Monica Dux thinks I’m bad for feminism’s image

great feminist denial cover

Monica Dux, one of the co-authors of new book The Great Feminist Denial, has an opinion piece in the Age:

Feminist is not a dirty word

And it hits one of my oldest pet peeves: rejecting a large part of feminism’s history, rejecting a large group of current feminists, just because Dux doesn’t like the “image” they project.

While researching our book my co-author Zora Simic and I asked women what turned them off the feminist label. The most common answer was that it’s the man-hating, hairy-legged lesbian. In a way this wasn’t surprising. Since the 1980s most surveys of women on feminism have returned similar findings. What was surprising is that this hirsute cliche — now more than 30 years old — is still so prevalent in women’s minds.

We all know what she looks like. She’s unwaxed, unattractive and unfeminine (probably with saggy boobs, given her predilection for torching bras). But while most women can describe her characteristics, they can rarely name a woman who personifies the stereotype.

So, who is this woman that everyone is so eager to disassociate themselves from? “Hairy-legged lesbian” is, arguably, popular shorthand for the radical feminist. Radical feminism, which emerged from the diverse women’s movement of the 1960s, focused on patriarchy as the source of women’s oppression. It ranged from the extreme (lesbian separatism) to the moderate (a critique of pornography). Yet while the extreme end of radical feminism looms largest in the public imagination, its impact was marginal, more akin to that of an eccentric opposition backbencher than a minister making policy.

Ultimately, the real power of the radical feminist has been in providing fuel for conservative scaremongers, as she’s been morphed into a homophobic, simplistic, but enormously convenient stereotype on which to hang old-fashioned feminist bashing.

Here’s the thing, Monica Dux. I, a person your co-author Zora interviewed at some length for the book, have hairy legs. I have hairy ampits. I’m fat, which is generally considered “unattractive” in Western patriarchal culture. My breasts sag. Apart from the lesbianism, I am your scary negative cliche. And some of my friends are 100% your scary negative cliche. This person is not a myth. We’re out here. And we’re feminists.

Would you be aghast if we walked around wearing ‘THIS IS WHAT A FEMINIST LOOKS LIKE’ T-shirts?

I am a cliche, a negative stereotype, because I don’t pluck and shave and wax and diet and have a surgical breast lift. The only thing that “saves” me from being 100% your horrifying threat to feminism is the fact that I fuck men. Why is that a big deal to you? Why are you rejecting lesbians from your movement? Or do you not reject them – do you just want to hide them away in a closet and pretend that your feminism is all sexy women hot for men, just so homophobes don’t think any the worse of you?

Does your feminism also pander to racists, to ableists, to anti-trans bigots, or do you single out homophobes for the kid-glove treatment?

I am, according to you, the person turning young women off feminism. My body, according to you, is feminism’s marketing problem. I am, according to you, one of the feminists that the New Feminism needs to distance itself from. I need to be denounced in order for the movement to move on and attract new members. Instead of rejecting the sexist attitudes that lead to my body being denigrated, you pander to them and reinforce them, and you seek to distance yourself from me.

This is bigoted bullshit.

You are repeating and re-creating the shameful “lavender menace” history in this opinion piece. THAT is the history that needs to be rejected. That is the history that should not be re-embraced.

If your feminism demonises me, the problem is with your feminism, not with my body. If you need to reject me, if you need to use my body, this natural body I live in, as the spectre of everything that is wrong with feminism, your feminism has a problem.

And if your feminism rejects lesbians, your feminism is broken.

You go on to say this:

In the act of calling ourselves feminists we are expressing solidarity (not necessarily agreement) with others who share our core values. We’re also showing respect to the many women who’ve championed those values for more than 100 years. Being mindful of their legacy helps us avoid repeating mistakes, but it is also our best defence against feminism’s detractors propagating even more false assumptions, cliches and distortions.

And yet, you propagate the cliche in this opinion piece. You yourself consider hairy-legged lesbians an image problem. You reject radical feminists.

You continue:

Next time you’re asked if you are a feminist, it might be more correct to reply: I am, but not an anachronistic cliche of a narrow version of second wave radical feminism.

Or perhaps I’ll say that I AM a hairy-legged makeup-hater, and anyone who has a problem with that can get the fuck over it. And that my white-woman beauty choices are not the most important thing about feminism. Feminism is about equal opportunity and healthcare and civil rights and reproductive justice and freedom from violence and oppression, and the ending of rigid sex roles and exploitation and objectification all over the world – all tenets of the massively influential second-wave feminist movement in which our mothers and grandmothers and sisters worked so hard and achieved so much, which you have overlooked in your haste to dismiss them.

I have no time for a feminism that thinks women should conform to patriarchal beauty standards and compulsory heterosexuality before they can be accepted. That thinks that hairy, saggy-breasted women drag down the image of the movement. And, above all, I reject homophobic “feminism”.

