These past few days, medications my inbox has been fuller with blood than a butcher’s dog. A few days ago. I made the (not terribly daring) claim on Australian news site Crikey that the social media mini-movement Women Against Feminism deserved analysis a little deeper than “those whores are wrong”. Since then a number of concerned liberal associates have quietly contacted me to ask if I have not, ed in fact, mind lost all of my shit or, at least, asked Satan to exchange it for a nice new pair of shoes.
Well. No new Miu Miu has appeared in my wardrobe and my shit, I think, is in the same place I left it last but nonetheless, it seems, the failure to immediately denounce any opponent of feminism is seen as little short of madness.
Truth be told, I have no interest in redeeming myself as rational. But I do, after some days of discussion, feel I have a small stake in giving Women Against Feminism some analysis that goes a bit beyond the very simple and dominant critique of “those bitches are dumb”.
Let it be said. Some of the Women Against Feminism advocates seem thicker than a bowl of quinoa porridge. Their scrawled complaint urges, on occasion, for a return to “traditional values and families”. Lol. Good luck with reorganising a western economy that does not just permit but demands female participation in an organised workforce, girls. I’m sure you can fundamentally change the shape of labour and return to your rightful place at the hearth making cakes and giving exquisite blowjobs using only a cardboard sign and a nice foundation garment. Knock yourselves out and if you have any handy hints about how the women of the world should feed themselves and their issue on a single income generated by a man, I am, after twenty-five years of wage slavery, all fucking ears.
Just to be clear. Women Against Feminism contains a volume of Stupid so great that if it were converted to quality top soil would be sufficient to transform the dust bowls of Africa into arable farmland.
But. You know. This doesn’t mean that Women Against Feminism does not (a) have something instructive to tell us about anti-liberalism generally and (b) that the Feminism it attacks is not, at times, also as dumb as a bowl of porridge.
What we have here in part is a case of dumb and dumber. What we have is whole lot of selfies of women in their best lipstick holding up signs opposing signs held up in selfies of women in their best lipstick. It is illiterate anti-feminism talking to an almost identically illiterate feminism.
Of course, this is not how the Feminist Internet sees it.
These past few weeks, a thousand Strong Women™ have decried the mini-movement. I’m going to list the major critiques before I get to the bit where I suggest that Women Against Feminism, like other anti-liberal populist groups, deserves a second look.
The first account of Women Against Feminism is that it is part of a long tradition of opposition to feminism. Slate says, “there’s nothing new about women being marshaled to attack feminism” in one of many pieces that links the young women to a tradition exemplified by Pyllis Schlafly, an ultra-conservative teacake who spent many years building and then burning down a fictional feminism made of straw and Stupid. One of the emails I received said, similarly, that Women Against Feminism was just more “backlash of the type that Susan Faludi described”.
For mine, this is not completely true. Certainly, there has been a tradition of opposition to feminism ideals as old as feminism ideals. And certainly, some of these have taken the form of traditional right wing idealism that wants women back at the hearth giving headjobs between plumping up soufflés. But it is worth remembering the constant assertion by feminists that feminism itself is a “broad church” and that the objections to it—even within Women Against Feminism— are similarly disparate.
Let’s consider the early injunction by socialist women of suffrage. Real red-ragger women didn’t encourage it. Take, for example, this 1909 claim from women in the British Socialist Standard that suffragettes were “a few deluded individuals who have conceived the brilliant idea that the vote, per se, is all that is necessary for the ushering in of the millennium.” They opposed the vote because they opposed The System and fucking good on them, frankly. Why partake of the illusion of democracy? It was, they said, counter-revolutionary.
A little softer but not really structurally indistinct was Germaine Greer’s cry against liberal feminism. She has been unwavering in her 1971 claim that she wanted to change the whole system and not just confer more advantage to women within a system she saw as corrupt. Marking the difference between a feminism of liberation that rejects all hierarchies and a feminism of equality that simply rejects patriarchy is another critique of feminism. And one that has nothing to do with a “long tradition” of right wing women clinging to a nuclear family fancy.
