What is Feminism? Is it Dead?

I’m not sure if you’ve had the unfortunate experience of reading about the ugly display that took place on Thinking and Drinking with Lizz Winstead last week. I’m guessing that if I heard about it, everyone has.

To put it bluntly: It was a train wreck.

Nutshell: Lizz Winstead (host of “Thinking and Drinking”, previous writer for “The Daily Show”) asked Tracie Egan and Moe Tkacik to be guests on the show because “Their work on Jezebel has made them role models for young women everywhere.” (One 20-year-old blogger who was in the studio audience stated that Moe is her “Feminist Superhero.”)

Moe and Tracie are said to have arrived drunk and they proceeded to get drunker. The conversation started off with jokes about abortion and how many they’ve had. They talked about how the pull out method is the most fun way not to get pregnant. The conversation then moved on to rape. Some of the things these women said about rape had me opened-mouthed and speechless. I was in bewildered awe over the seemingly blatant ignorance.

I am not a reader of Jezebel. I am by no means someone who can speak about their writing history or their background. I do not know their audience. After having watched the video, however, I am happy I never got to know these two women—as writers, role models, bloggers, whatever. They came off as arrogant, childish, and worst of all, irresponsible. As someone unfamiliar with Jezebel, I have been turned away entirely.

But! The whole situation has left a horrible taste in my mouth. And I am not sure why. Perhaps it’s because these two are seen as role models.

I am left asking one giant question:

When did feminism become about sexually explicit vulgarity, sleeping with a different guy every night, or boasting about the number of abortions you’ve had?

(I bet Lydia Lunch and Lung Leg are pissed off—two generations too late. Sorry, ladies! Who knew fisting might one day become a symbol of feminism?)

I fail to see how getting blasted drunk and having a lot of sex is feministic. The way they acted bugged me, sure. But I think what bugs me the most is that they are looked up to and respected. Plus, they’re probably making close to a hundred grand a year doing this, acting this way.

But my husband said, “You CAN’T change the world. There are going to be idiots. I don’t know why this bothers you so much. Let them go. But if you really want to make a difference, contact the editors and producers. If they think advertisers are going to back out, they will reprimand the writers.”

OK, so I’m not going to try and change the world or contact anyone involved because it won’t do any good. He’s right about that. That’s why I chose to avoid linking to either of the women’s sites because I’d rather not add fuel the fire. (If you want to find all the “good” stuff, they can do so by clicking the above link to Lizz Winstead’s article.) My words will mean nothing—just take up some more virtual space. I can’t ask these women how they’re feminists. I’m a teeny tiny voice in a sea of millions. (Plus, I am sort of a pussy when it comes to online fighting.) But I do want to ask one parting question:

What is Feminism? Is it Dead?

Because I think it’s dead. And I think a hideous intruder has risen in its place.


  1. I could not begin to define the term or pronounce its health but I want to say that there is positive female role model in the middle of all this, Lizz Winstead. She’s made a name for herself coming up in the ranks of a painfully male dominated profession and she’s done it well. She’s funny and she’s smart and she’s made good choices in her career. I’ve admired her since I first saw her stand up back when that’s all Comedy Central did and I admire her now. Is she perfect? No. Is she a feminist? I have no idea. But I don’t think all hope is lost, no matter how loopy those other girls may be.


  2. The way I see it, feminism isn’t about the train wreck you saw.


  3. Kizz: See, I don’t know ANYTHING about lizz. This was my first real introduction to her. And she didn’t look so good either. Well, toward the end things got better. Anyway, I do hope that she comes out on top for all those who don’t know anything about here. At some point, I was ready to write her off as well.

    (I am now learning that she’s a better person than what that particular airing painted of her.)


  4. Katie: I know that, you know that, but there’s apparently a younger group of women who look at these women as feminists.

    THAT’S what’s scary for me. I guess.


  5. I find this interesting, too. I remember in college when people used to talk about feminism, and of course, ask everyone in the room where they stood on the subject. My response was always that I just wanted to be treated as an equal to men, no better, no worse…somewhere along the way, some women have decided that it means to actually BECOME men. And not just any men: the drunk, swaggering, frat boy, notch-in-the-bed-post, idiotic stereotype of men.

    Yeah, I don’t get it either. But luckily, I am married to a man who can wash dishes with the same gusto he mows the yard, so it’s all good.


  6. Wow, this is so disturbing. Especially, when one of them says that she hasn’t been raped because she is smart. Way to blame other victims.
    There are many different ways to be a feminist. However I am quite sure that none of them is this.


  7. I was reading their blogs, comments etc a little, they remind of this niche of people in my head, called frauds. This woman I work with loves to go on about how green she is, how we should all be saving the planet, etc…then at 12 everyday you see her assembling her hippy salad in the kitchen with all the ingrediants already cut and pre-packaged..salad-in-a-bag, carrots-in-a bag, then drinks some bottled water. She doesn’t actually do anything to be “green”, she just likes the idea of it.

    I didn’t see anything remotely insightful on any of those sites, just some people who think that by calling themselves wasted whores, everyone should consider them “controversial” and somehow relevent to something.


  8. But if young women see them as strong role models, what does that say about where things are headed?

    Also, what bugged me about Lizz and her having asked them to be on the show was she apparently didn’t do enough research by reading their sites. (Well, at least “Slut Machine’s” site). Right? Or am I very naive when it comes to these two and what they’re message is?


