Motherfucked: Three Stories of #MommyHate

Left-feminism is more decadent and depraved than I thought, if the offerings for this mother’s day are any indication. Misogyny is a vicious phenomenon, but no aspect of it is more pervasive or more pernicious than mommy-hate. And that’s exactly what’s being offered this week from the left-feminist-identified blogosphere.

Welcome to the third wave, where women never have to grow up, get to be as slutty as they want, and hating your mom is a badge of honor. Let’s start with Tracie Egan Morrissey’s article How Do You Protect Your Daughter from Your Mother’s Bullshit? A chronic sufferer of Clinton Derangement Syndrome, a harmless comment made by her mom about her chubby baby and pantsuits has left her convinced that her daughter will be as scarred by fat-fear as she is.

Because her mom, you know, is responsible for every single negative comment ever made about a female body. She’s guilty of such things as worrying that her daughters would become obese and withholding fast food, sometimes. (Shhhh. Don’t tell Michelle Obama that Morrissey thinks she will scar a nation of little girls and don’t tell Morrissey about FLOTUS’s childhood obesity program. She’d become her mom writ large!) Or maybe it’s the mixed messages Morrisey received when her mom would reward her and her sister with fast food for major accomplishments; I don’t know, I can’t make much of her diatribe against her mom except that she has very obviously never given much thought to the dynamic of mommy hate in the culture, and instead has bought into it. Here’s a sample of her work from this article:

Part of that, though, is that I’ve been able to forgive her—something that’s taken a great deal of time (and therapy)—for inadvertently making my brain a veritable toilet swirl of vain, fat-hating, food-craving, yo-yo dieting, irrational self-criticism. I’m sure my mother didn’t mean to traumatize me or my sister with her own disordered eating, expressed disgust of fat people, forcing us to diet as children, and verbally criticizing us for not being thin enough. And I’m sure she’d deny it. Her account of the past tends to be different than how things really happened. Her selective memory of our childhood is as golden as the bottomless glass of white wine that has no doubt clouded her perspective. But it happened.

Geez, over-privileged much, Tracie? Because her mom cared about her health and went about doing it in an imperfect way 20 years before fitness became vogue, she’s an ever-loving bitch who has fucked Tracie up! UP! UP! She’s needed therapy to recover from it, for goodness sake, it was so horrible. Don’t tell that to the little girls or young women who’ve had the crap beaten out of them their whole lives by actual terrible parents, or they might start getting out the pitchforks and sticking them in Morrissey’s still-not-fat ass. My mom weighed 250 pounds when I was a child, and eventually her weight rose to almost 300 pounds before she had bariatric surgery. We lived off hot dogs and mac & cheese as kids because we were poor, and I still love my mom fiercely for what she had to put up with as a woman, and because despite a few flaws, she was an AWESOME mom, and an even better grandma to my daughter.

Next up is the older, and you would think wiser, Kate McGuiness. You would think wrong. Still a narcissist after all these years, still clinging stubbornly to the teen-aged hurt that she never grew out of, McGuiness, now the mother of 23 year old son, is still trying to stick it to her mom. Her article What My Mother Did To Me I will Not Do To My Son accuses her mother of smothering her. Yes, you read that right. Her mom loved her too much. Forsooth! The abuse she endured being so close to her mom! Continue reading

Harshing the Sexist Mellow

High on Hate

We have a job this year: Harshing the sexist mellow. If you’re not familiar with the phrase “harshing my mellow,” you may be a bit confused by the jargon. Harshing a mellow means to interfere one way or another with the “high” of another person, whether that high is due merely to a good mood, or the imbibing of some intoxicant. It’s basically drug slang that was made popular on college campuses throughout the 1980s and 1990s, hence my familiarity with it.

When we talk about harshing the sexist mellow, we are talking about bringing down the buzz that acts of sexism and misogyny bring to the perpetrator.  These things–sexism & misogyny–act like drugs on the person perpetrating them. We saw this in 2008 with the sly grins of the boys who held up the “Iron my shirt” sign at a Clinton rally, and on the beaming faces of the men and women on the left who proudly wore their “Sarah Palin is a cunt” shirts. It was evident on the faces of John Favreau and his buddy as they groped the cardboard cutout of Hillary Clinton’s body shortly after Obama’s election. We saw it in the discourse about women candidates all through 2008 and 2010. It’s a drug and it makes perpetrators giddy. Our job this year is to rob them of this opportunity.

