Feminist Fun Times

She Feels Unclean

In the pages of the Observer, a new niche agony is detected

Is it ever acceptable for a feminist to hire a cleaner?

Needless to say, it starts off quite dramatically,

The day my cleaner used to visit, I would return home in the evening to the smell of Dettol mixed with Tania’s sweat, to a clean kitchen and bathroom and a drenching sense of guilt. 

Gratuitous drama and drenching guilt aside, I’m not entirely sure why hiring a cleaner should obviously be more fraught than hiring, say, a gardener or roofer. And it occurs to me that if you can smell someone’s perspiration above the odour of cleaning products, said person may require some kind of medical attention.

The piece, by empowered feminist author Sally Howard, continues in high gear,

It was the same unease that greeted me when I collected my son Leo from his nursery – a national chain disproportionately staffed by women of colour – or bought clothes from a mainstream clothing outlet that relies, as many do, on female garment workers in the global south.

For the kind of middle-class feminist who as recreation writes for the Observer, life is apparently an endless moral torture inflicted by minor, everyday events, or at least an exhausting theatre of pretending to be tortured by minor, everyday events. Which of the two constitutes a more harrowing and nightmarish existence, I leave to the reader. 

For [my book, The Home Stretch], I spent time under cover with the women who clean Britain’s offices and homes. I picked used tampons off bathroom carpets and scrubbed bathtub tidemarks and sauces spattered across kitchen walls; and I discovered a few things. 

That some women are so messy and antisocial that bloodied tampons are left for others to step on? Is that a permissible feminist thought?

I learned that fashionable householders’ preference for less-effective eco and homemade cleaning products doubles cleaners’ labour.

No laughing at the back.

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This isn’t someone who barely squeaked through her degree. She was celebrated as the best there was at her school.

Janice Fiamengo ponders the mental state of a feminist and openly misandrist social worker

Kristina Agbebiyi, the lady in question, was hailed as “student of the year” by the University of Michigan’s social work department for her “commitment to political activities,” her embodiment of the “professional ethics of social work,” and for her “contribution to the positive image” of said field. Repeatedly boasting of a hatred of men is, we learn, not only a “commitment,” “a way of life” and a “revolutionary task,” but something to applaud. A credential of some kind. It “isn’t a game,” says Ms Agbebiyi.

Update, via the comments:

Readers may find themselves marvelling at how someone so fêted, and who evidently expects no challenging of her pronouncements by either peers or employers, nonetheless exults in theatrical victimhood and insists that she is “living oppression from the inside.” That the supposedly radical politics of which Ms Agbebiyi is so proud is usually an ostentatious leisure activity, an indulgence of the privileged, somehow passes unremarked. Though I do like the description of Ms Agbebiyi as a “narcissistic self-infatuate.”

Needless to say, the cause of this alleged “oppression” isn’t made clear, let alone persuasive. Apparently, it’s now the custom to invoke victimhood, as if it were a goal, a basis for acclaim, without actually specifying what it is that’s supposedly oppressing you. After browsing the lady’s Twitter feed, the best I can deduce is that the fact that prisons exist, at all, anywhere, is an unendurable burden on Ms Agbebiyi’s tissue-paper psyche. We should, it seems, wish for the “abolition” of prisons and “the ending of cops.” Because the world would be so much better if rapists, carjackers and sociopathic predators could act with impunity, uninhibited by even a small risk of punishment.

Some of Professor Fiamengo’s previous adventures in feminist psychology can be found here and here

Gorging On Grievance

Writing in the pages of Inside Higher Ed, sociology student and “self-identified fat woman” Bobbi Reidinger bemoans the hardships of the chunky would-be educator:

Fat academics need to be more vocal in calls for increased structural accessibility such as larger desks or substitutions for tables and chairs, greater ease in access to elevators, and more. Yet in addition to structural changes that campuses could make to help people of size be more comfortable -- such as providing larger bathrooms, chairs without arms and larger auditorium seating -- we need to discuss more techniques to combat stigma within classrooms.

