Friday, March 2, 2012

Using Your Words

[Content note: Misogyny, body shaming, fat shaming]

In a twisted way, Susan Smith Dale's anti-feminist screed over at "Human Events: Powerful Conservative Voices" [Ker-POW!] is kind of charming in its untimeliness. (What can I say? Gallows humor is how I blog day in and day out.)

Sure, it's 2012, but why not part-ay anti-feminist style like it's 1996!?

But first things first. She begins:

"I am presently in a terrible conundrum.
I can't figure out whether it is feminism, environmentalism or the unions that is [sic] responsible for the near destruction of America.

Wow, three whole options! Good thing she's not oversimplifying things by only presenting us with two. (Is a false trichotomy a thing? It should be).

(Spoiler alert!)

Dale doesn't find her conundrum to be terribly confounding after all. She ruins the suspense and informs us right away:

"Demographically, of course, feminism is the culprit. Not only has it been directly responsible for the lack of progeny in America and the west in general, but it is primarily responsible for women leaving the home and doing whatever, most of which the members of the feminist community, forced ot [sic] otherwise, don't seem to like; in fact, they are an angry lot, very angry."

LOL. Sure.

That "demographic" thing about the "lack of progeny"? I always read that as dog whistle for "not enough white babies are being born, ruh-roh!" Am I alone there?

Anyway, notice how when women abandon our One True Role In Life As Child-Bearers, otherwise known as Having A Career, we're just "doing whatever." When men have careers, they're doing something responsible, important, and worthy of respect.

Maybe she thinks my heating bill is going to pay itself?

Or whatever.

She continues, bringing up the most pressing feminist issues of the day:

"Women, because of the many and outrageous screeds of the feminists of the 20th century, aren't quite sure what they're so angry about – it's sure not about Bill Clinton and his abuse of women, (rape, groping, 'kiss it,' bj to an adolescent in his employ, et cetera; all of that seemed to be fine with the most outrageous of their complainants) – it's about, well, I don't quite know. "

Well, that she doesn't "quite know" things about feminism is patently obvious.

And that's what so irritating about so many of these anti-feminist women.

They understand that they get extra cookies for being women who publicly hate feminism and have no problem having careers (or, sometimes, abortions) themselves while denigrating other women for making that choice. But, like most anti-feminists, they don't know much about the topic. They often can't articulate a single feminist thought without turning it into a ridiculous straw-argument version of the original. But, somehow, mysteriously, despite their ignorance, they are 100% sure that feminism is responsible for nearly every social ill facing society and themselves.

Take this narrative, for instance:

"Conversely, women, post-feminism, live lives so difficult that no one ever thought independent women would be forced to live. [sic?] And who are the so-called role models for female nightmare? [sic?]

The completely repulsive and restructured Jane Fonda? The even more-repulsive-than-Howard Dean Debbie Wasserman Shultz? The women who-knows-what-she-looked-like-pre at least a dozen plastic surgeries liberal hypocrite Nancy Pelosi?

The very sad, very fat and tragically pathetic Hillary Clinton? "

Any second Dale is going to start "raising the roof" while adding infamous single mother Murphy Brown to her list of awful, fugly women.

But seriously, you know an anti-feminist isn't even trying to form logical arguments when they basically just list off various women and call them ugly. It's interesting though. One of the big anti-feminist memes is: the big mean feminazis judge women like me who stay home and that's NOT FAIR because it's my CHOICE and I feel judged and insecure about it!

I highlight that accusation only because screeds like this make it pretty clear that anti-feminist men and women do almost nothing in their screeds but engage in the act of Judging Women. They're all protective of the housewives who stay in line like Real Women, but the ugly bitch feminists deserve what they get.

Anyway, after going off on a bizarre, anti-environmentalist, anti-union rant, Dale ends by asking a question (that she apparently forgot she already answered). Which group of people is responsible for America's demise, "the" feminists, "the" environmentalists, or "the" unions:

"Or is it just the left, who [sic] is close to achieving its goal of destroying America?"

LOL at the "the left" being anthropomorphized.

So, one of my New Year's Resolutions related to blogging was to re-think how I engage with people who write poorly. Communicating with people who are unable or unwilling to explain themselves clearly makes for some extremely frustrating Internet interactions in the context of talking about contentious political stuff.

We all make grammatical and spelling mistakes. But writing like Dale's? In this over-the-top, constantly overstating-the-case, simplistic, accusatory, dualistic, hateful, ignorant manner?

I think, for many people, our writing does evidence how we think about the world. So when a person is saying things like "the left, who" blah blah blah TOTALLY WANTS TO DESTROY AMERICA, I am questioning their reasoning and thought process. Because, as someone on "the left," my goal is not at all to destroy America, but to try to make it better than it has been. So, I'm left wondering, how and why does someone's mind go from "You know, I don't agree with everything feminists say" to the much more extreme "I'm going to write an article proving that feminists are totally destroying society!"

I think there's room for grown-up thinkers to concede that maybe we don't have these awful bad-faith motivations, and that not all feminists are feminists just because we're fat fugly baby-killers. So, I'm negotiating how to even talk to people who can't even concede points like that.

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