Apr 04 2014

Spleenvent Friday: Feminism-as-happiness-destroyer Edition

From the LA Times:

A panel about ladies convened by the right-wing Heritage Foundation avers that

“feminism is bad because women are not as happy as they used to be.”


[I’ll check in later from the car repair waiting room, pity me. But before I go, let me just say that of course women aren’t happy. We’ve never been happy. Oblivious, yes. Ignorant, sure. But happy? No. Because patriarchy.

Also. The author of the article says “Was happiness the goal? I always thought it was equality.” I am duty bound as a spinster aunt to suggest that the goal was never equality, either, but rather liberation from dudely oppression.

Equality is both unattainable and undesirable.

Carry on!]


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  1. Moose

    Novice blamer here. What’s the difference, in practise, between equality and liberation?

  2. Kali

    In over 40% of the US counties, the life expectancy is going down, especially for women. If we look at the map of where those counties are, it is practically identical to the map for right-wing domination in politics. If women are unhappy, and sick and dying, it is because of right wing politics. Closing down health clinics, taking away the safety net and social support, taking away job opportunities – these are the things that are literally killing women.

  3. pheenobarbidoll

    Liberation from dudely oppression would improve my happiness level, certainly, but thats a bonus not the mission.

  4. Satchel

    Let us not forget these are the same people who think that black people were happier being enslaved. In Dudely Oppression Land, apparently if you are constrained from speaking they interpret your silence as content.

  5. Mooska

    Shades of a striking detail in the utterly, genuinely horrific book ‘The Good Women Of China’ (Xue Xinran). The book is based on her time as, I think , the first radio journalist to address the issue of women’s oppression – not directly, of course, but just by telling the stories of real women who wrote to her in their thousands. While factually true, it’s doing them an injustice to say that they are all stories of horrific abuse, because the book is beautifully written.

    ANYWAY, one chapter is about the women of Shouting Hill, a very remote community with no access to electricity, media etc. There are fewer women than men (a truly puzzling anomaly), so that the women are shared by the men and made to marry several at once so that no man forgoes his divine right to get laid. They are also so poor that – again, obviously – there’s no money for sanitary towels etc, and they have to use some kind of local leaf that goes rigid and cuts their inner thighs to bits, so they walk slightly bowleggedly. So far, so typically shocking-yet-not-uncommon. But the author noted that these were the only women she met in all of China that answered ‘yes’ to the question ‘Are you happy?’. Which goes to show that the question is so subjective as to be meaningless.

    [Do I get the Twisty Faster award for longest time to get to the point ever? If not, I definitely deserve one for not putting a winky emoticon at the end of that sentence. I am FOR emoticons. There, I said it.]

  6. Mooska

    ^^^ The first radio journalist in China, that should say. Soz.

  7. Kali

    Mooska, it’s all about expectations. The people who suggest that feminism makes women unhappy (without any evidence, and contrary to all evidence) are actually saying that women should lower their expectations so they can be content with their lot in life. One can increase happiness by improving their lot in life, or by lowering expectations. The Heritage Foundation clearly prefers the latter for women.

  8. ew_nc

    Godbags just say whatever they want to be true, and BAM! In their world, it’s true. No other godbags challenge it because faith or something. Just think about their easily disprovable (is that a word?) lies about birth control and abortion causing cancer. Not one single shred of empirical evidence to back it up, but still their sheeple believe it. So why not lie and say the women are happy? And as for the women, well, they’re afraid they’re not going to the great megachurch in the sky if they show dissent, so of course they’re going to self-report that they’re happy.

  9. Cyberwulf

    What’s actually happening is that more and more women are finding, in feminism, a way to articulate what it is that pisses them off, instead of living with vague feelings of annoyance. The more women that speak up about sexism, the more women feel like they *can* speak up about sexism. The conservative women of the Heritage Foundation confuse correlation with causation.

  10. ElizaN

    It seems pretty hard to be happy while toting around all that cognitive dissonance. Not that I’m happy about being faced with the reality of the patriarchy, either, but at least I don’t have to constantly lie to myself anymore. There’s some peace in that.

