Ann Coulter: Feminist Success Story?

Though I take issue with a lot of what Caryl Rivers writes in this op/ed (i.e., the focus on Ann’s physical appearance and mini-skirts), I agree with her basic assertion: That Ann Coulter is indeed a feminist success story.

Does that make her a feminist? Hell no. And I think that Rivers’ op/ed has been slightly misread to be saying that. As far as I can tell, she isn’t arguing that Coulter is a feminist, but rather that Coulter is in her current position because feminism enabled her to access education and to do what she does for a living. Coulter, Caitlyn Flanagan, Phyllis Schlafley, and all those other women who piss on women’s rights in order to bring home a paycheck are direct beneficiaries of the very movement that they reap so much benefit from attacking. Feminists led the fight to get women into law school, in mass media, on the floor of the legislature. Feminists worked hard to make sure that Phyllis Schlafley gets paid just as well as the male columnists that she is published alongisde, and to shift public perceptions so that the female voice is taken as seriously as the male one. Have we fully accomplished all of these goals? No. But we’ve laid the groundwork, and we’re continuing to work to make the world a more equitable place.

The fact is that, when you give individuals greater autonomy, increased access to power and a wider range of rights and liberties, a lot of them are going to say things that you don’t like. A lot of them are going to criticize the very people and movements that allowed them to get where they are. A lot of them are never going to bother to say thank you. Some, like Phyllis Schlafly, will tour the country telling other women to stay home with their kids. Others, like Caitlyn Flanagan, will make a career out of writing books and articles about how good mothers don’t have careers. Still others, like Ann Coulter, will use her position as a political pundit to argue that women shouldn’t have the right to voice their political views in elections. Do I wish that they would recognize the hypocrisy of their actions? You bet. Do I wish they would come over from the dark side and realize that they wouldn’t be where they are today without the feminists who fought for their rights to be there? Absolutely. But would I rather that they have the channels to spew their vitriol and idiocy than be stuck in a society which, because of their gender, erects monumental barriers to their success? I’ll take vitriol and idiocy any day.

(None of this, of course, is to say that we can’t criticize the hell of out them. We can and we should).

And speaking of idiocy, here’s Rivers on Coulter, just because I always enjoy pointing out what a batshit crazy nutbag she is:

Coulter is the perfect icon of the way in which the values of infotainment now have almost completely taken over what we used to call news and comment. As “Godless,” her latest book about dreaded liberals, was to roll off the presses, Coulter took out after the widows, to wit: “These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities, and stalked by grief-arazzis. I have never seen people enjoying their husband’s death so much.” She also called them “harpies” whose husbands were probably about to divorce them before the Twin Towers fell.

Coulter’s newest book once again takes on her favorite bete noir, those liberals. In “Godless,” she says they will burn in hell for casual sex, opposing school prayer, not believing that the world was created in six days, or not thinking that sex education is the handiwork of Satan. In her last book, “Treason,” anti-Communist crusader Joe McCarthy was the good guy and all Democrats, she said, were anti-America Benedict Arnolds.

She’s had her own Time magazine cover, something akin to beatification on planet Infotainment. The Time piece was a cotton-candy valentine, basically writing off her racial and Arab-bashing remarks as rather adorable. Time said, “It would be easier to accept Coulter’s reasoning if a shadow of bigotry didn’t attach to many of her statements about Arabs and Muslims.” Not to mention blacks. Coulter once wrote that school desegregation has led to “illiterate students knifing one another between acts of sodomy in the stairwell.” She also noted in a speech, “Liberals are about to become the last people to figure out that Arabs lie,” and said that airports should establish separate security lines for men and boys who look dark enough to be from the Middle East. “Swarthy men . . . We’d be searching, you know, Italians, Spanish, Jews.”

Rivers is right when she says that, “Certainly, when we feminists were marching in the 1970s trying to knock down doors barred to women, we never imagined that one person who would follow us through was Ann Coulter. But, hey, everybody can’t be Gloria Steinem.” I can’t support her ultimate conclusion, though, that it’s a good thing that women are getting a piece of the racist, sexist, right-wing action. We’ve all gotta get paid somehow, but I’m not going to support soul-selling just because a woman is doing it. Thoughts?

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About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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9 Responses to Ann Coulter: Feminist Success Story?