That’s bullshit.

~~~~

Update 21 Oct 2008:

Monica Dux: “My nameless, shameless adversary”, The Age, 18 Oct 2008

Lauredhel: “In Which the Strawfeminist Makes Yet Another Appearance“, Shakesville, 20 Oct 2008



Categories: gender & feminism, social justice

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237 replies

  1. Hairy legged makeup haters unite! Apart from my choice of male partners, I too fit that stereotype quite nicely.

  2. I don’t fit in that stereotype, but I’ve been a “bad face” before. And it’s bullshit. People should be able to be who they want, hairy legs and all. What attracted me to feminism is that ideal, and one way of attacking the culture that says you can’t.
    What is feminism if it’s not freedom for women?

  3. An interesting counter to this is the UK F-Word post today on ‘does liking — make me not a feminist?’
    But the F-Word’s point is that there is no definitive uniform for feminism–and if I were to give her the benefit of the doubt, maybe that’s what Dux was trying to get at. Except she ended up sounding damn patronising and reinforces a negative sense of body image.
    And seeing as body image is one of the big topics in feminism today, that’s a bit bollocks.

  4. Really excellent post. You’ve touched everything that bothers me about (some) third wave feminism, that being the idea that it’s a counter-movement to the second wave, destined to rid the world of bad feminist stereotypes and promote the idea that “you can be pretty and still be feminist” (which is, in effect, the same as saying that if you don’t fit certain standards of attractiveness or heteronormativity you shouldn’t advertise yourself as a feminist because you might give people the wrong idea). Fuck that. I don’t think one has to be “unwaxed, unattractive and unfeminine” to qualify as feminist–hell, you can be a supermodel and still be a feminist–but that’s because that (whether you choose to wear heels and makeup and shave your legs and sleep with men…or not) is just not what feminism is (or should be) about.

  5. 100% stereotype here. Go to hell, Monica Dux. And may that hell be filled with hairy lesbians. Ew.

  6. It breaks my heart that things are still being discussed at this level of superficiality and confusion. I can remember someone fretting at me in 1980 about whether she could really be a good feminist given her love of lipstick and perfume. My advice then was the same as it would be now: ‘Assimilate and transcend.’ By which I meant there were more important considerations to focus on.
    I’ve not read the book, but from what I can make out from the promos so far, it’s based on an acceptance of deliberate stereotyping by feminist-hating men, and, more destructively, the unquestioning, unconscious acceptance of said men’s values on which your own post here is based.

  7. I think that my opinion piece has been misinterpreted.
    I was arguing that media representations of feminism have tended to stereotype feminists and feminism. The figure they’ve focused on in constructing this stereotype is a distorted version of a 70s/80s radical feminist. This hasn’t happened by accident. In talking about feminism, conservatives have focused on certain aspects of feminist thought and certain kinds of feminists because they are trying to alienate as many people as possible, exploiting people’s deep seated homophobia and social conservatism.
    I don’t blame radical feminists for this. I didn’t say that they should pull their heads in. I didn’t say that they have betrayed feminism or damaged its image. When I speak about the importance of respecting the history of feminism I include the contribution of radical feminists in that. Neither do I think we should pander to popular homophobia.
    On the other hand, I don’t think we should sit still while a broad based philosophy/movement gets reduced to a narrow stereotype, particularly when the stereotyping is being driven by people who have an anti feminist agenda.
    Feminists come in all shapes and sizes. Some of us don’t shave, pluck or wear make-up. Other feminists do. Feminism deserves to be depicted realistically in the media, and that means that we should reject the proliferation of clichés and stereotypes.

  8. Hairy legged prude here! (though the last part is subjective-my friends think it’s funny, but the world at large definitely thinks I’m a “prude.”)
    WOO WOO! Hairy legged prude PRIDE!

  9. The book dismisses and even mocks radical feminism as irrelevant and lacking in influence. Page 37: “Their influence on the feminist movement in Australia has been about as significant as that of an eccentric opposition backbencher in our federal parliament”.
    And here, in your own words, you consign radical feminism to “history”, erasing the existence of radical feminists today.
    Two sets of questions: Do you believe that a hairy-legged lesbian is a negative cliche, and why?
    Do you think that it is feminists’ responsibility to present a “positive image” to those who oppress them? What would that positive image entail, and why?

  10. Yes, but you also seem to be uncritically buying into the idea that the “unfeminine” (your word) hirsute stereotypical feminist is unattractive, which if you think about it, is unquestioningly complying with the patriarchy’s ideas about attractiveness.

  11. Whoops, that comment was addressed to Monica Dux, but two other comments happened when I was composing it.

  12. Lauredehl,
    By asserting that radical feminism has been relatively marginal in its influence I am not denigrating it – I am simply reporting a fact.
    The feminist movement has always been overwhelmingly liberal (small “l” liberal), at least in terms of how the majority of women identify, the values they espouse and how they see their feminism. Radical feminism has also had a marginal influence on the formulation of public policy in the western world, while liberal feminism has had a more profound impact.
    This is not a value judgment about the worth of radical feminism. Maybe the world would be a better place if the influence of radical feminism had been greater. Sadly, that hasn’t occurred. You need to distinguish between prescriptive and descriptive statements. When I say “George Bush is president” I am not endorsing the guy – I am simply reporting a fact.
    Similarly, Rebekka, when I described the “unattractive/unfeminine” stereotype I was doing just that – describing it. Describing the way it is used and the way it is depicted. I am not endorsing it. In fact I am critiquing and rejecting the way it is manipulated in the media.
    Re your questions Lauredhel… Do I believe that the hairy legged lesbian is a negative cliché? Not to me it’s not. But I believe it has been used and manipulated by conservatives to illicit a negative reaction from a mainstream audience.
    Do I think it is feminism’s responsibility to present a “positive image” (whatever that would entail)? No, of course not! What I am saying (repeatedly) is that it is our duty to answer back to those who stereotype us and reduce us to narrow clichés. The way we should do that is not by wearing make-up, it’s by challenging the people who propagate the stereotypes.
    What is your problem with this argument, exactly?

  13. Do I believe that the hairy legged lesbian is a negative cliché? Not to me it’s not.

    I’m not getting that at all from your piece. You repeat “negative”, “cliche”, “unattractive”, “stereotype”, and “cliche” uncritically. If it was meant as sarcasm, it didn’t come across.

    Do I think it is feminism’s responsibility to present a “positive image” (whatever that would entail)? No, of course not! What I am saying (repeatedly) is that it is our duty to answer back to those who stereotype us and reduce us to narrow clichés. The way we should do that is not by wearing make-up,

    Why not? A refusal to participate in oppressive beauty ideals is part of everyday resistance by many women.

    it’s by challenging the people who propagate the stereotypes.

    And this is where I’m saying your opinion piece falls down for me. You repeat the values of the conservative mainstream without mounting any effective challenge to them.

  14. I feel like I’m being asked to justify my appearance by replying to someone who says “you and other feminists are fat and ugly!” by pointing out “beautiful” or sex-positive feminists. This seems ridiculously backwards. That’s playing the patriarchy’s game.
    I refuse to accept their framing of my appearance as at all relevant. Instead of being put on the defensive by such sexist, demeaning comments, I would choose to go on the offensive and challenge their implicit assertion that my looks reflect my worth.
    Feminism is not about seeking the approval of those who hate women.
    Also, does anyone else think there’s something inevitably and deeply racist about discussing which bodies are presentable for feminism?

  15. Also, does anyone else think there’s something inevitably and deeply racist about discussing which bodies are presentable for feminism?

    There’s the potential for racism, ableism, ageism, the whole shebang.

  16. Lauredhel, my discussion of the stereotypes didn’t come across as sarcastic because it isn’t meant to be. I think that these stereotypes, as depicted and manipulated in the media, really are negative. But you have to distinguish between these two questions (1) Does Monica Dux think it’s bad to be a hairy legged lesbian? (the answer to this is “no”) and (2) Does Monica Dux think that negative stereotypes have been constructed by the media, based on a distorted version of radical feminism? (the answer to this is “yes”).
    Stereotyping is intrinsically a rather negative project, don’t you think? When it’s done with a political agenda it is even worse.
    You say “A refusal to participate in oppressive beauty ideals is part of everyday resistance by many women.” Fine, I respect that. But how is that relevant to my argument? I am saying that feminists and feminism are being stereotyped as part of a conservative campaign of misrepresentation. The fact that some feminist women reject make-up is neither here nor there.
    You then say “You repeat the values of the conservative mainstream without mounting any effective challenge to them.” Again, I’m not sure I understand how this is relevant. My opinion piece was an attempt to diagnose a problem. The problem is that conservative media has stereotyped feminism and this has led to a situation where many young women don’t really understand what feminism is about, so they reject it. I think that’s a bad thing. Do I have a solution? Of course not. By writing my piece I was trying to be part of a possible solution – raising awareness that this is occurring and encouraging women (and men) to reject it and answer back. What’s your solution?

  17. Quixotess, I am saying nothing about which bodies are presentable for feminism. Have you actually read my replies, above? I am critiquing the way that feminism is depicted and stereotyped in the media.
    As for the suggestion that my argument is in some way racist, this is essentially a cheap form of name-calling so I won’t even dignify it with a reply.

  18. Monica, in your ‘Age’ piece you characterise radical feminism as ‘ Radical feminism, which emerged from the diverse women’s movement of the 1960s, focused on patriarchy as the source of women’s oppression..’
    My understanding is that all feminism comes from this analysis, so I’m not sure what you mean by ‘radical’ and how you might oppose that to ‘liberal’. Neither do I understand your argument that radical feminism didn’t achieve much. Perhaps you could define your terms and it may be clearer what you mean.

  19. I’ll try once more, though I think Quixotess said it better. Monica, you wrote this:

    What was surprising is that this hirsute cliche — now more than 30 years old — is still so prevalent in women’s minds.
    We all know what she looks like. She’s unwaxed, unattractive and unfeminine (probably with saggy boobs, given her predilection for torching bras). But while most women can describe her characteristics, they can rarely name a woman who personifies the stereotype.
    So, who is this woman that everyone is so eager to disassociate themselves from?

    Monica, she’s me. She is my friends. You go on to call this this unwaxed saggy-boobed woman, an “unfeminine monster”.
    There is nothing morphed or imaginary or cliched (all your terms) about hairy saggy-breasted feminists. We are not an “unwanted association” or an “unsavoury association”, again two terms you yourself use in your article. We are here, and we are real, these are our bodies and our selves. We don’t apologise for not marketing ourselves to patriarchal specifications, and we don’t believe that we’re where feminism went wrong.
    You point to me, and say “Hey, it’s ok! This feminist doesn’t really exist! She’s a figment of your patriarchal imagination!”
    I’m not.

  20. (And at this point I’m going to take a time out from the back-and-forth, to allow other people to express their opinions on both the article and the points I have raised.)

  21. I’m a hairy lesbian radical feminist who doesn’t wear bras. I’m also not a figment of patriarchal imagination, and I’m seventeen, so I’ll be around for a while.
    Feminism isn’t about being deemed attractive or unthreatening for short term acceptance; it is about changing the world to make it better for ALL women. That includes the lesbians.
    Monica, I know that your intentions were good, and I appreciate that, but whatever you meant to say, your article marginalised radical feminists and came off as homophobic. Read Lauredhel’s criticism closely and don’t be afraid to admit you screwed up.

  22. I am critiquing the way that feminism is depicted and stereotyped in the media.

    Yes, and you’re going on to say that it’s up to feminists to actively dispell this stereotype, which is my point of contention. I’m saying that trying to convince the media that feminists aren’t like that is a loser’s game. It’s buying into their framing. It puts us on the defensive, which, when they’re the ones calling us ugly, is not where we have to be.

    As for the suggestion that my argument is in some way racist, this is essentially a cheap form of name-calling so I won’t even dignify it with a reply.

    Okay, go along with me here.
    1. MSM/society/culture (not you!) denigrates feminists by picking on their looks.
    2. This creates a hierarchy of bodies, calling some better or more worthy than others.
    3. Said hierarchy, built as it is within the patriarchy for the purpose of defending the patriarchy, will necessarily buy into patriarchal beauty standards.
    4. Patriarchal beauty standards are racist. (also, as Lauredhal says, ageist, ableist, transphobic, fatphobic, and on and on; extrapolate as necessary.)
    5. In order to be acceptable to these people who judge us on our appearance, we must therefore inevitably exclude and silence women of color.
    That’s the game we’re playing here, and it’s not feminism.
    You, as far as I can tell, are advocating saying “hey, not all feminists are [$attribute feared by the patriarchy]” which buys into the patriarchy’s framing of $attribute as something negative, something that we need to defend ourselves against. It’s not. You’re buying into their frame, and yes, it’s a racist frame.
    Instead of reacting to people who say “Aren’t all feminists fat and ugly?” with “No, I know a feminist who’s seriously fuckable, you wouldn’t feel threatened by her at all” I’m advocating reacting by saying “Why do you think that matters? Why would that be a bad thing? If feminism is comprised of women you think are ugly, does that undermine feminism?” A reaction on the offensive.

  23. Oh, and Lauredhal: sorry if you’re getting frustrated with the back-and-forth. I spend all my time on the xkcd fora, so getting into it is a bit of a reflex by this point. *s* I’ll back off if it’s making the thread something you don’t like.
    And FWIW, I thought it was a great post.

  24. And I’ll try once more also. When I use words like unattractive and unfeminine I am simply reporting the way feminists are frequently described or depicted (explicitly or implicitly) in the media. If you doubt me on this then you really need to read more widely.
    I am not saying that hairy legged, saggy boobed women are unattractive, nor am I saying that I personally find them unattractive. I’m talking about clichés and stereotypes, as they operate in a particular context, with a particular target readership in mind. The way they are manipulated and the impact they have on many women’s thinking.
    The fact that some or even all of the characteristics that make up a stereotype happen to also exist in a real person does not change the fact that it’s a stereotype. Nor does it change the fact that the stereotype is being manipulated and misused. Racists often reply this way when they’re challenged. “Hey, but I really do know an Asian guy who’s fantastic at maths!” they say, as if that makes it okay to reduce Asian people to a cliché (for example).
    Lauredhel, I don’t deny that you exist. But you have to understand that there are many, many women out there who aren’t like you, but are still feminists. All I’m arguing for is a more plural, realistic depiction of feminism and feminists, one that doesn’t rely so heavily on stereotypes.
    I ask once again, why is this so objectionable to you?

  25. I am simply reporting the way feminists are frequently described or depicted (explicitly or implicitly) in the media

    It’s not that we don’t get that this was your goal. It’s just that we don’t think you did a very good job of conveying this, and that the way you wrote this reinforced stereotypes rather than challenging them.

    All I’m arguing for is a more plural, realistic depiction of feminism and feminists, one that doesn’t rely so heavily on stereotypes.

    So why not challenge how that stereotype is dismissive and silencing in the way that it Others non-conforming bodies, instead of conceding the power of the stereotype by marginalising those feminists who do possess non-conforming bodies?

  26. ”Similarly, Rebekka, when I described the “unattractive/unfeminine” stereotype I was doing just that – describing it. Describing the way it is used and the way it is depicted. I am not endorsing it.”

    Yes, but neither did you explicitly reject it. You described a hirsute feminist with saggy breasts as unattractive, and you in no way made it clear that either a woman with hairy legs and saggy breasts (a) is still beautiful or (b) that it doesn’t matter what she looks like as the patriarchal construct that “feminine” beauty = female worth is wrong and bad and women are not just the sum of how attractive they are in the eyes of men. So your intention may not have been to endorse it, but you kind of were by not explicitly rejecting it.

  27. Creating a feminism like the one this author advocated means keeping men the center of the debate rather than focusing on women. If we al need to be fucking men, with the body of barbies to be considered acceptable then it is not an inclusive movement. My feminism like a lot of women I know speaks to who I am as a person. If we disconnect from our physical selves in order to embrace a cruel stereotype then feminism would be a reductive movement rather than one based on radical change.
    Renees last blog post..Oprah: We Made You and We Can Break You

  28. ext time you’re asked if you are a feminist, it might be more correct to reply: I am, but not an anachronistic cliche of a narrow version of second wave radical feminism.

    How about I reply “Yes”? With my hairy legs and armpits and ‘cliches’. That’s the problem with your peice – you aren’t saying anything new. You aren’t just pointing out a patriarchal fallacy, you’re buying into it as a problem. You’re agreeing with the premise that the cliche is bad, not arguing that cliches are bad.

  29. Monica – I think one of the problems with your article, particularly the last paragraph, is the assumption that the reader doesn’t conform to those stereotypes in any way. Which is very alienating to those who do.
    You seem to imply, I would guess unintentionally, that hairy-legged/bra-less/lesbian amongst us should keep quite about our feminism, to protect the image of the movement. Which ignores the fact that there are young almost-feminists who have those characteristics.
    Kirstens last blog post..Very very sleepy.

  30. What bothers me about the argument “yes, but I’m not one of those feminists” is that it accepts the premise “those feminists are problematic” instead of talking to young women about why and how they’ve been trained (just as all previous generations of women have been trained) to focus on appearance, to rate other women as acceptable (or not), to dismiss anything said by women whose appearance is unacceptable.
    I don’t want to reject the stereotype, I want to talk about how and why we can reject all the people who tell us that some women go “too far” by looking a certain way, or by having sex with each other, or by questioning male authority. I didn’t embrace feminism by establishing that other feminists looked like me, I truly embraced it when I realised it didn’t bloody matter what they looked like.

  31. What bothers me about the argument “yes, but I’m not one of those feminists” is that it accepts the premise “those feminists are problematic”
    This is it, exactly. In my early (not-so-long-ago) days of being a feminist, I would constantly tell people, “it’s okay, feminists aren’t all unattractive, hairy-legged man-haters, I’M not like that”. It became a way for me to justify my feminism, to men and to myself, and it just reinforced the message that there is something somehow wrong in looking a certain way. I know you didn’t explicitly set out to marginalise women who don’t conform to a certain image, Monica, but by uncritically using terms such as “unwaxed, unattractive and unfeminine” and “saggy boobs”, you are doing just that.

  32. What Kate said.
    We should never need to qualify our feminism by saying “I’m a feminist, but not one of those feminists”– particularly not when the things that typify “those” feminists are so benign– as others have said, weight, body hair, and lesbianism, none of which actually hurt anyone, and all of which describe feminists that I respect and care for (and indeed, I am overweight and sometimes-hairy myself).
