Yeah; I Know About the Flip Side of Feminism.

by Little Miss Attila on April 3, 2011

I lived it.

But doesn’t saying that there is a flip side suggest that there’s a front side as well?

Who cares? Stacy McCain has found, in Phyllis Schlafly, an ally in his war against the dictionary! And against fellow conservatives!

Who knows? I respect Mrs. Schlafly’s having gone to the trouble of getting a law degree, and for reminding people that the biological side of gender issues shouldn’t be discounted as we plan our life courses, but . . . that little video Stacy has on his site is a combination of semantic arguments, outright lies, anticonservative postulates, and attacks on people who should be Ms. Venker’s and Mrs. Schlafly’s comrades-in-arms.

But who cares? There is money to be made off of book sales! To hell with conservatism! It is time for a purge!

This is honestly, when you look at it, very sad.

For the 100th time: some conservative ladies consider themselves equity feminists; some, burned by their dealings with the old-guard radicals, do not. We generally deal with this by leaving it up to the individual to decide.

For Mrs. Schlafly to sow dissention in the ranks a year and a half from a pivotal election is . . . well, it’s a disappointment.

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April 4, 2011 at 9:32 am

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dicentra April 3, 2011 at 4:49 pm

some conservative ladies consider themselves equity feminists

Though it seems odd that such a category should even exist in the West anymore. The older attitudes about women not being capable of this or that or about a woman’s proper place are pretty much gone. The male chauvinist pig of the 1950s has exactly zero caché anymore, assuming he even exists.

Old sitcom reruns feature terms such as “lady doctor” or “lady engineer,” but now there’s no need for such terms. Men don’t say, “no wife of mine is going to work outside the home,” and nobody debates whether a woman could be the leader of the free world (assuming such an entity still exists in 2012).

Relying on the dictionary as your authoritative source holds only a little water: the dictionary records usage but does not prescribe it. The fact that feminism has various waves and “flavors” just makes it problematic to use the term without qualifiers: “feminist” by itself doesn’t mean a whole lot right now, on account of it means so many different things.

“Leaving it up to the individual to decide” is also problematic. As an acolyte of protein wisdom’s Intentionalism, I recognize that the locus of meaning is in the intention of the utterer and not in what the listener hears; however, it is also possible to imperfectly or incorrectly signal your intent. If Palin says she’s a “feminist,” what does she intend to communicate with that label? That she is OK with women owning property, voting, holding high office? Given the trajectory of her life, isn’t “feminist” a superfluous label for her, or for any American woman?

Using the term “feminist” to mean “non-misogynist” strikes me as unnecessary. If you’re going to use a label, it needs to distinguish you from someone who is different from you. When “feminist” means “Marxist in pink,” then it is functional as a label, because then you’re distinguishing yourself from non-Marxists and non-pink Marxists, all of which abound in this society.

Whether the Left gets to own the term “feminist” isn’t something I care to argue: the term is “owned” by public usage, and if we ever get to the point where nobody says “feminist” unless they mean “Marxist in pink,” THEN you can say that the Left truly owns the term.

I don’t actually give a rip whether Palin calls herself a feminist. Don’t really have a dog in your fight with RSM. I just wonder whether the term “equity feminist” is still functional in distinguishing from anything.

Unless you’re living in a Muslim country, and then all bets are off.

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ponce April 3, 2011 at 4:59 pm

“We generally deal with this by leaving it up to the individual to decide. ”

If that’s true, LMA, why do you give a rat’s ass how Stacy McCain defines feminism?

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Micha Elyi April 3, 2011 at 5:52 pm

+5 Insightful.

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Little Miss Attila April 3, 2011 at 7:50 pm

“Leaving it up to the individual to decide” is also problematic. As an acolyte of protein wisdom’s Intentionalism, I recognize that the locus of meaning is in the intention of the utterer and not in what the listener hears; however, it is also possible to imperfectly or incorrectly signal your intent.

That’s why contextual clues are important.

