Taking One For the Team: The Flipside of Feminism-What Conservative Women Know and Men Can’t Say

flipside to feminismIt’s no secret to anyone familiar with my little place on the Internet that I am a liberal, progressive feminist, and I don’t apologize for it. But in a presidential year that is both historical and hysterical, I can’t help but be intrigued by conservative, right-winged, anti-feminist types. So, I’ve decided to take one the team, and read books written by these anti-me creatures and post my reviews for a new series I call Taking One For the Team. You’re very welcome. Here is my first effort.

Oh those irksome feminists with their abortion parties, man hating conventions and false accusations of rape. Feminists focus so much on frivolous things like equal pay for equal work, voting rights, domestic violence, and sexual harassment. Feminists, who are so hell-bent on power, they control the media, the workplace, families, government, education, Hollywood, sports, and religion. Feminists want to destroy! Destroy, I say!

Well, I don’t think feminists want to destroy much of anything other than strict patriarchy. But Phyllis Schlafly and her niece Suzanne Venker are quite certain feminists are a destructive bunch. And both of them try to convince us with their book Bitches Ain’t Shit. Oops, I mean, The Flipside of Feminism: What Conservative Women Know and Men Can’t Say.

Many of you know Phyllis Schlafly. During feminism’s second wave, Phyllis spoke out publicly against the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) and pesky women libbers. Phyllis claimed to be simple housewife who treated politics as a hobby. But Phyllis wasn’t content to work the election polls in between loads of laundry. Married to a wealthy man, Phyllis had domestic help, is a Harvard educated lawyer, and a prolific writer and lecturer. She ran for Congress when her eldest child was a toddler and campaigned against feminism and the ERA when her youngest was in junior high and high school. Does that sound like a simple housewife to you? Nope, that sounds like a woman who benefited from feminism.

And who is Suzanne Venker? Not quite as well-known as her aunt, Suzanne has also authored several books and is a contributor to Fox News. She’s also just as smug as Phyllis. In the opening of The Flipside of Feminism, Suzanne assumes the reason why she’s a conservative, and therefore superior to liberal feminazis, is because she was raised by members of the Greatest Generation, not the Baby Boom generation. Yes, the reason why you feminists smoked the pot, had premarital sex, and now vote for Democrats is because you were raised by Steve and Elise Keaton, not Archie and Edith Bunker.

Suzanne wastes no time mentioning that her mother, Auntie Phyllis, and other assorted anti-feminists didn’t need feminism to obtain an education or a career. Well, that may be true for them, but plenty of women were denied education and careers simply because they were women. My own maternal grandmother was denied a high school education because she had to go to work at 14 to help support her family and an education was considered a waste on a girl. However, Suzanne would disregard my grandmother’s experience and others just like her. In fact, Suzanne and Phyllis arrogantly ignore their own privilege throughout this entire book and assume other women are simply not as smart, hard-working, or talented as them.

Suzanne and Phyllis also assume women turned to feminism because a handful of them, notably Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, experienced dysfunctional childhoods or rocky marriages, and society should not pay the price for their maladjustment. Gee, nice show of compassion ladies. As if conservatives never experienced crappy childhoods or bad marriages.

Speaking of marriage, feminists love divorce according to Suzanne and Phyllis. We love divorce so much we want to marry it! However, there is no examination why some feminists concerned themselves with divorce. Nor is does this book mention conservatives who are divorced like Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura.

Feminists may love divorce but we hate marriage and motherhood. We want to replace being supported by our husbands with being supported by taxpayers. And as for feminists demeaning motherhood, I just think feminism was brave enough admit motherhood wasn’t all sunshine and daisies for some women. You know who I think demeans motherhood? Michelle Duggar, who seems to see her children as accessories, not full human beings (though one is disgusting sister-molesting pervert and a cheating man whore). And we all know Michelle would never wear “This is What Feminist Looks Like” T-shirt.

What else? Well, feminists demand Title IX, which opened up athletic opportunities for girls, because guys who play sports are usually conservative (yea, right). We hate men but somehow are responsible for irresponsible sexual hook-ups. We lie about rape and sexual harassment. And companies are struggling because we want to earn the same pay as men for doing the same exact job. The nerve!

And who are these horrible feminists? Well, according the authors, feminists fit into two camps, radical feminists (Andrea Dworkin) and media feminists (Katie Couric, Oprah). Feminists are can be found in large urban areas like Manhattan, Los Angeles, and Washington DC. Feminist want nothing more than to rip off a Montana born and bred housewife’s apron and replace it with a hard hat. Phyllis and Suzanne can’t imagine feminists who live in fly over country, bake cookies, work regular jobs, cherish their families, and include women, men, and children.

At the end of The Flipside of Feminism, Phyllis and Suzanne offer tips on how to combat the evil effects of feminism. One of my favorites? Educate your son how feminism has harmed society and encourage them to seek out conservative women. So if that cool chick your son meets in his French Literature class has a playlist filled with Ani DiFranco downloads he should run far away and date that simpering lass who owns a tattered copy of Fascinating Womanhood.

I must give Phyllis and Suzanne some credit. They write with total conviction; they don’t hem and haw. And I can imagine some people reading this book thinking feminism is the other “F-word.” However, people with critical thinking skills will be able to read between the lines and realize Suzanne and Phyllis are just a couple of snotty and selfish Queen Bees. They are all three “Heathers,” and the rest of just a bunch of “Martha Dumptrucks”.

