Why Joni Mitchell's rejection of feminism broke my heart a little (and why I'm tired of talking about Beyoncé)

I haven’t been able to muster the energy to care about, as everyone else seems to, whether Beyoncé is, isn’t, should or should not be, a feminist. I’m tired of trying to force female pop stars who think feminism is extremist or off-putting or who don’t really understand what it is to begin with to call themselves feminist. And, more generally, celebrities aren’t my go-to source when it comes to seeking out informed perspectives on political movements.

Beyoncé may well be a “strong” (whatever that means — I don’t find the “strong woman” label to be particularly descriptive unless we are invested in reinforcing some kind of “strong woman” vs. “weak woman” dichotomy, which I am not), successful woman, but that doesn’t necessarily make her a feminist. I’d say she’s empowered but that word has been overused to the point of having lost all meaning and now grates on my ears, so I won’t. Indeed Beyoncé has a particular kind of power in this world, but having power is not the same thing as being a feminist.

While, in the past, she conveyed discomfort with the feminist label, Beyoncé recently said, tentatively, in an interview with Vogue: “But I guess I am a modern-day feminist. I do believe in equality. Why do you have to choose what type of woman you are? Why do you have to label yourself anything? I’m just a woman and I love being a woman.” Not exactly the defiant declaration Janelle Hobson, who wrote Ms. magazine’s controversial cover story: “Beyoncé’s Fierce Feminism,” wanted it to be, but fine, if Beyoncé wants to be a feminist, she’s more than welcome to join the movement.

Beyoncé is a pop star. I like her music in the same way I like any other pop music — without much thought or commitment/when it’s dance party time. She either chooses or is pressured to objectify herself and to use her sexualized body to sell her product. Likely it is a more complex combination of “choice” and social/industry pressure/standards which our intellectually dulled, neoliberal we’re-all-special-snowflakes, postfeminist minds can’t seem to get our heads around. We are more comfortable with binaries: choice or coercion, agency or exploitation, victim or survivor. Of course, nobody is just one thing and, therefore, the reasons for Beyoncé’s sexualized image are myriad. They are, without a doubt, cultural. They are, without a doubt, due to a standard set and reinforced by a music industry that, largely, doesn’t allow women who aren’t conventionally attractive and “sexy” success. Ugly men abound in music. Not only do they abound, but they rule (and are rewarded with groupies and “video hos”). Women, on the other hand, have to be hot. There are exceptions to that rule, as there are exceptions to all rules, but it’s still the rule.

So Ms. magazine put Beyoncé on their cover. Mostly, I assume, to sell magazines. Not being either “for” or “against” Beyoncé, I can’t bring myself to care too much about this decision. Unlike Hobson, though, I don’t Beyoncé’s fleeting girl power messages (“Who Run the World (Girls)”/ “All the Single Ladies”) as feminist and I can’t figure out why we need, so desperately, to force them to be. Sure, I wish every woman in the public eye were a feminist, but that’s unrealistic. It feels desperate to me — trying to drag stilettoed women into our clubhouse by their booty shorts, kicking and screaming, holding them down while we tattoo “This is what a feminist looks like” across their foreheads. I’d rather focus on regular women, working class women, poor women, marginalized women and on my sisters in the movement than on celebrities and pop stars, frankly.

To me, one of the worst things that came from the controversy that ensued as a result of Ms. magazine’s choice of cover model was, actually, the response from who says:

what is surprising to me is the level of vitriol and mean-girl over-the-top outrage that accompanied the news of Beyoncé’s cover on the Ms. Facebook page. Whatever one may feel about Beyoncé as a feminist icon, when did it become acceptable to call this married mother of a toddler daughter a “stripper” and a “whore”?

Now, I don’t know what angry internet user called Beyoncé a “stripper” or a “whore” but I reckon (based on their liberal use of sexist slurs) it wasn’t a feminist. Using that as an example of the backlash against the Beyoncé cover seems a tad misrepresentative, unless we are now taking what internet trolls say as legitimate feminist critique (in which case we’re all a bunch of “whores” — sorry ladies, internet says). The fact that Hobson felt inclined to note, in the same sentence, that Beyoncé is a “married mother of a toddler,” as though being a married mother is proof of her status as “good woman” and therefore NOT a “stripper” or a “whore” (sorry, but whether or not a woman is married or a mother has nothing to do with whether or not she deserves to be called those names) was also pretty off-putting.

Hobson’s response was disappointing, as it really only reinforced this “either you can be a slut or a prude” thing that is so prevalent in conversations about the sexualization of women’s bodies. Critiques of the fact that women learn to perform for the male gaze and to make their bodies into products are turned into “pearl-clutching” and represented as attempts to force sexy ladies into buttoned-up blouses. Hobson says the conversation about Beyoncé’s sexualized image is about “policing women’s bodies.” I say it’s part of a conversation about the ways our culture teaches women to value themselves and the ways we allow women to be visible. We feel powerful when we are desired. That power is temporary and without substance. That feminists might be critical of the fact that women have to dance around in their underwear in their music videos while men get to keep their pants on (and have women in their underwear dance dance around them) doesn’t equate to “pearl-clutching” or forced modesty.

Hobson wants to make Beyoncé’s self-objectification about Beyoncé’s own personal version of feminism and turns feminists into oppressors who want to “regulate” women’s bodies, when really feminism is about supporting all the choices women make because feminism is for everybody!

Are you bored yet? Me too.

The point isn’t “Beyoncé: Feminist icon or SKANK”. She’s neither. And for whatever reason (can I get a obsession-with-celebrity-culture?) this conversation has been had to death.

So while everyone else is all up in arms about Beyoncé’s feminism or lack thereof, what I really want to know is: Why isn’t Joni Mitchell a feminist?

In an interview with Jian Ghomeshi on CBC Radio’s Q, which was mostly wonderful and intelligent and the cause of much swooning in Mitchell’s fans (of which I am one), there was this awkward moment. And I tried very hard to ignore it.

My aural love affair with Joni Mitchell began over two decades ago, with my mother’s records. Blue became one of my all-time favorite albums when I was about 15. So when she told Ghomeshi: “I’m not a feminist,” I quickly suffocated the quote with a mental pillow and stuffed it into a suitcase along with everything I don’t feel like acknowledging (because, as it turns out, everything awesome gives you cancer). “I’m choosing to ignore that,” was my response to other feminists who noted their disappointment in Mitchell’s words. They, like me (though less committed to denial), felt let down by one of their icons.

And she didn’t just say “I’m not a feminist,” and leave it at that. She was downright hostile.

The painful thing about Mitchell’s rejection of feminism and feminists is that she teases us with all of her feminist consciousness. She says, of her album, Blue: “It was a man’s world… The game was to make yourself larger than life.” Mitchell was told she revealed too much of herself on that album, showed too much weakness and, in a man’s world, vulnerability is a bad thing. She brilliantly calls out the bullshit myth that was the “free love movement” of the 60s as being what it was: “a ruse for guys” — a way to get laid. Mitchell doesn’t fake humility, as women are meant to. She doesn’t hide her talent, she doesn’t pretend as though she is unaware that she is gifted and not only gifted, but better, much better than so many (most, even) other artists. Women aren’t supposed to know they are good. At very least, they aren’t supposed to say they are good. Mitchell isn’t afraid of her ego. “I’m too good for a girl,” she says. It made her male contemporaries uncomfortable.

But then — stab-stab-stab — “I’m not a feminist.”

“Where’s that line for you,” Ghomeshi asks. “I don’t want to get a posse against men,” Mitchell responds. Stab-cry-stab.

She qualifies her statement: “I’ve got a lot of men friends.” (more crying) “Too many amazons in that community… The feminism in this continent isn’t feminine, it’s masculine. Our feminism isn’t feminism, it’s masculinism.”

There’s this idea that being a feminist means being more “like men.” It’s a stupid idea, perpetuated, I’d thought, by stupid people and conservatives. Feminism is, of course, about challenging the idea that such a thing exists as “masculine” or “feminine.” It’s about the fact that we learn gender. Neither “masculinity” or “femininity” exists in a biological sense and therefore neither is better or worse than the other. Traits that are typically associated with “femininity” are, of course, seen as “worse” because all things “woman” are seen are “worse” in our culture. Feminism is neither “feminine” or “masculine.” Nor should it be a celebration of either.

It sounds like maybe she’s had some bad experiences with feminists. She says they’ve been nasty. To her, perhaps? I don’t know. But something or some things made her hate feminism.

In an interview done by Ani DiFranco back in 1998, the Mitchell tells her: “I prefer the company of men,” going on “to describe the pleasure of being the only female presence among men.”

I don’t want to have to say “I like men, too, Joni!” “I’ve got lots of men friends, too, Joni! And I think they’re great! AND I’m a feminist! See? SEE??” Because that isn’t the point. And I’m tired of hearing feminists have to say “We don’t hate men, we love them!” as a way to try to sell our movement.

Mitchell’s rejection of feminism doesn’t make me mad, though I understand the angry and frustrated reaction from some of her feminist fans who wonder how this seemingly feminist and highly intelligent woman could take such cliched and ignorant stabs at them — it made me sad. She seems like she’s right there with us, until we get to the movement part.

DiFranco writes:

Joni has been personally disturbed by her own second-class citizenship for many years, as well she should be. It is interesting to study her public treatment, especially in the context of, say, her buddy Bob Dylan. For 30 years, Bob has been surrounded by a wealth of media hyperbole (“voice of a generation,” etc.) that was never lavished on Joni. Only now is she beginning to receive some of the public strokes befitting her contribution to popular music. After all this time, though, some of the praising “rings hollow,” she confided. Why has Bob been so thoroughly canonized and Joni so condescended to over the years? Maybe, in part, because when Joni was uppity, she was considered a bitch, and the media retaliated. From day one, however, Bob could be as uppity as he wanted, and the great mammoth rock press lauded his behavior as rebellious, clever, renegade and punkishly cool. Maybe it’s also because Bob’s songs are inherently more masculine (go figure) and have therefore been viewed as more universal, while Joni’s writing, which has a more feminine perspective, is put in a box labeled “girl stuff.”

Mitchell knows that her experiences in life and in music are gendered. She knows she’s been treated differently in the “man’s world” that is the music industry. Maybe she feels she wants to side with the men because she feels she made it on her own accord. The boys don’t need a movement to make it.

I remember wanting to be one of the boys. I tried, in a number of ways, in various periods of my life, to be one of the boys. I tried playing with He-Man instead of Barbie. I refused to wear pink until about 2010. I tried going to strip clubs and I tried hating girls. But hating women won’t make you one of the boys. Things will never get better for women by rejecting women or by trying to be more “like men.” I have lots of male friends because I like those particular men. I have lots of female friends because I like those particular women. I definitely don’t feel I should go to, or enjoy going to, strip clubs in order to be accepted by men. I no longer want to be accepted by men who go to strip clubs.

I can’t claim to know what led Joni Mitchell to reject feminism in the way that she has. I can relate, because of past experience, to what some might call internalized misogyny (if you’ve ever heard a woman say, or even said yourself: “Oh I just don’t get along with other women,” you might know what I mean) — meaning that when one learns all their life that being a woman is a bad thing, sometimes we take that on and respond not by challenging that socialization but by rejecting and hating women and all that comes along with what it means to be a woman in a patriarchal culture.

I still love Joni. I love her music. I respect her. But I’m sad, not only that she’s rejected feminism but that, in many ways, she’s rejected women. I’m sad that her experiences of sexism made her turn against us instead of develop her feminist consciousness; instead of thinking about and challenging the larger power structures and the ways in which inequality shaped her experiences.

It’s hard to be a feminist. You can’t just go along your merry way, pretending as though your status as “woman” doesn’t stalk you at every turn. But feminism has provided me with lens through which I can see and understand my experiences and the world around me in a way that freed me from anger. Which isn’t to say I don’t get angry. I do. But I know why that anger is there and I know what to do with it. Being more “like men” or being “one of the boys” isn’t going to change the fact that I’m a woman in this world. It isn’t going to stop rape or domestic abuse. Being “strong” and independent isn’t going to save me or any other woman from being harassed or groped on the bus. Objectifying other women at the strip club isn’t going to empower me or the women on stage. Objectifying myself isn’t going to protect me from objectification. Which is why feminism matters. Individual women can try as they might to change their individual circumstances, but they still are part of a social class called “women” and that still means something in this world.

With all of Mitchell’s feminist analysis and all of her experiences, we wanted more from her. But I can’t bring myself to hold it against her. All it does is to remind me how hard things still are, and how tired we all get, struggling to make it, to live our lives, and to not feel a constant sense of rage about the ways that our gender determines our experiences. We don’t want it to be true, but it is. And the awfulness of misogyny isn’t only in the ways women are treated by men, but in the ways we treat ourselves and the ways we see other women. Feminism doesn’t mean we have to love all individual women. I definitely don’t. But it means we don’t hate them because they are women. We don’t hate Beyoncé because she poses in her underwear in magazines — we hate that she has to.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

Like this article? Tip Feminist Current!

