Free alterations feminism Archives

June 20, 2008

From zipless fuck to life of the mind

I don't read the Huffington Post often enough, apparently. I missed, until today, a hilarious exchange between second-wave 70s feminist Erica "Zipless Fuck" Jong and Matt Taibbi, now in its fourth iteration.

Seems that Jong took exception to Taibbi mentioning that Hillary Clinton had "flabby arms." She offered a bit of free and fairly shallow psychoanalysis suggesting that Taibbi really wanted to fuck his mother. (Well, duuhh, who doesn't?)

Taibbi responded by quoting a number of much worse things he's had to say about the physical appearance of some men in politics. At this point the suddenly intellectual Jong made a quick dash for the high ground:

What exactly is the point of talking about body deformity rather than ideas? We live in a time when... people are being tortured despite our heritage of the Magna Carta and the Constitution....

If you were my writing student, I'd challenge your reliance on physical mockery and ask you to find better ways of arguing your points. I'd try to engage your brain not your spleen.

One can't help wondering whether Jong has many writing students, and if so, what they're getting out of the experience. One hopes they're learning, from someone, to cite old texts to more effect than Jong's puzzling references to the (US?) "Constitution" and -- stranger still -- the Magna Carta. What on earth does she think the latter document is about? Are these scraps of World History 101 just emblems of some vaguely conceived tradition of high ideals?

Fear of Flying was terrific fun -- but Jong is no Susan Sontag. One wonders whether she's ever read any of Milton's polemical prose, or Swift's, or Martin Marprelate's. For savage personal abuse of their targets, these gods of the canon make Taibbi look quite moderate.

But of course the real oddity in this schoolmarmish lecturette is the assumption that there were any "ideas" to talk about in the Clintonobamamachia. As far as ideas went, the two were always utterly indistinguishable -- try asking a fan of either candidate to attribute random quotes correctly. The contest was always entirely about appearance, demeanor, charm, and the capacity of various demographics to "identify" (horrible word) with the handsome, cool young black guy or the frumpy old free-alterations feminist(tm).

Flabby arms, flag pins -- might as well talk about one as the other.

November 14, 2008

Summers is y-goin' out

It's starting to look like loathesome, porcine Larry Summers is out of the running for Obama's treasury secretary. Wage-earners everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief -- but breathe it quick, before you find out who Obie will pick.

Summers is out, it appears, not because he's a fanatical advocate of the unfettered dictatorship of finance capital, but because he's fallen foul of the Free Alterations Feminist (FAF) movement:

Intense backlash from women’s groups may have pushed former Clinton Treasury Secretary Larry Summers off the short-list to lead Treasury for President-elect Barack Obama....

The Summers backlash rises out of a controversial 2005 comment he made as president of Harvard University that innate differences between men and women might be one reason fewer women succeed in science and math careers.

"Backlash" is an odd term to use in this connection. "Rage" -- quite justified rage, too -- would seem to be more appropriate. Here's one case, anyway, where the FAFs have done a good thing. As far as it goes.

One one of my lefty mailing lists, a comrade sourly noted:

For what it's's my favorite paragraph:

"Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, said there are other reasons to oppose Summers, citing his involvement in Clinton-era policies that many say contributed to the current economic woes."

Three cheers for Kim Gandy. I really appreciate the fact that NOW takes an expansive view of its mandate.

December 2, 2008

The best of both worlds

Some of my Free Alterations Feminist (FAF) friends are actually happy about Hillary being Obama's secretary of state. These folks voted for Hill in the primary -- somewhat against their own better nature, I think, but hey, identity is thicker than water. Or even blood, come to think of it.

They were also happy, perhaps even relieved, to vote for Obama in the general election -- a black guy is not a bad second-best to a white woman, if you're a white woman keeping score on the identity plane, and Obama, of course, is, with all respect to Hill, a much fresher face. No wonder, either, considering the hard time poor Hill has had to serve.

But now my FAFster friends get the black guy and the white woman! Who could have foreseen such a happy consummation? Win-win, as they used to say in the executive washroom.

There may of course be people in the world who don't see it quite this way. But if you just build a high enough wall, you won't have to worry about them.

December 6, 2008

They just won't go away

"Change" was the Democrats' mantra during the campaign. After Election Day, they dropped that, with eye-blurring speed, in favor of "experience". Now they're talking about making Caroline Kennedy Senator from New York, in Hillary's place -- Caroline, who represents neither change nor experience. Presumably some third abstract quality will have to be invoked. What do you want to bet it's "charisma"?

The choice theoretically rests with David Paterson, Democratic governor of New York, who succeeded to that office recently after echt merit-baby Eliot Spitzer was found to have a rather louche erotic life. But presumably Obie will have something to say on the subject as well.

One of the pressures impinging on Paterson, according the New York Times today, is the Gender Nationalist lobby, AKA the FAFsters. Evidently the thinking in circles like NOW is that Hillary's seat -- I mean her Senate seat, not her own dear little long-suffering tush -- is Woman Property now.

I was talking about this today with a FAFster friend of mine. She tartly observed, "How many senators are women? Is it half?"

Fair enough. Who can, or would, object to gender equity? Caroline certainly won't be any worse than Hillary was, and if they went on and replaced Chuck Schumer with a woman -- any woman, chosen at random, fer Chrissake -- we'd almost certainly gain by the exchange.

What bugs me, though, about this FAF line of reasoning is its one-dimensional focus on superstructure, and its high comfort level with every aspect of the status quo except the remaining gender differentials. Getting women into the Senate, and the White House, and the Pentagon, and the CIA is the FAF mission; once accomplished, progress is thought to have been made, even if these institutions continue to operate on pretty much the same basis that they always have.

As a lefty and devout egalitarian, I'd like to feel that I have more in common with feminism than I can have, as long as feminism is defined in a way that not only accepts but embraces every other aspect of existing power relations. It's hard for me to be pleased that anybody -- man or woman, Jew or Gentile, barbarian or Greek -- wants to swell the ranks of my enemies.

In one way, Caroline Kennedy really perfectly exemplifies the problem. She's a woman -- so far so good. But she's also rich, she's a lawyer, or so they say, and most of all -- she's a Kennedy.

Are we never, never to have done with this legion of pests? -- now in, what, its fourth generation from old Joe, the gangster and Nazi sympathizer (shown above in the bosom of his altogether too numerous family).

The Party of Change seems in fact to be very much a party of property interests. The FAFs must have a few Senate seats, and the Kennedys are owed one too. Voila Caroline -- a twofer!

About Free alterations feminism

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Stop Me Before I Vote Again in the Free alterations feminism category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Franklin, come back! is the previous category.

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