Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Why feminists feel beleaguered by the Wall Street Journal

Last night, I was at Room 5 to see Populuxe, probably the best unsigned band ever,* and I had one of those things where all I could think about was how happy I was right at that specific point in time. I don’t believe that art can be perfect, but I do believe that some art is perfect for some people, and to me, Populuxe is perfect. For the duration of their set, they made me happy, and the friendly & intimate club that is Room 5 made me happy, and my companions made me happy. And I thought that after the show was over, I would go home with Spooney and sit by the pond with a nightcap and a smoke and think about how goddamn fucking lucky I have been in my life.

And I try to feel fortunate that I can experience such contentment ever, and not sad that those feelings are ephemeral, and as easily dissipated as the flicking on of the television dissipates the quiet, or the opening of the Wall Street Journal Online dissipates my self-composure.

Or, to the point, I hate being told why I hate someone, especially by the Wall Street Journal.

Look, you know, WSJ, I appreciate that your grasp of feminism is tenuous at best, but I just don’t think that you should take these kind of wild stabs at the issue of why feminists have a problem with Sarah Palin. It makes you look like some kind of New York elitist publication whose only real interest is in making sure that people with money become people with more money, which I’m sure is not your intent at all.

Still, a lot can be learned about a society by looking at the faces that it chooses to present.

When motion pictures first started to appear in theatres all across this country, blacks had to content themselves with film representations that portrayed them as servile, stupid, fearful, lazy, and corrupt. I imagine that while it must have been thrilling for a black moviegoer to see the rare black actor on the screen in their local theatre, that thrill would’ve likely been tempered by a great deal of bitterness at the unfairness of that representation.

Similarly, until gay characters appeared openly in film, which is a very recent occurrence indeed, gays would’ve had to learn to embrace the bigoted portrayals of their closeted selves, and also the cinematic plots that more than likely made gay characters the victims of degradation, violence, and suicide.

Richard Pryor once challenged the black community for lamenting that then-heavyweight champion Leon Spinks, mentally and dentally challenged as he was, was not a suitable representation of black America. He said, “Be glad for any nigger doing any thing.”

But times have changed. A lone black sports figure no longer has to shoulder the entire mantle of black citizenship. And women no longer have to settle for an Uncle Tom in lipstick.

This is a point lost on Cathy Young of the Wall Street Journal, however. She begins her article by denouncing “left-wing feminists,” but then immediately abandons the phrase in favor of, simply, “feminists,” which frankly, says more about her than I could ever manage to summon here, long-winded though I be.

She also manages to conjure a sexist stereotype of feminists in record time, contending by only the second sentence that Palin’s candidacy has left us “unhinged.”

Oh, if only I were merely “unhinged.” What I am, bitch, is fucking pissed.

What she hasn’t considered, perhaps, is that it’s not Palin herself who has invoked such a strong reaction among feminists, it’s the absolutely dumbfounding event of Republicans 1) suddenly deciding that sexism exists, and 2) accusing the Democrats of being the primary culprits of its perpetuation!


And in a similarly stunning turn of events, Ms. Young places the blame for sexism in the 2008 election squarely at the feet of…feminists. I’m not kidding:

You'd think that, whether or not they agree with her politics, feminists would at least applaud Mrs. Palin as a living example of one of their core principles: a woman's right to have a career and a family. Yet some feminists unabashedly suggest that her decision to seek the vice presidency makes her a bad and selfish mother. Others argue that she is bad for working mothers because she's just too good at having it all.

Oh, is it feminists who suggest that she’s a bad mother for having a career? Are you sure about that, Ms. Young?

And do feminists say she’s bad for working mothers not because her policies don’t support working mothers, but because “she’s just too good at having it all”?

Is Young saying that feminists are jealous of Palin? If not, then what the hell IS she saying?

Well, don’t look for the next paragraph to make her thesis any more credible:

Mrs. Palin's marriage actually makes her a terrific role model. One of the best choices a woman can make if she wants a career and a family is to pick a partner who will be able to take on equal or primary responsibility for child-rearing. Our culture still harbors a lingering perception that such men are less than manly -- and who better to smash that stereotype than "First Dude" Todd Palin?