And one, by the way, that has been mentioned by some participants in this newest anti-feminist action. This young Women Against Feminism on YouTube, urges for a politics that extends beyond gender equality.
She seems frustrated with a movement that sees gender equality as the foundation of social change. “I am for equality for everyone,” says the young woman, who also says that she supports equal rights for women in law. Her thesis is not evolved, but her irritation with feminism is worth analysis.
So. In short. To say that the claims of Women Against Feminism form part of an ongoing right-wing feminine self-loathing ignores history. Which brings us to
Our second account of why Women Against Feminism suck.
HuffPo bemoans “the lack of understanding of the history” of the mini-movement. The Daily Wife urges for an “education in history” to remediate the stupidity of these young women. WHAT ABOUT ALL OF THE THINGS FEMINISM HS DONE FOR YOU? demand a number of sites.
Well. To that I’d say, since when in the name of sweet fuck has any popular movement consisting chiefly of young people—including popular feminism—been big on history books? Further, I would say that it is impossible to claim, as most of the writers do, that feminism is a “broad church” which has no rules for membership while demanding that Women Against Feminism establish a liturgy and definite rules for membership.
Again, Women Against Feminism is opposed not to a broad historical understanding of feminism but to a new feminism which gives it a run for its insufficient intellectual funds. It is women with cardboard signs answering other women with cardboard fucking signs. We’re not going to get Marx reinterpreting Hegel, here. Or Butler re-reading Foucault if you want to get all femmo. What we have is ahistorical, antipolitical young women answering other ahistorical antipolitical young women. It’s a recipe for double-shit=chip cookies.
And fuck off telling young people they need to read history. They never will. I’ve been doing that for years. I even have a book about it due for release in December. Everyone keeps telling me, quite rightly, to get fucked. History. Young people. They’re as compatible as a rat and a snake.
If anyone needs to get down with a big old library of poisonous ideology, it is, perhaps, feminists. Which brings us to the
Third account of why Women Against Feminism are a noxious force of titty little lady birds who need their wings clipped and their mouths bound up with Rosie the Riveter do-rags.
Blah blah blah Because we’re women. Because equal pay. There’s still a struggle. Blah. Look. AT this point, I am boring even myself and I’m not going to link to any more god-awful precious shit about the Feminist Struggle against twenty-year olds with cardboard signs because fuck me, I can’t take any more bad discourse.
Look. What all these Women Against Women Against Feminism are saying about their nemeses is that they don’t understand that women are being oppressed. Particularly economically.
Now, if we go back to our relatively sane young woman on YouTube who cries for the inequality of all, I think we can begin to say that this populist movement has half a point.
If you are not a middle class young woman, imagine that you are one. Imagine that you have just left university and that you are confronting not only the bruising reality of your debt but the likelihood that you and all your age-mates will spend the next thirty years living with your parents. Imagine that you have been raised in a time with the deadening ideology of You Can Make It Only If You Try and the crushing experience of having tried and knowing that you’ll never work in your field of study. And, in fact, that a job in any field is hard to come by.
Add to this a cunning marketing culture that pulls at your desire to consumer but gives you no means to do so. And the suspicion that the world is choking thanks to the over-production of all those things you can’t buy. And, perhaps, if you are a mildly political person with some economic nous, you might be troubled by the idea that the labour of dependent trade nations makes the portable affluence your iPhone gives you came from Foxconn in China and mines in Africa. And imagine that in addition to the sense that liberal democracy can no longer deliver you the things it gave your parents, it’s closed its doors on your male friends as well.
And amid all of this, you hear a bunch of your peers baying for more blood out of a stone. They want equality from WHAT? A system predicated on inequality? A system that all reliable economists tell us what we all suspect: that the era of high-flyin’ western good times is fucking over.
And you see women advocating for more political representation. Why? So they can join a political class that accelerates your decline into poverty. As far as our legislation is concerned, feminism has won.And you hear women advocating for more positions on boards. Why? So they can make the decision to send more manufacture off-shore so that your iPhone 6 can be made in a feudal factory complex that contains more slaves than Abraham Lincoln ever freed. And you see women demanding for a “broad church” approach to their physical representation on cat-walks and in magazines. Why. So they can advertise more shit you can’t afford to buy. So they can liberalise the “right” to be looked at for all women? As though being considered pretty by a mass audience was as precious as the right to free assembly.
