I was originally slated to be a part of this panel, but when I found out that Allison Kasic – who works for the virulently anti-feminist Independent Women’s Forum – was also a panelist, I decided to pull out.
I’ve been writing a lot lately about the faux feminism of the Right – how conservative women who have long fought against feminist ideals and goals are now identifying as feminists in an attempt to woo women’s votes for the GOP. I think it’s an incredibly dangerous trend facing the movement – if those who work actively against women’s interests can claim feminism as their own, the movement will become meaningless.
Given all that, it felt hypocritical for me to be a part of a panel that named Kasic a feminist leader. I didn’t want my presence to lend credibility to the false notion that people who work against women’s rights are feminists.
Yes, I could go on the panel to argue about the definition of feminism and the co-opting of the movement. But when I agree to be on a panel I’m accepting the terms of a debate – and it’s not a debatable point whether people whose policies actively harm women are feminists. I don’t want to validate that this is a question open for reasonable conversation. (Especially given that the success of anti-feminist women and orgs like IWF is largely based on their ability to get on panels and make this an open discussion – it’s part of their strategy.)
Oh no!! Someone who disagrees with Jessica Valenti might be part of a panel discussing feminism! And they’re a — gasp!! — conservative feminist!! Clearly she can’t be a part of that, right? Jessica Valenti’s credibility would be damaged, and that would hurt the feminist movement!
Because, you know, Jessica Valenti is the sole voice of what feminism stands for and its credibility.
Now, every other speaker on this panel is a liberal extremist femisogynist, including Courtney Martin, who blogs at Valenti’s website Feministing. Allison Kasic was the one conservative voice. But this just can’t be allowed, can it? In Valenti’s world, apparently not only should feminists with differing opinions not be allowed a seat at the table, they shouldn’t even be allowed to speak, much less debate their views.
Of course, one might wonder why Valenti would be so worried about debating Kasic. If Valenti’s version of feminism is indeed so intellectually superior, then why would it matter if Kasic was on the panel or not? This would be a perfect opportunity for Valenti to show how wrong conservative feminists are. But oh no, she’s making a principled stand! Or something. Because Kasic’s employer, the Independent Women’s Forum, is (in Valenti’s words) “virulently anti-feminist.” So why not debate her, and show her for the virulent anti-feminist that she really is?
The only reason that femisogynists like Valenti try so hard to shut down conservative feminists like Palin and Kasic is because they’re intimidated by them. Women like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann resonate with women more than women like Jessica Valenti and Amanda Marcotte ever have — or will. The average woman doesn’t identify herself as some kind of helpless oppressed victim of the patriarchy. The average woman doesn’t see marriage as a form of institutional slavery. The average woman doesn’t believe in universal health care or abortion on demand, or half the things that radicals like Valenti advocate.
Feminism has turned into a dirty word for most women, who won’t call themselves feminists anymore. And that’s thanks in large part to the work of women like Gloria Steinem and her 60s era radicals, as well as the work continued by women like Valenti and Marcotte today. Sarah Palin has more American women realizing that feminism could actually speak for them than Valenti ever could, and part of the reason is that Palin has never called for an ideological litmus test in order to be a feminist. Feminism didn’t start as a movement that only spoke for certain women. It spoke for all women. The women who fought for feminist and equality for women didn’t fight so that certain women wouldn’t be allowed to express their views or excluded.
But funny, that’s exactly what people like Jessica Valenti, who call themselves feminists, are fighting for. And when conservative women finally stop letting themselves be pushed into the shadows, and reclaim feminism for themselves, it opens a huge crack in the facade of fascist feminism that the femisogynists have created.
It turns out that Valenti is nothing more than a giant intellectual coward. If her credibility on what feminism really means is so strong, then what does she have to lose? If she was the superior one, then she wouldn’t demean feminism by debating Kasic. If her views were correct, then Kasic would be the one who would lose credibility. Kasic would be the one who would be embarrassed. So what is Valenti so afraid of?
This isn’t a principled stand by Jessica Valenti. This is a woman who is afraid she’ll be made a fool of. This is a woman who can’t stand for women with opposing viewpoints to express them because she knows it threatens what she stands for. She even said herself, this is strategy for her, a tactic — a tactic to drown out opposing voices. Jessica Valenti couldn’t make it any more clear: she’s nothing but a coward and a fake who wouldn’t understand what feminism is if it hit her in the face.