  9. Women who drink too much and say stupid stuff that they think is somehow “ironic” or self-effacing aren’t the face of feminism. And just because some younger women look up to those two women doesn’t mean anything necessarily.

    I think the appeal of the “liberated” sleeping around woman (and I went through that phase in NYC in my late 20s and thank god it was pre-Gawker!!!) is that it feels like a way to be free of the old double standard and not get emotionally hurt. There remains a big double standard on this still, and that is a feminist issue. It doesn’t mean sleeping with a ton of people is feminist—but it shouldn’t mean that sleeping with a ton of people makes you a “bad feminist” either.

    I don’t think feminism is “dead”, but I think we are all in need of seriously talking about it, as between the “vote for Hillary or you hate women” type of so-called feminists and the “Don’t hate me because I’m a drunk libertine” feminists and the whole “getting my labia lasered off makes me feel confident and empowerful!!” crap everywhere, we as women are not being helped.

    Jezebel is actually a great site 89% of the time, also. IMHO. But Moe and Tracie looked pretty stupid, if only because everyone looks pretty stupid when you are really drunk and have lost control over the tone of what you are saying in a public forum.


  10. If it’s a great site, then they should perhaps reconsider who they put on public forums especially when said forum includes alcohol. They lost me entirely.

    Not that their goal was to lure new readers, but it didn’t exactly leave anyone in a very positive light, particularly Jezebel.


  11. Jezebel is one of my favorite sites, hands-down. I don’t always agree with all the posts or the writers, but I think they do an amazing job of balancing snark, celebrity stuff, and real news issues that are important to women. I first heard about the Megan Meier case (with the woman who bullied a 13-year-old into committing suicide by pretending to be a teenage boy on myspace) and other things from Jezebel that were not receiving a lot of attention from other sources.

    That being said, I often don’t like Moe’s posts, and I find it hard to respect anyone who refers to herself as “Slut Machine.”


  12. It is not not not not not not not dead. It means a lot of complicated things to a lot of different people.

    See http://www.shakesville.com

    See http://www.feministing.com

    Just places to start to see young women fighting for equality without joking about or trivializing serious issues. Seriously, please check them out, feminism is NOT dead but it is also RARELY represented in the mainstream.


  13. I agree with bluestar: I think that the issue here is that feminism is rarely represented in the mainstream. That is, feminism in its many, many forms. Or, if it is represented, it is subtly, especially since the label ‘feminist’ scares a lot of mainstream people away (not me!). But few really understand what it means to be a feminist. I don’t really know what it means unless I define it myself.

    For me personally, it includes a relatively high degree of awareness of womens’ social conditioning and an effort to emancipate oneself from the constraints that conditioning imposes. It also includes sensitivity and awareness of other womens’ real life struggles, and an effort to empower women in general. Also, for me, it’s a celebration of the differences between men and women and between different women.

    I feel like writing more, but I must go put the little one to bed.


  14. Thanks, ladies.

    I don’t know much at all about how to define feminism. I have my own idea of what it means, but I would never presume to know the proper definition.

    I reread what I wrote above and realized that I may have asked the wrong question. And the questions I did ask were fueled by too much snark. I guess I was just completely put off by the fact that a feminist (Lizz) put two women on her show who are far from what I might consider feminists. They even claimed to be feminists. I wish I could have asked them and had I been there I might have, what they believe feminism really is. Because I think they too are suffering from not understanding it, just as I may be. However, I never claimed nor will I, that I am a feminist.

    I do have female role models, however. I think Rachel Maddow (who is going to be a guest on the 28th on that same program) is fantastic. She’s smart, articulate and admirable in every way. So, I’m glad Lizz is having her on and I hope to actually go to it. Perhaps then Lizz will give me a much better impression.

    I’m rambling. But, like I said, I am just a little upset (for lack of a better word) that two women who are actually role models for other women who work for a site that has been called feministic, spoke with such carelessness. And, I don’t think being drunk is a good excuse at all. Did people believe it was “just the alcohol talking” whenever Mel Gibson spewed all the anti-Semitic stuff when he was pulled over for drunk driving? My guess is there’s something deep-rooted there.

    I guess I don’t buy the whole “Well, they were shitfaced! What do you expect?”

    Lame excuse.

    Wow, now I am REALLY babbling.



  15. Funny, just found Feministing’s take on the whole ordeal. Great write up.

    I may have to go back and check my sources. I thought I heard the two women say they saw themselves as feminist. I swear that Tracie said so. But according to Feminisiting, they haven’t said as much. I may stand corrected.

    She does, however, say that representing women on a site for women represents feminism whether they agree to it or not. So, yeah.

    For what it’s worth.


  16. Hi-Now I’m just surprised that you wouldn’t claim yourself as a feminist. Why? I have always read your site to be from a feminist. For the record, my personal definition is that we believe men and women are equal and that women can choose any life they want for themselves (working professional, SAHM, or anywhere in between). There’s more to it, but I only had a minute and just had to ask WHY?


  17. Fair enough. I guess a statement like the one I made requires an explanation. And I will formulate one. I promise. I didn’t want you to think I was ignoring the question. It will take me some time, however. It requires a lot more attention than my usual banter. (Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of time right this minute.)

    More soon.


  18. (TJ is trying to put Em to sleep. I may have a minute. See how it goes.)

    Remember, I am not schooled in this shit. I know nothing more than a woman living in a relatively free society. But here’s my take on why I don’t consider myself a feminist.

    I feel that feminism was a term born out of a specific movement. I reap the benefits because of that movement, but I don’t feel that I can call myself a feminist.

