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Jul 15 2011

Spinster aunt loses train of thought, abandons essay

It is one of the bitterest, lobe-burstingest ironies of feminism that its meager success has collaterally enbiggened the opportunities of antifeminist women. Susan Faludi once pointed out that progressive women who succeed professionally often publicly give props to feminism even as they inwardly struggle with patriarchy-generated guilt and self-doubt, but that prominent right wing women do the opposite, publicly espousing antifeminist ideology to the masses while personally putting feminist principles smoothly and efficiently into practice on the DL.

Take Michele Bachmann. She hates gays and fluorescent light, and loves Jesus and compulsory pregnancy, but has no qualms whatsoever about enjoying an influential, self-determined career outside the home as she flits about the political sphere.* It’s almost as though she fancies herself a liberated woman with some personal agency. She has used the feminist springboard to swan-dive into prominence, from which spot she can proceed to gay-bash, suck up to Dude Nation, and demand constitutional amendments prohibiting abortion.

Now one hears all this absurd murmuring about Bachmann (and her creepy godmother Sarah Palin) having turned themselves officially into something called “evangelical feminists.”

You know, like Jews for Jesus, or Baby Seals for Canadian Seal Clubbers.

Apparently there really is a movement of evangelical feminists, and they’re cheesed. They appear to actually grasp the idea that women are human, so they’re voting Bachmann and Palin off their island (Women Who Ignore Biblical Misogyny Island. It’s a about a thousand nautical miles south of Savage Death Island).

“This application of the term ["evangelical feminist" to Bachmann and Palin] twists the meaning of both “evangelical” and “feminism.” It equates “evangelical” with a far right political ideology rather than its historic definition. And it equates “feminism” simply with a woman’s running for public office even though she may deny full equality and autonomy for women in other areas of life. — Letha Dawson Scanzoni, founding mother of the Biblical feminist movement

Meanwhile, actual feminism continues to gasp for breath as it gets simultaneously coopted, beaten with fundie clubs, and redefined as antifeminism by various assholes. For example, the quotation above came from this blog called Religion Dispatches, where blogger Julie Ingersoll also hipped me to the existence of Smart Girl Summit 2011.**

Smart Girl Summit 2011 will feature arch-misogynist Phyllis Schlafly, who will address “girls” (actually women, but calling them girls reassures everyone of the actual status of female adults) on the subject of how feminism threatens to destroy all life on Earth. Smart Girl Politics is an antifeminist 501(c) dedicated to nurturing misogyny in nascent conservatives by “empowering” them to “fight like a girl” for their right to cram patriarchal mores down everybody’s throat.

Uh oh. This essay had a point, but I’ve forgotten what it was, and now I gotta go to work, so I guess I’ll just leave it here flapping in the breeze. Pointless, breeze-flappin’ essays; they’re what separate the spinster aunt hacks from the responsible journalists who are paid by employers to write professional, polished, unbiased pieces on Justin Bieber or health care reform.

_______________________
* When feminist women buck the hausfrau system, it’s a different story; Bachmann’s evangelical brethren view it as “a satanic attack on the [American family].”

** How fucking patronizing is that name, “Smart Girl Summit”? Can you even imagine a conservative political action group holding a Smart Boy Summit for adult men? To teach them how to fight like a girl? Haw!

90 comments

1 ping

  1. yttik

    “It is one of the bitterest, lobe-burstingest ironies of feminism that its meager success has collaterally enbiggened the opportunities of antifeminist women.”

    Well, you can’t have a civil rights movement that is only for some women, only for women who agree with us, only women who we deem worthy to enjoy the fruits of progress. It has to be for all women or it will be for no women at all. You can’t empower women while also trying to disempower some women because you don’t like their politics or belief system. Well, actually you can, but it’s one of the reasons we’re never going to get to revolution. Separate, divide, control, and keep us all segregated on our own little islands so we don’t unite and over throw the patriarchy.

    The civil rights movement didn’t fragment blacks into different categories, as if Christians, Republicans, and people who like having racially segregating drinking fountains, we’re going to work to tear all you guys down and make sure you never have any power. It wouldn’t have worked if that had been the way. In fact, like it or not, Christianity and evangelicalism was a big part of the civil rights movement. It was actually organized in churches. And as far as politics go, that was complicated too, just as it is today. To be for civil rights did you have to be a dixie-crat or not be one? The 1924 Dem convention had once been a Klanbake, after all. Political ideology is fluid and ever changing depending on who is writing the agenda. Republicans could only improve by having more women in positions of power. Having blacks migrate to the Dem party sure transformed it from a Klan rally into allegedly some sort of party that cares about the little people. Allegedly.

    For genuine progress to finally happen, women have to finally build gender loyalty, not political loyalty. Few agree with me and it likely won’t happen, but it is what it is.

  2. TotallyDorkin

    Teaching women how to “fight like a girl” probably involves learning exactly how long to resist sex with a dude to make him feel all powerful and conquery without letting him get too impatient. Because if you’re a cock-tease, who can blame him for taking matters into his own hands?!

  3. Katy

    Usually when I have a headache, I grouse about it until it goes away. Today, I read this post instead, and the sharp intake of 100% pure unadulterated feminism crowded out the headache. Thank you, Twisty.

  4. janicen

    “This essay had a point, but I’ve forgotten what it was,”

    Another symptom of menopause.

  5. Lovepug

    What women will do to survive. Including me. Maybe what I need is a Savage Death Island Patriarchy Survival Kit complete with a Valerie Solanas Edition Swiss Army Knife.

    I spoke with a friend of mine yesterday who reports that in her wealthy circle of friends, you know when a man is about to get passed over for a promotion because his wife will suddenly lose weight and get a breast enlargement. This is so she can leave him and become the trophy wife someone who has made partner or something. I wish I was making this up.

    Is is totally Pollyanna of me to hope that these neo-conservative women who co-opt feminism may be getting enough taste of feminism that at one point a lobe will just blow and they will suddenly see the light?

    I’ve answered my own question.

  6. Kristine

    Ah, yes. The woman-haters’ ability to misdirect feminism is uncanny. It’s genius, really. They just take the name for themselves and redefine it, and then use their new definition to manipulate the woman hating masses. Put an anti-woman woman at the front of the new “feminist movement,” and consequently fool everyone into believing that chauvinism is liberating to women.