But how? What won’t work is continuing to bitch about it. They don’t care if your feelings are hurt. They don’t care if your daughters or their daughters pay the price; most of the people who are doing it don’t even have children yet. If they do, they think they can fix the world in time for them, which is, of course, ridiculous. Patriarchy has been under siege at least since Mary Wollstonecraft published her treatise, A Vindication of The Rights of Women in 1792, and more broadly since John Stuart Mill penned The Subjugation of Women in 1869, thus bringing many men onboard. While progress has been made, the war is barely half over and we have much to do to win it. Complaining doesn’t work. Complaining just wastes your energies and keeps you bogged down in your own negativity. And that is a recipe for failure.

That means we have to be smarter, faster, and in some cases, stealthier than the sexists and misogynists. One of the things we can do is promote analytical arguments that directly address the sexism on display. For example, let’s take the case of the phony “war on women.” Journolisters and their friends are busy selling the war on every front to which they have access. One of the ways we can address this is to use the rhetoric of the left against them. Do you remember 2006 and the book Crashing the Gate? Written by Markos Moulitsas, who was the mouthpiece for the left at the time (his fortunes have since floundered) and his partner, Jerome Armstrong, the book encouraged Democrats to give up their special interests for the sake of Unity. I wrote about it in 2008, in my article Extreme Offense. Here’s a quote:

I refer you to chapter 2, This Ain’t No Party:

The Democratic Party for too long has been a group of constituencies instead of a party. ~Howard Dean, June 4, 2005

Yes, that Howard Dean, the head of the DNC. That’s how the chapter opens, and then it goes on to bemoan the fact that the Democratic Party is a “gaggle of special and narrow interests, often in conflict with each other, rarely working in concert to advance their common cause.” …

The second chapter of Crashing the Gate goes on to name the constituencies, and the so-called problems with each one of them. What they all have in common, of course, is that they demand accountability to their cause. But Markos and Jerome argue that these groups should just “get over it” already, and accept the fact that we have to have pro-life Democrats, that we have to have blue dogs, and Bush dogs. They argue that these kinds of Democrats can be disciplined in caucus into voting Democratic, so the only thing that matters if the -D after their name. It is that last argument that reveals their true authoritarian inclinations. Rather than finding people to elect as Democrats who have actual Democratic values, they’ll elect anyone who claims to be a Democrat and then try to force them into agreement.

This six-year-old rhetoric didn’t last long if the Campaign for the War on Women© is any indication. Just six years after asking women to set aside their affinity for reproductive rights, those same reproductive rights are being used to push women back into line for Democrats. So which is it? Continue reading

POLL: What DO #Women Want?

We’ve been talking a lot on this blog about what we want to focus on in terms of equality and progress for women. Obviously the status quo is not working, because it is taking too long to realize our goals. One wonders what Alice Paul, the impatient activist, would have to say about all of this. If we want to decenter abortion as a priority for women, then we must determine what it is that women really want. What are their issues? There’s an entire constellation to choose from, and prioritizing them is going to be tricky, tough work. Make your opinion known here:

The answers are randomized in no particular order for each viewer. This list is not exhaustive. The poll is designed to give a place to start strategizing for a better way. Feel free to leave your own ideas in comments.

Feminism Branded

I’m setting aside the wall of papers I have on my desk tomorrow to go down to the Unite Against the War on Women Rally at the Indiana Statehouse here in beautiful downtown Indianapolis, IN. I teach right down the street in the morning and wouldn’t you know it, class lets out at 9:50, just in time for the 10:00 event.

I’m just going to drop some rhetorical verbiage on some folks. I’ve written a one-page appeal to the participants making the case for why we have a branded feminism and why it has to go. I’m planning to make about 100 copies and hand them out. Thought I’d share it here. Tell me what you think in comments.