$
Personal Info

Donation Total: $1

  • By far the most thoughtful response I’ve seen to both the Joni and Beyonce criticisms. Thank you for writing this!

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thanks Sarah! It did take me a while to get my head around the whole thing…

  • lizor

    Thank you so much for writing this! I heard that interview too and I was broken hearted. I really appreciate your opening this discussion as it has really been bothering me.

    I was surprised at first and then remembered hearing from a friend who is an acquaintance of Mitchell that, about ten years ago she referred in conversation to Ani DiFranco as a “man-hating bitch”. So I think you are correct about the internalized misogyny.

    She also said to Gomeshi something to the effect of “I can go toe to toe with any man.”, which is also, of course, not what this movement is about.

    Sigh.

    Another word/tract I am really sick of is “feminism is about women being equal to men”. WTF does that mean exactly? Nothing, from what I can discern. “Equal” needs a qualifier as in “equal pay for equal work” or “equal opportunity”, but being “equal to men” means squat. Beyond living in a culture that creates and enforces differences that do not exist, the mere fact alone of our severely divergent histories, puts the lie to that concept altogether.

    • Meghan Murphy

      “She also said to Gomeshi something to the effect of “I can go toe to toe with any man.”, which is also, of course, not what this movement is about.”

      Yeah, like, where do people get these ideas from? What does going or not going ‘toe to toe with any man’ have to do with feminism? How could she have missed the boat so badly on this one? So frustrating…

      • lizor

        I have been thinking about this some more and I think there are a couple of things going on here. First of all I am quite sure that DiFranco is dead right when she talks about the extreme double standards that Mitchell would have been subject to during her rise. She has always been unapologetically cranky about the business and I suspect she has no small share of anger, having been exposed to the extreme sexism of the music industry. When you consider as well that she has been in relative isolation for quite some time – I remember nearly two decades ago she made a comment that when one has the privileges of wealth and fame, there’s not much fodder for songwriting. So it’s quite possible that Joni, who self-admittedly lives in a bit of a bubble, simply has not bothered to consider any feminists texts or thought and that she has her own complex relationship to her anger at a male-dominated environment.

  • Ana Fury

    Patti Smith and Chrissie Hynde have made similar anti-feminist statements. You’re right- it’s a mix of internalized misogyny and “the exceptional woman” syndrome. They were all making music in the 70’s when the women’s movement was making a lot of gains. It’s disappointing to see talented women make these statements to ingratiate themselves with men in an effort to get the recognition they deserve. It just keeps perpetuating the myth that only some women are deserving: the ones who won’t alienate too much, the ones who can take it, the ones who profess their love of men.

    • copleycat

      Not surprised about Patti Smith. If I remember correctly, in Cheri Currie’s autobiography she mentions how once the Runaways were syched because they thought they were going to meet Smith at one of her shows but she refused to meet with them.

  • Rhonda Woman

    Think I’ll go listen to Court & Spark again (& cry a little). The Beyonce part was good too, but I am deeply disheartened to hear it from Mitchell. I’m not sure why I think of it as a betrayal. Maybe it’s because it’s clear to me that Beyonce is a commodity. She is a product and embraces the fact that she is sold. In fact, she’s largely in control of that commerce. She will not say that she is a feminist until she is no longer seeking to sell herself in the marketplace, so “meh” I could give a fuck. But Joni Mitchell never presented herself as a commodity. She seemed to do everything that she could to eschew such trappings. Her work seemed real, genuine to me and now, with this revelation, it seems a little less so.

    • Vouchsafer

      “Beyonce is a commodity. She is a product and embraces the fact that she is sold.”

      I think Rhonda’s right. The difference between Joni Mitchell and Beyonce is that Beyonce is from a generation of women in the industry that has evolved to be a little more savvy when it comes to the bottom line, which is money. She is a business woman, primarily, and yes, the girl can sing, but she hasn’t the art inside her that Mitchell has.

      FOr example, I don’t picture Beyonce, after having expressed the wish to go to a concert like Woodstock, contenting herself with watching it from a hotel room because a record company exec told her she couldn’t go, but that’s what Mitchell described in the interview.

      Because of a restriction put on her by a man, Mitchell was forced to sit back and watch it from the sidelines. The result was that she used her creativity to craft a reflection that captured the zeitgeist of the time.

      It’s possible that she may have been similarly pigeon-holed away from feminism by record company execs as well. That does not mean her lyrics don’t capture the zeitgeist of how it feels to be a woman oppressed by the patriarchy. Just because the artist distances herself from feminism as a movement doesn’t mean the feminist content of her art must be erased.

      Art is in the eyes and ears of the beholder, and subject to whatever interpretations the individual feels when they experience that art. Just because she won’t identify as feminist doesn’t mean her words do not resound within the hearts of women.

      Mind you, I think it’s very telling that a woman with her iconic status still dosn’t have the freedom to identify as feminist. She seemed to almost miss the point of what feminism is with her rejection of it. Or maybe what it really is is a frustration on the part of women of Mitchell’s generation with the way ‘mainstream fun feminism’of the slut-walk ilk has attempted to divert the gains made by the movement in earlier decades of her life.

  • What I have experienced and “seen” of “feminism” or the “feminist” movement has never attracted me to it however, I liked your blog very much – it was well thought out – respectful of the women you talk about (except calling Joni’s comment “ignorant” – which seemed unnecessary to the point you were making).

    The last “feminist” video I watched on Youtube showed a group of college women screaming and swearing and trying to hit men who were holding a meeting. I was so turned off. I was embarrassed to the point of distress.

    I have also seen many sweeping feminist comments asserting “our” (female) rights to/and control of charges of sexual harassment/assault. And NO, I don’t want to see men have that equal right but it does get dicey when false allegations are used as a weapon to get even with men or stop a whistle blower or or or.

    When was the last time you looked at the percentages of men falsely accused? Even one is too many. We are the mothers of all the sons – we are blamed for bringing up bad sons (and prostitute daughters).

    I don’t see the feminist movement getting out there and tackling those issues. Feminism seems a bit adolescent – self serving – for youth and women who need time to figure out their lives.

    I think at my age (and I’m younger than Joni) I might just be a humanist. I try to support all the women I know (and men) as best I can – I try to support the pro-choice movement – I protest the wing nuts who want to control women. Of course equal pay and equal everything else. But like Joni, the “feminist movement” hasn’t publicly or personally defined itself in ways I see as important or even in ways you’ve mentioned above.

    Mel Brooks said something like this in “The Producers” (which I loved by the way) If it’s politics or history – there really ain’t no mystery – everything is show biz.

    So if you really want Joni or me or others who haven’t joined to come around – get out and find out what’s missing – (I’ve given you a couple of points – maybe Joni would tell you what she thinks needs changing)

    Change your public image so women (like me) can see their ideas supported – until you do that – you might be wondering for a long time why we didn’t get on board.

    thanks for reading – I hope you reply.

    • Meghan Murphy

      “We are the mothers of all the sons – we are blamed for bringing up bad sons (and prostitute daughters)”

      Hmmm… I’m not quite sure what you mean by this? That women are to blame for raising sexist men? Or it’s the fault of mothers that women and girls end up prostituted?

      I don’t know what stats you’re looking at regarding ‘false accusations’ but I’d gander they are highly contested ones…

    • Moheli

      Why would feminists “change their public image” and ingratiate themselves to someone who thinks both women who accused Julian Assange of rape are lying?

      I neither need nor want your rapist apologisms in my political movement.

      • Max

        Why do people want to think that Julian Assange’s accusers are lying? For the same reason that Megan so wants Joni Mitchell to identify as a feminist. We expect our idols to be perfect. It’s damnably disappointing when they fail to live up to our expectations.

    • lizor

      “I have also seen many sweeping feminist comments asserting “our” (female) rights to/and control of charges of sexual harassment/assault. ”

      Pricilla I am having a very difficult time following what it is you are trying to say. Can you provide and example of “sweeping comment … of right to charges of sexual harassment”? And What is a “right to charges of sexual assualt” anyway? It sounds like you are questioning whether the sexual assault of women should be considered a crime. If I have been burglarized and I feel I have a right to report it, am I making a “sweeping comment”?

      Meghan’s use of the word “ignorant” is appropriate, as in “not possessing knowledge of”. Mitchell does not at all seem to know what the discourse of feminism is about. And I am not at all sure what your concept of feminism is but from what I can tell it has no resemblance to and in no way represents my world view as a feminist.

      As far as zero tolerance for false accusations of rape (and FTR – what is your position on the inarguable lack of justice in so many rape cases? Is the protection of numerous rapists a worthy price to protect the infinitesimal minority of men falsely accused? If so how do you justify such a sacrifice on women’s part?), please have a look at this:

      http://internationalsocialistnetwork.org/index.php/campaigns/135-rosie-warren-on-believing-women-who-allege-rape

    • Morgan

      “I have also seen many sweeping feminist comments asserting “our” (female) rights to/and control of charges of sexual harassment/assault. And NO, I don’t want to see men have that equal right but it does get dicey when false allegations are used as a weapon to get even with men or stop a whistle blower or or or.”

      Ok, the rate of false accusations in this area (rape) are the same as any other area of crime. The idea that there’s a huge chunk of women running around crying rape when it’s not true is bollocks – women don’t get any rewards for accusing someone of rape. Look at Rehtaeh Parsons, or Stubenville, or anywhere. Having a false charge rate comparable to other crimes is not a “hit” against having rights in this area. And I second Moheli’s comment RE: Julian Assange.

      “We are the mothers of all the sons – we are blamed for bringing up bad sons (and prostitute daughters).”

      It’s not FEMINISM blaming the mothers, it’s patriarchy. Feminism (at least the brand I subscribe to) recognize mothers are pretty much powerless in regard to raising their sons not to be misogynists and/or rapists. And your concern (if that’s what you meant) over the men falsely accused of rape reflecting badly on their mothers – ???? Aren’t you just doing the thing you don’t want people doing?

    • You’ve internalized misogyny inflicted on you by men, and now you’re asking us to convince the misogynistic man in you that feminism is a valuable ideology.

      How do you expect this to go down exactly?

    • Henke

      hi!

      I would like to recommend you to read this piece.
      “The Man Box and the Cult Of Masculinity” by Derrick Jensen.

      http://onebillionrising.org/blog/entry/the-man-box-and-the-cult-of-masculinity

    • gxm

      “When was the last time you looked at the percentages of men falsely accused? Even one is too many.”

      And when was the last time you looked at rape statistics? One woman or child (or man) rape victim is one too many. I’m not understanding the point you are trying to make. Are you aware that innocent people are falsely accused of many things, not just sexual assault? It’s unfair, costly, and frightening. I know because my daughter was falsely accused of assault and even though police who responded to the call concluded that nothing had happened, the person later went to the magistrate’s office and filed a complaint resulting in my daughter’s arrest. The accuser never appeared at any court date so the charges were finally dropped. But it cost us thousands of dollars in lawyer fees, not to mention time off from work and the stress of a criminal arrest. It’s horrible. I know this. What I can’t figure out is why you are manufacturing a link between feminism and false criminal allegations.

  • It sounds to me, and feel free to correct me if I misunderstand you, like you’re saying the feminist movement isn’t relevant to you unless it works towards a solution to every problem people face.

    Why shouldn’t we have a movement specifically about issues concerning women, without having to tackle every issue known to humanity (your point about people being falsely accused of crimes, for example)? Just because we don’t have time or energy to change the entire world, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to change some things. And getting specific is often the only way to effectively do that.

    I’ve also never thought of humanist and feminist as either/or. I can be a humanist and still believe that we have to work specifically on issues affecting a historically undervalued half of that humanity before we can improve the whole picture.

    • Whoops. My last comment was meant to be in response to Priscilla.

  • Merryn

    I think to some degree a great many women who achieve fame are caught in an impossible situation. The only exception to this is women who achieve fame from within a feminist structure (such as activists, feminist writers and academics). If you achieve fame in the mainstream, such as Mitchell has done, you have done so because Men have deemed you worthy. In Mitchell’s day this would have taken tremendous persistence and self belief. I think for these women they look at the feminist movement and they think ‘what have you ever done for me’…. And if you identify with being a feminist you risk career death. Thankfully there is now slightly more women owned space within these structure which has resulted in more women openly voicing their feminism. What is sad is that women like Mitchell cannot seem to see that it has been feminists who have constantly voiced their criticism of male dominated structures (such as the music business) that has forced these structures to be more inclusive. It certainly hasn’t been as a result of kindly men, such as Mitchell’s mates, who have suddenly taken notice of women artists!If women such as Mitchell view feminists who have set about changing structures so they include more women as women being masculine then what hope do we have!

