sights & sounds

June 10, 2010

I really want some of what Cathy Young is smoking.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jay @ 4:16 am
Tags: , , , ,

..if she seriously thinks the following is a remotely accurate description of Sarah Palin’s politics:

“Yet the audience for a different kind of feminism — one that seeks individualistic and market-oriented solutions, rather than big-government-driven ones1, and focuses on women’s empowerment rather than oppression — is clearly there. The women who embrace it are likely to transform both feminism and conservatism. The feminist movement ignores them at its peril.”

The above is a particularly smarmy excerpt from a piece of shit that Young wrote for the Boston Globe on Sarah Palin’s new brand of Totally Revolutionary right-wing ‘feminism’. Major problems with the article are as follows.:

I’m usually loathe to police labels  – far be it from me to eject someone from the feminist ‘clubhouse’ for disagreeing with me. However, any genuinely liberating feminist politic must be grounded in autonomy – asserting bodily autonomy is such a key component of addressing gender oppression that I’m not sure what to think of people who neglect it. Hence, anyone who seeks to police another person’s body is automatically no ally of mine.

This has nothing to do with ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’, either – the vast majority of radfems who were fighting to squelch sex work during the 80s were leftists; and I don’t consider them my allies anymore than I do ‘mama grizzly‘ anti-choicers2 like Palin. Young mentions these issues briefly in her article, but glosses over the fundamental problem:

“If feminism is typecast as a left-wing movement, this automatically limits its appeal in a country with center-right politics. Feminist writer Naomi Wolf noted this nearly two decades ago when she urged the movement to drop litmus tests that excluded millions of women because of their positions on environmental policy, guns, gay rights, or abortion.”

Oh, that pesky litmus test! Who cares whether someone is willing to throw queers under the bus to achieve their goals? Dykes aren’t the women who ‘matter’, anyway. ..and reproductive rights? That’s so yesterday!

Furthermore, conservatives have this cute habit of shallowly co-opting libertarian rhetoric when it suits them (e.g. on guns, on the welfare state, on ‘privatization’), conveniently ignoring it when it doesn’t (e.g. on foreign policy, on immigration), and then restyling this braindead mish-mash of populist drivel with buzzwords like “small government!”, “free markets!”, and “liberty!” in order to cast themselves as a ‘different’ breed of conservative. Palin & the Tea Partiers are no exception – despite all the alarmist hand-waving on the right, Obama is no more of a ‘socialist’ than John McCain is; and Palin is no more of a ‘free market’ champion than Obama is. Frightening that seemingly intelligent adults think otherwise.

Finally, ‘conservatism’ has historically had nothing to do with any of the principles Young claims3. She seems to think that ‘libertarianism’ and ‘conservatism’ are distant cousins, which is strange – libertarianism predates Libertarianism (i.e. the Libertarian Party), and the American strain of free market libertarianism is a mish-mash of classical liberalism and individualist anarchism4, both of which sprang from ‘the left’.

Granted, I’m deeply disappointed by the authoritarian trends in mainstream feminism; and as a result, I deeply disagree with most feminists I come across on a number of issues – on ‘gun control’, on involvement in electoral politics, on the efficacy of government authority in general. However, Sarah Palin isn’t any different.

1. ..because anarchafeminists don’t exist, right? Oh, no – if you want a radical picking-apart of state power, turn to Sarah Palin.

2. It’s possible to morally disapprove of abortion without wishing to obstruct others from doing it. That’s not what I’m referring to here.

3. Conservatism’s reputation as a free market lovefest is particularly silly – strict immigration controls, protectionism, and corporate privilege are all hallmarks of conservatism; and they’re all fundamentally incompatible with a free market.

4. Minarchist(ish) libertarians always emphasize the former over the latter, though, with a dash of either ‘paleocon’ or ‘neocon’ thrown in, depending. Indeed, they’ll often deny any affiliation whatsoever with the latter – it’s always fun to watch libertarians who’re ignorant of history say things like, “We’re libertarians, not anarchists!”.

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