Apologies in advance for the occasional use of all-caps in this post, but I’m pissed off. You see, CNN is wondering if feminism is obsolete. How cute! Carol Costello, a contributor to the network’s American Morning program wrote a blog post that hits about 10,000 miles wide of the mark in its “analysis”. Basically, Costello asks if feminism is obsolete only by referring to some famous women who are viewed as either being antithetical to or paragons of feminism:
Some conservative women were upset feminists didn’t protest loudly when late night host David Letterman initially refused to apologize for his off-color joke about Palin’s daughter. Is that because Sarah Palin isn’t a feminist? Can a conservative woman be a feminist these days?
I’m trying to follow that train of thought, but it just makes me dizzy. I seem to remember that a number of feminists did indeed protest vociferously about the Letterman “joke”, including SarahMC.
Also, notice that Costello says “some conservative women”, not “some conservative feminists”. Apparently the reason for that bit of semantic difference is the quote she gets from Mary Matalin:
“No conservative woman would choose to call herself a feminist as it’s described by liberals today,” she says. Matalin says feminism used to be about the freedom to choose the life you wanted. Now it’s an exclusive club, closed off to women like Sarah Palin.
Feminism as a conservative v. liberal issue! Oh that TOTALLY is what feminism is ALL ABOUT. See, we liberal feminists hate it when women who don’t share our political ideologies are granted equal status, so we don’t let anyone into our fun feminist treehouse unless they can prove they voted for Obama. Them’s the breaks.
Costello concludes by asking, “So, if the word ‘feminist’ is weighed down by such political baggage, why keep using it?” Because it’s a vital, necessary word that represents a vital, necessary concept. Is it really that difficult to understand? And if anyone really does think feminism is obsolete and our world doesn’t need it anymore, here’s a lovely pastiche of comments left on the post:
– Yep . Feminism is as dead as a door nail these days. We have bigger fish to fry. By the way you’re very pretty.
– Feminisim[sic] /Maleism what is your point? It is just one more way to divide people. Keep up your bad work and have all people hating each other for what ever reason you chose.
– Feminism today simply means women with short hair, and either unmarried or unhappily married.
– Feminism is not only obsolete, but it is also a devisive crutch that takes the power away from the individual powerful women, and puts that power into a facade of an obsolete civil rights movement that most of americans under thirty never can completely understand.
– It took away to come up with something sturdy but, I’m just gonna’ say that Chivalry was killed by the cold silent glare of feminism and I wish it hadn’t been. There’s no way to avoid getting yelled as sexist as a man and you can’t really call a woman sexist without getting yelled again so you know what, screw it!
That’s it, you oh-so-chivalrous-but-still-dudely dude, yell SCREW IT! Fight the power! Stand up to the MAN! Er, woman.
One reason this is supremely fucking maddening to me is that I was tipped off to this whole thing by father.of.a.lesser.god, who woke me up this morning with an excited phone call about the whole thing. As I mentioned in today’s Harpy Seminar, he sometimes contacts me with ideas for Harpyness posts. I thought he was so sweet to do so this morning! Then we started talking, and as I wrote in an email to my fellow Harpies, “As I got into the discussion with my dad, he said that [the question of obsolescence] depends on the society and I pointed out that even in the most ‘progressive’ societies like ours truly, there’s still that lovely privilege that allows men to blatantly check out/whistle at/catcall at women on the street without fear of retribution, and that kind of objectification is one of the MILDER examples of why feminism cannot be ‘obsolete’. Dad’s reaction? ‘Oh, I do that. It’s not offensive.’ HEADDESK. I RETRACT MY PREVIOUS SEMINAR STATEMENTS.”
I walked for about 6 miles this morning through the streets of Manhattan, and I received some of those fun catcalls. It’s objectifying, it’s offensive, and God help us all if feminism is viewed as being obsolete — because being eye-fucked by strangers on the street is the very least of the problems women are faced with.