Early meetings and CUPCAKES for lunch with HP and Persephone will keep this short.
. . .Whoa, got sucked into a blog civil war over at Twisty’s (of all places!) that erupted after Twisty used the word “cuntalina” to describe a woman with whom she violently disagrees. I was pretty shocked last week to read the original post with the word right there in the opening phrase, but I’m not too surprised by the reaction. When you’re practicing feminism at such rarefied heights it’s pretty easy to inflict nosebleeds. The whole episode probably means more to me than it does to you (but, hey who DOESN’T feel a guilty pleasure listening in on someone ELSE’s family argument?), but the comments, and Twisty’s reaction to them, offer, to me at least, a perfect illustration of how difficult it is to say I’m sorry to people who don’t like you or want to see you trip, even if (especially if!) you know you’re wrong. Being a blogger means saying I’m sorry. A lot. To people who really, really don’t like you. And believe me, when you have a lot of readers and you take loud or radical or unpopular stands there are LOTS of people who don’t like you.
And some days it really kinda sucks.
But you know what REALLY sucks? How instantly one person’s mistake, lapse, egregiously revealing sin (however you choose to judge a PhD.-level feminist who refers to another woman as a cunt) becomes an indictment of individual feminists and of feminism itself. People in that environment actually DO get “kicked off the island” of feminism. Smart people, incredibly talented writers with razor-sharp wit and the keenest eye for sexism in all its pernicious forms West of the Mississippi and South of Carthage.
H’asta la vista Twisty, and thanks for all the tacos!
This theoretical approach to cultural studies is Aesthetic Feminism and it reallly kinda burns my oatmeal. It exalts vocabulary in theory above communication in real life. It knocks itself out describing on paper in minute, fustian detail the power dynamics inherent in static, proscribed relationships (Man versus Woman!) and ignores actual lives as lived by actual people.
It’s like people were afraid that real live women would let us down if we made them central to our understanding of the Feminist Movement, or even better if we just went ahead and let real, live women BE central to the feminist movement. So we ran to Lacan and Foucault and Butler and a buncha other famous writers you might have never heard of who have written fascinating books about really interesting stuff. Why? Because feminism retreated from the streets in the early 1980′s and sought refuge in probably the silliest place to expect comfort or support: the hallowed halls of male-dominated academia. (Yeah, the institutions which canonize the misogynistic claptrap of a mediocre thinker like Aristotle are going to welcome with open arms women who know that Aristotle HATED women’s guts.) So feminism ran away from women and tried to make a place for itself in the universities, where it was instantly dispatched to the Gender Studies ghetto and from which it sends forth paper airplanes every now and then which are scrawled with messages basically boiling down to: “I would consider the real world but I find I cannot stop looking over my shoulder to make sure my Feminist credibility is still there and it doesn’t make my ass look fat.”
What is illustrated by the thread at Twisty’s place is what I can’t stand about post-modern feminism: it’s the victory of the reductionist thesis paper over the awkward, contradictory, but wholly lived life. It’s what happens when theory is refined down to a precision point so fine that it is impossible to see with the naked eye and even more impossible to care about.
Thanks a lot Feminism. When you ran away you left a BIG hole in our world. A hole that now gets filled with Mommy Blogs, non-stop coverage of the Mom-In-Chief, and Celebrity Worship so frenzied that it’s become nearly impossible to persuade the average woman she should care more about her own life than she does about Angelina Jolie’s.
The fact it is even possible to formulate the question, “Is this or that woman a feminist?” without being laughed out of the conversation for making such an absurd, non-sensical statement shows how utterly the Feminist Movement abandoned us.
ALL women are feminists. Every single last one. Even women who hate women. Even women who hurt women. ALL women are feminists. Just like all people born in this country are American Citizens, even the murderers, the child abusers, and the very very stupid and boring people. ALL women, simply by having the great fortune of being born a girl, are heirs and members of the Feminist Movement. ALL women are in our club. You don’t have to pass a test. You don’t have to know who Judith Butler or Twisty Faster is. You don’t have to care. You can use whatever words you want to. You can be as stupid or as ugly or as fat or as brilliant, young, educated, and perfect as you are.
Feminism is not a stance. It’s not a theory or a lifestyle or an ideology. Feminism is human existence as lived by women. It encompasses ALL women and girls, everywhere in the world, and it cannot be reduced, diminished, or defined for the purpose of keeping some women out. (And those women who attempt to do that are still, of course, feminists.)
So, stand up, walk out of the common sitting room, quit looking at your own ass and the asses of the women around you, and realize that Feminism is our BIRTHRIGHT, our inheritance, the one indissoluble asset which we can never lose and which can NEVER be taken from us. Oh, and WELCOME TO THE BIGGEST CLUB ON EARTH.
Oh, and have some cupcakes.