    A secondary problem (though not nearly so great as the way that this marginalises feminists who are fat/hairy/lesbian/all of the above) is that if you buy into the whole “I’m one of the good feminists” schtick, you’re basically letting a patriarchal standard define your feminism– and eventually you are going to come head to head with that patriarchal standard. Those people you’re trying to convince that you’re a good-non-hairy-slim-straight feminist– eventually you’re going to disagree with them about something because you’re a feminist. And then you’ll find that you have to choose between being a “good” feminist and shutting the hell up, or becoming, in their eyes, one of the “bad” feminists who challenges the patriarchal norms. This challenge may not come in the form of your bodyhair/weight/sexual orientation– more likely it’ll be something like your refusal to accept rape apology or your distaste for sexism directed at female politicians, or your pro-choice stance– but whatever it is, it’ll make you realise that the dichotomy between “good” feminists and “bad” feminists is false, and we gain NOTHING by buying into it.

  33. if you buy into the whole “I’m one of the good feminists” schtick, you’re basically letting a patriarchal standard define your feminism– and eventually you are going to come head to head with that patriarchal standard. Those people you’re trying to convince that you’re a good-non-hairy-slim-straight feminist– eventually you’re going to disagree with them about something because you’re a feminist. And then you’ll find that you have to choose between being a “good” feminist and shutting the hell up, or becoming, in their eyes, one of the “bad” feminists who challenges the patriarchal norms. This challenge may not come in the form of your bodyhair/weight/sexual orientation– more likely it’ll be something like your refusal to accept rape apology or your distaste for sexism directed at female politicians, or your pro-choice stance–
    Or just getting older!

  34. I still can’t believe how shallow some of the discussions in the feminist world are when there are so many more important things for us to take care of.
    OK…
    – I am the sort that waxes and wears skirts (cripes, do I even care if anyone judges me on that – that’s as shallow as it gets)
    – I’m bi but not into guys at all at the moment (and what the hell has this to do with feminism????)
    – I’m trans (don’t fit the stereotype of some but as you may have noticed, that doesn’t stop be going on incessantly!)
    So, I’m pretty different from you Lauredhel, but I keep on finding myself in agreement with you when you’re bringing up the important issues. Isn’t that what it’s about? Agreeing on the core values?
    Thanks for bringing this up, Lauredhel… We should be moving beyond this.
    Emily Ss last blog post..Transworkplace

  35. Emily, you posted on this “shallow” topic only a couple of posts ago!
    http://chezemily.com/?p=156

  36. What Beppie and Kate said, and in particular, what Pav said about the unnecessariness and, in my view, astonishingly retrograde superficiality of framing the conversation about feminism in terms of fashion and cosmetics.
    I don’t believe many people in the real world, outside the media hothouse, really seriously question the legitimacy and diversity of feminism nor the good it’s done. Certainly I don’t encounter any antifeminist skepticism among the uni students I teach.
    The damage done by giving marginalised cranks a hearing, legitimating them, and treating their complaints seriously should not be underestimated.
    The type of threatened person (the technical name the internet gives these charmers is “troll”, although elsewhere they are gainfully employed as shock jocks etc) who actually really does go on about fat hairy legged boiler suited presbyterian lesbian feminazis is, in my experience and I imagine most people here’s experience, obviously demented and burdened with immense, personality-crippling issues of his own. Carefully and rationally taking on and answering each of his concerns is analogous to calmly giving Jew-haters a fair hearing, explaining that no, not all Jews are money-grubbing subhumans etc.

  37. Slightly (but only slightly) off-topic – what’s going on with the lacy floral corset on the book cover? The image in Lauredhel’s post has a fairly straight waist, but on this MUP page, it’s much more misshapen. Did somebody have second thoughts? If so, I think it’s a pity they didn’t have third ones. The cover is really not encouraging.

  38. Laura, to me the cover brings to mind the classic Female Eunuch cover, although, of course, the corset on its own lacks the potential to make the point about women’s bodies being treated as commodified objects.

  39. Yes, I see what you’re saying. But did they make the waist narrower or wider for the final version? Curious.

  40. I thought the opinion piece had some good points to make about the “bogeyman” that scares women. I agree – it really keeps women in line, having to avoid being anywhere near this mocked, denigrated stereotype.
    And yep, I’m an angry, hairy, lesbian. I know the fear, I still feel the fear. Before I came out, my father used to pace around in my hearing, cursing on and on about shaven-headed pierced-nippled separatist lesbians. My mother told me I’d never get a man because I wasn’t feminine enough. When I actually came out, their reaction wasn’t nice, as you can imagine.
    I agree with Monica how so few women or men actually know anyone who fits the angry hairy “ugly” radical separatist feminist lesbian label. I’m sure my father had never met one (before me). (“homophobic, simplistic, but enormously convenient stereotype on which to hang old-fashioned feminist bashing”). Quite a few individuals get overcome with foaming mouths and pleasurable horror if they do actually come across someone who’s fierce, angry, “ugly”, and independent of male desire. People spend most of their lives with the spectre, the unreal anti-ideal of cursed, failed, bitter, threatening womanhood over their heads. With any culture of conformity, there has to be the stories and images of what happens to you when you don’t conform, even if after a while you’re not even conscious of these threats. A panopticon observing you, and your choices start to seem natural and singular. (Actually being surrounded by real, breathing people who embody the Bad Stereotype? Actually helps break down conformity, in my opinion and that of a lot of science fiction and fantasy.)
    The article did count on the viewers having this spectre in their minds, this myth, this Other. I read it, and I am the Other. Yeah, great. Mainstream news for you. Monica’s priority is not to de-Other women who make people scared of feminism, but to say that feminism can encompass We, Us, the readers that Monica is aiming at. Liberal feminism I guess.
    I think that most women are far too dependent upon male (and female peer) approval, without even realising it. In Western white-culture society, where women have become over time more empowered in terms of money and influence, the focus has increasingly shifted to microscopic analysis of women’s bodies. As women get further ahead with careers, they become thinner and more self-denying and paranoid about loss of control. Hobbling high heels for the soul, but without the fabulous glittery fun factor. And the taboo on raw, wild, powerful anger for women continues unabated (hoo boy does it ever). Not caring about your appearance, or having a different perception of beauty from the norm.. seems to be as important as it ever has been in how a woman is judged. And women can sleep exclusively with women these days… as long as they’re seen to be under control in other ways by playing within the rules laid down for the “good girl” in terms of male-attractive presentation and orderly pleasant behaviour. And preferably these women are safely on television, where millions of viewers can watch them make out. (You might be able to get away with wild behaviour or a shaved head if you’re thin and young and sleep with guys, for instance. You can have a bit of one rebellious thing, this is an individualist society after all that thrives and depends on the perception of free choice, but you can’t acceptably get away with all of them.)
    So thanks Monica for your article, it’s good to get feminism into the papers, we need to pull more women in (muhahah). I’d go further in saying that the negativity and specificity of this stereotype isn’t just a wart on feminism’s hide preventing women from identifying as such. It’s a fundamental contemporary aspect of how women are kept in line and as such, needs to be confronted directly by feminists seeking strategies to dismantle sexism rather than being put to one side as an anachronistic annoyance.

  41. I’ve got nothing to add to the well-argued explanations about what was wrong with this piece, but I would like to note, Monica, that I found it just seven shades of condescrending for you to lecture Lauredhel “you have to understand that there are many, many women out there who aren’t like you, but are still feminists” when the raison d’etre for this thread is your assertion that women like Lauredhel don’t actually exist, but are merely a stereotype to which no actual woman conforms.
    First you disappear those “stereotypical” feminists, then, when one asserts her mere existence, you scold her as though she were a voracious narcissist.
    Bad form indeed.

  42. And… the book cover discrepancies. Ha ha ha. Last minute changes fail.
    So, what does a frilly corset on a front cover mean anyway? Corsets are gaining enormous popularity these days. That’d get mainstream beauty-conscious feminine women reading your book, stick something fashionable on there. Although make it overtly floral and old-fashioned rather than slick and sexual, that introduces a bit of tension there over the idea of femininity. I hope they have gone with the tightlacing waist front cover, as that seems to invoke the message that women are being squeezed into a certain role. But it doesn’t challenge notions of beauty particularly (you know, wouldn’t it be hilarious if someone like me, perpetually unseen, was on the front cover instead). I remember being annoyed at the front cover for The Beauty Myth, which had some supermodel type body women wrapped in bandages. Right! You couldn’t possibly show anyone else and sell as many books!

  43. It should probably be noted here (though I suspect most people already know it?) that authors typically have little or no control over their book covers. Which is not to say that it’s not worthy of discussion at all, just that it’s quite a separate issue from the article under discussion.

  44. You know, the whole point of the damned hairy legs thing–which Dux misses entirely—is questioning why in hell women have to fight their own bodies’ natural inclinations to abide by unnatural practices that occupy time better used for liberation. Men don’t shave, and I’ve seen guys whose backs resembled Midwestern wheat fields. Shaving, plucking, bleaching, waxing, all that stuff makes the female body look scarily pubescent. And let’s not even go into dieting and clothing. FEminism has always questioned beauty standards and why women aren’t judged by their smarts and personality. Looks like Dux buys that, too.

  45. “Men think feminists spend all their time not shaving under their arms when really that takes no time at all” ~ Judy Horacek

  46. Next time you’re asked if you are a feminist, it might be more correct to reply: I am, but not an anachronistic cliche of a narrow version of second wave radical feminism.
    Here’s an even better answer to that question:
    “Yes.”

  47. @Helen,

    Emily, you posted on this “shallow” topic only a couple of posts ago!
    http://chezemily.com/?p=156

    Oh, I’ll post a lot about how people judge appearance. I’ll even post about nice clothes I see and I’ll post about lots of shallow things! 🙂
    However, I don’t use appearance to judge how good a feminist a person is. That’s what I mean about focussing on the important issues.
    But, I promise I will make lots of shallow posts… That’s just the sort of person I am! 🙂

  48. I also wanted to add, riffing off a comment at Melissa’s, that I find myself troubled not only by the gender assumptions in this piece, but the ethnocentric ones.
    The “hairy legged feminist” as an image of disgusting female rebellion is a Western one, possible only in contexts where shaven legs are part of the acceptable beauty norm. But what about places where women’s leg hair is unremarkable, where its presence signifies nothing?
    Accepting the dominant anti-feminist belief that hairy-while-female = undesirable not only fails to challenge Western patriarchal gender norms, it implies that non-Western feminists either don’t come up to par, or – I suspect more the case here – they’re not even considered.
    Basically, this conversation, and this stereotype, only make sense if you exclude those populations.
    Me, I’d rather not do that. We need all the feminists we can get, and I don’t give a rats as to how any of them look.
    Ranas last blog post..City Trail – 9/15/08

  49. So, I keep not buying one of those “This is what a feminist looks like” t-shirts because I think I’m not pretty enough to be a representative of feminism like that. It’s “better” and “less threatening” if conventionally attractive women wear a t-shirt like that, because I am not conventionally attractive.
    I know this is a bad narrative to buy into, I know that I’m only hurting myself and underminding what I believe in, but still, there it is. I don’t want to scare people away from feminism by merely looking like I do.
    *sigh*
    Annas last blog post..But y’all can call me Anna

  50. If you’re trying to get a young person to do something that he or she thinks will cut down the chances of being laid, it’s going to be an uphill battle. But I know for a fact that fat, hairy-legged feminists get laid. I’m married to one, I love her dearly, and that, my friends, leads to shagging. And I know others that are married or have boyfriends or girlfriends or life partners.
    This is the myth that must be exposed. Fitness, attitude, and self-esteem matter. But hairyness of legs, not a bit. There are porn sites devoted to unshaved women for god’s sake. And fatness? Well, I recall Kate Harding posting about how she’s had a boyfriend about as much as the thin reporter that interviewed her. There’s lots of other data.
    However, thinness *is* socially powerful. The men who want thin women want them because it grants them status in the eyes of other men. And sometimes it turns into a status competition between women, who can fuck the highest-status male.
    However, none of that stuff affects the quality of a sexual interaction. Or the quality of the time you spend together when you’re not having sex. And there are lots of men who know that. But we’re usually not the loud, obnoxious sort. Maybe that needs to change.
    Is identifying as “feminist” a turn-off for guys, in and of itself? To some, I’m sure. But perhaps not as much as you might think.

  51. I still can’t believe how shallow some of the discussions in the feminist world are
    Good thing we have sexist feminists like “Emily” to tell us women we’re having one of our shallow frivolous girly discussions that merely addresses issues that affect the real life lives of women.

  52. Monica, your “statement of fact” that radicals have had little influence on feminism is 100% utter bullshit. You keep defending yourself like you’re approaching this in good faith when it couldn’t be more laughably obvious that you did not, even for that hilarious one liner alone.

  53. ”Next time you’re asked if you are a feminist, it might be more correct to reply: I am, but not an anachronistic cliche of a narrow version of second wave radical feminism.”

    I am surprised that the discussion doesn’t begin and end with this quote from the book. The problem with this is the qualification it requires of any feminist. It propagates an “us and them” mentality. Why can’t the answer just be “yes”? There are some of us that like to wear makeup, some who don’t. Some of us shave and some don’t. Some like boys, others girls and some both. Feminism is stronger with all of us willing to call ourselves feminist without denouncing those in the group who are not like us.

  54. Is identifying as “feminist” a turn-off for guys, in and of itself? To some, I’m sure.

    This is a feature, not a bug.
    And g’day, new commenters. Please keep on playing the ball – I’ve been fairly impressed by how the thread has largely done that so far, and I’d like it to stay that way. Cheers.

  55. Next time you’re asked if you are a feminist, it might be more correct to reply: I am, but not an anachronistic cliche of a narrow version of second wave radical feminism.

    Reinforcing the stereotype created by anti-feminist forces, and joining in their attacks, doesn’t strike me as the best way to change people’s perceptions. Similarly, denying radical feminism’s impact (for example, doesn’t Australia have sexual harassment laws?) rewrites history in ways that seem to clash with the author’s goals.

    Is identifying as “feminist” a turn-off for guys, in and of itself? To some, I’m sure.
    This is a feature, not a bug.

    Yeah really: it provides an early-warning sign, and filters them out based on their lack of interest, all without having to expend any additional effort beyond identifying as a feminist.

  56. @RadFem,
    Good thing we have sexist feminists like “Emily” to tell us women we’re having one of our shallow frivolous girly discussions that merely addresses issues that affect the real life lives of women.
    I’m sorry if that’s how I came across, that was not my intention. My sole complaint is that Monica Dux reduces the discussion about the value of feminists to how they look… I don’t give a toss how a feminist looks to care how much value she brings to the world and I don’t think that we should either.
    I think the discussion we’re having here is very valid since I think that Monica Dux’s comments have trivialised other issues by focussing on how we look. What I intended to say in my post was that there are all sorts of feminists and how they look isn’t important, it’s the core values that bind them which is.

  57. ”By asserting that radical feminism has been relatively marginal in its influence I am not denigrating it – I am simply reporting a fact.”
    Last time I checked, a “fact” was something that could be supported by data or completely objective observation. I would put it to you that radical feminists, although not the majority of “second-wave” feminists, had a HUGE impact on feminism in the 60s and 70s.
    One may argue that the drag-queens of Stonewall were just a very small group who went to jail one night, yet this was obviously an event that irrevocably shifted the history of the LGTBQ rights movement.
    Radicals have consistently, over history, given “breathing room” for more moderate approaches.
    ”Lauredhel, I don’t deny that you exist. But you have to understand that there are many, many women out there who aren’t like you, but are still feminists. All I’m arguing for is a more plural, realistic depiction of feminism and feminists, one that doesn’t rely so heavily on stereotypes.”
    I’m another one of those who fits your stated stereotype EXACTLY — I’m even a lesbian — where is your “pluralism” when it comes to me?
    ”I ask once again, why is this so objectionable to you?”
    Because it encourages my feminist sisters to marginalize and distance themselves from me and feminists like me so that they can remain appealing to men. Which is anti-feminist, in my opinion.

  58. Right on, sister.

  59. Because it encourages my feminsit sisters to marginalize and distance themselves from me and feminists like me so that they can remain appealing to men. Which is anti-feminist, in my opinion.
    Seconded, and well said, PD!

  60. Dux says: ”Next time you’re asked if you are a feminist, it might be more correct to reply: I am, but not an anachronistic cliche of a narrow version of second wave radical feminism.”
    And if you’re a light-skinned African American and someone asks you if you are an African American, it might be more correct to reply: I am, but I’m not a lazy, thieving, watermelon loving chiche of a narrow version of African Americans.
    Dux says: By asserting that radical feminism has been relatively marginal in its influence I am not denigrating it – I am simply reporting a fact.
    Yes to what Radfem and Portly Dyke said about this nonsense. I don’t know how old Dux is, but when I went to high school in the sixties, we were not allowed to wear pants to school. There was no such thing as Title IX. All the school’s monies for extra-curricular activities went to boys’ sports with a chunk of change thrown in for to bus the cheerleaders to the games.
    We were not allowed to wear pants to church. We were locked out of clubs and relegated to playing golf on “ladies’ day.” I could go on, but there is really no need to do that. Any feminist who is educated knows what a huge impact second-wave feminists have had on society. Any un-educated so-called “feminist” who doesn’t and who seeks to distance herself from those who don’t look like her, walk like her, shave their legs like her, and who doesn’t share her proclivities vis a vis sex, isn’t a feminist and really doesn’t deserve to call herself such.

  61. Great post.
    I’m straight, fat, hairy-legged, make-up wearing, saggy-boobed (when I don’t have a bra) feminist.
    My sister is a straight, thin, tall, make-up wearing, bare-legged, perky-boobed feminist.
    My cousin is a lesbian, thin, bare-legged, non-makeup-wearing, barely-boobed feminist.
    Point: feminists come with all variations of the aforementioned qualities, and hundreds of qualities that are not mentioned, as well. If you don’t accept them all as “the face” of feminism… then you’re the one whose definition of feminism needs revamping.

  62. Although it isn’t a feminist attitude, plenty of women, given the apparent necessary choice, would prefer to be attractive to men than to sacrifice their attractiveness to an ideology. The dichotomy might be false, but its apparent existence is the practical basis for this article. Repulsiveness repulses, and so attractive women want nothing to do with it. Can you blame them?

  63. I think Lauredhel’s point can be generalized down to this: there is a problem in playing solely by the rules of the patriarchy, proclaiming YES I AM BUT I AM NOT A STEREOTYPE LOOK AT HOW ATYPICAL I AM.
    In the end, it’s demoralizing.

  64. Having read the book, (disclaimer: MUP sent me a review copy) the book is a lot more nuanced than the article. Bear in mind that the AGE is very keen on the feminism-gone-wrong story and I wouldn’t be surprised if the article had been chopped to remove context. The writers make the point in chapter 1 that young women are constantly told by the MSM and antifeminist men that feminists are ugly. I don’t think they meant to say that a subset of feminists / lesbians really are ugly. I think that they are saying that society is portraying them as ugly as part of the backlash™ and that people would not recognise these stereotypes in the lesbians and feminists they know IRL.