    It’s for this same reason that I refuse to define feminism as women’s equality. Men decide what equality means, and according to the men, we are already equal. So any woman who gets the idea that women don’t have it so good and then tries to fix it can be accused of seeking female supremacy, you know, because we are all equal and shit.

    Instead, I define feminism as liberation from male control. But it’s only a matter of time before that one gets taken from us as well. I blame the patriarchy.

  7. Notorious Ph.D.

    The SGS website has all that reassuring pink. I feel soothed already.

  8. Comrade PhysioProf

    I am so glad they have the Sarah Palin “Undefeated” movie poster on their Web site!! I love that fucken thinge!!

  9. Jill

    “Well, you can’t have a civil rights movement that is only for some women, only for women who agree with us, only women who we deem worthy to enjoy the fruits of progress.”

    Yeah, that’s what I was saying, all right, that only the women I personally agree with should get invited to life’s rich pageant.

  10. awhirlinlondon

    Clearly it was not what you were saying, nor did I read yttik’s beautiful, thoughtful response as suggesting otherwise.

    Thank you both – really, thank you so many of you – for being here. I keep shaking my computer and hoping that you’ll all fall out and materialize in my life.

    No luck. Would that it were otherwise.

  11. Eliza

    The civil rights movement didn’t exclude certain blacks, no; but it also didn’t define “rights” out of existence.

  12. nails

    From what I recall the black civil rights movement had a lot of different perspectives and goals, depending on who you were talking to. That is why Malcolm X sounds so different from MLK, isn’t it?

    Pointing out the shitty behavior of women who are using feminism to defeat feminist goals (and negatively affect a shit load of women) isn’t saying that they should be excluded from having rights, it is saying that they should cut it out with the crappy behavior already.

  13. mearl

    “Feminism” meant something different 40 or 100 years ago, before the movement gained some basic rights for certain groups of women. When all women had common goals (not wanting to be legal property of men, wanting the right to vote, wanting control over fertility, wanting rights in the workplace and educational institutions, wanting the right to own property, etc.), “feminism” was a more unified movement.

    I certainly don’t disagree with a majority of the issues that have been added to the table since the 1960s era of whitebread middle-class Western feminism. However, once certain basic rights were gained for certain groups of women in certain countries, subsequent generations of women split off into “feminisms,” many of which are influenced by backlash, screwed over by brainwashing, motivated by desperate circumstances (see the “Capitulation In Order To Survive” category of women), or unhindered by privilege (see the “Botoxed Republican Christian Feminists Against Abortion” category of women).

    Personally, although I think multiple feminisms are extremely important in broadening the fight for women’s rights, I refuse to get on board with certain groups that now label themselves “feminist.” As with any other revolutionary movement, feminism got co-opted by the oppressor. Sadly, feminism was more susceptible to co-opting than most movements, simply because the group it encompasses includes more than half the world’s population. If women were a smaller group with a common political enemy (Zapatistas, say, or First Nations people in Canada) then things may not have gone so wonky.

    As the infamous Jill Psmith once wrote, (and I paraphrase): “Having a vagina doesn’t automatically make you a feminist.”

  14. Iris Vander Pluym

    “Well, you can’t have a civil rights movement that is only for some women, only for women who agree with us, only women who we deem worthy to enjoy the fruits of progress.”

    No, but you can certainly have a civil rights movement that mocks and mercilessly ridicules the hypocrisy of women like Bachmann and Palin: “Shouldn’t you ladies be at home right now, cleaning Jesus’ toilets, or something?”

  15. awhirlinlondon

    And also, brava, Mearl, and not for the first time.

  16. yttik

    “Yeah, that’s what I was saying, all right, that only the women I personally agree with should get invited to life’s rich pageant.”

    Not at all Jill. What you’re saying is that the greatest threat to us is a couple of women who don’t even have a seat at the table, while the 400 men actually writing our policies and laws, as well as the man we put in a tee-shirt that says, “this is what a feminist looks like,” threaten to cut SS, ban abortion, appeal the end of DADT, etc, etc, just go about their business. Are they absurd, stupid, creepy? Of course they are, but that’s not what we’re supposed to focus on, is it? We’re supposed to mock and ridicule Bachmann and Palin and reduce their power because that’s where the real danger to the dudebros is. Who benefits from our mockery of these women? Dem men who have until now be able to take women’s support for granted and Republican men who are afraid they might lose some patriarchal power. From the media coverage you’d think these two women are responsible for a few thousand years of patriarchy and the elimination of all human rights in the future, too.

  17. Cyberwulf

    My jujutsu sensei is teaching me to “fight like a girl” – he shows me all the dirty stuff that women (and small men) can use to really fuck up the big strong guys.

  18. Schnee

    Hmm…very interesting and disturbing post. The other irony is in how the left refuse to use the right’s tactics to undermine them, for example, the Disney Jesus Right seem to feel the Pres shouldn’t be a muslim, so right about now, the Left should be scaring them shitless by suggesting that Bachman is a secret Muslimah, but they won’t because a)they don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a Muslim as Pres, and b)they wouldn’t want to imply that there was.

    In my own headspace, I’ve had to introduce different categories of right wing since Mrs. Thatcher’s people “Margaret’s Circle of Friends’, told Palin’s Aides that Palin couldn’t meet Margaret because it would be beneath Mrs. Thatcher and that Palin was a nut job.

  19. Agnieszka

    As I was reading this post, and thinking about Savage Death Island, an image came into my mind. Imagine the words Savage Death Island written in a sweeping, swooshy font, and imagine these words are on a sign, and that sign is green neon, and it is hanging in the front of an establishment. You enter, and find yourself inside a bar decorated with plastic dinosaurs whose giant teeth and claws have been painted drippy red, and with potted palm trees, and it’s full of women drinking margaritas and having intense conversations. Someone drops a buck in the juke box and suddenly they all get up and do the butt dance.

  20. Kea

    EXACTLY!!! Story of my life, really.

