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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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83 Responses

  1. Ashley
    Ashley February 2, 2011 at 1:11 pm |

    Aww good luck with your future!

  2. gretel
    gretel February 2, 2011 at 1:22 pm |

    My knee-jerk reaction was: “NEWS CORP?! NOOO!” but now I realize it makes perfect sense for her to move outside the lefty zone. She’s going to have a much wider–and probably much different–audience now, and I hope she changes some minds. Watch out, Rupert Murdoch! Your house is about to be torn down!

  3. Tony
    Tony February 2, 2011 at 3:04 pm |

    I don’t know why but I feel sad. Is feminist blogging only a young woman’s game? I don’t know of other types of political blogs where people feel obligated to bow out because of age, or couch their moving-on decisions in such terms.

  4. gretel
    gretel February 2, 2011 at 3:20 pm |

    I know. When she mentioned she was 32 I felt ill. 32 is still young, right? Right?!

    I think it’s mainly because Feministing’s mission really involves attracting youth attention and promoting young voices. I don’t think it’s the case with all feminist blogs. Besides, she has lots of new opportunities, so her stepping aside will give some feminists just starting out an opportunity, perhaps.

    Tony: I don’t know why but I feel sad. Is feminist blogging only a young woman’s game? I don’t know of other types of political blogs where people feel obligated to bow out because of age, or couch their moving-on decisions in such terms.  

  5. Quick Thanks for Rubbing My Eyes « Millicent and Carla Fran

    […] a quick thanks to Jessica Valenti, who announced today that she is leaving Feministing. Her fellow bloggers and people who actually know her have written a lot of grand things about it. I don’t know […]

  6. Nahida
    Nahida February 2, 2011 at 4:02 pm |

    She will be missed. <3

  7. Janie
    Janie February 2, 2011 at 6:35 pm |

    To those above who seem to have read this as feminism only being apparently relevant to younger females, that’s not what was stated. The point is that *Feministing* (not feminism blogs) was created with the intent that it was for specifically young feminists. So yes, it makes sense that an older voice should step down. That doesn’t mean anyone feels older voices should step away from feminism.

    For instance, say there was a Kids Club. Once those kids got older, they wouldn’t be part of that specific organisation, but they would still be in that Party.

  8. Janie
    Janie February 2, 2011 at 6:37 pm |

    Sorry, I meant to type, “say there was a Political Party Kids Club”

  9. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte February 2, 2011 at 6:51 pm |

    Oh god, this is bringing up memories. It’s been a long number of years! I remember when I got to guest blog at Feministing; it was a wee little site and Jessica wasn’t sure what direction it was going. It was perhaps less valuable than it is now as a mega-site, but it had a lot of the feel of riot grrrl zines in the 90s. Just spouting off, tampon jokes, etc. It was a different time. It just slowly turned into now almost without us realizing it……I’ve changed. For the better. But man, we were different people then. It’s just funny how it is.

  10. GallingGalla
    GallingGalla February 2, 2011 at 8:26 pm |

    I hate to rain on the parade, and I don’t want to lay this all at Jessica’s feet (there’s a lot of bloggers at Feministing), but Feministing has been pretty hostile to trans folk, including trans women. I had to stop reading and participating there several years ago after multiple transphobic attacks when unchecked by Feministing staff. My occasional recent visits haven’t shown much change in this regard.

    I think once again that the unspoken default here is feminism for cis white folk.

  11. evil fizz
    evil fizz February 2, 2011 at 11:49 pm |

    I am still kind of taken aback by “it’s really for young feminists and I’m 32!”. It’s fine to acknowledge your priorities have changed, but this seemed really discordant. Regardless, it’s been a very long time since I’ve read Feministing for reasons that aren’t relevant to this thread, so I’ll just stick with hoping that Jess’s choices take her where she wants to go.

  12. rl
    rl February 3, 2011 at 3:41 pm |

    GallingGalla: ]I think once again that the unspoken default here is feminism for cis white folk.  

    Really? Really?! It’s fine is you don’t like Feministing readers/commenters/whatever because you feel like they don’t stand for what you think is right. But don’t put every feminist in the basket, please. Stereotypes, are for the birds. You of all people should know that.

  13. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. February 3, 2011 at 3:50 pm |

    rl: Really? Really?! It’s fine is you don’t like Feministing readers/commenters/whatever because you feel like they don’t stand for what you think is right. But don’t put every feminist in the basket, please. Stereotypes, are for the birds. You of all people should know that.

    **headdesk** See: http://www.derailingfordummies.com/#innocent

  14. Athenia
    Athenia February 3, 2011 at 8:19 pm |

    Well, feministing is heavily moderated now, so I would be surprised if an anti-trans comment got through.

    Jos brings up trans issues from time to time, but she has a lot of different interests.

    They also did feature recently Stud magazine there as well.

    Actually, I don’t think trans issues are brought up a lot in any feminist blogs….each blog has it’s own particular thing—feministe is probably the only blog that even mentions BDSM from time to time. Shakesville tackles a lot of fat issues and disabillity issues.

  15. April
    April February 4, 2011 at 4:14 am |

    GallingGalla: I hate to rain on the parade, and I don’t want to lay this all at Jessica’s feet (there’s a lot of bloggers at Feministing), but Feministing has been pretty hostile to trans folk, including trans women.I had to stop reading and participating there several years ago after multiple transphobic attacks when unchecked by Feministing staff.My occasional recent visits haven’t shown much change in this regard.I think once again that the unspoken default here is feminism for cis white folk.  

    While everything you say is true, it’s a little rude to use this as an opportunity to voice your concerns. Jessica Valenti contributed, and will continue to contribute, to the feminist movement at large, benefiting all of us and the mutual goals we all share. It’s clear that she isn’t transphobic and unworthy of our respect, and while her past silence about some of Feministing’s commenters’ transphobia is cause for concern and worthy of criticism, this is really not the place to focus on that.

  16. QLH
    QLH February 4, 2011 at 4:57 am |

    I think that as the founder of a major blog steps down, it’s perfectly acceptable to mention that, during her time there, the blog had some very real problems. We can hope that Jessica’s future is bright and that Feministing grows and progresses into a stronger, safer space.

  17. Natalia
    Natalia February 4, 2011 at 5:55 am |

    Lorrrd.

    I don’t think it’s “rude” at all to point out that the blog had some problems in regards to a particular issue. I don’t think that this detracts from Jessica Valenti’s work or, to use a big word, legacy. Big blogs have these problems in regards to how trans people wind up getting treated – I would have thought that this is common knowledge.

    If anything, it detracts from the work of people like Jessica, when stuff is swept under the rug at such moments.

    Besides that, good luck to her in what she does now. And good luck to Layla. :)

    xo

  18. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable February 4, 2011 at 8:39 am |

    QLH: I think that as the founder of a major blog steps down, it’s perfectly acceptable to mention that, during her time there, the blog had some very real problems.

    Like the Mary Daly obit post. I agree. I want to say it’s not on the same scale as Mary Daly, but I’m not entirely sure that scale matters.

    Also, let’s not silence trans* voices when GG is pointing out that this is an issue on feminist blogs. That kind of proves the point.

  19. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. February 4, 2011 at 9:26 am |

    And this perfectly demonstrates why I object to icons in any social justice movement. It inevitably leads to defensiveness around personalities. People are flawed and nearly everyone through their actions or inaction oppresses people. Jessica is no different and is not immune from criticism just because she may otherwise be a nice person who has done good things.

