Category Archives: antifeminism

How not to respond to Women Against Feminism

Just to make it clear: I’m not a part of Women Against Feminism. I’m on the fence about whether the term “feminism” can be reclaimed, but that’s a question for another time. (In case you missed it: here’s my Time.com article on the subject.)

But some of the responses to WAF just make me roll my eyes.

Here’s an example:

First of all: a recurring theme on the Women Against Feminism site is that feminism fought important battles in the past, but those battles have been won and feminism has morphed into something counterproductive. Whether that view is right or wrong, to say that today’s fourth wave (or whichever wave it is) feminists are entitled to women’s allegiance because of the rights previous generation of feminists have won for women is, as my friend Brian Carnell has observed on Twitter, a bit like saying that blacks must be forever loyal to the Republican Party because it was instrumental in ending slavery.

Secondly: while it is certainly true that women pre-feminism generally faced far greater obstacles than men of the same class when it came to intellectual pursuits, the idea that women (at least in the West) were barred from expressing opinions and denied all voice is preposterous. Christine de Pizan wrote books, including ones that defended women against misogynist caricatures, all the way back in the 14th-15th Centuries. There were plenty of other women writers, including popular pamphleteers, whose work long predates anything like an organized feminist movement. In fact, if women had been denied the right to have and publish their opinions, how could (first-wave) feminism even have happened? Mary Wollstonecraft and Olympe de Gouges, two women who can probably be justly called feminist pioneers, both published their work at the end of the 18th Century. (Both, it should be noted, had written and published extensively on other subjects before turning to advocacy of women’s rights.) Feminists certainly did not make it possible for them to get published and reach large audiences.

It is true, however, that women authors–particularly ones who wrote on feminist topics–were often singled out for ridicule and disparagement. They could be mocked as ignorant and stupid, or derided as mere conduits for men’s ideas (because, after all, women couldn’t possibly have the brains to come up with intelligent arguments!), or slandered as immodest and unchaste…

… which is exactly what some feminists are now doing to Women Against Feminism.

 

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Filed under antifeminism, feminism, Uncategorized

Defending motherhood from straw men (or women)

This caught my eye of National Review‘s blog, The Corner:

Momma Mia!: The Case of Candace Parker [Kathryn Jean Lopez]

A married 22-year-old is subject to scorn for embracing motherhood.

The link is to a column by Colleen Carroll Campbell, described as “an author, television and radio host and St. Louis-based fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.”  Campbell writes about 22-year-old Women’s National Basketball Association star and Olympic gold medalist Candace Parker, a player for the Los Angeles Sparks and wife of Sacramento Kings forward Shelden Williams who recently announced that she was pregnant.  According to Campbell:

Continue reading

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Filed under antifeminism, feminism, motherhood, women's sports

Feminist male-hatred and The Vagina Monologues

Over on Alas, a Blog, in a thread where the comments are limited to “feminists and feminist allies,” Barry Deutsch (Ampersand) deconstructs a speech by Christina Hoff Sommers, a leading critic of feminist orthodoxies (and a good friend of mine, though there are certainly times when we disagree). In particular, he takes her to task for saying that many feminists are anti-male.

Does Christina paint with too broad a brush? Quite possibly. But a couple of things about Barry’s post:

(1) Barry says he hasn’t seen any male-hating attitudes from feminists except for a few people on the Ms. boards way, way back. I’m guessing the late Andrea Dworkin, famous for such aperçus as, “Under patriarchy, every woman’s son is her potential betrayer and also the inevitable rapist or exploiter of another woman,” or “Male sexuality, drunk on its intrinsic contempt for all life, but especially for women’s lives…”, does not qualify? Continue reading

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More Palin: The other side of the culture war

Yes, more Palin. Bear with me.

We all know that there have been some very nasty attacks on Palin from some feminists, as well as a lot of condescension from the Maureen Dowd types who look down their noses at a small-town, gun-owning, Walmart-going, Bible-believing mom with five kids. But it takes two to do the culture-war tango.