  • Ok – Moheli – I’m cool that you don’t want to make room for me in your “movement” (or my views). However, I’ll still stand up for your rights and men’s rights too because that’s what I believe in. You have a right to your beliefs and I realize – it’s not up to me to change them. Hopefully you’re interested in the effects feminism had/is having in the world.

    I’m merely pointing out why feminism doesn’t get the support of all women – wasn’t that what the blog is about?

    I also think that Joni may have said that she didn’t want a “proxy” as opposed to “posse” meaning that she herself would go toe to toe against men without a group speaking for her – she has her own power and can deal with oppression by herself. I could be wrong but that was what I heard.

    Sadly Megan, “hotly contested” won’t give a person back their life as outlined here:

    http://www.davidgbayliss.com/consequences-allegation-sexual-assault.html

    “Simply put, a false allegation of a sexual nature has the very real potential to destroy one’s career, even where the falsity of the allegation has been demonstrated in court. This stark fact has the implicit support of legislators and the highest court in the land.”

    and slightly different but no less destructive:

    http://iwasfalselyaccused.com/

    None of us think feminism excuses women from taking responsibility for the consequence of having greater rights under the rule of law – do they? I think the equality battle will be won when women speak out and work publicly for a greater balance since the consequence of unequal rights under law is now hurting some people in Canada. (mainly men but there is a woman school teacher in my area who is also dealing with this same problem).

    In terms of mother blaming:

    http://www.feministfatale.com/tag/mother-blaming/

    It was good to read this objection to mother blaming: “”It’s a tragedy that they portrayed her as somebody who allowed a mentally ill child to have guns and roam around”

    http://digitaljournal.com/article/351344

    “Tracy Taylor, who went to high school with Nancy, expressed the view of family and friends that she was just another victim in Newtown that day. Taylor said, “It’s a tragedy that they portrayed her as somebody who allowed a mentally ill child to have guns and roam around. We still feel Nancy was a victim. We feel terrible that this happened.””

    So anyway – I got it that you’re not interested in my views so I’ll leave it there. Thanks for the conversation.

    • Meghan Murphy

      No, she said “posse”. It doesn’t make sense to say “I don’t want to get a proxy against men.” Especially within the context of what she was saying in the interview.

      And I totally agree people blame mothers for everything, all the time… Feminists are the only ones who challenge/have challenged that — so I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make with regard to mother-blaming…

    • Vouchsafer

      “So anyway – I got it that you’re not interested in my views so I’ll leave it there. Thanks for the conversation.”

      Wow. What a cop out. So now I guess you go on home and say “I wash my hands of feminism?” After one or two comments on a blog post that didn’t meet with immediate agreement? That’s a shame, lady.

      I would urge you (if you’re still listening) to look back through previous posts on this site. If you did you might find that feminism itself is currently going through a crisis of division. A large group of women that call them selves feminists (known as fun feminists on this site) when really their ideals are anything but.

      I consider myself a radical feminist. I consider myself a humanist as well. I would like nothing more than to see some kind of balance restored between the sexes where we could all stop hating on each other and coexist in peace and harmony. In order for that to happen, in my opinion, it falls to radical feminism to point out that the culture today is being marketed a message that divides the sexes. It’s marketing oppressive treatment of female humans. I see radical feminism as a humanist movement, in that we are the only ones pointing out that capitalism is selling this lie that women are to be degraded, which is what divides the sexes.

      Capitalism is promoting this divide between the sexes. Radical feminism is trying to call them out in hopes of counteracting that division, for it is only once we eradicate the source of what’s oppressing us that we are freed from it.

      We call that ‘the Porn Culture’, which is what we’re dealing with in society today. It’s selling anger to men through mainstream pornography, in that the images that are being marketed of how women behave in porn arent really the ways women behave in actuality. It’s playing men for fools. It’s also breeding anger in women because we are aware that we are not animals despite the fact that we are portrayed as such in porn. (and other media to a lesser extent including comedy, movies, ads, popular music, etc.)

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDcTt0emXhE

      above is a link to A Gail Dines lecture that speaks to what my concerns are as the mother of a son and daughter growing up in this culture/world. Perhaps if you watch it you might understand that radical feminsim has bigger fish to fry than individual cases of false accusation against men. I really hope you watch it, and share it with your friends. Then maybe we could have a conversation.

    • Laur

      If feminism started supporting men who say they are falsely accused of rape, many women, myself included, would leave the movement. So feminism is not, and I can’t see it ever being, a movement for any all viewpoints. Rather, it is a movement to end male oppression of women.

      I read a study recently that said that most women that falsely accuse men have their own problems. They are either seriously mentally ill and/or in some sort of abusive situation. It would interest me to know *why* a woman falsely accuses before taking the side of the man.

      Are we to believe any man who says he is falsely accused? Because the vast majority of men who rape don’t experience what they are doing as rape. There is an extreme amount of violence against women, especially sexual violence, worldwide, and what women should concern themselves with really is protecting men who state they aren’t rapists?! No thanks. Not the movement for me.

      • Meghan Murphy

        “If feminism started supporting men who say they are falsely accused of rape, many women, myself included, would leave the movement. So feminism is not, and I can’t see it ever being, a movement for any all viewpoints. Rather, it is a movement to end male oppression of women.”

        Indeed. In the end, feminism is about supporting women/ending male violence against WOMEN/ending the oppression of WOMEN. Which isn’t to say that the movement can’t include men who share those goals or even that feminism isn’t ‘good’ for men in many ways as well (particularly in terms of freeing them from the restrictions of masculinity) — but if we were to start focusing our energy on all these supposed ‘false accusations’ instead of on the women who are actually being raped and assaulted, well, first of all that seems to be an odd ways to prioritize our efforts (should women subjected to violence not be our priority in this movement rather than a few men who complain they’ve bee ‘falsely accused’?) and, secondly, as Laur notes, we would lose women and feminists from a movement led by and about women and feminists…

    • gxm

      “Sadly Megan, “hotly contested” won’t give a person back their life as outlined here:

      http://www.davidgbayliss.com/consequences-allegation-sexual-assault.html

      “Simply put, a false allegation of a sexual nature has the very real potential to destroy one’s career, even where the falsity of the allegation has been demonstrated in court. This stark fact has the implicit support of legislators and the highest court in the land.”

      and slightly different but no less destructive:

      http://iwasfalselyaccused.com/

      None of us think feminism excuses women from taking responsibility for the consequence of having greater rights under the rule of law – do they?”

      ***

      Priscilla Judd, your first link is an article by a defense lawyer, on his own website, discussing the consequences of an “allegation of sexual assault” and although it appears to be an informational essay, it is so heavily laden with opinion that it the two blend into one. However, the writer, as opinionated as he is, never mentions “feminists” so again, I must question why you are linking feminists with false criminal allegations.

      The second link is the webpage of someone who claims to have been falsely accused of sexual assault. Did you not realize that the accuser in this case is a teenage boy, not a woman and (presumably) not a feminist? Yet again, how are “women” supposed to take responsibility for a teenage boy’s false allegation and how does this demonstrate that women have “greater rights under the rule of law”? It seems to me that you are taking disparate elements and trying to weave them into a pattern that conforms to your notion of a “womanly responsibility” to put everyone else, especially men, first. I am hoping you will return and explain how you are arriving at the conclusion that feminism and, apparently, women in general are somehow responsible for the phenomenon of false allegations.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Just found this article looking at the prevalence (or, lack thereof) of supposed ‘false allegations’. Actual false reports are about 2-8% of all reports and most ‘research’ that shows otherwise is bunko and/or manipulated. “False Reports: Moving Beyond the Issue to Successfully Investigate and Prosecute Non-Stranger Sexual Assault” http://ndaa.org/pdf/the_voice_vol_3_no_1_2009.pdf

      • MLM

        I think this article brings up another important point about the “false reports”, with respect to neurobiology, and the ways in which the brain processes trauma/harrowing events.

        “When Tom Tremblay started working for the police department of Burlington, Vt., 30 years ago, he discovered that many of his fellow cops rarely believed a rape victim. This was true time after time, in dozens of cases. Tremblay could see why they were doubtful once he started interviewing the victims himself. The victims, most of them women, often had trouble recalling an attack or couldn’t give a chronological account of it. Some expressed no emotion. Others smiled or laughed as they described being assaulted. “Unlike any other crime I responded to in my career, there was always this thought that a rape report was a false report,” says Tremblay, who was an investigator in Burlington’s sex crimes unit. “I was always bothered by the fact there was this shroud of doubt.”

        Tremblay felt sex assault victims were telling the truth, and data supports his instincts: Only an estimated 2 to 8 percent of rape accusations are false, according to a survey of the literature published by the National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women. Tremblay also knew the victims felt as if they were being treated like suspects, and it affected the choices they made. Surveyed about why they didn’t want to pursue a report, most victims said they worried that no one would believe them.

        This is rape culture in action. It puts the burden of proving innocence on the victim, and from Steubenville, Ohio, to Notre Dame and beyond, we’ve seen it poison cases and destroy lives. But science is telling us that our suspicions of victims, the ones that seem like common sense, are flat-out baseless. A number of recent studies on neurobiology and trauma show that the ways in which the brain processes harrowing events accounts for victim behavior that often confounds cops, prosecutors, and juries”….

        “In the past decade, neurobiology has evolved to explain why victims respond in ways that make it seem like they could be lying, even when they’re not. Using imaging technology, scientists can identify which parts of the brain are activated when a person contemplates a traumatic memory such as sexual assault. The brain’s prefrontal cortex—which is key to decision-making and memory—often becomes temporarily impaired. The amygdala, known to encode emotional experiences, begins to dominate, triggering the release of stress hormones and helping to record particular fragments of sensory information. Victims can also experience tonic immobility—a sensation of being frozen in place—or a dissociative state. These types of withdrawal result from extreme fear yet often make it appear as if the victim did not resist the assault.

        This is why, experts say, sexual assault victims often can’t give a linear account of an attack and instead focus on visceral sensory details like the smell of cologne or the sound of voices in the hallway. “That’s simply because their brain has encoded it in this fragmented way,” says David Lisak, a clinical psychologist and forensic consultant who trains civilian and military law enforcement to understand victim and offender behavior.”

        http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2013/06/why_cops_don_t_believe_rape_victims_and_how_brain_science_can_solve_the.html

        Also, such a great article, Meghan.

        • MLM

          (I mean the one you wrote/posted here is a great article in case that’s not clear 🙂 )

  • Ma

    Okay, so, let’s face it, I am your mother (and the mother referenced here with J.M. albums). But this is SO good. So good
    Love
    Ma

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thanks mama!

  • sporenda

    Megan, this “betrayal” should not come as a surprise.
    First, artists are not thinkers. Creativity by itself does not imply intelligence, song writers are not necessarily gifted nor trained in critical thinking.
    Artistic talent does not automatically grants the capacity to see through ideological falsehoods, nor through the mental conditioning, beliefs and prejudices that we absorb from our culture.

    Some of the artists I have met struck me as trying to create the apparence of non-conformity whereas in reality, they were quite conformist, and accepted a number of widespread cultural postulates without ever questioning them–gender differences as defined by patriarchy being one of them.

    Somebody mentioned the “special woman” syndrome: when you are a very successful woman in an field dominated by men, you tend to become male identified: you prefer the company of men, you try to become one of the boys, you express scorn for other women who did not succeed like you did, and you tend to consider it’s their own fault if they “fail” . Margaret Thatcher’s behavior toward other women is typical of these women who made it in male dominated fields.
    This attitude is not just a lack of understanding or being alienated by the dominant ideology, it’s a prerequisite for success: I have known a few very sucessful women in male dominated fields who are feminists.
    Some were cautious enough to keep their feminist views to themselves most of the time and carefully abstained from reacting indignantly against each and every sexist words, deed, joke etc that they witnessed at work. They are still doing well or very well professionnally.
    The ones who were 24/7 feminists, the “strident” and “shrill” ones, are now sidetracked or out of a job.

    Vocal feminism is the kiss of death in many jobs. In particular in artistic professions, since artists must please wide audiences in order to make a living. Pleasing crowds and being an outspoken feminist: you can’t have both.
    Feminists speak inconvenient truths, an artist going public about her radical feminist views would quickly lose her public.
    She could not even have her songs produced, released, or favorably reviewed in the media: all these jobs are still male dominated.
    Since female artists can’t succeed without powerful men’s help and support,
    they can’t afford to be seen as part as a posse of women going after men.
    That’s all there is to it.

    • Meghan Murphy

      “First, artists are not thinkers. Creativity by itself does not imply intelligence, song writers are not necessarily gifted nor trained in critical thinking.
      Artistic talent does not automatically grants the capacity to see through ideological falsehoods, nor through the mental conditioning, beliefs and prejudices that we absorb from our culture.”