These are the suspicions that can motivate someone to hate feminism as it has become. And don’t give me It’s A Broad Church when it is very largely a mate to liberal democracy and the economies it legitimises. What feminism largely wants is equality for women in an era and an a system that is as inevitably predicated on inequality as your iPhone 6 is on slavery. There can be no equality in our western democracies and the countries they enslave. And if women aren’t getting short shrift, some other poor fucker of a social class certainly will. And even if the handful of people who decide our economic fate happen all to be white men, there are a bunch of other white men who get zip and will live at home until their parents die.
Imagine being a young woman and imagine how these thoughts might occur to you.
So. Women Against Feminism may be apolitical and unformed And just because they are a bit stupid and trollish doesn’t mean they don’t have a point. Like the kids of the Riots, they don’t know what they were rebelling against. But they were rebelling against something. A consumer culture, perhaps, that blared temptation at them but denied them the means to partake of it. They couldn’t articulate it. But this doesn’t mean that their actions weren’t eloquent.
Why not listen to what their pathologies have to say without dismissing these girls as naughty little things who aren’t good at history? They are rejecting a bourgeois movement of stupid whiners who demand “equality” in a system that cannot ever provide equality.
Feminism as it is largely expressed cannot imagine much beyond bourgeois liberal democracy. Feminism is Francis Fukuyama and it asks the End of History state to fix the grievances it has but rarely questions the economic forces that fuck most of us. And will keep fucking us, if Stiglitz and anyone with a clue is to be believes.
Women Against Feminism, thick as it is, is, at the very least, saying, on occasion, Something Is Very Wrong. And it’s not just that some men have “bad attitudes” but that capital is a monster without any moral logic. And that asking it to behave like a nice guy is like asking a bowl of quinoa porridge to taste good.
It can’t hear you.
A piece written circa 2008, nurse
rejected by my editors at a progressive Australian site.
Lindsay Lohan is a talented young performer. More significantly, she is a busty top-drawer hottie who has recently Gone Lez. In thrilling news it seems that the young woman stuffed with theatric promise is also stuffed with a slender girl DJ named Sam.
Well. I haven’t been so elated since discovering that Mean Girls was available in limited edition format with director’s commentary and gratis pink barrette.
I’ve admired Lohan, but not in that way, since her comic twelve –year-old’s turn in The Parent Trap. Impeccable timing and precocious swagger recalled an adolescent Jodie Foster. Her People quickly identified this likeness and chose to make it plain. Freaky Friday was remade with Lohan cast in the Foster role.
Perhaps it was Lohan’s attachment to The Method that led her to duplicate some of Jode’s less broadcast habits. Or, perhaps it was the pure love of snatch. Who knows and, indeed, who cares? I’d just love to be among the first to welcome Miss Lohan to the company of tribades. Bienvenue.
Of course, many Sapphic bouquets arrived before I could call intervulva. I’d missed my chance. Somehow, this news had almost soured by the time it reached my screen. It was, in fact, an Australian news source that alerted me to the star’s penchant for vag. Appended with a charming pictorial entitled “Stars Who Turn” the article did not report but took as granted broad knowledge of Lohan’s box luncheon.
The piece, in fact, was chiefly concerned with the Lez japery of another and far less talented young performer. It seems that Miss Jessica Origliasso, one half of Australia’s most ghastly musical act, is also going the girl growl.
One hopes, for the sake of her young friend, that the noises she makes during congress are more endurable than The Veronicas’ oeuvre.
Like Lohan, Origliasso has chosen a mate whose celebrity and physical beauty will not eclipse her own. Unlike Lohan, Origliasso is rather dull.
Why did I have to learn the saucy truth about Lindsay in such a regrettable way?
