Liberal feminists ushered Ivanka Trump into the White House


Joe Raedle/Getty

Ivanka Trump has it all… Or so we’re told… A lifestyle brand and clothing line, conventional beauty pageant looks, softly-lit photos featuring a perfect family life, and an influential husband. She also appears to be one of the only people that her father, now the actual President of the United States, occasionally listens to.

In light of Donald Trump’s election, Ivanka has been working hard to carve out a public image as just a regular mom who messes up her baking but also manages to run multiple lucrative business ventures. This image works for her. I cannot say the same for the more baffling merge she’s attempted in supporting Donald’s vile, misogynistic campaign while simultaneously claiming a stake in the feminist fight.

A blurb for her upcoming book, Women Who Work, reads:

“Our grandmothers fought for the right to work. Our mothers fought for the choice to be in an office or stay at home. Our generation is the first to fully embrace and celebrate the fact our lives are multidimensional. Thanks to the women who came before us and paved the way, we can create the lives we want to lead — which looks different for each of us. Women who work lead meetings and train for marathons. We learn how to cook and how to code. We inspire our employees and our children. We innovate at our current jobs and start new businesses.”

Ivanka wants to “redefine” what it means to be a modern woman, using the saleable veneer of “girl-power feminism.”

Of course, presenting #womenwhowork as an innovative concept ignores the fact that women — particularly working class women and women of colour — have worked both in and outside the marketplace since the beginning of humanity. This work is not the kind of work that is promoted or applauded by Ivanka and her supporters. Incidentally, the women who work to make Ivanka’s lifestyle happen remain invisible, even as part of a brand that alleges to support and celebrate working women.

Every time I hear the phrase “women who work,” I roll my eyes. Growing up in my Dominican Republic, I never met a woman who didn’t work. Every single one was busy doing something — most did traditional work outside of the home, but even the few who would be called “stay-at-home moms” made and sold ice cream to the neighborhood kids, sewed clothes for the church ladies, or set up makeshift hair salons in their living rooms to make ends meet. The idea that Ivanka’s #womenwhowork is a new approach to womanhood ignores the mostly-thankless work women have always done.

As the disgusting presidential campaign wore on and the racism and misogyny of Donald Trump’s politics (which Ivanka enthusiastically endorsed as a surrogate) became more evident, Ivanka seemed concerned, not for the dangerous implications that political rhetoric would have for those most marginalized in society, but for what this would mean for her brand. Days before Election Night, a story in the New York Times reported:

“[Donald Trump’s] polished older daughter, Ivanka, sat for a commercial intended to appeal to suburban women who have recoiled from her father’s incendiary language. But she discouraged the campaign from promoting the ad in news releases, fearing that her high-profile association with the campaign would damage the businesses that bear her name.”

However well-curated her “feminist” lifestyle brand is, the message doesn’t add up. A former classmate of Ivanka’s told a Huffington Post reporter during the presidential campaign:

“I thought, she is either lying to herself or she is making herself believe things like her father does. She is up there talking about women in the workplace while the crowd is basically chanting ‘lock up the bitch.’”

Ivanka Trump and her initiative have been getting rave reviews from fashion magazines and conservative media, but there’s just one problem: Ivanka’s feminist peers don’t want to anoint her as one of their own. In fact, they seem outraged that a woman like Ivanka would try to use feminism to promote either herself or her business ventures.

In The Guardian, Jessica Valenti writes:

“In a moment when the mainstream understanding of feminism is less about politics than it is the nebulous idea of ‘empowerment,’ this diversion could very well work. In the last 10 years, feminist rhetoric has become popular enough to co-opt — from conservative organizations that claim women ‘deserve better’ than abortion to ‘you go girl’ campaigns that sell cellulite cream.”

Valenti quotes founder and editor of Bitch Magazine Andi Zeisler, who says that Ivanka is “among the many people who have opportunistically grasped at the label [feminist] as a means of trying to appear relevant to women.”

The analysis offered in Valenti’s piece lays the blame for this watering down of the feminist movement at the feet of conservative women — particularly “conservative femininity,” as she calls it. Valenti argues “that anything having to do with women can now be positioned as ‘empowered’ will only help Ivanka keep up her feminist facade — not just among voters, but in a mainstream culture and elite class eager to embrace women’s rights so long as they’re depoliticized.” Zeisler calls this “marketplace feminism.”

What Valenti and Zeisler fail to mention in their analysis is that, as leading third wave feminists in the U.S., they were both instrumental in depoliticizing the movement. As the founders of Feministing and Bitch Magazine, neither of these women were on the periphery of liberal feminism — they were leading the charge. And the mantle of that charge was that feminism was indeed about individual “empowerment” and “choice,” not a political movement to end male supremacy.