    Antifeminists really do use the “feminists are all ugly, lonely failures” as a tool to deter younger women and it’s a real problem in mainstream society, because they’re appealing to a weak spot in the young woman psyche (weakened further, of course by the relentless hammering of the importance of fuckability by… just about everyone and eveything).
    I don’t want to be seen as an apologist because I received a free copy, but truthfully, the book does cover a lot more ground than that. I agree the article didn’t live up to it.

  65. PortlyDyke:
    Radicals have consistently, over history, given “breathing room” for more moderate approaches.
    Yes!  They shift the Overton window.
    XtinaSs last blog post..I no longer want children at all ever.

  66. Busting to reply properly but I’m halfway through the book (like Helen, a freebie from the publisher). So a couple of quick things.
    The final para of the linked article in full reads:

    Perhaps the word feminism won’t be able to shake the unwanted associations it has picked up over the decades. Next time you’re asked if you are a feminist, it might be more correct to reply: I am, but not an anachronistic cliche of a narrow version of second wave radical feminism. Bit of a mouthful? Maybe a simple “yes” will do.

    I still see great problems there, and in general I am not impressed with the book so far, but the option of “yes” that some commenters mentioned is at least noted in the original piece.
    In response to Laura’s question, the cover of the copy I have has the thicker waist. At least it doesn’t have tits on it 😉

  67. the option of “yes” that some commenters mentioned is at least noted in the original piece

    Thanks, Zoe. I meant to mention that as well, but dropped the ball.

  68. As a possessor of freshly-shaved underarms, I’ll be damned if I ever feel the need to say, “I’m a feminist, BUT NOT ONE OF THE NASTY UGLY ONES!”
    Oh shit, now Lauredhel won’t like me because I’m not just like her.
    Still, I’d like to thank Monica for adding another voice to the chorus of body-hate in my head. It’s been such a constant companion, I’ve often worried if in a Feminist Utopia I might be bereft of someone telling me I have to give a damn what I look like and what “image” I’m projecting, and that would be TERRIBLE.
    QoTs last blog post..Oh Internets, you bring the crazy

  69. Not sure if Dux is still reading, but I get a real sense that she’s starting by empathizing with the criticisms and wants to contribute to the power of feminism. So I have no critique of her aims, but I also felt a tad offended at how the text characterized feminists.
    Why didn’t I see it as critiquing a stereotype, but instead feminists? I can see at least one place in the text where I got that impression, and I think it will be easy for Dux to agree that this bit really doesn’t match her goals. I hope, Dux, that you will be willing to consider that some of the subtler problems might also be real. But here’s one that we can probably all agree on.
    Ultimately, the real power of the radical feminist has been in providing fuel for conservative scaremongers, as she’s been morphed into a homophobic, simplistic, but enormously convenient stereotype on which to hang old-fashioned feminist bashing
    What is morphed here is not the stereotype. Rather, it is the radical feminist who, the text says, has actually been transformed by society from the person she was into the stereotype she “is”. That hurts.

  70. My sole complaint is that Monica Dux reduces the discussion about the value of feminists to how they look…

    But she doesn’t; that issue is framed within an ironic authorial positioning, as some but not all of the commenters here have acknowledged. I’ve now read the article very carefully several times and it’s clear that this ironic framing is there, as the last few commenters in particular have made clear; it’s just not as clearly signposted as it obviously needed to be. (And Helen makes an excellent point at #63 about sub-editing, by the way; the real point of the article may have been clearer in the copy that was filed than it ended up on the page.)
    Haven’t read the book — MUP didn’t send me a freebie! — but I do think the article is much more nuanced than many of the comments here give it credit for, and I think the piling-on aspect this thread has acquired is a bit distressing as well.

  71. I didn’t get a freebie either. What’s with that. (joke)
    I agree about the piling on – regrettable – but at the same time, I read the article very carefully before commenting, and I don’t think it establishes the crisp ironic distance that would be needed to successfully make the argument Helen outlines in #63.
    Maybe the argument that the op-ed production line inevitably mangles authorial intention flies with you. To me it suggests that delicate tools like irony are best left aside in this sort of writing.
    Either way, though, I think it would be profitable and interesting to talk about the idea Helen has extracted from the book, thus:
    “The writers make the point in chapter 1 that young women are constantly told by the MSM and antifeminist men that feminists are ugly. I don’t think they meant to say that a subset of feminists / lesbians really are ugly. I think that they are saying that society is portraying them as ugly as part of the backlash™ and that people would not recognise these stereotypes in the lesbians and feminists they know IRL.”
    See, what I was trying to say upthread is that the segments of MSM and antifeminist men that portray feminists as ‘ugly’ are recognisable as misogynist loons in all sorts of ways, and it’s a mistake to give their views oxygen. I also think that feminism has mainstream (though not universal) acceptance, but overt expressions of misogyny are generally treated as unacceptable. Maybe the comeback is that I must live in a bubble of pleasantness, but I would reject that.

  72. I mean, think of the people in the ausblogosphere who carry on about boiler-suited feminazis. Not the most balanced or appealing lot are they.
    Lauredhel’s point about features vs. bugs is applicable in their cases. There is also the undeniable fact that these guys, left to their own devices, dig themselves more than adequately deep holes.

  73. I have to disagree. Overt expressions of misogyny are generally treated as acceptable and that should be obvious to anyone who lived through the last primary season and the recent rolling out of Sarah Palin as VP candidate.

  74. … delicate tools like irony are best left aside in this sort of writing.

    Couldn’t agree more. (I should also make clear that while some of my own experiences of being sub-edited have been grotesque, none of them has ever been about deliberately shifting my meaning. Subs are far more concerned with the rules they’ve been taught for prose, which most of them apply indiscriminately, and with column inches and the fitting thereof.)
    On the whole I’m with Laura about giving misogynist views oxygen or engaging with them in any way. The people who express them are not logical, apart from anything else, so it’s impossible to make any kind of progress; it’s like fighting with jelly.

  75. Rosaleen, you are right but aren’t all the rules suspended in electoral politics, and isn’t mud of all kinds freely slung by both sides? Point totally taken, though. I was thinking more of opinion writing about feminism and personal conversations, which seem to be the places Dux & Simic say feminists are stereotyped.
    It’s really not that hard to just not-read Miranda Devine.

  76. ”Maybe the argument that the op-ed production line inevitably mangles authorial intention flies with you.”

    My experience is quite the opposite – I ghost write op-ed pieces, and my experience is always that they’re very careful, and if they want a substantive change they call or e-mail to discuss with you before going to print. They do edit, particularly for house style, but I’ve never had an editor (sub or otherwise) change the meaning in anything I’ve written.

  77. In terms of any “piling on” — I wasn’t going to comment on this thread until I read this comment from Dux: “By asserting that radical feminism has been relatively marginal in its influence I am not denigrating it – I am simply reporting a fact.”
    Her comment strengthened my sense that this was not an ironic stance at all, but reflection of an (perhaps unexamined) attitude that Dux actually holds.

  78. Thanks to Pavlov’s Cat for pointing out that my original opinion piece is written in an ironic voice. A great deal of selective quoting has taken place which has distorted my original intention, and I am sorry to say that this appears to have been done willfully (particularly with the final paragraph).
    My final paragraph was intended as an appeal to those women who are reluctant to call themselves feminists, who feel they need to qualify their feminism. Far from endorsing the idea that they ought to distance themselves from the stereotype, it appeals to them to simply say “yes, I am a feminist”- without qualification. If you read it in context I think this will become clear.
    I do want to make one final point about stereotypes, their use and misuse. Stereotypes may be promoted by shock jocks, tabloid journalists and bigots – people who we’d prefer to ignore. But our research indicated that those stereotypes have now become far more entrenched. They are regularly cited by ordinary women. Lots and lots of ordinary women.
    Many of these women don’t have the privilege of a university education in gender studies, and may instead form their opinion of feminism based on media depictions.
    I am not ashamed to say that I care about how these women see feminism. I care if they are unjustly turned off a politics that might help them in their sometimes difficult lives. And yes, I would like to encourage them to embrace feminism.
    But we don’t need to adopt a homophobic or lookist attitude ourselves in order to challenge stereotyping. It’s not about saying “hey, some feminists really are good looking!” It’s about emphasising the breadth, plurality and inclusiveness of real feminism. It’s about interrogating those who promulgate stereotypes and asking them why they choose to emphasise a particular, narrow idea of feminism. It’s about pointing out that this is often done with a very real agenda – an anti feminist agenda that is having an impact on ordinary women.
    I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, and I welcome spirited debate. When Zora and I decided to write a book about the misuse and abuse of feminism I expected it to attract a great deal of vitriol, but I thought it would come from reactionaries and anti-feminists. It saddens me that the most vicious attacks are coming from my fellow feminists.
    To anyone who wants to consider my argument in greater detail I recommend you read our book. It is impossible to do justice to a subject that’s this complex in an 800 word piece appearing in a mainstream newspaper. The debate that is occurring here seems to be to be deteriorating into a tirade of abuse, and I don’t think that helps any of us. And it certainly doesn’t help feminism.

  79. When Zora and I decided to write a book about the misuse and abuse of feminism I expected it to attract a great deal of vitriol, but I thought it would come from reactionaries and anti-feminists. It saddens me that the most vicious attacks are coming from my fellow feminists.

    While I agree that the piling-on effect here seems harsh, I think characterising it as “vicious attacks” is hyperbole, and I’m disappointed that you would resort to it.
    That your intent was ironic is really not doubted by anyone, as far as I can see. That your execution failed to match your intent, and ended up offending fellow feminists, is the problem. Perhaps the ironic stance is better left to those more adept at pulling it off?

  80. It would be nice if we could talk about the op-ed and related ideas without having to read the book to understand what it means. I would like to read the book, I think, but my book budget for the next two weeks has already been blown to smithereens thanks to the unexpected appearance on eBay of a 1903 Hampshire Edition of Mansfield Park.
    There’s two sets of stereotypes, then, and they are linked via the rhetorical figure called metalepsis (a metonymic chain of associations has a middle or shared term suppressed or skipped):
    Feminist = fat hairy saggy titted lesbian (FHSTL hereafter)
    FHSTL = repulsively ugly abject creature who horrifies everyone who comes into contact with it
    There is a problem for me in going all out attacking & demolishing the first part of this misogynist chain of associations, but not also attacking the second and more pernicious part. It’s that second part that concerns me more, frankly, as a feminist; the first one is just puerile Devine stuff.

  81. The debate that is occurring here seems to be to be deteriorating into a tirade of abuse, and I don’t think that helps any of us.
    Monica – I appreciate your making the effort to engage with this commentary, but I find this statement to be more than a bit over the top.
    The women who feel offended by your piece have reasons to do so, and you’ve not done a good job either in the article or in your comments here addressing their concerns. If anything, you’ve added fuel to the fire by responding in ways that seem to confirm their initial perception of you as a person who on some level wants to distance herself from unattractive, radical feminists.
    Telling them/us to go read the book isn’t adequate. Your words in the article, and here, are the issue, not the larger argument of the book. If the argument of the book is too complex and subtle to convey in either comments or article, that’s not the fault or responsibility of your readers to fix. It’s yours, to realize that you can’t do your own argument justice in a smaller space.
    Again, the issue is not necessarily your message, but HOW that message was presented. Compare the two versions of the same basic message (feminism’s for more than a small group of stereotyped women):
    “Feminism’s not just for hairy, slobby lesbians!” versus “Feminism’s for everyone.” By writing in a way that suggests that hairy, slobby lesbians are a problem, you may have been intending to aim at a supposed stereotype, but in truth you hit at actual human beings.
    And you owe them an apology, not more excuses. They’re supposed to be on your side, right?
    Ranas last blog post..City Trail – 9/15/08

  82. Tigtog, you’ll find that the original post that started all this was pretty long on hyperbole, as are many of the posts that followed, so perhaps I’m just responding in kind.
    It seems to me that many of the attacks contained in the original post and in the associated thread have been directed at my substantive argument, not simply at the way I stated it. So you’ll forgive me if I have concentrated on defending the substance of my views, not simply the form of words I gave them.
    If your only problem is with the form of words… well, that’s a very subjective thing. Of course irony can fail due to poor execution. But the problem can also lie with the reader.
    Among the unwarranted stereotypes that get heaped on feminists is the idea that we are dour and humourless. I’ll admit that when I write about feminism I try to subvert this. I try to write in a lively and amusing way. I try to hook a mainstream audience (if that’s my target). Irony is a useful tool in achieving this. I readily acknowledge that I’m not always successful in this. But I don’t apologise for trying.
    Rana, why do my arguments and views count as mere “excuses” while yours apparently warrant an immediate retraction and an apology? The mere fact that someone is offended does not indicate that an apology is due. Am I sorry that people were offended by what I said? Yes. Am I sorry for what I said? No.
    As for my reference to the book, I mentioned it only because it contains a lengthy discussion of our survey, which is highly relevant to this discussion. But I am not hiding behind the book – I stand by the opinion piece, and by what I’ve written in this thread.

  83. Monica, can you expand on “the problem can also lie with the reader”? I am wondering whether you mean that all readers have a responsibility to do some of their own thinking and do it in good faith (which I would agree with, partly), or whether you mean more broadly that some instances of failed communication are entirely down to the particular chronic problems of individual, problem-ridden readers?

  84. I think in aiming for a mainstream audience, as you need to do in a newspaper column, you took the risk of offending some feminists and indeed you did. Personally, the idea that because I don’t choose to wax, I dress comfortably rather than fashionably, and that age, weight and childrearing has left me with saggy boobs, makes me unattractive was insulting because I have a husband who (lucky for me) finds me very attractive and to my surprise so do some men.
    I understand where you were trying to go with this, I just don’t feel you quite got there. But that’s my opinion and you are of course free to ignore it.
    I thank you for saying that you are sorry that people are offended, and I also thank you for not blaming a sub editor or someone else for the way the article reads. I think you have raised an important issue.

  85. Well, I’m interested in the survey (I hope it’s got a large sample, by the way) and if I buy the book it will be for that as much as anything else. But Monica you did say that you could not do justice to your argument in 800 words, which seems to suggest we need to read the book to grasp what you’re saying.
    I am sorry to besiege you with comments here & I will stop doings o now for a bit, and just read.

  86. Laura, I simply mean that irony can be missed for a number of reasons. Sometimes it’s poorly executed, but sometimes people don’t read very carefully, or don’t think about what they have read, or they bring unwarranted assumptions to what they read. This isn’t a point about feminism or feminist women – it’s about the pitfalls of irony (and I’ll admit that there are many).

  87. Rana, why do my arguments and views count as mere “excuses” while yours apparently warrant an immediate retraction and an apology? The mere fact that someone is offended does not indicate that an apology is due. Am I sorry that people were offended by what I said? Yes. Am I sorry for what I said? No.
    Where, exactly, did I ask for “an immediate retraction and apology”? *goes to re-read comments* I didn’t, at least not for myself. I suggested that you might want to apologize for hurting people with your words; I didn’t say anywhere that you need to retract them.
    Again, this is not about your argument – it’s about the way you’re going about presenting and defending it. We all get that the way feminism is perceived by some women is a problem, and that it would be good to change that perception.
    But, over and over again, you give the impression that women who are already feminists, and in particular women who embody the stereotype of the feminist (the hairy-legged lesbian radical), are of lesser importance to you than these other women, who are turned off by such images.
    You dismissed those feminists in your article, you dismissed them in your comments, and you’re still dismissing them. If that’s not your intent, then, yes, you DO need to apologize, and to stop blaming them for your poor communication skills or what you perceive as unwarranted touchiness.
    Their hurt feelings may not be entirely your fault – but they are at least partly your responsibility. Why is it so hard for you to admit this? Why are the feelings of the generalized audience of women who are turned off of feminism because of its association with a certain kind of feminist more important than the feelings of these real, live, actual feminists who are commenting here?
    Is it because they are “attacking” you? Or is it because you don’t want to admit, either to us or yourself, how much you agree with your desired audience that such feminists are unappealing?

  88. I think, Monica, that people on this thread are just asking you to think about your own internalised patriarchal ideas of women’s appearances. If they sound harsh – it could be because they’re hurt that you seem to be marginalising them by implying people that look like them are unworthy of being representatives of feminism. That their acceptance, and the acceptance of their opinions, should depend on someone younger, thinner, ‘hotter’ championing their cause and making it ‘ok’ to look like them. When it shouldn’t be an issue.
    I have to say I’m occasionally guilty of something like this myself – and it’s a hard habit to break. It’s the same mindset that makes me feel like tacking on to the end of any post on a discussion on the oppressive appearance expectations for women ‘but I’m prettyyyyy’, like that makes my opinion any more valid. As if pointing that out makes me more likely to be taken seriously, because I can’t then be mistaken for being bitter. But every time I’m tempted to slip in something like that, I have to remind myself where it comes from. And that I’m just buying into the patriarchal attitude that a woman’s worth is wrapped up in, or even affected by, her attractiveness. Not to mention blindly swallowing the mainstream ideal of ‘beauty’.

  89. What I want to ask is why, if you want to tell women that feminists aren’t unsexy, is everyone is so scared to talk about how men aren’t turned off by body hair (at least not 98% of the men I’ve met) or the fact that most men have no problem with non-model body types.
    Not that I think this matters one whit, but since the point of the article seems to be to convince women that they can be feminists and still be attractive to men, why is this not talked about? It’s definitely been my experience.

  90. I’m sorry, people, I have been having a god-awful day, and that’s doubtless colouring my responses. But Jesus Christ, Monica:

    Among the unwarranted stereotypes that get heaped on feminists is the idea that we are dour and humourless. I’ll admit that when I write about feminism I try to subvert this. I try to write in a lively and amusing way. I try to hook a mainstream audience (if that’s my target). Irony is a useful tool in achieving this. I readily acknowledge that I’m not always successful in this. But I don’t apologise for trying.