    Her blog has not been a forum for “young feminists” as implied by the OP but rather for certain* young feminists. GG called out this erasure of trans people very politely under the circumstances.

    *PWD were also heavily impacted by feministing. If I remember correctly there were boycotts for both problems at some point.

  20. GallingGalla
    GallingGalla February 4, 2011 at 12:07 pm |

    April:
    While everything you say is true, it’s a little rude to use this as an opportunity to voice your concerns.Jessica Valenti contributed, and will continue to contribute, to the feminist movement at large, benefiting all of us and the mutual goals we all share.It’s clear that she isn’t transphobic and unworthy of our respect, and while her past silence about some of Feministing’s commenters’ transphobia is cause for concern and worthy of criticism, this is really not the place to focus on that.  

    Deal.

    The voices of trans folk are silenced every minute of every day. I am here to participate in this community; I am saying that we can give accolades to Jessica and at the same time not sweep issues regarding trans folk and PWD at Feministing under the rug. But one thing that I’m not here for is to make cis people comfortable.

    So yeah, I’ll be “rude” like that. Cuz you know how us trans women are, we “take up space” and all that.

    And now back to the OP: I do wish Jessica well on her future plans, and her commitment to Feministing being a community for young bloggers must be very strong if she’s willing to step down (at 32! That seems young to my 52-yo self) to make sure that continues to be the case.

  21. Julie
    Julie February 4, 2011 at 1:16 pm |

    Jessica Valenti contributed, and will continue to contribute, to the feminist movement at large, benefiting all of us and the mutual goals we all share.

    At the risk of derailing, I need to point out that the mainstream feminist movement does NOT benefit all women. One classic example, which Jessica Hoffmann brought up in her “Open Letter to White Feminists,” is the mainstream emphasis on legal/law enforcement solutions to violence – when police and court systems are often the ones committing violence against women of color. One community’s gain is another community’s loss. We can talk about the good work Valenti has done without universalizing the priorities of one specific community of women.

  22. April
    April February 4, 2011 at 3:53 pm |

    I don’t disagree with the criticisms, as I already said.

    I just think the location of the anti- comments was a bit snarky. Surely we can find a better place to criticize her than the comment thread of a post dedicated to the good parts of her career thus far? Renee wrote an entire blog post dedicated to how much she hates Valenti. Isn’t that a more effective option, really?

    But now I’m just contributing to the very derail I’m bitching about. Sigh.

  23. GallingGalla
    GallingGalla February 4, 2011 at 4:48 pm |

    April: I don’t disagree with the criticisms, as I already said.I just think the location of the anti- comments was a bit snarky.Surely we can find a better place to criticize her than the comment thread of a post dedicated to the good parts of her career thus far?Renee wrote an entire blog post dedicated to how much she hates Valenti.Isn’t that a more effective option, really?But now I’m just contributing to the very derail I’m bitching about.Sigh.  

    Oy vey. I’ve no words left. @_@ =-=

  24. GallingGalla
    GallingGalla February 4, 2011 at 4:53 pm |

    April: Renee wrote an entire blog post dedicated to how much she hates Valenti.

    For the love of cheese and crackers, Renee isn’t expressing hate. She’s expressing *anger*. Big difference. [snark] But I suppose a black working-class woman can’t be angry, they can only “hate”.[/snark]

  25. Roxie
    Roxie February 4, 2011 at 5:20 pm |

    Renee has some real & true criticisms of feministing.
    I used to love it when I was in college, but I started noticing A LOT of racefail & snarking on trans people. I stopped reading it about a year and half ago. Just couldn’t take it anymore.

    I thank Jessica for reigniting my feminism with FFF, but like her I’ve since moved on.

  26. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. February 4, 2011 at 5:29 pm |

    April: I just think the location of the anti- comments was a bit snarky. Surely we can find a better place to criticize her than the comment thread of a post dedicated to the good parts of her career thus far?

    See above re: idolizing people. Also, no. Especially when someone is receiving accolades for the great things they’ve done, the not so great things need to be acknowledged. Otherwise we are burying the harm they’ve caused and erasing the experiences of actual human beings. I wish the comment threads in question were still available as an example of how bad things were a few years ago. It wasn’t simply a few hurtful words here and there, but rather the perpetuation of extremely dangerous stereotypes about trans women in particular. Shit people get beaten and killed for in the U.S.

  27. Bianca
    Bianca February 4, 2011 at 5:39 pm |

    I’m not afraid to say that I’m truly disappointed with Feministing and sometimes this site as well. Why is it super awesome that Jessica gets to write about being a mother as if she has so much experience when, maybe a year ago, you all had a mother of color speaking about her motherhood experiences and she had a lot of attacks thrown at her? Let’s not pretend that Jessica is always an ally to marginalized women and that her site has not had hateful attacks thrown at those marginalized women who have something to contribute. I wrote about high pregnancy rates in Latinas in the community section about a year ago (and yes I’m Latina) and I was called a racist…So for caring about what’s happening in my community I am a racist? I have read some hostile comments there and I stopped posting shortly after being called a racist. I won’t lie and say Jessica wasn’t one of the first “icons” to get me into feminism, but after realizing how she and others use the site to put down other women I won’t pretend that I truly care about her leaving. Oh, and stop saying it’s “rude” to call her out. It’s not rude, it’s speaking the truth. She’s a big girl and she can take criticisms very well I’m sure.

  28. PharaohKatt
    PharaohKatt February 4, 2011 at 10:10 pm |

    Thank you, GallingGalla, for pointing out the problems Feministing has. I had to stop reading Feministing because of the horrible transphobia* and ableism. You are 100% correct that the feminist movement is implicitly for white cis abled women.

    *I am not personally attacked by transphobia, given I am cis and have cis privilege, but I can’t stand the hate and bigotry. It hurts people. It unfucking hurts.

  29. saurus
    saurus February 5, 2011 at 12:06 am |

    So, my fallible emotions:

    – I resent that Jessica gets a book deal while Maia – who has this astounding stunning series on radical motherhood, outlaw midwives etc – gets attacked on feminist websites, including this one; that there are no woc or trans* or disabled feminists who are getting that wider audience.

    – I resent that feminism is the stuff of book deals and tv appearances and that sometimes I feel like I’m just an “issue” not a person and my issues are the meat for someone’s career. That the path of so many white feminist bloggers is: get attention, hurt people and never apologize or change, get book deal.

    – I resent that Feministing is the common landing place for many “beginners” because there are so many places to land which are trans focused or race centric or non-US normative and so forth and I feel like if you get started at Feministing you’ll pick up some very bad habits.

    – I resent that when I was at Feministing fighting for change, multiple people on the editorial staff shut me down, called tone arguments, said questioning their race stuff was attacking them, etc. And all those issues fizzle or shift or move on but there’s seemingly no regrets or remorse, just shrugs and “it’s better now”, no thanks and no apologies.

    – I resent that big-time bloggers write their books and regularly include ideas and insights that came from marginalized bloggers/commenters; the same marginalized folks they fought tooth and nail to silence or deny or resist, and those marginalized folks go largely uncredited.

