Thursday, June 11, 2009


Remember this article by Frances Kissling I linked to in an earlier post? It's about the woman Obama appointed to head the Department of Health and Human Services' Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, and still well worth a read.

Now Kissling has gotten a response on a Catholic blog. What fascinates me about that response is how it ends:

Of course, none of this is Kissling's concern. She merely wants to takedown a pro-life Democrat who represents a new generation of women, a generation tired of the "Stay away from my ovaries!" pro-choice shouting that Kissling made famous. The good news is that the President is evidently listening to Kelley not Kissling. The bishops who are about to meet in San Antonio should note that fact. And, we pro-life Democrats should make sure the White House knows that we applaud the selection of Kelley for such an important and sensitive position.

It's that idea of feminism as old, outdated, stuffy shit. BOOOOORRRIIINNG! This is a very common argument from the anti-feminists, and so is painting pictures of feminists as out-of-touch, ugly, desperate and no longer fashionable.

The reason I find it so fascinating is that the argument is totally superficial and really shouldn't work. Who cares if feminists are ugly as hell if they improve women's lifetime earnings by reducing discrimination in the labor markets? Who cares if they shout as long as women themselves get to keep the right to determine their own fertility patterns? Who cares what was in fashion and wasn't in fashion? Would you say that breast cancer treatment is so old-hat, so yawn-inducing, so not worth discussing, just because it and the disease it tries to cure have been around for a long time? That these arguments are used against feminism really only shows one thing to me: Women's rights are still seen as something silly, something flippant, something that can be easily stigmatized as man-hating or as not being in fashion and so on.

You can see this best by reversing the argument in the above quote: Would pro-life Democratic women really ask everyone to please poke around in their ovaries? Would they invite us all to do so provided we stop shouting?