realitycheck(dot)ie

Irish doctor with too many thoughts, too little time and a blog that's supposed to check in on reality.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Virginity or Death or Same Old Feminist Delusions

Ana Marie Cox of wonkette fame reveiews Katha Pollit's new book, "Virginity or Death! And Other Social and Political Issues of Our Time" in today's The New York Times.
She ends with -
If self-described feminists choose to wear 'excruciatingly high heels' and submit to Botox, Pollitt sees a charade: 'Women have learned to describe everything they do, no matter how apparently conformist, submissive, self-destructive or humiliating, as a personal choice that cannot be criticized because personal choice is what feminism is all about.'
This may be the book's most cogent statement, though a headline in The Onion put it better: 'Women Now Empowered by Everything a Woman Does.' But there's a world of difference between choosing to wear heels that require foot-soaking and choosing to cut your toe to fit your shoe. When women dress up damaging choices as empowerment, it weakens feminist argument. But when feminists start lecturing about wrong choices, it lessens their numbers. I wish I had an easy answer about how to navigate between stridency and submission. Then again, I wish Katha Pollitt did too.


The NYT gives access to the first chapter as well. Pollitt laments the lack of "grassroots" among women who have had abortions - apparently they are unwilling to campaign. Of course that could be that they regret their decision, something Pollitt would never dare factor in, or maybe they just have not fully processed their feelings about it.
She describes the serious business of feminism as daycare, abortion, equal pay as being interlinked with sexual self expression (and darlings, of course we express that through the Vagina Monologues) - How can you see yourself as an active subject, the heroine of your own life, if you think you're an inferior being housed in a shameful, smelly body that might give pleasure to others but not to you?
In honour of EWI's sensibilities, I won't discuss my views on vaginas again, but I find this aging feminist obsession with them interesting. To the casual observer of young women, shame about their bodies is not so much tied up with sexuality as the self image, control and emotional issues of anorexia. Porn has even become mainstream, fun and cool.
Perhaps feminists should worry about their ideaologies and hobby-horses and realise that they will never again regain the conformist "revolution" of the 70s - women will make bad choices and feminists, like the patriarchs of old, simply cannot dictate to a population created by sex, which choices they deem acceptable. Realistically, wearing stilettos is not exactly the worst choice a woman could make.
And to be honest, there are times when I would rather a Victorian "man of the house" who occupied himself with the mundane realities of making money, allowing his wife to devote herself to the exalted domestic sphere to a radical feminist interested in making all women market commodities, trading fertility for abortion, child-rearing for day care and refusing to accept that equal pay is already here.

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3 Comments:

Blogger ploughman said...

The ism competes, where the feminine completes.
Man and woman find peace in and through each others differences, not by pretending that they dont exist .Kings and Queens of different spheres.

July 04, 2006 6:38 a.m.  
Blogger EWI said...

And to be honest, there are times when I would rather a Victorian "man of the house" who occupied himself with the mundane realities of making money, allowing his wife to devote herself to the exalted domestic sphere to a radical feminist interested in making all women market commodities, trading fertility for abortion, child-rearing for day care and refusing to accept that equal pay is already here.

So, are you now going to hand back your doctorate and your career and settle down to make lots of babies, Auds? I *know* that women fulfill a vital role in birthing and rearing the next generation, but they (you) are _also_ human beings with equal intellectual abilities to men and should possess the right to pursue your chosen professions. A Gordian knot?

July 06, 2006 3:46 p.m.  
Blogger Auds said...

My point is simply that in a toss up between patriachral husbands of old and feminists of today, I'd pick the male chauvinist pig.

I heartily agree with the statement women "are _also_ human beings with equal intellectual abilities to men and should possess the right to pursue your chosen professions".
I also think however, that women are perfectly entitled not to pursue professions and not be sneered and belittled by the feminist movement for it.

July 11, 2006 12:08 a.m.  

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