    I recognize that Jessica – and others at Feministing – have facilitated some important things, and that some very important conversations have gone down at Feministing. I learned things from Feministing that I couldn’t access anywhere else, even if I eventually outgrew it – it was covering some really cutting-edge shit that I never heard about at school or in the media. When I started with feminism, I thought it was loosely about how men treat women – but then I started to learn, via Feministing, about repro rights and body image and rape culture and MRAs and so forth. (Granted, race, disability, trans* etc came later, and not on Feministing.) So it’s not that I think Feministing should shut down or that its contributors and community should live on a desert island forever repenting for their sins. I have respect for what Feministing and Valenti have accomplished.

    But it’s really hard for me to temper my resentment. For example: I don’t wish that Valenti gets more book deals or that she has a bright future (e.g., career): it’s not that I want her to fail, it’s that I just don’t care about seeing her gain this wider audience from the nation’s TV sets or bookshelves or conference halls or whatever. The bloggers I read are having their electricity cut off. Their friends and lovers and family members are being deported. They are trying to build a better world with bravery and love and scrap metal.

    (*No, I’m not saying no one should get book deals, or if you get a book deal you lose your feminist membership or whatever. Just that politics of book deals are problematic.)

  30. Medea
    Medea February 5, 2011 at 5:07 am |

    Bianca: Why is it super awesome that Jessica gets to write about being a mother as if she has so much experience when, maybe a year ago, you all had a mother of color speaking about her motherhood experiences and she had a lot of attacks thrown at her?

    Maia wasn’t just writing about her experiences; she was saying things about the roles of mothers and children in society that other people disagreed with. I didn’t voice my own disagreement because I didn’t like the vehemence of the pile-on, but dissent is not anti-feminist, and Maia was hardly the first guest commenter to face a flurry of blows.

    I do wish Jessica Valenti was less prominent. There are feminists with better analytical skills.

  31. saurus
    saurus February 5, 2011 at 10:14 am |

    Medea:
    Maia wasn’t just writing about her experiences; she was saying things about the roles of mothers and children in society that other people disagreed with.I didn’t voice my own disagreement because I didn’t like the vehemence of the pile-on, but dissent is not anti-feminist, and Maia was hardly the first guest commenter to face a flurry of blows.

    I totally agree that dissent isn’t inherently anti-feminist. But dissenting with certain ideas can be anti-feminist – for example, dissenting with the idea that no one is entitled to having a public space that’s free of mothers/kids? I think that’s anti-feminist. Likewise, if you disagree that racism is a feminist issue, or that ableism exists, etc – that’s anti-feminist. Any opinion that promotes the exclusion, isolation, and derogation of women or their children is anti-feminist, and if your dissent is based on such opinions, you don’t get a pass. Not all opinions are equal.

    Also, the way we dissent can also be anti-feminist. It might not be anti-feminist to say “But what if [blah blah blah]” when discussing a topic, but it’s certainly anti-feminist to throw misracialization, US-centrism, racism, etc into your comment, which most commenters did. The treatment of Maia was even more anti-feminist because she’s a radical woman of color living in Cairo – that’s a perspective we rarely ever see on major feminist blogs, and we should have been especially eager to understand her insights, and especially conscious of how marginalized she is in most feminist spaces.

    I think the nature of pile-ons is often anti-feminist, and the reasons and logic behind that particular one even moreso. The fact that she wasn’t the first guest commenter to get that treatment doesn’t make it any more okay…

  32. Tony
    Tony February 5, 2011 at 12:50 pm |

    The vehemence of the response to Maia’s post really surprised me. I wasn’t reading Feministe when she posted, I found her post through a Google search after I read it being referenced / hinted at multiple times.

    On balance, it seemed that Maia was taking the more feminist position. After all, it’s still women who do most of the child rearing in society, and children unquestionably are in a position to be oppressed by adults. Regardless of where you stand then, the position that asks society to adjust to children and make space for them would seem to be the more feminist position. For her honesty and relatively milquetoast expression of this position, I saw Maia getting called a bad mother, which is utterly absurd to presume you know after that one post. And Maia did acknowledge up-front that there are large cultural gaps surrounding this issue, which should have given commenters pause. Most of the commenters simply assumed a Western, US-centric perspective without even acknowledging that there’s this whole other, functional society where norms are different.

    Bottom line, all the guest bloggers need to be treated with respect. Jill made it clear that they are an important part of Feministe’s mission, so undermining them is undermining Feministe as well.

    That said, I do not translate my anger over how Maia was treated onto hostility or indifference to Jessica. I like them both because they have both contributed. I don’t agree with every past action of Jessica’s, but IMO Jessica’s good works have exceeded her bad works. I disagree with the notion that because she is a good businesswoman, because she has mainstream success, that she is not worth supporting. She may be white and she may be cis, but she is an openly identified feminist. What that means is that the odds will always be stacked against her. That is the truth. I wish her success.

  33. Bianca
    Bianca February 5, 2011 at 1:09 pm |

    Medea:
    Maia wasn’t just writing about her experiences; she was saying things about the roles of mothers and children in society that other people disagreed with.I didn’t voice my own disagreement because I didn’t like the vehemence of the pile-on, but dissent is not anti-feminist, and Maia was hardly the first guest commenter to face a flurry of blows.I do wish Jessica Valenti was less prominent.There are feminists with better analytical skills.  

    Dissent is fine but you don’t find it ironic that she gets a book deal and she hasn’t been a mother for probably not even a year? If I was a new mother I wouldn’t care about what she had to say because she’s a new mother as well…Not to say she wouldn’t have anything at all to contribute but I’d rather listen to someone who has had years of mothering experience or at least a coupe of years than someone who gets things handed to them because she’s a famous feminist. My point is that let’s not baby her she is an adult and she is gonna get criticized by the left and the right and all kinds of people and I’m sure she is used to it by now. I enjoyed her books but I don’t enjoy the way her site is ran and the constant fails against marginalized women that come about.

  34. Tony
    Tony February 5, 2011 at 1:21 pm |

    Bianca:
    Dissent is fine but you don’t find it ironic that she gets a book deal and she hasn’t been a mother for probably not even a year? If I was a new mother I wouldn’t care about what she had to say because she’s a new mother as well…Not to say she wouldn’t have anything at all to contribute but I’d rather listen to someone who has had years of mothering experience or at least a coupe of years than someone who gets things handed to them because she’s a famous feminist. My point is that let’s not baby her she is an adult and she is gonna get criticized by the left and the right and all kinds of people and I’m sure she is used to it by now. I enjoyed her books but I don’t enjoy the way her site is ran and the constant fails against marginalized women that come about.  

    That’s not fair at all. Just because Jessica has by her own repeated acknowledgement enjoyed some privilege (and so do we all) it doesn’t mean that her “fame” (really???) was “handed” to her. Her modest achievement of being able to support herself as a writer, and her far more significant achievement of having brought thousands of young women to feminism, even if they have now moved on beyond Feministing to other, more nuanced blogs, is worth recognizing.

  35. Athenia
    Athenia February 5, 2011 at 1:58 pm |

    Bianca:
    Dissent is fine but you don’t find it ironic that she gets a book deal and she hasn’t been a mother for probably not even a year? If I was a new mother I wouldn’t care about what she had to say because she’s a new mother as well…Not to say she wouldn’t have anything at all to contribute but I’d rather listen to someone who has had years of mothering experience or at least a coupe of years than someone who gets things handed to them because she’s a famous feminist. My point is that let’s not baby her she is an adult and she is gonna get criticized by the left and the right and all kinds of people and I’m sure she is used to it by now. I enjoyed her books but I don’t enjoy the way her site is ran and the constant fails against marginalized women that come about.  