The same liberal feminists who are now saying, “We need to stop the myth that feminism is simply ‘anything a woman does’” were the very same women who popularized the idea that feminism is anything a woman does or chooses. The women who now claim to be confounded that literally anyone (including Donald Trump) and anything could be considered feminist, were the ones who told us that all you had to do to be a feminist was “believe in gender equality” or simply take on the label, regardless of what you believe.

In Full Frontal Feminism, Valenti writes:

“I always was a fan of the dictionary definition. Feminism: 1. Belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. 2. The movement organized around this belief. At the end of the day, feminism is really something you define for yourself.”

The problem with this bland definition is that it implies that believing in something is enough. But for a political movement that seeks to abolish oppressive systems of power and to challenge the status quo, believing is not enough. I can believe climate change is bad all I want, but that won’t stop climate change. Likewise, “believing” in a meager concept like “equality” won’t dismantle patriarchy. On the contrary, it neutralizes the power of the movement and allows for the forces it is meant to fight to appropriate it.

Beyond that, if Valenti truly believes “feminism is something you define for yourself,” she can’t reasonably argue that either Ivanka or a pro-lifer can’t take on the label.

This is, for the record, exactly how the pimp and sex buyers’ lobby managed to infiltrate a movement that should center survivor voices and oppose the commodification of women’s bodies. It’s also how we ended up with a wave of feminism that labels this particular form of exploitation “empowerment.”

Third wave feminists shot themselves (and the rest of us) in the foot by insisting feminism is nothing more than a personal identity. Now, they’re trying to backtrack by (ironically) coopting what radicals have said all along, but without taking responsibility for the role they themselves played in this fiasco. In fact, Ivanka used Valenti’s defanged version of “feminism” to defend her father as a feminist, stating:

“People talk and talk about gender equality, but do they actually live it? My father has. He believes in equality amongst the genders: economically, politically, socially. My father has empowered women, including me, his whole life.”

The depoliticized interpretation of the women’s rights movement pushed by liberals like Valenti and Zeisler is exactly what allowed women like Ivanka to appropriate it.

In her book, Zeisler writes, “The difference between celebrity-branded feminism and a feminist movement as a social and political force is one that is about individuals and the other about systems.”

This is an accurate statement, but it ignores the fact that liberal feminists like Zeisler have also stolen the work of radical feminists who have been fighting for decades to have a strong feminist movement that challenges structural and systemic oppression, without crediting them. The women who pushed to keep feminism political — not just a series of empty neoliberal mantras — were branded as “problematic” or “too controversial” (because they were actually challenging patriarchy), and were smeared by U.S. liberals who are now claiming these arguments as their own.

Feminists who supported the “cool girl” brand of feminism that pushed a saleable version of the movement into the mainstream are now renouncing it, but it’s too late. The third wave taught us that feminism was anything you wanted it to be: a catchphrase, a belief, an outlook on life, a selfie… Anything but a political movement aimed at dismantling patriarchy and male supremacy. Is it any wonder that women like Ivanka Trump decided to capitalize on this message and turn feminism into a brand?

While Ivanka’s “feminism” does nothing for women other than herself, mainstream feminism can’t repudiate her: she is a sign of the times.

As Margaret Carson writes for the Chicago Tribune, even though Ivanka’s feel-good, empty feminism has nothing to offer the rest of the female population, it somehow won its support. Carson writes:

“During the campaign, the favorite Trump became the antidote to her bumptious father’s intemperate remarks, even though she never directly rebuked him. Dad may have been caught in video laughing about groping women and calling them hideous names, but how bad could he be if she loved him? She told female voters how her father had “total respect for women,” how good he was to those who worked for him and how devoted she was to advancing women’s issues such as paid family leave. She gave a boffo speech at the convention in a sheath that would sell out on her website that night, after a performance her father rated a ’10.’ Against all odds, he won the white women’s vote.”

A hollow feminism — devoid of political strategy and purpose — has been in the works for decades. This is known as the backlash. Radical feminists have long warned that both capitalism and patriarchy are infiltrating the movement and defanging it from within, only to find themselves vilified and no-platformed. Now, the same mainstream feminists who built their careers on the depoliticized “marketplace feminism” that Ivanka Trump is making her own want us to believe they are outraged that this happened to our movement.

If Ivankas brand represents “a mauve-colored feminist nightmare,” as Olivia Deng calls it in The Huffington Post, then we need to acknowledge how we got a place where feminism could be co-opted so easily. Yet the countless think pieces that decry Ivanka — as if she managed to trivialize feminism all on her own — fail to make that connection.