Oh my god, I love that 2nd sentence. It’s so awesomely intellectually retarded in, mmm, just so many ways. Because where women are going wrong, apparently, is not making good enough “choices” when it comes to their partners. See, if I had just picked a dude like Todd Palin, I also could have five kids and a political career! So, choose better, bitches!

Ms. Young then takes issue with an opposing viewpoint from Katherine Marsh of the New Republic. It’s at this point that her rhetoric becomes so antiquated that I begin to wonder how much the WSJ could get for her on Antiques Roadshow:

[Not to] Ms. Marsh, who insists that feminism must demand support for women from the government.

Um, the last time I looked, the government was the one making the laws.

In this worldview, advocating more federal subsidies for institutional day care is pro-woman; advocating tax breaks or regulatory reform that would help home-based care providers -- preferred by most working parents -- is not. Trying to legislate away the gender gap in earnings (which no self-respecting economist today blames primarily on discrimination) is feminist. Expanding opportunities for part-time and flexible jobs is "the Republican Party line."

I disagree with Sarah Palin on a number of issues, including abortion rights. But when the feminist establishment treats not only pro-life feminism but small-government, individualist feminism as heresy, it writes off multitudes of women.

Oh, my lord. I’ve got to start making lists now.

1. Look at the first sentence above. Young is asserting that federal subsidies are big government, but tax breaks and regulatory reform are small government. Can anyone please explain this to me? Oh, and by the way, feminists don’t oppose tax breaks and regulatory reform.

2. No self-respecting economist blames the gender gap primarily on discrimination? Well, it all depends on what the meaning of discrimination is, don’t it? Is discrimination limited to cases where two people doing the same job are paid unequally, or does is also mean that a woman never even gets a chance to do that job? Because I guarantee you that both instances are alive and well in this country, no thanks to John McCain, by the way, who opposed equal pay legislation named after the woman for whom the gap could most definitely have been legislated away. I guess self-respecting economists forgot to speak to her.

3. And again, who are these feminists, who are opposing part-time and flexible jobs? I think they must exist only in this writer’s imagination. Maybe she’s becoming unhinged.

4. See how quickly she breezes right by “abortion rights”? It’s just “abortion rights,” that’s all. It’s just that they don’t want women to have abortions. Such a little thing, when you think about it. Just no abortions - it isn’t that much to ask, really. Especially when there’s no rape involved. Although if there is, just to be clear…still no abortions. Okay? That’s all. Stop talking about the circumstances of your life, because you seem to not understand that they have no bearing on the issue. Just no abortions, and carrying every child conceived inside your body to term, no matter what your physical or mental circumstances, or whether your life is endangered, or whether it’s the child of a man who raped you, or was your father, or both. Just no abortions, okay? Are we all on board yet?

And lastly, Young warns feminists that by rejecting Palin, we are writing off multitudes of pro-life and small-government women. That is such an understatement! There are so many other groups we are writing off as well! Groups such as:

-Mothers for Shotgun Weddings

-The First Church of the Earth is 6000 Years Old and Dinosaurs and Man Lived Side by Side

-The Russia-adjacent Neighborhood Council

-Earmark Lovers of America

-Abortion Clinic Protesters Anonymous

-The Ladies Auxiliary Reichstag for Book Banning, and their sister group Librarian Harassers Local 31

-The Fraternal Order of Gay Haters

-Kappa Kappa Kreationism

And the list can only grow from here, readers.

*Except my boyfriend’s band, of course.


Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

So you didn't like that gal's take on Palin then? :)

Anonymous said...

You know, when I was at my crappy little state college, I spent some time writing for the school paper. I got to know some of the journalism majors, most of whom couldn't think their way out of a paper bag if it were on fire. They ended up going to work at papers like The Orange County Register. Fast forward years later, I turn on the t.v., and who is covering the O.J. trial for the WSJ? One of the brain dead jerkoffs I remembered from my school paper days. Judging from your reaction to the article, it looks like the WSJ is still pulling talent from the shallow end of the pool.

Bubs said...

I'm surprised she didn't throw in the assertion that feminists resent Palin because she's hawt

Doc said...

I loved this post is so many ways, but mostly as a "left wing feminist" stay-at-home dad. Hell, if I could get Flannery elected, I'd be First Dude. But for me, what made the whole article is the list of who is on board at the bottom. I shot beer out my nose. The bubbles still itch and I can't get the screen clean!