  21. Jill

    “Not at all Jill. What you’re saying is that the greatest threat to us is a couple of women who don’t even have a seat at the table”

    I’m not saying that, either. I’m saying what I wrote in the post. Which is that feminism ironically makes it possible for prominent antifeminist women to dismantle feminism. It’s like an ouroboros.

    Also, ignore Bachmann’s potential candidacy if you wish, but she’s polling pretty strong among hatey people who vote for stuff. She’s a cretin, so I say mock her, and mock her hard.

  22. Kea

    I know I shouldn’t do this, being a blogger myself, but I cannot resist: can we please, please have a post on MurdochGate?

  23. Lidon

    Smart Girl Politics? *retch* Yeah, I would say “Baby Seals for Canadian Seal Clubbers” is just about right.

  24. Rididill

    Thing is, this is a really difficult question and i don’t really see a clear answer to it here.

    Yeah, the civil rights movement included many different aspects, but did it actually include blacks who tried to shit all over other blacks and call it civil rights? I ask as an honest question because I know a lot less about the civil rights movement than I should, though I’m not American.

    Thing is, it DOES severely weaken feminism when you get antifeminist women espousing anti-women ideologies in the name of feminism. Especially when they have a bigger platform and potential political clout.

    I don’t consider feminism to be some sort of aggregate of views of all women. Feminism, like socialism, is a political movement based on a body of thought and a set of principles. There may be SOME variation within that, but there is certainly a limit to how far you can go.

    Does every woman have equal right to define what feminism is, and be taken seriously? I don’t think so. If some working class trades union leader started espousing neoliberal principles while still claiming it was socialism, everyone would just fucking laugh in his face, because everyone knows that you don’t get to just make something up and call it socialism no matter how working class you are. Socialism is not the aggregate of views of the working class. So why is it expected that any woman who calls herself feminist we’re all supposed to go, oh ok then well it’s all feminist really cos it’s fucking not. Not when it’s anti woman, not when it’s gender essentialist pedestal trap bullshit, not when it’s stuff that restricts our freedoms.

    But then again, you keep coming back to the question of who gets to define feminism then? If some things that claim to be feminist in fact aren’t feminsit, then some sources are more true or more reliable than others. And you can’t get away from that ‘gatekeeper of feminism’ thing.

    Course, you get the same thing with socialism… whose theories ironically had little to do with the working class. it all hinges on the argument of false consciousness which necessarily involves dismissing people’s personal perspectives as deluded, which in many ways is rather problematic.

    On the other hand, I can look back on my past self and see I was clearly in a false consciousness and deluded, and probably still am in many ways, so maybe this is ok?

    So, I am genuinely stumped by this problem and would really like to hear some input.

    Of course, it is a problem of any oppressed group that, for their oppression to be taken seriously, it’s supposed to look like most of them are suffering the same kinda shit and want to be liberated from it. Otherwise the claims that they are oppressed as a class are rather weakened. This is what keeps so many liberation movements paralysed by infighting.

    And I agree that probably it is not more important than the actual men who have the actual power but… it seems to me that it massively weakens feminism’s credibility and therefore power to effect change if every misogynist woman can go around claiming she’s feminist. Under what authority can I say this is misogyny, not feminism?

    Sorry for the epic essay…

  25. Ayla

    “Shouldn’t you ladies be at home right now, cleaning Jesus’ toilets, or something?”

    Totally stealing that.

  26. yttik

    Where is this Feminism you speak of Jill, the thing the Bachmann is going to dismantle? I haven’t seen hide nor hair of it for many years.

    I know you’re not concerned we might lose our right to pole dance. Our right to be a sexual commodity? Our right to empower ourselves with porn careers? Nah, those rights should all remain intact, in spite of the Bachmann.

    Don’t worry about her poll numbers, Jill. We’re not going to let a girl become president, that would be just silly. What if she got her period and threatened to do something really crazy, like invade a couple of small countries or something?

  27. ashley

    I wish you were literally saying that about life’s rich pageant. Because it would be funny as hell.

  28. JDM

    Bachmann is getting backed by Koch (was there ever a conservative supporting group more appropriately named?) Industries. If they think she’s a viable candidate then it’s hard to justify ignoring her.

    But, yttik is right. All this public focus on the anti-women women keeps the debate away from the real cause of the problem.

  29. Satchel

    Michele Bachmann IS Serena Joy.

  30. LS

    @Satchel, so very true. Reminds me of a Jackie Kashian joke: “Sarah Palin would make a perfect president… if we lived in The Handmaid’s Tale.”

  31. Darragh Murphy

    And, as per the liberal dudes’ tshirts, Sarah Palin IS a Cunt! If one were to say that obama IS Elmer Gantry it just wouldn’t have that good ole woman hating ZING, would it? I know, lets keep piling on the women in the public sphere. They DO keep smelling the place up, don’t they?

  32. Citizen Jane

    I guess it’s a little comforting to know I’m not the only feminist who struggles with patriarchy-generated guilt and self-doubt. Sometimes it seems like all the other feminists are immune to it.

    What is the DL?

  33. incognotter

    “On the DL” = “on the down-low” = secretly.

  34. Tehomet

    Having a female head of state, on the rare occasions when it happens, can be a smokescreen for the ruling males. Here in Ireland, the fact that we have a female President is in my opinion an useful tool of the male-dominated government to make it look like they are interested in women’s rights, when of course they are not, they are only interested in advancing the aims of that idealogy which I blame.

    That’s bad but it could be even worse: Margaret Thatcher used the hard-won gains of feminism to get into power as Prime Minister of the UK, and then set about very efficiently doing everything she could to reinforce and advance the Patriarchy, in ways such as but not limited to being an unashamed racist, smashing the unions, and waging more than one war. No doubt Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin, should either of those women get into power, would act along similar lines.

    Feminism is anti-oppression of women. It’s not anti-feminist to point out that some women are not feminists, surely. It’s just a fact.

    Just like it’s a fact that women like Margaret Thatcher, Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin have used the freedoms gained for them by feminists to damage feminism itself. It’s not attempting to fragment the movement when that is pointed out. It’s just telling the freaking truth.

  35. Citizen Jane

    Ooooooh. Thanks!