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Book Review: Girls to the Front-The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution by Sara Marcus

girls to the frontMention the term “riot grrrl” and you’ll probably get a lot of different responses. ‘Zines, Doc Martens, punk bands, feminism, baby barrettes, Kathleen Hanna, and writing “slut” on one’s stomach are just a few words that may come to mind. But to write a history of the riot grrrl movement and how it shaped a generation is one hell of an intimidating task. Thankfully, writer Sara Marcus has the ovaries to do just that in her book Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution.

Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s young women and girls were sick and tired of the sexism they found in their beloved punk music scene. Girls were to be seen, not heard. They were also furious about a country that seemed to be eroding the rights their feminist foremothers fought for. But instead of withdrawing, these brave women and girls decided to fight back through music, activism, ‘zines and support groups. And they called themselves riot grrrls.

In Girls to the Front, Marcus writes how the riot grrrl movement got its start in the Pacific Northwest and the Washington, DC area and soon grew throughout the country uniting like-minded girls (and some guys, too). Some of them of these riot grrrls became well-known names and were considered the leaders of the riot grrrl movement.

But many were just young girls who finally found something they could believe in, themselves.

Marcus doesn’t solely focus on riot grrls as a whole movement; she focuses mostly on the grrrls themselves the most famous probably being Kathleen Hanna, Tobi Vail and Erin Smith. She describes in vivid detail how a lot of young women formed their own bands and many produced their own zines. And there were riot grrrl meetings where budding young feminists discussed abusive families, rape and the sexism they dealt with on a daily basis, often for the very first time.

Though the riot grrrl movement turned out to be a positive thing for most involved, it did have its share of problems, and Marcus isn’t afraid to discuss them. The riot grrrl movement was often looked upon as too white and middle-class. The sexism the bands had to deal with at shows was beyond appalling. When the mainstream press finally decided to examine the riot grrrl movement, it simplified it to a bunch of silly girls in vintage frocks and Doc Martens, writing slogans on their bellies and boobs.

But most disheartening was the infighting among the women in the riot grrrl movement. I must admit I cringed when Marcus described how Bratmobile broke up at a gig while playing on stage. And sadly, by the mid -1990s the riot grrrl movement as it was known splintered and imploded.

However, in a follow-up, Marcus tells us what the women profiled in the book are doing with their lives. Some continue to play music. Some are professors, writers and artists. Many are activists. As short-lived as the riot grrrl movement may have been, it turned out to have a long lasting effect on countless women.

Girls to the Front is tirelessly researched, empathetic to its core and brutally honest. At times it can be a daunting read, but it’s also empowering and enlightening whether you were a riot grrrl or not.

Brag Book

bragWhat a delightful surprise it was to spark up the old computer this morning, check my email for this blog and find out the one and only Ms. Katha Pollitt had left me a comment praising my review of her book Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights.

Ms. Pollitt also gave my blog and my review a shout-out on her Twitter feed:

I am truly thrilled to be recognized by this talented writer and brave woman!

 

 

 

Book Review: Pro-Reclaiming Abortion Rights by Katha Pollitt

proI’ve been a Katha Pollitt fan ever since I discovered her columns in The Nation magazine several years ago. I always found her take on feminism, politics and assorted social issues to be eye-opening and thought-provoking. And I always appreciated her smart, down-to-earth and humorous writing style. Now she’s bringing all of this (and more) with her latest book Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know abortion is one of the most controversial issues in our country, especially since Roe v. Wade was made into law 1973. Those who call themselves pro-life are doing everything in their power to overturn Roe v. Wade.  Even some people who call themselves pro-choice consider abortion to be a tragic choice and one that should only be used as a last resort.

In Pro: Reclaiming Abortion rights, Pollitt claims that if women want to be able to control their lives in the ways they see fit, then they must fully be able to control their reproductive rights. Women must be able to make decisions of when and if they become mothers. Access to abortion and various forms of birth control are a part of making sure women are fully-actualized human beings.

Pro is divided into several well-written and sharply focused chapters. These chapters include reclaiming abortion, finding out what Americans think of abortion, asking “what is a person” and “are women people.” In one chapter Pollitt delves into the six myths of abortion, which include the crazy ideas that women are coerced into having abortions and opponents of abortion would never punish women. In another chapter, Pollitt tells us when it comes to abortion, it’s not necessarily abortion the pro-lifers oppose (spoiler alert: it’s women living their lives by their own standards, ideas, dreams and ambitions). In another chapter Pollitt asks if there can be a compromise on abortion and on another chapter behooves us to reframe motherhood.

Abortion has always been around, long before Roe V Wade. Since the beginning of time women have sought ways to control their fertility. And abortion won’t go away if Roe V. Wade is overturned. However, anti-abortion zealots have done a very good job in stripping away women’s reproductive rights from the closing of clinics to calling women seeking out reproductive control options “sluts” and “prostitutes” to abstinence-only sex education.

Needless, to say, a lot of reproductive rights activists and supporters are disgusted by the pro-life zealots framing the abortion debate. But Pollitt also calls out the pro-choice movement for not standing up to these zealots as effectively as they should. Fortunately, Pro lays out ways the pro-choice crowd can drown out these zealots and ensure women maintain their reproductive rights by focusing on what can happen when women can’t decide when and if they will give birth. These ramifications can affect a women’s whole life, personally and professionally.

Pro is filled with detailed information, and Pollitt includes a list of over 20 books for additional reading on women’s reproductive rights. She also provides interesting personal stories that help frame her ideas and opinions on the abortion debate that are definitely food for thought. Granted Pro might not change any minds when it comes to those on the extreme right when it comes to reproductive rights. And when it comes to the pro-choice crowd, Pro is definitely preaching to the choir, Perhaps, Pro is best to be read by those in the middle who always want to frame abortion as an option that should remain legal but is always one that is clouded in shame and an agonizing choice for most women, when in reality, it may be the easiest choice.