For instance, in The American Spectator, one Jeffrey Lord rightly deplores the feminist attacks on Palin. Then he goes on to say:

This election is now being fought openly between, as Whittaker Chambers once described the same fight in a different era, “those who reject and those who worship God.” Between those who believe “if man’s mind is the decisive force in the world, what need is there for God?” — and America’s own Joan of Arc, Sarah Palin.

If Barack Obama is an atheist, that’s news to me. And I certainly hope that Palin doesn’t actually see herself as Joan of Arc on a God-given crusade. (It’s interesting how the left-wing caricature of Palin is barely distinguishable from the right-wing icon.)

Praising Palin’s decision to keep her baby with Down’s Syndrome and to encourage her pregnant 17-year-old daughter Bristol to bear her child, Lord writes:

Twice over in two now ongoing and very public situations, Sarah Palin has focused on the love of God rather than herself. To those who have vested their life and career comfortably believing there is little need for God because what of what rolls around aimlessly in their heads and those of their like-minded friends at any given moment, to those who view government and the power of the state as an object of worship, this is taken as a serious, gut-level threat. A threat to the existence of their own very carefully structured non-religious secular value system.

Glossing over Lord’s apparent assumption that Palin expects to have no personal joy or satisfaction from her special-needs child or her grandchild, and that her decision was solely a sacrifice to God, this is a pretty nasty portrayal of secularists. Further down, it is compounded by nasty swipes at insufficiently masculine liberal men (“Glutted with Hollywood pâté, Al Gore would have a coronary trying to keep up with Palin, who probably wouldn’t be bringing along any seriously good wine as he races through the backwoods. Once off the basketball court, Obama would be clueless on snowshoes with a gun and a charging moose”).

On a less hysterical note, Jonah Goldberg in National Review defends Palin against the “she’s not a real woman” attacks … and then sneers that the same people would consider “a childless feminist who looks like a Bulgarian weightlifter in drag” a real woman. On Townhall.com, Kevin McCullough speculates that “modern feminists” hate Palin because she’s a real woman:

She has a manly, and (according to several women I’ve overheard) handsome husband. She is content in their life together as a couple where each goes out and works hard. As a mom she is parenting her kids giving them what mothers give best, and her husband, gives what only a father can.

She’s not afraid to don some lipstick and use her comely attraction to romance “her guy” one night, and turn around and beat back corruption as a fierce defender of what is right the next day.

As opposed to, say, the notoriously unwomanly Geraldine Ferraro (married mother of three) and Nancy Pelosi (a married mother of five whom a poster on Michelle Malkin’s blog charmingly described the other day as “the result of mixing June Cleaver with Code Pink, Steroids and a strap on”)?

And a final item, by Jim Brown at OneNewsNow:

A pro-life activist suggests one of the reasons liberals despise Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin so passionately may be because she gave birth to her son despite a diagnosis of Down syndrome.

… Mark Crutcher, the president of Life Dynamics Incorporated (LDI), notes that in America today, 90 percent of all Down syndrome children are killed in the womb.

“I wonder what the people who are doing that — the parents who are ‘choosing’ to have their child executed — what they think when they look at Sarah Palin and her family, when they see the example of that family welcoming a Down syndrome child in and loving that child. I wonder what those people think,” Crutcher contends. “I also wonder whether this is where you’re seeing some of this hatred and venom that’s coming from the godless Left directed at [Palin]. I’m beginning to wonder if Sarah Palin isn’t rubbing their noses in their own shame.”

What hateful tripe. If 90 percent of people who find out they are carrying a fetus with Down’s Syndrome terminate their pregnancies, there must be quite a few non-liberals among them (and even, I daresay, quite a few conservatives). And frankly, if Sarah Palin’s example is going to be used as a moral club to beat those who make the choice to terminate a pregnancy under those circumstances, an angry response will be justified.