      Oh TOTALLY. It always baffles me as to why people bother interviewing artists and actors — they are so often such dull, vapid people and the interviews often result in me losing respect for the artist because they are so deeply stupid (and completely unaware of their stupidity because they are surrounded by folks who shower them with praise and adoration). I mean, I can’t count the times I’ve been disappointed by a person who’s music I love and respect, because they are asked to have an opinion on an issue which they simply don’t have the ability or the background to have an opinion on. If people want deep thoughts on issues they should talk to people who actually have something of substance to say.

      That said, I suppose I did put Joni up there among those who I’d thought would be more thoughtful or intellectual than your regular artist…

    • Max

      “First, artists are not thinkers. Creativity by itself does not imply intelligence, song writers are not necessarily gifted nor trained in critical thinking.”

      Oh God. This. This. This.

      I’ve never met any lauded artist/singer/creative type who was full of anything by bluster, faux-profundity and self regard. Totally agree with Megan – never meet your idols; they’ll only disappoint.

    • Ana Fury

      Your observations are astute and hold true for many artists who are striving for mainstream recognition. However, I don’t completely agree with this statement:

      “First, artists are not thinkers.”

      It is true that because one is artistically gifted, that doesn’t mean she/he is a critical thinker. Yet there are many women artists who do reflect critically on gender roles and other social themes through their work (some visual artists I can think of off the top of my head are Kiki Smith, Louise Bourgeois, Shirin Neshat, and Lee Price). As far as women musicians go, talented artists like Janelle Monae, La Roux, and Anna Calvi are achieving recognition and success while rejecting the hyper-sexualized performance of femininity that is pervasive. I don’t know what their stances on feminism are, but I think it does show a promising current of resistance and self-determination.

      “Since female artists can’t succeed without powerful men’s help and support, they can’t afford to be seen as part as a posse of women going after men.”

      This is definitely a big hurdle for women artists to overcome, and I think it forces us to be creative with finding alternative avenues for making feminist art, music, and films accessible to greater audiences. Nowadays technology and social media are making it easier for women to create a platform for their work. Obviously we’ve got a long way to go, and explicitly stating (radical) feminist views is reflexively met with hostility, but I guess I just want to be optimistic about women artists’ work becoming more outspoken, radical, and visible in the future and also tip my hat to the women who already are making that kind of art.

      Finally, this video makes me really happy and gives me hope!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKQTHwkT9JU

  • Laur

    Personally. I care more about how someone acts towards women than whether they call themselves a feminist. I know I used to say I was “not a raging feminist” and distanced myself from feminism whenever possible. Feminism is scary because its associated with women. I try to keep in mind how I used to feel towards feminism whenever I hear another woman distance herself from feminism.

    That said, I AM disappointed to read what Joni has said. I love her music…she has so many feminist fans! And calling another woman a “man hating bitch” is hardly a show of sisterhood. I guess it’s important to remember that even my idols are people, women, too.

    • Meghan Murphy

      I also care waaay more about how someone acts and their ethics and values over whether or not they take on the label ‘feminist’. American liberal feminism seems very focused on this indeed, writing piece after boring piece about why Taylor Swift and Katy Perry aren’t feminists. The reason I was saddened by Joni’s rejection of feminism was not only because she rejected the label but because she bought into and perpetuated all these ridiculous and sexist stereotypes about feminism and because she was so very hostile towards feminists and the feminist movement.

  • marv

    I think Sporenda has truly defined the dominant meaning of “success”: conforming to what men value as a group.

    Luckily, I have never had any affection for celebrities (since high school) including the ones whose artistic talents I relished. I found their superficiality, narcissism and sanctioning of classes (sex, economic, ability, etc.) to be particularly galling, not to forget their excessively valued labour and philanthropy. I don’t know of one mainstream humanitarian icon who doesn’t actively or passively serve the male system; Bob Geldof, Bono, George Clooney, Bill Gates, Angelina Jolie, Madonna and Oprah to name a handful.

    Ilan Kapoor, professor of Critical Development Studies at York University in Toronto recently released his book, Celebrity Humanitarianism: The Ideology of Global Charity. He asserts that star power “far from being altruistic, is significantly contaminated and ideological: it is most often self-serving, helping to promote institutional aggrandizement and the celebrity ‘brand’; it advances consumerism and corporate capitalism, and rationalizes the very global inequality it seeks to redress; it is fundamentally depoliticizing, despite its pretensions to ‘activism’; and it contributes to a ‘postdemocratic’ political landscape, which appears outwardly open and consensual, but is in fact managed by unaccountable elites.”

    Kapoor disappoints by not recognizing the patriarchal foundations of the celebrity culture machine and how it effects men and women unevenly; but his sentiments still hold some validity.

    There is nothing wrong with celebrating people we adore. We should. For me, the regulars in the Feminist Current are some of most outstanding ones on the planet. You are the real celebrities (who would break my heart if you lost your way :-(. Joni doesn’t compare. Your autographs please?

  • copleycat

    Thank you Meghan for another great article. It is disappointing to hear Mitchell said this. I really dislike the “man-hating” label and it seems to be making a kind of a come back, I remember hearing it a lot in the early nineties. It’s more than a little odd to be hearing it so much now given how phenomenally hateful porn has become in the last 20 years, not that it was ever kind but now when there are more violent, deeply mean-spirited depictions of woman hating than have ever blighted the planet before we’re hearing the phrase “man-hating” to describe the only political movement dedicated to opposing misogyny?

    The few women I’ve known in person who accused feminism of being man-hating were on-again, off-again feminists themselves and were involved with and dependant upon men who were sexist in subtle and not so subtle ways. These women were very pissed at these guys but they were stuck. The guys wouldn’t change and they (the women) weren’t going to push the issue, but at some level they really wanted to, so they’re were stuck with feelings of hostility they couldn’t even admit to having. My guess is they projected those feelings onto feminists. Then they were able to oscillate between condemning feminists as dangerous man-haters and public embarrassments and make such a show of it that they never had to square off with the sexist men in their lives.

    It is still a shame though, especially cause there’s a line in “Nathan LaFraneer” that goes, “I saw an aging cripple selling superman balloons” that seems such a perfect description of any pornographer in general and it fits either Hefner or Flynt to a tee.

    • Meghan Murphy

      “These women were very pissed at these guys but they were stuck. The guys wouldn’t change and they (the women) weren’t going to push the issue, but at some level they really wanted to, so they’re were stuck with feelings of hostility they couldn’t even admit to having. My guess is they projected those feelings onto feminists. Then they were able to oscillate between condemning feminists as dangerous man-haters and public embarrassments and make such a show of it that they never had to square off with the sexist men in their lives.”

      Yes, I think when women feel stuck and can’t move the conversation forward with the men they’re stuck with, they sometimes feel they need to redirect their anger elsewhere. “Blame feminists!” seems a popular solution. Without any feminist consciousness, of course, you would never have to grapple with the fact of men behaving in misogynist ways, because you wouldn’t, perhaps, even know that misogyny was anything but natural. So feminists start a conversation and an awareness that people sometimes feel they’d be easier off without.

      Also, if you accuse feminists of being man-haters, you get to be on men’s good side (the ones who are anti-feminist, in any case), which awards you a certain level of privilege, I suppose.

  • Vouchsafer

    “when there are more violent, deeply mean-spirited depictions of woman hating than have ever blighted the planet before we’re hearing the phrase “man-hating” to describe the only political movement dedicated to opposing misogyny?”

    Thamk you for writing this, Copleycat. so true.

  • pisaquari

    Joni has been railing against the lack of femininity in women for some years now. I have always found she loses some breadth and depth when not speaking through her soundtrack. Her music is her Truth and it gave me a feminist spine in my early years like so many others. I am comforted by the knowledge that it will be her wonderfully brilliant music that lives on and not these interviews.

  • wiley

    To call Beyoncé “a pop star” minimizes her giftedness and mastery. She’s a diva and a dancer (comparable to Michael Jackson (who impressed Fred Astaire))— she’s an artist— just like opera singers and ballerinas.

    Joni Mitchell is also an artist— a very committed master of her sound— because that’s what drives her, that world let her in, and she did what she needed to do to stay in it. She has dedicated her life to music, and has managed to produce a body of work that is her + all the musicians she’s worked, studied, and recorded with. She gave a lot of herself. And gave enough.

    Having accomplished women artists in this world is as important as having accomplished women writers. No one complained that Michaelangelo didn’t embrace one ideology, movement, or party. He threatened to throw the pope off of the scaffolding if his eminence interrupted him one more time to hound the great artist about finishing the Sistine Chapel on the Pope’s schedule and not his own.

    • Meghan Murphy

      There are lots of gifted pop stars though — Lady Gaga, for example, I consider to be a pop star. Of course she is also gifted… Both of their images are manufactured though.

      • wiley

        So were the Beatle’s. And the Rolling Stones.’ So what? You can call it “manufactured” or you can call it a collaboration. By that logic, the careers of ballet dancers and opera singers are “manufactured”. I get that the careers of women pop singers are not feminist on their face, but compare it to women vocalist or songwriters in the sixties. I cannot not believe that professional women artists have struggled directly with sexist bullshit throughout their careers and have prevailed often on behalf of their own image.

        Madonna had a lot of control over her career. She broke ground. Rather than seeing pop music through the lens of feminism, why not look at it through the lens of the history of women in music?

        Besides, women don’t need pop icons as mascots for feminism. Women need to figure out how to be feminist in the workaday world, with men, other women, and children. And we always need to reflect on ourselves.

        Every one is sexist and racist. Whether explicit of implicit, those thoughts are in our brains and play a part in our perceptions and actions even when those thoughts are not our own.

        • Lela

          “Rather than seeing pop music through the lens of feminism, why not look at it through the lens of the history of women in music?”

          But, what’s wrong with seeing pop music through the lens of feminism? It exists in, and is beholden to, our patriarchal culture. Not everything all women do is feminist, in fact women are often pushed into being the agents of our own oppression, unbeknownst to us.

          What you appear to be saying is, “but certain individual women have come to wealth and social power through a popular culture engineered by men. It shouldn’t be necessary to proceed with feminist analysis here.” I think it is necessary, it always is. Pop stars and other celebrities have a lot of (undue) influence in our culture, particularly on young people. Forget being “mascots” for feminism… pop stars are frequently anti-feminist, for them *not* to trash feminism (or demonstrate self-harming behaviour to young women, for that matter) would be a treat.

          • Meghan Murphy

            I find it difficult to anything outside the lens of feminism, personally… Also, woman doesn’t = feminist, so it doesn’t make sense to me to see things through, simply, a ‘woman’ lens, whatever that may be.

    • gxm

      “To call Beyoncé “a pop star” minimizes her giftedness and mastery.”

      No; it doesn’t. It pretty much sums her career up. Do you really believe that anyone will be listening to her music 100, or even 50, years from now? It is interesting to examine how superficial these women “artists” are, how much of their moment in the sun relies on cultural trends as opposed to actual artistic merit. Consider how fleeting and transitory the pedestal we put them on. Easily disposable when the next bright young thing comes along. Look at Madonna, she’s become something of a joke as she ages not-so-gracefully.

      Apologies if my comment comes across as “bashing” women singers, it’s meant as a commentary on our particular patriarchy and how it rewards (and then discards) the women who embody, and fulfill, its narrative in their roles as “pop icons.”

      • wiley

        “Look at Madonna, she’s become something of a joke as she ages not-so-gracefully.”

        Why is that? And why would feminists collude in ageism that dismisses her as a joke simply for aging? And what is there to be gained by telling other women that they are wrong for not adopting feminism (especially a black woman) while taking on the mantle of “judges” of all that is artistic?

        There is a point at which a feminist lens can be used as an attempt to control women as much as patriarchy, and it’s bitchy and sulky.

        The very idea that the arts and artists are not valid unless they satisfy your feminist ideals reads like Soviet propaganda.

        What good you think you might do feminism by raking women musicians over the coals, regardless of what those women might mean to other musicians and their audiences escapes me.

        • Lela

          “There is a point at which a feminist lens can be used as an attempt to control women as much as patriarchy, and it’s bitchy and sulky.”

          You’d be a lot more convincing if you could keep the misogynist slurs to a minimum, wiley.

        • lizor

          Feminists are not colluding in ageism that dismisses Madonna and others as a joke simply for aging. They are noting that within a system that sells women as sex objects under the pretence that they are distributing a creative people’s work this is what ends up happening. The comment is a critique of the culture that supports and enables this kind of capitalism in patriarchy, not a reiteration of it.

  • wiley

    Black women artists like Beyoncé, Shonda Rhymes, and Kerry Washington (Olivia Pope) are very important to a lot of black women in a way I don’t think white women (like myself) can truly comprehend.

