Innate womanhood

Cordelia Fine and Echidne of the Snakes both discuss gender researchers’ belief that men and women are innately different is the cold-blooded, rational scientific viewpoint, so feminists who disagree are obviously arguing based on politics.
As Echidne points out, some of the same scientists have no qualms asserting opinions—men’s unique minds are undervalued in society!—that seem someone less than cold-blooded. Fine points out that in some cases, it’s not a matter of what the research tells us but how confident we are that the speculation or tentative data shows a real pattern.
At a lower level of discourse, right-wing pundit Kathleen Parker asserts, based on—well, assertion—that “The feminist woman of the left, who burned her bra and insisted that all hear her roar, is today a taupe-ish figure who wonders where things went wrong. The daughter she begat may well be a Republican – a gun-toting, breast-feeding supermom of several who condemns government for being a “nanny” and tells men to man up.
“Adding insult to injury, she’s also probably considered a “hottie” by the men who stand by admiringly, watching their women show those libs a thing or two about being a “hard-core woman.”
As Roy Edroso points out (link is to his blog—I see no reason to send anyone to Parker unless they want to make the effort), this is one of the oldest chestnuts in the right-wing arsenal: Feminists are ugly! They don’t shave their legs! They don’t dress like girls!
The gist of the column is that Sarah Palin is a Real Feminist, but brilliantly repackaging herself to be both sexy and yet sublimely competent at hunting and other manly tasks, thereby establishing herself as Alpha Woman.
The flaw in this is that Palin isn’t any sort of feminist. That would require believing women, in general, are entitled to equal rights, rather than that she herself is a special snowflake entitled to play with the big boys. As witness she’s criticized women for saying they’re victims of sexism while keeping her mouth shut when her supporters make the same argument. In contrast to a number of real feminists who stuck up against sexist criticism of Palin, even though they loathed her views.
As for competent—at what? Palin’s a quintessential celebrity; her tweets, books, etc. aren’t based on any particular insight or knowledge, just on the fact that she’s famous, she’s pretty, the media covers her and … well, that’s it.
As for her argument about “taupe” feminists seeing their daughters turn Republican: I’m sure some have. But of course, plenty of conservatives see the pendulum swing the other way, as this blog by a friend of mine shows. If Parker’s point was that Palin is a better feminist than real feminists … um, no.
Parker’s also played the flip side of this bilge, that liberal men are as unmanly as feminists are unfeminine. When Democrats criticized Bush after the “Mission Accomplished” speech back in 2004, she sneered at them as the equivalent of whiny nerds jealous of the high school’s winning quarterback.
Of course, neither column is as bad as the one where she actually embraced Islam’s view of women (asserting that it was humiliating to have Iran’s leaders lecture the West on putting women in combat because [gasp!] he was right!).
But if I keep going on about Parker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning career (apparently you really can’t go broke underestimating the taste of the American public) I’ll be here all night.

3 Comments

Filed under Politics

3 responses to “Innate womanhood

  1. Pingback: Undead Sexist Cliche: Feminists would be taken seriously if they weren’t so serious « Fraser Sherman's Blog

  2. Pingback: A couple more Undead Sexist Cliches … | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  3. Pingback: Undead sexist cliche: Sarah Palin is a REAL feminist | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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