  36. Kristin

    Dudes, little and large jeer “you fight like a girl” or basically do anything “like a girl” when they want to insult each other. Don’t these smart girlies know that?

  37. TwissB

    This discussion seems to be coming around to my definition of feminism as witnessing to the existence of a comprehensive social system that privileges all men at the expense of all women, and working together to understand the ideologies and strategies that sustain this system in order to end it. Not an easy task. To repeat, John Adams summed it all up when he told Abigail Smith Adams: “Depend upon it, we know better that to repeal our Masculine Systems.”

    As other have noted, every repressive system has roles for collaborators recruited from the oppressed class. As Catharine MacKinnon said, Mrs. Schlafly would not be nearly as successful as she is if she did not have the wind of male approval at her back. But feminists observe that men never overlooked the fact that Mrs. Schlafly is, after all, a woman and they consistently refused to support her ambitons for political office.

    Let’s first discount the many women who distance themselves from the women’s movement because that is the way to survive in their particlar situation (including academia), and set aside the most publicized feminist leaders (apart from pseudo- and fun-feminist collaborators) who are rendered inneffectual by their handmaidenly devotion to electoral and legislative politics. Who is left? Those glittery-eyed women opportunists like Palin and Bachman who are successors to earlier versions who took to the platform to oppose the Equal Rights Amendment, contraception, women’s right to vote. Other members of the sisterhood came in from the left to vilify feminist inititives against pornography, prostitution, single sex schools, man and boy dominance in curricula and textbooks from primary to post-secondary education. Still others revel in splintering aspects of feminism into conflicting “feminisms.”

    In the end, it is not these collaborators and opportunists who are responsible for sexism and who get its major pay-offs. Trashing them merely lets men go on blandly trivializing the women’s movement as a cat fight and reassures them that Masculine Systems are functioning overall. Feminism’s task is still that modelled by the 1848 Declaration of Sentiments – to hold Him responsible for acting to subordinate women and to demand, as the Grimke sisters did, that “He take his foot from off our necks.” That task requires every feminist’s critical skills and wit to accomplish. And that is the redeeming pleasure of it.

  38. Lidon

    @TwissB: Personal responsibility still counts for something in my book, so I’m not for making excuses for women who help to shoot us all in the foot in order to advance themselves, or so that they can “survive in their particular situation”. The actions of anyone who encourages sexism, be it man or woman, should be approached with a critical eye.

  39. TwissB

    @Lidon. I think that we do not disagree. I was not absolving anti-feminists from responsibility, only emphasizing that men are the drivers and ultimate beneficiaries of sexism.

  40. Lidon

    Fair enough!

  41. TwissB

    Apologies for the first incomplete, inadvertent and premature post, as well as for a couple of typos that slipped in. I wish that the Blame button had a catcher like the one on my email that allows a second chance to get things right.

  42. Jill

    “I was not absolving anti-feminists from responsibility, only emphasizing that men are the drivers and ultimate beneficiaries of sexism.”

    Well, when you put it that way! Nice blaming.

    Surely, though, the advanced blamers to whom I address these essays already have a thorough apprehension of the unpleasant fact to which you allude. It’s one of the primary underlying assumptions of this blog that the beneficiaries of sexism are dudes (see What This Blog is For, paragraph 2).

    I maintain that we can’t leave it to the sexists, the liberal dudes, and the liberal dudes’ girlfriends to mock the traitors; they’ll do it for all the wrong reasons and in all the wrong ways.

    And when I say “mock” I of course mean “critique.” I agree wholeheartedly that it’s incumbent upon professional internet feminists to uppen the discourse.

    P.S. TwissB, I’ve removed your truncated post.

  43. Mary Tracy

    What a coincidence. The co-optation of feminism has just been covered in Time magazine, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,988616-1,00.html

    And I second the comparison of Michele Bachmann with Serena Joy.

  44. mearl

    @Twiss B: believe me, I still ultimately aim my Blame at The P.

    I’d say more about my position on anti-feminist women but you, Jill, and Lidon already summed up my feelings in the last few posts. That’s why I love this blog.

    P.S. Thanks, awhirlinlondon!

  45. tinfoil hattie

    There’s something exceedingly injurious about women turning against other women, though. Men are the ultimate beneficiaries of sexism, it’s true. But when your own “kind” turns against you? Double “oof” to the stomach.

  46. TwissB

    Correction: The ACLU which I blame for wielding the First Amendment as a weapon against women in its bogus anti-censorship and prudery campaigns, upholds Title IX against single sex schools.

  47. Rididill

    Well, I wrote an epic essay pondering this and who knows if it will ever see the light of day.

    But my main question is this: while I entirely agree with the definition presented by Twiss b and indeed by this site, the question remains – who gets to define feminism, and why? There is part of me that is uncomfortable saying THIS IS FEMINISM and that is NOT feminism even if another woman is claiming it as such.

    But then, whoever said social theories were democratic…

  48. TwissB

    @Jill – “I maintain that we can’t leave it to the sexists, the liberal dudes, and the liberal dudes’ girlfriends to mock the traitors; they’ll do it for all the wrong reasons and in all the wrong ways. And when I say “mock” I of course mean “critique.” I agree wholeheartedly that it’s incumbent upon professional internet feminists to uppen the discourse.”

    Now you’re cookin’. That is where the wit comes in – to avoid the urge to engage in the crude invective that shows nothing but frustration and use the opportunity instead to score strong points that blindside those old sexist platitudes and offer fresh insights to anybody looking for them.

    @Rididill – “who gets to define feminism, and why” You answered your own question in your last line.

  49. Josquin

    There are some extremely smart people commenting here. I keep thinking of clever remarks I’d like to make, and then some flippin’ insightful brainiac comes along and sees, raises, and masterfully expands upon my almost-posted meagre contribution. Brava to all you advanced blamers.

  50. Rididill

    @TwissB

    yeah you’re right, I sort of realised that. Explanatory value is the only way to judge a social theory, and that’s what feminist analysis is.

    Social theory should illuminate rather than simply justify… which is exactly what radical feminism does, and what funfeminism doesn’t. In fact, ‘it’s my choice’ is probably the ultimate unilluminating and justifying statement there is, in any sphere.

    AWESOME!