If Palin says she’s a “feminist,” what does she intend to communicate with that label? That she is OK with women owning property, voting, holding high office? Given the trajectory of her life, isn’t “feminist” a superfluous label for her, or for any American woman?

One would think so, and yet the sexist attacks on her suggest otherwise; she’s signalling that she’s noted that a lot of the media assaults on her center on her biology. This is a point worth making.

Using the term “feminist” to mean “non-misogynist” strikes me as unnecessary.

Well, more like “antisexist.” But where’s the harm? Particularly when one is enduring assaults from the media that are both sexist and misogynist?

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Roxeanne de Luca April 3, 2011 at 8:12 pm

If Palin says she’s a “feminist,” what does she intend to communicate with that label? That she is OK with women owning property, voting, holding high office? Given the trajectory of her life, isn’t “feminist” a superfluous label for her, or for any American woman?

No. First, Phyllis Schlafly does not define herself as a feminist, despite paying her way through college by testing machine guns, earning a law degree, and becoming one of the most influential women in politics in the ’70s.

There are differences between Gov. Palin and Mrs. Schlafly. For example, when I heard Mrs. Schlafly speak, she said that she disagrees with Title IX and feels that girls are not as into sports as men are. (Now, as a former 9-time varsity athlete, I disagree with that!) Gov. Palin is an ardent supporter of Title IX and credits it with her achievements as captain of the Wasilla Warriors basketball team. Palin accepted the VP nomination after consulting her family; Schlafly expressed reservations about a mother of such a young child as Trig taking on that role. Both are powerful women who are succeeding in a male-dominated field and are recognised as leaders on the national level; one calls herself a feminist, one does not, and they do express different opinions about some topics that are quite important to (in Joy’s words) high-octane women.

Second, by the logic of “the trajectory of your life shows your views”, why would anyone call herself a feminist? It would make no sense for women’s studies-turned-lawyer Jill Filiopovic to call herself a feminist, because it would be obvious by looking at her background, but she not only calls herself one, but writes for a site called “Feministe”. But somehow, criticism of that only lands on Gov. Palin’s head.

I also disagree with the notion that sexism has gone the way of the dodo bird. Beyond the 2008 campaign and the attacks against then-Senator Clinton and Gov. Palin, it exists all over the place. Charles Murray is ready to condemn us all as mathematical imbeciles; Larry Summers thinks that “inherent differences” are the cause of the disparity between men and women in the sciences and math, and was applauded by a lot of people for saying so (as if it broke new ground – eye roll); the NY Times just pointed out that women are under-represented in their book reviews; Jennifer Weiner points out that her writing is “chick lit”, but anything a man writes is presumed to be normal (i.e. women writers are still “the other”); some women’s sports in Texas (e.g. cross-country) are given shorter distances to run than their male peers – they don’t even get the full 5k. There are men and women who think, “A woman can’t be in the White House; I know what I/my wife is like at ‘that time of the month’ and that would just be wrong,” or “God made women to be the less rational sex, and we’re just more emotional than men and have to understand that.” (Speak for yourself, butterbean.)

In the pro-life world, there are men and women who fight for the unborn and for real choices for women; I know many men who work in crisis pregnancy centres, donate time, money, and legal and medical expertise to helping pregnant women; and those who fight for legislation allowing for more informed consent, more options (e.g. the Coercive Abortion Prevention Act, helping women to finish college as they mother their babies), and better oversight of abortion clinics. Then there are total a-hole (usually) men (and some sexist women – trust me, I’ve met them), who go on about a woman fulfilling her maternal role, how she should just STFU and get married and drop out of college or other nonsense.

I could go on, but sexism is alive and well. (Want to meet some of my ex-boyfriends?) That Gov. Palin points this out and is an active advocate against such is a good thing, IMHO.

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Tennwriter April 4, 2011 at 11:40 am

Larry Summers did not, of course, break new ground in knowledge, and few claim he did. He just spoke truth, and got squished for it.

One of my few areas of disagreement with Palin is over Title 9.

