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September 16, 2014 6:33 AM   Subscribe

"Feminism Has Conquered the Culture. Now Comes the Hard Part: A debate on this unprecedented opportunity"
By Rebecca Traister and Judith Shulevitz
posted by davidstandaford (48 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
OMG we're like six months into a new flowering of mainstream feminist social change and ALREADY with the "feminism is dead" stuff? REALLY

REALLY tho
posted by Sara C. at 6:38 AM on September 16, 2014 [9 favorites]


Approvingly name-checking Theda Skocpol is always a way into my good graces.
posted by OmieWise at 6:54 AM on September 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


OMG we're like six months into a new flowering of mainstream feminist social change and ALREADY with the "feminism is dead" stuff? REALLY

Where did you see that in the link? I didn't think that was the main thrust of the discussion on either side.
posted by OmieWise at 6:58 AM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


But what I really want to know is…what do the rich white ladies think?
posted by pxe2000 at 7:31 AM on September 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


Firstly, the framing, which is all "yeah sure Feminism is doing great BUT..." I mean, what follows the "but", there? What is this "hard part" the headline refers to? That's the classic "death of feminism" backlash framing.

Secondly, the tone of the whole article is just so incredibly negative towards feminism as it actually exists right now. The whole thing boils down to "well yes it's nice all these Beyonce fans are using the F-word, but lbr, they are doing feminism wrong and should feel bad."

Then you've got quotes like: "I’m sorry to say so, but I don’t agree that the state of the conversation about feminism is grounds for optimism." Ummmm, what? How do you go from "people are talking about gender issues a lot right now" to "but this is a bad thing we should not think too positively about"?

Judith then digresses into some weird humanist tangent explaining how actually all the things feminists are prioritizing are dumb, because like they don't diminish human suffering the most out of all things anyone could think or focus on. After that, Judith goes on to say that we've solved sexual violence (we haven't), women have equal opportunity with men now (we don't), and then, to top it off, she says she's sick of the word feminism. Holy shit, lady, we just got around to deciding that's not a dirty word, and two weeks later you're all "I'M NOT A FEMINIST BUT" again? Jesus.

The whole thing is just so full of "qualms". Really? I mean can we get a solid year or so of feminism being a mainstream normal thing before we launch into "qualms" again? Even the pro-feminist side of the debate is just so backlashy and questioning of basic truths about the world.
posted by Sara C. at 7:33 AM on September 16, 2014 [29 favorites]


Holy crap, that was one of the best articles on feminism I've ever read. The back and forth raised a ton of questions and thoughts, even though I lean more to Judith's side.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:37 AM on September 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


I was irritated by the part where they distill feminism down to "big concrete goals" that are literally just second wave priorities, apparently completely untweaked in the 40 years since.
posted by almostmanda at 8:00 AM on September 16, 2014 [7 favorites]


Feminism is doing great, but that won't get me tenure.
posted by wobdev at 8:08 AM on September 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


Really? I mean can we get a solid year or so of feminism being a mainstream normal thing before we launch into "qualms" again?

Basically this. The massive shitstorm and consequent spreading awareness of shortcomings currently ongoing in the gaming industry will have an extremely positive result, but you won't see that in previews for another 18 months, plus an additional 6-12 for on shelves and in homes.

Come to think of it, while how far the major media channels have left to go, culturally, is a somewhat subjective measurement - I can't help notice a direct correlation between that distance and the duration of the average project cycle (indie film < television < indie games < big-budget movies < AAA games). Weird.
posted by Ryvar at 8:35 AM on September 16, 2014


I think it was an excellent conversation once they got into the particulars, although it hits all the buttons of mine that get hit whenever there's a younger/optimistic feminist talking to an older/chastising feminist. That's such an odd dynamic that I wish would be abandoned.

I guess my approach to helping people younger than myself is just never gonna be "You kids today, you don't know anything, you're so unfocused!" It's dismissive and irritating. I mean, if more focus is needed, there are positive, helpful ways to say that that don't make you come off as a smug asshole. Yet that's so often the only kind of attitude towards young feminists that I see from older feminists. It's weird. Is it that that's the only kind of intergeneration feminist piece that can get published, or are the majority of older feminists really assholes?

I mean, Jesus, I'm in my 40s so I ain't exactly young, and it gets my hackles up.
posted by emjaybee at 8:47 AM on September 16, 2014 [11 favorites]


"Feminism Has Conquered the Culture."

