I don’t often read the blogs over at the National Review because ordinary, everyday stupidity makes me angry enough; professional-level idiocy makes me want to pull a Sylvia Plath. It reminds me there are people out there who are paid good money to suppress natural logistical impulses in favour of right-wing angry mobbery.
However, I maintain a Google alert on the word “feminism” and as you can imagine, my sense of snark is irrevocably titillated when said alert turns up a gem like this one: “What Feminism Wrought” by one Ms. Kathryn Jean Lopez.
Ms. Lopez has come to my attention before by way of the eternally dank smell wafting from her columnery. But here she displays a special level of nutfuckery that is deserving, I think, of special attention from my talons.
Ms. Lopez begins by recounting the sad statistic that half of teenagers surveyed believe it to be Rihanna’s fault that Chris Brown beat her to a pulp. I’ll not keep you in suspense: she places the blame for such attitudes squarely on feminists. Why? Well, that’s a little difficult to decode, because for some reason she then segues into coverage of that stupid O magazine article about how women are increasingly turning to lesbianism. (Good Christ if only I could.)
In this jumble she seems to be making some kind of weird argument that when feminism blurred and inverted and otherwise pulverized gender roles in its Highly Successful drubbing of the helpless menz (good Christ if only we could), women nonetheless, in their essentially subservient nature, wanted someone to dominate and control them – to “take charge” as it were. And so, they blame Rihanna and venerate Chris Brown because he… takes charge, I guess:
We’ve so confused ourselves that now many teenagers in Boston are excusing Chris Brown. Why wouldn’t they? He and Rihanna are equal, and we expect no more from men — in fact, we’ve conditioned a generation or two now to expect less.
Ah, right. Back in the day, when men were men and women were women and bonobos were… bonobos, there was absolutely no domestic violence or confused teenagers or women attracted to other women. You know how we know this? Well, we don’t, we just make up stories about some golden bygone era in which right was right and wrong was wrong and John Wayne kicked some major Indian ass (but them Injuns weren’t humans anyway so we don’t care what they thought of that, amirite, K.Lo????) and everyone went home to have some good old corn on the cob.
Jesus, K.Lo. Jesus wants you to read a book, any book, written by an actual, self-identified feminist. And you know what that book will tell you? It will tell you that people finding refuge in traditional gender roles and behaviours, and particularly in traditional gender roles and behaviours that involve violence, are doing the EXACT OPPOSITE OF FEMINISM.
Anyway, to be slightly less angry/snarky about it: in a world where women were actually the equals of men, where their stories were taken as seriously as men’s, there would be no question of “blame” here. Because in such a world, we all would know that women are hit, all the time, celebrity or no celebrity, provocation or no provocation, because they are women and because (some) men derive pleasure from controlling women. We would not be afraid of this essential truth. We would not be afraid of it because we would know the only way to change it to to be up front and honest about what actually happens to women, all the time, everywhere, sometimes for a “reason” and sometimes “just because.” We would not need to write a false history in which we gloss over a long history of men hitting women (and other men and women excusing him for it) with golden sparkles and heart-dotted i’s because it makes us feel better about ourselves.
In short, this world of Feminists Gone Wild that Lopez imagines we live in: it doesn’t exist. If it did exist, if we had had more than very modest success in decimating this “real men” and “real women” rhetoric, we wouldn’t have such trouble talking about (let alone ending) domestic violence. We wouldn’t have fundamentally confused columnists like Lopez. We would all be sitting on porches tossing tennis balls at the coterie of dogs we’ve adopted and reminiscing about our idyllic youthful escapades.
Instead, we’re blogging about rape and abortion and Rihanna and persecuted nuns and idiot popes who think no one should use condoms. We are not doing this because it is fun or because we would rather talk about these issues than bake bread or watch stupid movies or drink excellent wine. We are doing it because as of yet, as of today, March 23, 2009, at 1 p.m., feminism is not a success. Let me say that again: FEMINISM IS NOT A SUCCESS. People still think we are making this shit up. They tell me so all the time. My good friend Kat put it very well a little while ago:
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that feminism is inconvenient. It will make you less “fun”; it will make you seem humorless and crazy in the eyes of others; it will make you think ugly thoughts about the people you love.
Were feminism the ascendant, transcendent social movement Lopez and her ilk imagine it to be (and how close she is, btw, to certain strains of so-called “sex positive” feminism that say they’re so tired of women being victims) none of these things would be so obviously true. But they are. And as long as they are so plainly, obviously, hurtfully truthful, there will always be teenagers out there who think it’s worth talking about whether Rihanna “caused” her own assault.