My joy was assuaged. Much as it was when I discovered that Oprah liked The Corrections as fervently as I did. Much as it was when people started reciting W H Auden verse in naff films. Much as it was when I learned that Ronald and Nancy Reagan fancied Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Although a Cat Lady, I’ve always got along tremendously well with this wilful breed. Whereas I regard the late Reagan, his terrifying spouse and their perverse legacy as neither sane nor cuddly.
JUST SAY NO, I urged Jessica the novice vagatarian.
The plea, of course, is futile. As a Muff Diva of some years standing, I understand the lure of lady love. As a vulgar acquaintance of mine is wont to say, Once You’ve Had Crack, You’ll Never Go Back.
And so, Origliasso and I now have two things in common. We are both carbon based and both enamoured of tattooed brunettes. Beyond this, our kinship is limited and I will have nothing further to say to or about her.
Lohan, however, is a different kettle of fist. I believe she is deserving of my immediate counsel. Lindsay, do accept my heartfelt advice.
Please don’t think me impolite. Naturally, I first tried to offer such via more direct and less open means. But I was rebuffed by your unfeeling corporation who failed to grasp my Big Sister instincts.
“Lindsay needs my advice,” I told them. “I’ve been slaking the lady bacon on and off for years. She’d probably appreciate it.”
As some mandarin of the Creative Artists Agency tangles with the intricacies of an international restraining order, I continue to worry. So I offer public advice to you; the beginner butch.
Lindsay: Having sex with a woman can be very difficult. The actual sex part, as I’m certain you’ve discovered, is actually quite straightforward and nearly always good. The rejoinders of others, however, might prove impossible to take.
I know I don’t need to tell you about garden variety homophobia, Lindsay. You live in America and, no doubt, have already experienced the odium of odious Christians. I’m not talking death threats and hell fire. I wanted to tell you about another peculiar ill.
I know, Lindsay, you are used by now to scrutiny. But I wanted to prepare you for study of a more brutal order. Of course, it’s possible that the folks at CAA engineered your sexual infraction. But, even so, you are now irredeemably tainted.
From now until the cessation of your womanhood, you will be trained with the most pornographic lens.
Of course, some women already know this and turn it to their fleeting benefit. Viz. that awful song currently on the radio about a girl pashing a girl; possibly The Veronicas; those sexhibitionist youngsters who can be found on any Friday night after a Bacardi Breezer or ten fingering their best mate on the dance floor in pursuit of male consideration.
Whenever anyone thinks of you, they will only be thinking: sex, sex, sex.
While it might seem tolerable now, this eventually becomes exhausting. Certainly, you might be flattered on the initial fifty occasions you are told by a gentleman, “I find what you two do very erotic.” You may even ask him to watch. On the fifty first, however, it might start sounding a little tired. Particularly if you and that young DJ are simply trying to buy a new Prius or similar.
“Can you explain the hybrid model to me?”
“I find what you two do very erotic.”
The enticing possibility of three ways aside, this whole thing gets very tiresome. I’m not half as hot as you and I’m twice as old. Yet, I’ve been dealing with it for years. A great many people will look at you. And all they are thinking is: vagina.
You will always be seen through the grubby lattice of girl-on-girl action. For this is how nearly everyone thinks of even tolerably attractive tribades: continually tangled in each others’ muffs.
Dear Mrs Broderick, apoplectic
First. You need to be told. Your movie is an abomination.
No. That just won’t do.
Not getting any closer.
One more time: Your movie has lain itself on the rock of female self-loathing, ed
asked late-capitalism to gang-bang it, please, and then drown it in a bukkake-tsunami of product placement.
This is not a movie but an advertising medium strangely complicit in its own rape and murder.
I am witness to a brutal death. And I have your gift-bag to prove it.
On Friday, I attended the cinema for a “celebrity studded” premier of your terrible film.
This, of course, is Melbourne, Australia where “celebrity studded” has come to mean any woman working in the PR industry who has ever blown a footballer. So, I didn’t see any genuine celebrity. Then again, I was blinded by the desert nation that is your terrible movie.
Sarah. Sarah. Why did you do it?
