Like most men, I find that trying to wade into any feminist oriented debate is indeed a dangerous exercise.  Still, I’m keen to try and understand.  I was feeling hopelessly lost reading this article, I mean, I knew most of the words and everything, but it clearly wasn’t written for most people to understand, because I couldn’t make heads or split-tails of it.  (I couldn’t resist, sorry).  Anyway, a commenter summed it up perfectly.  AnninCa said:

I still don’t even understand this article.

Color me dumb.

Here’s what I know.

Women raise the children of America. And we do so in poverty. And that’s stupid thinking on the part of America.

So all else flows from our attitudes about this.

Call it whatever you wish.

But until we support the people who produce the next generation?

We have no room to complain about what that next generation dishes back.

I understood that.



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5 responses to “Simplification

  1. Ok, here’s the boiled down version:

    Point 1: There’s no new “news” about feminists disagreeing. Mainstream feminism has had historic blindspots and any feminist activist knows that. While mainstream feminists claim to speak for all women’s interests, they do not.

    Point 2: This election is pointing towards the historical inadequacy of mainstream feminism’s narrow agenda. The “infighting” comes in when marginalized women point out that mainstream feminism caters to the interests of relatively few (white elite well-educated and relatively powerful) women. A broader and more inclusive agenda would be attractive to men as well, and thus mobilize allies that mainstream feminism currently alienates. This is why many feminists are supporting Obama.
    3. Feminists who support Obama are not misled. They don’t misunderstand their own history or the history of the mainstream feminist movement from which they’ve largely been excluded. They are not establishment dupes. They have chosen to support a candidate that is more representative of their agenda than a tired and intellectually bankrupt mainstream feminist candidate.

    4. Feminism isn’t dead. This debate is healthy, necessary, and instructive — if everyone has the will to learn from it. Otherwise, maybe it’s best if we’re more explicit and articulate about our diverse agendas.

  2. The only thing I don’t like is that I want her to name names. There are times when speaking broadly about groups and asking the potential members of that group to decide whether it applies to them and, if not, ignore it seems right to me.

    And then there are times when I think it seems unfair. When you’re talking about “Feminism” v. feminism and narrow ways of thinking about who constitutes “woman,” I think you owe it to your readers to say “Here’s an example of who I’m talking about.”

    Because I know a lot of second-wave women I’d consider “Feminist” in the way I understand it who aren’t anti-man or anti-family or whatever. So does that mean I’ve mischaracterized them?

    I don’t know. To me, it feels like, again, we’re saying “Oh, we aren’t like those women who are unreasonable. Those are the Feminists and we’re the feminists or the womanists or whoever. Not us.”

    But the myth of the exceptional woman is not a good one for us to be keeping alive, I don’t think.

  3. democommie


    Since I can’t begin to know anything about being a woman (or black, or gay, etc.,) I have to limit my comment to saying that I really don’t see such a situation as being unhealthy. I see lockstep orthodoxy as being unhealthy–except for voting democratic in the fall elections–that’ s lockstep I can love.

  4. I agree that her circumspection doesn’t serve her well, but maybe she figures (rightly) that she’s in the wrong venue for a call-out. Part of the “let’s not be a vehicle for vilifying other women even if I disagree with their work” thing, maybe?

    See, here’s the problem: she’s trying to explain the evolution of the infield fly rule to people who have never seen a baseball game and maybe aren’t all that interested in sports. The purpose of the piece appears to be to educate politically curious readers not up to speed on feminist politics what is going on. (She’s not speaking to you and me, B.) However, she assumes way too much knowledge — even what terms like “womanism” mean in distinction to “feminism” — and that (coupled with a truncated word count) leaves her vaguely gesturing at some pretty complicated shit. It doesn’t surprise me that readers aren’t getting it.

  5. Bridgett, thank you for saying that. I was discussing something similar with b this morning, this tendency to obscure one’s point with unnecessary language.

    You egghead academics do this all the time.

    The reader deserves better for his/her time.

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