    Also, I do not think that men and women are equal. Not at all. I feel that we need to instead celebrate and appreciate our differences. In other words, I don’t think that difference = weakness, which is what some men (and women, mind you) do believe. I think we’d be a lot better off if we embrace our inherent differences rather than claim equality of the sexes.

    I feel that labeling automatically allows people to generalize. I do not want to fall under any generalization, whether it be regarding my sex, race, or number of limbs, for that matter. I do not like labels and terms used to define a person or group of people. I think that’s what gets us into trouble and has for centuries.

    I feel that when one states “I am [insert label]” people automatically come at you with a preconception, one based on something completely out of said person’s control and until we have a unified definition of what a term means (which will never happen) I don’t trust that person A’s definition of said term equals person B’s definition of said term.

    Let’s see. What else. (I’m doing a free form answer, btw. Also, drinking wine. It’s not an excuse for my answer, but it may explain how I’m choosing to answer this question.)

    What more…

    I, for the most part, have been treated equally by the men in my life. That’s not to say I haven’t experienced bigotry, I have. But I do feel pretty equal with the men I know well. (Brother, if you’re reading this, up until you got your sport’s club membership, I could totally kick your ass.)

    I am not saying that I don’t feel that women shouldn’t identify with feminism or should declare that they are feminists. Perhaps my inability to do so (or desire to do so) is because I feel that to be a feminist one must first experience inequality and strife. I can’t say that I have experienced such emotions or setbacks. I reserve that term for those who have.

    That’s not to say I don’t stand by my gender. In fact, had Lizz had me on her show and asked me about Hilary and her campaign, I would have had a whole hell of a lot to say about how I found it sad at how bigoted the media (as well as friends and family) was toward having a female president. (Story for another day.)

    Anyway, here’s the deal, and this is what I was trying to say (and failed at) when I posted something about Obama and how I am not sure America is ready for a black president: I think that identifying with a specific group of people because you are a part of said group can run in the face of what your intentions are especially if you’re fighting for equality. Individuals don’t take well to large groups especially if said groups are telling them how they should feel or think.

    So, yeah, I'm not one to embrace a label because I don't trust that the definition you have for such equals my own.

    Wow, this may be the longest comment ever on mihow.com. It also may be my longest post ever. ha!

    I hope I don’t offend anyone, you know, the few people who get this far.

    I am going to choose not to reread this until it’s live. (Oh dear.)

    Yeah. OK. Best way to do this is to just hit submit.



  19. I reread this. I must elaborate on the Obama bit.

    We had a discussion on here once regarding voting for someone solely based on race or sex and some folks said that as long as said group was a minority then it was OK. And I disagreed because that could change at any moment. I was trying to say back then that I felt that people need to vote for people based on the person and not their sex or race, etc.

    So, yeah. That’s what I was trying to say with the whole labeling thing and rooting for someone solely based on their physical appearance.

    Hope that clears that weirdness up.


  20. I didn’t see the thing on Think and Drink or whatever its called. Too bad though, because Jezebel is absolutely genius. I know nothing about the authors, which probably is why I liked the site so much. It’s too bad you weren’t much of a jezebel fan before you saw the authors on this program because I bet you would’ve really liked it. What strange behavior from two seemingly brilliant people. I’m disappointed now!


  21. There’s a lot of issues here. I read Jezebel regularly, although I admit I don’t pay much attention to which contributor is writing what. While there are female-focused/feminist leanings to the site, I think feminism is really more of a fact-of-life/incidental to most of the site. I like it that way because I need to know that there are people out there leading “normal” lives who consider feminist ideals just plain common sense without having to wave the flag against patriarchy every minute. I read Feministing for my feminist updates. Jezebel is for snarkiness and pop-culture criticism.

    The aftershock of this has been mildly dividing when it’s brought up at the site, and the reaction post was getting like 3 comments per minute (most lengthy and thought out)

    The girl (Jess) who said the whole “Feminist Hero” thing also knew damned well that this fiasco was not representative of feminism, so Lizz’s whole deal about their influence on young women is kind of a cheap shot that gets a whole lot of reaction.

    Do I think Moe and Tracie were kind of ridiculous and offensive and out of line in this interview? Absolutely. But Lizz needs to be partially to blame in all of this uproar. She was (should have been) in control of the interview, and I don’t care what kind of point you’re trying to make, you don’t leave your audience feeling that uncomfortable while some drunk idiot guest blathers on about being “Terminator 3” (not calling them idiots). You change the subject. You MOVE ON.


  22. and no, feminism is certainly not dead. It’s just busy with more important things than defining what it’s not.

    I have to make this comparison because a girl mentioned it, appropriately enough, in the comments on a post about this very topic on Jezebel. Sororities.

    My best friend since 3rd grade was in a sorority in college. And you know what? It was awesome for her. They did great things. They were a community. Most of them were not like the sorority girls you see on TV, but yeah some girls (who might have been sorority sisters or might have just been at the party) ran in the room all drunk and threw their tops off just when your parents were visiting and made your mom think “gosh is this really what sororities are like? Don’t you girls do community service anymore?” and you and your sisters totally do community service and volunteer at the soup kitchen and make a great name for sororities everywhere, but this is one of those times that one of those girls took things too far at an inappropriate time.

    See what I’m getting at here? Moe and Tracie totally took their tops off in front of a TV camera and no one can really figure out if they’re pledging or just here for the booze, but either way, the frat dudes have all the proof they need that feminists nowadays are sluts and the rest of us have to do extra hours at the soup kitchen to prove that yes, we’re actually working here.