  1. beatnik501 says:

    that remins me to the freedom of speech struggle within some people.
    i read somewhere that if you don’t want freedom of speech for the people you despise or don’t agree with,then you don’t want freedom of speech at all.
    and in this case,the fact that coulter based her career in gratuitous,reality-bending truths,and sometimes ,like in “godless”,personal attacks into something so sacred as your relationship with loved ones (to me, the fact that she suggest that the 9/11 widows were “probably” gonna be an indicative of her bile).should not keep us from recognizing that it’s a victory for the women rights.
    the fact we hear,see ,or read her in mainstream media.not taking her clothes of,not using her “beauty” but her ideas ( senseless they may be).it’s an indicative of gender health.
    of course i wish there be more progressive-thinking women with the media attention she gets.but i still rather listen to her than watch a pageant contest.

  2. EL says:

    Same reaction here.

  3. EL says:

    Whoops, I meant “some reaction” … definitely not “same”.

  4. JenM says:

    What I think is interesting about her “Godless” media interviews is how suprised AC is that people aren’t objecting to being called secular. As if she really thinks there’s a huge group of liberals who would say “OF COURSE I believe the world was created in 6 days, how dare you say such a thing just b/c I don’t like George Bush.” As a godless liberal myself if being secular is the worst insult Ann Coulter can think to hurl at me – whatever.

    Kinda OT – check out Page 2- there’s a column on what would Ann Coulter write if she was a sports writer. Here’s a sample “How do we know he wasn’t on his way to meet a prostitute, anyway?” regarding Ben Roethlisberger. Its hilarious and I think the best way to deal w/AC – b/c as noted after Matt Lauer she depends on people being outraged, when she’s mocked it makes her even crazier.

  5. ilyka says:

    We’ve all gotta get paid somehow, but I’m not going to support soul-selling just because a woman is doing it. Thoughts?

    Well, I did have, but you stole it out from under me right there. I can only tack on my personal experience: Thanks to Coulter’s success in the wake of second-wave feminism, I now have to confront two things when talking to some women to the right of me:

    1. The idea that feminism is done, over, has nothing further to contribute, has accomplished all its goals and maybe too many of them, because look, Ann Coulter sells books! To borrow from Twisty, we can all go home now. Weirdly, a good chunk of these women describe themselves as “Susan B. Anthony feminists,” even though that’s going back to the first wave. I guess they don’t like being able to open credit card accounts on their own without a husband’s signature?

    2. The belief that it’s hypocritical to call oneself a feminist while criticizing other women–even when those women (hey, it’s Ann again!) are unabashedly hostile in their contempt for feminists. As I had to tell a Republican female commenter a few months back, I’m not going to refrain from saying what I think just because someone votes Republican and has a vagina. I think of this as the “but I thought you believed in sisterhood!” misconception.

    I do believe in sisterhood. That’s why when I have something to say about another woman I don’t use misogynist language and I try to limit my criticisms to what she says and does, not who she is as a person, what she looks like, or how much/how little she’s sexually active. That doesn’t mean I have to praise every action by every woman ever, nor that I have to treat every success by every woman ever as proof that we can all go home now.

  6. Nomie says:

    Oh, Ann. I’m not godless! I have lots of gods!

    Seriously though, beatnik501 already hit on what I was thinking. Voltaire is probably tired of being dragged up for internet arguments, but it holds true. Coulter is one of the worst of the right-wing nutjobs, but she should be criticized because of her reprehensible viewpoints and mudslinging – not her gender.

  7. ellenbrenna says:

    Actually I think Ann Coulter is an ultra radical feminist performance artist who was working to get kicked off television and newspapers by being as offensive as possible and forcing everyone to reexamine their misohynist and racist beliefs.

    However in a nice patriarchal twist nothing she says is actually taken that seriously so no one got offended enough to banish her. They chuckled, patted her on the head and gave her a publishing deal instead.

    Then she lost her mind. Like a cop undercover, well that is my theory anyway.

  8. Natalia says:

    And the said thing is, Coulter will probably NEVER be grateful for the women who worked their asses of just so one day, an ungrateful psycho-bitch like her can take it all for granted.

    Yeah, I’m posturing… Sue me. :)))))

  9. A loud mouth does not a feminist make!

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