    Valenti has written/edited at least 4 books already that have sold well. Of course, they are going to give a her book deal about motherhood—it might even be in her contract.

    Yeah, you’re right, maybe she doesn’t have anything interesting to say about parenthood, but she has built herself a platform so….it’s like the chicken and the egg argument…what comes first, Valenti or all the privileged white feminists that will read her.

  36. Tony
    Tony February 5, 2011 at 2:04 pm |

    At the cost of having 3 of the last 5 comments, there is one other issue that has not been addressed. Jessica’s new gig, The Daily, is a Rupert Murdoch rag where she will be serving as a counterpoint to a right-wing author.

    Since Hannity & Colmes, Murdoch loves to put conservative and liberals together on the same platform to create the illusion of fairness and balance, and create the illusion of debate, but his outlets always privilege the right-wing viewpoint.

    Once can guess that Jessica will just be used as a foil, and will never really be allowed to become a more influential voice at The Daily than her anti-feminist counterpart. Her readers may not be privileged white feminists, but privileged white conservatives who watch Fox News. We’ll see. But somehow I can’t help but think that if Jessica had really had the freedom to choose her own platform, she would have chosen something else.

  37. Athenia
    Athenia February 5, 2011 at 2:15 pm |

    Sometimes I wonder what a white cis female feminist would have to do to be accepted as doing good work for maginalized women….I mean, if you want a WOC trans feminist, people like Jessica aren’t going to magically transform into one. She is not going to magically write a blog post about how someone didn’t perceive her as a woman yesterday and how that really pisses her off. She is not going to magically write a post about how Kanye’s new video pisses her off.
    Samhita, Rose, Jos or Miriam might write a post about that—those are awesome ladies that write for feministing now and that Jessica brought in to write for feministing.

    I realize it sucks that Jessica wasn’t the best defender of disability issues—that her writers really could have care less about writing a transcript for videos that they post.

  38. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable February 5, 2011 at 2:32 pm |

    Athenia: Sometimes I wonder what a white cis female feminist would have to do to be accepted as doing good work for maginalized women

    GallingGalla: but Feministing has been pretty hostile to trans folk, including trans women. I had to stop reading and participating there several years ago after multiple transphobic attacks when unchecked by Feministing staff.

    There’s one answer: step in and not let transphobic nonsense slide.

    Athenia: She is not going to magically write a blog post about how someone didn’t perceive her as a woman yesterday and how that really pisses her off. She is not going to magically write a post about how Kanye’s new video pisses her off.

    Do you understand how full of fail this is? Is this your understanding of what trans* folks and WOC want to read about en masse? One-off misperceptions of gender and fucking Kanye?

  39. Medea
    Medea February 5, 2011 at 2:46 pm |

    Athenia: She is not going to magically write a blog post about how someone didn’t perceive her as a woman yesterday and how that really pisses her off. She is not going to magically write a post about how Kanye’s new video pisses her off.

    True, though one could always link a Racialicious post and discuss. I think most of the harsh criticism of Valenti is deserved, but some of it is unfairly based on who she is–I saw a commenter complaining that she didn’t feel represented by Valenti because, among other things, she always appears fashionably dressed in photos. What’s the woman supposed to do, wear nothing but a T-shirt and jeans?

    saurus: but it’s certainly anti-feminist to throw misracialization, US-centrism, racism, etc into your comment, which most commenters did

    I disagree with that one word ‘most’ (I’ve just skimmed the epic comment thread but don’t have the patience to reread it), but agree with everything else you said.

    Bianca: If I was a new mother I wouldn’t care about what she had to say because she’s a new mother as well…Not to say she wouldn’t have anything at all to contribute but I’d rather listen to someone who has had years of mothering experience or at least a coupe of years than someone who gets things handed to them because she’s a famous feminist.

    Yeah, me too.

  40. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. February 5, 2011 at 3:00 pm |

    Athenia: Sometimes I wonder what a white cis female feminist would have to do to be accepted as doing good work for maginalized women…

    o_O Listen, learn, acknowledge, respect?

    Do not make me go search for those comment threads….I’ll do it…I swear!

  41. Roxie
    Roxie February 5, 2011 at 4:54 pm |

    From the Feministing post
    I’m in the process of writing a book on parenthood, Why Have Kids?, for HarperCollins – a fun but daunting undertaking my first year of being a mom!

    This in no way implies expertise to me. I’m not sure why this book deal is being talked about as if Valenti or her publisher believe her to be an expert on mothering.

  42. La Lubu
    La Lubu February 5, 2011 at 4:54 pm |

    Do not make me go search for those comment threads….I’ll do it…I swear!

    Kristen J., that would get real ugly, real fast. And the ugliness would be directed toward WOC and transpeople. That’s the problem with rehashing that shit, even to educate the people who have no idea of the history behind these critiques (and trust me, it isn’t about “jealousy”). Concurrent to “FFF” and the like was open season on WOC bloggers both large and small, with more prominent white feminists and media (Salon, Bitch, Seal Press, etc.) circling the wagons (and I use that phrase deliberately).

    Mesca, I was trying to avoid this thread like the bubonic plague. But, this, from Tony: That’s not fair at all. Just because Jessica has by her own repeated acknowledgement enjoyed some privilege (and so do we all) it doesn’t mean that her “fame” (really???) was “handed” to her

    and this, from Medea: I think most of the harsh criticism of Valenti is deserved, but some of it is unfairly based on who she is–I saw a commenter complaining that she didn’t feel represented by Valenti because, among other things, she always appears fashionably dressed in photos. What’s the woman supposed to do, wear nothing but a T-shirt and jeans?

    need some speaking to. See, if there never was a “Jessica Valenti”, it would have been someone else. But that someone else would have been pretty much like her. Here’s my response from elsewhere on the blogosphere (regarding inclusion):

    “The feminist blogosphere is: young, but not too young (25-35); mostly white (and of northern european extraction); middle to upper-middle class; highly educated (always degreed, usually grad school or law degree); able-bodied and healthy; non-religious (but typically with a Protestant or Jewish background); childfree by choice (also not a caretaker of an elderly or disabled adult); body size from thin to very thin; cisgender; heterosexual; conventionally feminine/pretty; fashionable; not employed in a nontraditional (>25% female participation) workforce; native English speaking (family of origin usually native English speaking also); non-indigenous and several generations removed from immigrant ancestors; raised in a nuclear family (either intact or divorced—but not “unwed” or extended family); lives in a large metropolis; favors capitalism; unmarried/unpartnered (meaning: no formal or legal ties of responsibility to a partner); never incarcerated (no family incarcerated either); and has plenty of personal contact with people in positions of actual power (gets invited to policymaking meetings/summits).”

    As I’ve said before, here and elsewhere, there isn’t anything wrong with being any one of those things, or all of those things together. But. That is the representation not just of the feminist blogosphere, but feminism in general (with only the age limit extended upward for the “general” part). And that is a problem.

    It’s a very narrow perspective, and a very limited band of life experience. Representing a “movement” (“movement” in quotes because it has been a damn long time since there was any movement in feminism—go ‘head, argue with me on that part. This old feminist is ready, and I’ll bring reinforcements. Mama’s pen is sharper than her stilletto…) that is supposed to be about the interests of half the population.