    I get a little caught up in metaphors sometimes.


  23. Hmm…this is a very interesting discussion. Two things:

    1)I don’t know if you checked out Shakesville which was one of the sites I mentioned in another comment, but if you do, you should specifically check out their ‘feminism101’ section (if you look at the menu bar at the top of the site the link is on the far right). It covers A LOT of what we’re talking about here and Melissa – the writer – is excellent at really breaking it down.

    2)So in terms of your comment regarding why you don’t necessarily like to label yourself as a feminist because for example it may not mean the same thing to you that it does to me (or to the two women from Jezebel for instance)…you also mentioned not feeling that you’ve ever experienced inequality which….I think you probably have. I mean no, maybe nobody has ever said to you something as direct as “You can’t because you’re a woman” but there are very subtle and indirect ways that can be put across to you as well. But anyway, the point (before I started rambling) is….if you’re a black person and you’ve never experienced overt racism (which again, I find hard to believe, but for the sake of argument here…) does that mean that you wouldn’t want to be identified with the anti racist movement just because you’ve never experienced overtly, or because different people within that movement strive for equality in different (and sometimes shocking to you) ways? Same argument goes for a gay person. If a gay person has never experience overt discrimination and let’s say they’re turned off by huge events like the gay pride parade because they just don’t feel like they need to flaunt it….should they not identify themselves (or label them selves or whatever you want to call it) as being part of the gay rights movement?

    I’m just giving food for thought here :) I like the discussion and you seem open to talking about it. Definitely check out that feminism101 stuff on Shakesville if you can though, it’s excellent stuff and way better food for thought than I just fed you all ;)


  24. I did say that I’ve experience bigotry, just not by the men I am with daily. I honestly believe that they see me as an individual and not first and foremost a woman.

    And just because I don’t call myself a feminist, doesn’t mean that I don’t fight for my fellow sex. I see sexism and I work (albeit in small, fairly meaningless ways) to overcome it when I do experience it or read about it. And I can argue till I’m blue in the face over some of the things that I see. But I still wouldn’t call myself a feminist.

    To some degree my hesitation to call myself a feminist comes back to the first reason stated above: I am not convinced that feminism wasn’t a movement that rose up at a specific time in history. This could come down to an discussion in semantics. Perhaps I just need another term? Heh

    I also feel that it’s all to easy to buy into a label and that merely declaring that “I am a feminist” is sometimes all a person feels that they need to do. Kind of what Andrea was saying regarding her “green” coworker. Guess I’d rather someone avoid labeling themselves as something or someone and just do. I think we’d get more done that way. Put your money and actions where your mouth is. Don’t feel you need to sing it, live it. Like a religion.

    Or something.


  25. P.S. The use of “your” above is not directed at anyone here> It’s the universal use of the word.


  26. There is an expression that sprang out of the 1970s women’s movement, “the personal is the political.” It meant that the things that happen in every day life, the struggles that women faced were part of a larger context of women’s position in society. And by speaking up about them, women were taking control of their own lives, exposing the inequity, making their own personal experience a political statement.

    In your blog, mihow, you have made the personal political simply by sharing the struggles of motherhood. We have a society that paints motherhood as the end all be all and glosses over how hard and frustrating and scary it is. And totally makes women who struggle with it feel like bad people. By saying yes, it is great, but is also really effing hard, you (and lots of others like you) are blazing past what I would argue is one of the remaining taboos for women. Speaking honestly about motherhood.

    And so, I don’t think it is necessary to take on the label, or march in protests, or whatever. It is a personal choice. But I do think that there are probably lots of women out there who get comfort and reassurance about their own struggles from reading about yours. And that does help move women forward and it is political.

    This is a long tangent. Maybe off topic, but now I’ve written it, so…might as well click submit.

    If you are interested, I suggest reading Carol Hanisch’s 1969 Essay, “The Personal is Political”


  27. Thank you, Tara. I will give that a shot if my son ever decides that napping is something he believes is.

    also, thanks for what you said about me. That hadn’t even occurred to me. Thank you.


  28. I think that Amanda Marcotte (who I dislike about 50% of the time) makes some good points about that whole meltdown here: http://www.alternet.org/blogs/peek/90919/#more

    I absolutely call myself a feminist, and believe that feminism is simply the belief that men and women are equal human beings and deserve equal consideration a rights in society. I don’t mean equal as in “the same” or advocate for a world where we all run around in unisex overalls – but that as citizens we are equal – and in a patriarchal world, there is still a shit-ton of work to be done on this issue. I mean, the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920. Less than 100 years ago.

    Sexism is alive and well in advertising, in health care, in the constant bullshit “mommy wars” articles, in the way rape cases are prosecuted, in the workplace, you name it. In the Gonzales vs Carhart case the Supreme Court just said women are too stupid to have agency over their own bodies and decide their own medical care. Viagra is covered by health plans when birth control is not. Wack-ass father-daughter purity balls exist. Underage prostitutes go to jail and johns go free. Domestic violence is all over the place and restraining orders do jack. And that is only in the relatively liberated 21st century US. Honor killings, female genital mutilation, the use of rape as a tool of war in the Congo, the Taliban, I can go on and on and on and on and on and on. It all stems from the fundamental misogyny of a patriarchal world, in which au fond women are treated as “other” and second class, in varying titrations of bullshit from annoying to horrifying.

