_dwyn:

    I’m in Seattle! Come one, come all! Please, please, I will even travel a bit to hook up with some sense-making chicas! It would make my year, nay, my life up to this point if I could actually meet, activist-icize and chill with some like-minded feminists.

    I wear make-up and I wear heels on occasion, I also happen to prefer skirts, but I also don’t pretend any of that is pro-feminist. I know exactly what it means when I don patriarchy-approved gear. I will say this: it makes it easier to infiltrate enemy territory and spring radical theory on the unsuspecting, those women in my office, for example, or that douche trying to chat me up at the local dive bar, my parents, brothers or even my crazy old Uncle Bob. I don’t pretend that my resemblance to the “ideal” fuckfantasy of today has nothing to do with how I’m treated in the public sphere, whether that treatment is degrading or whether it opens opportunities I might not have gotten otherwise. Despite the bimbo, dumb blond stereotype people project onto me (which comes in handy when I’m feeling lazy at work–no one thinks twice), I know my life must be easier in this twisted system than it is for others. That’s just plain ridiculous. Birth is not a meritocracy, regardless of whatever lassiez faire capitalist right-wingers tell us. It’s also the reason I’m doing my damnedest to come up with funds for a master’s in gender and development.

    I’ve always felt the “this is what a feminist looks like” t-shirt was a good fit for me because people are consistently shocked that I’m such a hardcore feminist–I’m sure they must be thinking, what reason could SHE have for being so passionate about something that could hardly effect her, I mean, look at her rack! (for better explication than I can give right now, check out this article: http://www.thefword.org.uk/features/2008/12/i_was_saddened)

    Hells yeah for radical feminists everywhere! I salute you!

  47. Karrigan

    I’m so glad you wrote about this Twisty!

    angryoungfemme, 25 year old feminist here. I wish I could come and meet you in Seattle, but there’s some sea in the way.

  48. Frumious B

    Those Noughties obviously aren’t familiar with Gloria Steinem, b/c man, was she hot. And radical.

  49. Nolabelfits

    it makes it easier to infiltrate enemy territory and spring radical theory on the unsuspecting, those women in my office, for example, or that douche trying to chat me up at the local dive bar, my parents, brothers or even my crazy old Uncle Bob. I don’t pretend that my resemblance to the “ideal” fuckfantasy of today has nothing to do with how I’m treated in the public sphere, whether that treatment is degrading or whether it opens opportunities I might not have gotten otherwise. Despite the bimbo, dumb blond stereotype people project onto me (which comes in handy when I’m feeling lazy at work–no one thinks twice),

    Well, Angryyoungfemme, be glad you still “have it” in terms of the Ideal fuckfantasty or whatever it is that makes you accepted in the public sphere….’cuz once you are too old to be a fuckfantasy and caN be treated as a “dumb blonde,” or whatever, you will be treated as inconseqencial and UNimportant, and more substantially, as INVISIBLE. In other words, welcome to middle age!

  50. estraven

    For the first time in my life, I do not agree completely with Spinster Aunt. I would prefer the spelling Weltanschauung over the one she chose.

    Everything else is just perfect as usual.

  51. sarahcl

    The article is a piece of lazy, poorly researched, biased crap. Unfortunately, this is usually how feminism gets talked about in the mainstream press.

    I was amused to see Reclaim the Night marches listed under funfeminist ‘actions’ (and also amused that the other ‘action’ mentioned was an act of consumerism). the London RTN (and probably all the other UK ones as well) is organised by unequivocal radical feminists – I was a steward at the last two.

  52. thebewilderness

    I’m reading “Talk to the Hand”. Wherein Lynn Truss postulates that we are fixated on the idea of choice, when in reality we do not choose, but rather make selections from the choices offered.

  53. Dollface

    I read the “new feminists” article a few weeks ago, and I still think it’s absolutely ridiculous. I’m 20 and a radical feminist, so to me, this “choose feminism like it’s a cool outfit” crap is for the birds.

    However, all of that being said, I like the term funfem. Quite amusing.