After five bajillion years, and 146 minutes, I was gasping. Gasping like a woman of the Melbourne PR industry might as she sucks on a strapping midfielder. Thank goodness, then, a Proud Corporate Sponsor had thought to place branded water in my gift bag. Otherwise, my ovaries and hope would have shrivelled to resemble the tiny middle portion of you, Sarah Jessica Parker. You have never looked so much like a dead desert tree.
Your movie is set in Abu Dhabi where many of the trees are dead. A Gulf State? This is both (a) a shit idea for a franchise in which NYC has always figured as your ageless Fifth Lady (c) a gift to critics. They’ve all driven straight to Metaphor City. How could they resist the lure of comparing your parched old ladies to parched old landscapes? They couldn’t. Perhaps, they shouldn’t.
Normally, I loathe critique steeped in misogyny and I know you feel the same. On this occasion, I say to these critics: be my guest. Go to Menopause Town, Messrs. Anything you can do to stop the sisters from diving headfirst into this reeking pile of Shit by Ferragamo™ is fine by me. Girlfriend doesn’t need to see a snuff film with feminism as its object.
In fact, if Girlfriend is looking for a gender-affirming Night at the Movies she would be better to see Rocky. Or Rambo. Anything with Sly in it. He paints a more “empowering” portrait of What it Means to Be a Modern Woman in Her Forties than you do. And, while we’re at it, so does any Muslim cleric.
And, I’d like to tell you, Sarah, that if your movie wasn’t so crap, one of these clerics would be well within his rights to issue a Swarovski studded SJP fatwa. How dare you use your terrible movie to suggest that Islamic dress is oppressive and restrictive. On seven inch Diors you totter as you look at the Niqabi and say, “Poor women. Their dress is so uncomfortable. How do they even eat?” An odd question, Sarah, as clearly, in preparation for this movie, you haven’t eaten at all.
I could chastise you for your Islamophobia, Sarah, but I fear you’ve lost you patience.. For now, let’s examine the other and manifold ways in which you blow.
How much do you blow? You blow so hard that Us Magazine, one of your movie’s product placement principals, conducted a poll asking not “Do you LOVE it?” but “Is it Terrible?”. In an effort to nourish the desert in which it has taken root, the magazine boasts, “62 percent voted that the movie isn’t terrible!” Great. There’s some qualitative research for you, SJP. 62 percent also voted that they’d prefer to view this movie again than die after sucking off one of the camels featured in your desolate tract of talent.
You blow so hard, I’m afraid, that your girls are extinguished and will not themselves live to blow another New York City man again. And to those of us soothed by your chic, funny and often smart exegesis of bed-hopping As Seen on TV, this is nothing short of a disaster. I will miss my Four Winds.
Sarah, I pay tribute to them now.
Vale Miranda. Good-bye to the flinty, ambitious Harvard alum whose pointy head was always aimed toward the glass ceiling. After Friday night, she is dead. What have you made her do? Rather than man up against a partner whose impatience with her work is presumed to be sexist, Hobbes stops fighting and quits her gig to raise her irritating son and please her needy husband. What is it we say as we snap our fingers to praise female achievement? Oh. Yes. You Go Girl™.
Vale Charlotte. Good-bye to the prim, sweetly drawn New England eccentric whose beautifully kept Louboutins were always aimed toward great matrimonial sex. After Friday night, she is dead. What have you made her do? Rather than trust in her troth with Harry, she is now consumed with doubt and the vision of her nanny’s unrestrained bosom. I always loved Mrs Goldenblatt; I loved that she was besotted by Harry’s masculinity; I loved that she was so loving. But, you got her to cut off Harry’s balls and put them in a Kelly Bag . You’ve transformed her from a prize-winning Rules Girl into a sad and nervous loser.
Vale Samantha. Good-bye to the confident cougar whose impeccably waxed vagina was always pointed toward quality cock. After Friday night, she is dead. What have you made her do, Sarah? Rather than do, as she’s always done, what-comes-naturally, she decides to take a pill. Now, she’s doing what comes pharmaceutically. I loved the way Miss Jones chose to always satisfy herself. Now, she’s satisfying someone else. To wit: you; a woman-hating producer who’s hell-bent on drawing shrewish caricatures; not the fun female archetypes we loved.