Oh, god. No, it has not. We should be so lucky.
posted by grubi at 8:56 AM on September 16, 2014 [17 favorites]


Feminism has conquered the culture? Did I miss a memo?
posted by Decani at 9:02 AM on September 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


"The Culture" is, I would think, safe from this sort of thing. The Zetetic Elench, maybe, but otherwise no. Sadly, feminist ideals and thought haven't soaked through to the decision making cores of our culture.
posted by Slackermagee at 9:10 AM on September 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'm glad to see any discussion about feminism where the rights of the accused and due processes are taken seriously.

I have considered myself a feminist most of my life, but the way that in the last few years that "when a woman says she's been raped you should believe her" has shaded into "why bother having trials or seeking facts?" has sorely tested me.
posted by bswinburn at 9:18 AM on September 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


Is it that that's the only kind of intergeneration feminist piece that can get published, or are the majority of older feminists really assholes?

I don't really get the obsession older feminists have with questioning Beyonce's legitimacy, which seems like another fixture of these articles. Disallowing anyone from embracing the feminist label if they in any way make money by appealing to the male gaze is a stupid tactic strategically, and it's an impossibly high bar to clear for women in many professions. And that's not even getting into how tone-deaf such complaints are re: intersectionality.
posted by almostmanda at 9:18 AM on September 16, 2014 [15 favorites]


I have considered myself a feminist most of my life, but the way that in the last few years that "when a woman says she's been raped you should believe her" has shaded into "why bother having trials or seeking facts?" has sorely tested me.

Indeed. Righting wrongs doesn't mean you throw out the idea of justice.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:19 AM on September 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


Indeed. Righting wrongs doesn't mean you throw out the idea of justice.

And it's particularly nice to see Shulevitz explicitly connect that to the grim history of lynching. A lot of white feminists don't realize quite how deaf to history the cry of "always believe it" sounds.

Although Shulevitz is definitely coming off as a scold, she makes some really interesting points. In particular, talking about how the denigration of caregiving is a feminist issue is really important. So many women have spent their lives caring for children and elders, only to find themselves with nothing after a lifetime of hard work. It's the kind of issue that escapes the notice of most campus activists, but has a huge impact on society.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:36 AM on September 16, 2014 [8 favorites]


From the article:
And I’m going to admit to some sneaking solidarity with the women of the ’90s. I’m sort of sick of the word “feminism.” If I had my way, we’d replace it with something less gender-specific, like “caregiverism.”
I find truly bizarre Shulevitz's suggestion to entirely replace feminism, a movement with broad concerns, with one of much narrower concerns. While I agree that the treatment of the labor of caregiving is atrocious, professional women still face misogyny and rape culture still exists. We cannot just say, "Well, it's good enough," and maintain a clean conscience.
posted by abandonedwig at 10:03 AM on September 16, 2014 [9 favorites]


A few things about "denigration of caregiving".

1. Shulevitz brings it up for approximately half a sentence, and then immediately digresses onto something totally unrelated.

2. The denigration of caregiving has been an ongoing feminist issue for the last 40 years at least. To castigate feminists for not having that tied up yet is kind of shitty. Even claiming that "campus activists" don't focus on it is a red herring and possibly untrue. When I was president of my campus FMF chapter, it was definitely an issue.
posted by Sara C. at 10:06 AM on September 16, 2014 [7 favorites]


Ahahahah oh god I'm tearing up about the idea that rape is condemned all over the US. This is a humor piece, right?
posted by corb at 10:36 AM on September 16, 2014 [9 favorites]


I mean, Jesus, I'm in my 40s so I ain't exactly young, and it gets my hackles up.

Hell yes. I'm going to be 50 in a minute here, and I don't want this divisiveness either.

Just talking to young women almost always makes me feel optimistic lately. They're concerned and upset about the same sorts of things that we were when we were young, but the difference is that they have a voice now, and they have a vocabulary to talk about it. Regular schmoes on the street are talking about rape culture. Sure, a lot of them are really angry about it because they don't understand what it means, but they know the term, and that's progress.

This is one of the best things about the internet. It's given women ways to talk publicly about the things we've always done privately, and we can discuss these issues in a larger forum. Sure, it's sometimes messy and always at least a little contentious, but that's fine. That's good, even. We can actually influence public discourse now in ways that we haven't before. And that is working. And feminism isn't some isolated topic that we're going to solve in a clean room. It's everywhere, which is where it belongs. It's in comedy and science fiction and pop music and high schools and mainstream news and everywhere else. Some of it is little, some is big, but hell on anyone telling us we have to solve global inequities before we can worry about the pebbles in our shoes. We can multitask. We're allowed to care about and address the issues that affect us personally.

