March 20, 2006

Breaking: Your Strawfeminist Argument is Neither New nor Controversial

One of the most frustrating things for me is seeing a novice feminist-basher open his or her critique with something like the following:

"I KNOW what I have to say here runs counter to the conventional wisdom and will probably make me some enemies, but . . . ."

"What I am about to say may be shocking to some people, but . . . ."

"I feel a rant coming on, and some of you may be surprised to see where it leads me . . . ."

So far such post beginnings have proven to be a highly reliable indicator of impending strawfeminism within them.

Were you going to suggest that feminists are simply too stubborn to accept that men and women are different? It's been done.

Were you going to take feminists to task for being, at heart, miserable people only seeking more miserable company? It's been done.

Were you going to chastise feminism for attacking your choice, even your right, to be a stay-at-home mother? While Linda Hirshman may be a recent and classic example of a feminist doing just that, please don't kid yourself that her assertions went unchallenged by other feminists; they did not.

Were you going to shore up your novel feminists-are-man-haters assertion by citing Andrea Dworkin's hysterical claim that all sex is rape? Ooh--better double-check that one.

Were you going to decry modern-day feminism as a cult of victimhood? Shut up, really?

I know of no better illustration of how stale most antifeminist criticism of feminism actually is--even as it continues to be packaged as "new" or "revolutionary" or "groundbreaking"--than this post:

. . . there just happens to be preserved online (courtesy of Duke University) a little booklet called Notes from the First Year: The New York Radical Women, 1968. This ancient artifact preserves the voices of the Women’s Lib movement as it was gaining ground. The funniest – or saddest – part is the objections heard to “women’s liberation.” I’ve pulled out a choice sample of these comments from 1968 and placed them side by side with the statements made 3 days ago by our nationally esteemed New York Times columnist and television pundit, Bobo Himself [David Brooks--ed.].

"Old" is not the new black. Ignorance of history, even the dreaded feminist history, will get you dancing with the strawfeminist every time. It is suggested, if you want to critique feminists, that you first learn what the actual ones are saying. It's pretty wild, I'll warn you--the way they say the most explosive and divisive things like:

I want the same rights, opportunities, and privileges that a man has. And I want them sans the misogynist baggage and bullshit that gets thrown my way for demanding them or having them.
I don’t want to ask anybody’s permission to do whatever I need to do or decide whatever I need to decide in order to meet my needs as a complex intellectual human being, to be professional who wants to be fairly treated, and to own up to my responsibilities as a parental human.

Both these remarks were apparently sufficiently controversial that the thread in which they appeared was subjected to multiple attempts at derailment by a guy who repeatedly insisted . . .

. . . that feminists think all sex is rape.

Truly, there is no new strawfeminism under the sun.

Posted by Ilyka at March 20, 2006 12:31 PM in blog against the strawfeminist

I just realized something spooky. Based on those two blockquoted statements at the end there, I'm a feminist.

A gay one, I guess, since I still really dig chicks.

A lesbian feminist trapped in a man's body.


Posted by: Jim at March 25, 2006 05:11 PM