You see, it’s not just a question of remodelling half the campus:

Weight-based stigma has an impact on the credibility of fat academics, in particular female academics who often must contend with both gender and fat stigmas... Weight stigma negatively impacts a professor’s credibility as a communicator within the classroom, with greater credibility being given to those who argue against their own self-interest.

Being sufficiently obese that it requires special furniture and enlarged bathrooms, and such that it becomes an obvious topic of classroom conversation, is in a person’s self-interest, apparently. As opposed to, say, a significant health concern - a cause of hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, gallbladder disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, joint failure, incontinence, sleep apnea, breathing problems, depression, anxiety, and cancer.

Therefore, when a fat professor makes their fatness salient inside the classroom, their fatness overrides their educational and occupational statuses, as students interpret this information as coming from an unreliable source.

It occurs to me that if an overweight educator, or would-be educator, presents her own fatness as a kind of moral elevation, a political piety arrived at via victimhood, and then demands oversized desks, plus-sized seats without arms, modified lifts, modified bathrooms, modified auditoria, “and more” – and does all this while sidestepping responsibility for her own rotundity – then students would do well to question the motives and credibility of such a person. And when a teacher or grad student fails to convince a class and promptly blames that failure on some alleged-but-undemonstrated sexism or “weight stigma,” as if that were both obvious and the only conceivable explanation, this is not necessarily proof of injustice or unrecognised talent.

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Her Big Fearless Self

He was white, you see, and obviously that’s another incriminating feature:

Eat feminism  become this.

Update, via the comments:

As so often, these little things are quite telling. I realise that gestures of politeness or chivalry aren’t always perfectly expressed, but it takes a certain churlishness, a practised sourness, to construe the above as some ill-intended act of patriarchal oppression, and therefore something to resist - before publicly congratulating yourself on Twitter. And as noted previously, it’s curious how all this feminist empowerment doesn’t seem to result in much stoicism or self-possession or mental resilience, just lots of narcissism, ingratitude and chronic whininess. Such that publicly disdaining the physical attributes – whiteness, maleness, middle-agedness – of the person offering to help you retrieve your overhead luggage – is deemed an act of woke piety. As if these were things for which a person should be disdained, along with their offers of help.

Via Ben Sixsmith. Also, open thread.

I Can Feel The Art Improving Me

Yes, it’s time for an open thread. Feel free to share links and bicker.

As an enriching cultural bonus, here are some Estonian art gallery scenes, in which a full-figured feminist protests against the “violence” of the art on offer – while naked, obviously - during a visit by schoolchildren. The artist being denounced is Marko Mäetamm, whose offerings to the world are numerous and can be savoured here. The feminist lady taking umbrage, Mare Tralla, also makes bad art.

The boy in the hat, fourth from the right, rather captures the moment, I think.  

Via Orwell & Goode.

She Doesn’t Do Toilets

More feminist fun times in the pages of the Guardian, where Nicola Heath is bemoaning her womanly lot:

It feels very personal, the fight you have with your partner about who does the laundry or cleans the bathroom. But the second-wave feminists were right. The personal is political. 

“The personal is political,” says she. Well, so I hear. But it’s also worth considering just how often the political, or allegedly political, is a function of personality and a self-flattering rationalisation for personal shortcomings and sub-optimal choices. Not least among the kinds of people who loudly announce that the personal is political. In fact, hold that thought.

The unequal division of labour at home is a systemic issue that needs structural social change to solve it. 

In this instance, the claim of inequality and the case for “structural social change” are not entirely compelling:  

Like many heterosexual couples, it was the arrival of children that set my husband and me on divergent paths at home. I’ve been an avowed (and untidy) feminist since I was old enough to say the word. We were together for 10 years before the birth of our daughter – he knew his co-parent had zero aspirations to be a homemaker… Becoming a parent is… a huge transition. Your identity is reforged in the crucible of sleep deprivation and newfound responsibility. The pre-kid lifestyle of Friday night drinks, free time and sleeping in becomes a distant memory. 