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Filed under antifeminism, conservatism, left and right, Sarah Palin

Sarah and the hypocrites

So far, I’ve been pretty hard on feminists who have bashed Sarah Palin in often sexist terms and have refused to acknowledge that, agree or disagree with her politics, she’s a great model of female achievement.But now, let’s hear it for the conservatives.

Exhibit A: the silly “lipstick on a pig” controversy. Which looks particularly bad considering that conservatives have always been the ones to mock “politically correct” sensitivity to words that could be interpreted as sexist or racist slights (and, as a number of commentators have pointed out, even worse considering that Palin has decried “perceived whining” in Hillary Clinton’s complaints about sexism toward her).

Here’s a lame defense from David Frum:

Frum Mobilization through the inflammation of imaginary grievances is an ugly trait of modern American politics. It will only stop when it stops all around. So long as media ground rules make such mobilization profitable for Democrats, it is inevitable that Republicans will follow suit.

Aha, the familiar “they started it/everyone does it/you knock it off first” defense. Which is especially lame in this case, considering that conservatives have (almost) consistently deplored the “inflammation of imaginary grievances.”

Exhibit B: Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal, giving advice to Obama:

You must aim your fire at the top of the ticket, John McCain, and not at this beautiful girl, Sarah Palin, about whom you can do nothing.

Beautiful girl? Way to describe a vice presidential candidate. Later, Noonan writes that the attack on Palin “offended the American sense of fairness. And—it still lives!—gallantry.”

In other words: You can’t beat up on a girl, Democrats. A beautiful girl, no less.

Sexism, anyone?

(Noonan goes on, amusingly, to say that “the Democrats were up against Xena the Warrior Princess.” As a Xena fan who sees at least some good things about Sarah Palin, I’m tickled by the Sarah/Xena comparisons. But Peggy, please. “Gallant” protection from rough treatment because you’re a “beautiful girl” is the opposite of what Xena was all about.)

Exhibit C: This bizarre piece by Harvey “Mr. Manliness” Mansfield in Forbes, who contrasts Palin to the “bad” feminists who want women to be like men.

[S]he showed none of the features that betray the feminist in action. On the contrary: She spoke proudly of “my guy,” grateful to the man who was hers–implying that she needed him, and that any woman needs a guy of her own. She introduced her children, especially little Trig, the one with Down’s syndrome. She was displaying a mother’s unconditional love, as opposed to the conditional love that insists on a “wanted” child. She did these things unapologetically, quite unafraid of seeming to be a normal, healthy sexist female: one who knows what it is to be a woman and enjoys it.

All Sarah Palin did was to claim her equal opportunity to a job once held exclusively by men. This sort of equality–the opportunity to take on public careers outside the home–is something liberals and conservatives agree on. … Now, why could the women’s movement not have taken advantage of this bipartisan agreement from the beginning? …

An obvious difference between the women’s movement and the civil rights movement is the ease with which the former triumphed. Of course there was malechauvinism at the start, but it was complacent, passive and ineffective. No man could look a woman in the eye and say “you are not equal to me” once the issue was put. There was nothing like the “massive resistance” to racial desegregation in the South; instead, there was a massive movement of women into jobs and careers.

Prof. Mansfield doesn’t tell us that he was one of the conservatives who, not that long ago, did no subscribe to this supposedly universal goal of equal opportunity in the workforce. This is what he wrote in a November 3, 1997 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal:

The protective element of manliness is endangered when women have equal access to jobs outside the home. Women who do not consider themselves feminist often seem unaware of what they are doing to manliness when they work to support themselves. They think only that people should be hired and promoted on merit, regardless of sex.

(The castrating harridans!)

Now, apparently Prof. Mansfield later mellowed out a bit. In his 2006 book In Defense of Manliness, he concedes that careers and equal opportunity are okay as long as appropriate sex roles are preserved in private life. Such as (he suggested in interviews) the wife earning no more than a third of the couple’s joint income and doing no less than two-thirds of the housework. (How do Sarah and Todd Palin fit into that prescription?) Even today, the kinder, gentler Mansfield notes, “You may be sure that I am not the first one to notice that feminist women are unerotic.”