    I wrote “I hate you Olivia Pope” in a post about the television show “Scandal.” The main character helped to steal an election on behalf of that sniveling child of a POTUS. She was in love with him. What’s wrong with this woman?! Though seeing a black woman slapping a white president— and that not being THE STORY— was the most sublime moment I’ve ever had watching television, by seeing the character through a “colorblind” lens (as if she were any woman character in legal fiction on television, I missed what this show and the works of other black artists means to a lot of black women.

    The measure should not be how close or far portrayals of blacks and the produce of black artists, musicians, etc. come to what the Western/American, academic mind thinks is artful, meaningful, or ideologically correct. The measure should be how much white society that is truly interested in justice and thinks it’s ready to move into a truly egalitarian social structure, is willing to let go of implicit assumptions that they are the measure of all things.

    Trudy at Gradientlair.com posts prolifically, and puts up posts with a lot of recommended reading with links to other black feminists. After reading for about ten minutes at her website, I took the “I hate Olivia Pope” post down.

    The fact that Kerry Washington’s character is not a mammy, jezebel, or sapphire; AND she has FLAWS, makes her very important to black women. Just as I was typing this I thought, ‘Without the flaws, Olivia Pope could read like a magic negress.’ From this I’ve learned to look for the opinions of black women, and have started to learn more about the black feminist movement and “womanism.” And am not popping up in black women’s spaces asking them to teach me. I’m guessing everyone here is familiar with men asking to explain everything they never listen to.

    Here’s a blockquote from the link underneath it:

    “Black Women who participated in the feminist movement during the 1960s often met with racism. It generally took the form of exclusion: black women were not invited to participate on conference panels which were not specifically about black or Third World women. They were not equally, or even proportionately, represented on the faculty of Women’s Studies Departments, nor were there classes devoted specifically to the study of black women’s history. In most women’s movement writings, the experiences of white, middle class women were described as universal “women’s experiences,” largely ignoring the differences of black and white women’s experiences due to race and class. In addition to this, well-known black women were often treated as tokens; their work was accepted as representing “the” black experience and was rarely ever criticized or challenged.”

    If “feminism” is wanting for more outspoken, self-declared feminists, there are a whole lot of women that they could learn about then invite as feminists who have a stories to tell that haven’t haven’t gotten a chance to tell to tell and to be heard.

    http://www.mit.edu/~thistle/v9/9.01/6blackf.html

    • Aphrodite

      However, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t critique these spaces. I think black women (I am black myself!)hold initial sentimental feelings towards people like Beyoncé because we LACK representation as a whole, so seeing ANY person of color initially feels progressive; however, Beyoncé is OPENLY POST-RACIAL and is even represented that way. She can conveniently be marketed as black and conveniently marketed as “exotic” or “slightly white.”

      I think we have to realize that the issue isn’t necessarily about beyonce as a woman or individual, but the IMAGE AND REPRESENTATION of Beyoncé. She is a product to be consumed. She “represents” diversity which seeks to keep the framework white.

      That salon article about Beyoncé is horrendous. I don’t think feminists “dislike” Beyoncé’s REPRESENTATION because we are afraid of black women’s bodies!!! The problem is that black women’s bodies have a particularly problematic relationship with mainstream white America…and always has. The fact that Beyoncé has to discipline her body to maintain the “white” sexy image, while also maintaining some semblance of blackness is indicative of uneasy uncomfortable racial understandings in our culture. Beyoncé has become this unquestioned confusing space where we’re automatically supposed to hail her as a queen because capitalism has. She’s talented and her image sells…that doesn’t make her a feminist or a emblem for black female emulation.

      Her image is strategically used to navigate a racist society in a way that maintains and protects racism, while making white culture “look” progressive because they LOVE beyonce and look up to her. In that moment, she strategically becomes black, but in order to even get to that position, she had to objectify herself and wear a blonde wig! ugh. She is the emblem of the fusion of postfeminism and postracism.

      • wiley

        Beyoncé is as much of a diva as Etta James and Aretha Franklin, but she’s an artist in the 21st Century. Artists always work within an art world.

        • wiley

          It posted before I could add Joni Mitchel, Chrissi Hynde, Annie Lennox… can’t think of any other great women vocalists right now.

          Need. Coffee.

        • Meghan Murphy

          I don’t see what the ‘diva’ thing has to do with it. Etta James and Aretha Franklin are incredibly talented, iconic vocalists. Beyonce is a pop star, first and foremost. See sells products. Sometimes that product is her own image, sometimes it’s makeup or clothes. I wouldn’t consider Etta James or Aretha Franklin to be ‘pop stars’ in the way that Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, etc, are. Like, at all.

          • lizor

            Another big difference between Joni and many others is that she is truly one of the greatest musical artists of the century. Her musical career has been solely focussed on creation, NOT success as is evidenced by the absolute originality of everything she has recorded and performed.

            Many of the others listed here are artists of spin first and musicians second, Madonna being the figure head of profitable cultural appropriation.

            Joni would never stoop to plagiarism (unlike the machine that makes Beyonce and Lady Gaga) for dollars, attention or anything else. At least Beyonce’s people ponied up for the thievery mentioned in the last paragraph with an out of court settlement for the plagiarized video.

            http://blogs.artinfo.com/artintheair/2013/06/14/french-artist-orlan-sues-lady-gaga-for-plagiarism/

  • Aphrodite

    Meghan, this piece is ABSOLUTELY brilliant. Geez!! As usual, your analysis is spot on and phenomenal.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thanks Aphrodite!

  • sporenda

    A misogynistic woman like Joni Mitchell entertains a notion of herself as so superior to other women (because she is a successful artist) that she is practically a man.
    And by denigrating women and feminism–a typical male behavior–, she is trying very hard to prove she is one of the boys.
    Expressing these negative views about women shows that she identifies with the agressors, not with the victims.
    By doing that, she expects to be safe from male agression and protected by the fraternity of males she feels she belongs to .
    Of course, she is badly deluded: all this kowtowing to men , all these pathetic efforts to show she is an honorary male will hardly change the way men see her: to them, she will always be just a woman.

    Badmouthing feminism might get her a few bonus points with powerful, useful guys in her line of work, she might get a few crumbs for being a docile , obsequious handmaiden of patriarchy.
    When you add it all up though, I am not sure the crumbs she might(?) get are worth demeaning herself this way.

    • Lela

      “…all this kowtowing to men , all these pathetic efforts to show she is an honorary male will hardly change the way men see her: to them, she will always be just a woman.”

      This is the most difficult stage of “exceptional woman syndrome;” the point at which you discover that, regardless of how many hoops you jump through, or how many sexist beliefs you adopt, men still persist in viewing you as the Other. It’s a rude awakening, to be sure.

  • k-b

    I’ve been reading Feminist Current for a long while now and have enjoyed reading all your posts, but this particular one is fantastic. It’s the best commentary on the issue of celebrities doing politics I have ever read. Thank you.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thanks k-b!

      • sporenda

        About one of the questions raised by this excellent text: is it worth your while to be, like Joni Mitchell, a devoted hanmaiden of patriarchy? What do you really gain from the denial of yourself, the spitting on feminism and women (and therefore on yourself), the sleeping with the ennemy, etc?

        “The material and social advantages (kindnesses) that women obtain through compliance and subservience to men are referred to as “sexual privilege”…
        Heterosexual privilege gives women a stake in male supremacy, and thus a stake in their own oppression.
        Heterosexual women must realize –no matter what their personal connection to men may be–that the benefits they receive from men will always be small, temporary and will ultimately result in their own destruction.”

        • Sporenda, whom are you quoting?

          If a woman obtains benefits from a man through compliance or subservience, then I would agree, those benefits will be small, temporary, and ultimately destructive to her. Do you think that is the only way women can connect to men?

          I think this attitude that heterosexuality is inherently and inevitably destructive to women is part of what Joni Mitchell finds objectionable about what she is calling feminism. I do not think it is necessarily representative of feminism as a movement, but some feminists do; they do want a “posse against men,” they do proudly proclaim their hate for men and contempt for heterosexual women, and they have made a lot of noise, far out of proportion to their numbers. They are a certain faction of lesbian separatists. I doubt they are even representative of lesbian separatists, but because they have made so much noise, it seems possible to me that Joni Mitchell thinks they are more representative of feminism than they are. I think it may mean something that she disparaged feminism “in this continent.”

          I would prefer to think the view Mitchell has of feminism is more complex than meets the eye. It reminds me of my view of radical feminism. I used to have no qualms about identifying as a radical feminist, but after some bitter battles with the aforementioned faction who think they are the true radical feminists, I became wary.

          As an aside, some feminists are working on solving virtually all the problems of the world. Since most of them are rooted in the male dominant value system, I contend that destroying the hold of that value system would, ultimately, solve most of the problems of the world.

          I do not know what the case of Julian Assange has to do with this topic, but I doubt his accusers intended to stop his work. However, if he is extradited to USA, that will stop his work, since I think the President will stop at nothing to see that he is executed, or at least imprisoned for life. I do think he raped those women, and his general attitude toward women would disqualify him as any kind of feminist regardless, but I do not think that crime merits that level of punishment, and I do not think Wikileaks was a crime of any sort. Obama does not want to throw the book at Assange for raping women, but he does want to send a message to whistleblowers.

          • Lela

            So, the demonization of radical feminist separatists continues. These women are reacting to oppression by men in a logical way and making excellent points. I’ve never once seen a separatist feminist express “contempt” for heterosexual women, on the contrary, it is imperative to them to be unconditionally supportive of women while strongly critiquing a male-supremacist system. This “good feminist vs. bad feminist” dichotomy that often gets held up even by well-meaning people is BS.

            Apparently men can globally enslave us for our sexual/reproductive capacities, abuse and murder us, and a group of women who want this to stop is demonized for responding with anything less than self-effacing politeness. While men continue to wage wars and brutalize women and one another. It’s a joke, really.

          • lizor

            “… but some feminists do; they do want a “posse against men,” they do proudly proclaim their hate for men and contempt for heterosexual women, and they have made a lot of noise, far out of proportion to their numbers. ”

            I am not aware of these groups, despite the disproportionate noise you say they make. Where can I find some evidence of this? Can you direct me, Aletha ?

          • Read this comment and what follows, and you will see a sample. You will also see me defending the right of the woman making what I called “caustic observations of heterosexual women” to have her say. This is not a black and white issue. I have no interest in demonizing any feminist, but some feminists, sad to say, do. Tearing down accomplished women because they are less than perfect is an old feminist pastime, and I think it plays into the hands of the powers that be.

            http://freesoil.org/wordpress/?p=221#comment-6293

          • Lela

            First of all, M. Andrea is clearly stating that she does not consider herself a feminist. Even so, critiquing heterosexuality (caustically!) still does not equal “tearing down accomplished women.” The idea that feminist women are seeking to tear down successful women, that this is the point of feminist critique, is something I’m sure men would love us to believe, but I don’t believe it. As a heterosexual woman I have no trouble absorbing and considering what these women have to say.

          • Lela, do not be naive. mAndrea and her pals consider themselves the true feminists. She was being sarcastic, distinguishing her idea of radical feminism from her idea of sold-out feminism. I will say again, since people seem to insist on misunderstanding where I am coming from, that I was speaking of a certain faction of lesbian separatists, who I do not think are representative of lesbian separatists, radical feminists, or really anyone but themselves.

            Did I say the point of feminist critique is to tear down successful women? No doubt you are aware of the differences between destructive and constructive criticism. What is the point of calling Joni Mitchell “a docile , obsequious handmaiden of patriarchy?” I have engaged in plenty of critique of successful women myself, not to tear them down, but to take issue with their collaboration with the powers that be.

            I think something like the following has happened to Joni Mitchell. This is from Joreen, The Tyranny of Structurelessness, written over forty years ago.
            http://www.jofreeman.com/joreen/tyranny.htm

            “This has several negative consequences for both the movement and the women labeled “stars.” First, because the movement didn’t put them in the role of spokesperson, the movement cannot remove them. The press put them there and only the press can choose not to listen. The press will continue to look to “stars” as spokeswomen as long as it has no official alternatives to go to for authoritative statements from the movement. The movement has no control in the selection of its representatives to the public as long as it believes that it should have no representatives at all. Second, women put in this position often find themselves viciously attacked by their sisters. This achieves nothing for the movement and is painfully destructive to the individuals involved. Such attacks only result in either the woman leaving the movement entirely-often bitterly alienated — or in her ceasing to feel responsible to her “sisters.” She may maintain some loyalty to the movement, vaguely defined, but she is no longer susceptible to pressures from other women in it. One cannot feel responsible to people who have been the source of such pain without being a masochist, and these women are usually too strong to bow to that kind of personal pressure. Thus the backlash to the “star” system in effect encourages the very kind of individualistic nonresponsibility that the movement condemns. By purging a sister as a “star,” the movement loses whatever control it may have had over the person who then becomes free to commit all of the individualistic sins of which she has been accused.”

