Thursday, July 06, 2006

Always read Barbara Ehrenreich when you get the chance...

...especially when she takes on the those who would undermine Feminism, or undervalue its gains...

Feminism, as you've probably been reading for the last 20 years, is dead. Most women today want to smash through the glass ceiling, run for the Senate, and buy contraceptives at will (not to mention abortions, at least if the fetus they're carrying turns out to be "defective.") But feminism? It's just a bunch of hairy-legged, man-hating, harridans screaming slogans that were already obsolete in the era of Charlie's Angels.

The latest nail in the coffin comes from Ana Marie Cox, the famed blogger known as "wonkette," in her snarky review of Katha Pollitt's new book Virginity or Death! And Other Social and Political Issues of Our Times. (New York Times Book Review, July 2.) All right, I have a personal stake in this: I wrote a blurb for the book, I'm a friend of Pollitt's, and I'm a little on the strident side myself.

Enjoy the rest of Ehrenreich's response...

Cox's piece is also available online, and here is a telling excerpt:

Progressives have certainly seen setbacks in recent years— from the creeping war on contraception to the perception that they lack the stomach for pragmatic policy calls. One could view these as losses in a continuing debate, but Pollitt's columns evoke a siege. "The truth is, most of the good things about this country have been fought for by liberals," she warns in a 2004 pre-election column. "If conservatives had carried the day, blacks would still be in the back of the bus, women would be barefoot and pregnant, medical care would be on a cash-only basis, there'd be mouse feet in your breakfast cereal and workers would still be sleeping next to their machines." [emphasis mine]

Cox's sentence that I emphasized above is just one of those examples of a so-called progressive pundit accepting, without question, the Right's framing of an issue to their own benefit. First: that such losses are merely "part of a continuing debate," rather than an accurate reflection of the actual shift of the political center toward the Right. Second: that Pollitt would "evoke a siege" with her writing, when one of the main epithets the Right hurls at the Left (especially progressive women) is that we are angry. (In order to forego a discussion of the validity of such anger?) That she mentions that the quote which follows is from a 2004 pre-election column, perhaps instead demonstrates Pollitt's prescience. If you actually read Cox's blog in the past, and can contrast her material with Ehrenreich's, which one of them would you rather have speaking for the Left and for Progressives?


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