To blame one single woman for this mess would be both inaccurate and misogynist. Liberal feminists need to confront the fact that their quest to build careers off this movement by mainstreaming it and watering it down via woke-sounding manifestos, all the while throwing women under the bus, was a strategy that was bound to backfire. It is also a strategy that serves the most privileged feminists, at the expense of the girls and women who are most marginalized and in the most dire need of a strong, political feminist movement.

I have no desire to defend Ivanka Trump. After all, the effects of the Trump Administration will be most felt among working class women, women of colour, immigrant women, and victims of sexual assault like myself. But I am keen to analyze what she represents for feminism in the Trump age so that we can reflect on how we got to this point and how to fight it moving forward.

I call bullshit on liberal feminists’ indignation at Ivanka Trump’s feminism. She didn’t appropriate the feminist mantle. Liberal feminists gave it to her.

Raquel Rosario Sanchez
Raquel Rosario Sanchez

Raquel Rosario Sanchez is a writer from the Dominican Republic. Her utmost priority in her work and as a feminist is to end violence against girls and women. Her work has appeared in several print and digital publications both in English and Spanish, including: Feminist Current, El Grillo, La Replica, Tribuna Feminista, El Caribe and La Marea. You can follow her @8rosariosanchez where she rambles about feminism, politics, and poetry.

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  • Demih Frou

    I really don’t believe in “equality” between sexes, but in the
    predominance of one sex over the other for historical reasons.

    Patriarchy may have made sense 10,000 years ago when human society was
    starting, but now matriarchy is emerging as the more natural social
    Empowerment of women makes sense if it points toward a matriarchal, not necessarily female “centered”, redefinition of society.
    If one “sex” is not the dominant social class, the other certainly will be.

    • Tired feminist

      Human societies were not “starting” 10,000 years ago. That’s a patriarchal point of view.

      Patriarchy only “makes sense” if you believe men couldn’t possibly live without taking control of women’s reproductive functions, which is a too narrow view of men, imo.

    • Richard Rich

      @demihfrou:disqus Patriarchy never made sense because human civilization prior to the establishment of the Ibrahimic religions and Greco-Roman spread of “democracy” were matrilineal (kinship and inheritance passed from the maternal line) and much more egalitarian in their treatment of both sexes. This is especially true of the indigenous societies of Africa, Western Europe (prior to Roman contact), and the New World where women had a relative status of authority and influence.

      Men are not the creators or arbiters of civilization, but the destroyers of it. They’ll try to tell you otherwise by citing their Earth-killing technology and weapons, “all men are created equal” (but not women, evidently) facade of democracy, and hokey “divine right” religions as proof that males are fit to lead this planet to oblivion.

      • corvid

        Great comment. Indeed, most white men seem utterly convinced of the rightness of the systems they’ve set in motion. The result of all this “efficiency”, however, has been mass destruction of the ecosystem and the enslavement of the vast majority of humanity, so that a scant few generations of privileged people can know unprecedented material wealth.

        • Brandi86

          Every society has patriarchy. Do you really think only cultures created by white men are patriarchal? Middle eastern countries are patriarchal and this is a tradition that goes back thousands of years. White men did not set the patriarchy in motion. The patriarchy has existed through out history and across many cultures. With or without white men the patriarchy is going to exist.

      • Just Passing Through

        Seriously. where are more men like you? If more men were open to ideas like this, we would be so much further along.

  • yummymoussaka

    Would it be too optimistic to think the backlash to the backlash is upon us? That the “choosy choice” contingent is waking up? I mean, I was one of them before it hit me that a whole bunch of fun-fem blather make no sense, and prompted me to do a lot more reading to figure out why. Could it be that hearing Ivanka Trump parrot their own drivel back at them is shaking them out of their complacency and helping them reach the realization that something is very wrong?

    It’s kind of like hearing a recording of yourself: “sheesh, do I sound like that?”

    • MermaidJayne

      You know what, if there is one silver lining that may came out of this Trump debacle its this: things that were online and underground in terms of misogyny are right in everyone’s face now. A lot of women are super angry, or rather the deep rage (that most women have due to living in a patriarchy) is coming up. Whats happened the last few months has bought the fire to the front. And the anger is clearly cutting through the BS as anger often does.

      Like the other day on Jezebel, I posted a huge anti pornography comment on an article about pornography. My comment was one of the most starred on the post. It was pretty clearly anti pornography, I was not skimming around the edges. And since then whenever a pornography article comes out, anti-pornography rhetoric is starting to be some of the most starred comments.

      There is no way this would have happened 3 years ago, maybe even 1 year ago. I really think there is a wave of rage running though women which is going to cut through the haze and really bring radical feminism more into mainstream.

      • melissa

        Wow, i hope you’re right.I’ve had my anti-porn comments(although mild tbh) received well in some liberal sites too.