And its not sexist to have double standards for men and women at the level of men and women. Before God or criminal law, we stand equal. But at the level of men and women, we are greatly different. It does no good to criticize the apple for not having a tough and spongy skin like the orange.

Its not surprising that woman are underrepresented in book reviews. In any field, at the top of the field, you will find a great preponderance of men. Its not so much sexism (although some may be) as its a recognition of reality. The hundred best people in any field are almost exclusively men.

Women cluster toward the center of the bell curve of human potential. Men have more outliers. There are more male morons and male geniuses. Male geniuses tend to dominate their fields, including book reviews.

There are other effects to that strengthen this, but if you’re waiting for the day when Congress is 51% female, and this nation is not totally destroyed, I suggest you buy a LOT of MRE’s and survival gear. You’re going to be waiting centuries.

Palin and Thatcher are in my opinion exceptional, but exceptional also against a background of mediocreness. Insty has many times commented on how positively worthless our leadership class is. I agree. And against that background, anyone with some serious talent and integrity stands out like a star.

Thatcher in her book commented on how she wanted to find 12 men strong, and brave and true…or something like that, and then how she rarely found them for her Cabinet. Again, an indictment of a leadership class of men that is seriously deficient from the normal level of a group of leaders.

I find that much of what you said in this post does not sound at first blush to be conservative. Perhaps I am wrong. Or perhaps Mr. McCain had some very good points, and he should be listened to very closely.

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dicentra April 3, 2011 at 8:13 pm

One would think so, and yet the sexist attacks on her suggest otherwise; she’s signalling that she’s noted that a lot of the media assaults on her center on her biology. This is a point worth making.

If she’s saying “I’m a feminist; ergo, I don’t say sexist things about other people,” she would be making a point. Or if she’s saying, “WTF, people? I thought you were all-in with women holding power?” that’s a point to be made as well.

But merely asserting that she is a feminist won’t shield her in any way from the sexist attacks from the Left, nor will it point out their hypocrisy (because they’re immune to self-examination). They’re just wielding any club at hand as they usually do: sexism, class bigotry, vulgarity. They’ll say anything about her as long as it’s vicious and nasty, because Not Being Sexist isn’t an actual value for them: power is.

why do you give a rat’s ass how Stacy McCain defines feminism?

Because RSM is saying that the term “feminist” belongs entirely to the Left, and that there’s nothing in the shadow or penumbra of the term that is proper to conservatism.

If you’re defining “feminism” exclusively as “Marxism in pink,” he’s right. If you recognize that “feminism” means actual gender equality and dignity for women and eschewing sexism in all its forms, then he’s wrong.

If Palin wants to use the term “feminist,” she needs to make sure she’s explicit about why she uses it: to say that she’s practicing what her opponents preach but don’t believe? Good on her. But it needs to leave a mark. “Feminist” by itself is useless.

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ponce April 3, 2011 at 8:40 pm

“Because RSM is saying that the term “feminist”…”

So all definitions of “feminist” are equal, but some are more equal than others?

Gotcha.

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Cynthia Yockey, A Conservative Lesbian April 3, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Ponce, no, you don’t.

Stacy’s definition of feminism as being inextricably united with Leftism/socialism/communism is what set him off on his mission to school Gov. Palin and the shortest version of this discussion is that his assertion is not less equal, it is completely and utterly wrong.

Stacy’s efforts to invalidate equality for women — feminism — by claiming it cannot be separated from Leftism/socialism are comparable to social conservatives trying to hijack fiscal conservativism by their constantly trying to define conservativism as primarily a religious movement and claiming only social conservatives are allowed to be fiscal conservatives, which also is wrong. Social conservatives are the primary architects of the Left because the Left is mostly comprised of the groups they drove out, who would be much better served by fiscal conservativism: women, gays and Jews.

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Little Miss Attila April 3, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Blacks, too, when you come right down to it. But I think somehow the indoctrination is even deeper in that demographic. I could be wrong, and I hope I am.

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ponce April 3, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Haha,

You true believers really crack me up.

You can keep shouting at America’s non-whites, non-Christians, non-breeders and non-males that they’d all be better off in the Party of Rush Limbaugh, but I don’t think they’ll buy it.