  11. MMargaret

    Let’s see: men own 99% of everything and get 90% of world income. Women do 2/3 of the work and get 10% of the world income. The richest women in the world would be obliterated if the men stood against them: their numbers and riches are too few to be a concern. I suspect the patriarchy is merely toying with us by giving us a crumb here or a cookie there, a pat on the head and condescension. The patriarchy treats women as less than children and merely as the means by which to produce children for their purposes. Women do not exist as human beings in this world of men. Happy? Hah, only hard fought for in a space of my own.

  12. Joanna

    Ignorance used to be bliss, apparently. In a world where people struggle to be happy, this statement can manipulate women into believing that dudely oppression is actually good for them.; that, for example, 50s’ housewives were perfectly happy baking and serving. It reinstates gender roles which just happen to be oppressive from the feminist perspective, but haven’t we already proved how Feminism creates discontent?

    Liberation is happiness, and we are still too patriarchy-infested to understand that.

  13. roesmoker


    “This isn’t about vanity; it’s about freeing oneself from ridicule and living a normal life.”

    Because we should be putting on more makeup to spare others our signs of humanity and being fully Beauty2KCompliant! The only time we’re allowed to take off our makeup is when trying to sell other women on the powers of our makeup. Also, sadly, freeing ourselves from ridicule and living a normal life is not really possible when living under the Global Accords.

  14. roesmoker

    PS What Twisty or I might consider a “normal life” (layin’ back, doing butt-dances or drinking margs) and what the Patriarchy considers “normal life” (rape, molestation, death, oppression, misogyny) are so far away from each other they might as well be in different countries. I don’t want normalcy under the P. I want to redefine normal to stop using the P’s definition.

  15. Twisty

    @Moose “Equality” proposes a condition wherein women and men supposedly enjoy identical opportunities socially, politically, legally, etc. But the available opportunities themselves have always been identified and defined by male needs; even if this were not the case, the biological fact of sexually-differentiated physiologies preclude absolutely the possibility of genuine equality.

    Liberation, on the other hand, proposes that women cease to accept limitations imposed by male dominance, whereupon we define our own women-specific, ergonomic reality, independent of dudely norms, needs, desires, and fantasies.

    In praxis, “equality” has to be legislated and approved of and policed, and will only ever result in an approximation of true liberation. Whereas true liberation, as is usually the case with peoples who wish to throw off the shackles of oppression, can only result from something like an actual feminist revolt.

  16. ew_nc

    And another thing! If women were supposedly so happy in the “olden days”, why do we even have feminism? Why was there ever an Elizabeth Cady Stanton or a Gloria Steinem? Why aren’t all women rushing back to the “safety” of oppression? I know, because it fuckin’ sucks!

    Of course the patriarchy knows all this, hence the oppression.

  17. Moose

    @Twisty: Ahh, ok. That makes sense, and also sounds fantastic.

  18. Bushfire

    I’ll be happy when we overthrow the patriarchy and the capitalist system.

  19. iorarua

    It’s not just men of the conservative right-wing that are convinced women were happier under the traditional patriarchy. Men of the libertarian right and the Marxist left, as well as anarchist men (who claim to be neither right nor left), are all equally convinced that feminism makes women unhappy.

    The libertarian right claims feminism has made women unhappy because it’s made men retreat into their caves and not want to get married anymore – and when men don’t to get married, women get unhappy.

    Marxists hate feminism because the evil capitalist system is making men unhappy, and women can never be happy while men are unhappy. So women need to keep making the sandwiches and pouring the coffee while their working class Che Guevaras plan the revolution. (The fact that no people’s revolution in history has ever made life better for women is of no consequence.)

    And anarchists hate feminism, partly because anarchists hate everything, but mainly because feminism’s one true goal is to create as much bureaucracy as possible and that makes anarchist men unhappy. Because about 99% of anarchists are men, it doesn’t really matter what makes anarchist women unhappy.

  20. Lidon

    “Liberation, on the other hand, proposes that women cease to accept limitations imposed by male dominance, whereupon we define our own women-specific, ergonomic reality, independent of dudely norms, needs, desires, and fantasies.”

    I couldn’t even begin to imagine what that would be like. IBTP.