          • lizor

            Aletha,

            I’ll admit I have not got the time to read all of your linked posts in detail and I will try to later if I can. The post you quote directly above is from a speech delivered 43 years ago and is a part of a 2nd wave conversation nearly half a century old regarding the potential shape of a revolutionary movement and what a post-revolutionary society might look like. The ideas were expressed decades before high-speed internet and web 2.0, a communications/marketing medium that has altered the landscape and the discourse inextricably from that time.

            The M. Andrea and Satsuma comments read to me to be legitimate responses to the extraordinary torture women face globally, the casual/offhand nature by which said torture is administered and the nearly complete lack of consequence for the torturers. The anger expressed by the posters is something I can relate to and any frustration with women who excuse and avoid the truth of this level of outrageous inhumanity and injustice seems perfectly appropriate to me.

            What I am not seeing is the currently existent “certain faction of lesbian separatists” of which you speak. I also do not understand how a group of lesbians who choose to retreat as much as possible from the insidious dictates and poison of our hetero-fascist culture in any way constitutes a threat of violence directed at men – certainly not one that resembles the sort of violence that we as women have learned to live with every day of our lives.

          • Lela

            Thank you, lizor. When heterosexual women choose to focus on the angry/sarcastic responses of lesbian feminists as some sort of evidence that they are out to get us, because of the uncomfortable truths they are not afraid to express regarding men, we are *shooting the messenger* big time. I find their frustration with constantly being derailed by “not my nigeling” understandable.

          • OK, have it your way. You see what you want to see. I wish it was just a matter of “frustration with women who excuse and avoid the truth of this level of outrageous inhumanity and injustice.” Ignorance is bliss, and I do not have the patience to refute this kind of straw man argument.

            See, I happen to share that frustration, but because I refuse to accept the premise that males are INHERENTLY sexist abusive monsters, mAndrea and some of her pals think I, along with virtually all heterosexual women, am in denial and thus part of the problem. I do not know what Satsuma really thinks of me; she was on her best behavior on my blog. My point is not a matter of focusing on exceptions, rather a matter of whether males are power crazy killing machines veiled under a thin veneer of so-called civilization by nature, or by cultural training.

          • If anyone is interested, here is where mAndrea and I had it out over her “SEXISM IS INHERENT: the proof”, posted on her blog at http://feminazi.wordpress.com/2007/12/05/sexism-is-inherent-the-proof/:
            http://womensspace.wordpress.com/2007/11/21/afghan-warlords-and-male-sexual-slavery-boys-as-girls/#comments

            I am inclined to let this matter drop, because I am not getting my point across, and I think this is veering too far off topic. However, mAndrea did lump me in there with women making excuses for men, and I see the same happening here.

          • Lela

            Being the dominant class, men have had the power to shape the world according to their wants. They invented prostitution, marriage/domestic slavery, and of course “sexism” in general. Of course not all men are misogynists, and even the feminists you speak of would probably acknowledge the existence of truly pro-feminist men, but…. where do you think misogyny comes from, outer space?

          • Me

            Aletha,

            I agree with you that mAndrea’s comments in that last exchange on womensspace were essentialist and the conversation on her part didn’t seem to move forward. I didn’t find/see the same in the earlier links you provided, and at least for now I don’t see the same here. From my point of view it doesn’t look like you’re making excuses for men, or that you’re being made to look like you’re making excuses.

            Maybe it seems to you that your view of men and feminism has been silenced or dismissed here, but to me it seems more like people have been pointing out how the dynamics work in mixed groups and in society at large, and why even strident voices against men are important there, even when we don’t agree about them when applied to every context. For example, I thought that sporenda’s calling Mitcell “a docile , obsequious handmaiden of patriarchy” earlier showed anger, at Mitchell, at the handmaidens, but also at men for imposing this role of handmaidens of patriarchy on women. I didn’t see in her comments an attempt to hide rigid, essentialist views behind the fierceness, and still don’t, but maybe it appeared that way to you?

            Because I don’t think I understand exactly what do you want, I wanted to ask what do you want?

          • lizor

            Aletha,

            If you are arguing that sexism is NOT biologically innate and therefore unchangeable, then I agree with you. I did not get that from your posts, which seemed to be arguing that feminism was suffering from the “posse against men” that Joni referred to.

            I still contend that such a posse does not exist, even though some bloggers, in exasperation and with a sense of defeat in the face of centuries of bald-faced inconsequential violence by men against women, might lose sight of any hope for changing gendered behaviour.

          • Feminism is suffering from an image problem, which is primarily created by men, for obvious reasons, but not entirely. There are also a number of very divisive issues sparking vicious infighting among feminists. Personally I think Joni Mitchell was speaking figuratively about a “posse against men,” which I agree does not exist in any literal sense. Satsuma is so fond of hyperbole, it is perilous to take anything she says literally, but she did occasionally seem to advocate some kind of vigilante justice, beyond self-defense, against violent men. That was why Miranda observed on my blog, “My only concern with Satsuma’s remarks is that a woman would actually take her advice and find herself in jail or physically injured.”

            Self-defense against rape is supposed to be legal; in most cases a person is justified in killing in self-defense if one has grounds to fear being killed, but in practice, the law usually throws the book at women who dare to try to defend themselves. This is one of those double standards where women are damned if they do defend themselves, and damned if they do not. Intimate partner violence is another example of that double standard. Not VAWA or any of the laws against rape or domestic violence can protect a woman when that thin veneer of civilization cracks. The cultural message for men is that violence is acceptable if they are provoked to it, but for women, violence is never acceptable, even in self-defense.

            I still want to know the source of that quote I objected to.

            Lela said this: “I’ve never once seen a separatist feminist express “contempt” for heterosexual women, on the contrary, it is imperative to them to be unconditionally supportive of women while strongly critiquing a male-supremacist system.”

            I believe this is true of most separatist feminists, but not of all women who call themselves separatist feminists. I think the exceptions may have something to do with why Joni Mitchell said what she did, which is why I brought up the existence of this faction in the first place.

            It may have seemed to the egalitarian villages of the prehistorical Goddess cultures that the men who pillaged and destroyed them came from outer space. Sexism became so thoroughly ingrained in the culture that it can perpetuate itself without any conscious effort; it only requires conscious effort to attempt to liberate oneself from it.

            Me, beware of that question. It was made infamous by Sigmund Freud.

          • Lela

            At the risk of further derailing this thread….. Aletha, ultimately we all want the same thing; for patriarchy to end and for women to be liberated. But I do not see evidence of “vicious infighting” between feminists. What I do see are ideological differences, and feminists should be able to have such differences.

            There is something here that has bothered me since you said it, upthread: “Tearing down accomplished women because they are less than perfect is an old feminist pastime, and I think it plays into the hands of the powers that be.” I have heard this before, and it seems to be used to shut down critique of things said/done by women. I think this is a reversal, and it’s odd to see you say this.

            The people who are mainly suffering from an “image problem” are men. Men have been telling us since the dawn of civilization that male dominance and patriarchy are normal, natural, and inevitable. MEN are telling us this; it is all over their culture, Religion, Science, Art…. you name it. Male dominance presents itself in other species as well, particularly primates.

            Back to my question: where do you think misogyny ultimately comes from? If not from men themselves, then where? Who is enforcing these cultural messages and WHY do they persist in doing it? These are the questions asked by these “extreme” radical feminists and I do not think it is untoward to do so.

            Pondering these questions does not mean we must give up our respective battles, reformism and separatism. Certainly there are some separatist women who think reformism is unlikely to succeed for various reasons, but I respectfully disagree with this. Speculating that sexism might emanate from something inherent in males, and that this is reflected in culture, is not necessarily the same as saying that men are unchangeable/invulnerable to new forms of socialization.

          • Me

            We really can’t know for sure what prompted Joni Mitchell’s comments because she didn’t say. Still, I am a bit doubtful how much she would’ve come across this essentialism because I don’t see that much of it. What I do see are women like Natalia Antonova, whose blog was mentioned in a comment to the new prostitution post, and who really for no good reason seems to attack other women and has a problem with unfeminine, masculinist feminism (while herself acting like one of the boys). Google her “Women as Children” post for an example.

            I used to know someone who did gender studies professionally, who was clearly intelligent, and who nonetheless was convinced that there was a UN and American lesbian feminist led conspiracy to stop Western, white, good feminine heterosexual Women all the way from procreating. Obviously she thought women were under attack from that direction. I would’ve been hard pressed to find the kind of bad experiences with said lesbian feminists to make sense of her stance, but what was clear was that she had been under a lot of pressure, partly for being a professional woman, she had been forced to compete with other women against her nature and morals, and heterosexual women at her working place had been trying to smoke her out by labeling her a lesbian. Even mentioning lesbians was a major trigger, that’s how I found out. I don’t see how that’s not the male power structure’s fault for making women at first not name men for creating the pressures, and so fight each other and see each other as the enemy. It’s a long story, but she still genuinely believed women had not yet achieved their due place in the world and that it needed to be fought for and stood up for. Yet to find common cause with other women, as a class instead of as individuals, would’ve been very difficult for her taking the contradictions she had internalized. This wasn’t a question of feminist infighting, this was a matter of rejecting the kind of broad commonalities between women (and as they stand in opposition to men) that a feminist movement could be built upon. And when I say “in opposition to men” parenthetically, a lot of the time the primary social function of rejecting those commonalities of women’s experience is arguably to protect the abuser, and as individuals to try to avoid becoming the target of his aggression.

          • Me

            Maybe someone said it above already, but if feminism has an image problem, I’d think Joni Mitchell could do her part to correct that by accepting the label herself. Doesn’t sound an awful lot to ask, don’t you think?

          • Meghan Murphy

            Indeed. The “image problem” is mostly due to mythical stereotypes invented by anti-feminists. Joni could help by not perpetuating such myths.

          • Lela, I think this particular feminist blog is more civil than most of the ones I have participated in. It could be argued that those viciously attacking feminists in the name of feminism are not really feminists. Some of the apologists for pornography come to mind. Have you seen the slime thrown at Gail Dines on the Ms. blog, for instance? My friend Heart, who hosts the womensspace blog I linked above, has been the target of plenty of attacks that I felt went far beyond constructive criticism. Then there were the trans wars. I do not think all of this can be attributed to mere ideological differences. But that is a matter of perspective, and I cannot expect anyone to agree with my perspective on my own experience of the feminist blog wars, especially since it has been partially shaped by what is by now relatively ancient history.

            Of course misogyny comes from men. They have a vested interest in perpetuating it. This does not mean it must have some basis in their intrinsic nature, but if they do not consciously choose to fight it, they will automatically conform to its dictates. There is a vast gulf between what seems natural because it is commonplace and what is intrinsic by nature. This culture is destructive at root, to the point of being suicidal, and unless its power is uprooted soon, this species will not be long for this earth, and most other species will perish along with us. If that is intrinsic in males by nature, we are all doomed, unless women can find a way to throw men out of power. I think that is actually the only solution regardless, because the pernicious effect of the culture is virtually indistinguishable from what would be the effect of intrinsic forces creating the culture.

            I say feminism has an image problem because far too many women give credence to the image men paint of feminism, so despite accepting general feminist principles, they shy away, saying I am not a feminist, but…

            FTR, I do not consider myself a separatist or a reformist, rather a feminist revolutionary. I do not believe reforming this system can be sufficient to solve any of the major problems; it must be overthrown and replaced by a life-affirming feminist paradigm.

          • Me

            Aletha, maybe a part of what you’re describing is just the difficulty of building what could be called a culture of resistance? How do indignant youth turn their energy into effective, collective action, for example? At least some of what seems like infighting and stridency is understandable if you think new youth who often haven’t yet decided how to live their lives keep coming into these spaces to hash out their views and outlook, and the veterans who become disillusioned or grow tired with that often simply leave or begin to reject resistance entirely instead of finding a way to transform those spaces into what could be called a mature political training ground. I’m not especially blaming the veterans for that, or the youth, I’m simply pointing out that the spaces where youth go to learn about resistance tend to stay incomplete. That’s why I also find it disappointing when the older generation like Mitchell’s can’t simply point people to the ball when they’re asked a broad question about something like feminism or environmentalism, but instead feed into the confusion and disarray. I have more experience with this when it comes to environmentalism, but it seems true for feminism as well which I’m sort of new to myself.

          • Lela

            “FTR, I do not consider myself a separatist or a reformist, rather a feminist revolutionary. I do not believe reforming this system can be sufficient to solve any of the major problems; it must be overthrown and replaced by a life-affirming feminist paradigm.”