Feminism Branded

Women have fought for a lot of their own rights. Few men were willing to give us the right to vote, for example, until we made ourselves a nuisance on the pavement in front of the White House and marched in large groups, often wearing white. You’ve seen the pictures: suffragists in white dresses, pushing primitive strollers through the streets, holding up handmade signs stitched of cloth, not the throwaways we like to use today.

Women’s rights have come a long way since those days. Since then we’ve had a second wave of feminism. This time women fought for the right to work and to control their ability to get pregnant and bear children, a major barrier to professional success at the time. They even fought for fair pay, and won legislation that was supposed to deliver that promise: The 1963 Fair Pay Act and the 1970 Fair Pay Act. Look them up. They’re real, and they didn’t help.

This is part and parcel of a major problem with feminism today. It’s been branded. It got branded in the ugly fight that centered around Roe V. Wade, the controversial Supreme Court Ruling that delivered legal abortion rights to American women. Since that ruling, the predominant activity of feminists and the rhetoric they produce has been centered around expanding or protecting those rights, and that mindset has been adopted by one party: Democrats. Not all Democrats are pro-choice, but they are the party of choice and they are gathered here today to voice that support again. And that’s great.

But you have to know that this is no way to pursue progress for women. Look up and notice what has happened in the last 40 years. Abortion is more accessible than ever, and pregnancy is more easily preventable than ever. It is possible to prevent pregnancy now before an egg is even implanted. Birth control is no longer limited to the very strong pills prescribed to women in the 1960s. There are a host of chemical and non-chemical options available and more women than ever are controlling their ability to get pregnant, choosing when and how to have their babies, if they chose to even have them at all.

We need a more diverse feminism and it starts with debranding feminism and abortion. Feminism needs to be branded with the problems we face today and solutions that women need now. We don’t need more abortion or contraception. We need real delivery on the promise of fair pay. We need more economic opportunity and more professional development. We need to dismantle the pink ghettos we’ve built and maintained, where women still get shuffled into careers based on gender. We need to acquire wealth (right now we only hold 10% of global wealth). Above all, we need parity in representation. Nothing less than 50% in office across the land.

We can’t do that when feminists today reject diversifying the field with conservative women and their solutions. We can’t do it when they don’t care that the vast majority of poor women choose to keep their babies. We can’t do that with a branded concept that alienates the significant portion of this country, including almost half of women, who would like to find another way for women to control their biological destiny with methods besides abortion, but who also support progress of women.

We can only do this by building consensus and proposing new solutions, and being open to them. Like our foremothers, who showed us the way, we must fight for our own rights instead of fighting each other. A true feminism reflects the diverse needs of all women, not those with the correct ideology. Party shouldn’t matter. Parity & unity should.

#MommyWars: Letters from the Front

In the wake of the Mommy Wars Redux, some interesting stuff is being written. Of note, two new letters out this week by mommy bloggers, which I think are perfect examples of the two sides of feminism battling for the hearts and minds of tomorrow’s feminist daughters. These letters articulate two points of view of the way things are, but surprisingly offer similar solutions for the future. This is where we can work together. But first, some excerpts.

Traditional feminist letter, Dear Daughter, by Mur Lafferty:

Dear daughter-

You should know that you are hated.

I’m not sure why they hate you. You didn’t do anything to them. You don your princess crown, take up your sword, and pretend at Pokemon. You read your books and you learn how to draw comics and dragons and you play piano and practice kung fu. You delight in pretty dresses and weaponry. You love me when I nurture you as a mom, train with you as a warrior, and play video games and card games with you.

“You throw like a GIRL!” – obnoxious drunk asshole behind us at a Durham Bulls game (Apparently he threw 75mph)

There is nothing worse than being a girl. I’m not saying this as a former girl- I quite liked being a girl. I’m saying this from the POV of the entire rest of the world. There was a lovely feminist TED talk – A Call To Men – where a man discussed his conversation with a twelve year old boy, and the boy said he would rather die than be called a girl. And the man thought, Good Lord, how do these boys view girls, if being compared to them is the worst thing in the world?