Yes, in a shocking and unguessable turn of events, becoming a parent is usually a life-changing experience, a major development that entails compromise and sacrifice. A shifting of priorities. If only all of the other parents on the planet throughout human history had an inkling, some clue. Our Guardian writer is of course determined to frame the subsequent division of labour in the Heath household as a result of dark forces – including “social conditioning,” “prescribed gender roles” and the oft-invoked “gender pay gap.” An allegedly oppressive phenomenon that doesn’t actually exist. And then, inevitably, a whiff of self-pity:

When you have someone to take care of menial stuff such as running your life, there’s little incentive to change the status quo. It’s nice having someone wash your clothes and cook your food. When you don’t have to expend mental energy keeping track of grocery lists and family birthdays, you have the cognitive bandwidth to think about other things.

She’s expending mental energy on grocery lists. Someone bring medals, big ones.

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Think Big, Badly

In the comments, Mr Muldoon steers us to this item of possible interest:

As the fat-positivity movement has gained momentum, so, too, have debates around how fat folks should lead healthy lives. [Sonalee] Rashatwar, though, considers how sizeism is affected by racism, misogyny, classism, homophobia, transphobia, and ableism, and she counsels people against intentional weight loss.

Well, we mustn’t be practical. That wouldn’t be woke. And regaining viable proportions, such that one’s health is not at risk and one’s lifespan needlessly shortened, sounds way too much like work and responsibility. Instead, attention is displaced to a more theoretical, and conveniently improbable, project:

Rashatwar traces contemporary fatphobia to colonial brutality and how enslaved people were treated. Citing researcher-advocate Caleb Luna, Rashatwar said curing anti-fatness would mean dismantling society’s foundation: “I love to talk about undoing Western civilisation because it’s just so romantic to me.”

Hm. Lose weight, or topple Western civilisation? It’s the fat person’s eternal dilemma.

Ms Rashatwar is a “community organiser” and “Instagram therapist,” a self-styled healer and woman of insight, and is therefore not at all grandiose, self-excusing or pathologically unrealistic. And so, her therapeutic endeavours include posting “really, really political and radical content” about how terrible capitalism is, how terrible the police are, and how righteous it is to be obese and consequently to live with needless limitations and increasing discomfort. Ms Rashatwar has chosen to blame her own health issues, including high blood pressure, on “weight stigma” and “white supremacy,” rather than on her size and prodigious eating habits. When not equating routine health advice with eugenics and “Nazi science,” Ms Rashatwar, a self-described “donut queen,” claims that “diet culture and fat phobia are forms of sexual violence.

The being named Caleb Luna, mentioned above, has cropped up here before. Readers are welcome to ponder said being’s credibility as a “researcher-advocate,” an authority to cite. 

Somewhat related

Did You Pack The Jar Of Testicles?

Would a future women-only space colony have to live with that same fear? Would the very idea of a self-sufficient community of women so infuriate and threaten men that they would take it as a challenge to seek out and invade any feminist planet? And what about the frozen sperm?

I’m sorry. I’m reading the Guardian. Perhaps things will settle down.

If our future colony is reliant on what it can transport from Earth, stocks will eventually run out unless they can be replenished, which means giving birth to at least a few male children. Whether, in a matriarchal society without examples of male aggression, those boys would grow up to be the kind of man who grabs a peaceful protester by the back of her neck remains one of the great unknowns.

Or not. Never mind.

Readers may be tickled by the conceit that men would be infuriated and threatened by the departure from Earth of the planet’s feminists. And not, say, delighted. In fact, given recent trends, it seems more likely that feminists would be the ones determined to sabotage and eliminate any all-male spaces, while exempting themselves from comparable restrictions. 

The rest is fairly predictable, the standard template, with jabs at “jowly white men in positions of power,” and inspirational rumblings in which women “just take the sperm and leave the men behind.” This bold vision of tomorrow is then traded for a more modest scenario, a compromise of sorts, in which, rather than being “redundant” and eliminated entirely, men are merely “educated… out of bullying and aggressive attitudes towards women” - an education that entails “putting women in positions of power on this planet before we think about how to populate others.”