        Which Jezebel article was this btw?

      • Raysa_Lite

        I post in a place that is a feminist space, with just a few radical feminists and a lot of women claiming to be libfem.

        I wrote a few posts about radical feminism. I got some push back but I also received a lot of positive comments. And I received a lot of up votes from people that didn’t comment.

        My point being that my experience is that a lot of liberal feminists are really uncomfortable with liberal feminism. But they are uncomfortable bringing it up.

        They haven’t told me why this is, in most cases, anyway. But I can only assume that they are concerned about blowback. Liberal feminism definitely has a societal payoff. And I don’t judge them. I am used to being called names. It doesn’t bother me, mostly because I am an asshole. But I do understand the fear.

      • foamreality

        There is hope. When you hit rock bottom (and lets face it Trump is rock bottom) you have to bounce back or wither and die. A man – now more famous for his misogyny than anything else hes done – got elected. Even liberal feminists, with its growing popularity in mainstream culture in the last decade must surely be asking (even if only privately) ‘perhaps we were wrong about porn being harmless?’ . They must have right? Surely?

    • Rachel

      Perhaps a bit optimistic, because I think a lot of the fun fems would find it too hard to be “uncool” in men’s eyes. But it sure would be cool if what you said was what was happening!

    • Meghan Murphy

      But they still won’t speak out against the sex industry or gender identity rhetoric… They still use their positions of relative power and privilege to smear and blacklist radical feminists… What’s the point of them waking up if they don’t have the courage to break from the pack?

      • I am wondering if the women’s march may have provided a dose of reality, in that so many many women were clearly aware that it was about women and made signs of female genitalia just – as – though – “female” is a well-defined category (which it is of course). I didn’t see any catering to this “multiple gender” bs or gender as whatever you want it to be. Clearly most women think a woman is a female-bodied person. Whew!

  • Tired feminist

    What makes me MOST angry is that writers like Zeisler and Valenti are probably well-versed in radical feminism. After all, in order to steal radicals’ ideas, you have to read them. Seems they cherrypick bits of radical analysis only to the extent that such analysis suits them. Conservative women bastardizing feminism? Great, time to use all that radfem stuff that would be too controversial in other contexts, so that you still look political! Liberal women bastardizing feminism? Shhhhh, choice, choice, empowerment, shhh.

    • ripia

      Dont forget that they also earn money.
      They sell lies. They sell a fake defintion of feminism. They sell the stigmatization of radical feminism. They sell objectification.
      And they earn tons of money for that and live a good life because they contribute to patriarchal socialization.

      They should be ashamed.

      I wouldnt call them libfem, they are opportunists who dont a fuck about the political consequences of their actions.

  • will

    I love this article. It would be gracious of those men and women who rode the wave of “my choice exists in a vacuum but it’s totally activism”, who deliberately obfuscated the fact that every single being makes choices every waking hour and that those choice effect other beings, would acknowledge the damage done by their self-interested undermining of the Most Essential Political Movement of our Time. Jumping on yet another bandwagon, continuing to abjure both critical thought and responsibility does nothing to undo the regression they have engendered.

  • Richard Rich

    Here is an interesting read from Catherine A. MacKinnon (‘Sexual Liberalism and the Attack on Feminism’) who also puts liberalism’s assault and undermining of Feminism into context.

  • Independent Radical

    Yes, liberals do have a simplistic “everyone who isn’t totally with us is our enemy” mentality.

    I’m an ugly, prudish (even by radical feminist standards), moralistic, atheist (also science advocate) and leftist, but liberalism, even with its insistence on rejecting binaries and being inclusive of “queers”, doesn’t really allow for people like me.

    To be fair, no worldview probably does, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. We should all be critical thinkers who draw ideas from multiple places (including some conservative places in my case), even while we align ourselves with the movements we most agree with. We should all be “political queers” (I’m kidding, of course, but I hope you get what I mean).

  • dandelionseed

    Yes, it’s really not clear to me how Ivanka Trump is different from Sheryl Sandburg — isn’t Sheryl in Davos right now?

  • Marla

    Not that I ever shop at Nordstrom but that Ivanka The Terrible shit looks like it was stolen fresh of the the designing table of Stella McCartney

  • Jocelyn Crawley

    Excellent points and well said. I feel this way about Mother’s Day, too. The unpaid labor of reproduction and child-rearing shouldn’t be normalized and celebrated as something that is wonderful, natural, or good.

    • Independent Radical

      Very true. Celebrating women who conform isn’t feminism.

      • Brandi86

        Well not all women are feminist, in fact many women don’t want anything to do with feminism at all. If feminist don’t like mothers day then just ignore it. Don’t go around telling others they shouldn’t.