  21. Ellesar

    roesmoker – the male version of that ad campaign is of a heavily tattoo’d man covering it all up and you would never know he was tattoo’d.
    Such a different perspective from the young women with vitiligo and acne as he CHOSE his skin! Somehow I don’t think we will be seeing men with vitiligo and acne advertising dermablend any time soon!

  22. irieagogo

    Feminism makes MEN sad.

  23. Lab Rat

    I love a good Spleenvent! It’s balm for the soul.

  24. AMM

    I am duty bound as a spinster aunt to suggest that the goal was never equality, either, but rather liberation from dudely oppression.

    Equality is both unattainable and undesirable.

    Thanks for so concisely articulating why the “I thought feminism was about equality” argument from pseudo-feministly dudes is a crock. I think I’ll cut-and-paste this into my “useful” quotes file, so I can trot it out when yet another dude comes a long with “equalism-not-feminism” nonsense.

    (Of course, there’s also the “some animals are more equal than others” line, but that might require more insight than many of these guys have.)

  25. Wilted_Lettuce

    @roesmoker, also this

    “Covering themselves allows people to see through their imperfections and see who they are inside.”

    That’s some empowerfulizing BS right there. I’m going to go out on a limb and note there’s probably nothing anyone can do with makeup that causes people to see who they are inside. But it is useful for blending in with the herd. Which they kind of imply with the name Derma-Blend.

  26. hatt0ri

    Well, women are, thanks to feminism, allowed to express their displeasure publicly, instead of silently weeping into a kitchen cloth. Superficially, it might seem that they are more miserable now than before, but it’s obviously not true. That’s what I would say, if the original statement was based on actual facts and not on a vague idea that “focus on ourselves doesn’t lead to happiness”.
    But more to the point, isn’t it true that male relatives and family members are the biggest source of danger and, consequently, misfortune for women? Having a career won’t make someone blissful, but it could save her life.
    Anyway, I have a feeling that your original question wasn’t so much about this, but more along the lines of: “Even if it makes us less happy, will being liberated be worth it?” I might be wrong, though, so I won’t go answering it.

  27. Mildred

    I just watched Mad Men – Season 1 episode 1. I’ve never watching this show before but a female friend of mine who works in advertising (and gets sexually harassed on the reg told me to watch it). At first I thought it was showcasing how shitty things were for women back in the day… but every scene had a man in the center of it. In the lift a group of dudes sexually harass an uncomfortable young woman, but the camera follows them! The men drive the story. The first episode failed the Bechdel test, and even in the scenes that featured women )(talking to men) they always talked about men (the psychology adviser talks about Freud, the lady-client talks about her daddy [oh ho ho still daddy’s little girl despite playing in the big bad world of corporate advertising]}. The sexually harassed lady in the lift beds the most obnoxious of her harassers when he shows up menacingly drunk on her doorstop – one final humiliation in a series of humiliations – she’s harassed in a lift, she’s harassed in the doorway, she’s told separately by two women to wear a shorter skirt so her boss can perv on her, she’s slut-shamed and roughly pap-smeared by a doctor, she’s rudely rebuffed by her boss – all this harassment took place in the reality of ONE DAY.

  28. ew_nc

    I need a spleen-vent. I’m so sick of women in the news only being referred to by their first name. Article on MSNBC about Former Secretary of State Condolezza Rice calls her “Condi”. Hillary Clinton routinely called “Hillary” instead of Secretary Clinton. Got to make sure women are minimized by not calling them by their full names!

  29. tinfoil hattie

    Yes, ew_nc. ABSOLUTELY! Some of the shit that passes for news coverage of women seems so freaking obviously misogynist! And yet if I point it out, I’m just wallowing in victimhood!

    And another spleenvent: I’m tired of being told that there’s no more sexism, women have all the privilege, white people are being marginalized, and native/indigenous colonization “happened so long ago oh well it’s a shame but what can you do?” by the IDIOTS around me. Gaaaah.

  30. Banhorn

    I’d agree that feminism has allowed women to express their anger. It’s also shed a pretty bright light on how much bullshit we deal with every.single.day – even as it’s gotten better here in the west – although perhaps I’m speaking too soon if Kali’s comment is at all factual. I really don’t doubt that it is since right-wing, god-wielding men are disgusting.

