I really should be in bed right now. I should have completed the lesson plan for that 7:35 a.m. class I have to teach, but I’ve not been able to drag myself away from the total freakshow that is traditional leftist feminism’s response to the Rosen-Romney flap. Luckily I can teach that class with my eyes closed, because I have reached saturation mode. Must. vent. now.
Oh my gawd, can you believe these women? Let’s see, Jessica Valenti and Joan Walsh have both come to Hilary Rosen’s rescue, which I wouldn’t mind so much if they were focused on how the sexism against Rosen that’s crept into this narrative is all coming from the Obama camp. Well, to be fair, Judith Warner does address the issue, but not without getting in a few jabs at Ann Romney. But for sure, Rosen is under the bus now. We could have told her it was coming. SOP. There have been countless others apologists, a whole shrill chorus of pushback noise by the left on this issue and they just keep digging deeper.
The major talking point seems to be that that what Rosen really meant was that we could completely dismiss Ann Romney’s point of view because she had been born to privilege and never walked away from it. This is a highly offensive, notably UN-feminist proposition to make, made by women who are spending a lot of time claiming and defending the feminist mantle. Also notable, they are successful career women themselves. What these women of privilege, these feminists from places like New York and L.A.–let’s call them coastal feminists for the time being–what they don’t understand is that in attacking Ann Romney’s privilege, they invite a closer examination of one of traditional feminisms biggest flaws: that it is driven by women of means and privilege, like Warner, Walsh, and Valenti. It is the cat calling the kitty black in the most transparent way possible, at least out here in the heartland where the water makes the kool aid taste funny.
Let’s take a look at these, shall we, and explore how they expose some ugly truths about traditional Democratic-oriented feminism. First up, Valenti:
What’s being lost in this conversation is the incredibly facile and insulting notion that just because a woman made the decision to marry Romney and occasionally talk to him about other women, that he is somehow well-informed on women’s issues. Ann Romney is not an expert on women’s issues just because she happens to be one. And she’s not an expert in what mothers need just because she has children. Believing otherwise is infantilizing and reduces women’s very important and complex concerns to beauty parlor chitchat.
Get that? Married women can’t inform their husband’s accurately about what other women are telling them. Because if we break it down, that’s what this is. Valenti and others would like you to believe that this is about the Romney’s making claims to know what all women want. But they never made that assertion, Democrats only claimed they did. What Romney said on the campaign trail was that Ann talked to women and reported back. So he (and she) was only reporting he knew what those specific women that Ann talked to, and by extrapolation, any woman who would fit that category, would be concerned about. In contrast, it’s Democrats who keep trying to speak for all women.
Distortion and spin are powerful tools, though, and Valenti is so desperate she’s invoking tropes that should be verboten, like the rich white bitch meme. I get that she’s a younger feminist, but I’m not old, and was born well into the second wave, and even I, without a lick of Women’s Studies (not true; I tried a couple of course to see what it was like) know that women agreed in the 1970s that it was fruitless to attack each other over privilege. No human in their right mind walks away from privilege. Women have precious little of it and more risks without it. Women only control 10% of global wealth, so these attempts to use Romney’s wealth to drive a wedge into the hearts of women for the purpose of securing their vote is not only UNfeminist, it’s actively ANTI-feminist. Dividing women, attacking them for partisan gain, hurts all women and keeps us stalled.
I love how Valenti ends her diatribe with a warning that if you buy into the GOP line, you’ll be infantilizing yourself. Oh noes! Not the dreaded diaper again. Whack. Just whack. The real problem here is exactly what we’ve been discussing here at The Crawdad Hole (comments on that link are totally worth the time, ftr). These women actually believe that women can’t think for themselves. They think you need a degree in something like women’s studies to know how to lead the poor little wenches out of their bondage. A commenter referred to it as a “high priestess” model and that really resonated with me. I don’t need any authority to tell me how to achieve my empowerment. I already know what I need. It starts with someone listening. Guess who’s listening? And guess who’s not?
Joan Walsh isn’t listening. Here’s what she had to say about Romney’s privilege: (more…)
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