    Like you, I have been very lucky to grow up mostly treated like a person rather than just a girl. I totally embrace feminism because just because women are often very different than men, that is never an excuse for the things that go on in the world.

    Rant over!


  29. Oh and also Michele I totally second what Tara said in her comment about your blog. I love your blog for that reason and I think that your heartfelt and honest accounting is such a valuable thing, and I am grateful I found it!!


  30. OK, so a big giant light bulb just turned on. I stopped here:

    “So the reason I participate in these meetings is not to solve any personal problem. One of the first things we discover in these groups is that personal problems are political problems”

    I just realized something personal that could lead to something larger and could warrant a new movement. (But I don’t think is is ONLY about women. There are some men I know who are SAHDs. I’d love to hear their perspective on these things, actually.)

    Tara, you made me realize this as well.

    I am a SAHM. I gave up my career to care for my son. I gave up a gym membership. I gave up many friends as well. (not intentionally. It’s just how it goes when you’re the only person around day in day out and the little time you get that’s “free time” is spent eating, bathing or staring off into space trying to figure out where you previous life went.)

    I gave up A LOT. I thought I knew what I was getting into but I guess I really had no idea.

    Now, remember, I wouldn’t give this life up for anything. I love being Em’s mother. I enjoy him more than my own life. However, it’s very hard being a SAHM in this city. It’s downright impossible to do longterm. IMO. (The women who do deserve awards.)

    This place is not set up for mothers. Here’s a list of things that pop into my head right off:

    1). There are barely any elevators on the subway. And the ones that do exist are often broken or they stink of bum piss and BO. IT’s nearly impossible to take a baby on the subway AND carry shopping bags. (Grocery, naturally.) Living here with a baby is hard. It shouldn’t be. This city is very hard for caregivers, imo.

    2). Parking here is a joke. I was just telling TJ, I’d love to drive to the grocery store between the hours of 11:30 AM and 1 PM because that’s when we have to move our cars from one side of the street to the other. I figured it’d be great to just go away during those times. But that’s Em’s naptime. If I go before that time, when I get back, I’ll have to drive around indefinitely looking for parking. I hate that parking is such a mess around here. I hate that it literally dictates how I spend my day. This parking fiasco isn’t easy to take on as a mother. Really.

    3). Daycares in this area have waiting list years long. And good nannies are taken. The others are often illegal. There’s a lot more demand than there is supply. I just avoid the idea entirely now.

    4). Gyms here do not have babysitting and the one that does is in Park Slope, naturally. (Incidentally, they also suspended alternative side parking there. Lucky bastards.) I’d love to go to the gym WITH my son and get a half hour workout in. But it’s not possible. And while working out with him is fun, I rather enjoy the alone time while running.

    5). You’re frowned upon a lot of the time if you bring your little on to a restaurant with you. I have mentioned this before. It bothers me. To some degree, you’re kind of dead to the locals around here the moment you become a mother. Life changes entirely. But a new one starts, too. I have met some great mothers lately, and we just try and ignore the nasty looks we get.

    6). Buying a home here is impossible unless you can afford a million dollar apartment. That’s absurd to me. But maybe I’m just bitter and resentful.

    7). I can’t buy more than a bag or two of groceries at a time because I can’t carry it (and the baby and the diaper bag) up three flights of stairs by myself and since I often have to park blocks and blocks away when I do get out, I can’t leave him upstairs (or in the car) while I unload the vehicle.

    8). Many of the crosswalk symbols don’t blink GO long enough to get across a large street with a stroller. There have been many times I am caught running (actually running) to get across before the impatient cars threaten to run my ass (and my baby) down. It’s very, very unfair especially when the subways are so unfriendly toward those with babies (strollers) or those in wheelchairs. If they want us to walk, then make it easy to do so.

    Wow, I sound like I’m whining. I guess I am a little bit. But, like I said, I wouldn’t trade this for the world. But I don’t want to stay here. It’s just too hard to do.

    So, I will leave you with the enlightened question I am now asking myself: Is my personal problem with being a mother in NYC a bigger political one?

    Is this bigger than I thought? Does this warrant change for everyone? is it just me? DO I SOUND LIKE A WHINEY BITCH? heh


  31. I guess I’m just tired of hearing people say things like, “Can’t deal with living here, move to the suburbs!” That’s not the answer. And I know so many people who were forced to do just that when they became mothers.

    If you love the place you live, why can’t you stay there? This bothers me, people. It really does.

    But I guess I can’t love a place that can’t love me back.


  32. Yes, yes, yes, absolutely yes.

    The infastructure of the city is completely and totally stacked against parents, especially middle and low income ones. I’ve seen many of my friends struggle with the same problems you’ve outlined here. It is unfair.

    I could write a lot more, but I’d rather just leave off with a quote from Margaret Mead:

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

    Thanks for having this discussion. It is great to read everyone’s take.


  33. I will come back and read all the comments, because I find this topic so interesting. But, on the way to husband’s work do, so will have to be brief.

    I agree with erica above – I love Jezebal. They have some excellent writers and do provoke very interesting thoughts. They also discuss quite handily feminist issues facing us young women today. Having said that, I find most of what Moe in particular writes to be a bit disturbing. I can’t remember who she wrote with, but her discussion of Hilary Clinton while she was still in the running almost made me run away from the site. But the humour and other fantastic writers kept me around.

    I have been reading a lot of old school and modern feminist stuff lately. I never got into it before because, in university the subject I studied if you identified yourself as a feminist theorist, you were very much pigeonholed. I was too young and naive to try and fight that, so I stuck with the male dominated theories. Anyway, I am just getting into it all now. I can’t wait for this work drinks to finish so I can come back and read the insight of the women who post here.


