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Susan L.M. Goldberg


November 20, 2013 - 9:00 am
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This past week, Leslie Loftis provided a keenly written summation of the aftermath of Second Wave Feminism when she asked the question, “Can We Rebrand Feminism?” Her conclusion, that”…many women will continue to disavow ‘feminism’ as the label for a life of work.  As women plan for more in their lives, the term will diminish and fade, an ignominious end to a once-powerful historical label,” is far more nuanced and thought-provoking than most conservatives would permit in their black-and-white world of Left versus Right. Which is exactly why feminism must remain a part of the conversation.

Loftis is fully correct in her observation that feminism has become the property of “wealthy, elite-educated,white women, who are closest to perfect [boardroom] parity”. But, to turn our collective back on the real oppression of women that exists in this world because of the ideological failures of Barbie-esque dilettantes is as effective as throwing the baby out with the bathwater. In a post-denominational era where religion has been replaced by cause and community has gone from neighborhood to global, better to rally effectively than disperse into isolationism. What feminism needs isn’t dissolution, but evolution out of the boardroom and into the real world.

While American feminists engage in Dunham-esque debates over their penny-ante problems, over 500 girls in Britain are “estimated to have undergone the procedure of female genital cutting” common in African culture.  According to a recent BBC report, “It is estimated about 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM.”

In her book They Must Be Stopped, Brigitte Gabriel explains:

“One of the most devastating practices to young girls in the Islamic world is female genital mutilation. Young girls have their clitoris removed without anesthesia to eliminate their sexual drive and preserve them for a life of sinless purity. As so much rides on a woman’s honor, including the livelihood and community standing of every member of her extended family, the practice is a kind of insurance policy. Female genital mutilation ensures that honor will be preserved because the girl will not have any sexual attraction to boys. It will also ensure that the girl, who is considered a financial burden to the family, will be prime property on the marriage market as a virgin.”

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All Comments   (6)
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I suppose my question is, when you speak of femininism, are you talking about NGOs, or books published, or just the regular assumptions that help one navigate throughout one's day?

b/c I'm not sure "femininism" is necessarily going to help those young women in Britain. I mean, they can vote, right? That's the most defensible fort. The cultural stuff- I'm kind of " how can the family afford to ship off back to the third world for holidays?" And, "wait, aren't they all on the NHS?" Wouldn't this break the NHS- people shipping off to third world places- violent, unsanitary, not-hospitals- for specialty care? I mean, then they couldn't sue people for heading to Poland for dental care, or the former soviets for fertility work.

and, again, why is it important to flee these awful places, but so very important to go back for an elective surgery- no anesthesia? Why is it so important? And, would it continue for a second generation?

I'm not familiar with all this, so I'm starting with questions. Like, I get that NOW exists, it just never occurred to me to join up, show up and pay dues, for instance. So institutional stuff isn't my forte, at all.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You are getting into one of the practical problems of helping these women, in this case how the UK enforces its laws and remains culturally sensitive. For a primer, google Sharia law courts allowed in the UK. Here's a good start:
Their Western rights won't help if they are not enforced.

And what "feminism" means or should mean is what got SMLG and I on this subject. Susan, I was answering you below, but it turned itself into a blog post. Uploading after polish.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
does Britain have to be culturally sensitive? is that imperative? It's not like French people fleeing the Revolution spent the rest of their lives in Britain speaking French or eating Brie or anything like that. Did they even get citizenship? Germans, Swedes, Norwegians, Danish and Russians are expected to pull up their immigrant big-girl panties and become British. Why aren't third-worlders expected to chin up?

and, why not be sneery? Every other immigrant has survived being thoroughly despised for a generation or so. Am I missing something?

I mean, I thought that was a huge part of being British- effortless, supercilious superiority over one's supposed inferiors. It's why reading the Economist is so entertaining- even America is treated as a rowdy, louche colonial outpost.

And, goodness,I'm still piecing this together- but- Britain: Wales- their coalminers. They worked naked in the dark, kneeling- about as down and out as you can get. The neolithic salt-miners in what is now Germany carved mine-shafts tall enough to stand in. South African miners of all types- they work in standing room mine halls, right? Why is England very, very comfortable messing with its locals, but being so solicitous to outlying provinces? I mean, why aren' they making life difficult? These are the people who came up with Gin Lane and dobtor's prisons.

is this some elaborate put-down? The quiet confidence that the immigrants can't make it, and shouldn't even be allowed to try? One reason touted to respect the new princess is that her grandfather was a miner, and she's somehow got his grit and drive.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Welcome, my friend, to one of the most contentious topics in UK politics. You are still piecing it together but doing so rather quickly. This isn't a bad sum up of many dinner and cocktail party conversations in London.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
First, thank you for the compliments. Second, I agree. It is time for action, not marketing. Frankly, I wrote the article as a final plea for women disillusioned with Steinem et al. to join us, the women of the right who are ready and eager for the fray. If we could use the label, it would make the work easier as a common flag to rally under helps. But we shouldn't hold our breath. Even disillusioned feminists tend to prefer the easy and esoteric battles that make them feel good without actually risking anything, for example, maternity parking or lactation consultant credentialing for transgender males, each of which are unimportant compared to that still image of the girl above.

The revolution you seek, we will have to do it ourselves. I don't think that is a problem, just a fact.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I agree - it is a "do it yourself" type of revolution. My concern is in the pessimistic nature of your argument... the idea that women are going to "disavow" feminism because they don't like how it is marketed now is a fair assumption. But what is the plan to overcome that?

I'm all about pointing out problems as long as we can brainstorm solutions. For me, a feminism that focuses outward is a solution. Esoteric battles are a problem - so what is the solution?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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