  54. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Why don’t they call themselves something different, since they’re clearly not comfortable being associated with us hairy old radicals and we’re not comfortable with their idea of “lifestyle”. They could maybe be the Feminettes or something cute like that. I’m sure they (and we) would like that much better.

  55. sonia

    I don’t get your criticism. You have a problem with feminism getting redefined for a new generation that includes more women’s voices (and choices)? I have never read a more patronizing article about feminists from a feminist voice.

  56. Lar

    I’m so glad (relieved?) to see so many other young radfems here. I’m 25, and can most definitely relate. I live in a very small town near Cancun, Mexico – feel free to join me for the best margaritas in existence, but I have to warn you – the misogyny runs unbelievably and unabashedly rampant in these parts. (Yes, I know it runs rampant everywhere, but I’m at a loss for words to describe the situation here.)

  57. goldengirl

    Another 20-year-old radical feminist here! I too am very conventionally fuckfantasyish by no action of my own, but recently i gained quite a bit of weight, so now I’m in kind of a weird warpzone of being half invisible and half condescended to. My experience has been that the main reason women my age are reluctant to move past faux-
    “fun”-feminism is the fear of admitting to themselves just how much men as a group hate them, no matter what they do. Being raised with all of the empowerful rugged-individualist bootstrap special snowflake bullshit that our generation got makes it especially hard to wake up and admit that no, you don’t have true agency, and the world is actively working to limit yours. In a best case scenario you have a choice between red, yellow, and blue and you don’t even have the wildest idea of what any of the other colors look like, so it’s nearly impossible to recognize that that guy next to you got to pick green.

  58. mearl

    I just read as much of the linked article as I could stomach, and that was before I laughed, cried, and vomited all at once since I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, so I did both and added in vomiting just because that was my first instinct.

    What is horrifying is that even as I think to myself, “Are these people KIDDING me?” I know that they are completely serious. I’m 30, so I’m no longer in the ranks of the youthful hipster undergrad set and can’t lay claim to being one of the newbies who say they are redefining feminism, but I’m very familiar with the new Feminist M.O., which is to funfeminist your way up the patriarchal ladder and then, once you’re at the top, look around and say, “Well, now I’m a rich, powerful, successful FEMALE, isn’t that feminist?” and sneer at any ugly, grouchy, hairy radical feminist who disagrees with this outlook. Hmmm. So the authors are saying that as long as you get to the end result, it doesn’t matter how you got there. In the rest of the world, as far as I know it, it’s called “selling out,” and in terms of being revolutionary, I think selling out is where you lose your credibility. Selling out also involves quite a bit of self-justification, and is usually met with a jaundiced eye from the revolutionary group from whence the sellout came.

    I just wish the funfeminists (I agree with Antoinette N. in the fact that they should just call themselves the “Feminettes”)would give me a SMALL fucking break. My sarcasm bone can’t handle the pressure when I read articles like this, and too much eye-rolling is probably bad for my ocular health.

  59. caitlinate

    I’m 21 and fit myself into the radfem category. I know a few women of a similar age who do too. Yes there are many around me who aren’t but we (the young and radical) aren’t some extinct breed. I do think the article is annoying and angrifying and I’ve met women like those and generally react with anger and/or irritation when i do. It’s the older ones I find most frustrating though – the way they talk down to me and dismiss my opinions as ‘radical youth’ etc. Also annoying (though far less so) is when older women commenters here do the same thing. The Washington Post writes a bad article about a group of young women who have been fooled into embracing their oppression and what do you do? Turn around and attack them! Buy into the WP stereotypes and propaganda! Woo hoo!

  60. Helen S

    Gee, I’m so glad these funfeminists are around to show us that we’re now allowed to make our own fashion decisions (as long as the result is super cute, that is). I was worried that my politics clashed with this season’s look, but now my bronzed, buffed sisters have shown me the light: I can wear this season’s lipstick with pride *and* read that shining tower (ooh, phallic!) of radical feminism, Bust. Maybe they’ll have a rad recipe again this issue!