  34. I hope you’re all happy. You just made me purchase another url for yet another site idea. TJ is probably shaking his fist at the sky right about now.

    I kid, of course. I will not put him to work. He’s entirely too busy. As am I. I just love buying URLs. I have about a hundred in my back pocket right now.


  35. Coming late to the party – and not much to add to these insightful comments. Except, as an HR Manager in a manufacturing environment who gets to see everyone’s salary and compensation and how everyone is treated – well, I know that most of our females are not being treated fairly and probably don’t even know it. I have posted anonymous, although mihow I included my email. I just don’t ever want to lose my job over what I would reveal here. But I’ll tell you this –

    1. I am one of 9 managers. 7 are men, 2 are women. 7 get bonuses, 2 do not – guess which ones?
    2. Guess which of the managers have the lowest salaries, by tens of thousands of dollars?
    3. Guess which 7 managers get invited to leave work early and go golfing together?
    4. Guess who is asked to take meeting minutes at our staff meetings . . . who is sent to make copies during a management meeting . . . who has to come to the meeting early to set up the punch and cookies for everybody, and who has to stay late to clean up afterwards?
    5. Guess which 2 managers are asked to answer the phones when the receptionist is on break?
    5. I had two people recently perform a huge amount of overtime in order to get a project completed. One of them was a male in the traditionally male production area, and one was a female in the traditionally female admin area. The male (who already makes $10 an hour more than the female) was paid a several thousand dollar bonus for his extra effort. The female was told – this extra work was a training opportunity for you, so you can now put it on your resume and maybe one day get a better job out of it. No money for her. Her tasks, though vital, were seen as less valuable to the company, and I feel it’s because they occurred in the traditionally feminine area of work – admin.

    I could go on. These are just anecdotes, but they are part of a wider systemic problem. I have to go to a meeting now – this wasn’t very thought out, and wasn’t even a response to the interview, which I found pretty pathetic – but I had to respond because what I’ve discovered in my working environment has really made me downhearted. I know I have a lot to do. But how do I do it? Without losing my job???


  36. Oh wow. Just wow and where to begin?

    I need to brainstorm some ideas and write something for you. Too important to not warrant a thoughtful response. But I do want to say something regarding my initial post.

    I think this is what made me ask if feminism is dead. Because I feel that it should be more than “I freely and openly sleep with a lot of men” even in the mainstream media. I feel that if younger minds are getting this type of dose of feminism, we’re in a lot of trouble down the road. Also, not many people have expressed their outrage toward the whole abortion conversation that was had on that show. I found that as bad as the rape talk, if not worse. Treating abortion like it’s birth control is deplorable. You can say whatever you want about being pro choice, but this is exactly the type of talk that gives those against abortion more and more fuel. SHAME ON THESE WOMEN FOR OPENLY JOKING ABOUT SUCH THINGS. Shame on Lizz as well. (SHE was the one who referred to herself as the “Terminator 3.” It’s not funny. Abortion is not funny. It’s not birth control and it’s a whole hell of a lot more serious than what they’re making it out to be.)

    Joking about it as role models is not good for anyone, pro life, choice, etc.

    Feminism should be about addressing the issues you mention above, Anon. The mainstream media, Lizz, Jezebel, should use their power to make a difference NOT make jokes about abortion and rape. It fucking pisses me off to no end, enough for me to say it’s dead. Because, really, gossip sells. Look what that right wing blogger did with the Dunkin Donuts commercial? It was a scarf that Muslims of all ages, sexes, colors wear. It’s not a scarf worn by terrorists. Yet! She won. She had them remove the ad from the air because she’s a fucking moron with a big mouth. And the media (and their advertisers) eat that shit up! I hate it. I hate what we’ve become where our news is concerned. I hate that we can’t say enough is enough already.

    These women should not be writing for a female oriented blog if they are going to callously get up and shit all over what many women have worked so hard to overcome and/or teach.

    I’m riled up now.

    And I haven’t even begun to address what you wrote above.


  37. I generally hate getting involved in any debate around feminism, but I feel compelled to weight in on this.

    Tracie Egan is brilliant—and like others said above, she is a fraud.

    Her persona “Slut Machine” is just that – a persona. Its an act; the more you read/watch her, the more amazed you are about what will come out of her mouth next. It’s like watching Sarah Silverman pretending to be serious – actually, it is that.

    There was a brilliant posting (video or text, i can’t remember) shortly after she did the “This is all about hiring a male prostitute to rape me” story, in which she said that (paraphrasing) ‘everyone will get herpes so just don’t use a condom – it feels better. i dont have herpes… yet, but i will one day, and i’m cool with that’.

    Months later, in another posting, she talks about having lived with herpes for years.

    In her persona, its all about shock&awe – and there’s no reality or coherence to one of it. She’s brilliant because she makes all this stuff up, and hilarious because she can never keep her stories straight.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if, in reality, she’s only had sex with one guy… all the way in college – and is the shyist person in the world.


  38. I had dinner with Tracie. I haven’t outwardly admitted to this on here yet. (We, TJ and I, met her at the Gothamist party. I totally forgot about it until the other night.)

    I don’t think she’s making things up. But maybe I’m really bad at personas and reading people in real life. Who knows.


  39. Can you go to the gym and the grocery store when your husband is home from work? Leave the baby with him at home and then do your thing?