And even if I took issue with Beyonce's feminism, I could at least celebrate that one of the biggest pop stars in the world unequivocally calls herself a feminist.

But I don't take issue with her feminism. She's working with the system as it exists, and if she had to perform femininity to get where she is, I'm not going to hector her for that. She's getting shit done. She is a powerful and influential black woman who is telling massive audiences of kids that it's cool to be a feminist, and they're listening. I'm not going to go all Eeyore about her working within the system to get where she is.
posted by ernielundquist at 10:48 AM on September 16, 2014 [21 favorites]


It's given women ways to talk publicly about the things we've always done privately, and we can discuss these issues in a larger forum.

This is one of the biggest barriers that is finally starting to breakdown this decade, IMO, the code switching talk and behaviour, the women-only vs public behaviour sets. It comes as news to many men that women do/need to do this at all. Women feeling free enough to not filter in public is a huge step forward.

It causes problems too as it raises issues that either aren't discussed or even acknowledged publicly. But these things need to come forward to be first mocked, then fought-over, discussed and then finally taken seriously. The concepts of rape culture and microaggression are going through this process right now. It's really messy, but important.
posted by bonehead at 11:04 AM on September 16, 2014 [15 favorites]


"Feminism Has Conquered the Culture" in the same way we are now "In A Post-Racial Society".
posted by Theta States at 11:43 AM on September 16, 2014 [12 favorites]


It's really messy, but important.

This is where Judith's side falls short. The web conversations are messy and sometimes annoying to read, but they are needed. Just avoid them or skim if necessary.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:45 AM on September 16, 2014


There may not be a ton of perfect in this article, but I'm seeing an awful lot of good. It's readable, it's fairly good at defining its terms, there's some real meat for thought - especially maybe for someone who's just wading in.

The headline is a giant pile of shit, but editors have a completely different goal than the writers.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:46 AM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


We can actually influence public discourse now in ways that we haven't before. And that is working.

Thinking about this a bit more: you know what I haven't heard for a while? Feminism is subversive.

Public discourse is better than subversion.
posted by bonehead at 12:04 PM on September 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


I like this bit of Traister's reply to Shulevitz's first letter:
You seem to be deploying this tactic when you suggest that, while sexual violence in the United States is a problem, “rape has never been as widely condemned as it is in the United States today,” and that there should be more focus on international sexual violence. That evaluation doesn’t really take us, or feminism, anywhere productive. I mean: Sure, sexual violence is a persistently horrific problem around the world and rape has never been as widely condemned as it is in the United States today. But that’s a pitifully low bar, given that marital rape was legal in many states a few decades ago, and that the Centers for Disease Control have reported that one in five women have been raped in their lifetime; reported numbers are often higher for women of color. Sexual violence has not been adequately redressed, in the United States or abroad.

We agree about protecting the rights of the accused. I’m married to a criminal defense attorney who has defended many an alleged rapist and am keenly aware of problematic policing and prosecutorial practices. But again (fistula), it’s possible to care simultaneously about teaching men not to rape and about ensuring that those accused of any crime receive the full protections of our legal system. I don’t need to cast back to the Jim Crow South to imagine the unjust punishment of questionably accused individuals; I need simply pay attention to the rate and manner in which African American men are arrested and imprisoned in 2014.

You write of your wish that coverage of international sexual violence and rape got as much ink as campus sexual assault, with a nod to “inklings of awareness” about the Delhi gang rape and assaults in Tahrir Square. I’m surprised by your impression that even the shallow world of popular media is silent on these questions. Sexual violence around the world is a focus of an enormous amount of media and political attention. This summer, at a global summit on sexual violence, Hillary Clinton spoke of how “rape and other forms of sexual violence are not inevitable in war, and we can end this scourge.” Delegates from 150 countries signed a pledge to end impunity for wartime rape. Make no mistake: Ending sexual violence as a war crime is a Sisyphean task, no matter how many activists, leaders, or celebrities (Angelina Jolie was a co-organizer of the summit) work away at it. But in your pessimism, I’m afraid you’re missing a lot of the contemporary conversation.
It's a good conversation in general. Thanks for posting the link!
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:26 PM on September 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm glad to see any discussion about feminism where the rights of the accused and due processes are taken seriously.