    And salute to all you amazing smart people here who have massively advanced my thinking since I discovered this blog.

  51. Barbara P

    A woman who fails to challenge the patriarchy is like the person who fails to park straight because the car next to them is parked over the line. They can’t be BLAMED, exactly, but one could say that a responsible person might at least try to turn things back in the right direction so that the whole line of cars after them isn’t poorly parked.

    An anti-feminist woman is like someone who makes the line even more crooked. Maybe they only share partial blame, but there is at least some blame there.

  52. TwissB

    @Rididill- Thanks for that excellent gloss on explanatory value of a feminist critique. I think that I now understand what I was trying to say!

  53. laxsoppa

    Re: feminism enbiggening the opportunities for anti-feminist women, a lot of the girls I went to school with grew up happily ignorant about the struggles feminists faced while trying to acquire the vote and at least some civil rights for women. It never ceases to sadden me to hear them say things like “feminism is done, it’s served its purpose already” or even “feminism is completely useless”.

    How does one counter such sentiment without completely antagonizing the clueless? Merely pointing out that without feminism they would still probably be considered their fathers’ or husbands’ legal property just doesn’t do the trick, because apparently the dudes in their lives love them sooo much or treat them like property anyway.

    It also pains me to live in a world where feminist effort and achievements in developing society and creating more opportunities are actively erased or belittled in public discourse. For that I can only blame the P, but somehow no one in the economical field, either, seems to notice that without women creating wealth and opportunities in the workforce or the public sphere EVERYONE would be so much worse off. Mostly people just wax poetic about the golden days of women being legally bound into unpaid and domestic labour for our entire lives.

  54. Frumious B.

    ** How fucking patronizing is that name, “Smart Girl Summit”? Can you even imagine a conservative political action group holding a Smart Boy Summit for adult men? To teach them how to fight like a girl? Haw!

    There is a networking group in my area for adult women with careers related in any way shape or form to technology called “Girls in Tech.” I cringe whenever I get their e-mails. I haven’t been to an event yet.

  55. Rididill

    ‘I think that I now understand what I was trying to say!’

    That brings me great joy, as it pretty much describes my experience with feminism as a whole!

  56. minervaK

    “What you’re saying is that the greatest threat to us is a couple of women who don’t even have a seat at the table…”

    Forgive me for my wide-eyed optimism, but my reading of the whole ‘overthrow patriarchy’ thing is that who sits where, and why and when, is irrelevant, because after the revolution, there will be no table.

  57. damequixote

    When I was a kid I never understood how Phylistine Schlafly could espouse anything against feminism while “preaching” and having a public career. It was my understanding that what she was doing was anathema to her own supposed cause. She was of the, “Do as I say, not as I do,” patriarchy. In short,a man in woman’s clothing.

    In this way I don’t see the point that women like Bachmann are just some different “flavor” of feminism. Someone cited as an example the difference between Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. It’s more like the difference between Malcolm X and Uncle Tom. Bachmann, Schlafly and that ilk are just Uncle Tom’s who do the dirty work of the priveledged sex so they don’t have to sully themselves in dealings with us. How much easier to give a woman a position “in the house” so she can keep those of us in the fields in line. It’s an old tactic of colonialism and we all know where that comes from.

    What we need is a name for women like that. An equivilent of sell-outery that is readily understood and maybe one day just as danging*. Maybe Twisty in her blogster word jillpsmithery can come up with one. Seeing the horrible damage done to the lives of women (the wasted potential and misery) hypocrite just doesn’t cover it.

    In other news, an interviewer got Schlafly’s daughter to admit that all those years her Mother admonished women for having outside help with child care she herself had a nanny. Snort.

    Happy blaming to all.

    *Just trying to jump the filter.

  58. Josquin

    Dame Quixote: I think “collaborator” is a pretty good term. They are selling other women out for their own safety and gain.
    Also, I like your Uncle Tom analogy, although once again I’m not sure Uncle Tom actively sought to undermine gains made by black people while declaring himself a proponent of black rights.

  59. mearl

    Aunt Schlaflys? Uncle Palins? Aunt Paglias? Uncle Hanging Chadwinas?

  60. Ron Sullivan

    Cannibals.

  61. minervaK

    Actually, “funfeminist” works for me, as an epithet. It’s not widely-used enough yet that if I say it, people ask me what it means. And you know what happens then!

  62. Hermionemone

    Quisling?

    The term was coined by the British newspaper The Times in an editorial published on 19 April 1940, asserting: “To writers, the word Quisling is a gift from the gods. If they had been ordered to invent a new word for traitor, they could hardly have hit upon a more brilliant combination of letters. Actually it contrives to suggest something at once slippery and tortuous.”

    to quote a famous free online encyclopedia.

    Substituting ‘m’ for ‘s’ results in ‘Quimling’ or ‘stunted cunt’ which makes a fine gender-specific epithet for the modern age. Notwithstanding that we’re supposed to be above that grade of name-calling.

  63. Milly

    Appeasiotomist. Giving women the husband stitch since the dawn of time.

  64. Milly

    Ouch! Now I feel like I’ve been too harsh. It’s medical men that have been responsible for episiotomy. I also thought of Binder ( as in the mothers who bound their daughter’s feet). Feels kind of yucky though, those women didn’t have much choice. It’s a fine line.

    I like the idea of cannibals, cannibelles? maybe? To imply females doing female specific harm.

  65. kristin

    Scabs. Scabelles. Fangtangs. Speed bumps. Impedimenta. Chock-knockers. Refuseniks. Misprisionistas. Iscarioticas (although maybe Judas will turn out to have had a bad press). Dirty pool.
    Or (as my little niece would say), “Naughty Ones”.

  66. TotallyDorkin

    Comparison between the oppression of women and the oppression of black people is a very touchy subject that should be treated carefully. There is a long history of white women comparing their oppression to black people, by which they meant black men, thereby erasing the experience of black women. Gender oppression and Race oppression are two very serious problems that, while comparable in some ways, are definitely not the same in effect and nature.

    There’s no reason we can’t talk about the specifics of the oppression of women without appropriating the oppression of black people, especially given that there seems to be few black people here to contribute to the discussion.