“What did Jesus do, when they put nails through his hands? Did he scream like a GIRL, or did he take it like a man?” – “The Book of Mormon” (the musical, not the holy book), “Man Up”

I’ve seen boys cry when injured. Frustrated. Feelings hurt. Blocked out of play. Denied something. It’s what kids do as they learn the world around them. The world is tough; before you learn to cope, you cry, whether you sport the penis or the fallopian tubes. It’s fucking lesson #1 after you take your first breath. I cried. You did too.

So. The world hates you. You are considered the worst thing to be compared to. Throw like a girl. Talk like a girl. Cry like a girl. God forbid we ever be girls.

And here’s an excerpt from Melissa’s letter A Different Perspective, from the blog Redefine Girly: Continue reading

The Fine Art of Trolling for Women

She's a maniac, maniac, oh nooo-hooo.

Earlier today my friend Cynthia and I were discussing her interactions with Maha of Mahablog. I wouldn’t recommend clicking that link unless you’re in firm control of your emotions. Maha is Barbara O’Brien, the About Buddhism writer for About.com. Ironically enough in light of that, she runs Mahablog, which is the one of the stinkiest kool aide waterholes I’ve ever had the displeasure to revisit. Extremely pro-Obama, O’Brein is also one of the left-identifying women who thinks she speaks for the vast majority of women, except of course for the 514 she thinks stay at home to take care of the kids. She lives in NYC, so I do understand why she’s fallen victim to the noise machine. It’s all she can hear.

Apparently she and Cynthia got into it after I dropped a link to Cynthia’s latest about the exciting demise of traditional leftist feminism into a snickering post about how Republicans couldn’t possibly win the war for women, as the WSJ suggested. O’Brien is still of the mind that Democrats have got this woman thing, the result of 2010 (and 2004) notwithstanding. She doesn’t see that the ground has shifted and that her communication style is offensive to vast swaths of the American middle. If she did, she would swing very fast into a tone of reasonableness and be strategizing for how she can effectively sell her side to American women. Instead she’s still laughing at the possibility, even though she was just shown in 2010 that it could be done, that Republicans could win so many women that Democrats would lose and lose hard.

This led to a discussion with Cynthia about the fine art of trolling for women, which is something I’ve been engaged in unofficially (and on my own) for almost two years now. But it’s not something I’ve ever talked about much, or written about for P&L. It struck me that maybe it’s time I did. Maybe there are others who would like to join me or strike out on their own to attempt to insert their own POV into the narrative. I developed this idea on my own, but it was born of the genius of the Obama camp’s employment of Cass Sunstein’s group polarization study in the 2008 campaign. Now, I’m sure you’re wonder trolling for women? WTF is that?

Trolling for Women involves dummy accounts and dedicated time spent at opposition headquarters. It can be as simple as dropping a link into comments at one of these places, or it can involve the long-term development of characters at some of the most powerful blogs, like Daily Kos. The purpose is to persuade, confuse, or  intimidate depending upon the audience. At the Washington Post, one wants to keep a reasonable tone because the audience is going to be all over the place and you want to be persuasive. At a place like Daily Kos, you might want to write a diary that stealthily introduced opposition memes into the conversation (being conscious to avoid buzzwords from the opposition). The reason is because intimidating them does no good and they are beyond persuasion. Confusing them is a good end result. But you might also want to become a diarist known for writing about the moderate or liberal cause that is near and dear to your own heart. I have a longstanding account with a male name at Daily Kos that I use to write about pro-woman things. I do this to provide another example to that very needy audience of a male supportive of women and feminist issues.

At a place like Mahablog, where you have true believers and dangerous anti-feminist narratives floating around, you want to intimidate and confuse if you can. You want to go toe to toe as strongly opinionated women and you want to win. It doesn’t matter if Maha or her regular commenters are persuaded, that’s not winning. Winning is modeling that you won’t back down and how to not back down for any chance readers, or casual or young readers who are not entirely persuaded to her side. This is a good way to drop links for those readers as well. Believe me, there a lot of moderate people out there and a few on the left as well who would breathe a sigh of relief if what has traditionally been called feminism died. I left the link for them. But I also left the comment I did with Cynthia’s link because it fed Maha’s (and her regular audience’s) paranoia, wasted her time, and likely raised her blood pressure. Why would I want to do that? Continue reading

More on the Romney-Rosen flap

I really should be in bed right now. I should have completed the lesson plan for that 7:35 a.m. class I have to teach, but I’ve not been able to drag myself away from the total freakshow that is traditional leftist feminism’s response to the Rosen-Romney flap. Luckily I can teach that class with my eyes closed, because I have reached saturation mode. Must. vent. now.

