Monday, February 1, 2010

Conservative Lady States Obvious: Liberals Can Be Sexist Too!

The other day, I came across this article, wherein a writer named Lori Ziganto note that "Misogyny is funny! If You are a Liberal, That Is (And if You're Talking About Sarah Palin)." She breathlessly claims:

"Sigh. It’s quite clear to me that the Left, for all their talk of Feminism, are anything but Feminists. You see, they are only For The Women ™ if you are the 'right' kind of woman. It isn’t about women, it’s about political agendas and maintaining power. To further their goal, they’ve created a blatantly sexist Sarah Palin meme: she’s a dum-dum beauty queen."

I know, right? That liberals can be misogynistic and sexist is not exactly a startling revelation to anyone who pays attention to contemporary feminism, which makes this critique on pretty much a daily basis. And thusly, the ignorance in that statement, especially for who Ziganto implicitly includes and excludes from the category of "the Left" really irks me.

For one, most obviously, the liberal movement is far from a monolithic group. It is easy for all of our brains to think of the culture wars as two competing armies of blue people versus red people, all of whom share the exact same beliefs as everyone else who shares their respective political label, but reality isn't that tidy. Many feminists are also liberals. And, likewise, many of these feminists do take issue with misogyny that is directed at conservative women. That Ziganto doesn't know this, or pretends not to know this, doesn't negate that.

Ironically, her criticism about the evils of liberal sexism, is quite sexist itself. By excluding feminists from the category of "the Left," she erases the existence of feminism and the existence of women who have been alienated by the sexism and misogyny of "the Left." She places the voices of liberal misogynists front and center, ass though the only Real Liberal are those who are hypocritically sexist. Note her word choice here:

But thanks, Newsweek, for once again proving that the feminist meme y’all continually trot out is hypocritical at best (only counts if it is one of your women) and utter bull at worst. [emphasis added]

Note the male-centrism in that sentence. Women aren't Real Liberals, they belong to the liberal movement, that is obviously run by sexists, men, and pseudo-feminists. And, in one sense, Ziganto is correct. Feminists and women do live at the margins of liberalism. But that doesn't mean that feminists, including those who oppose sexism in any form against any woman, do not live within the movement at all.

Two, to turn this around a bit, I do genuinely wonder where these critics such as Ziganto are when conservatives launch sexist and misogynistic attacks against liberal women. I haven't read enough of her writing to know whether she personally spoke out against sexist attacks against Hillary Clinton, but I would be curious to learn her position on that.

I mean, are there large contingents of conservatives who criticize such attacks against liberal, Democrat, and progressive women? I am not aware of them, but they may very well exist.

I know that Glenn Beck recently called women "psychos." I know that criticisms of this was all over the feminist blogosphere, but was there much conservative outrage over this?

I know that anti-feminists and "marriage defenders" I have engaged with over the internet have regularly called feminist women ugly and do not apologize for doing so. Yet, I rarely hear much conservative outrage over that.

Which brings me to my final point. Ziganto's criticism, while perhaps fueled by genuine anger and offense at sexist attacks on Palin, is centered primarily around the argument that Liberals Are So Hypocritical. Yet, conservatives by and large already know that liberals are stupid hypocrites who are wrong about pretty much everything, just as liberals already know the same about conservatives.

The real lesson to be learned by those who have the privilege of being centered within political movements is not that the Other is evil, but the more substantive and genuine truth that misogyny and sexism is wrong, no matter what women it's aimed at.

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