  61. conversemomma

    I found you from Schmutzie. I once read Bell Hooks talk about the fact that feminism didn’t go far enough because upper class white women were selling out there sistahs to adhere to white patriarchal power. What about the lower-class white woman, what about the african american? She said the door remained shut for them despite the progress women were making? It makes me think about what you are saying in this piece. I do not think feminism has failed at all, definitely not necessary for “new” feminism to emerge from some assumed ruins, but if it has not gone as far as I would like, it is definitely not all the fault of men, we women don’t need male-fuck fantasies, we are so busy fucking over each other.

  62. conversemomma

    Umm, even as I posted that last bit, I felt fear. Fear that radical fems would consider me “new” feminism no matter how much Andrea Dworkin or Hooks I can spout. I wanted marriage, babies, would love to stay at home, but don’t. Where is the line? I guess I have one thing in my favor, I never, ever, wear friggin lipstick.

  63. Joy-Mari

    One question: Would feminists allow a courtesan into their ranks? If the answer is yes then bravi to those ladies, er, us. If the answer is no then they all need to be educated on liberalism.

    I wear high heels but I do not wear make-up. What does that make me? I choose not to wear make-up because I do not want to expose my body to even more chemicals.

    Hell, if my future daughter(s) wants to take part in a beauty parade I’ll let her: it’s all about choice, no?

    And do tell what’s so awful about the Times Online article besides the use of adjectives?

  64. jami

    On the topic of “choice” as a woman and a worker, I was lucky enough that my most recent employer came right out and said in a meeting that he expected us all to work 60-hour weeks. It really clarified the fact that my 50-hour weeks were going unappreciated. So why bother.

    Analogously, I wish men would come right out and demand that women wear expensive new high heels that make it impossible to run away at all times (instead of strongly suggesting it in every magazine ever printed). Perhaps then more women would stop thinking that they “can’t not” love expensive new impractical shoes.

    I agree heartily with yttik about getting older. It’s miserable to muck around in the patriarchy before you understand it enough to deflect the shameballs it throws at women who, for example, refuse to keep all body hair removed at all times. I bet the improvement with age is specific to unfunfeminists who don’t play nice with the patriarchy, though. The “choice” to get facelift after facelift after boobjob doesn’t seem very fun for aging funfeminists at all.

  65. Shambles

    16, and radfem initiate here.

    I love how FunFeminism involves buying things – “Lipstick, heels, 1950s dresses” or “suscribing to feminist zines”.
    Excluding poor women, making fun of women who want to be regarded as human and contributing to the oppression of gender roles all in one article.
    You go girl!

    As for you, Twisty – Sometimes I doubt your commitment to sparkle motion.

  66. heather

    15 years ago in college I had friends like this. I didn’t get it then, still don’t. I’m not exactly radical, I suppose. But to me these people are like the upper-middle-class white moms who refuse to vaccinate their children because they’re worried their darlings might have a reaction. The only reason they can do that it is because I’m vaccinating my child, along with most of the rest of the population.

    Some choice, to be able to make it on the backs of generations of work and sacrifice by other women who yes, made themselves unpopular to make a point. Some nerve, to ignore all the other women paddling water and trying to improve conditions so that they can be insulted by a bunch of hair-flipping feminettes.

  67. hannah

    The Apostate has a great post about this:

    “I am not wearing heels and stockings and certain clothes and keeping my hair long and putting on lipstick because I like it. I do like it, but I only like it because I’m rewarded for it. I’m made to feel better about myself if I look a certain way. But this rewarding? It’s wrong. And if I were a better person, I’d stop. I’d give up the rewards and just be comfortable and myself, and save myself a hell of a lot of time. I would stop expecting myself to perform a decorative function (in addition to being interesting, kind and good) and actually taking pleasure in my decorativeness. I would be for me, not “for me” through the reflections of others’ enjoyment.”


  68. niki

    Shit, we’re supposed to be unable to resist the buying pull of shoes and dresses? I’m eons behind! I’ve been sleeping in these clothes for two days, must get to the mall immediately!

    I like the idea of ‘Feminettes’ for the fun feminist types and I’m sure they would too. We are but floating islands in a pink sea of sparkly things, my friends. Thank Twisty there’s a place to gather our thoughts.