Oh my gawd, can you believe these women? Let’s see, Jessica Valenti and Joan Walsh have both come to Hilary Rosen’s rescue, which I wouldn’t mind so much if they were focused on how the sexism against Rosen that’s crept into this narrative is all coming from the Obama camp. Well, to be fair, Judith Warner does address the issue, but not without getting in a few jabs at Ann Romney. But for sure, Rosen is under the bus now. We could have told her it was coming. SOP. There have been countless others apologists, a whole shrill chorus of pushback noise by the left on this issue and they just keep digging deeper.

The major talking point seems to be that that what Rosen really meant was that we could completely dismiss Ann Romney’s point of view because she had been born to privilege and never walked away from it. This is a highly offensive, notably UN-feminist proposition to make, made by women who are spending a lot of time claiming and defending the feminist mantle. Also notable, they are successful career women themselves. What these women of privilege, these feminists from places like New York and L.A.–let’s call them coastal feminists for the time being–what they don’t understand is that in attacking Ann Romney’s privilege, they invite a closer examination of one of traditional feminisms biggest flaws: that it is driven by women of means and privilege, like Warner, Walsh, and Valenti. It is the cat calling the kitty black in the most transparent way possible, at least out here in the heartland where the water makes the kool aid taste funny.

Let’s take a look at these, shall we, and explore how they expose some ugly truths about traditional Democratic-oriented feminism. First up, Valenti:

What’s being lost in this conversation is the incredibly facile and insulting notion that just because a woman made the decision to marry Romney and occasionally talk to him about other women, that he is somehow well-informed on women’s issues. Ann Romney is not an expert on women’s issues just because she happens to be one. And she’s not an expert in what mothers need just because she has children. Believing otherwise is infantilizing and reduces women’s very important and complex concerns to beauty parlor chitchat.

Get that? Married women can’t inform their husbands accurately about what other women are telling them. Because if we break it down, that’s what this is. Valenti and others would like you to believe that this is about the Romney’s making claims to know what all women want. But they never made that assertion, Democrats only claimed they did. What Romney said on the campaign trail was that Ann talked to women and reported back. So he was only reporting he knew what those specific women that Ann talked to, and by extrapolation, any woman who would fit that category, would be concerned about. In contrast, it’s Democrats who keep trying to speak for all women.

Distortion and spin are powerful tools, though, and Valenti is so desperate she’s  invoking tropes that should be verboten, like the rich white bitch meme. I get that she’s a younger feminist, but I’m not old, and was born well into the second wave, and even I, without a lick of Women’s Studies (not true; I tried a couple of course to see what it was like) know that women agreed in the 1970s that it was fruitless to attack each other over privilege. No human in her right mind walks away from privilege. Women have precious little of it and more risks without it. Women only control 10% of global wealth, so these attempts to use Romney’s wealth to drive a wedge into the hearts of women for the purpose of securing their vote is not only UNfeminist, it’s actively ANTI-feminist. Dividing women, attacking them for partisan gain, hurts all women and keeps us stalled.

I love how Valenti ends her diatribe with a warning that if you buy into the GOP line, you’ll be infantilizing yourself. Oh noes! Not the dreaded diaper again. Whack. Just whack. The real problem here is exactly what we’ve been discussing over at The Crawdad Hole (comments on that link are totally worth the time, ftr). These women actually believe that women can’t think for themselves. They think you need a degree in something like women’s studies to know how to lead the poor little wenches out of their bondage. A commenter referred to it as a “high priestess” model and that really resonated with me. I don’t need any authority to tell me how to achieve my empowerment. I already know what I need. It starts with someone listening. Guess who’s listening? And guess who’s not?

Joan Walsh isn’t listening. Here’s what she had to say about Romney’s privilege: Continue reading