    I could care less if Valenti writes a book about motherhood; I won’t be buying it, because she can tell me exactly jack and shit about motherhood. Her book will look like the plethora of motherhood books written by white women of privilege—move along, nothing new to be seen.

    People. This is why feminism is dying on the vine in the western world. What used to be called “women’s liberation” was co-opted and sold back. The broader spectrum of women are being ignored in favor of what and who are saleable. Fewer feminists means a more predictable niche market for profit; it also means things like the “Protect Life Act” and the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” (complete with redefinition of rape) get actual traction in the halls of Congress.

  43. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. February 5, 2011 at 5:57 pm |

    La Lubu: Kristen J., that would get real ugly, real fast. And the ugliness would be directed toward WOC and transpeople. That’s the problem with rehashing that shit, even to educate the people who have no idea of the history behind these critiques (and trust me, it isn’t about “jealousy”). Concurrent to “FFF” and the like was open season on WOC bloggers both large and small, with more prominent white feminists and media (Salon, Bitch, Seal Press, etc.) circling the wagons (and I use that phrase deliberately).

    You’re right. I’m just frustrated by the repeated implications that all these things that went wrong were unimportant and should be swept away in light of all the good a person has done. There are no balancing scales. If you do five tons of good over here and only one pound of harm over there….it doesn’t balance out and that harm shouldn’t be ignored or decried as irrational bitching.

  44. bellereve
    bellereve February 5, 2011 at 6:06 pm |

    I’m not a huge fan of Valenti’s writing, and as a disabled woman I have certainly been put off by various posts at Feministing. I also think the criticisms here are important and should be discussed – I’m just not sure the discussion should go in this thread? Maybe a separate post analyzing the problems with Valenti’s exclusionary, privileged version of feminism (rather than targeting her personally as a woman) would be better. But what we have here seems a bit tasteless to me and feels like we are using her as a punching bag for airing a variety grievances.

  45. bellereve
    bellereve February 5, 2011 at 6:14 pm |

    La Labu –

    That is an interesting description of feminist bloggers, and the problems with the majority of the discourse coming from (and attention paid to) such a limited perspective are obvious.

    But while most of those characteristics are markers of privilege, not all of them are. So I’m a bit confused. For instance, being non-religious and/or of Jewish background makes one marginalized and historically oppressed, NOT privileged. Same goes with women who are unmarried, and women who are not mothers. Of course individual circumstances vary widely, but these things stuck out as odd to me among an otherwise astute observation.

  46. Athenia
    Athenia February 5, 2011 at 6:17 pm |

    Kristen J.:
    o_OListen, learn, acknowledge, respect?Do not make me go search for those comment threads….I’ll do it…I swear!  

    So Valenti did not do that?

    I mean, don’t fault Valenti for my own or anyone elses prejudices—the trans issue drama that was on feministing made me research and listen more. So the drama, it was not safe for some people, but I learned from it.

    Of course not. Geez. Samhita wrote about how Kanye’s newest video was sexist. Kanye is apparently a popular subject on various blogs. But Jessica, to my knowledge, has never written about Hip Hop or Kanye. Now Rose, does occasionally.

    Blogging is very personal. People are going to write what they know.

  47. Athenia
    Athenia February 5, 2011 at 6:22 pm |

    Medea:
    True, though one could always link a Racialicious post and discuss.

    Feministing does link to other blogs and has been for the last two years I’ve been following it.

    But I think one could argue that just because you link a blog that focuses on race or disability issues, that doesn’t exactly mean that issue gets el primo screen time on the blog. That takes time, effort and the blogger’s own expertise, interest and opinion on that issue (or the frequency of a guest blogger).

  48. saurus
    saurus February 5, 2011 at 6:36 pm |

    bellereve: For instance, being non-religious and/or of Jewish background makes one marginalized and historically oppressed, NOT privileged. Same goes with women who are unmarried, and women who are not mothers. Of course individual circumstances vary widely, but these things stuck out as odd to me among an otherwise astute observation.  

    In the typical feminist sphere, being non-religious is privileged heavily over being religious (being religion is associated with right-wingers and gender conservatism), and being unmarried is quite neutral (if anything, choosing to marry can make feminists suspect you of being too traditional, or selling out) and being a mother is considered irrelevant at best (at worst: a wealthy, self-centred “breeder” with a sense of over-entitlement to everyone else’s space and resources and attention). And there are many places and ways in which being Jewish means significant privilege, even though anti-semitism still exists.

    That said, I believe La Lubu’s point wasn’t that those markers indicate privilege, but rather that they fall very, very short of being representative of the people they purport to be concerned about.

  49. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. February 5, 2011 at 6:47 pm |

    Athenia: So Valenti did not do that?

    I am not going to get into any discussion of Jessica as a person. I don’t know her. I’m sure she is a lovely, but flawed human being just like the rest of us. As I read these comments they are not an attack on her as a person, but a discussion of the harm that was caused by her work at feministing (and in FFF to go back a bit). Even if from this moment on she did everything perfectly (which is of course impossible), we should still talk about the things that went wrong and the harm that was caused because that harm was real…it hurt real people and those people matter.

    To use an example that is way out of scale with feministing, Susan B Anthony did a great deal of good in the suffrage movement, but in doing so she allied with racists like Train and caused a lot of harm. Should we celebrate the accomplishments of SBA without talking about what harm she caused to get there?

    I mean, don’t fault Valenti for my own or anyone elses prejudices—the trans issue drama that was on feministing made me research and listen more. So the drama, it was not safe for some people, but I learned from it.

    Do you think the drama was worth it then? Because you learned? Or would it have been better to not allow people to say incredibly hateful things to marginalized so that privileged, cis people like ourselves can “learn”?

  50. Tony
    Tony February 5, 2011 at 6:49 pm |

    La Lubu: See, if there never was a “Jessica Valenti”, it would have been someone else. But that someone else would have been pretty much like her.

    That’s fine, La Lubu. I just don’t see why it discounts her work. I obviously have a lot to learn.

    There are a lot of valid criticisms; no one is saying that it’s “irrational bitching.” But there is, inevitably some balancing of scales, when sizing up someone’s work as a whole, as some commenters in this thread have done. Without balancing the good and the bad, what are we supposed to do? Only look at the bad? What writers can come out of that kind of judgement favorably?

  51. bellereve
    bellereve February 5, 2011 at 6:50 pm |

    suarus – I see what you are saying; traits which marginalize someone in the dominant culture can mean different things in feminist communities. That makes more sense. However, I’m going to disagree with you that being Jewish, at least in America, gives one privilege. Over Christians? Or who? I can’t imagine how or why.

  52. saurus
    saurus February 5, 2011 at 6:55 pm |

    Athenia:
    Blogging is very personal. People are going to write what they know.  

    Yes, coverage has been a problematic issue on Feministing (and many feminist spaces), although it has improved over the years. But that’s only part of it. What was written in certain posts, how comments were (or weren’t) moderated, and how editors responded to (or didn’t respond to) feedback from POC, PWD, trans* people, etc, and which efforts were made (or not made) to support these marginalized communities and their work – those are, I think, bigger issues that caused more Feministing fallout than mere coverage issues.

    bellereve: But what we have here seems a bit tasteless to me and feels like we are using her as a punching bag for airing a variety grievances.  