  40. I am starting to hit the gym after TJ gets home. So, yes. As far as the store is concerned, I could. I could drive to a few of the local ones but I can hit those during the day, and I do. The better one is kind of a hike, however and requires a car. (It has a parking lot so you’re guaranteed a spot) Traffic is horrible at that hour and remains horrible until roughly 8 PM, which is when it closes.

    I’d love to go during the day so I can see TJ and get what we need for the week, but it’s not easy (although, i have and just left all the dry goods in the car.) When I have gone during the day, the lot is often filled with moms and babies. It’s kind of funny.

    We usually get up and go at 8 AM on Saturday whenever it first opens. It’s a freaking mess any other time for many of the same reasons I complained about above.

    I am not sure if that makes sense or if I just seem like I’m being more and more difficult. haha


  41. you had dinner with her, and didn’t think its an act? i’m so convinced it is.

    do you guys go to fairway for food?


  42. We did not think it was an act at all. Neither one of us.

    And, yes, we do go there for food. But we go the moment they open on weekends otherwise WATCH OUT, BRO!


  43. There’s a really good post about this on Salon, by one of my favorite bloggers, Sarah Hepola:

    It’s all about how so much of this is about having a “persona” and references a similar thing happening with former Gawker blogger Emily Gould on Larry King.

    I’m not a huge fan of any of the Denton empire sites (though I will admit scanning Jezebel every couple of days for links, because I do like that they point out a lot of women-related articles/news that I otherwise wouldn’t necessarily come across) and the Salon piece gets at why.

    Also, there is a post up on Jezebel by the managing editor that refers to the whole thing as an “f-ing shame.”

    I think that interview is an embarrassment and it is depressing to think that any impressionable young women might emulate it. (Also depressing to think people paid to witness it. I didn’t know that it was a ticketed event.) But, I don’t think the interview, or even Jezebel the site, represents feminism so much as it represents the patented Denton empire voice. All those sites sound the same to me—juiced-up, snarky, say whatever you feel like without regard for anyone else. And I think all of those sites hire people they know will be this kind of personality, hungering for attention, and they’ll let them publicly flame out if need be (gets a ton of hits, I’m sure!), and then feature them as the subject of ridicule if and when they leave the fold. (Again, see Emily Gould.) Finally, any site that is requiring its editors/writer to crank out content all day long is by nature going to be fairly shallow, so Jezebel is never really going to be delving into deeper issues. Anyway, I’d hate to think that people view Jezebel as THE voice of feminism, because while it might represent one angle, there are many others that feel a lot more useful and productive to me.


  44. Want to know how I found your blog? Yeah, so do I – I was searching for information on severe gastro-intestinal responses to red wine, and somehow I ended up on another post. I was intrigued and decided to see what you were writing about today. Like your site – I’ll have to sub to your rss in the hopes that if I ever get time to read blogs, yours will be one of them!

    Two things…
    1. This sounds like a really awful example of “sex positive feminism.” I’m not saying that sex positive feminists typically act this way, but the behavior you have described is attributed to post modern strains of feminism.
    2. I can’t imagine trying to raise children in/near NYC unless money and resources were unlimited. My BIL and SIL are about to have a baby, and they’re moving to Hoboken. I’m worried for them. Anyway, power to you for doing it!! Might you consider selling your car and just renting one on occasion or taking taxis when you want to go on big shopping trips???

    Best wishes!


  45. I wanted to mention a terrific essay by Sarah D. Bunting on TomatoNation.com about feminism called “Yes, You Are.” To summarize, she focuses on the actual definition of feminism, belief in equality of the sexes, and suggests we disregard all the other connotations we may have of that word when figuring if we fit in.



  46. Sorry to talk about grocery stores. I tottaly agree about going at 8 am on Saturday. Target is almost peaceful at that time of day. And no you are not difficult you are just trying to find balance in your life.


  47. I saw a clip of the show. It was appalling. I read Jezebel now and then for a laugh, celeb gossip, whatever. Some time ago, Tracie wrote a piece for Vice magazine about paying a guy to “rape” her. Her “rape” amounted to a boring date and too brief (for her tastes) sex. I was SO enraged reading that piece. Vice disabled the comments on the thing pretty quickly. I know what I wanted to say to her – you can write about rape when you’ve been brutalized in an alley, the guy punched you in the face to knock you out, and in the process he broke your glasses sending glass into your eye and for the rest of your life, that eye tears up constantly and reminds you of it. I don’t know her personally, but I think her public persona is a bad, tasteless, offensive joke.


  48. Aimee, I am so, so, so very sorry that happened to you. Your comment made me tear up. Very sorry, sweet, wonderful girl.


  49. Oh god, I’m sorry to have misled you, Michele. You’re so kind. It happened to my best friend when we were twenty. She has a big scar on her eye in spite of the plastic surgery. Even though it’s not my story, it makes me really angry that those two, while claiming to be feminists, can be so cavalier and publicly dismissive of a horrible thing that so many women have gone through, even if they’re kidding. It’s just not funny.


  50. Thanks to Saerah for posting that Tomato Nation post. I’ve read that site on and off for a few years but I missed that post and I think it sums things up nicely.

    Part of the problem with linking the death or nonexistence of feminism with an episode like the one originally brought up is that nobody is perfect. I don’t really read Jezebel, I’ve only poked around over there once or twice, but those two may very well be feminists. They may not be perfect feminists, they may not always do things exactly the way we think they should, but they may still consider themselves to be feminists.