    After an article which read to me, and many people as “feminists can too be pretty, not like those ugly repellent b*tches”, and the responses that garnered, did you honestly just pull a “you feminists don’t have a sense of humour”? With a side order of “woe is I, I am so sassy even the boys like me and the other girls are jealous!”?

  91. For the record: I’m not “hurt” that my particular demographic is marginalized in this attempt at irony.
    I’m pissed that the author is claiming that radical feminism has had only a marginal impact on feminism over time.
    The suffragettes — were radicals. The women who stopped shaving their legs, and wearing bras, and conforming to patriarchal standards of beauty, so that you could have a choice about whether you wanted to or not — were radicals.
    The unexamined attitude that I am concerned about is demonstrated very clearly in this comment: ”They are regularly cited by ordinary women. Lots and lots of ordinary women.”
    Which, when taken in context with the article, would seem to imply that “ordinary” women are the women who shave, wear a bra, and are straight.
    (Which makes me, I suppose, an “extra-ordinary” woman — along with many who posted here citing the various niches of the stereotype that fit them completely.)
    Monica — I’m very surprised to hear you characterize the comments here as abuse and attack. All I can say is — good thing you’re not a hairy-legged, saggy-boobed lesbian feminist — I don’t think you could take the heat.

  92. “It seems to me that many of the attacks contained in the original post and in the associated thread have been directed at my substantive argument, not simply at the way I stated it.”
    Someone disagreeing with you, whether it’s with your substantive argument or the way in which you voice your argument, is not an “attack”. It’s the foundation of robust debate and public dialogue, which quite frankly if you write for public consumption you should expect (and I would go so far as to say, welcome). Heat, kitchen, etc.

  93. Methinks Monica is purposely trying to *not* get it. Monica said in her first comment:

    Feminists come in all shapes and sizes. Some of us don’t shave, pluck or wear make-up. Other feminists do. Feminism deserves to be depicted realistically in the media, and that means that we should reject the proliferation of clichés and stereotypes.

    Unfortunately what she’s not seeing is that by accepting and embracing that these feminists described above are “clichés”, she perpetuating existence of the cliché itself.
    Women who don’t shave or wear makeup are not clichés. They are women. They are human beings. They have the right to not shave; they have the right to not wear makeup. They have the fucking right to exist.
    I shave my legs and my armpits. It’s a personal choice; albeit propped up by the Patriarchy. I do not wear makeup, heels, the color pink or lace. I am a lesbian.
    What am I not? A cliché.

  94. Shorter Monica Dux:
    “Happiness (TM), We’re All In It Together”

  95. Lauredhel, you’re brilliant and I love you.

  96. Rana and Portly Dyke, thank you for your well-considered and spot on posts.
    I have to say that I don’t see the irony. What I see is a woman trying to distance herself from women whose breasts are not perky, whose legs and armpits are unshaven, and who are overweight, in order to make feminism more acceptable to others who join her in judging such women harshly. And the snotty attitude Dux has displayed here just really backs that up.
    Why should it even be important to say that some feminists are pretty by patriarchal standards, shave their bodies as demanded by patriarchal standards and are young enough to have the perky breasts demanded by patriarchal standards.
    Dux would serve feminism rather than demean it by writing a book about the ways the patriarchal standards keep down. There are a million ways. She could call it FEMINISM and put on the cover a picture of her pretty self with her perky breasts and clean shaven body, in the pink corset. Then the world could see that there is at least one feminist who isn’t hairy, “fat and with sagging boobs.”
    “What was surprising is that this hirsute cliche — now more than 30 years old — is still so prevalent in women’s minds.”
    That is not irony, people. That is bitchy. And another thing while I’m on a rant. I’m so tired of hearing about “second-wave feminists” as we are somehow outdated. Perhaps Dux considers herself to be a “third-wave feminist,” one who doesn’t look like the “second-wave feminist” –the “hirsute cliche,” but she is either a feminist or she isn’t. And when she talks about what is good for feminism, perhaps she should think about what good her own efforts to create a hierarchy of attractiveness and age within feminism is doing.
    I wouldn’t buy the book. I wouldn’t read it. This whole thing pisses me off.

  97. If the topic’s feminist historical accuracy; can the 3rd wave not be misrepresented again as about feminists being ageist & about looks.
    Allowing for the limits of the wave analogy anyway; the 3rd wave came from the intersectional politics of feminists like Patricia Hill Collins & Barbara Smith addressing the Matrix of Domination including race, class and gender.
    It’s reduction to ageist stereotypes about generational differences *occurring broadly within the 2nd wave model* maintains racist, classist ahistorism.
    Even if that isn’t why it’s done; it has that impact by not crediting WOC and other marginal women’s radicalism.

  98. Well, it may be too late to add to this but I have been following for the last few days and now feel compelled by Rosaleen’s particularly nasty comments to post.
    Firstly, I’d like to say that I read Dux’s original article with interest and, yes, some initial discomfort. When something is written in a way the makes us question whose voice we are receiving – irony can do that – it is always a challenge. But by the end of the article I got it. Dux wasn’t really speaking about me because I don’t have a problem calling myself a feminist. And most of the people commenting here, you don’t seem to have a problem with that label either. I think what Dux is investigating is why so many women DO have a problem with the term. And I think she is saying that it may be because the stereotype propagated by mainstream media is narrow, divisive and cliche`. So I’m surprised to read here so many women saying ‘hey Monica Dux, that’s me you’re talking about.’ Do you REALLY only define yourself by your body hair and your sexual preference? Maybe the shape of your boobs? Uh, no, I didn’t think so. Dyke, straight or bi, hairy or without hair, surely you’ve got more that makes you who you are? So why do you assume the cliche` Dux used is aimed at you? Maybe it has (shock horror) NOTHING to do with you and is about (shock horror) women who are not like you but still have feminist principles. And maybe they shouldn’t have to defend your choices (whatever they may be) when they talk about themselves. Maybe they are women who aren’t second or third wave because they haven’t even heard of ‘the waves’ because they didn’t read the same books as you or attend the same uni classes or conscious-raising groups or read the same blogs…
    And, by the way, Rosaleen, what’s with attacking Dux for how she might look?! Does anyone here KNOW what she looks like? Do they know if she’s a dyke, straight or bi? Have you seen her hairy or hairless legs or her breasts or are you just assuming she looks a certain way and therefore attacking and dismissing her words on the basis of what you’ve imagined? How feminist is that?

  99. I’ve got a side-by-side of the two versions of cover art from the MUP site. On the left is the actual cover art that appears on the book; on the right is the version that MUP appear to be using to sell the book.

    There’s nothing accidental about this; it’s not a wee bit of minor tweaking.

  100. Dux wasn’t really speaking about me because I don’t have a problem calling myself a feminist. And most of the people commenting here, you don’t seem to have a problem with that label either. I think what Dux is investigating is why so many women DO have a problem with the term.
    The thing is, I used to be one of those women. I used to be scared of the term “feminist” because my internalised homophobia and misogyny made me worry about hairy legs and lesbians (ugh, I feel ashamed to write that– I never would have considered myself homophobic, but I was :(). I tried going down the route of
    “ZOMG, radical feminism is so irrelevant”– but the problem was that wasn’t feminism. Now, I’m not saying you need to identify as radical to be a feminist (I don’t myself, although I have great respect for many radical feminists, and I love reading much of their work– I believe that different types of feminism, these days, have a symbiotic relationship), but, as PortlyDyke has expressed so eloquently here and at her own blog, the whole attitude that radical feminism is irrelevant, and has had only a marginal impact on feminism, is to basically deny the history of the feminist movement.
    Women new to feminism shouldn’t be encouraged to identify against these radical women– instead, I think it would be a lot more productive to encourage new feminists to sit down and listen to a wide variety of feminist women– that is what will help us overcome a system of stereotypes that helps none of us. And I believe this, because of my own path to feminism.

  101. “And I think she is saying that it may be because the stereotype propagated by mainstream media is narrow, divisive and cliche`.”
    What I want to know is what’s wrong with the cliche that Dux needs to negate it? There is nothing inherently wrong with women who don’t shave their bodies, whose breasts are not perky so why the need to distance herself from women who look like that? This is the point you are missing. Why is it divisive that some feminists don’t bow down to patriarchal standards of appearance? It is only divisive when individuals like Dux proclaim the stereotype to be a problem. If you don’t want to be a feminist because lots of feminists don’t bow down to patriarchal standards of appearances, then you don’t want to be a feminist. You don’t even know what a feminist is.
    I checked on Amazon.com and they are selling the book with the picture on the left, the cinched in waist. I assumed that is the book cover. Otherwise it isn’t truth in advertising. Perhaps the authors didn’t sell enough books and another printing has come out portraying feminists in pink corsets with tiny waists in order to pander to women who want to be a feminist but don’t know what it is and don’t want to be seen as hairy and saggy.
    Cotton socks said: ”Well, it may be too late to add to this but I have been following for the last few days and now feel compelled by Rosaleen’s particularly nasty comments to post.
    Firstly, I’d like to say that I read Dux’s original article with interest and, yes, some initial discomfort. When something is written in a way the makes us question whose voice we are receiving – irony can do that – it is always a challenge.”

    Nasty comments? What could be nastier than a feminist writing a book to encourage women to distance themselves from older and “hirsute” feminists?
    I’m an English major. I can assure you I understand irony. I know it when I see it. The article is designed to let women know that to be feminists they don’t have to look like “second-wave” feminists whose value to feminism is marginal anyway. And they need to come out as feminists who fit the patriarchal standard of appearance for women –in order to take men’s minds off those hairy and saggy old second-wave feminists –so men will accept feminism. Dux is no feminist.
    The subject itself is sexist. Who cares what stereotype is assigned to feminism based on the appearance of some second-wave feminists? Dux cares.
    The whole thing is nasty and Dux is trying to hide behind “irony” now in order to justify her writing to the feminists she has belittled and scorned.
    Btw, when I was suggesting how Dux could portray herself on the cover? That was irony, socks. Since you are such an expert on irony, I’m surprised you didn’t get it.

  102. Beppie: love your comment.
    I’ve just started my closer reading of the book, after an attempt at clearing my head and putting on my good-faith socks, but by page six I’m already deeply, deeply pissed off:

    ”Talking about any of these phenomena in feminist terms makes sense, especially when you take into account the fact that many women from feminism’s core constituency – the white, educated, middle class – really are complaining that feminism has let them down, sold them lies and left them unhappy.”

    Good to know that the author(s)[1] consider non-white, non-educated, non-middle-class feminists to be non-core feminists. I’m losing any attempt at a good faith reading really, really fast here.

    [1] It’s hard to tell – there seems to be a bit of voice-switching going on in the book, and I’m not convinced that both authors would endorse every part of it.

  103. Mm, yeah, that’s very problematic indeed

  104. Wanting to cut the strong ties in popular stereotype between broader feminisms image from that of the radical feminist, which is Dux’s point, isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
    But her basic mistake is in suggesting that feminism should say ‘we are not this’, rather than saying that feminism should be saying ‘we are also this’. The answer isn’t to hide the rad fems away, the answer is to make other feminists more visible.
    For me the issue with hairy legged dyke activist as the image of feminism isn’t the physical image at all. I have lived with a professional dyke activist for year, who I adore (and I’m pretty fond of lauredhel too). I also don’t find that looking ‘like a radical feminist’, whatever that means, is particularly unattractive or off putting or something anyone should try to avoid for aesthetic reasons. And the role of the radical activist is a valuable one.
    But for me the issue is about power. The rad fem image of feminism is about hegemony saying that feminism is a small radical activist minority, like communists or secessionists, outside the broad mainstream. Hiding the rad fems away doesn’t help that problem, it makes it even worse. The problem isn’t the visibility of the rad fems, the problem is the relative invisibility of feminist women in the mainstream and in power. There are, of course, many feminist women in business suits (and judicial robes, etc) but they aren’t publicly associated with the feminism as much — and asking whey they aren’t is a much better question to ask than addressing the visibility of the rad fems. The problem is not about the rad fems, the problem is why aren’t the huge mainstream gains feminism has made recognised as being feminist achievements.
    Every cause has its stereotype. Not all environmentalists are smelly lentil eating hippies, not all unionists are aggressive and threatening. Some are, but the answer to these image problems isn’t to pretend they don’t exist (because they do, and there are good reasons why they do), but to make the more mainstream face of the movement more visible. Not because there is anything wrong with the radical part, but because the radical part is disproportionately visible and the mainstream part harder to notice unless it is pointed out. And pushing the stereotype into the forefront of public consciousness is a way to belittle movements as fringe.

  105. Dave, those are excellent points, and I suspect are very much closer to what Dux intended to emphasise and a point that I think we can all agree upon: that the other faces of feminism need to be more visible so that it’s not so easy to paint feminism as a fringe movement.
    It’s just that it’s important in the meantime to acknowledge that these movement stereotypes have power because that’s where a lot of the activist passion resides, and the people who fit the stereotypes are often the ones out demonstrating, holding meetings and keeping the idealistic flames burning. To marginalise them risks making one’s movement anaemic and ineffectual.

  106. I’ve just discovered this blog, and am really pleased to have done so (found via a search on the awful “heelarious” high-heels for babies).
    First, I think it’s fantastic whenever a book or opinion piece provokes discussion of feminism in the broader community as I’m all too aware of how little feminism registers of most people’s radars. While feminists within the confines of academic, or other privileged spaces, can argue over the nuances of irony in this particular newspaper article, meanwhile the common belief among women is that feminism is no longer necessary or that “feminist” would be a derogatory label to apply to oneself. I wholeheartedly agree with Monica Dux that the perception of what a feminist is and what a feminist stands for has created a situation in which few young women are willing to apply this label to themselves. As a university tutor, I engage with intelligent young women who ostensibly project feminist viewpoints but shy away from identifying themselves as feminists. Even within these privileged spaces, “the feminist label”, as Dux calls it, suffers from an image problem. This is not to say that what feminism is or what feminists are should conform to societal norms. The point of this piece seems to be getting to the bottom of how the work of feminism in critiquing gender norms has lead to the perpetuation of a stereotype that women who promote women’s rights and challenge patriarchal and heteronormative standards are the antithesis of the “ideal woman”. This does not necessarily extend to suggesting that feminists must uphold the norms of the “ideal woman” to render the movement attractive to those who wish to conform to patriarchal standards of beauty. To me, the question of why this stereotype is so pervasive and so discouraging to young women is critical for the future work of feminism.
    Dux’s article speaks about the overwhelming normalising force of these ideals on women who resist applying the term “feminist” to themselves for fear of transgressing what is deemed acceptable and attractive. Dux writes: “But while most women can describe her characteristics, they can rarely name a woman who personifies the stereotype.” By this, I think the article is clearly discussing the mythologised caricature of a feminist. While some of the qualities of the feminist caricature are ones that each of us, as real women, may possess in part or full, the point being made is that the judgements of women about “feminists” are not being made in relation to actual feminist women, but are informed by this pervasive mythological feminist-a cultural construct.
    Dux writes: “the real power of the radical feminist has been in providing fuel for conservative scaremongers, as she’s been morphed into a homophobic, simplistic, but enormously convenient stereotype on which to hang old-fashioned feminist bashing.” To me this passage clearly conveys a critique of those who trot out the “lesbian feminist” cliche as a pejorative term. Dux says that such associations are homophobic. The point being made is that for conservative commentators both lesbian women and women who wish to challenge gender norms are considered threatening and are hence “morphed” into one gigantic “abnormality” (I of course mean here that the *perception* is that heterosexuality and patriarchy are norms which, if defied, indicate a deficiency in the individual).
    I didn’t take anything from Dux’s article that feminist women who do resemble the caricature in some ways are “turning off” women from the movement, rather I felt that she was examining why this caricature has emerged and why it is still to threatening to men and similarly why some women themselves are so challenged by women who reject heteronormativity or beauty ideals.

  107. At this point, it’s my turn to remind of the 3 paragraph guideline. Please keep your comments succint, people.
    [emphasis is mine]

    The point of this piece seems to be getting to the bottom of how the work of feminism in critiquing gender norms has lead to the perpetuation of a stereotype that women who promote women’s rights and challenge patriarchal and heteronormative standards are the antithesis of the “ideal woman”. […]
    To me this passage clearly conveys a critique of those who trot out the “lesbian feminist” cliche as a pejorative term.

    Michelle, right here you are doing exactly what you claim to critique. The work of feminism has NOT perpetuated the supposed stereotype that we’re talking about here. Feminism is not to blame. Feminists are not to blame. Feminism did not create the problem, and feminists are not their own worst enemy.
    Does no one read Backlash anymore?
    Maybe I should re-post those passive-voice/agent-deletion posts with a tweak.

  108. Dux writes: “the real power of the radical feminist has been in providing fuel for conservative scaremongers, as she’s been morphed into a homophobic, simplistic, but enormously convenient stereotype on which to hang old-fashioned feminist bashing.” To me this passage clearly conveys a critique of those who trot out the “lesbian feminist” cliche as a pejorative term.
    I think the problem here, however, is that Dux still ascribes the “real power” of radical feminism to the people who misperceive radical feminism, which completely ignores the very real achievements of radical feminism, in terms of making differences in women’s lives– something that PortlyDyke articulates extremely well in Honour Your (Radical) Ancestors.
    I think you’re right, Michelle, that Dux wanted to critique the caricature, rather than feminists themselves, but the problem is that the whole tone of the piece is more “distance yourself from this caricature” (which inevitably means distancing oneself from feminists who are lesbian/hairy/fat), rather than simply noting that feminists come in all shapes, sizes, sexual orientations and levels of hairy-ness.

  109. Ok, I should have phrased that more carefully. In saying “has lead” I did not mean to suggest that the very work of feminism perpetuates the stereotype directly, rather that as a result of doing this work the stereotype has been applied externally to it. There are several steps involved in moving from the work of feminism to the stereotype, rather than feminism itself directly causing it, which I did not wish to suggest. The prevailing norms, of course, are to “blame” rather than feminists themselves for challenging them.
    And, yes, I have read Backlash.

  110. I’m sorry I blathered on and wasn’t succinct. I’m sorry that I sounded “particularly nasty.” I got ticked off and carried away and I didn’t read the guidelines, either. Going there now.