        Amazing how some feminist want to do away with a day that celebrates motherhood and childbirth, things that only women can do all because some people find it offensive. I’m sure many mra and transgender activist agree with you.

    • Brandi86

      It’s unpaid because it’s not a job. Does anyone really think someone is going to get paid to rear a child? Come on that’s just silly. The women and families who celebrate mothers day are celebrating the women who are important to them and what they mean to their life.

      There is nothing wrong with motherhood, childbirth or child rearing. It’s all wonderful and natural. You can’t get more natural than motherhood and childbirth.

  • Jocelyn Crawley

    Exactly. I would like to add that many of these “radicals” are likely man-identified women: women who claim feminism but then abandon any of the tenets that really challenge male rule when they realize that being too progressive might cause them to lose a partner. I think this is why many real radical feminists have abandoned the imperial project of heterosexuality entirely.

    • ripia

      Agree. Some of these fake radicals have boyfriends they dont want to lose (which means that their boyfriends are not radical allies, so they probably are misogynistic pricks).

      Its funny because sometimes they blame libfem for not questioning their habits, but they behave like libfem too.

      I dont understand why they claim to be radicals if the only thing they can do is harassing real radicals.

  • rosearan

    My question is: Why aren’t we allowed to apply this same criteria to Hillary Clinton?

  • ripia

    Great post! Agree 100%

    “Of course all of these women are just trying to survive as best they can
    under patriarchy; some are just more honest about it (in general
    unapologetically pro-hierarchy conservatives are more honest than
    first-world liberals, who live well at the expense of most of the rest
    of the world while paying lip service to change and making a few token

    exactly, its just cowardice. Some people openly claim that others are inferior, others use another tactic: “If people want to be inferior, its their right!”, in the end both are essentialist and both contribute to stereotypes.

  • ripia

    Even when they try to objectify men, adopt a male gaze, or use men as sex objects, they always fail, and always end up adopting the most clichés stereotypes and patriarchal roles. (the most obvious examples: BDSM dominatrix or the hook up culture where women are supposed to be porn stars)

    Like, they cant even reverse patriarchal roles lmao

    I guess that deep down, they dont want to reverse patriarchal roles

  • It’s worth remembering that feminists have always been a small remnant of women, and that they/we have always had to struggle against not only men, but the majority of women. Women live within lies, and lies live within us. Something has to happen to most of us, to allow us to see the lies, especially the lies we tell ourselves. You can’t tell a dick-pecked woman that she’s oppressed without getting push-back. She’s going to claim she’s not oppressed; she’s going to claim she has had complete control over her life and her choices. She’s not going to realize she has only had the illusion of control until something happens that makes her realize what she thought was control was mere compliance with societal expectation. There’s no point being aggressive with these women. But the more the information, the facts, the examples of women’s systemic oppression is out there, the more women will one by one be able to examine their own choices from a different perspective than the one they’ve been limited to. If libfems are becoming radicalized, well I think that process is working. One thing that I think would help is if we could start a push to encourage young women to look to older women for support and guidance. Patriarchy has done everything it can to separate different generations of women. It tries to get young women to repudiate their mothers, their aunts, their grandmothers, any strong, experienced women who have come before. Would someone start an advertising campaign showing girls and young women going to older women for help, and showing trust in older women?

    • rosearan

      ‘She’s going to claim she’s not oppressed; she’s going to claim she has had complete control over her life and her choices. She’s not going to realize she has only had the illusion of control until something happens that makes her realize what she thought was control was mere compliance with societal expectation.’

      Absolutely. The lesson that older feminists can teach younger feminists is to never compromise your financial or emotional independence, no matter how much you love your man. Never, ever think that that ‘something happens’ won’t happen to you. Cinderella was an idiot.

    • Jocelyn Crawley

      Exactly correct. I was particularly compelled by your statement that many women don’t realize that they are operating under the illusion of control, with the reality being that they are simply complying with social norms. I agree completely, and in reading your post, I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes from the brilliant feminist Monique Wittig: “Women do not know that they are totally dominated by men, and when they acknowledge the fact, they can “hardly believe it.”” Wittig goes on to note that many women refuse to acknowledge that men dominate them knowingly.

      You are also right in asserting that something has to happen to us to see the lies. I always considered myself a feminist but I didn’t become a radical feminist until I began studying feminism intensely and for an extended period of time. It was after this point that my entire consciousness of self and the external world shifted and I came to understand that women are literally ruled by men.This reality becomes particularly plain when we see the opposition that women who truly resist (rather than pandering to the patriarchy by embracing its own self-annihilating myths and calling that sexual empowerment) experience. It has also become plain to me when conversing with people who still accept and internalize norms regarding the female body, “sex,” etc. This is why I consciously attempt to build friendships with radical feminists.