            Couldn’t agree more Aletha. What I meant by “reformism” was the concept of attempting to change men’s deeply-ingrained attitudes toward and treatment of women, which would seem a fundamental part of ensuring that a feminist world could exist without being undermined. Some would question the utility of this, and it isn’t difficult to see why; for instance, many decades of feminist activism has not been able to make even the smallest dent in the ever-more creative violence of porn/prostitution.

            I don’t think the idea that something is inherent to a person necessarily makes intervention useless; I think people make conscious choices to counteract our natural impulses all the time. For example, I’ve chosen not to reproduce; which would seem to fly in the face of my “nature” as a being supposedly driven to reproduce…. but there it is.

          • I do not think trying to change male attitudes is worth the effort, since it does seem to be impossible. In view of the backlash, it might be argued that feminist efforts to educate men have backfired. Women have not obtained rights and legal protections because men have changed, rather because women fought like hell for them; then men were forced to adapt to the reality that some behaviors they had taken as their natural privileges had become illegal. Men have to do the work to change their own attitudes and behavior, and I doubt more than a handful will ever try, unless they lose their privileged position and power over women. Short of that, what would motivate them?

            I agree people can make conscious choices to counteract natural impulses, but I see nothing natural about male power over women or its manifestations. Much is made of the alpha male in certain species, but to my understanding, their power is over other males rather than the females, and in other species the female is dominant. Regardless, I have never heard of any species in which the female is subordinated to anywhere near the extent of the human female.

  • sporenda

    “If a woman obtains benefits from a man through compliance or subservience, then I would agree, those benefits will be small, temporary, and ultimately destructive to her. Do you think that is the only way women can connect to men?”

    We are not discussing individual situations here, we are dealing with the global picture.
    Of course, individually, there are some loopholes for women, “other ways women can connect to men”. Even Andrea Dworkin, the patron saint of radfems, had a long term and loving relationship with a pro-feminist man (John Stoltenberg) until she died. Unfortunately, these truly feminist men are few and far between.

    So the fact that there are individual exceptions is no justification for denying the existence of a global picture, one of a sex class system which results in oppression, exploitation, violences and discriminations against women.

    Unique to this sex class system is the fact that women are forced by compulsory heterosexuality and concern for their own survival to depend on (often unreliable) men. Thus not only do they contribute to their own oppression but the granting of “heterosexual privilege” mentioned above creates a Stockholm syndrome in most women: they become emotionnally entangled with their oppressors, overly grateful and attached to the men who give them small rewards and don’t grossly mistreat them.

    As a result of this emotional entanglement, most women are extremely reluctant to see men as responsible for what ails them; in particular they don’t want to see the fact that the men they live with, love and cherish also exploit them, benefit from their socially inferior position and ultimately see them as replaceable commodities: the realization of this–that women matter much less to men than men matter to women– is unbearably painful and makes living in patriarchal societies extremely hard.

    So most women prefer to keep blinders on, it’s more confortable to think that “my nigel is different” (I thought so too at some time), they can continue to live with men as society wants them to and think that if their man takes out the trash, it makes it an equal relationship.
    This reluctance of most women to name men as their oppressors is unique to the sex class: most slaves saw clearly that their white masters were not their friends, most 19th century workers saw clearly that their boss was just in it for the money.

    But most women want to think that most men (at least the ones close to them) are their friends. The depth of this denial, the fact that women can’t bring themselves to name men-as-a-class as their oppressors and to call them on their abuses is a marker of the depth and thoroughly internalized character of women’s oppression.

    • Sporenda, I have no issue with anything you said there, except that I am slightly less pessimistic about the feminist consciousness of most women. However, I do take issue with this quote:
      “Heterosexual women must realize –no matter what their personal connection to men may be–that the benefits they receive from men will always be small, temporary and will ultimately result in their own destruction.”

      This is absolutist, essentialist language, that implies there can be no exceptions. The exceptions may be too few to seem to have any significance in the larger picture, but I think that the question of whether such exceptions are indeed possible, or simply delusional, is important. If exceptions are possible, that means that sexist conditioning is learned and can be unlearned. If they are simply delusional, that means there is something inherent about the conditioning and it cannot be counteracted.

      It should not be surprising that people get confused about the meaning and implications of feminism. On one hand, we see the liberal, “choice” feminists, who seem to have attained inordinate influence at Ms. Magazine, defending virtually anything any woman chooses to do or be as empowering. On another hand, we see Sarah Palin claiming she is a feminist, and the ex-President of the Los Angeles chapter of NOW, Tammy Bruce, lionizing her and George Bush. On still another hand, we see the extreme militant feminists I mentioned above. Then there are the mainstream feminist organizations who fawn over President Obama and seem to get shocked whenever he stabs women in the back. Feminists are all over the map on virtually every issue. I therefore cannot blame women for getting confused about what feminism means, including Joni Mitchell, though it is disappointing that she appears not to know better. I presume she has been attacked by some feminists other than yourself, and harbors some resentment as a result.

      • Lela

        Our “extreme feminist” sisters you speak of are taking enormous personal risks in calling out ALL of men’s violence and manipulation. What they are saying is far from “extreme” and is actually a result of following all the evidence men continue to unselfconsciously give us to logical conclusions. Rad feminists have never advocated violence or mob mentality and this talk about a “posse against men” rings hollow because it simply untrue, “posse” justice is men’s mentality and they have exercised this throughout history. What even the most “extreme” of radical feminists suggest (and it IS only a suggestion) is an individual *retreat* or *withdrawal* from interaction with men (i.e. separatism) which can hardly be termed a “posse” now can it? I really would like to see where women are being “attacked” by radical feminists, perhaps you can provide some links?

        Just a bit of background; I’m a heterosexual woman myself and I know that men are capable of absorbing feminist concepts and enacting them in the world. Obviously we’ve made a lot of gains, but men are often careful to hide their misogyny from us (out of sight, out of mind) and their carefully-guarded system of social and economic stratification and what they tell us about ourselves/the way they manipulate our lives *with their money* (among other things) speak louder than words. Misogyny is funnelled into and enacted through the porn and prostitution industries for example.

        • Me

          Some radical feminists do suggest killing rapists, child abusers and other serious domestic abusers and torturers, as well as CEOs and politicians responsible for mass murder etc. Also, I think the Pink Sari gang(s) could be called a posse, but it’s got nothing to do with the derisive men’s mentality “posse” which I think was how Mitchell used the word. Anyway, she should be a professional and know what kind of statements and generalizations to make publicly and what not to make, and was able to be more nuanced when it came to not stepping on her male colleagues’ toes, so apparently she thought the low blow justified.

          • Lela

            That’s interesting, Me. I just personally hadn’t come across feminists who are advocating for capital punishment. I’m averse to that myself.
            I don’t think I’d agree with calling women banding together for self-defence, and to prevent men’s violence, a “posse against men” because that implies an arbitrary attack on men.
            (Incidentally I just clicked on an article about the Pink Sari gang and an ad popped up on my screen for “50 Shades of Gray”…. coincidence? I’m laughing and yet crying inside.)

          • Me

            I don’t agree with the “posse against men” framing either. Though with the right mentality, almost any organized action on the part of women can be seen as “an arbitrary attack on men” and become a target of these ludicrous posse accusations and dismissals.

            Also, I don’t agree with the implied idea that feminists need to be somehow perfect in their analysis, organization, the scope of their action and their compassion (for men, of course) to act and to deserve support in what they do. It’s one thing to expect activist men who advocate for X to put supporting women’s liberation and stopping rape at the top of their list before joining them, that is often perfectly legitimate. But it’s something else to expect women to take care of men and to not hurt men’s feelings in their activism for women’s liberation.

            As for capital punishment, what I am sure of is that I oppose jailing and punishing women and children who kill their abusers in self-defence. Obviously that leaves open to judgment what is self-defence, which I think can be very specific in each case and where people will disagree. But it seems the popular perception of what is self-defence needs to change. I have been wondering if it’s true that when people see acts of violence as self-defence, the acts are more easily accepted and become less disruptive to peaceful everyday living, self-defence happens and people get over it, he had it coming kind of thing. Aggression in the community on the other hand creates this fear and a need to somehow respond to it and violently suppress it and defeat it that isn’t helpful. What do you think? A lot of male aggression as well as human aggression towards the natural world is currently framed as self-defence, understandable and not destructive, and similarly self-defence and protection of the wild is considered aggression and destructive any time it goes up the hierarchy. Those categorizations into destructive and intervention-needing and non-destructive and condoned need to change, because they flat out can’t be sustained. I think the structural aggression is the bigger issue here, not necessarily violence as such but the perceptions and practices of it.

          • joy

            I would happily kill my rapists if I was ever given the chance. I would do it myself, face to face. I would do it because they killed the person I was at the time of each rape; they killed the person I was going to become had they not completely altered my internal environment, my relationship to myself and to the world.

            And not a single one of those rapists (all of whom are men) is sorry. In fact, most of them say whatever happened between us during their acts of violence either didn’t occur or was my own fault. I have no doubt in my mind that every single one of them has the capacity to reoffend and has probably done so in the elapsed time since the assault against me; I probably wasn’t the first rape for any of them either.

            I would consider this to be self-defense and defense of every potential future victim of each of these men. I came to this position very logically and I do not find it incompatible with radical feminism, as radical feminism is concerned primarily with females and the deaths of a few rapists would be small fries compared to the global endemic of rape and violence against people born female (ie, women).

          • joy

            Though I should add: I have extremely mixed opinions of state executions (as in, the death penalty) since they seem to fuck it up so often and execute the wrong people — whether literally executing innocent people or subjectively targeting certain types of people who’ve committed crimes that don’t warrant the death penalty.

          • marv

            I appreciate what you are saying joy. I would also advocate pre-emptive strikes and assassinations of male combatants in the current war against women and girls. Maybe those aerial drones could have a legitimate purpose in certain contexts (: Dreamer?

          • lizor

            I have suggested as much but I am unaware of any organized lobby for the amendment in law of such punishments. What is astonishing and telling is the volume of consistent and ubiquitous terrorizing violence directed at women by men and the lack of consequences for the men for these actions.

      • Me

        Maybe I didn’t understand what sporenda said, but I read the part you quoted a bit differently. To me it seemed to speak to this dynamic of heterosexual privilege and the destructive subservience it entails for women, which isn’t essentialist, the dynamic just isn’t easily erased or conclusively overcome. It seems to me even the best heterosexual relationships can easily have–would have–problems with heterosexual privilege and compulsory heterosexuality. The exceptions fight just the same cultural dynamic. It isn’t enforced and therefore overcome simply at the level of individual relationships. Individuals can’t liberate themselves from this kind of cultural reality. That in my opinion makes it useful to describe even the exceptional relationships in many of the same terms, because the challenges come from the same root. The broader culture opposes truly mutual and non-exploitative relationships between men and women, and even when individual couples manage to sort many of the problems out for themselves, they still face the same pressures to move away from that mutuality into the oppressive, heterosexist model. Further, heterosexual sex itself is a powerful mover in that direction. I agree that sexist conditioning is learned, can be fought, and I like to think winning is possible, but compulsory heterosexuality is simply bad, and for couples in male-female relationships it’s difficult and a lot of work to tell compulsory heterosexuality apart from healthy sexuality. Remember, this isn’t about how some couples do better than others and seem to enjoy themselves, it’s about the broader cultural reality and produces the horrors we see.

        Sometimes it’s obvious to see how the woman is made into a woman by the man. It’s more difficult to see that about oneself than of others and their relationships. Rape is an obvious way to that end, but what I’ve seen with a couple I recently got to know is the more routine kind of molding I think (that’s enforced with rape and battery etc. often enough to make that into the backdrop): she rolls his cigarettes for him when he sits on his ass by the table and wonders out loud “who’d do that for me.” Yet he keeps complaining how she and their daughter keep causing him more work when they do whatever. :rolleyes: It all works and adds up and is perfectly logical. If she weren’t and didn’t act the role of “a hetero” she wouldn’t have the “privilege” of staying in that relationship and supporting him financially, emotionally etc. And for a number of reason there are benefits, at a high price. As she doesn’t challenge being a hetero, she can more easily endure to stay in that relationship and find her place and find being made into a woman more acceptable, I would think anyway. She does rebel, but on his terms. She can try to out-compete him and his manliness, by which she obviously can’t win real relief because it’s all bullshit that proves his worth every time when he does anything and questions her ability whatever she tries. What she can’t do is declare independence. That dynamic is important. She wouldn’t have to become a lesbian or give up heterosexual sex altogether to see it, but stopping to cater to him sexually (which I’m presuming she does at the moment) could be a good step towards independence and something he’d most likely rail against heavily and might divorce her for (exchange her for another). He is the type who has tried to guilt and man me into doing his work for him too, but I don’t have to give up my sexuality or identity just to step away and say no. All I need to do is stop being too kind. The more I say no the more I take on my presumed role as a man, the more she does the same, the more she steps away from hers. She seems to try to frame her independence and capability on his terms, talking herself up on things that interest her a bit like he does himself, when I’m not sure she knows who she wants to be in the first place or what her own language would be like. Validation would be important for her and I have tried to give it, but it can also validate an identity for her that’s not really hers, especially coming from a man, so I try to make my point more by challenging him. Even though I can see and reject the dynamic in the above case, on another level I could say exactly the same thing about my own relationships and friendships with women and find enough commonalities to make a point about how I need to change myself and those relationships. In many ways it comes down to how we value the lives of women, because it’s so easy to put the ordinary devaluing of women’s lives down to just the way things are.

