Archive for July 8th, 2010

July 8th, 2010

Escape Or Die, Pigs

How is this not set in Olympia?

cover of the book "The Feminists"back cover of the book "The Feminists"

July 8th, 2010

Team Hanson

My pals over at 90s Woman dared to cite Hanson as an example of bad pop. They are of course entitled to their wrong opinion but here is just one of the many worthy, if not close-to-perfect songs from “Middle of Nowhere,” and the other records have some gems too.

July 8th, 2010

Points All Her Own Sitting Way Up High

I did not even realize until JUST NOW that the above line is about tits. Now I’m thinking “Waiting for the Thunder” might have a whole other meaning.

July 8th, 2010

Welcome to Outrage World!

graphic of the word outrage

Over at Slate Emily Gould is, among other things, decrying the rise of what she calls “Outrage World.” She describes Outrage World as: “The regularly occurring firestorms stirred up on mainstream, for-profit, woman-targeted blogs like Jezebel and also, to a lesser degree, Slate’s own XX Factor and Salon’s Broadsheet.”

Gould thinks Outrage World is a bad thing.

[The firestorms] are ignited by writers who are pushing readers to feel what the writers claim is righteously indignant rage but which is actually just petty jealousy, cleverly marketed as feminism. These firestorms are great for page-view-pimping bloggy business. But they promote the exact opposite of progressive thought and rational discourse, and the comment wars they elicit almost inevitably devolve into didactic one-upsmanship and faux-feminist cliché. The vibe is less sisterhood-is-powerful than middle-school clique in-fight, with anyone who dares to step outside of chalk-drawn lines delimiting what’s “empowering” and “anti-feminist” inevitably getting flamed and shamed to bits. Paradoxically, in the midst of all the deeply felt concern about women’s sexual and professional freedom to look and be however they want, it’s considered de rigueur to criticize anyone, like Munn, who dares to seem to want to sexually attract men.

Wow. Am I right? First, let’s deal with the obvious. Is Outrage World only populated by women? Has Emily Gould been on the internet? There are glaring examples of “didactic one upmanship” and “middle school clique in-fights” everywhere, from Harry Potter fandom to the comment section on the New York Times food section. I agree that comment wars are tiresome, and that self-policing subcultures have become rigid and annoying but this is hardly something only happening on sites with vaginas, or even only online.

However, I have to admit that some of what Gould says resonates with me–or it would have until recently. Not her jealousy and insecurity theory, which is patently ridiculous. But the question of how some of this blog activity fits into feminism has been troubling to me for some time. I’ve joked with friends about “Photoshop Feminism” on Jezebel, and recently remarked on Twitter that I was going to give money to Emily’s List every time they posted another one of their trademark HOMG Ladymag posts. That would be doing real feminism, you see. It would be more than “just blogging.”

Of course I’m not anti-blog. I’ve got three or four of my own—but I’ve viewed them, and my own online activity, as ancillary to traditional activism like writing letters, going to meetings, neighborhood organizing, etc. If you think I sound like a jerk, you’re right. You know what I sound like? I sound like what older feminists used to sound like to me!

Lately it has been clear in the writing of younger feminists like Clinic Escort, Shelby Knox, Renee at Womanist Musings, Feministing, Feminists with Disabilities, Feministe (where I have guest-blogged), the always-wise Rebecca Traister, and the terrific new site No Country For Young Women, that, in addition to their sharp critiques on a wide variety of topics, they feel older feminists aren’t taking them seriously, and they’re right. I don’t want to completely map what might loosely be called my Third Wave experience on to theirs, but much of their frustration echoes our conflicted relationship with our feminist forebears. As much as we admired and honored them, it still stung when they questioned our sex-positivity, our love of pop culture, and even the way we dressed, on occasion. And gosh, for some reason they didn’t seem too psyched when we explained their lack of diversity and fusty values to them.

Basically I realized I needed to get the hell over myself and listen. And if young women are outraged about magazine covers, among other things, then I need to respect that and engage with it and welcome it. It’s not like I don’t think magazine covers are an issue. It’s not my issue, but that’s OK. I’m actually still kind of pissed off about the misogyny of “Frasier,” to tell you the truth. In the same way that I work to understand and decentralize my white privilege, my straight privilege, and everything else, I need to consider in what ways I’m using my age and experience to marginalize younger feminists instead of embracing them.  (As a side note, I’m currently researching the suffrage movement for Chicklib, and they also experienced clashes across age divides–and of course racial and economic ones as well.)

Because you know what we have in common? Our outrage. And that’s important.

Feminism needs outrage. Outrage is a natural response to oppression. It is outrageous that we are not equal, that racial and gender discrimination affect all of us every day. We should be angry at the ridiculous magazine covers we’re expected to compare ourselves to, we should be critical of the fact that “The Daily Show” only has a few women correspondents who rarely see air time—and that they are, like the off-air staff,  predominantly white, something that has not been mentioned much–we should be livid that our reproductive rights are constantly under siege, we should be irate about transphobia, we should be pissed about bad wars, short-sighted environmental policies and a surreal food distribution system, and we should be furious that there have only been 38 women in the Senate ever. Feminism is about liberation, and it is completely liberating to be able to point to something and say, “This is fucked up. And I am going to do something about it.”

We all have our different points of entry into feminism. Some of us get it from our mothers. Some of us get it in school. Some get it from books. Some get it from reading blogs. And once we get it, we are, rightly, outraged. Being outraged is not the “exact opposite of progressive thought and rational discourse.” Outrage is what fuels a demand for justice. It is what underscores our thoughts and discourse and helps guide our actions. We express our outrage in blogs, and on Twitter, and at marches and at conferences and in a hundred different ways. I’m thrilled to be living in Outrage World. All ages welcome.