So, over at Lousy Canuck Jason Thibeault has posted a link to a radio show that he thinks is aiming at strawfeminism. I decided to listen to it, because long experience has taught me that I really can’t trust anyone who simply says “This is stupid”, and I can report that Thibeault is completely wrong in this assessment: they’d have to actually be making arguments before you could claim they’re taking apart strawpersons.
They have two big “arguments”:
1) There are two types of feminists: attractive ones and not-so-attractive ones. The attractive ones use their attractiveness to their advantage and gets jobs and families and good lives, while the not-so-attractive ones get jobs in academics and government and are very angry about their lack of attractiveness.
2) Feminists and women are acting only in their own interests, and so don’t care any more about family or anyone else.
Now, on the first claim, this is actually provably untrue, because I personally know — dealing with academics a fair bit and feminists — that there are a number of quite attractive women who are feminists of the sort that they seem to deride as falling into the unattractive category in terms of behaviour, and an number of less attractive women who use their skills and marketing to get jobs in industry. I know that feminists here will be exasperated that I am opposing their argument by focusing on the attractiveness of the women, but my reply is that when their entire argument and distinction is based on judging the attractiveness of the women involved the easiest way to tear them apart is, in fact, to point out the factual error instead of trying to get into a debate over whether they should be judging on attractiveness or not, especially since logically if I did try that they could easily point out that we should do that in this case because it is the differentiating factor. Thus, I point out that it ain’t, and refute their point, instead of dancing around it in an attempt to shift the focus to a topic more, uh, correct.
Going further, they might have been able to draw a distinction between women who are willing to use their attractiveness and sexuality as a selling point in order to get ahead in life and women who find that to be sexist and objectifying and so detrimental to women as a whole. This would actually be a reasonable debate in feminism, although it’s clear that a number of women who might be associated with that attitude due to their results would deny actually doing that or thinking it acceptable, so it’s a bit shaky. But at least it would have been a point that isn’t just clearly factually wrong; the whole debate over women and sexuality seems to relate to attitudes kinda like this. So there’d be some intelligence in making a point like this. Guess what they didn’t do?
On the second claim, it’s probably true … but not limited to feminism. We are a far more individualistic society than we used to be and a far more selfish one, or at least it seems that way to me. I’m not even going to say that I’m immune, given that I can be fairly selfish far too much of the time. So that women are being encouraged to put their own interests first and reject the old-fashioned ideas of sacrifice and concern for others is a sign of the overall society, not of feminism, and so we shouldn’t expect feminism to be immune from that. Thus, here, they relate something that is at least arguably true … but miss that it’s a societal trait, not a feminist trait.
Thus I can quote one voice in Wizardry 8 in reference to this clip: “It is void of content.”