If you're still looking for an Uncle Tom in lipstick, I believe Al Jolson was a feminist. He'd be a great mascot.

Also, I put up the cartoons you asked for. I'm sorry they came out so blurry.


Larry Jones said...

Great post! I suppose it would be sexist of me to say that I think you ought to mud-wrestle Cathy Young. So...well, great post!

Regarding the dinosaurs -- have you seen this? If you read the post, you must then read the succeeding ones to find out what happens. I think you should be reading Bob, anyway.

RandyLuvsPaiste said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dguzman said...

Holy shit, Vik -- way to completely dismantle this idiot. I swear to god, these fucking loser women who write these assinine columns about the equally assinine Palin--these idiots need to wake up and smell reality. I guess they're too busy propping up the patriarchy and its giant fucking ego or something.

Bravo, Vik. Bravo.

Dad E said...

My "dad" side was warmed by your happiness. I must help you be so penetratingly accurate because you are so right there.

GETkristiLOVE said...

And how did this journalist decided that Palin is good at having it all, anyway? She's NOT good at it. Not good at all. She can't give a sane, intelligent speech to save her life. She's a horrible role model.

Some Guy said...

Again, I'm left speechless by another one of your posts. Outstanding.

Spooney said...

Great post again, baby!
Thanks for the footnote ;)

Grant Miller said...

It's odd that Palin and McCain displie federal handouts, but seem to forget Alaska receives more federal dollars than most of the lower 48.

jcat said...

Understanding feminism is clearly something that needs commitment beyond what I possess. Being female would help. But I do find it curious that the act of estimating someones capability to fulfill a job seems to invariably morph into that same distant argument. I also wonder if we should be making anything from a newspaper owned by the same people who own Fox News.

Madam Z said...

Once upon a time, the WSJ was a good newspaper. Now it's just another right wing rag.

Your post is WAY better than Young's. Maybe all your fans could pool our money and buy the Journal from Fox. Then *you* could write some columns. Some subjects I'd like covered are things like: Keep your fuckin' noses out of my uterus. Keep your fuckin' religion in your own home and church. Let the schools teach basic sex ed. Let people make their own decisions about mate selection and child-rearing.

Then, if you feel real ambitious, how about agitating for some kind of "pay as you go" government spending plan? No more going to China and Japan, hat in hand, begging them to buy our bonds! How about some attempt at diplomacy first, war-as-a-last-resort? I know, I know...I'm off topic.

Doc said...

Flannery is home and I'll send you your cartoons pronto!


SJ said...

How about feminists say she should 'stay and home and be a good mother' because the Stepford Women magically are no longer saying it? It actually crossed my mind a time or two and I found myself horrified at the thought that I would think it, let alone actually be incensed that this woman would leave her fucked up 5 kids to take a job. I mean, who am I? Oh, I know who I am, someone who knows an idiot when she sees one.

Johnny Yen said...

It was so painful the other day-- I saw some female Republican pundit who was castigating the women who attacked Palin; she said something about how ridiculous it was that they wouldn't support a woman just because her views were different from theirs. I had to check the tv guide to make sure I wasn't actually watching the Twilight Zone.

Zoe said...

Ok - So this woman is definitely not qualified to be second post to lead the free world. She's clearly power hungry and does horrible things to animals and has a lack of scientific and constitutional knowledge. Believes in creationism and thinks man isn't contributing to Global Warming. She does NOT stand for anything I believe in and I feel that her ignorance is showing fairly harshly. But, I find myself feeling sorry for her because of all the bad press, which let's face it, she brought on herself.

BUT - isn't this John McCain's fault? Yeah - it's her fault for not knowing that she's clearly out of her league. I mean, she only has a Bachelor's degree in Journalism. I think it's part of the vast right wing conspiracy against women in a way. Pick a candidate that is so clearly out of touch with reality and put her on the ticket so that it takes yet another generation or two for anyone to take a woman seriously who decides to run for president. Right? And Sarah Palin is the cannon fodder. Let's face it, Hillary Clinton scared the shit out of the Right. Not only did she scare the shit out of the Right, that they went to the depths to find someone without 1/8th of Hillary's intelligence, but they need to take down the rest of us with this VP choice. And Sarah Palin probably doesn't even see what they are doing to her.

So I feel sorry for someone who I'd rather try to kick to the curb.

I think it stinks.

Go Obama.