I think it's worth keeping in mind that, on this point, these women are talking specifically about rape on college campuses and the educational institutions' reactions, not the US justice system.
posted by Corinth at 1:42 PM on September 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Indeed. Righting wrongs doesn't mean you throw out the idea of justice.

Of course there's a huge difference between say, a legal charge of rape, and dealing with sexual harassment at a convention. In the latter, the demands for legal levels of proof and "innocent until proven guilty" inevitably leads to the claims of women participants being dismissed, and conventions not taking action. "Charged with rape" is a bit the same goal as "making the convention space safe".

On the other hand, I predict that "All men are now black men threatened with lynching" will be a huge hit among the MRA crowd.
posted by happyroach at 1:48 PM on September 16, 2014 [8 favorites]


The denigration of caregiving has been an ongoing feminist issue for the last 40 years at least.

I do feel like the issue of women's work has faded from the discourse since the days of I Want a Wife. I think some has been due to the framing of "equal pay for equal work", which invites focus on narrow equality and work that's paid in the first place, leaving traditional women's careers and caregiving out in the cold. (I think also, there's a political problem that giving assistance directly to caregivers can run into some deep, ugly eugenics/racism.)

Speaking as just from my own particular social position in the US and being born in 1971, it seems to me the public dialogue on the issue has gone like this:
Feminists: "The whole idea of men's work and women's work and all this shit is bad and fuck the old arguments about women or men being naturally suited for this or that."
Patriarchy: "Fine. Okay. [under breath] We'll pretend that's the way it is."
Feminists: "So now women can do men's work, yes?"
Patriarchy: "Of course! Except reproductive stuff is still your problem."
Feminists: "Oh you fuckers. Well, okay, so men will be doing women's work?"
Patriarchy: "... Suuure. In theory, yes, some men will probably do that crap help out."
Feminists: "Ugh. Well, women can do men's work at least. Let's focus on that and when there are more women in high places, who knows."

I was talking with my parents about the decline in nursing quality they've perceived over their lifetimes. (Both are in medical professions.) I was wondering if it was actually due to higher-paying career choices for women draining away the better candidates, so that whereas before, hospitals were getting more than their money's worth for nurses, now maybe they're getting more like what they pay for. Perhaps similarly with teaching; pay for caregiving remains pretty close to zero of course. We shouldn't only remove glass ceilings, we should pay more for the work that was traditionally undervalued because it was done by a restricted population.

Capitalism: "How about instead we replace them with even cheaper employees who blindly execute our inhumane profit-motivated procedures?"
posted by fleacircus at 1:59 PM on September 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


Oh yeah by all means, I definitely think the problem of invisible caregiving/"women's work" is a problem, and that the wider culture isn't aware of it let alone having found workable solutions to it.

However, the notion that the feminist movement as a whole isn't aware of it is just incorrect.
posted by Sara C. at 2:34 PM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


fleacircus: That said, while an idealized capitalist would lower the skill content of occupations without regard for gender or race, this has never been the case historically. Through discrimination at the time of employment and education, women racial minorities were and are channeled into the low-skill pole of employment. In labor processes as varied as textile manufacture and manual scientific computing, you'll repeatedly find that superintendents and technical specialists were overwhelmingly white men, and their executants were women and/or racial minorities.

In both cases these workers required a briefer period of training. For African American men in the early 20th century, in many cases it meant simple manual labor. For women it often meant clerical work with very little room for discretion or autonomy, or care work which required relatively little formal training beyond what was considered a part of their basic (even "natural") acculturation (e.g. servants, maids, nurses).
posted by wobdev at 3:09 PM on September 16, 2014


Relevant, perhaps. Zoe Quinn's Cracked article about being the most hated person on the Internet. Conquered culture, indeed.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:06 PM on September 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


I won't even remotely consider feminism to be the predominant world view of Americans until we elect a lady prez.
posted by oceanjesse at 5:16 PM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Based on how much racism emerged after Obama was elected, I went even think feminism is America's predominant wields view is feminism if a woman is elected.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:52 PM on September 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