What happened to you, Sarah? And what, moreover, happened to our beautiful Carrie.
Finally. Vale Carrie. Good-bye to the writer whose big, messy heart was always pointed toward real love. The woman who observed, Season One, Episode One, that, “cupid has flown the co-op” has taken a hatchet to her own longing. Cupid has visited the co-op and, for reasons only known to you and the Barbie Doll collector who wrote this pile of crap, she’s chopped off all his limbs and spat into his wounds screaming, “Why don’t we go out to dinner anymore, Big?”
“Am I just a bitch wife who nags?” your Carrie asks Big. The answer is: yes. You, just like your friends, have become a terminally insatiable, under-employed husk who can only be appeased as wads of money and praise are stuffed with force into all of your needy holes.
This is one of the central problems with your terrible movie. Every time one of your ladies is denied the instant rogering she craves, she blames it on “sexism”. To wit: your Carrie Bradshaw-Preston, always portrayed as a delightfully, happily low-brow writer is reviewed in the New Yorker. Which is odd for a writer who DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO USE AN APOSTROPHE. (Sarah. You never use an apostrophe for a plural. Ever.) Anyhow, Carrie doesn’t get a rave. Samantha blames it on “sexism” and all the girls agree, yes Carrie. You were not reviewed poorly because you leave your modifiers dangling, have nothing left to say and overuse the phrase “I couldn’t help but wonder”. You were reviewed poorly because, “Men just can’t handle women with a strong voice.”
Having been crushed by the oppressive, phallocentric world of literary magazines, Carrie then does what any newly oppressed maiden might. She does not hopefully send a review copy to Granta but puts on two pounds of eyeliner, a sparkly skirt with a split to her mons pubis and snogs her old boyfriend. You Go Girl™.
I am sad to tell you, Sarah, most of the PR ladies in Melbourne ate up your bulimic purge with a spoon.
Hurt about Having No Voice as a Woman, your Carrie gives Aidan a glimpse of thigh and a yard of tongue. She’s married. He’s married. Clearly, she’s seeking the unhealthiest reprieve possible from her terrible review. But, all the Melbourne footy molls applauded. As you probably knew they would.
What are you telling us, Sarah? Are you saying when we’re beaten down by sexism, we should dress in couture and have sex with a man who sells high-end furniture? Are you saying liberation inheres in accessories, seven star restaurants and cock that appears at the moment we want it? I’m not saying these things aren’t enormous fun, Sarah. I’d love a Kate Spade purse crammed full with amuse bouche and penis to-go. Who wouldn’t?
But, in the end, these are not the rewards of liberation, Sarah. I want to be sick in your handbag of hate just to show you that designer hard goods and the hard goods of those poor men who barely exist in your brittle universe are NOT the site of insurgency. They are just a way to fill your needy, needy holes, Sarah.
Sarah. What have you done?
This morning I saw you on the television. We’re back to season one and you are in a cab with the girls you would, twelve years later, dress in hideous drag. It’s a transcendent TV moment. You have gathered, like a coven who specialises in advice to the newly sodomized, to talk to Charlotte about anal sex. My partner and I couldn’t believe that women were talking about such things on the telly. It was frothy, wonderful and the way I would thereafter secretly spend my every Monday night.
Charlotte says that she’d quite like to try it, but what if she was thereafter known as the Up The Butt girl. You and your cohorts tell her that what anyone thinks doesn’t matter; that virtue, being a dangerous myth, couldn’t be taken from her or her butt.
What happened, Sarah. After last Friday night, I can only think of you as the Up The Butt Girl who confused freedom and pleasure for capital and greed. My boxed set is on eBay. My hope was left, with my gift bag, in a cinema seat. I walked out when Samantha was throwing condoms all over an Arab state, and I Couldn’t Help But Wonder if, in Sex and the City 3, Carrie will not be played by you but an enormous tube of product placement lubricant dressed in Alexander McQueeen.
Miss Helen Razer