    Great discussion. Great site. Thank you for being here everyone.

  111. I teach in a university myself, and we could trade anecdotes about whether young women students do or don’t identify with feminism (in my university, where 45% of undergrads are the first in their families to go to university, the women I teach overwhelmingly do, according to this week’s straw polling, and almost all the men put their hands up too!) Doesn’t mean much.

  112. There’s something missing here. The co-author Zora Simic. Where is her voice in this discussion?
    Rosaleen, I don’t think the image on the book cover is supposed to mean that feminists do, or should, have tiny waists. I see something quite different. (Did you see the relationship to the iconic image on the cover of The Female Eunuch?
    To me the image is about being constricted into a (frilly, pink, feminine) image no normal human can live up to.* The narrowing of the image is I think an attempt to emphasise further the impossibility of the task. I’d do a post on that right now, but I hab a code.
    *barring the supermodel genetic freaks of course.

  113. …I see a pink pantyliner with frills.
    Seriously, it doesn’t read as a corset or any recognisable body shape in either photo. Maybe it’s one of those fancy toilet roll holders?

  114. Actually, I’m with dolia; what the HECK are those side frills meant to be doing on a corset?
    /unashamed corset-lover

  115. Dux and Simic’s bashing of radical feminism (which actually makes them anti-feminist) continues the trend set by Helen Garner and Virginia Trioli (and to some extent Germaine Greer before that) in Australia. Dux is apparently speaking at Readings (Hawthorn) on Monday. I hope by Monday she has realised her folly in thinking that radical feminism’s achievements have been minimal. It was radical feminism that brought the world the idea that women were human for goodness sake. http://www.readings.com.au/event/the-great-feminist-denial-with-monica-dux-anne-manne-and-catherine-deveny

  116. This might be somewhat off-topic, but I have a thought I wanted to throw into the ring. The assumption seems to be that women who adhere to beauty norms (to whatever extent, and this does vary) might want to *not* be feminists because of a particular image of what a feminist is. Perhaps this is the case, but I wonder: maybe it’s (also) that women who might consider calling themselves feminist might feel that if they’re not living up to the image of feminism depicted in the mainstream, they can’t really be considered feminists by feminism itself. The sense that one is always already being deemed politically retrograde, or less politically dedicated, or somehow a ‘less’er feminist, by a particular movement (a sense derived more from MSM representations of feminism, I might add, rather than actualised by actual feminists for the most part, IME) is likely to provoke a sense of guilt, defensiveness and self-justification.
    And part of this then, I think, results in a disavowal of the ‘feminist label’ (which to be honest, I encounter a *lot*, even though I’m teaching cultural studies in a university – I day-dream about your students, Laura, you lucky thing :-)) attended by a disavowal of the hirsute, non-bra-wearing etc kind of feminist. Perhaps a sense that one is already excluded might be part of the refusal of the ‘name’ of feminism, then. I’m not denying that there’s something of a role played by ideas about the worth of women being shaped by patriarchal notions of attractiveness at work in the way that many women refuse feminism, usually in ways they’re not necessarily conscious of. I think that’s pretty much a given 🙂 But I do think that to assume that that’s all that might be going on risks treating these non-feminist-identifying women as simple dupes of patriarchy, which I’m less than convinced by (not that I think that anyone here is necessarily saying this, but it seems to be part of what Dux is implying, and others are rejecting?).
    And I did wonder what self-respecting corset wearer would wear a corset like that (also being an unashamed corset lover, QoT), but the panty-liner comparison made me giggle 🙂
    WildlyParentheticals last blog post..More vampires

  117. Oops, sorry if that cheated on the length thing, Lauredhel and Tigtog. I am an evil bean with a tendency to wax long and lyrical, and to be unable to assess proper length of paragraphs 🙂
    WildlyParentheticals last blog post..More vampires

  118. Dux and Simic’s bashing of radical feminism

    Just a reminder, warexx, that we haven’t heard from Simic on this. The article was written by Dux alone.

  119. I know I’m late on this (I’ll be surprised if anyone is actually still reading anymore), but what about the women who do fit the “negative stereotype” who are afraid of identifying as “feminists”…shouldn’t they be reached out to as well? Aren’t they women worthy of the attention dedicated to the other non “negative stereotype” fitting women through a book? Aren’t they being dismissed? What is that say to them? Feminism is not for them? They are not valued because they fit a “negative stereotype” that’s deemed negative by the patriarchy, the supposed enemy this article and book propagate to be fighting against?
    This whole thing is just filled with contradictions…they are women and feminists too Ms. Monica Dux. What would you say to them since they happen to fit into this negative stereotype but may still be afraid of identifying with feminism? Is your goal to bring in one group of women at the expense of others? That’s sure what it sounds like to me.

  120. It’s me, Rosaleen. I had to change my user name to register with wordpress.
    Helen said: maybe it’s (also) that women who might consider calling themselves feminist might feel that if they’re not living up to the image of feminism depicted in the mainstream, they can’t really be considered feminists by feminism itself.
    That may be the case in some instances. I remember when I was young, 18,19, etc. I did not want to be associated with feminists because men were basically not attracted to feminists. In fact most young men I knew despised the whole idea and all women who were associated with it. And I wanted to be attractive according to patriarchal standards because basically my biggest concern at that point in life was being sexually engaged with men. It took me a while to accept that I am a feminist. I was fortunate to have two boyfriends who loved me dearly and who begged me to not wear make-up and shave my legs. One put it this way: “stubble sucks, fuzz is nice.” Of course he wanted to have sex everyday and I couldn’t keep up with the shaving. But I digress.
    So I think the Barbie shaped corset is designed to attract women to feminism –women who want to be attractive according to patriarchal standards. I don’t see anything inherently wrong with being attractive according to patriarchal standards, if that is the way a woman wants to be. Feminism is about choice. And there is no need to say ugly things about women who do not adhere to patriarchal standards in order to seduce young women into feminism. And fortunately this past Democratic primary season as pretty well cleared the path, I think.

  121. Uh, that was me, not poor Helen, starazagora. This seems to be the second time Helen’s had my potentially incoherent responses attributed to her, the poor lass. 🙂 But my point was a little different than women not wanting to be part of feminism because they want to be pretty, although I’ll agree that’s a factor. I was wondering how much this might be complicated by not feeling like they *could* be part of feminism, because feminism itself would exclude them, precisely because they adhere to patriarchal beauty standards. How much they might resent being made to feel guilty about such adherence (and not necessarily by actual feminists, as I said above), so much so that they disavow feminism altogether. Which now that I’ve said it that way, I wonder why I went on for so long above ;-P
    WildlyParentheticals last blog post..More vampires

  122. Dux and Simic’s bashing of radical feminism (which actually makes them anti-feminist) continues the trend set by Helen Garner and Virginia Trioli (and to some extent Germaine Greer before that) in Australia.

    That is a ludicrous oversimplification of every single person that you name.
    Apart from anything else, don’t you mean Virginia Hausegger?

  123. Oh, Hoydenizens, you must follow the Fifty Two Acts trackback and go check out the hairy-legged feminist pants.

  124. Those pants are supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

  125. Oh man, my partner has a coat made out of that exact fabric. It is terrifying.

  126. Actually, having just clicked on the link to MUP (because I am so determined to figure out WTF that corset pantyliner is), I think this crystallizes the entire issue for me:

    Why has feminism gone from being a movement that was there to help
    women, to one that is held responsible for much of what ails them?

    There’s a slight, tiny problem when you’re trying to draw a link between “what feminism was” and “what other, presumably non-feminist, people, hold feminism responsible for”.
    Shorter: IT’S CALLED BACKLASH, MONICA.

  127. There’s a slight, tiny problem when you’re trying to draw a link between “what feminism was” and “what other, presumably non-feminist, people, hold feminism responsible for“.
    Which is pretty much the point of the book, QoT.

  128. warexx at #115, regarding the Virginias I have belatedly realised that you may have been, and probably were, talking about Trioli’s Generation F. If so, I stand self-corrected and I beg your pardon.

  129. @Zoe: Great, now I have to headdesk myself to death. But not before I figure out WTF IS UP WITH THE FRILLS ON THAT CORSET???

  130. “To me the image is about being constricted into a (frilly, pink, feminine) image no normal human can live up to.* The narrowing of the image is I think an attempt to emphasise further the impossibility of the task.”
    It might be possible to read it that way, were it not for the author’s uncritical comments about the ugly, hirsuite lesbian feminist stereotype and how it scares off young ladies who want to look good, but who – if it wasn’t for all the saggy-breasted gay types who don’t shave their pits – would identify as feminists.

  131. I’ve been avoiding saying this because I don’t want to be seen as a MUP sycophant just because I was sent a free copy (then a second for a different reason, hence the giveaway.) It’s not the point of the book, although definitely unfortunate. The book is addressing the multiple strawfeminists and strawfeminisms that together make up the “feminism gone wrong” narrative that is terrifically popular all through the MSM. Not just looks. They address the feminism stole my babies,lonely career woman with a briefcase and no man, muslim woman abandoned by the selfish Western feminists, and many more. They also introduce other readers to a lot of the issues that we have been discussing in the blogosphere in the last two years.
    It’s true that a lot of what they are saying was pointed out by Susan Faludi, but must we never speak of the backlash again and/or in different terms?
    It is fair enough that Lauredhel and Zoe don’t like it and I can understand tht people who respect them are suspicious of it by association, but there was a whole thread of loud denunciation in the US by people who hadn’t read it. That was a shame.

  132. I only went and got my copies (one for me, two to give away) from the post office on Friday, and I haven’t opened the package yet, but I agree that criticisms of a short op-ed piece should not be read as automatically reflecting on the book as a whole.
    The main problem with the op-ed was some infelicitous phrasing of the argument against the scary stereotype, and a conclusion which didn’t come out strongly enough against tiptoeing around the stereotype. I fully accept that Dux’s intention was not what many here have interpreted (ie she didn’t intend to exclude women who are hairy and make-up free, etc), but good intentions are not an excuse for wording that left people feeling marginalised.
    I’ll wait and see what I think about the arguments of the book in an expanded context.

  133. Pavlov’s Cat re: the Virginia’s

    ”Dux and Simic’s bashing of radical feminism (which actually makes them anti-feminist) continues the trend set by Helen Garner and Virginia Trioli (and to some extent Germaine Greer before that) in Australia.” [PC quoting warrexx]
    That is a ludicrous oversimplification of every single person that you name.
    Apart from anything else, don’t you mean Virginia Hausegger? [PC @122]

    As you note @ 128, Trioli’s the author of “Generation F”; a response against Garners’ perceived scapegoating of younger women for her [Garners’] backlash views in “The First Stone”.
    Much of that outrage was because Garner was seen to be using her “real” 2nd wave feminist status, fiction & oversimplified speculation to air her personal trepidation about stridency at women in a real sexual harrasement case without their consent.
    Which I’m sure you know and apologies myself if your comments were meant as flip etc.
    Point being, lumping them together in some anti-feminist boat still is oversimplification.
    Dux mentions, and rejects, the backlash approach of Virginia Hausegger in a few articles I’ve seen.
    There’s a distinction here between intra-feminist conflicts and the real damage done to movements by factional ahistorism, or writers actually co-opting feminism totally for backlash.
    I’d only put Hausegger in the last category.

  134. Oh, and Garners “real” 2nd wave status in scare quotes because, Garner really is both a long term feminist, a 2nd waver and an individual author who profited from backlash publishing.
    Not mutually exclusive categories imho, scare quotes because some in this thread perhaps disagree.

  135. “but there was a whole thread of loud denunciation in the US by people who hadn’t read it. That was a shame.”
    It wasn’t an edifying spectacle, that thread. Yet they might have read the op-ed but not the book. Some of them wouldn’t have read either, that’s true.
    The op-ed keeps getting conflated with the book, surely they ought to each be able to stand & be judged on their own independent merits.

  136. Rachel Funari’s take on this is now up at the Herald.
    ”Feminism depends on hairy choices”

    Arguing the Western media undermined feminism by narrowing its field to a misrepresentation of the radical feminist is hardly new, and it seems awfully like accepting the imaginings of a misogynist mainstream than a fight against them.
    Ditching the hairy-legged lesbian not only capitulates to a culture that requires the traditional family unit to uphold the inequalities of contemporary capitalism, but it also ditches a core message of feminism, that a woman’s value should not be in her beauty, proscribed femininity or heterosexual availability.

  137. Keeping you updated: An article by Ruby Murray at Eureka Street. ”On Toffee and Feminism”

    In the question time, the panellists try very hard not to disagree with each other. You can see the strain of it on their faces.
    At one point, they all seem to say that it doesn’t matter what you call it, this feminism thing, as long as you live it. If the feminism tag alienates men, then don’t use it, they say. Who cares if you pole dance, another one says. This isn’t the point, they keep saying. We’re missing the point.[…]
    And so it is that feminism’s a project that will never be finished. It will always argue, it will always fight, and so it should.

  138. Interesting thoughts by Ruby Murray, and I like her line that feminism is a project that will never be finished.
    But I disagree vehemently with this, which she said in the context of wearing heels and pole dancing:
    “This is the feminist paradox. We must fight for the right to choice, the right of women to have access to, and to make, choices that we don’t think they should necessarily make.”
    Adhering to the standards of patriarchy IS NOT MAKING A CHOICE – it’s the default position. Pole dancing != feminist choice. High heels != feminist choice. As a feminist, I’m in no way fighting for the “rights” of women to pole dance and wear stupid shoes – I’m fighting for them to realise they don’t have to, that we’re oppressed by the [patriarchal] figures of beauty (as Leonard Cohen almost said) and that liberation != pole dancing in any way, shape or form.
    Oh, and that not calling ourselves feminists because it scares teh men is complete rubbish.

  139. Adhering to the standards of patriarchy IS NOT MAKING A CHOICE – it’s the default position. Pole dancing != feminist choice. High heels != feminist choice. As a feminist, I’m in no way fighting for the “rights” of women to pole dance and wear stupid shoes – I’m fighting for them to realise they don’t have to, that we’re oppressed by the [patriarchal] figures of beauty (as Leonard Cohen almost said) and that liberation != pole dancing in any way, shape or form.

    I respectfully disagree, Rebekka. I’m fighting for the rights of women to do what they like doing, and what makes them happy, and to be able to do so in an atmosphere which doesn’t measure those things up against the expectations of patriarchy – whether to positive or negative effect.
    I’m pretty sure there are a lot of pole-dancers, strippers and prostitutes out there who know they “don’t have to”, who do their work because they enjoy it, and who have made the choice to do so sometimes with hugely-thought-out feminist analyses of their own actions and choices.

  140. I agree with QoT and disagree with Rebekka – there is no way to fight for the right for choice only as long as they use the choice to do what you would have done, you either fight for their right to make choices, or fight to take those choices away. You can critique their choices, sure, but you either believe they have the right to make them or not.
    And, FWIW, just because it is the default choice, or the patriarchal choice, doesn’t mean it can’t be chosen mindfully. Or even that the choice is problematic — be it ironic subversion or fighting from the inside or whatever, you can critique the choice if you want, but I certainly such choices are real and I want people to have the choice to use those tactics if they choose.

  141. “I’m pretty sure there are a lot of pole-dancers, strippers and prostitutes out there who know they “don’t have to”, who do their work because they enjoy it”
    Really?
    I don’t even know where to start with this. So I’m going to direct you here instead of trying.
    I suggest you read the FAQs titled “Q. Isn’t prostitution mostly a choice?”; “Q. Don’t a lot of women enjoy it?” and “Q. But you agree porn and stripping aren’t prostitution, right?”
    The idea that women freely choose, outside the bounds of patriarchy, to participate in the sex industry is ludicrous. You can’t *separate* the sex industry from the patriarchy.
    And the patriarchy has an interest in promoting the stereotype of the “happy hooker” – you might like to think about why. There’s an interesting piece on the oppressed happy stereotype here.

  142. “you either fight for their right to make choices, or fight to take those choices away”
    And that right there is what we call a “false dichotomy”. I am fighting for the end of patriarchy. Without patriarchy, the sex industry as we know it wouldn’t exist. So I am not fighting to take choices away from women – I am fighting for a world where choice is free choice outside the bounds of patriarchy and where women have true agency to make true choices. Whatever choices they want.
    What I am *not* fighting for is the status quo.

  143. Rebekka … that’s your view. You’re entitled to it. I’d suggest you don’t assume people who aren’t virulently anti-prostitution have no clue about the sex industry. I’ve worked in it. I know there are people working in it who don’t want to, who lack other viable choices, and I know there are people working in it who enjoy it for any number of personal reasons. I’ve direct *you* to http://renegadeevolution.blogspot.com/, who explains it much better than me, though it’s possible a waste of time.

  144. “though it’s possible a waste of time.”
    How about not insulting me? I’m perfectly willing to read and learn, and to engage in a reasonable debate. I wasn’t assuming you had no clue – I was putting forward an argument and the evidence that supports the argument. You’ve done the same – but suggesting it’s a “waste of time” to present me with evidence I may not have considered is highly insulting (and also, why would you bother if you think I’m not going to read/consider?)
    And I’m not “virulently anti-prostitution” either, I’m anti-patriarchy. And the available evidence suggests that the vast majority of women who are prostitutes don’t want to be – I’m not suggesting there can’t be some women who are, but again, the available evidence suggests that are a very tiny minority.
    So when you say “there are people working in it who don’t want to, who lack other viable choices, and I know there are people working in it who enjoy it for any number of personal reasons”, it might be true but it’s far from the whole truth, because it doesn’t address the massive imbalance between the 95+% of women who don’t want to be there, and the less than 5% who do.
    Nor does it address the problematic nature of the entire sex industry with the bounds of patriarchy.

  145. Yeah, sure, because I was totally the first one to talk down to the other:

    Really?
    I don’t even know where to start with this. So I’m going to direct you here instead of trying.
    I suggest you read the FAQs titled “Q. Isn’t prostitution mostly a choice?”; “Q. Don’t a lot of women enjoy it?” and “Q. But you agree porn and stripping aren’t prostitution, right?”

    Gee, do you have links to sites that only use very small words? That one was TRICKY.
    I’m not ignoring the fact that the sex industry in problematic in the context of patriarchy. But EVERYTHING is problematic in the context of patriarchy, and saying, “Oh, there’s a patriarchy ergo this must automatically be bad” is a ridiculous oversimplification.

  146. I’m sorry if you felt that I came off as patronising, that wasn’t my intention. I actually didn’t know where to start with that – that I would see someone on a feminist blog espousing the idea that prostitution was solely a choice and that the women who do it enjoy it was a more than a little bit surprising to me. I certainly didn’t suggest you were stupid – I disagreed with your views.
    And I don’t know where you get the idea that I’m saying “there’s a patriarchy, therefore this must be bad”.