Now, leaving aside these particular examples of ridiculousness, there is a broader doublethink at work.

Simple question: If the Democratic veep candidate was a woman with five children, four of them minors and one of them a special-needs infant, does anyone think conservatives would be praising her as a female pioneer? Or would many of them be denouncing the selection as an example of liberal contempt for family values?

Conservative hostility or at least ambivalence toward career women, particularly career women with children, is not entirely a thing of the past. Consider, for instance, this text from It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), a leading social conservative:

Many women have told me, and surveys have shown, that they find it easier, more “professionally” gratifying, and certainly more socially affirming, to work outside the home than to give up their careers to take care of their children. … Here, we can thank the influence of radical feminism… Radical feminists have been making the pitch that justice demands that men and women be given an equal opportunity to make it to the top in the workplace.

(page 95)

Now, to be fair, the full context of these statements is that full-time mothering deserves equal respect and that “radical feminism” is to blame for the attitude that careers outside the home are “more socially affirming.” (See more here.) But the passage still drips with disapproval for women who don’t want to “give up their careers to take care of their children” because it’s “easier” and “more ‘professionally’ gratifying” (note the scare quotes around “professionally”). On the previous page, Santorum scoffs that “for some parents, the purported need to provide things for their children simply provides a convenient rationalization for pursuing a gratifying career outside the home.”

Consider, too, that conserative heroine Dr. Laura Schlessinger, the famous talk radio scold, is notorious for her anti-working-mother diatribes. Interestingly, “Dr. Laura” has been one of the few “pro-family” conservatives to stick to her anti-working-mother guns in regard to the Palin nomination. In a September 4 blogpost, Sarah Palin and motherhood, she wrote:

I am extremely disappointed in the choice of Sarah Palin as the Vice Presidential candidate of the Republican Party. … I’m stunned – couldn’t the Republican Party find one competent female with adult children to run for Vice President with McCain? I realize his advisors probably didn’t want a “mature” woman, as the Democrats keep harping on his age. But really, what kind of role model is a woman whose fifth child was recently born with a serious issue, Down Syndrome, and then goes back to the job of Governor within days of the birth?
When Mom and Dad both work full-time (no matter how many folks get involvedwith the children), it becomes a somewhat chaotic situation. Certainly, if a child becomes ill and is rushed to the hospital, and you’re on the hotline with both Israel and Iran as nuclear tempers are flaring, where’s your attention going to be? Where should your attention be? Well, once you put your hand on the Bible and make that oath, your attention has to be with the government of the United States of America.

Schlessinger expressed appreciation for the fact that both Palin and her daughter carried their pregnancies to term, but then delivered an additional slap to Palin for having signed a “Family Child Care” week proclamation in April praising child care professionals.

Child-care facilities are a necessity when mothers and fathers (when they exist at all) are unwilling or incapable of caring for their offspring. Unfortunately, they have become a mainstay of the feminista mentality that nothing should stand in the way of a woman’s ambition – nothing, including her family.
Any full-time working wife and mother knows that the family takes the short end of the stick. Marriages and the welfare of children suffer when a stressed-out mother doesn’t have time to be a woman, a wife, and a hands-on Mommy.

I suspect that this preachy, sexist, treacly intolerance would have been pouring forth from many of Schlessinger’s confrères had Palin with her five kids been on the other side of the political divide. “Dr. Laura,” at least, is consistent. (Other than being a working mother herself.) Not like Dr. James “Focus on the Family” Dobson, who once penned a column that seems particularly amusing in light of his Palin enthusiasm — suggesting that mothers of teenagers should not go back to work because, among other things, handling a job, teenage crises, and menopause was liable to prove too exhausting.

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Filed under antifeminism, conservatism, feminism, Sarah Palin