My girl crush on Quinn is becoming enormous. I already had a girl crush on Beyoncé - like Angelina Jolie she's a powerful, visible woman taking a stand and remaining in control of her image, which is a multi-faceted one. I do think there is a shift in the culture and it's because more and more people with social justice passions are refusing to sit down and shut up, and backlashes have less ability to shae the discourse and devalue the people speaking out. It's surprisingly heartening.
posted by Deoridhe at 8:07 PM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


The article spent a little time reminding us of the gains we made in the past, and also touched on how hollow "internet feminism" is, and right here on Metafilter we hear commenters calling the majority of older feminists "assholes."
And we wonder why we can't get anything done.
posted by littlewater at 9:06 PM on September 16, 2014


So implying an entire movement of women is "hollow" because of the medium within which they organize and inform is the internet is somehow superior to dismissing people who dismissed you for organizing and educating on the internet?
posted by Deoridhe at 9:28 PM on September 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


I won't even remotely consider feminism to be the predominant world view of Americans until we elect a lady prez.

There are many women who are not remotely feminist, so I wouldn't use this as a barometer. Does Margaret Thatcher's election mean that the UK has been a post-gender society since the 1980s?

When I was in college in the mid ’90s, you could be attending the vegan potluck for the Campus Leftists, and if you asked whether anyone there identified as a feminist, not a hand would go up.

This was emphatically not my college experience. I'm not dismissing the author's, but I'm wondering about the analysis if our memories are so different. I mean, that was the prime Riot Grrl era, if nothing else.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:37 PM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh goodness. I certainly hope younger women don't call older women (or anyone!) "assholes" to their faces! It's just so much easier to do so on the internet when you think the old ladies aren't listening. Please remember we worked for the next generation and there 's nothing more we want to do than help you. I certainly did not always agree with the women that came before me but I would die of shame before I called them "assholes." They worked very hard to make my life better and I certainly can disagree with them but I don't need to disrespect them with vulgar language.
posted by littlewater at 9:40 PM on September 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


I find it curious how often profound insults about peoples' beliefs are more than acceptable, but vulgarity is not.
posted by Deoridhe at 1:41 AM on September 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


I won't even remotely consider feminism to be the predominant world view of Americans until we elect a lady prez.

Considering what's happened since we elected Obama, I think we can expect it to draw a lot of the hidden poison to the surface. Which is necessary, and worth it, but won't always be enjoyable.

You'll also get the "SEE, sexism is over, we have had a WOMAN PRESIDENT" contingent.
posted by emjaybee at 8:07 AM on September 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


and right here on Metafilter we hear commenters calling the majority of older feminists "assholes."

Actually, what I said was "Is it that that's the only kind of intergeneration[al] feminist piece that can get published, or are the majority of older feminists really assholes?"

Which was an honest question, not a statement. One I would like to be answered "No." Although some older feminists have acted like assholes to younger feminists, and I will not hesitate to call them on it.

HOWEVER, I do not necessarily think that all, or even a majority, of older feminists are in this category, but found it curious that I have seen so many articles that seem to set up that dynamic...like the one in the OP.

Oh goodness. I certainly hope younger women don't call older women (or anyone!) "assholes" to their faces! It's just so much easier to do so on the internet when you think the old ladies aren't listening. Please remember we worked for the next generation and there 's nothing more we want to do than help you. I certainly did not always agree with the women that came before me but I would die of shame before I called them "assholes." They worked very hard to make my life better and I certainly can disagree with them but I don't need to disrespect them with vulgar language.

I don't even know that I fall into "younger" as a category anymore, but if you're going to get upset with my vulgar language, please don't tar the young women I am defending. I am (hypothetically) cursing on their behalf, but not at their request, if you like.

And just because someone has done good work, doesn't mean they are exempt from criticism on how they treat other people. Especially those who are depending on them for support and insight.
posted by emjaybee at 8:16 AM on September 17, 2014


I'm not dismissing the author's, but I'm wondering about the analysis if our memories are so different.

One thing that struck me about this piece is that neither of the two authors comes off as someone who is necessarily steeped in feminism or a Professional Feminist. On the one hand, you've got Judith, who reads like someone who is just straight up actually not a feminist, period. On the other hand, you've got the more pro-feminist Rebecca, who comes off more as someone who knows little to nothing about feminism but has vaguely positive feelings about it.