    What I’m saying – if you’ve looked at the FAQs I linked to, they’ve pretty much summed it up – is that:
    1. consistently across many studies, over 90% of prostitutes want out of prostitution. So saying that some prostitutes are prostitues because they enjoy it may be accurate, but it is a long way from the whole story. Those women are a very small minority.
    2. the commodification of women’s bodies is one of the issues with the patriarchy, and prostitution represents a logical end point of a continuum.
    The choice to sell your body, whether for sex, or as a pole dancer or stripper, is a choice made within a system where women are treated as commodities. I am not arguing against women making these choices – I am fighting against the system that treats women as objects, the system where women’s bodies can be bought and sold.
    My point is that I am *not* fighting for women to have the freedom to make these choices – although I am certainly not trying to take away women’s agency, either – I am fighting against a system that commodifies women. There is a difference.

  147. Rebekka, I’d be more impressed with those figures you’ve quoted if they actually linked to the studies that showed how they came up with those figures. Anyone can throw around statistics such as 90% this or that. They don’t have any evidentiary value when they’re quoted in a vacuum.

  148. A study across five countries:
    92% wanted to leave prostitution
    73% reported being physically abused
    62% had been raped
    67% met the clinical definition of PTSD.
    In another study across nine countries:
    89% wanted to leave
    71% had been physically assulted
    63% had been raped
    78% had been homeless at some point
    68% met criteria for PTSD.
    In San Francisco:
    82% had been physically assaulted
    83% had been threatened with a weapon
    68% had been raped while working as prostitutes
    84% reported current or past homelessness
    68% met criteria for PTSD.
    Once again, I am not arguing against *some* women (clearly a small minority) enjoying this work. I am saying that making that statement while ignoring the far greater majority of women who say they want to leave – and who have been attacked, raped, experienced homelessness and more likely than not have PTSD – is a distortion of the actual picture, and that the actual picture is a part of patriarchy and a product of it.
    As a feminist, I am not fighting for women to have the right to choose to become prostitutes. I am fighting to end the system that says their only value is their body.

  149. Thanks Rebekka, that’s a lot more useful.
    I don’t think prostitution’s going to end anytime soon, although I wish it would. So, I think we also need to look at ways of making it safer for women, especially in the short to mid-term.

  150. I absolutely agree. The focus, with this area, should *always* be on what works to make things safer for the women involved, as I don’t think the patriarchy’s going to magically disappear, at least in my lifetime.
    My argument here was with Ruby Murray’s comment that “This is the feminist paradox. We must fight for the right to choice, the right of women to have access to, and to make, choices that we don’t think they should necessarily make,” in the context of women chosing to be pole-dancers, strippers etc, and QoT’s subsequent comment that “there are a lot of pole-dancers, strippers and prostitutes out there who know they “don’t have to”, who do their work because they enjoy it, and who have made the choice to do so”.

  151. Going back to the original article, Monica Dux has placed a piece in this weekend’s Age calling Hoydens and Shakers (though not by name) a “hysterical” “mob” administering a “virtual lynching”. Yes, she actually used the word “lynching”. More than once.
    Despite the fact that she wasn’t lynched any more than J.Q.Student was raped on his trigonometry exam. And last time I looked, my uterus was exactly where it should be.
    There’s more, a lot more. Go to PressView, and search for “My nameless, shameless adversary”.
    Cheers, Monica and Zora, you’re welcome for the interview and all. If I’d known this was your opinions of blogs and blogging, I wouldn’t have wasted my time.
    And next time you reference Hoyden About Town in the papers? Place a link, so your readers can make up their own minds.
    [h/t to Helen]

  152. Pressview is a good resource – didn’t know about that!
    But that article – wow, it’s really a very sad piece of work.
    signed
    Laura Carroll
    Lecturer, English Program, La Trobe University.

  153. Yep, I like the bit about how you can’t be shamed on the interwebs. Why does she assume we’re all strangers to each other just because she doesn’t know who she’s talking to?
    And btw, have you read her article on being called out for saying the 1990s was a “schizophrenic time for feminism”. You’ll get a chuckle.

  154. Why does she assume we’re all strangers to each other just because she doesn’t know who she’s talking to?

    Here’s the thing: she does. They have my full name and home address. I requested to maintain public pseudonymity for the interview before saying yes, offering my reasons (the stalkers and rape-threateners that hang around here), and this was agreed as being a reasonable approach by Zora Simic, who is the co-author who interviewed me.
    To have that flung in my face, and to be called “no-name” instead of my (stable, long-term) internet nym being used, is rather insulting.
    I really wish Zora would speak up to distance herself from this, if that’s the way she feels.

  155. To have that flung in my face, and to be called “no-name” instead of my (stable, long-term) internet nym being used, is rather insulting.

    It speaks to a profound disconnect with online conventions, plus a distressing confusion between anonymity and pseudonymity as well. Long-term pseudonyms acquire their own weight – if you left Hoyden and started a new blog under a new pseudonym, how many readers would know where to find you?
    Refusing to name the blogs/bloggers involved strikes me as petty.

  156. I’m still not sure if she meant the thread at Shakesville or this one and I was inclining towards the former, because honestly some of the comments on this thread are pretty mildly and civilly put. We don’t get pile-ons here like you do at Tim Blair or Troppo. Many of the comments above are simply civil disagreement with that part of Dux’s thesis.

  157. However, Melissa McEwan at Shakesville, who was the first to raise the thread there, blogs under her “RL” name.

  158. Dux clearly didn’t like the fact that what she wrote was being questioned, analysed, pulled apart… and that latest effort on the evils of teh blogosphere shows a profound ignorance about the changed nature of public discourse.
    It’s 2008, for heaven’s sake. Blogs are now a part – an important part – of public discourse. As an MSM commentator, back in the old days, you could have your say without fear of anyone knowing better, retorting, responding, proving you wrong. By virtue of your position as a commentator, you had authority, and there was no recourse for anyone who disagreed with you – other than letters to the editor, published at their discretion.
    Now, however, if you write something for public consumption you should expect – and I’d go so far as to say, welcome – a public discussion about what you’ve written. Of course if you’re a sooky la-la, you can refer to a robust debate as a “lynching”, you can attack people’s opinions on the grounds that they’re anonymous (last refuge of the person who’s run out of logical arguments, attacking their opponent’s credibility), and you can claim that the whole of the interwebs is bad and nasty and full of mobs of hairy women, while newspapers are sugar and spice and all things nice.

  159. Oh, and damn it, I hit submit too quickly, I meant to do what Laura did:
    Rebekka Power
    Business writer & editor.

  160. A dummy spit of epic proportions. If she thinks she’s been lynched, then I’d suggest she’s not been around the blogosphere much.
    Mindy Johnson
    Administrator

  161. “Going back to the original article, Monica Dux has placed a piece in this weekend’s Age calling Hoydens and Shakers (though not by name) a “hysterical” “mob” administering a “virtual lynching”. Yes, she actually used the word “lynching”. More than once.”
    You can’t just ‘place’ an article in the A2 of The Age. Dux’s piece is not an advertisement – it has been selected and vetted by the editor, Sally Heath. I think it is interesting to think about how mainstream media and blogs regard each other rather than falling into the ‘us’ of the blogsphere and ‘them’ of the mainstream media. Surely there is more crossover than that sort of thinking implies?

  162. I don’t think Lauredhel meant to imply that the piece was an advertisement, cottonsocks. This is probably just a case of one industry’s jargon not being a universal descriptive term.
    As to your other point, I agree that it can/could be interesting to examine how the MSM and independent blogs view each other, and of course in the case of Dux how the academic mind-set feeds into those cross-perceptions as well.

  163. I don’t think the academic mindset is any barrier to enjoying the blogosphere- look at Laura, Crooked Timber, and any number of others!
    If Dux simply said that SOME commenters, particularly the US ones, went a bit too far in their hyperbolic disgust at the fat-hairy-droopy faux pas, that would be fair enough. But in portraying the entire blogosphere as an irresponsible lynch mob and herself as a helpless victim, she herself went too far.
    Helen Smart
    Business analyst
    Melbourne, Victoria

  164. posted at pressdisplay:
    “I think all readers of this article would do well to read the NOT nameless response to this article on Shakesville, run by Melissa McEwan, who has never hidden her name from the blogosphere, even though she has been personally threatened and had her home address broadcast by the conservative talk-circuit.
    http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2008/10/
    I blog in Dallas, TX, under the tag “InfamousQBert”, if anyone needs to check my identity.”
    infamousqberts last blog post..arrrrrgh!!

  165. sorry, forgot this bit.
    bethany keeler
    dallas, tx

  166. OFFS.

    Kate Harding
    Chicago, IL

  167. I wonder what would happen if she was trying to piss people off?
    Just a thought.

  168. The AGE has put it up now so you don’t have to use Press View (useful, yes, but no direct links.)
    I hope Dux finds the new Shakesville thread and absorbs some of the thoughtful comments there before erupting again. The use of the word “hysterical” is particularly unfortunate.

  169. I read Monica’s book from front to back and in no way did I get any sense that Monica was making negative blanket statements about women who actually are hairy-legged and/or lesbian. Rather, I believe she was critiquing the media and populist constructions of these stereotypes, and how they have come to work against (terribly brave) women who dare to challenge hegemonic patriarchal positions.
    Whatever the position any reader holds, I am personally affronted by blatantly hurtful phrases like ‘Go to hell Monica’ by Gender Blank. This sort of language demeans everyone.
    I will dare to suggest that much of the anger towards Monica may in fact be misdirected anger towards much of the patriarchal systems that still oppress many women in Australia today. I believe that any such misdirection would be a product of media and cultural institutions that benefit from turning women against each other, particularly when it comes to debates around gender image and so-called expressions of ‘femininity’. I think history will note this as a time when feminists of all beliefs and ‘dress codes’ turned on each other, and comments in blogs like this will be seen as indicative of that time. (To see how political entities have been turned on themselves, just reflect on how John Howard turned unions on themselves in the mid-90s and made the word ‘union’ a dirty word, just like ‘feminism’, causing even blue-collar workers to vote Howard and decry their own union bases.)
    I call on all readers of this blog to ensure you have read Monica’s book in total before posting comments. And then make measured and considered comments, with one eye on patricarhal institutions, another on our own readiness to turn on each other. With vitriol and anger cast at each other’s wisdom, feminism is doomed before it gets on the battle field.
    Finally, aside from the personal comments above, I am also involved in the Australian Women & Leadership Forum, and recently I independently reviewed Monica’s book. See:
    http://www.womensforum.com.au/server/index.php?id=67,424,0,0,1,0

  170. Ben, why should people have to read her book in order to have an opinion on what Dux has written in The Age?
    Isn’t the whole point of opinion pieces in newspapers that they are meant to stand on their own? I submit that if the opinion piece only makes sense in the context of the entire book, then that opinion piece has not been well written.

  171. Thanks for “daring” to tell feminists how to think and when they should express opinions, Ben. It’s truly an innovative strategy.
    Given that Dux’ solution to the hairy-legged stereotype is to have conventionally-pretty women emphasise how conventionally pretty they are, I think I’m going to keep posting comments about how much I think she’s full of shit on that.
    Queen of Thorns
    Evil Anonymous Blogger, And Yet Entitled To An Opinion,
    Wellington, NZ

  172. Tigtog: fair point. Still, I recommend reading the book.
    QoT: I’m not telling anyone how to think and when they should express opinions. (And it’s not an innovative strategy: men have been doing it for millenium.) Had I posted my comment under a female name would I have still been so accused, or would my comments have found more favour through faking my sex?
    I now feel that having an opinion as a male on this blog is pointless. I have now had my interest in engaging with this avenue of feminist discussion seriously diminished. If feminism is about engaging men as well in the debate, then this channel has left me feeling unwelcome. It’s a shame the door closes so quickly.
    I suspect I’ll be irrevocably damned in this space from now on, so I will refrain from viewing any further updates.

  173. (And it’s not an innovative strategy: men have been doing it for millenium.)
    Yes, Ben, that was rather my point. And a backhanded accusation of sexism back at me is fairly classic, too. I don’t care what bits you have, what your birth certificate says, how you identify, or what screenname you use: telling people what requirements they “should” fulfil before being allowed an opinion is obnoxious – especially when, as tigtog has pointed out, we’re not critiquing Dux’ book, we’re critiquing her article, and if it requires reading the book to understand the article, the article is a pretty poor piece of writing.
    Of course, that tallies with what I’d already thought.
    Pretending that YOU are the one being silenced here, when you said
    ensure you have read Monica’s book in total before posting comments.
    is fantastically rich.
    Make what comments you like, within the commenting guidelines, Ben: just don’t expect the other readers here to nod and smile and not point out when you’re being condescending.

  174. Dear Ben — the original post was about an article written by Monica Dux, and much of the commentary in this thread was in response to her own comments here. eg:”By asserting that radical feminism has been relatively marginal in its influence I am not denigrating it – I am simply reporting a fact.”
    Call me crazy, but last time I looked, “fact” means something with objective data attached. Monica Dux is entitled to have whatever opinion she wants to of radical feminism, but claiming that her personal opinion and analysis = “fact” is something that I find incredibly arrogant.
    PortlyDyke
    Another Evil Pseudonymous blogger who blogs under a pseudonym because a) her job kind of requires it, and b) she’s a survivor of rape and sexual abuse.

  175. Wow Ben, thank you so much for giving this blog a totally fair and balanced trial before throwing up your hands in disgust and stalking off.

  176. P.S. we’ve had commentors with female handles here lecturing us on how we’re doing feminism wrong before – it’s not the putative gender of the commentor that’s the problem, it’s the lecturing.
    Of course we get some things wrong – everybody does, including Monica Dux – but when we do so we make a habit of owning the error, not whingeing about how meanyheaded others are in pointing the error out.

  177. Ben, if you look at Shakesville, Feministe and other feminist blogs, you’ll see stacks of male feminist allies, as well as male posters. So as far as “the door closes so quickly”, that just won’t wash, mate. It’s the coming in to a feminist blog and immediately doing the “Youre Doin It Rong” thing that’s going to close that door.
    Yes, you are right, the value of TGFD is that it addresses many different strawfeminists that the media puts up. But in the process Dux drops some clangers that hurt and annoyed many, and instead of engaging with the criticism, she plays the “MSM good, internet bad” card. She failed to acknowledge that many of the responses were kind and considered and just cherrypicked the bad ones.

  178. Just as an FYI, I have no problems with Dux’s latest opinion piece for the SMH. She makes some very good points about the so-called “mummy wars”.

  179. Yes, she does, although I find it interesting that as a feminist, she mentions this:
    “Part of the problem is that many new mothers are acutely sensitive to other people’s opinions. No one wants to be seen as a bad mum.”
    But doesn’t mention the patriarchal context that puts so much pressure on women in their role as mothers.

  180. In fact, looking at it more closely, it’s very interesting that in a two-page article about child care, fathers are not mentioned once.
    She seems to accept uncritically the notion that women are the ones who are responsible for child care – she talks for example about a woman deciding to put her six-month-old into the only available creche spot. How come the father isn’t deciding to put his six-month-old into this only available creche spot?
    She does a lot of accepting of the patriarchy’s default positions for someone who identifies as a feminist.

  181. She does a lot of accepting of the patriarchy’s default positions for someone who identifies as a feminist.

    I have to admit to being guilty of this too. It can be very difficult and sometimes downright depressing to look at everything through a feminist lens even though it is very necessary. I didn’t pick up on the lack of fathers in her article, and it’s damning on both Monica and me.
    But I still call myself a feminist, because I believe in feminist principles, I am trying my best to educate my children in them and I’m not perfect and neither is Monica Dux. I do applaud her for being heard and getting people talking about feminism again, and I hope that when she feels like she’s no longer being lynched, that she comes back and engages again. I think we all want the same thing, we are just using different ways to get there.

  182. You’re right, Mindy, it’s sometimes hard to see past the default position. And sometimes we all need someone to point out that we’re not doing so!
    I guess the difference is that Dux, who identifies as a feminist, who has written a purportedly feminist book (I can’t comment on the book yet as my free copy hasn’t arrived!) is paid to write opinion pieces, which gives her words added feminist weight. So when I see her accepting the default patriarchal position it seems worse than if someone during a discussion on a blog doesn’t realise they’re doing so, because she’s being PAID to express a feminist opinion – so she should have thought it through a bit better.

  183. Came here from Melissa’s thread to put my teaspoon in. Lots of love to all of you who she has attacked personally. May she grow up.
    Dolia
    Louise Jones
    London
    Data analyst.

  184. http://thedawnchorus.wordpress.com/2008/10/02/dawn-chorus-library-the-great-feminist-denial-by-monica-dux-zora-simic/
    I know many of you will have already seen this but for those who haven’t… A great interview by Clem Bastow with Monica Dux and Zora Simic (for those who wanted to hear more from Simic on some of these issues).

  185. Thanks for the link cottonsocks. Monica Dux certainly comes across a lot better in the interview than she does in her articles. Also good to hear from Zora.

  186. Monica Dux is implying that the virtual lynching could become an actual one?
    Wow, those hairy legged angry feminists sure are mindlessly violent and brutal, aren’t they? It’s so much more civilised in the nice clean polite pretty girl printed-up patriarchosphere!
    I am not signing my meatworld name here, because I don’t feel safe doing so for a number of reasons. However, this is my long-running blog and photo sites. Come by and say hello! Monica Dux, you’re welcome too, by the way, as long as you realise that conversation is two-way with those not privileged by patriarchal press approval.

  187. …Oh I also have to say: it does seem a flat out lie, Dux denying that she knows who Lauredhel is, and dehumanising her to boot. Shame, shame, the way you use your power.

  188. I am not so sure that Monica Dux is trying to say that you can’t dress how you like, or that you can’t choose whatever sexuality you are comfortable with. I think she is trying to point out that the image of a “man-hating, hairy-legged lesbian” is not seen as being constructive to the cause of feminism, as it is not what many women want for themselves. You yourself state that “Feminism is about equal opportunity and healthcare and civil rights and reproductive justice and freedom from violence and oppression, and the ending of rigid sex roles and exploitation and objectification all over the world…” and who could disagree? What image you give yourself is unimportant to these tenets of faith. The problem is that the idea that you must be a man-hating, hairy legged lesbian to be a feminist discourages many people from wanting to be feminists. Heck, it even discourages lesbians who dont hate men. They dont want to be seen in this light. So I agree that negative images should be dissaciated with feminism. If you choose to shave your legs, or not, it should have no bearing on your belief in equal rights for all.

  189. Just one question, Robert: if “negative images” should be “disassociated” from feminism, what does that imply for the outspoken feminists who do fall into those “negative images”?