    It’s pretty damn impossible not to sneer at men anymore. I just want absolutely nothing to do with them. I guess I am angry. Liberation sounds pretty damn good to me.

  31. Shelby

    ew-nc women are such an anomaly in positions of power that you only have to refer to their first names for the whole world to know who they are.

  32. Lab Rat

    You’d probably get a few people wanting to argue that the first name only thing is an empowerful kinda thingee due to Madonna, Cher, Beyonce, et all (and lest we forget, Charo).

    I’m hard pressed to think of a male performer who goes by a single name unless it’s a rap pseudonym. All I could think of was Donovan – which dates me completely.

  33. tinfoil hattie

    @Lab Rat: Hmmm. Musicians “Sting” and “Bono” come to mind. As well as “Slash,” who I think is also a musician.

    @Shelby: good, if unhappy, blaming.

    I’m so happy I found my misery at I Blame the Patriarchy!

  34. TwissB

    I agree about first-naming women in office or just in public life. But there are other considerations. I just heard Hillary Clinton being referred to on PBS news as Mrs. Clinton. What happened to Ms.? I would not have welcomed calling her Secretary Clinton, since I think that calling people by long-expired titles is ridiculously pretentious and confusing. Imagine a panel of ex-presidents being addressed as and even referring to each other as “Mr. President.” In this model democracy (!), avoidance of hereditary titles should be a matter of pride. Besides, referring to, say, Madeleine Albright as Secretary, as is regularly done, implies that we don’t know her public history or that she hasn’t done anything worth mentioning since she was Secretary of State.

  35. ew_nc

    Not a spleen-vent, but I was wondering if any Blamers have read Laura Bates’s new book, “Everyday Sexism”? The buzz is good, but I’ve not heard from any rad fems about it.

  36. TwissB

    I’m too busy spleen-venting about Amnesty International’s reversion to the old days when they defended FGM as a “cultural practice” that should not be interfered with by feminist do-gooders.

    Now Amnesty is cynically promoting the cruel lie that pimps and buyers of prostituted women and girls are dedicated to the welfare of those they abuse. AI wants to decriminalize pimps and johns to “protect” prostituted women. AI is also blatantly misrepresenting the Nordic model law enacted in Sweden. As a global institution that advantages men by dehumanizing women, prostitution must be defeated by real legal reform to criminalize all exploiters in the business of treating women like merchandise. In line with the provisions and spirit of the Nordic model, the state must offer prostituted people the services and support they need to escape a life they never sought. Women of Amnesty should take a hard look at the Amnesty’s male-serving proposal and ask why any woman with a lick of sense would want to endorse a policy of commercial misogyny.

  37. ew_nc

    TwissB – yeah, can you believe that shit? The other day, AI’s buddy, Nick Kristoff, Tweeted about working with Pastor Rick Warren to stop sexual violence. I was dumbfounded – a creepy godbag women-in-the-home-only preacher is who you choose to work with on sexual violence?

    I follow(ed) another liberal white dude on Twitter, Harold Itzkowitz, until recently. He posted something about Woody Allen being “delightful” in some role, so I replied that I doubt that Dylan Farrow thinks Woody is delightful. I got a snotty response about how neither of us know what really happened and that Allen wasn’t convicted in a court of law. I asked if he required a legal conviction before he believed any abuse victim’s story and got promptly blocked by him. I swear, save me from liberal white dudes just as much from the conservative ones. They’re all cut from the same cloth.

  38. Val

    I had to switch off NPR yesterday AM when Bob Mondello gave favorable review to new WA romp “Fading Gigolo”… gag me w/a spoon!

  39. quixote

    Amnesty International? Is saying that? One more place that’s never getting a dime from me again. What is wrong with these men?

  40. Bushfire

    I’m not really surprised about Amnesty International. These days it’s in vogue to be pro-legalization when it comes to prostitution. The sex trade lobby and the funfeminists make it look like women choose sex work as a career and state that criminalizing johns makes it harder to screen out “dangerous clients, ” making women less safe. Absent from this analysis is the fact that ALL johns are dangerous because they’re all there for the purpose of sexual abuse, and that making women safer actually includes the total elimination of said sexual abuse. Despite this major flaw, the theory that “sex work is work” is very popular. IBTP.