    I can’t speak for everyone, but I do suspect many of us are aware that Valenti is not the problem, nor is she a villain, or a “Bad Feminist”. But it’s also difficult, and to me, unnatural – to discuss Valenti without discussing the greater problem, given her current role as the most publicized figurehead of the very feminist scene we’re problematizing, and her years of leadership of the online community the OP is about.

  53. GallingGalla
    GallingGalla February 5, 2011 at 7:14 pm |

    La Lubu: People. This is why feminism is dying on the vine in the western world. What used to be called “women’s liberation” was co-opted and sold back. The broader spectrum of women are being ignored in favor of what and who are saleable. Fewer feminists means a more predictable niche market for profit; it also means things like the “Protect Life Act” and the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” (complete with redefinition of rape) get actual traction in the halls of Congress. La Lubu

    QFT. And why I stopped identifying as a feminist some two years ago (at least).

  54. saurus
    saurus February 5, 2011 at 7:14 pm |

    bellereve: However, I’m going to disagree with you that being Jewish, at least in America, gives one privilege. Over Christians? Or who? I can’t imagine how or why.  

    I think it’s complicated, but there are several ways – in the US, being Jewish means it’s significantly more likely that you’re middle to upper class (Christianity, on the other hand, is more equally distributed across economic classes). There is pretty significant Jewish representation in government, media, education, healthcare, etc. Being Jewish means you get instant citizenship and access, should you want it, to Israel – while Palestinians (thanks to Israel) either can’t leave, or can’t go home. Being Jewish means you’re affiliated (whether you like it or not) with Israel, and Americans align you with the “good guys” (as opposed to Muslims, the “bad guys”). If you want a build a synagogue or a Jewish community centre, there is no nation-wide objection. If you’re a light-skinned Jew then you’re usually absorbed into the banner of “whiteness”, and so benefit racially as well. I’m not saying it’s all good – anti-semitism is still alive and well – but the situation of many (not all) Jews today is not at all what it was like in the fairly recent past.

    Anyway, I think it’s an interesting subject but I’m going to drop it for this thread, just because otherwise I don’t want to enter a derailing tailspin.

  55. GallingGalla
    GallingGalla February 5, 2011 at 7:27 pm |

    bellereve: However, I’m going to disagree with you that being Jewish, at least in America, gives one privilege.

    Jews are not privileged in relation to Christians, certainly not, and their are increasingly disturbing strains of antisemitism re-emerging from the Christian Right. But Jews are privileged over Palestinians in particular, Arabs (of any religion) in general, and over Muslims (of any nationality, but especially those from the Middle East and South Asia, and Black Muslims in the US). I’m speaking now from my Jewish upbringing (though it’s not my current faith): People in power – Congress, the media – swallow even the most extreme representations of Palestine by Jews as unquestionable fact, while dismissing even modest critique by Palestinians as “well, they’re just a bunch of terrorists”. This privilege is expressed in the amount of foreign and military aid Israel gets (and Egypt gets to collaborate with Israel in the oppression of Palestinians) and in the US continuing to allow Israel to build illegal settlements and apartheid walls with nothing more than a bit of symbolic finger-wagging. It’s the privilege that lets Alan Dershowitz have a wide audience for his blatantly racist views, while Palestinians trying to present their own experiences under Israeli occupation have virtually no access to media, and even Israeli peace historians like Ilan Pappe are all but unknown.

  56. GallingGalla
    GallingGalla February 5, 2011 at 7:29 pm |

    Athenia: She is not going to magically write a blog post about how someone didn’t perceive her as a woman yesterday and how that really pisses her off. She is not going to magically write a post about how Kanye’s new video pisses her off.

    Thank you for trivializing trans women’s experience with transphobia, and women of color’s experience with racism.

    When someone doesn’t perceive me as a woman, it doesn’t just piss me off. It means that I get chased down the street and assaulted by men shouting “Get that faggot bitch”. It means I don’t get hired. It means I don’t get respectful health care, or maybe don’t get health care at all.

    And this is the *easy* shit, Athenia; my white privilege has shielded me from the worst effects; many trans women of color are homeless and jobless, and forced into survival sex work. Many trans women of color are raped (including by police). Too many get shot point blank, or get their heads bashed in with fire extinguishers. (You do remember Angie Zapata, don’t you?)

    Why do trans* folk have to repeat this shit again and again on this blog?

  57. bellereve
    bellereve February 5, 2011 at 7:32 pm |

    I will respectfully disagree with some of the comments on Jewish privilege, but I’m going to stop talking about it here because I don’t want to derail either.

  58. La Lubu
    La Lubu February 5, 2011 at 8:20 pm |

    For clarity: saurus is correct; I didn’t intend for the observations I made to denote solely privileges—just neutral traits extant in the feminist blogosphere. To further clarify: I don’t see very many “women like me” out here—in the various ways I mean that (working class, union member, midwestern/rust belt, single/unwed mother, mediterranean and/or Catholic background (though I myself was unchurched growing up, and have different spiritual practices from my familial background), economically struggling, “enmeshed” in my extended family, lots of independence and responsibility from an early age (both for myself and to my family), ESL grandparents, can’t effectively code-switch to “middle class”….)

    None of those traits make me better or worse than anyone else, but they do give me a perspective different from what has come to be known as the feminist perspective. That kinda rankles me, because I’m old enough to remember when feminism was a bigger boat than what it is now. Now, it seems to be relegated to the rarified atmosphere of academia and mainstream media. Not the union halls, the church basements, the playgrounds or the streets. Feminism accomplished more when it was a grassroots movement. Now, the pro-feminist laws that get signed are the result of lawsuits—which is why there is so little momentum in the “movement”.

  59. Kristin
    Kristin February 6, 2011 at 12:58 am |

    Athenia: Sometimes I wonder what a white cis female feminist would have to do to be accepted as doing good work for maginalized women….I mean, if you want a WOC trans feminist, people like Jessica aren’t going to magically transform into one. .  

    Are you serious here? People don’t have problems with Jessica because she’s a white cis feminist. People have problems with her because her site has marginalized a lot of people.

  60. Natalia
    Natalia February 6, 2011 at 9:22 am |

    The representation model is a problem, isn’t it? In order for certain very important issues to be given attention and a possible list of real solutions (and NOT lip-service) there needs to be a representative, an “ambassador” of sorts. People like to put a “face” on issues the way that brand names get slapped on certain kinds of clothing. But within the feminist movement in the US (and elsewhere) ambassadors tend to be very similar to one another – for a variety of reasons, some of them very disturbing.

    I never felt that the work of Jessica Valenti represented me. It’s not something I personally hold against her – I do respect and admire her – it’s just a fact. It’s a fact that appears to really underscore the flawed system we all operate under. And have been for generations.

    For my part, I wish that I didn’t have to require representation – certainly not from folks who have never walked in my shoes and are not able to do so – but then what?

  61. c.s.
    c.s. February 6, 2011 at 12:37 pm |

    Why is it super awesome that Jessica gets to write about being a mother as if she has so much experience when, maybe a year ago, you all had a mother of color speaking about her motherhood experiences and she had a lot of attacks thrown at her?

    - I resent that Jessica gets a book deal while Maia – who has this astounding stunning series on radical motherhood, outlaw midwives etc – gets attacked on feminist websites, including this one…

    Yeah, it’s just awesome when a mother of any color says she keeps her kid up and out all night and asserts that it’s “not her job” to teach her not to be a noisy nuisance to the people around her.