    Because on the one hand, certainly the hair-status of my legs does not determine or affect my belief in equal rights. What you’re saying is that it does affect other people’s beliefs, and that we should/need/ought to disassociate such images from feminism.
    If that ain’t telling the hairy-legged lesbians to stop making the Pretty Feminists look bad, I don’t know what is.

  190. This is an excellent response, and I honestly dont think I have any perfect solution. The only thing I can suggest would be that all women are made to feel that hairy legged or not, feminism is meant for them. I have no idea how this could be achieved, but I know that a problem for some women in getting involved with feminist activities is the belief that they wont be welcome at any meetings because they prefer to shave their legs and because they aren’t virulently hateful towards men. Obviously they would be welcome, but somewhere along the way they have been made to feel that they are not the image for feminism. So while keeping your legs hairy and not conforming to societal standards of beauty is fine, it should be made clear that these are personal choices and are not required for feminism. I know its not a great answer, but its probably a nice start.
    Oh, and just so we’re clear, I dont consider hairy legs to be a negative image of feminism. I consider the idea that all feminst women must conform to a certain archtype, as in the hairy legged man hating lesbian, to be a negative and extremely unhelpful image. Not that its not ok to be a hairy legged lesbian, I would hope not man hating, but it is not ok to tell others that they must conform to your ideals.

  191. Thanks for that Robert. Have you actually read the post and comments?

  192. Nowhere have I seen the idea promulgated that a woman has to be a ‘hairy legged lesbian’ to be a feminist. I’m also very cynical about the idea that this mythical creature actually puts women off feminism. Where’s the evidence?. I think it’s people having a fear of this figure they’ve created, but then projecting it onto others. Oh, it’s not me who has the problem, but all these other people do. The figure has nothing much to do with the complexity of real women. It’s just a simplistic representation of a scarey monster.
    And what Mindy said.

  193. Nowhere have I seen the idea promulgated that a woman has to be a ‘hairy legged lesbian’ to be a feminist.
    Fine, this image is everywhere. I see you everywhere, too, but largely on comparatively quality sites (she says boastfully, because Fine is one of my regulars, but I hope you get my drift.) If you hung out where Joe Pub(l)ic hangs out, and express a contrary view, you’ll very soon be hit by the “hairy legged ugly dog feminazi can’t get a man” meme. Trust me.
    I was going to say “what Mindy said” but you beat me to it. Also, what Rebekka said after that. Being paid to write does give additional power and responsibility – and NO I don’t think that lets us bloggers off the hook, MSMers.

  194. Sorry for the syntax. Trying to read, comment and cook. Doesn’t work.

  195. I guess you’re right, Helen. I only visit the quality sites. I guess I’m thinking of the young women who I teach. They can be foolish sometimes, but mostly they have the sense to judge people by other factors. Or do you think I’m way too optimistic?

  196. Yes, if you judge the GP by the young women you teach. I’m afraid the “you feminists are hairy legged/lesbian*/hairy armpitted/moustache wearing freaks who can’t get a man and complain about patriarchal beauty norms because you’re jelus LOL” are still legion.
    *Automatically assumed to be an insult, since they don’t knowingly know any.

  197. I reread my comment and I wasn’t clear, sorry. I was really saying that feminists don’t promulgate the idea that you need to be the proverbial… to be a good feminist. It’s only people who don’t know any better who use that figure as a frightener and then project it onto feminists. And that I have my doubts whether it’s a really effective scarey figure. So, I’m feeling confused and not writing well tonight and I can’t even use the heat as an excuse anymore.

  198. I’m hearing you, Fine, and agree.
    This particular compartmentalisation of feminists into those of “acceptable” (i.e. patriarchy-conforming) appearance, and those who are the “marketing problem”, does remind me rather of those who seek to divide people of colour into “the good ones” (based on false notions of authentic indigineity or economic productivity) and “the bad ones”, or mothers into acceptable (married, in a financially stable relationship, neither too many children nor too few) and unacceptable (“welfare mother” stereotypes) …. and so on. The same mechanisms seem to be at play, and I think it’s fairly clear that the people doing this particular compartmentalisations were never interested in a true human rights movement in the first place.
    Pandering to “Now you’ve driven me away from feminism, and it’s YOUR fault, HA!” is a bit of a pet peeve here.

  199. I also don’t think the image is one perpetuated by feminism, but Fine, when you say “And that I have my doubts whether it’s a really effective scarey figure”, don’t you think that for women generally, when the idea that our value is solely in how (patriarchally approved) attractive we are is drummed into us by mainstream culture from the minute we’re born, that the idea that if we’re feminists we’re going to be hairy-legged, droopy-breasted, short-haired ugly lesbians in boiler suits might be a tad scary?
    In that it attacks the very basis of our patriarchally-approved worth?
    Because honestly, the stereotype is just that, and also, there’s nothing wrong with being hairy-legged (I frequently am myself) etc, but if all your life you have been inundated with cultural messages that if you’re not pretty, and can’t attract men, you’re worthless, then clearly the thought of being Ms Scary Stereotype Feminist and unattractive to men is going to be, well, frightening.

  200. Rebekka, I take your point. But, people who want to scare us with this image use this argument without anything to back it up. It just becomes a very glib stick (sorry, bad metaphor) to beat women with. My answer is, how do you know this? Where’s the evidence? Or is there just a lot of assuming going on? Basically, I think women buy into this to different degrees. Not everyone is scared of the monster.

  201. Clearly enough people are “scared of the monster” to generate an entire book decrying it.
    And enough women identify with parts of the stereotype to get pissed off when they’re told that basically they are the reason young women are resisting feminism.
    A stereotype doesn’t need evidence, Fine. How many people know, in the absence of any evidence, that gay men are effeminate and highly promiscuous and try to convert straight men to Their Agenda? This is still a damaging stereotype (just look at the anti-gay-marriage arguments). The answer isn’t to tell gay men to be more masculine and try not to let people see if they enjoy casual sex.

  202. “people who want to scare us with this image use this argument without anything to back it up.”
    Yes, absolutely. That’s the nature of stereotypes, isn’t it! QoT has put it better than I could.

  203. I agree. But my point is that as well as being influenced by these images, women are influenced by the real women they know; their family, friends, lovers, colleagues, co-workers etc. This means they know a whole range of women who don’t fit into stereotypes (because who actually does?) They may actually know a ‘hairly legged lesbian’ they love, like or admire. Their mother might be one. These real women may have a greater influence than any stereotyped, unreal image.

  204. That’s an interesting point.
    I’m wondering, though, how the balance between people they know and mainstream stereotype works for the majority of young women in their late teens/early 20s.
    When I was in high school, I didn’t know anyone who identified as a lesbian (or at least, not openly at that point), and until I met people who did, at uni, my mental image of a lesbian was very much the stereotype. I was relatively sheltered from mainstream media – I wasn’t allowed to watch television, and my reading of magazines was strictly curtailed – but my reading of books wasn’t restricted and despite my parents’ efforts to counteract the mainstream, and despite the fact that my mum, my grandmother and my only Australian aunt (the rest are all overseas) are all feminists, it was clear enough to my teenaged brain that (a) they were the exceptions to the stereotype and (b) they were old and hideous anyway and I wanted to be hot and have boys drool over me.
    Perhaps it’s a bit different now with kids having the internet, etc, but there was overwhelming pressure to be attractive, and a definite stereotype that persisted until I was at uni – and in fact despite realising that the stereotype was just that, I didn’t actually *identify* as a feminist until I’d left uni and had a job.

  205. hv nmbr f qstns. d mn chs wht th fnd ttrctv? r s t srt f blt n blgcl mprtv. D fmnsts dscnt vltnr psychlg, bcs t sms t cntr th cncpt f gndr cndtnng. Wh s ths nfms ptrrch? D y thnk bcs hv dck gt tgthr wth ll m ptrrchl bdds nd plt th sbjgtn f wmn?, sn’t tht jst flsh w f syng “th thm”? spcll gvn tht t s bltntl bvs tht wmn thmslvs prtcpt n, prpgt nd prft frm th md ndstrs tht r-nfrc str typcl cncpts f bt. )fr bth mn nd wmn) Wht d wmn fnd ttrctv? hv lsbn frnds, wh sm t fnd th sm thngs ttrctv bt th fml frm s mn mn d… thnk wht mght b rll hldng fmnsm bck s th prcptn tht ts nt k t b “strtypcll” fmnn n pprnc f yr gng t b fmnst. Tht s f yr lkng t th Prs Hltn gnrtn…. bt thn, fl th m b lst cs lrd. Rdcl fmnsm, n s fr s t hs sd thngs lk “ll sx wth mn s rp”, nd prchng sprtsm, lng wth sttmnts lk “wmn cn’t b sxst” hs rll dn lt f dmg t m prsnl pnn f fmnsm….. cnt rll spk fr thrs. myb ts tm fr chsv nvrsl thr f fmnsm, nd fr fmnsm t xmn sm f ts drl hld tnts n th lght f crrnt vdnc nd mdrn thght. n m pnn, th “hr lsbn” s th lst f fmnsms wrrs.

  206. @ quinnjin:
    * If you think evolutionary psychology explains all, how do you explain the historical and cultural variations in what has been considered the height of female beauty?
    * Not all men are patriarchs – try a dictionary. Also, nobody ever said that women don’t participate in the patriarchy – the established hierarchy is the source of security and power, so of course nearly everybody plays into it. You might also take a look at the word “kyriarchy”. For the rest, follow Helen’s link.
    * the rest of your points seem to be wild generalisations or repetition of long-debunked myths

  207. quinnjin, you’re in the wrong place. Try here and here. Or maybe here.

  208. I would also recommend reading more of the site before shooting off at the mouth, thereby potentially saving yourself from coming off as a twit.

  209. I love you all so hard. Nothing like seeing “There is a new comment on this post” in my inbox to find one (1) trollish newb and four (4) glorious smackdown-filled replies.
    It has been such a crap day and now it is so much better.

  210. Glas to be of assistance, QoT. Quinnjin, you’re welcome to rebut, of course. Give it your best shot.

  211. I could get angry I guess but why bother….”trollish newb” and other little in click sayings dont mean Sh*t to me. I still havent had a decent rebuttle to any of my criticisms on any of these sights actually, and given that I am a relative newb,thats pretty weak. Considering every one else here seems to be an expert.
    Long debunked my arse, which exactly of my statements has been long debunked? It seems you may be using sweeping statements and obliterating my post to avoid having to deal with glaring inconsistencies and fallacies in feminist theory, which in my opinion, is detrimental to the all the good work done in the name of feminism.
    If the patriarchy is participated in by women as you say, why in god(or esses) name call it a patriarchy at all? Because its convenient to your penchant for thinly veiled misandry?
    I never said that evolutionary psychology has all the answers. Dont be ridiculous and don’t put words in my mouth.
    What I was meaning was that in light of theories of evolutionary psychology, and in my experience the opinions of women far older and wiser and experienced than myself, and I suspect than the academics here, perhaps the much cherished idea of gender types being COMPLETELY conditioned are probably far more likely to have been debunked.
    Common sense seems to me to suggest that a good old fashioned nature verses nuture mix is probably at play.
    Is anyone capable of giving a reasonable explanation as to why some feminists believe women can’t be sexist?
    And let me guess, where should I be? Are you going to tell me where I should be?
    How about you rebut my statements adequately before having a little in group hi five with your mates and then i might bother rebutting yours.
    Of course I may have to do some research, I haven’t devoted a life time to studying gender politics, but Im pretty sure I can give you a good run for your money.
    Slapped down my arse, I dont think so. Try again.

  212. Quinn, you seem to make a habit of coming on to blogs and (a) not reading the comments policy and (b) rambling. I’ve unapproved your last three comments for now, because we have a policy of not allowing one voice to dominate the discussion, which four comments in a row from you would surely do. I wasn’t the one who disemvowelled you above, btw.
    I will address one note from one of those unapproved comments because I think it points to a larger problem:

    Perhaps I am in the wrong place, but I am loathe[sic] to click on some link that probably goes somewhere like the introduction to feminism 101…. “oyou have been disruptive etc” Actually no. nobody sent me there, I found it of my own accord because i was interested.

    Actually, the introduction page to FF101 says this:

    Your approach to these FAQs will probably depend on how you arrived here: either a search engine result, or someone recommended this as a feminist resource, or you were sent here in response to your asking of one of these FAQs, either in a feminist forum or elsewhere.

    The bit you’re quoting is part of the “Why was I sent to this blog?” page. Your claim is that you weren’t sent there, so why did you even read that page other than curiosity, and why are you offended by an answer which was never intended to apply to your situation?
    Either you are incapable of reading for meaning, or you are disingenuously misrepresenting.
    Read the comments policy, do other readers the courtesy of drafting your comments offline and editing them for brevity and clarity before submitting them, and read more carefully if you want to be engaged here as a poster of good faith. If you continue to demonstrate that you lack basic netiquette don’t bother.

  213. P.S. For merely one long-debunked trope you repeated above, the line “all men are rapists” was said by a fictional character in a novel. The novel was written by a feminist author, certainly, but it was never said by a feminist as a political rallying point.

  214. Dude. The reason nobody is bothering to pick apart your illogical rantings on the failings of feminism is that illogical rantings on the failings of feminism are irritating, jarrings in their lack of logic, and jam packed with annoying things to rebut that would take all effing day to tease out: they’re jumbles, mish mashes of arrogance, false arguments, A Current Affair style ‘critical thinking’ and a liberal helping of aggressive rude assertions. So you know, we could ‘rebut’ your ‘arguments’ but you might need to actually want to engage in a conversation for that to happen rather than spewing an angry screed AT people and going ‘THERE! Clean up THAT mess! OHO!!! You can’t??? [note diferences in meaning of can’t/won’t/could not be bothered/bored now] WELL THEN! You must acknowledge that this is because I am right!’.
    No. Never wrestle with a pig in mud, never argue with idiots, don’t bother he’s not worth it…these things (though surprisingly not Official Feminist Ideology) have stood feminists long used to angry ranting visitors who have no desire to have an actual conversation about different opinions in good stead (and if you had desired a good conversation you really went about it the wrong way…picture coming into the home of a religious relative…you would like to assert your opinion when you disagree but rather than a calm rational conversation you walk in and immediately upon them opening the door you begin mocking god/the bible/idiots who believe in it…not very conducive to a proper conversation is it.
    So wandering in and just stringing together multiple accusatory questions (which go to your massive misunderstandings of feminism, or indeed that there are differences in feminisms and within each strand) getting more and more insulting and wild (oh and I really liked both your dismissal of your Straw Feminists and your slagging off of Paris Hilton et al…classy, note how FEMINISTS are not all “Paris Hilton what a vapid whore”?) ‘just because I have a dick’ etc? Come on, the whole thing was a set up. You didn’t want to engage respectfully in a conversation to discuss differences, you wanted to assert your intellectual superiority and insult everyone on a site, and you chose to do it by screaming and wailing on a long dead topic thread – you showed no interest in reading what people actually DO say here, it was nothing other than a stock standard drive-by by a feminist hating twit with a keyboard.

  215. quinnjin, hi, firstly let me just say I’m not joining the pile-on ok? Cos I hate it when that happens. But I have a couple of things to say to you, because years ago I held a few similar beliefs about feminism to the ones you’ve mentioned and I know lots of other feminists who did too. None of us were born with gender studies degrees.
    The points you’ve raised here did not come out of feminist theory, they came out of the feminist backlash era. You know how the media can totally demonise something if they choose to? Like Muslims being associated with terrorism. That’s how feminism was demonised back in the 1980s and a lot of it has stuck in people’s minds even though it’s not true.
    Also, you can’t win an argument on a blog this size. Blogs have hierarchies, so there is a kind of power imbalance. What you could do is put your opinions on your own blog and invite people to take them apart there.
    Feminism has a lot of empowering information so I hope you give it a chance at least.

  216. Linda makes very good points, and more patiently than the rest of us have done.
    Quinn, I admit that I am bringing baggage from your existing posts on FF101 and then you deciding to do an off-topic drive-by here to my responses to you, although I feel that mine is an understandable reaction.
    You do appear to be regurgitating backlash talking points, which we are quite naturally rather sick of hearing. This is not a 101 blog. You’ve already been pointed to a blog that’s dedicated to Feminism 101 and addressing these talking points that disrupt ongoing feminist discussions. If you really want to have answers, engage over there within the bounds of the Comments Policy and give it a proper go.
    Your questions/assertions/challenges are not on topic for this post, and we do not tolerate derailments here. If you insist on engaging with old backlash tropes here, how about you try the Antifeminist Bingo post? At least you would be on topic on that thread.

  217. “illogical rantings on the failings of feminism are irritating, jarrings in their lack of logic, and jam packed with annoying things to rebut that would take all effing day to tease out: they’re jumbles, mish mashes of arrogance, false arguments, A Current Affair style ‘critical thinking’ and a liberal helping of aggressive rude assertions”
    With a side-order of bad spelling and punctuation. Apparently, we’re all members of a “click”, who have no “rebuttle” for anything and keep giving each other a “”hi five” (but not “hi fiving” teh menz, because we hates teh menz with only “thinly veiled misandry”) and apostrophes have been rendered obsolete by the feminist revolution that destroyed the patriarchy, and also apostrophes.

  218. Jeeeeeeeeez, Rebekka, attack the *idea* not the *spelling*! I mean, it’s not like we can judge a person based on their utter lack of regard for communicating clearly, or how they apparently choose to present themselves in a written forum.

  219. Not to mention his annoyance with these ‘sights’.

  220. [giant snip ~L]
    It is obvious that this is not the place to debate the questions I’m asking.
    [More snip. Cheers for that brief moment of clarity, quinnjin. Seeya. ~L. ]

  221. Actually, you know what? you guys were having an interesting debate and I did more or less fuck it up. Fair point, i’m in the wrong place and Im not sure where I should be. I feel like a bull in a china shop… or an epileptic in a mine field. Take
    your pick. Fuck politeness… i see why your so pissed, tho I dont validate your arguments, which seem to be no less ranting and flawed than my own.
    Of course I see how feminism is demonised in the dumb arse mainstream media. For me stereo typical images of feminism are not an issue. My issues are with aspects of feminism I either don’t understand or simply disagree with.
    The lack of coherence in my posts is probably not helped by my tendency to surf blogs at 4 ocklock in the morning.
    I also wish you could re-edit posts after they have been submitted.
    I consider my self sufficiently chastised, okay? I realise I am new to this and that if I want to learn anything I need to be more humble. I am a hot head. Famous for it. but not a moron. (I hope)
    My apologies once again.

  222. Yes, it may be because of the good old fashioned nature verses “nuture” mix.

  223. QJ: I never said that evolutionary psychology has all the answers. Dont be ridiculous and don’t put words in my mouth.
    Ah, but we never said an awful LOT of the things you claimed we said, so it’s a bit late for that really.

  224. End of derail, please, folks. Cheers.

  225. As a hairy-legged queer feminist, I appreciate this so much! Thank-you.
    When I came out (as a teenager!), I felt that it was my burden to be the femmiest femme on the block. I was probably hoping to win my fellow highschoolers over to feminism, but I recall feeling vastly uncomfortable and unreal doing so.
    I guess my gender presentation is still more femme than butch, but I wear my hairy legs with pride. Hairy ladies: We’re misogynists’ worst nightmare!

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