Deep down, I don’t really think y’all really buy it, either.

Liz April 4, 2011 at 9:32 am

You want to explain why exactly non whites, non breeders, non Christians and non men (I’m all of those, BTW) would not be better off in the GOP? Because the Democrats have done soooooo much for them?

Even by your standards, this is pathetic. Saying that we crack you up and that you know what we truly believe don’t count as arguments.

Roxeanne de Luca April 3, 2011 at 9:46 pm

claiming only social conservatives are allowed to be fiscal conservatives, which also is wrong

A lot of my “social conservative” tendencies are fiscal in nature – i.e. there are very large costs (monetarily and otherwise) to a lot of socially liberal policies (e.g. unwed motherhood).

The stats, off the top of my head: a never-married mother is six times as likely to be impoverished as are married parents. Children of never-married mothers are about five times as likely to be incarcerated (last I checked, a year in jail costs $35,000, not counting court costs, public defender costs, lost productivity of a member of society, and the difficulty of re-introducing someone into the world after his sentence has been completed). The federal government, alone, not counting state outlays, spends about $300 billion a year on welfare that it would not have to spend if out-of-wedlock birth rates were in line with the pre-contraception, pre-abortion era. The feminisation of poverty can be traced directly to the sharp decline of in-wedlock births.

None of this includes the extra powder added to some of our fiscal time bombs: people who are not accruing wealth (but are relying on welfare, or are struggling to get by – and marriage is a great way for parents to be wealthier) nor are earning a lot of money are not contributing a lot to Social Security and Medicare, are not saving for their retirements, but will take almost the exact same amount of money out upon retirement as their non-parent or married-parent peers put in (which is not a fairness issue here, but a fiscal one – we are losing out on a huge proportion of people who could be paying into this system).

Now, if a Murphy Brown wants to have and raise a kid, well, that’s a truly social, i.e. non-governmental, issue. But values which work for the privileged classes, the educated, the wealthy, do not work for those on the margins and those who are fighting their way up to the middle class. The end result is that there is a huge, quantifiable cost to social liberalism, and while the social conservative answer to it may not be to a lot of people’s liking (i.e. cross your legs until marriage, or get married if she gets pregnant, or give the baby up for adoption), it did not create massive government dependency.

Now, there are certainly socially liberal issues which do not create government dependency (e.g. gay marriage, civil unions, or civil unions for everyone – in theory, that would allow gays to create their more stable unit that reduces government dependency), but my issue with the whole kit-and-caboodle (pardon the cliche) of fiscal conservatism, coupled with socially liberal ideas, creates a huge cost to society that negates the fiscal conservative aspect. Now, libertarians might say, “Get rid of welfare and rely on charity”, and perhaps someone has a better solution, but it seems to me that if you don’t like the social conservative solution to reducing government dependency, then another option ought to be proposed. It is undeniable that out-of-wedlock birth is a fiscal nightmare for the government, so I have a tough time decoupling that particular issue from fiscal conservatism.

It’s late, so more on this later. As a final thought, again, not all social conservative issues fall under the “also intrinsically intertwined with fiscal conservatism” rubric, but this particular one does.

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Little Miss Attila April 3, 2011 at 8:41 pm

If Palin wants to use the term “feminist,” she needs to make sure she’s explicit about why she uses it: to say that she’s practicing what her opponents preach but don’t believe? Good on her. But it needs to leave a mark. “Feminist” by itself is useless.

But surely there’s some virtue in truth? I mean, if she considers herself to be one, can’t it be okay for her to state this?

{BTW, DiC, it’s good to have you here.}

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dicentra April 3, 2011 at 9:49 pm

I mean, if she considers herself to be one, can’t it be okay for her to state this?

If all she says is “feminist,” then she’s being imprecise, not untruthful. If she says “I’m a feminist in the sense that I think sexism is reprehensible, especially coming from people who think they have a lock on that moral high ground,” then she’s engaging in truth AND refudiation.

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