We await the Guardian article in which a male columnist, perhaps white and somewhat jowly, ponders the appalling nature of women and how they require correction lest they contaminate the heavens with their inherent awfulness.

Via Guardian Science.

The Other Heartbeat Isn’t Yours

I am not interested in where a human life starts to exist.

In the video linked above, feminist “theorist” Sophie Lewis informs us that the foetus, a nascent human being, is “violent,” does violence to “gestators,” and that abortion is a corrective killing, an “unmaking,” a means of “going on strike against gestational work.” “We need to move away from… arguments around when human life begins,” says she.

So far as I can tell, and despite Ms Lewis’ theorising, mothers-to-be don’t generally feel a need to parse their pregnancy in terms of “abolishing the private nuclear household” and “global regimes of colonial and commodity exploitation.” Or indeed to champion abortion, via drugs or dismemberment, as a form of “anti-violence.” But that’s probably because – to borrow a phrase from Joan - they haven’t been tugging on the intersectional crack pipe.

Ms Lewis is the author of Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against Family. When not arguing for the destruction of the unborn, and the “abolition” of the family - which is to be replaced by comradeliness, apparently - she “participates in the Out Of The Woods anti-capitalist ecological writing collective.”

Update, via the comments:

In this laughably pretentious review of Ms Lewis’ laughably pretentious book, we learn that the author wishes us to embrace the disintegration of the family – our families, all families – “until they dissolve into a classless commune on the basis of the best available care for all.” As if the “best available care” would somehow be an obvious result of family disintegration, despite decades of real-world evidence to the contrary. Supposedly, we would learn to love the “plural womb,” “radical disinheritance,” and “a world beyond propertarian kinship and work alienation.” The children we have will no longer be ours, it seems, and this will apparently make us happy. It’s a “queer, communist, speculative future.” A narcissist’s experiment. And we are to be the guinea pigs.

Via Mr Muldoon. Somewhat related.

Reheated (56)

For newcomers, more items from the archives.

Weepy And Hysterical.

A philosophy lecturer, a specialist in “critical whiteness studies,” apologises, at length, for his own heterosexuality.

Professor Yancy goes on to denounce, on behalf of all men, “our sexually objectifying gazes… our pornographic imaginations.” Our “dominant phallic economy.” Indeed, he continues, “we are collectively complicit with a sexist mind-set and a poisonous masculinity.” You see, being aroused by women, while not quite rape in itself, is nonetheless, as it were, rape-adjacent, and constitutes “a violent, pathetic and problematic masculinity.” One wonders how a species of suitably corrected human beings, purged of such heterosexual inclinations, might propagate and flourish. Such that we can indulge the theatrical sorrows of woke philosophy lecturers.

The Perils Of Jogging.

Zoe Williams warns Guardian readers that exercise “makes you rightwing.”

According to Zoe, if you visit a gym, or cycle, or merely take the occasional brisk walk with a dog in tow - or presumably have any kind of goals, however modest, and then achieve them - you’ll become boastful, consumed with “self-love” and wicked delusions of “self-sufficiency,” a gateway to the greatest sin of all: not being leftwing. Because leftwing people, like Zoe, are free of vanity and unblemished by urges to signal superiority of one kind or another. Say, by telling us, quite often, that they’re not at all rightwing.

Still, it’s strange just how readily Zoe leaps from ‘people can be a bit tedious when banging on about their enthusiasms’ – the word blogging comes to mind – to ‘regular jogging will make you vote Conservative because feelings of achievement and capability are politically corrupting’. Presumably, leftist piety is arrived at via indolence, whining and half-arsed flummery. Though it’s not, perhaps, as strange as declaring one’s own piety and compassion – as opposed to all those dreadful rightwing people - while sneering at a cancer charity because its most direct beneficiaries are men.

How To Impress Your Boss, An Intersectional Guide

Self-described “educator” Sophia Stephens says that minority employees shouldn’t have to be reliable or competent.