      Again, great post.

      • Sounds like it’s time I read some M. Wittig. Thanks for mentioning her. I agree that men dominate women knowingly. It’s a breathtakingly outrageous assertion, but I believe it’s true. Even the nicest guys.

      • oneclickboedicea

        I realised it after the first male attack on me, a rape when I was fourteen, and my father and brothers took the attacker’s side. That learnt me quick.

        • Yes. It is this type of lived experience that helps us understand reality even when we hear patriarchal rhetoric which attempts to downplay or deploy discourse about rape culture. After writing a final research paper on rape culture, I am deeply saddened but no longer surprised to see this “blame the victim” ideology being put into praxis. Here is one of the most disturbing parts of Marge Piercy’s “Rape Poem”:

          There is no difference between being raped
          and being bit on the ankle by a rattlesnake
          except that people ask if your skirt was short
          and why you were out alone anyhow.

          Phallic power will always insist upon creating a system of logic which displaces blame for its own destructiveness onto the victim of that destruction: women. As noted in Gloria Steinem’s short essay “If Men Could Menstruate,” “logic is in the eye of the logician” (369).

          I would have responded to this sooner but I am just learning how to use Disqus to track comments. Sorry. 🙂

    • Alienigena

      “Women live within lies, and lies live within us”. So true. And so many women living in the mainstream seem to expect other women to conform … absolutely. To be polite even to abusive people, to have infinite patience, to replicate other women’s (including one’s mother’s) life experience (through imitation). “It (patriarchy) tries to get young women to repudiate their mothers …” I don’t repudiate my mother (and I loved her very much and admired her to a certain extent) but I never wanted to live her life or emulate her in any way. For one, our personalities were quite different. She made excuses for my abusive father, she made it impossible to talk about anything of substance by claiming that such discussions (of ‘reality’) hurt her feelings. For example, I told her about my suicide attempts as a young adult years after the fact because at the time I was undergoing suicidal ideation and action her stated view of suicide was that people who committed it (or tried to) were motivated primarily by selfishness (rather than hopelessness). She based this opinion on my father’s married (with children) female cousin’s suicide, which was committed in a graphic way (she shot herself in the front yard of her house after a diagnosis of cancer, yeah, fun people my father’s family). My family never knew about my attempts, too involved in their own lives, too emotionally disconnected. Albeit, I was pretty surreptitious and not very effective at it.

      My mother expected me to be her personal counselor and confidante in my teens. I was not her eldest daughter or an overly mature teen, in fact I would say that though I could be cynical about people from a young age I was also painfully naive, shy and not someone who could offer advice to an adult woman. She was gregarious, smart and generous but she was also an incessant male apologist. Maybe like other mainstream heterosexual women she had an inborn affection for men (which can transition to disillusionment with life experience). I never had that feeling, that is, a general liking for the male sex. I have always (by age 5 or 6 at least) viewed men (with very few exceptions) with some suspicion and sometimes with disgust. She expected happy, happy, joy, joy from me and frankly, given my upbringing that was not possible. Not saying that I am a pillar of virtue either, I can be a card carrying airhead. I received a tentative diagnosis of ADD in my early twenties and frankly I am very good at daydreaming/zoning out if I am bored, and my boredom can be a physical symptom, e.g. expressed by falling asleep (when not really sleep deprived) at times. I am not fabricating about the ‘falling asleep if bored’ thing, apparently others with ADD/ADHD experience it as well.

      “If … an individual with ADHD loses interest in an activity, his nervous system disengages, in search of something more interesting. Sometimes this disengagement is so abrupt as to induce sudden extreme drowsiness, even to the point of falling asleep.”

      I just cannot conform to expectations as can many other women/girls (despite their conflicting emotions and suppressed anger). I can’t be a good little woman, something will out. Like a blunt rejoinder to something I consider disingenuous (another side benefit of ADD, blurting inappropriately) or hypocritical. I can’t be my mother. The desire to act out physically is always there. Though I was considered compliant as a child and adolescent by my more acting out siblings and by teachers, a lot was going on under the surface. My brother was dedicated to upstaging teachers, showing them to be fools. I would say my brother and sister (underage drug and alcohol use, underage sex, truancy, running away) both
      suffered from oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) (the non-criminal cousin to conduct disorder) and maybe ADHD as

      I think with ADD the first impulse is to respond physically. Though I was never physically disruptive in class in grade school, in fact I was always described as too quiet, too serious, my brain first goes to a physical way to respond to a situation (e.g. noisy office mate, visualize throwing something, I have never done this by the way, but the first impulse is to respond physically). Always being polite and compliant is almost a physical impossibility for me. Something always gives. So, I end up irritating women (they give me the ‘look of death’) who are good are complying with patriarchy on all levels with my bluntness and lack of diplomacy. And I can cause men to whinge about how mean (non-physical mean) I am to them because I can be quite fierce and when in that state don’t care about the consequences. Maybe it is not appropriate to say my brain wiring makes me do it, but men say it all the time. And ADD seems to set one up for a very confrontational relationship with patriarchy (and society in general) and traditional expectations of how women and girls should behave, think and act.

