Today, I was asked about straw-feminist stereotypes, about the ongoing battles we have knocking them down, and about how tedious and tiring it is fighting the same crap over and over and over again.
The skirmishes tend to be conducted along the same tired old culture wars lines: ‘single women’ vs ‘mothers’, ‘raunch culture’ vs’ puritanism’, ‘hairylegged fat ugly dyke feminists’ vs ‘ … ARGH. I can’t even do that bit today, I’m so sick of it.
So: why do we keep responding to the Pamela Bones and Miranda Devines and
John HowardsGONE and Camille Paglias and Ann Coulters and the unending sea of cookie-cutter MRAs and evpsychs and libruldewds and douchebags and chestpuffers and Rorschach-scientists and bilehowlers and glibertarians and knobjectivists of this world?
How important is vigilance?
My off-the-cuff answer is here. I’d love to hear yours.
This is a good question, and one that may well get quite a different answer from me from day to day depending on my mood. And that’s, perhaps, an important point; engaging with the myths and strawfeminists should be done on our terms, not on the terms of the antifeminists who love them so. Sometimes it’s a quick snarkly smackdown, other times a long dissection, sometimes studied ignoring ; either way, though, it’s up to us to decide, not them.
Much of the time, I find these debates downright tedious and far, far too dichotomous. They rely on stereotypes and a complete lack of nuance, and they tend to rely on uncritical, unexamined assumptions of unalloyed individualism and ‘choice politics’. I find that the debates around them focus way, way too much on women and on women’s behaviour, and nowhere near enough on men and the patriarchy, and the ways in which society shapes our life chances and opportunities, and subtly or not-so-subtly punishes those who do not comply.
Have these debates peaked? I don’t know. I don’t see any sign of it, and if one aspect of the backlash does peak and fall, another will come to take its place. All of these debates are ways to distract us, to stir up dissent between women. If I had to choose one thing to learn from Twisty’s blog, this would be it: blame the patriarchy, not the woman. Women are NOT their own worst enemies.