Jessica Valenti wants to talk about responsibility. It’s about damn time.
In her article for The Nation on September 20, 2013 Jessica scoffs that “feminism has been blamed for everything from killing the family to traffic” as if it’s absurd to think that an ideology might affect society when implemented. Certainly when women conceived of feminism they expected to see a change. That was the goal. After a hundred years, if there had been no visible effects it would be a sign of a major flaw in their technique if not full blown incompetence.
Feminism has indeed become so integrated into the fabric of our existence that it has government funding, organizations that cater only to women, female specific loans, grants, programs, charities, health services, and university degrees that make a woman an expert on nothing other than what it’s like to be a woman: you need help to survive. Surely the granting of solipsistic degrees in the study of oneself will have effects upon the society in which these intentionally narrow-minded bigots will live.
Of course it is difficult to foresee all the negative consequences of our choices before giving them a try but only feminists wish to claim immunity from all unintended results. Just like children.
Perhaps feminism is not to blame for the items on Jessica’s list but we are not given a chance to find out because feminism declares all critics misogynistic, patriarchal, rape apologists. If Valenti is so sure that feminism hasn’t contributed to the increase in single parent homes or traffic congestion she should welcome studies and discussion. If nothing else, it might help get her shopping done faster.
There are three questions feminists can ask to clear up the matter: Who are the people blaming feminism? What are the roots of the complaints? And could they be right? Of the top five issues Jessica chose for discussion three were queries made by women. Certainly feminism must care what women are worried about. It’s their basic mandate. Unfortunately, the core of the issues are never explored because Jessica cares more about being popular than being right.
Here are the top five things Jessica wants to laugh about:
1. Laura Sessions Stepp wrote an article for The Washington Post in 2006 about the increase of erectile dysfunction in young men and one of the factors of consideration was the increased sexual demands of young women. The article references studies done in universities and therapists that counsel young men. Laura seems to care about the happiness of both the young men and women in the case studies presented. Aside from the obvious trauma to the men, most women take it very personally when a man can’t get aroused to have sex with them. Jessica’s level of concern? “Because if there’s one thing that kills straight guys’ boners, it’s girls that want to have to sex with them.” Apparently Ms. Valenti thinks mockery is the best solution to a clearly identified and devastating problem.
2. A group of women who are so passionately anti-feminist they formed a group called
Concerned Women of America (CWA) to challenge feminist dogma. In 2005 the topic of concern was the dramatic increase in women being incarcerated for drug crimes, violent crimes, and fraud. The increase is an established fact. The CWA felt that women in a more sheltered, married environment were better off than modern women encouraged to be independent. While there is no reason to expect men to save women from themselves, we are still left with a nasty fact: Women have either become more criminal since feminism began or they are being held more accountable for their crimes. If it’s the first, then feminists should be concerned. If it’s the second then feminists should stop claiming that women behave better than men and celebrate our equality in being held accountable for our acts. Jessica should care which answer is correct. If women are not the innocent little doe-eyed beaten creatures that they pretend then we need to put more women in jail.
3. The next mockery is the perspective of Charlotte Allen regarding the Sandy Hook school shooting and wondering why there had been no men working at the school. While I disagree with Allen for expecting men to act more bravely than the women, who were quite valiant during the crisis, she does bring up an interesting point: Why were there no men? Allen calls the school a feminized environment and, instead of considering the question honestly, Valenti quips “Guns don’t kill people, feminized settings kill people.” Considering that feminists insist that women are vulnerable and should live in fear of attack at any moment, I find it interesting that Valenti now claims women aren’t walking targets. Which is it Jessica? Charlotte Allen is actually representing the feminist point of view.
4. We move on to an annoyingly fact riddled article by environmentalist Jack Cashill. Apparently Jessica doesn’t like inconvenient truths. She implies that his list of reasons feminist changes to society have impacted the environment is a statement that women should stop working or having careers. That simply is not the case. He’s only stating the facts, just like Steven D. Levitt wasn’t supporting abortion when, in his book Freakonomics, he linked Roe vs Wade to the decrease in crime. Some people, unlike Jessica Valenti, are curious about cause and effect. I’m fairly convinced, after reading Cashill’s article that feminism has increased pollution. The only reason to mock the facts is if you are unwilling to face unexpected problems. Real leaders are solution oriented.
5. The final entry on Jessica’s “silly list” is Weinergate. Fox News supposed that Anthony Weiner was being held to a double standard because women are becoming more sexually provocative and men can only be expected to respond. Valenti doesn’t agree. While supporting her friend, Jaclyn Friedman, who wrote an article called My Sluthood, Myself, which calls for all women to support slutty behaviour of their fellow females, Valenti can somehow still object to men acting the same way. In the words of Jessica’s co-editor on “Yes means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape”:
“Sluthood isn’t just a choice we should let women make because women should be free to make even ‘bad’ choices. It’s a choice we should all have access to because it has the potential to be liberating. Healing. Soul-fulfilling. I’m telling you this because sluthood saved me, in a small but life-altering way, and I want it to be available to you if you ever think it could save you, too. Or if you want it for any other reason at all. And because even if you don’t ever want sluthood for yourself, you’re going to be called upon to support a slut. I’m telling you this because when that happens, I want you to say yes.”
Say “yes” to Weiner, Jessica. If Anthony Weiner is the only one accountable for his slutty behaviour perhaps you should tell that to your friend, Jaclyn, as well. But that will never happen.
Within three hours of Jessica’s article we had a promotional piece (one can hardly call it writing) to let everyone know that Jessica Valenti was starting a Twitter hashtag to mock anti-feminists or anyone who has some interesting questions the feminist gang don’t want to answer. Katie McDonough published the announcement in Salon with some selected tweets showing people how to #blamefeminism for killing their house plants or spilling their coffee.
Katie either knew about this article in advance or has lightning fast reflexes.
I’m tossing a coin. I’m going to say it was co-ordinated. Silver flipping in the air… Heads I’m right… Tails who cares? If Jessica and Katie really want to know what people think about feminism and the accountability they’ve shirked thus far it’s time to let them know. Instead of cherry picking the arguments they think can be laughed off, though most of them turn out to raise good questions, I suggest that MHRAs and other concerned citizens use this opportunity to let Jessica and Katie know what issues you really blame on feminism.
To make sure they hear you, include #blamefeminism and @JessicaValenti or @kmcdonovgh in your tweet.
I’m really glad that Jessica has opened up this conversation. It’s time to actually talk about the negative side effects resulting from women being taught to focus only on their own needs. It’s time for a real dialogue in which feminists don’t get to stomp around, cry, and call people bully names. I’m a woman so it seems only appropriate that Jessica, as a feminist, will care what I think.
Jessica Valenti titled her article “Blame a Feminist: The Top Tragedies Feminism Has Wrought” but she failed to mention herself as one of those travesties.