    Oh, and that she decides that “mama” = “woman,” despite how many of us vehemently do not WANT anything to do with motherhood.

    And, no, it is not “anti-feminist” to want any public space free of children, unless, again, you equate all women with children and concepts like “indoor voice” and “no running around the dining room” with things like rape culture and revocation of women’s suffrage.

    The martyr complex of “hip mamas” is truly astounding. Almost as great as their entitlement complex.

  62. Rivka
    Rivka February 6, 2011 at 12:43 pm |

    Saurus: There is pretty significant Jewish representation in government, media, education, healthcare, etc.

    Yes, Saurus, we Jews run everything behind the scenes, along with the illuminati…

    Ugh.

  63. shaggy
    shaggy February 6, 2011 at 9:47 pm |

    I’m trying to understand these comments but I simply don’t get it. The gist appears to be that Valenti wasn’t sensitive to the issues of WOC or trans women or other women who didn’t feel represented by her. So what? Apparently Valenti is not a WOC or a trans woman, and apparently she wrote more about what she knew from her own experiences. If she doesn’t represent you, don’t read her. Go read someone who does. Nobody can be all things to all people.

  64. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable February 6, 2011 at 10:29 pm |

    shaggy: I’m trying to understand these comments but I simply don’t get it.

    You said it best.

  65. Juke
    Juke February 6, 2011 at 11:29 pm |

    shaggy: If she doesn’t represent you, don’t read her.Go read someone who does.Nobody can be all things to all people.  

    No, people aren’t angry at her for not representing them, they are angry at her for actions (or lack thereof) that contributed to marginalization of WOC, trans women, PWDs, etc. You can target a specific demographic without hurting those who fall outside of it.

  66. Kristin
    Kristin February 7, 2011 at 12:23 am |

    Juke: exactly.

  67. Athenia
    Athenia February 7, 2011 at 1:04 am |

    Kristen J.:
    I am not going to get into any discussion of Jessica as a person.I don’t know her.I’m sure she is a lovely, but flawed human being just like the rest of us.As I read these comments they are not an attack on her as a person, but a discussion of the harm that was caused by her work at feministing (and in FFF to go back a bit).Even if from this moment on she did everything perfectly (which is of course impossible), we should still talk about the things that went wrong and the harm that was caused because that harm was real…it hurt real people and those people matter.To use an example that is way out of scale with feministing, Susan B Anthony did a great deal of good in the suffrage movement, but in doing so she allied with racists like Train and caused a lot of harm.Should we celebrate the accomplishments of SBA without talking about what harm she caused to get there?
    Do you think the drama was worth it then?Because you learned?Or would it have been better to not allow people to say incredibly hateful things to marginalized so that privileged, cis people like ourselves can “learn”?  

    Well, considering when I try to talk about feminism to anyone who isn’t familiar with it, they do say some pretty crappy things. But honestly, learning does happen when people are made to feel uncomfortable. (I mean on the cis end, not on the trans end.)

    You’re right, hateful things don’t need to be said to learn. At the same time, I think it takes a douchebag to illuminate exactly what is wrong with the world–that the “nice” people won’t own up to.

  68. Athenia
    Athenia February 7, 2011 at 1:09 am |

    GallingGalla:
    Thank you for trivializing trans women’s experience with transphobia, and women of color’s experience with racism.When someone doesn’t perceive me as a woman, it doesn’t just piss me off.It means that I get chased down the street and assaulted by men shouting “Get that faggot bitch”.It means I don’t get hired.It means I don’t get respectful health care, or maybe don’t get health care at all.And this is the *easy* shit, Athenia; my white privilege has shielded me from the worst effects; many trans women of color are homeless and jobless, and forced into survival sex work.Many trans women of color are raped (including by police).Too many get shot point blank, or get their heads bashed in with fire extinguishers.(You do remember Angie Zapata, don’t you?)Why do trans* folk have to repeat this shit again and again on this blog?  

    Sure thing. I’ll remember that when other feminists who are being douchebags about trans issues to just shut the fuck up because everytime I open my mouth about it I fuck it up cuz I’m not trans.

  69. GallingGalla
    GallingGalla February 7, 2011 at 1:17 am |

    Athenia: Sure thing. I’ll remember that when other feminists who are being douchebags about trans issues to just shut the fuck up because everytime I open my mouth about it I fuck it up cuz I’m not trans.

    Or maybe you can stop pulling defensive petulant tone arguments.

    Your threat is pretty hollow. Get in line behind the bus driver, the cop, the baker, the candlestick-maker, and the other billion and one cis people threatening to sell trans* folk out to protect their own egos.

  70. Tony
    Tony February 7, 2011 at 1:19 am |

    c.s.: Yeah, it’s just awesome when a mother of any color says she keeps her kid up and out all night and asserts that it’s “not her job” to teach her not to be a noisy nuisance to the people around her.

    Who cares? Have you ever even been to a bar or club in the US? With the loud blasted up music and din of loud voices, you wouldn’t be able to even hear a screaming kid if they were 5 feet away. I have bad hearing. When I walk into these places I can’t even talk to someone without leaning in inches from their face sometimes. A kid the least of my worries. If anything, I can judge her for exposing the kid to such loud noises, but it’s none of my fucking business. If I am going to tell someone else how to raise their kid, I am also going to help raise them, and I sure as hell am not doing that.

    In a quieter space, a loud child can be annoying, but if it’s only really a problem if it goes on and on and on. A minute or so of screaming isn’t any more disruption than a fire truck going by. It’s the mother’s job to try and calm the kid, but more leeway should be given than to adults. It’s understood that kids don’t know any better, so they shouldn’t be judged by the same standards. Just like, when I see a disabled person or a little old person moving slowly in front of me, I don’t get so impatient as I would, an able-bodied person, even if it makes me late, because I know they can’t help it. I sure as hell am not going to tell them not to walk on the street or walk in their own lanes segregated from everyone else. It’s called common courtesy, empathy, being able to see things from the other person’s perspective, or at least trying to. Without that, as a guy, there’s no way I would be open to feminism.

    Even if I see two adults shouting and raising their voices restaurant, if it’s only for a minute or two, I’ll feel bad for them more than I would try to push them out of the space. I mean, they’re the ones having a bad time and embarrassing themselves. Only if it goes on with no sign of stopping will I ask them to quiet down and maybe get upset.

    I was in the elevator the other day, a woman with a stroller came in, and immediately apologized to me. Despite the fact that we were the only two people in the elevator, despite the fact that the elevator had plenty of space for both of us and the stroller, she still apologized and moved the stroller to the very back and looked at me sheepishly, as if she was doing something wrong. I wanted to tell her she has nothing to apologize for. Instead all I said was have a nice day and gave her a smile. She is raising a kid. I am not, by choice. That’s my choice, which I expect other people to respect. But I do respect what she’s doing, not because I think raising a kid is inherent better or noble but because it’s a lot of damn work, even childless people know that. I do respect the work, the effort that it takes, to give to someone else, to make this little baby a part of your life always. This poor woman (and yes it is still more women than men by a large margin which makes it a feminist issue) must apologize to a dozen strangers a day just for taking her baby out in public. I don’t see the point.

    Oh, and that she decides that “mama” = “woman,” despite how many of us vehemently do not WANT anything to do with motherhood.