  41. josquin

    I am so tired of the disingenuous claims that no one should judge Woody Allen because none of us can know what really happened. It reminds me of a story I read recently about a guy who wasn’t sure that the earth is actually 4 billion years old because he “wasn’t there when it happened.” People stoop so stupidly low to defend their indefensible stances. People want to keep watching their Woody Allen movies – so they “don’t know if it really happened”. The earth dude wants to believe that god created the world a few thousand years ago, so he “wasn’t there when it happened”. People claim that sex work isn’t abuse because they are so attached to the idea of hot fuckable women who just LOVE being exploited, and stoop even lower to claim that johns and pimps can really care about the well-being of these women.

  42. ew_nc

    Right on, josquin. The thing that kills me about Woody defenders is that they fail to realize that it is already an established fact that he committed incest and child abuse. They seem to forget all about what he did to Soon-Yi because he married her. But the fact remains that he was in a parental position with her and she was underage when he had sex with her. That’s against the law!

    So why do people have such a hard time believing Dylan Farrow? Never mind, I know why. And IBTP.

  43. quixote

    I came across a couple of posts recently on the sex-work-is-just-work shtick. Whatshername-Grant and Katha Pollitt’s response. I was blown away by Grant’s article, and not in a good way. She writes about what sounds like a bunch of roommates figuring out the schedule for who’s going to cook dinner and clean the tub. I assume she’s not lying. I assume that’s what her experience really was. I don’t know about webcamming, but for physical sex workers how can she be such a soulless unfeeling dogpile to be unaware that her world is not the experience of 99% of sex workers?

    (I want a cookie for not putting the last bit in bold blinking red all-caps.)

    And the other thing that boggles my mind. It’s like the fracking studies saying it’s totally safe while people can light a match to the water coming out of their taps. How can anyone who knows how to tie her own shoes not wonder why, if sex work is just work, there aren’t equally many men out there servicing women?

  44. blue stocking

    Excellent points, quixote. You know that if there’s a good job that pays good money, men would be all over it. I saw a standup bit by Maria Bamford several years ago (can’t find it on you tube) where she said that one of her neighbors was a sex worker. When she asked her neighbor why, her neighbor cooed in a sultry voice, “Because working in a totally unregulated industry where I have no legal recourse should I be beaten or raped makes me hot.” Yeah, who wouldn’t jump at that job? And who wouldn’t think that it was a first on the career choice list? (eyes rolling) You know who I blame.

  45. Mildred

    Link please Quixote! I used to really like this male musician called Twin Shadow but then I read an interview with him where he just came off as a total douche, I think it was on pitchfork and he says something along the lines of there’s this gender revolution going on, women are doing prostitution on webcam now so its SAFE!
    I’m like dude, you’re really setting the bar low there on a revolution.
    If its so safe why do these women have their wishlist gifts delivered to a PO box rather than their house? Why do they use fake names? Why do they hide their identity? Why are there articles online advising these women in how to avoid stalkers?
    This is more than just hiding it from mum and dad and your future/current employer.

  46. xTwissB

    Moderation is detaining my message providing Change dot org and Abolish Prostitution Now links to facilitate expression of opposition to Amnesty International’s policy proposal to decriminalize pimps and johns (and the merchandise too in a burst of generosity). It’s also a good opportunity to indicate approval of the Nordic Model that gets it right – criminalize pimps and johns, decriminalize those used and offer state services to escape a life that no one chooses.

  47. TwissB

    I wonder if “xTwissB” is a typo that landed my post in Moderation. I am trying to let those interested know that Change dot org and Abolish Prostitution Now offer opportunities to communicate opposition to Amnesty International’s pro-prostitution initiative and support for the paradigm-changing Nordic Model.