Though I will say that when I was in college in the early 2000s, feminist activism or direct action in the manner of what is going on right now was not really a thing, and there was a lot of discussion of The F Word and whether you "identify" as feminist or not. More towards the intersectionality/"womanist"/is feminism too white direction, but still, it definitely was not a popular movement even on a leftist campus.
posted by Sara C. at 9:11 AM on September 17, 2014


Bunch of related links at Omnivore.
posted by homunculus at 4:17 PM on September 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


More towards the intersectionality/"womanist"/is feminism too white direction, but still, it definitely was not a popular movement even on a leftist campus.

I wonder how much of this has to do with family background. My mom identified as a feminist and taught me media analysis from a young age (my brother not so much, and I think you can see the differences in us as adults), and I considered myself a feminist my entire life, though what that means has changed as I grew older and became less racist, sexist, and other -ists.

Now I'm ages ahead of her in terms of knowledge; I remember her speaking with me the first time transgendered issues came up (one of my close friends is a transgender man), and she commented on how easily I accepted that and other present-but-rare or present-but-unlabeled experiences while she found it relatively more difficult. She still can't get her head around ableism, and has distinct shades of the colorblind racism she raised me with, but I'm working on it and her heart is in the right place.

Part of me wonders if a lot of these articles pitting the different "types" of feminism against each other aren't part of attempts to maintain the status quo; a question about the dismissal of young feminists by older ones turns, by a dint of reactive reading, into an actual dismissal not only of young feminists but also the internet itself as a tool of activism.

One of the biggest shifts I've personally seen over the past ten years is because of the internet - voices that had long been marginalized and relegated to woman's and black studies (as well as studies specific to other cultural minorities) have become much more mainstream through interesting uses of twitter and tumblr to elevate voices and organize support. A lot of the backlash against feminists in gaming (ironically many of them created by sexism against them; Rebecca Watson famously talks about how she didn't consider herself a feminist until there was a concerted campaign of rape and death threats against her and she realized we weren't really post-feminist) is due to elevated women's voices, which came about due to second wave feminism's changes to how we thought about women and jobs, and the profound difference between what people say they believe and how they actually behave (something which Third Wave Feminism and Womanism began to grapple with and which continues to be a major stream of consciousness in contemporary feminism).

There is a lot to love about the current youth (of which I am not a part) and how they approach a variety of social justice movements. People like to diss Occupy for it's focus on committees, but there was a frequent emphasis on as much inclusion as possible, and I think that's the only valid way forward for all social justice movements. We've seen the effect racism, homophobia, etc... has inside of feminism, and an awful lot of feminists are done with accepting it as the price of doing business. The ideological concept of elevating voices through dispersed movements, where being a figurehead is discouraged instead of encouraged, is a direct response to the Cults of Personality which still mark movements like Atheism and Civil Rights for good or ill.

We're part of a long conversation, and I love it.
posted by Deoridhe at 7:43 PM on September 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


I know I snarked on this earlier, but what really pisses me off about this article is the narrow focus of what these women are discussing.

I come from a blue collar background and I grew up in a fairly racially integrated town. As a teenager -- and well into my 20s -- I proudly identified as feminist even though many of my peers found that feminism was too white and upper class of an issue. Even today, I am quietly active in reproductive rights and issues related to working class women, and I read a lot of Black and Latin@ feminist/womanist writing.

When I read articles like this (and the Backlash book club thing going over on Medium), I feel excluded from the conversation. These discussions are written for and about upper middle class white women and have little to do with the things I've experienced, or the things of which feminists of color have written.

And, hey, I'll own this right now: Rebecca Traister is like fingernails on a chalkboard for me. She has a narrow skillset, and I will acknowledge her ability in writing about legislature in a way that's accessible to the lay reader. That being said, she's really bad at writing about class, race, or the issues that young feminists face. On the few times she's acknowledged the existence of women who bear no resemblance to characters in Nicole Holofcener movies, she's condescended to them or misrepresented them to an almost willful extent. What bothers me most about her is that she's become the feminist spokesperson for Gen X and millennials, when she has a patronizing attitude towards the majority of us.

Feminism needs working class women and women from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. And these women, to some extent, need feminism. In order for this conversation to have rung true, it would have been great to hear what a working class woman or a Black woman or a genderqueer person would say about these issues. As it is now, though, it's just another conversation between two rich white women. And that's a damn shame.
posted by pxe2000 at 5:55 PM on September 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


As long as the people are convinced thier enemy is another large subset of the people, the ruling elite is safe. This is why we do not have meaningful discussions about class, pxe2000.
posted by clarknova at 7:58 AM on September 21, 2014


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