      • Mothers as male-apologists are a real problem. Preventing sexual abuse within the home is just one of many reasons why feminism is so important, why women have to connect with the world outside the home (even if they choose to be at-homes moms for a while), why they need to have self-esteem, which the patriarchy tries hard to undermine. We need to be able to respect our mothers but that can’t happen when women choose their husbands over their children. But strength comes from and through inter-generational connection.

        • oneclickboedicea

          Speaking as a mother who did choose her child over her partner, this is not an easy choice to make, mainly because it infuriates the man baby who then goes on a violent rampage, whilst she is left appealing to other male institutions like the police force for protection. The fact that most of these institutions are run by a bro code, makes protection an intricate game of Russian roulette, one where the very institutions that proport to protect you as a victim, go after you as a lying whore that has poisoned the child against the father. Nothing is said, but investigations of your home are made and every effort to dehumanise and defame you are made to prop up male moral superiority. It is an exercise in brain fucking of the first degree.

  • Meagan Tyler

    Another brilliant piece from Raquel Rosario Sanchez.

    Thank you for writing it and to Feminist Current for publishing it. It is extraordinary to watch the likes of Valenti and Zeisler jump up and down in faux-outrage about the meaningless pop-feminism they themselves were pushing only a few years ago. A confirmation that the tide has turned, in a way, given that they clearly feel they need to actually talk about politics to stay relevant, but the hypocrisy is breathtaking.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Will is female and contributes a great to deal the conversation here. Please don’t speak to her like that.

  • Brandi86

    Gender bending? Yeah, I think I’ll pass on that. I got that constantly shoved down our throats during obamas presidency, mostly from his supporters. The last thing I want is more of it.

  • Tired feminist

    I don’t think uncritical acceptance of her politics is the reason why many people here are avoiding to criticize Clinton. I think it is because the entire rest of the world is rejoicing on throwing shit at her and this isn’t doing any good to the actual political situation.

    But even this was not a unanimity. Clinton was harshly criticized on the comments of other articles before and after the election.

  • Virginia Howard

    Except that Trumplethinskin couldn’t even bring himself to *think* of the bodily substance: breast milk.

  • Tired feminist

    Something that kind of fascinates me is how Clinton is being held entirely accountable for carrying on with Obama’s policies, like every loyal member of his team was supposed to do. This is not to say she does not bear responsibility for her actions, but I do wonder what her most virulent critics would have done in the position of Obama’s Secretary of State.

  • Independent Radical

    “I don’t think motherhood is an innately good or bad thing, but the issue
    is that within a capitalist society where one’s well-being is
    intrinsically linked to economic security, the labour should be paid.”

    I think if we paid women to quietly sit at home and perform repetitive manual labour we would be encouraging women to sit at home and perform repetitive manual labour, instead of daring to demand that men do some of the work. In the deepest sense it’s hardly better than rewarding women with praise. It would make it easier for women to escape abusive relationships, but so would giving all women work outside the home (which comes with the additional advantages of enabling women to form connections which could help them get out).

    Economically it makes sense not to reward housework because it’s economically inefficient. This isn’t a comment on the value of women who do this work as human beings, since the value of a person isn’t dependent on their economic contribution to society. I think people should be given enough wealth to survive simply because they are people, no labour required, but the labour we should be encouraging is that which is going to make the biggest contribution to society. If you’re working alone, at home, serving one man and a few children you contribution is never going to be that big, no matter how hard you work. People get more done when working as part of a larger group that aims to benefit as many people are possible, so I think housework should be collectivised and therefore made more efficient, before it can become paid labour. That way you could also have a group of people (men and women) specially qualified to do it and it wouldn’t be compulsory (I’m never going to want to do it no matter how much you pay me).

  • Alienigena

    What constitutes Hillary Clinton’s awfulness? If you criticize her for activities and decisions during her time as Secretary of State why don’t you criticize every male president (and Secretary of State) who sent soldiers to war to be killed or to kill civilians (intentionally or unintentionally)? Why aren’t you more critical of Obama, Bush 1 and 2, Reagan, Johnson, Kennedy, Roosevelt, etc.? In Canada, we would have to be more critical of all male leaders who sent soldiers to war to be killed or kill (civilians). We should be calling Paul Martin, Stephen Harper, Jean Chretien, etc. awful people given that they participated in the Afghanistan conflict (because we are members of NATO and a member of NATO (the USA) was attacked).