    I don’t know if I’m making any sense, I just don’t think we should chalk up the end of a movement to a few episodes in the main stream media where people acted in a way we think is deplorable, you know? It kind of belittles an entire movement that is serious, powerful, and necessary.

    Also, re: Anonymous’ post about the disparity of pay in her office – that is not rare. It is not even a teeny bit rare. It is almost the standard. Yes, there are places where things are very equal and fair etc, but there are MORE places where things aren’t that way. I also work in HR, I won’t go into much detail, but I see the very same things that Anonymous talked about. It’s upsetting, and it’s why feminism can’t be dead, because it’s still VERY much needed.


  51. Sorry, bluestar, but if you’re going to be in the public eye like that, AND you see yourself as a feminist, helping the movement, etc, then you better damned well not sink to these levels. This is far from “Oh, no one is perfect. Let’s cut them a break.”

    IF they are feminists and call themselves such, I see this as the equivalent of an animal rights person (say someone high up over at the ASPCA) making lighthearted jokes about how funny it is to see kittens, small dogs, and other animals ripped apart by dogs during dog fighting classes. It’s like suggesting that animals that are tortured for human game were asking for hit. HAHA! So funny.

    Check yourself before you say such stupid shit. I do agree, it does belittle the movement, but I did not declare it dead until they publicly drove over it several times.

    I kind of want them to apologize. I guess.


  52. The “Check yourself before you say stupid shit….” was NOT directed at Bluestar. It was directed at (again) the universal “you” who may find themselves publicly addressing issues which they themselves are supposed to be for.

    Sorry! That came out harshly and wasn’t meant to.


  53. Ah, that’s just it. I definitely don’t disagree with your last comment, they SHOULDN’T do these things at all – regardless of whether they’re feminists or not, but especially not if they are feminists.

    But, to take your example of the animal rights person….if an animal rights person, say high up in the ASPCA or wherever did the equivalent, we wouldn’t call the animal rights movement dead, right? We wouldn’t say well that’s it, I’m not comfortable calling myself an animal rights activist anymore, because so and so did this incredibly stupid and harmful thing.

    I hope I’m not sounding obnoxious, I’m not picking an argument, I just think it’s interesting to discuss these kinds of things because I think words really, really matter, and I think it’s possibly (but not definitely – I guess that’d be a separate discussion) harmful to throw away a term like feminism because there are some people who identify themselves as such when they certainly don’t act like such. Does that make any sense?


  54. I find all of this pretty fascinating. I do consider myself a feminist. Have you read Linda Hirshman’s american Prospect Essay “Homeward Bound”? You might find it interesting. she can be a bit harsh, but she gives a lot to think about.

    I’m so sorry you’re finding being a SAHM mom in NYC difficult. I think I jay haev mentioned this before when you were house hunting, bt if you want to stay in NYC you may give the North Shore of Staten Island a look. Low taxes, house with yards, artsy community, no parking nightmares, daycare is MUCH easier to find than other boroughs, and, well, we lvoe it yere.

    I don’t think feminism is dead. But I do think you’re right – people have co-opted the word and tried to make it fit every situation. If you’re a WAHM you can be a feminist! If you’re a SAHM you’re a feminist! If you’re a WOHM yu’re a feminist! Feminism is about equality in the workplace and the home. I think the 70s femists did enormous work in making the office a better palce for women, but they didn’t do a good job on the homefront. Sadly, I think the house and childraising it still seen as “women’s work” and that is nonsense.


  55. Bluestar: Your point is taken. However, if Ingrid Newkirk had someone on her talk show whom she referred to as “Role model for young animal rights activists” who then blathered on about how funny dog fighting is, I might call it dead as well.


  56. i haven’t gone to look at the videos or whatever, so this response is kindof more about your question of “When did feminism become about sexually explicit vulgarity, sleeping with a different guy every night, or boasting about the number of abortions you’ve had?”

    what your comment describes is something i’ve been noticing over the past few years as a bit of a trend, and reading “Female Chauvinist Pigs” by Ariel Levy-– although far from perfectly corresponding to my ideas about this stuff—did bring together in an analytical and coherent some of these elements of 21st century female behaviour.

    this book helped me understand a little bit what’s going on, to see connecting threads in some disparate elements of our culture, to perhaps unearth where this stuff all came from, and to understand why it seems so appealing to both girls/boys/women/men alike.

    anyway, i have a similar reaction to you to this kind of thing (going on your description). i really recommend this book, because even though it may likely exacerbate that horrible taste in your mouth, it might leave you a little less bemused at what the heck is happening to feminism here.


    p.s. have loved your blog for a very long time; it’s one of the few “wordy” blogs in my incredibly pleonastic life that i will dedicate time to read. so thanks very much.


  57. I just thought of a great story that relates to this.

    I knew a kid in college that was an outspoken gay activist… and a bit quirky and eccentric too. If I recall correctly, despite rising to head the Gay/Lesbian Outreach group, he proved to be a little too outspoken and quirky—and ultimately had to abandon his post, as the general population of the group didn’t feel like he was representing them in the best light.

    Did that mean that gay was dead? Did he instantly become straight? No.

    It just means that you can – to an extent – control who represents you and is in your club, but you can’t control who claims to be in it or identifies with it.

    That said, feminism means different things to different people.

    To some women it means ‘Girl Positive’, to others it means ‘Man Negative’, and as we know now a few think it means (in my jerry springer guest voice) “I do whatIwaaaant, I fuck who i want to”.

    ( There are tons of definitions in between , you get the point. )


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