  67. IrishUp

    At risk of godwining the thread, what comes to mind are the Kapos of WWII.

    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/kapos.html

    The Palins, Schlafleys and Bachmanns of the world have made a deal like in kind to Kapos.

  68. Le Chat Noir

    What about sellouts. They are usually well-paid for doing so.

  69. Citizen Taqueau

    TotallyDorkin, thanks for speaking up. A queasiness begins to quease in my blamer gut when human beings and entire systems of philosophy are reduced to bite-sized rhetorical devices.

  70. Amrit

    Similar to the queasiness that erupts in my gut when the Holocaust is used as a metaphor. An inapt metaphor, at that. Something can be evil without being “like” the Holocaust. A woman or women can be agents of the P without it being necessary to infer that they are like death camp kapos.

  71. yttik

    Well, my intent was not to make a metaphor between black civil rights and women’s rights, but to convince people to take a look at the civil rights movements of the past and to learn from them. What has worked before? Civil disobedience and some solidarity. Solidarity requires you to sometimes align yourself with unlikely bedfellows.

    I’m not trying to be critical, I myself believe it’s much more pleasant to “Other” women with names like cretin, cannibelle, or stunted cunt, than it is to consider the possibility that you might have some things in common with them.

    I wouldn’t even suggest such a horror as calling Bachmann sister, except in every part of my being I know that this is the one thing that has the power to bring the patriarchy to it’s knees.

  72. Jill

    Misogyny is a global humanitarian crisis the scale and enormity of which cannot be likened to any single historical episode. It has been ongoing for millennia and adversely affects every female human everywhere, living or dead. It’s so huge, I can sympathize with efforts to explain it in terms of the Holocaust or American slavery. But these comparisons don’t really fit. Schlafly isn’t really “like in kind to Kapos” because she isn’t imprisoned in a death camp and forced to appease Nazi overlords, under thread of torture, by brutalizing her fellow prisoners. Schlafly is more accurately described as a mouthpiece for the status quo. Patriarchy isn’t a political movement; it is a global social order.

  73. IrishUp

    Amrit, I hear what you are saying.

    Why the analogy came to mind:

    1. The actions of Bachmann et al have deadly effects and they advocate for still worse policies. Yet they are not the creators of said policies.
    2. Having women prosecute that war against women adds “legitimacy” and deflects accusations of misogyny. Secondary benefit: you can point to “them” and deride what “they will do to each other”.
    3. The tension in the question of where “victims forced to comply” ends and “collaborators willing to stand on the throats of others for personal gain” begins.

    But on reflection, the analogy erases the privilege these *particular* women have by using coerced people under threat of death/torture/loss-of-means. Regardless of the fact that *some* people will always be willing to act in this way without coercion (those would be the ones I’d call evil).

    So, I apologize and analogy withdrawn.

  74. IrishUp

    Or what Jill said.

  75. Logoskaieros

    There’s an interview up at the Fbomb with a member from the Westburo Hatey-Hate church and in the interview, the church member says something that makes what some conservative women say/do make more sense to me. (I hope that sentence was grammatically correct.)

    At one point, the dude (I think it’s a dude) says: “the kinds of aspects of feminism that you’ve already talked about — equal pay, equal treatment under the law — that doesn’t have anything to do with feminism.” (from thefbomb.org)

    That made it click for me why some women do parts of the feminist walk, then do the anti-feminist talk. (I’m assuming this dude was minimally rational when he said the above quote.) They have a really weird definition of feminism.

  76. Comrade Svilova

    Actually, a woman I’m head-over-heels for just asked me today to explain feminism because she “has nothing against men” and doesn’t call herself a feminist. Haha! I remember when I was there myself. This will be fun pillow talk.

    I really think it’s the definition of feminism that is so complicated. Because for some people “women as humans” means that some laws should be changed, but that’s all. To others, like those of us here, that’s not enough, because we know that oppression is so much more insidious. That’s why it’s so important to point out the means through which oppression is perpetuated. And to have those tedious “men are harmed by patriarchy too” to convert fledgling blamers.

    Wish me luck with winning over my date — both to feminism and to wanting to continue to date me! Thanks.

  77. Comrade Svilova

    That should read “women are humans” not “women as humans.”

  78. Kali

    If you want to get rid of a snake, aim for the head. Poking at the tail will only get you bitten. When it comes to the patriarchy, the men are at the head. The female collaborators and opportunists are at the tail end.

  79. Amrit

    Good luck with that, Comrade Svilova. You have some ovaries to even go there. Keep us posted.

  80. Rididill

    Somehow I doubt that calling Michele Bachmann sister is going to bring the patriarchy to its knees…

    How, exactly Yttik, do you imagine this will work?

    As I said above, this is not a question of different political or religious ideologies within the civil rights movement…

    The questions, were there blacks in the movement that shat all over other blacks, advocated for more of the same, and called it civil rights?

    And were they successful because they called such people allies of the movement and had ‘solidarity’ despite their traitorous behaviour?

    Please explain to me the parallels because I think you are talking rubbish.

    Though, I also agree that this is not the same, anyhoo.

  81. yttik

    I’m sorry I can never properly explain why unity and sisterhood is the key to over throwing the patriarchy. For those who think my calling Bachmann “sister” is rubbish, perhaps the menz can make my point better.

    “I don’t want to be crass, but I just hope that Marcus Bachmann takes all that, ya know, that rage that comes from repression and denial and brings it into the bedroom with her. I hope he f*cks her angrily, because that’s how I would. And I’ve thought about it.” -Marc Maron on the Bill Maher show

    I could post literally hundreds of quotes from TV men threatening Bachmann with various forms of violent sex, rape, torture, dismemberment. How do you cure a “bad” woman? Rape, violence,oppression. In the ultimate patriarchal mind screw, I’m now supposed to view Bachmann as my enemy and the men suggesting she needs to be raped as fierce advocates for women’s rights.

    See, Bachmann isn’t a full human being entitled to human rights, she’s only a “woman.” So am I. If we ever learned how to stand together we might actually become full human beings some day.

  82. Comrade Svilova

    Yttik, can we stand with Bachmann as a woman while repudiating the specific policy positions she advocates, positions that are advocated by many men and women on the right and which are extremely detrimental to the rights of women, and other intersecting minority groups?