Continue reading "Reheated (56)" »

Her Loveliness Revealed

Here’s an idea! Change your parents’ bad voting habits by refusing to breed.

In the pages of Slate, Christina Cauterucci, whose enthusiasms include “gender and feminism,” wishes to share her wisdom:

The prospect of harnessing one’s sexual and reproductive powers for social good is a tempting one. So, I’d like to present what I humbly consider a much better proposal: Instead of a sex strike, let’s try a grandkid strike.

It’s a “brilliant new weapon of progressivism,” says Ms Cauterucci, and “exactly the kind of radical response today’s radical threats to equity, justice, and humanity demand.” Specifically,

It’s time to demand that baby boomers and Gen Xers decide which they’d rather have: their vague attachments to policies that have poisoned the earth and will soon make it difficult for anyone but the obscenely wealthy to live healthy, happy lives, or a pack of adorable munchkins in itty-bitty suspenders ready for unlimited tickle fights and cookie-baking sessions.

This is followed almost immediately by,

I’ve already decided that I’m not having kids,

Which, for the purposes of Ms Cauterucci’s article, is somewhat convenient. This reproductive decision was, we’re told, arrived at because,

Child care is extravagantly expensive, and paid family leave is a rare luxury. Bringing a new set of chubby cheeks and wonderfully incomprehensible babblings into the world is the most destructive thing one couple can do to the planet. It seems certain that today’s babies will be tomorrow’s survivors of famine, water shortages, unprecedented natural disasters, and refugee crises.

And furthermore,

It’s unethical, what with climate change and all. And it’s too dangerous—you’ve seen the news reports on school shootings and know how easy it is for violent men to get their hands on guns.

Um, okay then. Apparently, the thought of becoming a parent immediately conjures mental images of famine, earthquakes, shootings and death. Proof, if more were needed, that the exquisitely woke are just like thee and me. Not unhinged in any way.

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Elsewhere (292)

David Solway on the feminist enthusiasm for fatness: 

In a speech on the topic of “radical fat liberation” jointly sponsored by the Women and Gender Studies Department and the Centre for Equity and Inclusion at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, the prodigiously overweight Sonalee Rashatwar, a self-proclaimed Fat Sex Therapist, compared fitness trainers to Nazis, defined child dieting as sexual assault, attributed the Christchurch shooting to ‘thin” white supremacism, and condemned science as “fataphobic” for “promoting the idea that certain bodies are fit, able and desirable.” She wonders, rhetorically, “is it my fatness that causes my high blood pressure, or is it my experience of weight stigma?” She goes on to blame the Reagan administration for having refused to provide “social supports that also help me to subsidise my food costs.” 

When not equating routine health advice with eugenics and “Nazi science,” Ms Rashatwar claims that “diet culture and fat phobia are forms of sexual violence.” Mr Solway is the husband of Janice Fiamengo, whose own probing of feminist pathology has been mentioned here before.

Heather Mac Donald on cooking the books for “diversity”: 

The average white score on the SAT (1,123 out of a possible 1,600) is 177 points higher than the average black score (946), approximately a standard deviation of difference. This gap has persisted for decades. It is not explained by socioeconomic disparities. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education reported in 1998 that white students from households with incomes of $10,000 or less score better on the SAT than black students from households with incomes of $80,000 to $100,000. In 2015, students with family incomes of $20,000 or less (a category that includes all racial groups) scored higher on average on the math SAT than the average math score of black students from all income levels... 

Those who rail against “white privilege” as a determinant of academic achievement have a nagging problem: Asians. Asian students outscore white students on the SAT by 100 points; they outscore blacks by 277 points. It is not Asian families’ economic capital that vaults them to the top of the academic totem pole; it is their emphasis on scholarly effort and self-discipline. Every year in New York City, Asian elementary school students vastly outperform every other racial and ethnic group on the admissions test for the city’s competitive public high schools, even though a disproportionate number of them come from poor immigrant families.

Somewhat related, on racism as an excuse. And related to that, on the absurd and rather sinister Implicit Association Test.

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