    So what? I didn’t see her equating mama with woman. She said females without kids are not women? She said they are space aliens? I didn’t see that.

    And, no, it is not “anti-feminist” to want any public space free of children, unless, again, you equate all women with children and concepts like “indoor voice” and “no running around the dining room” with things like rape culture and revocation of women’s suffrage.

    That sounds like oppression Olympics to me. How dramatic can you get. Revocation of women’s suffrage? When did that become an issue? I mean, it’s not on par with sex slavery and mass murder, so it must not be an important issue huh. Real issues are what *you* decide they are. How stupid of anyone else to talk about anything else.

    The martyr complex of “hip mamas” is truly astounding. Almost as great as their entitlement complex.  

    Personal attack.

  71. Juke
    Juke February 7, 2011 at 4:38 am |

    Athenia:
    Sure thing. I’ll remember that when other feminists who are being douchebags about trans issues to just shut the fuck up because everytime I open my mouth about it I fuck it up cuz I’m not trans.

    If you are unable to defend trans* people without further marginalizing them, keeping quiet might be a good idea.

  72. Juke
    Juke February 7, 2011 at 4:43 am |

    Juke:
    If you are unable to defend trans* people without further marginalizing them, keeping quiet might be a good idea.  

    But a better idea would be to learn what you did wrong, of course, so that you can actually be an effective ally.

  73. La Lubu
    La Lubu February 7, 2011 at 7:39 am |

    shaggy @ #62: You are aware of the term “lavender menace” right? Do you remember where it came from? Betty Friedan. She was upset that lesbians were ruining the image of the feminist movement, so she used her bully pulpit within the second wave feminist movement to exclude lesbians, lesbian organizations, and lesbian-centered issues from the agenda of NOW. Friedan considered lesbians to be a political liability.

    This is a really old trend within the feminist movement; women considered to be liabilities, or problems too complex to be solved, or not fitting the proper image (thus scaring away more attractive members—and I mean that in every sense of that term)—being shunted aside or dismissed as irrelevant.

    So, I consider it really rich that Valenti is offered a book deal on motherhood for all of her five minutes of parenting, when feministing was notorious for allowing the commentariat to call mothers “breeders”, “cows”, “moos” and the like prior to Valenti’s own pregnancy.

    The reason feminism is not a viable political movement in much of the western world is because of this trend—this exclusiveness and elitism and wanting feminism to be a “cool kids club” of…well, basically a more updated version of the women of “Mad Men”. The message has been sent to us peasants—you aren’t wanted here. Meanwhile:

    Of course no one can adequately represent all constituencies. No one is asking for that. What is necessary, is for all constituencies to be included, because a tiny, unrepresentative group of women are not capable of creating or sustaining a movement towards freedom.

    To give an example: there’s nothing wrong with being non-religious. But. Feminist media run by non-religious women ignores feminist movement within various religious communities; movement that is led by women. Organized women. So, when those women are left out as “not likely to be feminist”, a whole hell of a lot of talented, active, experienced footsoldiers continue to use their talents in isolation from politicized feminism. And the same can be said for lesbian groups, transpeople groups, union halls, neighborhood organizations, immigration activists, prison activists, etc.

    The legacy didn’t start with Betty Friedan (though she was quite effective at maintaining it); but it does continue through Jessica Valenti. This is basic organizing 101, people. Don’t do your enemies’ work for them by excluding people from the get-go; particularly people who are very likely to be on your side. See what I did up there? Used the term politicized feminism? Feminism isn’t a feel-good, self-help program of morning affirmations. It’s a political movement, dammit. When it ceases to be such, it is worthless.

  74. Tony
    Tony February 7, 2011 at 9:07 am |

    La Lubu,

    I’m familiar with the term lavender menace. That was 35-40 years ago. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton used to hang out with racists in the 1870s, too. Cady Stanton called it the best time of her life. Yes, it’s an old trend in the feminist movement to exclude certain people or certain issues that are deemed a bridge too far. *But* it’s also an old trend in the feminist movement that over time, these exclusions tend to fall away. In a way it’s a mirror of American history overall. I consider Cady Stanton a hero the same way I might consider her contemporary Abraham Lincoln; Betty Friedan like John Kennedy. They were pretty unenlightened people who nevertheless were pretty enlightened compared to the status quo they lived in and managed to do something about it.

    La LubuSo, I consider it really rich that Valenti is offered a book deal on motherhood for all of her five minutes of parenting, when feministing was notorious for allowing the commentariat to call mothers “breeders”, “cows”, “moos” and the like prior to Valenti’s own pregnancy.

    Could you provide a link to some of these threads? I’m not saying I don’t believe you, but I’d be curious to see how it went down. The old archives at Feministing are all still available. I did a quick search of the terms you mentioned, and didn’t find any references referring to women as “cows” or “moos”, and only two as “breeders”, one of which clearly does so in a positive, sarcastic sort of sense. On the other hand, if you search the archives here at Feministe, you’ll find a couple threads explicitly discussing the term “breeder” as offensive, but also a few threads carelessly using the word to refer to women.

  75. saurus
    saurus February 7, 2011 at 11:12 am |

    I want to say that as much as I feel a lot of squeamish things about the book deal (see my comments upthread) I don’t think it’s fair for us to suggest that Valenti isn’t qualified to write a book on parenting or motherhood by virtue of her being a new parent. If her book is aiming to be some kind of universally applicable Bible of parenting, then there are many reasons she may not be qualified, such as inadequate representation. But that may not be what her book is about, and saying she’s only been a parent for X amount of time and therefore shouldn’t write a book about parenting strikes me as unfair policing. Someone going through parenting for the first time may have a lot of experiences to share – there’s certainly a market for that kind of book, and besides – for all we know, other people’s experiences may also be integrated into the book.

  76. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. February 7, 2011 at 11:25 am |

    @Tony

    Google is your friend. Try using the “site:” specification.

  77. miriam
    miriam February 7, 2011 at 12:40 pm |

    There is pretty significant Jewish representation in government, media, education, healthcare, etc.

    So, Saurus, do you also have a first-edition copy of Protocols of the Elders of Zion on your bedtable?

  78. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable February 7, 2011 at 12:53 pm |

    Kristen J.: Google is your friend. Try using the “site:” specification.  

    No lie, I’ve never heard of this. Thanks!

  79. saurus
    saurus February 7, 2011 at 1:10 pm |

    miriam: Protocols of the Elders of Zion

    Uh, I’m not saying Jews are conspiring to control these realms of society, or that they dominate in such areas – I’m saying that Jews, as a minority, have better representation in such areas than many other minorities do (such as people of color, Muslims, etc).

    It may be worth noting that I am Jewish. I am not anti-Semitic, and I don’t think it’s anti-Semitic to believe that Jews can be simultaneously oppressed and privileged in different ways and circumstances.

  80. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. February 7, 2011 at 1:26 pm |

    PrettyAmiable: No lie, I’ve never heard of this. Thanks! PrettyAmiable

    QUEEN OF THE GOOGLE! Sorry that’s something we yell at our house when we find something hidden but awesome on the internet esp when used to win an argument. :) Did I mention we’re a family of geeks?

  81. Lovely Links: 2/4/11
    Lovely Links: 2/4/11 February 8, 2011 at 1:45 pm |

    […] Valenti, the founder of Feministing.com is stepping down, and Jill’s tribute to her is really […]

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