Bad anti-feminist journalism pisses me off

19 05 2009

It is exhausting to constantly deal with anti-feminists and the mainstream media so intent on killing feminism.  The Observer had an article out on Sunday titled “Sex, drink and fashion.  Is this the new face of American feminism?”  Feminists-gone-wild headlines that paint young feminists as slutty, promiscuous, alcohol-loving, fashion and appearance conscious as well as pitting young feminists against older feminists is something the media loves to do to discredit feminism even more.

The authors of the article, Amelia Hill and Eva Wiseman, begin by writing of the stir and the controversy Slate’s new women’s website Double X caused in the feminist community.  They describe it as a “coup for feminism” – clearly an exaggeration for publicity.  Because the anti-feminist mainstream media loves nothing more than pitting feminists against feminists (Feminist infighting!  Here’s a cat fight!) to show that feminism is dead or irrelevant if those darned feminists can’t even agree and be civil with each other.

Perhaps one of the most insulting things about the article is that the authors try to establish a hierarchy of feminists and play into the whole you’re a good feminist/you’re a bad feminist stupidity.  Featuring quotes like:

“As many older feminists justly point out, the world isn’t going to change because a lot of young women feel confident and personally empowered, if they don’t have grassroots groups or lobbies to advance woman-friendly policies, help break through the glass ceiling, develop decent work-family support structures or solidify real political clout.  But feminists are in danger if we don’t know our history, and a saucy tattoo and a condom do not a revolution make.”

and:

“Feminism is not the freedom to act like a dickhead. These women are individualists, not feminists. They are lazy, bone-idle women who have no interest taking part in a political movement for change but are trying to get credibility for their selfish lives by playing identification politics. You can’t claim to be a feminist simply because you’re a woman.”

is a pathetic way to detract attention away from the crucial work that feminists today have been and still are doing.  It’s way easier for the mainstream media, and the rest of society for that matter, to think of and focus on young feminists as bickering, bitchy, naked, sex-crazed, drunk women instead of as intelligent, socially conscious and actively engaged women.  Shaming young women who (gasp!) drink and have sex sells more than covering more important, substantial and real feminist activism (like this, this and this).

The article ends with these six bullshit bullet points:

A movement rich in diversity:

• Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan and Susan Brownmiller defined the revolutionary feminism of the 60s and 70s. They protested at Miss World contests and rejected the stay-at-home role and other aspects of traditional femininity.

• They clashed with the radical feminists, including Andrea Dworkin, Catharine MacKinnon, Mary Daly and Germaine Greer, who believed that women were oppressed by men.

• Then came the “riot grrl” phenomenon of the early 90s and Generation X, who were more likely to talk (very) dirty and less likely to oppose pornography.

• The newest strain is the new/power feminist, epitomised by Naomi Wolf and Natasha Walter, who dislike the image of the strident feminist.

• Then there’s pop-feminism/feminism “lite”. This is Spice Girls feminism: girl power. Feminism as a fleeting fashion trend. Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a feminist icon.

• Finally, there are post-feminists, who believe feminism is dead. Heroines are Margaret Thatcher and Camille Paglia.

Major eye roll.  Feminism does not follow such a simple, linear history.  And how the heck did they come up with these bullet points?!  Like the crap about “feminism ‘lite'” and “Spice Girls feminism”?  These bullet points are not only not all that accurate, but they water down feminism and the rich history (and continued presence) of feminist activism.  Of course they had to end with the “post-feminists” because the media loves declaring that feminism is dead.  Notice how the post-feminists are referred to as “heroines”.

First the media says that we feminists are fat, ugly, hairy prudes who can’t get laid (but dammit,  if we got laid we’d sure as hell shut up and stop complaining!).  Now they say that we are drunk sluts who love nothing more than more sex, more alcohol and OMG shopping!  Contradictory stereotypes dontcha think?


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One response

19 05 2009
queerofcolor

What about third wave feminism? Where is Audre Lorde?
Terrible pop glossolalia.

Also, for a second I thought this was the *Tufts* Observer, not a column in the Guardian!

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