  69. Azundris

    Somewhat amusingly, that would make it “die Feminetten” in German, which sounds like “die *netten* Feministinnen” (the *nice* feminists).

    (OK, it also reminds me of the Moulinette household appliance, but between “household” and “shred”, that image seems ambiguous at best.)

  70. Stitch

    Once again I have to thank the universe for the joy that is a slamdunk of a Twisty post. I read this peach of an article in my already feminist averse family home and nearly burst my obstreperal lobe with rage at the heinous reassignment of the word feminist to complete simpering fucktards. Now I feel obstreperally recharged and ready to re-enter the fight.

    Twisty posts are like antacids for the brain.

  71. twistbarbie

    @angryyoungfemme- Hi there! I am a 24yr ol’ rad fem in the Seattle area! I find it lonely as well around here and would also be willin’ to travel for a sense-talkin meet up! I blame, oh how I blame!

  72. Arwyn

    Apart from the tell-tale use of “girl”, this wasn’t too bad:

    “We despise Cosmo and Heat. They broadcast a fascination with getting boyfriends, getting married, make-up, appearance and gossip that appeal to the least desirable parts of our emotional spectrum — jealously, gossip and being mean. And that’s not what we care about. Being a girl isn’t like that for us.”

    But then came this:

    “As a woman, you can’t not buy shoes and wear dresses. Plus all of that stuff is fun — it doesn’t take away from your power as a woman.”

    and I get the urge to find a rocket launcher and go on a rampage (except I wouldn’t, being a pacifist and all, and recognizing that the urge is probably patriarchal at root), not so much at them (though that, too, especially for that use of “girl”) but on their behalf. They believe you “can’t not”, but don’t see how their choices are being constrained, how this is an act supporting (and dictated by) patriarchy?

    I fear for my generation, I really do.

    (I would wholeheartedly adopt the use of Feminettes, but I attempt to discredit the system without insulting its victims. It’s still tempting, though…)

  73. Cathy

    Why are they calling themselves feminists at all? I thought feminist was a dirty word. Are they trying to help us by removing the stigma from the word, or are they the type who enjoy flinging around obscenities to show how cool they are?

    Maybe they’re just too clueless to realize feminism means helping women, not just themselves. I don’t blame them – I’ve been an unwitting tool, also, though not to such depths. It’s sad that the P can so easily keep us down.

  74. Jezebella

    I am going to take a radical stance. I, for one, find it difficult to resist owning shoes. Which, as I am not a cobbler, involves buying them. I occasionally enjoy entering establishments which sell food and drink, and sometimes it’s cold or muddy outside. So, you know, SHOES. I buy them.

  75. Genevieve

    Brilliant. I will call Third Wavers patriarchists.

    Donna Darko–
    As is evidenced from the multitudes of young feminists commenting here, I wouldn’t be too quick to do so if I were you. The Third Wave is pretty huge, and very few of the feminists I know fit this “we’re not bra-burners, we’re cute, shoes are feminist!” stereotype. Doesn’t mean that some of them don’t engage in patriarchy-supporting behaviors (very few people don’t), but they don’t try to excuse their actions as, “this is my choice! Therefore it’s feminist! Tee hee!” There’s a line there. Most third wavers know where it is. It’s sad that these “feminists” are the ones being profiled.

    Oh, and I love Jess McCabe’s site, and she isn’t at all like these other girls.

  76. sarahcl

    I think the ‘wave’ definitions apply more to the type of feminism than to the age of the feminist, they are simply numbered according to the order in which they appeared.

    I am under 30, but would call myself a second wave feminist (if we are talking waves – radical feminist is the most accurate description), as that wave of the feminist movement best describes my feminism.

  77. Kate

    Can I just say… you are my favorite spinster aunt. It’s so great reading you again.

  78. Kuleana

    “As a woman, you can’t not buy shoes and wear dresses.”

    Waaaahh?!? How is that endorsing CHOICE?!? You’re a woman, therefore you MUST buy dresses and shoes? What if I CHOOSE not to? Are they gonna revoke my woman card?

  79. meerkat

    Hmm, I hate buying shoes and wearing dresses. Obviously someone forgot to issue me a penis.

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