  48. quixote

    Here’s the one by Grant: http://www.thenation.com/article/178683/lets-call-sex-work-what-it-work

    and Pollitt’s response: http://www.thenation.com/article/179147/why-do-so-many-leftists-want-sex-work-be-new-normal

    I think more than two links gets you into moderation, so I’ll put some spaces in the next one. Take them out if you actually want to go there. It’s some twerp dumping on Pollitt for being Victorian and not respecting women’s “choices.” htt ps: //www. jacobinmag.com/2014/04/katha-pollitts-quality-control/

  49. quixote

    Gaa. Too many links? Mention of filtered words? And with Twisty off who knows when it’ll get out of mod. I’ll try just linking to Pollitt’s. A link to Grant’s is at the end of her article.

  50. Veganrampage

    “Annoyed” by the P? Nay, not annoyed, enraged. Tormented, inflamed, infuriated, and a tad vexed.

    Anyone recall when there is a mass riot over some clearly fucked up blatant miscarriage of justice, usually pertaining to race? When people get so mad they just burn down their own shit, own neighborhood, own cars? Maybe women should start doing that. Burn it, burn it all the fuck down. May the flames reach up to Gaia, and the few other hundred earth goddesses we have heard about, and all the rest lost to history via the P.

    Spleen partially vented.

    (Is being this angry good for you?)

  51. Veganrampage

    @TwissB AI wants to legalize pay-per-rape? Thanks for letting me know. Should I shoot myself now or wait until I get home? Oh, I am home.

  52. Lab Rat

    quixote – That link was well worth the read. My favorite quote, when she’s talking about the over emphasis on the experience of the small percentage of voluntary sex workers who may actually make money verses the slient majority who are expolited and would rather do something else, “You might as well ask a pastry chef what it’s like to ladle out mashed potatoes in a school cafeteria.”


  53. TwissB

    @Veganrampage. Don’t shoot yourself, please. Instead use the Abolish Prostitution Now statement-to-AI website to tell AI to quit demonstrating its contempt for women’s human rights and human dignity. Then go to the smug Avaaz web site that is endorsing the AI proposal and blast their hypocrisy as well. Note the outrageous justification for all this is that removing any legal restraints on pimps and users is done out of tender concern for the safety and welfare of the women and children they abuse! Same urgent call to action goes to Quixote, Lab Rat and all the other radfems out there who recognize how basic prostitution is to maintaining patriarchy. Reminder: Amnesty International defended FGM as a “cultural practice” (just like prostitution ,y’know) until backlash made them give up that idea. Their secondary lie is that decriminalization is needed because it is the police, not the kindly customers, who are responsible for violence against so-called sex workers. When even Der Spiegel publishes a long article about the huge, dehumanizing prostitution business resulting from legalizing prostitution in Germany, it’s clear that abuse is becoming painfully visible. Western world leaders are paying attention, so act now.

    For reality of prostitution and a send-up of the “Pretty Woman” myth, see Rachel Moran’s “Paid For.” The sexploitation industry is trashing her for the book and for her activism on behalf of establishing a Nordic Model law in Ireland.

  54. tinfoil hattie

    “How can anyone who knows how to tie her own shoes not wonder why, if sex work is just work, there aren’t equally many men out there servicing women?”

    Stop using logic, please. Women are supposed to be hysterical. Get back at it!

    Also: Boko Haram kidnapping over 200 Nigerian girls and “selling them” into slavery, marriage, rape, etc.? Yawn. We can’t do anything about that. It’s THAT country’s problem.

    Girls and women are becoming more and more commoditized, more and more exploited, more and more silenced. Things haven’t actually improved much at all over time. Wow, women in some countries can vote and run for office. Whoop-de-do. We’re still outnumbered, outplayed, outgunned, outraped – and yes, I am bitter.

  55. Saralynn

    “and yes, I am bitter.” THAT is what I am feeling. When someone says I am too upset about “that stuff” or whatever I can only say that the question should not be why am I upset…but rather why are you not upset by this shit?!?! (of course dudes are the most common offender)

    I think that the diffference between equality and liberation is where there is a strong divide at times between what feminism appears to be (to women and men) and what it really should be. Liberation satisfies the privileged as well as the oppressed peoples issues…equality satisfies nearly no one. If only people could better understand the difference and see the benefit perhaps of fighting for liberation there could be some real change…I dare say that in my lifetime I will never see. But hey, a gal can dream about living on Savage Death Island at least! Damn you Patriarchy!

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