        • lizor

          “The more I say no the more I take on my presumed role as a man, the more she does the same, the more she steps away from hers. ”

          Important, clear point.

      • Morgan

        I don’t think focusing on the small, rare exceptions really advances anything or makes the situation better for women as a class. What sporenda did is point out the systematic oppressions and the traps that women fall into (are encouraged to fall into). The important takeaway is to be able (and willing) to name the oppressors (ie. men); whether or not a small handful are nice and sincere to women is not relevant.

        Critiques of heterosexuality focus on the way it is made compulsory and the way patriarchy turns all heterosexual relations into ones of dominance and submission. It is argued that the dom/sub relationship is inherent to heterosexuality. This is an important point to be made and the exceptions prove the rule.

        As Lela points out, “Apparently men can globally enslave us for our sexual/reproductive capacities, abuse and murder us, and a group of women who want this to stop is demonized for responding with anything less than self-effacing politeness. While men continue to wage wars and brutalize women and one another.”

        • marv

          I affirm your contention: it is a detrimental diversion to focus on anomalies. Too much emphasis on exceptions leads to them becoming the rule which shrouds the actual rule of male dominion. Your other arguments make a lot of sense as well, particularly Lela’s point.

    • Me

      “the men they live with, love and cherish also exploit them, benefit from their socially inferior position and ultimately see them as replaceable commodities”

      This is so true. I can recognize many ways how I lean that way personally. Everything really is geared to making sure that no women escape or could possibly miss what and whom they’re here for and how all men must live reinforcing this system of our superiority. If there isn’t the courage to name the oppressor, how’s there going to be the courage to change the relationship to him materially, and to make that change in ways that have staying power beyond the individual? I think your comment reflects exactly the outlook women and men need to have to see the system for what it is and to stand a chance of confronting and stopping it.

  • sporenda

    “It seems to me even the best heterosexual relationships can easily have–would have–problems with heterosexual privilege and compulsory heterosexuality.”

    I have never seen any truly egalitarian heterosexual relationship–even with pro-feminist men.
    – men do not do their equal share of domestic work; they think they do, because they do a few chores, (and make a big fuss about it) but if you check, you will find out that it doesn’t add up.
    – men don’t do their equal share of child care. Where I live (Western Europe), there is now paid parental leave for mothers and fathers.

    Many women take this parental leave to care for their newborn baby. Very few men do (roughly one out of ten) and, according to what they say, it’s not just for professional reasons, it’s because they are “not interested in taking it”.
    – and there is the compulsory sex in relationships: women are still supposed to provide sexual access on demand (hence the headache excuse when you don’t want to provide it because you know you still don’t have “the right” to a straight “no”). Compulsory sex is abusive, boring and therefore kills sexual desire, that’s why, for most married women, sex becomes just another chore after a while.
    -women support men emotionnally, they boost their ego and their confidence, they provide the affection,the warmth, the trust in a relationship. They do not receive any of these psychological benefits in return.

    So if you look at the balance sheet of the exchanges between men and women, its drastically unbalanced: men never serve women as women serve men, men get much more out of women than women get out of men.

    About always derailing the debate about women’s oppression by refering to individual exceptions: it’s THE diversion tactic by excellence.
    – first, the women who claim to enjoy a truly egalitarian relationship with a man are usually deluded; they THINK their relationship is egalitarian so it is. They think they are free so they are free etc: a slave is never more enslaved than when he thinks he is free.
    if these women have a few working brain cells left after years of “wedded bliss”:-), after a while they’ll realize that they were wearing blinders (due to love and/or sexist formating), and they finally open their eyes.
    – second: one cannot see a system of oppression “if one’s focus is riveted upon the individual event in all its particularity..It seems sometimes that people take a deliberately myopic view and fill their eyes with things seen microscopically in order not to see macroscopically”. (Marilyn Frye, The Politics of Reality)

    • Me

      I liked Lundy Bancroft and Jac Patrissi’s book “Should I Stay or Should I Go?, A Guide to Knowing if Your Relationship Can–and Should–Be Saved”. It’s written for women and it asks the reader to ask herself a lot of good questions about her relationship, going through immaturity, addiction, mental health problems and abuse/control as possible explanations for his issues and how they might manifest in a relationship. It seemed like a book a lot of women might benefit from reading.

      What you said about women supporting men emotionally is very true and often overlooked. For example, on the occasion that men do superficially take equal care of children by staying at home, they may simply postpone their own emotional demands until the wife gets home and then unload them all on her after her “time for herself” at work. Which is entirely unfair, and unfair to the child too, because her/his emotional needs are then neglected through the day by the father, and it’s a form of blackmail on the wife who is pushed to choose between either further ignoring the already neglected child’s emotional needs as she gets home, or to take care of both the child and the husband at a cost to herself because he forcibly lumps the emotional needs of the two together and sets them in opposition to hers.

      I don’t know how relevant this is to say here, but as I’m certain my dreams are not exclusively, if at all, the products of my own subconscious, I find some encouragement in them. (It seems more the case that the language and the imagery the messages come in is something I could be hoped to understand, so there’s a strong connection to my conscious/subconscious.)

      A bit more than a month ago I dreamed I was running side by side with a woman I know. We were running in the same direction. Our feet were light. As we ran our upper arms touched. She was wearing a pink shirt, which in my dreams is a life-affirming color. She has that life-affirming character to herself in waking life too. There had been other people with us where we started off, friendly people, but they had gotten far ahead of us and were waiting for us atop a steep hill, almost like a mountain. There was a serpentine climb up the side of that hill ahead of us which we were to hit running. (It wasn’t a dream about an intimate relationship, though I doubt women need to be told that to make it obvious, I needed to be told in the dream!)

      Just a couple of nights ago I had a dream where I was with the detective from Top of the Lake. I don’t know yet what the dream was about, but it seemed significant that she and I were equally tall.

      I am going to follow these through to the best of my ability.

    • Me

      That probably sounded very creepy when I said I needed to be told in the dream that it wasn’t about an intimate relationship, and with an exclamation mark to boot, almost like a rape joke, which could also make my saying that I would follow it through sound like a threat. I’m sorry about that. It isn’t funny how men can take the things they imagine more seriously than what they are being told by women. The dream or my understanding of it weren’t like that.

  • So many excellent points in Meghan Murphy’s insightful post and in the intelligent comments following. My “analysis” is that Joni grew up with an adoring father, critical mother, became a dualist thinker, and was competitive with female friends from an early age. She modeled her music, art, and career on male standards with the exception of her fascination with Georgia O’Keeffe – another extremely isolated artist. Joni has stated that she “prefers the pleasure of being the only female presence among men.” How much does narcissism play a role in that statement? Has Joni ever known the depth of intimacy/equality of a trusted female friendship? I do believe from Joni’s lyrics that she came around to the concepts of feminism (minus the word) as evidenced by her lyrics of “Cherokee Louise”, “The Magdalene Laundries”,”Amelia”, “Sex Kills”, “Ethiopia”, “Shine”, “Strong and Wrong”. There are oh so many more examples if I were to do the research. I think Joni clearly gets what we’re up against, but mysteriously she prefers to align her own identity with men and rejects the term, “feminism”. It’s a complex mystery and complex people are generally laden with them. Perhaps Joni’s personal dislike of particular feminists has led to this rejection…but no matter what she calls herself I do think Joni has addressed numerous “feminist issues” in the lyrics of her music. Joni paid a substantial price for taking a stand on these issues when the music machine insisted she crank out more “hits” to increase their own mega-wealth. Joni rejected the word, “feminism”, but she has certainly embraced many of the social, economic, environmental, political injustices we feminists have fought against over the years. Joni’s recent tribute to the writing and paintings of Emily Carr is an indication that she values certain strong women. I think we may never hear Joni call herself a “feminist”, but if we listen carefully to her lyrics we’ll see there’s a “closeted feminist” inside her.

  • sporenda

    “Joni has stated that she “prefers the pleasure of being the only female presence among men.”

    Typical of the “exceptional woman” syndrome: Thatcher liked to be the only women in a room full of (powerful) of men.
    These deluded women think they are fully accepted as one of the boys.
    But Thatcher was thrown out of her own party–by a bunch of men. I don’t think she would have been treated as shabily if she had been a man;
    in any case, she was deemed a liability to the Tories because she was very impopular, but a big chunk of this impopularity was due to the fact that she was a woman in a man’s job.
    Misogyny is always present when a woman takes a man’s job; these “special women” think they have made it and are full members of the club, but misogyny catches up with them eventually and they are kicked out.
    They might think men forgot that they are women, but men never grant full male status to any woman.

  • Pingback: Joni Mitchell | cswail()

  • Pingback: The crux of the Beyoncé debate: What is feminism? | Feminist Current()

  • rita keller

    I enjoyed your article about Joni Mitchell, which I found just because she’s been hospitalized and in the news.
    But your statement:

    Neither “masculinity” or “femininity” exists in a biological sense and therefore neither is better or worse than the other.

    brought me up short!
    Could you cite studies — not just how sex roles can be taught, but also how we would know at this time there was no biological influence at all (i.e., taking it as a given there is no biological determinism)?
    And, physically, it normally takes one of each sex to procreate, so in that sense men and women are equal, but what, besides a belief in god or some other universal fairness-enforcer, proves that neither masculinity or femininity is better or worse than the other?

    This seemed to be just jaunty optimism in an otherwise fascinating article. You’ve moved on to other things, I know, but I’ll check back here so see if you find the time to answer me.

    Rita

    • marv
      • Meghan Murphy

        Thanks marv.

    • lizor

      Try this Rita:

      http://thenewbacklash.blogspot.ca/p/1-sex-vs-gender.html

      I’m interested in the internet phenomenon where an essay by someone with proven investment and expertise is breezily dismissed by someone who obviously has not bothered to inform themselves about the topic at hand and who rather insists that the original author take the time to educate them (the critic) rather than the critic taking some responsibility and doing the research themselves. Your post is a wonderful example. Could you provide some more? I’ll check back here so see if you find the time to answer me.

      • marv

        Zing! Zing! I will definitely circulate your link.

      • rita keller

        Zing is a good comment, but mine isn’t? I explained that I followed links relating to a current news event. Lot of things going on in my life — I have not kept up with my feminist expertise for many decades. And I kinda thought my remark might not get noticed or seen on such an old post.

        [Sorry, I used to be an ad-writer and I do breezy — I used to earn my living doing breezy (so, I guess, thanks for the compliment). ]

        I doubt you have control over who provides links to your website, like the link I followed. But all ya gotta do is say somewhere upfront to visitors, “Keep out!” Be clear: you are not trying to educate or interest the general public. You just want experts with up-to-date expertise to expertly comment. That’s honest and understandable.

        That way, if a non-expert reads that you’ve found the holy grail, he or she would not be so silly as to say, wow! Where? Are you credible? Are your sources?

        Thanks for the information.

        • marv

          rita my words to Lizor were solely related to the domain she cited. I thought the author’s analysis was superb. Hence, “Zing! Zing!” in the non-pejorative sense.

          ‘But all ya gotta do is say somewhere upfront to visitors, “Keep out!” Be clear: you are not trying to educate or interest the general public. You just want experts with up-to-date expertise to expertly comment. That’s honest and understandable.
          That way, if a non-expert reads that you’ve found the holy grail, he or she would not be so silly as to say, wow! Where? Are you credible? Are your sources?’

          You came to the blog stating it was “fascinating” but “jaunty optimism”, conveying the impression it was frivolous thinking, without you offering any solid reasoning for repudiating the gender claims made. Then you asked Meghan to justify her position. It was lost on you that numerous commenters put forward the same queries over and over again taking up enormous time when the answers are already there in the Feminist Current and other places as Lizor and I revealed. It is disrespectful of you to be so insensitive to Meghan’s heavy workload particularly since her labour is unpaid. Consequently Lizor’s criticisms were readily justified.

          Come here without being offputtting and you will be treated likewise. Please.

          • lizor

            Exactly. Thank you marv.