A feminist vapor trail


Feministing’s in your face (or on your mudflap) logo.

What with the time-sucking combo of an infant plus a toddler around the house, and the honest labor I do from time to time for a buck, I’m often late to the party. That is, breaking news, for me, is stuff that to other folks is stale, if not actually archival or ancient history. For instance, I only saw E.J. Graff’s piece on the death of the Mommy Wars a month after she published it. Who knew. Now, girls across the country are moving around figurines on boards, like their brothers and their Civil War figurines, re-enacting the old battles in an imaginary realm, the real war all done with.

So it is only just now that I see Bitch, Ph.D.’s post of last week, “Feminism is Cool,” in which she plugs Jessica Valenti’s appearance on the Colbert Report the night before. Blogosphereic cogniscenti will recall that Valenti is editor of Feministing. And any reference to this blog sets me in a nostalgic mood: it holds a special place in my heart as the blog that got me to pay attention to blogs, setting me on the path that led me to this very gratifying salon.

It all began two and a half years ago in the fall. See, along with every thinking person in North America, I’m a rabid acolyte of The Nation’s Katha Pollitt (who with Patricia Williams substantiates my subscription). I was reading a column of hers, and she cited Feministing as her source for some breaking news of interest to thinking people in North America. I thought to myself: “Self! If Sister Pollitt finds enlightenment from a blog, then I can too!” So I rummaged around Feministing. From Feministing I wandered over to I Blame the Patriarchy, at which point I basically saw the shroud of the Virgin Mary hovering over my computer screen.

After reading everything I could before my eyeballs fell out, I had an epiphany: hell, if rapier wits with prose stylings like Twisty Faster* actually grace the blogosphere, then maybe it’s a Place Worth Watching. Thence came a gradual self-education about the very lively feminist neighborhood in the blogosphere, and from that, slowly, emerged the thought that at such time as I felt the pressing need to evangelize about anything — like, I don’t know, say, My Life as a Lesbian Dad, the better to pave the road for Lesbian Dads to come — I could do worse than to hitch up onto a blog to start to do it.

Now back to Jessica Valenti. The Bitch, Ph.D. post included a YouTube excerpt of the Colbert “interview” of Valenti, who’s on the stump for her book Full Frontal Feminism. The beginning of their exchange went a little like this:

SC: What is “Full Frontal Feminism”? What do you mean by that?

JV: Sure. “Full Frontal Feminism” is kind of an “in your face,” candid, uncensored verison of feminism that hopefully gets past all the ridiculous anti-feminist stereotypes that are still out there.

SC: Like, feminists are all lesbian –

JV: Man-hating, bra-burning –

SC: — man hating, abortionists who live in covens and inseminate each other with turkey basters.

JV: Yeah, that’s about right. That sounds about right. (laughs)

Now because I trust the vigorous debate already extant in the feminist blogosphere**, and because I haven’t read the book yet, and because I still have these two sets of diapers to change and the job to get to and therefore haven’t thoroughly read that extant debate, I won’t try to do a gloss on the politics in Valenti’s statement. I will say that it doesn’t smack of the Camile Paglia, so that’s good. I will also say that women have been plucking the unsightly whiskers from the witchy chin of feminism for decades, in an attempt to get the core concepts into the brains of the poor whisker-phobic saps who’ve swallowed the anti-feminist propaganda. I wish her well, even as I lament the appearance of the hottie belly on the cover of the book.

I know that Mr. Colbert is the master of satire — and satire is my favorite rhetorical attire — but I can’t keep from weighing in on something. The description of the hoary old stereotype bears an uncanny resemblance to yours truly (e.g., coven: check). So I want to fine-tune the portrait with two points of clarification: I’m not man-hating, I’m misogyny-hating. Thank the goddess the two things (men & misogyny) are not one and the same! Heck, some of my best friends are men. They’re even close family members! And I’ll say it right here, in digital print: I love ’em! Love ’em! Especially the little one that’s home right now, bouncing up and down in his bouncy seat.

And the other thing? It wasn’t a turkey baster. It was a cute little plastic drugstore syringe.

* Twisty Faster: I Blame the Patriarchy’s author, a self-described “gentleman farmer and spinster aunt eating dinner in Austin, Texas.”
**[Later note: For instance, here’s some, at Hoyden About Town.]

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