Saturday, June 25, 2011

On the left, three paces behind

[Language warning for some quoted material]

Susannah Breslin writes about her female ghetto (via Deafening Silence):

I’ve grown to sort of cringe at the idea of this blog being lumped in with ForbesWoman. Working the woman angle is a double-edged sword. Would I have been hired to blog for if I weren’t a woman? I don’t know. Does being put in a female ghetto make my skin crawl? Sometimes.

Here’s the way I’ve been thinking of it lately. Yes, women bloggers at Forbes write about all kinds of things. Celebrities. Wealth. Work. Life. You name it, there’s a post on it. But there are also a lot of posts working the “being a woman” angle. What it’s like to be a CEO and a woman. What it’s like to work and be a woman. What it’s like to be an entrepreneur and a woman.

I looked but I did not find the section called ForbesMan in which men write a lot of blog posts about what it’s like to be a CEO and a man, what it’s like to work and be a man, what it’s like to be an entrepreneur and a man. Men take their CEO/work/entrepreneur status and write about that, not their genitals’ relationship to that.

I’m sort of over relating my crotch to my place in the world. Didn’t we do this already?

This type of female ghetto is akin to what Reclusive Leftist describes here:

In a patriarchal society, men are the default humans. Women are the sex class. They are defined in terms of their relationship to the default humans, the men: whether as daughters, mothers, sisters, wives, or potential mates. This definition is automatic and fundamental. A woman’s femaleness—and thus her sexual potential—is, in a patriarchy, always uppermost. A man can be a doctor, but a woman is a lady doctor. A man can be a lawyer, but a woman is a lady lawyer. A man can be a student, but a woman is a coed (which by definition means “a female student,” from the coeducation of the sexes). A man is addressed as Mr., regardless of his marital status, but a woman’s title is dependent on her relationship to a man: Miss if unmarried, Mrs. if married. No matter what else a woman might be, she is always first and foremost a member of the sex class.

This remains true to a large extent even in a late-stage transitional patriarchy like our own. But to get a fuller flavor of how it works, watch old 1960s TV shows. Watch Star Trek [snip] She can’t just be a human going about her business, because she’s a woman. The sex angle isn’t optional. Women are the vagina animals, and one way or another, their vaginas are always the story.

I do not buy this as totally as RL but I think there is more truth to it than I like. The above quote is from RL’s denunciation of Anthony Weiner in which she cites part of a post by Sherry Wolf (I’ve quoted slightly different parts of it here but do read the whole thing):

Weiner is a posterguy for misogyny in its postmodern form. What else can we call a man incapable of sustaining a serious political interaction with a woman without steering the relationship toward the sexual?


When men act like this toward women, it’s not flattering, it’s demeaning. Accounts of how he met the recipients of his lascivious tweets are telling. The women made political comments on his Facebook wall, often about health care policy or the dangers of the far right. After initially engaging them in political chatter, he’d degenerate suddenly, and from all accounts without solicitation, into sexual come-ons.

There are two interesting and related paths to pursue from here. The first is the unshakable conviction among most Left-leaning and, I think, Independent women that the Democrats are the party that supports women, the non-sexist party, the Feminist party. I believe that this conviction persists because the Democratic Party is a staunch supporter of unrestricted abortion. Somehow support for on-demand abortion has become both a necessary and a sufficient definition of Feminism. So necessary and so sufficient that nothing else matters. That’s the only explanation that makes sense to me because the evidence against giving the Democratic Party credit for being truly pro-woman or truly Feminist is piled to the rafters.

Read Reclusive Leftist on the misogyny of the Obama wing of the Democratic Party when Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were fighting for the nomination in 2008 - and how that misogyny was redeployed against Sarah Palin. Read Anglachel on the Blogger Boyz and their behavior during the same contest. (She doesn’t have an overarching category I can direct you to, but try searching for “Palin” or “Hillary” or “blogger boyz”.). Enjoy Matt Taibbi expressing his glee at the great porn films that will result from a Michele Bachman Presidential run. And then read Little Miss Attila on American Sharia:

If you are giving women and girls the “gift” of not being badgered for being female, and threatened with misogyny and sexual assault, they are not truly free—only living in a state of grace, contingent upon performing the right tricks, spouting leftist verbiage like seals at Sea World, balancing balls on their noses in the hopes of getting fish thrown into their mouths.

And that quote brings us to the other path worth pursuing after reading Wolf on Weiner: the Left’s insistence that the women in its ranks must be Leftists first and Feminists second (or third or fourth or whenever it’s not too inconvenient for the Left’s agenda). Wolf’s post was a dead accurate analysis of Weiner’s behavior. But Wolf got some pushback and so she wrote a second post which hedged just a little but still maintained her central point:

Some of the women he sexted and engaged with in photo philandering were happy to flirt with him. Fine, whatever two (or six) adults engage in willingly among themselves is up to them.

Though I would remind readers, he didn’t meet these women we’ve read about via dating or other such sites, but through his professional cyber presence. My article simply elucidates a point of view regarding his inability to take women seriously as intelligent beings.

Yes, we are all sexual beings, just not with everyone we encounter 24/7 in person or online.

Then she got more pushback and wrote a third post (emphasis mine):

In sum, Weiner probably did act like a pig with some women, but the sources are suspect and the story has now blown out of all proportion. I do think there’s a reason why many leftists like myself still think Weiner’s behavior doesn’t pass the sniff test and are quick to respond so bitterly. A lifetime of experiences of dismissive and demeaning behavior from men in positions of power gets your hackles up. Nonetheless, I’ve no interest in undermining a fight for sexual liberation by feeding into this scandal, such as it is.

Wolf called this third post “Radicals Debating the Weiner Scandal”. She should have called it, “Lining up with the Left on sexuality is more important than Feminism”. Too bad she didn’t read the final two paragraphs of that post in which Reclusive Leftist approvingly cites Wolf’s first post on Weiner (emphasis in original):

I’m writing this because I’m sick of people pretending that sexual harassment isn’t any kind of offense at all. As a feminist, I want women to be able to walk through the world as something more than just fuck receptacles accompanied by a bluesy sax track. And I’m sick of alleged “progressives” dismissing that as prudery or fainting-couch hysteria.

It’s not. It’s feminism.



When I link to a post, I don’t normally recommend reading the comments to that post; in fact, I don’t usually read the comments myself. In the case of Sherry Wolf’s three posts, however, I highly recommend the comments.

Leftists Support Gay-Bashing Palestinians in Effort to Eradicate Gay-Friendly Israel - This is about subordinating gay rights rather than Feminism to a core Left issue but the idea is the same.

Green Consciousness on Reclusive Leftist - I just found this blog, pretty much by accident. I can’t really recommend it - it’s too off-the-wall for me - but I was floored by the blogger’s absolute support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s the first blog I’ve encountered that is vociferously Feminist and quite Leftist yet matter of factly supports the wars because they’re being fought against those who oppress women. I reference it here because on reflection it’s surprising that I find that combination surprising.

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