    • foamreality

      ‘why don’t you criticize every male president (and Secretary of State)
      who sent soldiers to war to be killed or to kill civilians
      (intentionally or unintentionally)? Why aren’t you more critical of
      Obama, Bush 1 and 2, Reagan, Johnson, Kennedy, Roosevelt, etc.?’

      I do. And I am.

    • foamreality

      What constitutes Hillary Clinton’s awfulness?

      It was Clinton who ran with no message, other than the profoundly tone-deaf “America is already great.”

      a) it obviously isn’t, b) 53% of voting women agreed it wasnt and decided Trump was better, c) b) proves a) which proves d) she is awful.

      Nothing good will come of her defeat, except perhaps the end of the
      Clinton dynastic stranglehold on Democratic Party politics and, by
      extension, the seizure of all liberal, left, and activist politics in
      the U.S. by the family’s scrupulously cultivated base of corporate
      donors. But that silver lining was bound to emerge eventually.

  • Independent Radical

    “If housewives went on strike it might do nothing to improve their
    situation, but it would give their husbands a really, really hard time,
    and it would most definitely affect their productivity.”

    As far as I know there’s never been a housewife strike (though there have been strikes by other female dominated professions like nurses and teachers), because housewives work separately from each other in their own houses and are thus isolated from each other.

    Workers’ strikes are effective because they’re able to organise together and since their work is interdependent (each worker contributes to part of the process, instead of performing the entire process alone) workplaces can be impaired or completely shut down by a large portion of the workers going on strike. A boss can’t achieve anything by forcing one worker back to work under those conditions, because you need a team of workers to make the workplace function. If there were a housewife strike, one man could easily force his own wife back to work and to him it wouldn’t matter at all if all the other housewives in the area were on strike (this is also the reason why “sex worker” unions will always be bullshit, even if the didn’t exist to service the industry, their “labour” is individual, not collective).

    Strikes came about as a form of activism because labour was collectivised. The isolated nature of women’s labour keeps them subordinate and the best way to fix that is to change the fact that women work in isolations. Either make it easier for them to enter the workplace or collectivise housework itself.

    “Four people working in four houses are hardly more efficient than one person pro house.”

    Collectivisation wouldn’t be four people doing four houses. It would be more like four people doing one house big enough for four families, with each doing the task they were best at and using the latest technology. There are many economic advantages that come from collectivisation that aren’t obvious until it’s implemented. Implementing them with regard to housework will uproot people’s lives (though the actual industrial revolution did too), but there is housework that can take places outside the home (e.g. cooking and clothes washing) that would be easier to collectivise.

    “Housewives don’t either “quietly sit” at home. Their work is way more physically demanding than that.”

    Perhaps, I should’ve said “quietly stay”. My point was not to deny the physically demanding nature of the work (though that does vary depending on economic class), but to stress the isolation and subordination involved. I don’t want to encourage women to stay in the home when they could be out directly changing the world (instead of helping their big strong man change the world, often for the worse), even if that’s by doing the same labour on a larger scale.

    I’ve always been more of a revolutionary than reformist (with regard to everything, pretty much) and I worry that some reforms may strengthen the system, even if they make it more fair. If someone can make a case that paying women to perform housework will eventually lead to the abolition of those conditions then I’ll be on board. Otherwise, I’ll remain sceptical and advocate measures aimed at getting women into workplaces where they can be part of unions and other collective movements.

    • Tired feminist

      There was the Icelandic women’s strike in 1975, where housewives also took part, but that’s not a “housewife strike”. I don’t either find it realistic, I just brought this up as a thought experiment.

      • Independent Radical

        I get your point. The labour of housewives is essential to the functioning of society, but I don’t particularly want our current society to function and usefulness isn’t the same as efficiency. Some efficient labour is highly destructive (the pornography industry is a good example, it contributes nothing of truly valuable to society, but is highly efficient). We should however being encouraging women to do useful work in the most efficient way possible, not helping them cope with an inefficient and exploitative system.

  • Tired feminist


  • melissa


  • foamreality

    I don’t understand that. I think shes awful and I will say so. And I think its ok to say she is without being considered sexist. Is that wrong because MRAs and trans activists say they think some people are awful ? Commenting on forums is an MRA tactic too. Framing people as manipulative like MRA/Trans activists is pretty sad. My comment was basically: ‘its ok to critisise hillary clinton because she is awful’. I can’t help it if you disagree.