ONE MORE TIME: If you are not a feminist (or something blamelessly ignorant, like a baby or a ferret or a college freshman), then you are a bad person. Those are the only options. You either believe that women are people, or you don’t. To help you pick one, here is some information!
First-Wave Feminism: Maybe We Could be Citizens now?
These were the tough old 19th-century bitchez (note: Calling women “bitchez” with an affectionate z is pretty upper-level ironic material—maybe just stick with “women” for now) like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton who were all, “Heeeeeey bros, we were thinking that maybe if you’re not busy we could get the right to vote and stuff please maybe?” Then they proceeded to righteously fuck shit up until the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920, which gave American women the vote. A lot of the first-wavers were totally racist, plus they were still pretty into the idea that a woman’s job is shutting up and scrubbing stuff. But, you know, nobody’s perfect.
Second-Wave Feminism: Maybe You Could Stop Raping Us, Please?
After World War II, women started to be like, “Oh! Maybe I can get a job and tell my husband to stop raping me!” They began taking on subtler forms of sexism and misogyny—things that might not be legally mandated (like voting rights) but were fucking up women’s lives nonetheless. These women would become the second-wavers. In 1963, Betty Friedan made everyone go crazy by suggesting that the nuclear family might be a crock of shit that stifled women’s potential and made them unhappy. Then sooooooo many things happened!!! . . . . Once shit started to get done, shrewd anti-feminists took the opportunity to declare sexism officially over, because women were now allowed to not be raped (sometimes) and also to work for low wages in garment factories and rapey advertising agencies, and therefore any woman who complained about anything from this moment onward was a hairy, braless bitch. Women continued to fight, because women are awesome. Fuck Phyllis Schlafly.
This is really not a bad overview of the past two centuries of feminist history in the west. I might suggest that in fact, feminism predated the nineteenth century, but whatevs. Maybe it would go something like this:
Feminism: Maybe We Could Be People Now?
So, it was the Age of Reason, and man-people were all about making radical statements about their rights, like “all men are created equal” in the United States, plus they were all about the Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen in France too. Some women were like, “are we not people too?” instead of chattel, and women like Mary Wollstonecraft and Judith Sargent Murray wrote about how it wasn’t a natural inferiority but rather a lack of education that was keeping women down. Sometimes married women like Abigail Adams tried to be jokey and polite with their husbands, who were all about the rights of men, and wrote them letters about “remember the ladies” and suggesting that “all men would be tyrants if they could,” but their husbands wrote back assy things like “as to your extraordinary code of laws” in which women would be considered equal citizens with men, “I cannot but laugh.” Like the total douche that he was. And then the Age of Reason ended with a military dictatorship in France, the Napoleonic Wars in Europe, the expansion of slavery and wars against Indians in the U.S., and all even rich women got was the empire waistline, which was pretty comfortable while it lasted, but of course it didn’t.
I love how the first comment showing on the Jezebel blog post demonstrates conclusively that antifeminists are 1) dumb and 2) humorless: “To be honest, I don’t think this is a persuasive piece of work at all. Sorry. If I were trying to convince someone of exactly what this article is trying to say… I’d find something less snarky and condescending. You don’t sway someone’s opinion to your side by making them feel stupid or talking down to them.” Right. If only this guy were around to advise Mary Wollstonecraft, Judith Sargent Murray, Abigail Adams, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, Lucy Stone, Alice Paul, Betty Friedan, Andrea Dworkin, bell hooks, and all of those other bitchez who didn’t get shit done the way dudes wanted! And without the pointless elipses or subject-verb disagreement!
I’ve been offline and have missed so much this week. Gore Vidal is dead! The even more embarrassingly jingoistic Olympics coverage by NBC!
National Lampoon’s Mitt Romney’s Gaffe-tastic European Vacation (or, the Kiss My Ass Tour)! So fill me in on what you’ve been seeing, reading, hearing, and thinking, in addition to your entries for a brief introduction to feminism before 1848.