March 20, 2006

Strawfeminism Means Never Having to Know What Time It Is

Quiz time! From what era is the following narrative?

As I spoke, I saw faces twist into jeers and heard derisive laughter. People rolled their eyes or looked at each other in shock; girls giggled so as not to appear to be feminist sympathizers; guys snorted. I even saw one of my so-called friends burst out laughing. I knew that not everybody would be interested in the club, but I had no idea that the reaction to the word "feminist" would be so explosive.

. . .

A male administrator . . . was overheard sneering, "Maybe I should start a club for boys." As if feminism was an all-girls club, as if all feminism was ever about was dividing men and women. Why must the desire to empower one group automatically harm another?

The repercussions of my announcement showed me that the teachers and students at my school drastically misunderstood feminism (though they correctly perceived it as a threat to privilege). One of my (male) teachers suggested to me that the name "Feminist Alliance" sounded militant and conjured up images of shrieking women demanding that men do as they are told. A boy whom I had never spoken to before approached me in the hallway, asking, "How can you be a lesbian? You went out with Matt earlier this year!" A male faculty member asked me why the club was just for women (it wasn't), remarking, "It would have been nice to have a club to discuss gender issues; it's too bad you sold out to feminism instead." Students joked about it during classes, calling me a man-hater and warning that radical, hairy-legged feminists were going to take over the school and make all the boys their slaves. Some teachers chimed in and participated in the jokes.

For obvious reasons, I cannot source this right now. It'd ruin the guessing! No Googling!

Okay, I think you all knew I wasn't about to throw something ancient at you. The passage is from "Class Feminist," an essay by Erica Gilbert-Levin that appears in this book, published originally in 1995.

It's from the midst of the Clinton era, when feminism very nearly ran us all over like a truck? Oh, come on. You remember. We were all issued brown skirts that year! I still have mine, but I no longer fit into it because feminism made me fat and lonely.

Posted by Ilyka at March 20, 2006 01:27 PM in blog against the strawfeminist

So, is it from the sixties?

Posted by: Meryl Yourish at March 20, 2006 03:06 PM

Sadly, No!

Posted by: headed for hell at March 20, 2006 03:14 PM

I'm going to go with, it's from the current era for 1,000?

Posted by: Lesley at March 20, 2006 04:17 PM

Actually, I remember the Clinton era as "The Year Feminism Broke," when about 90% of feminist "spokespersons" bent themselves into pretzels trying to find reasons not to condemn their man for having a female intern smoke his love cigar. You are reading this from a former Democrat who campaigned for Billary in '92 and voted for him again for a second term. That's why I can't bring myself to condemn anti-feminist women for their views. Sometimes getting pissed on embitters a person, what can I say.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at March 20, 2006 06:50 PM

when about 90% of feminist "spokespersons" bent themselves into pretzels trying to find reasons not to condemn their man for having a female intern smoke his love cigar.

What she said.

Posted by: Beth at March 20, 2006 08:13 PM

The Clinton era showed a lot of ingrained biases. I remember getting really angry with feminists who defended Clinton. Not from impeachment charges, which I can see both sides on. But the idea that this was not a case of textbook sexual harassment, regardless of whether she initiated it or not, astounded me. Coming from feminists. Had it come from anti-feminists, I would have understood it.

But then there were certain anti-feminist men making cracks like "Can you blame him? Look at Hillary." Which also made me really angry, because since when do only women these men consider attractive become worthy of love and fidelity? And while I realize they were "joking", that kind of "joke" conveys a lot of what the person who makes it believes. I always knew there was a scale of "fuckability". I didn't realize there was a scale ranging from "Your wife's hot; how could you ever think of cheating on her" to "Ewww I've seen your wife; go ahead and screw around with a girl young enough to be your daughter".

Sadly there were also some liberal men who made jokes like that, and I got angrier at them. Fuckers are supposed to know better.

Posted by: Lesley at March 21, 2006 04:50 AM