    Because I am happy to call Bachmann my sister and defend her as a woman but she is also part of a movement that would demonize me as a queer woman and I do feel called upon to point out the problems with the homophobic policies for which she advocates. (Among others.)

    I agree with you, many liberal dudes regard rape as the “correct” response to hateful political positions like Bachmann’s. I criticize them with as much if not more vitriol as I use when I criticize Bachmann’s anti-gay positions. If Bachmann wins the presidency, she will make life very difficult for me and my queer sisters (and brothers). If another GOP candidate wins, he or she will also espouse and enact similar problematic policies.

    Shorter: I won’t NOT criticize Bachmann because she’s a woman, but I won’t criticize and attack her simply BECAUSE she’s a woman. And I will call to task those who employ sexism and violence towards her as a woman in lieu of substantially addressing her policy failures.

  83. Cyberwulf

    Rididill, we don’t gain anything by using misogynistic language against other women, even the women who want us all to go back to being good little housewives who service our men, pop out babies and never drink or dance or swear. It is possible to vehemently reject such views and to mock/criticise/dismiss a woman who holds them without attacking her for being a woman. Never forget that men fucking love it when we call each other cunts and whores and bitches.

    And every time a professed “liberal dude” describes in slavering detail his disgusting rape fantasies about Bachmann or Palin or whoever, a little red flag should go up because that man is not an ally. A savage verbal beatdown should then ensue, if it is safe to do so. Nutshots would, of course, be ideal.

  84. Kali

    And every time a professed “liberal dude” describes in slavering detail his disgusting rape fantasies about Bachmann or Palin or whoever, a little red flag should go up because that man is not an ally. A savage verbal beatdown should then ensue, if it is safe to do so. Nutshots would, of course, be ideal.

    The problem is after all that alleged “savage verbal beatdown”, which I don’t see much of among liberal women, liberal women politically support the liberal dudes. They’ll hold the republican women accountable for their right-wing misogyny, but they will not hold the democratic men accountable for their left-wing misogyny. When the time comes to vote, that liberal dude is still a political ally, despite all protestations to the contrary that he is “not an ally”.

  85. Saurs

    And I will call to task those who employ sexism and violence towards her as a woman in lieu of substantially addressing her policy failures.

    Truthfully, though, is there anyone here who actually believes that such dudes (who are wont to bellow Rape Her Good! at any uppity lady or gay man who angers them, politician or otherwise) actually have the intellectual capacity to address somebody’s “policy failures”?

    I’m inclined to think that the greater percentage of dudes who like to publicly discuss their rape fantasies of Famous Ladies think they are being especially funny and entertaining (the logic being that any audience is by definition entirely male; all dudes secretly think rape is hilarious and/or boner-inducing; hence talking about shoving dicks in Bad Ladies’ orifices is edgy and guaranteed to elicit a restorative, calming, homosocial larf-fest, just what we need when confronted with a bad lady who won’t be quiet) and that they’re also just monumentally stupid, a bunch of dumb assholes who don’t know anything, anyway, except that they’ve got a stand-up gig/Serious Man Blog/documentary about some he-man activity/yet another paperback about the Plot Against White Folk to promote and Maher’s (or whoever) looking to fill an empty spot on a panel this week.

    I sort of surmise that not only does the rhetorical rape fantasy angle work when the speaker can’t think of anything else to say because he’s a fucking empty-headed goon, but because he knows, or thinks he does, that all men hate women, resent them, long to punish them, and that therefore that all men will understand just how much he “disagrees” with XYZ-Lady’s “policies” by talking about her getting raped. ‘Cos that makes a lot of fucking sense. Paranoid moron who is threatened by powerful women and who associates power with sexual violence appears to solemnly believe rape is the only way to protect men from ambitious women. And this is perfectly kosher with many dudes everywhere.

    None of these people — vacuous idjit GOP or donks — have much in the way of “policies” to criticize, anyway. That part, where well-meaning “liberal” or “progressive” men inform you that you’re going to sabotage the movement, or whatever, with your little lady problems is all academic, to me, anyway, as I’d never vote for any of these scum. I sympathize with you blamers who’ve got serious stakes in a particular political party, however, and I can imagine the frustration and despair you feel each and every time they inevitably fuck you over.

  86. Comrade Svilova

    Truthfully, though, is there anyone here who actually believes that such dudes (who are wont to bellow Rape Her Good! at any uppity lady or gay man who angers them, politician or otherwise) actually have the intellectual capacity to address somebody’s “policy failures”?

    Well, if they don’t, then criticize the hell out of them for that too!

    There’s so much blame to go around. And I do blame Right Wing Women for making the bargain with the P that they’ve made, even while I support them against misogyny and understand their reasons for making that bargain. But my blame is certainly not limited to criticizing the policy positions of Palin and Bachmann.

    I just resist the idea that it’s not possible to support Right Wing Women against misogyny and simultaneously point out how they themselves are supporting misogynistic policies. A sisterhood where we all have to pretend that we’re all perfect and perfectly in agreement is a sisterhood of 1.

  87. Saurs

    Comrade Svilova, I do agree, which is why folk like Bachmann will never be quislings and thus will never have earned that extra special dose of scorn quislings deserve. They were never on my side to begin with. Just being a woman isn’t enough. I think it’s only MRA shitbags and libertarian assholes who believe in, or pretend to believe in order to perpetuate, the myth of the “vagina voter,” a group of old ‘n’ angry virgin spinsters who are sabotaging our freedoms by providing vile, racist, bigoted white women with uncritical support, world without end amen.

    When, in the history of the world, have women ever been given uncritical support for anything good, honestly? When they’re not being ignored, they’re being closely, closely scrutinized, down to the inflection of their voices, their shoe size. Women who have political aspirations are never in danger of receiving a free pass, irrespective of their particular creed, and even by their own philosophical allies.

    Spouting off sexist shit about right-wing women is just sport for left-wing dudes, an excuse for bromancing one another with how cool they are, how much misogyny they can get away with revealing publicly in the name of Defending their Party. They have nothing to fear from Bachmann. I posit that if Bachmann were such an obvious frontrunner as handwringers on the ostensible left would have you believe, they’d be shitting themselves with glee at the prospect of her running against Obama, as she wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance.

  88. Rididill

    @Yttik, Cyberwulf

    Wow, misrepresent my argument much? When did I ever use misogynistic language against other women, or support anybody doing so?

    I interpreted Yttik’s comment about calling Michele Bachmann sister as existing in response to people’s criticism of her policies. I took this to mean that we should not criticise her because she is a woman and should just call her sister instead and ignore how she is actually promoting misogyny. Pardon me, but I think that’s rubbish.

    My actual viewpoint is summed up perfectly by comrade Svilova:

    ‘There’s so much blame to go around. And I do blame Right Wing Women for making the bargain with the P that they’ve made, even while I support them against misogyny and understand their reasons for making that bargain. But my blame is certainly not limited to criticizing the policy positions of Palin and Bachmann.

    I just resist the idea that it’s not possible to support Right Wing Women against misogyny and simultaneously point out how they themselves are supporting misogynistic policies. A sisterhood where we all have to pretend that we’re all perfect and perfectly in agreement is a sisterhood of 1.’

    Does not mean I think she is public feminist enemy number one, more so than the fuckface liberal boys who pretend to be part of our cause and then will jump at the chance to be misogynist when they think they’ve found a legitimate target. It just does not mean I will not criticise her misogyny just because she is a woman. We all make our bargains, but if no one will point that out because they are too busy saying ‘it’s ok sister we all love you anyway’ then no one is held to account for their misogyny and women are yet again treated like unintelligent beings who cannot be held accountable for their views. I do not think this helps to overthrow patriarchy.

    Equally I stand against all misogyny that is directed at her.

  89. yttik

    You misinterpreted my comment, Riddill. I never said anything in response to people’s criticism of her policies. How could I? There’s been no mention of her policies at all. Being a “stunted cunt” and a “cretin” are not policy positions.

    My complaint is right here in your response, “no one is held to account..” Seriously, is that really a problem? Not enough women are being held to account? Not enough women being shamed in the world? Women are not being punished enough? Women are somehow sailing through life with no accountability?

    It’s the never ending policing of other women that I am complaining about. Why, it’s almost as if we believe a woman’s personal choices are entirely responsible for the patriarchy. I wish more women would realize that another woman’s personal choices do not have the power to bring about social change. That’s a harsh reality to face, but maybe if we did, we’d stop thinking that it was necessary to constantly police other women and separate ourselves from them.

    Bachmann could have a sudden epiphany and mend her ways, but not one damn thing would change in the patriarchy. Men have already proven they’re quite content to carry on the politics with or without our help. Preferably without our help, actually.

  90. Rididill

    People calling her a ‘stunted cunt’ and a ‘cretin’ are in response to Bachmann’s ANTIFEMINISM (a broad description of the flavour of her policy position) something you seem allergic to mentioning or dealing with, despite repeated people questioning this. It isn’t ‘different feminisms’ it’s anti-woman hypocrisy.

    Why do you assume making one criticism means that the person making it thinks it’s the most important thing? You’re the one saying that calling her ‘sister’ will overthrow patriarchy. I said that I did not think this will help, if it means we don’t criticise her antifeminism. I did not say that criticisng her antifeminism is the one thing that will overthrow patriarchy. I am in full agreement with you that this is not the most important thing.

    However. It IS damaging to all women that the only female leaders that seem to get into power in a lot of places (see comments of Tehomet) because they speak from the LEGITIMACY of being women and give extra credence to misogyny.

    ‘It’s the never ending policing of other women that I am complaining about.’

    Just because it happens too much by the wrong people for all the wrong reasons does not make it illegitimate to critique her for the RIGHT reasons from a FEMINIST standpoint. It’s not like this is exactly the main focus of this site.

    No, I do not think the reason patriarchy exists is because women are just doing life wrong and make the wrong choices. That does not mean that no one can be held accountable for anything. Antifeminists are antifeminists. Female antifeminists are less to blame than those who ultimately benefit. They are still antifeminists. I hold antifeminists to account for their antifeminism.

    You seem to have quite happily lumped me in with people who have made misogynistic comments about Bachmann like ‘stunted cunt’. I did not say that. I do not support that. My points have nothing to do with that. So please do not speak to me as such.

    As Jill said,

    ‘I maintain that we can’t leave it to the sexists, the liberal dudes, and the liberal dudes’ girlfriends to mock the traitors; they’ll do it for all the wrong reasons and in all the wrong ways.’

    I agree.

    You said

    ‘If we ever learned how to stand together we might actually become full human beings some day.’

    TELL THAT TO BACHMANN THEN!

    You also said:

    ‘I’m not trying to be critical, I myself believe it’s much more pleasant to “Other” women with names like cretin, cannibelle, or stunted cunt, than it is to consider the possibility that you might have some things in common with them. ‘

    ‘For those who think my calling Bachmann “sister” is rubbish, perhaps the menz can make my point better.’

    Please stop offensively trying to paint people with positions that they do not have. ‘Perhaps the menz’? Are you fucking serious? I critique something and you suggest it’s some misogynist attack cos I think ‘teh menz are more cleverz…’?

    These other comments are not about ‘othering’, though some are misogynistic. A cretin is a cretin. It’s a genderless insult.

    The basic principle is what the fuck do you do about traitors and sellouts when you are trying to build a movement. We know what we have in common with them. We know we have all sucked the dick of patriarchy in order to survive and feel some kind of self worth in this fucked up world. We understand that. There is not a woman on this earth who hasn’t. The difference is, we (or at least I) are not willing to call that feminism. I call it what it is.

    We also know it is possible to change, as most of us have. And that change is the only way to revolution. So what do we do about the women who crap all over women for their personal gain instead of standing in solidarity? That is the question. It is a serious question. Because if we want to build a movement that does not rely on the menz, we need to get the wimminz on our side, yes?

    It would be to their advantage in the long term also, yes?

    So how do we go about doing that, or even thinking about that?

    And that is what I want a response to, not acting like I am talking out of the liberal dooz handbook of misogyny and responding to offensive positions that I do not hold.

    Please.

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