Not every HBO woman is one of Lena Dunham’s girls. Seventeen-year-old Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams made a brilliant observation about contemporary feminism in a recent interview:
We talk about actor Emma Watson’s recent UN speech, in which she talked about her reasons for becoming a feminist, and the need for men to be onside; Williams says she is impatient with this kind of “first-world feminism”. “A lot of what Emma Watson spoke about, I just think, ‘that doesn’t bother me’. I know things aren’t perfect for women in the UK and in America, but there are women in the rest of the world who have it far worse.”
Self-identified feminist or not, Williams appears to have fallen into a trap of, well, totally taking for granted the gains western feminism has made. The assertion that the inequalities that persist in the UK and United States “don’t bother her” is a milder version of women against feminism rejecting the progress wrought by the women’s movement only as they bask in it.
Kutner then lists a series of first-world feminist issues that Williams and feminists everywhere are obviously required to care about: “pay inequality” (myth), “restricted reproductive healthcare access” (myth), “rape culture” (BIG myth, BIG – like Rolling Stone big) and “institutional sexism” (that creates a hostile environment for men as much, if not moreso, than women). She then uses her own big, white, first-world feminist journo privilege to paint Williams’s honest observation about the inequalities within the women’s movement as an example of that ugly buzzword “privilege”:
…it is also a form of privilege to create a hierarchy of problems that disregards some, when all of the problems need to be fixed.
You read right. She tells the women having acid thrown in their faces that they need to wait their turn while first-world feminism wallows in made-up campus rape stories and Lena Dunham’s twisted sex life. The women being sold as sex slaves in Syria’s Islamic State markets should call Rolling Stone for an interview. Little girls having their genitals forcibly cut off and sewn up by radical Muslims across the globe need to get in line behind college WASPs dying their armpit hair. And if those Yazidi women really wanted some attention, they would’ve turned their ISIS-forced marriages into premium cable fodder so they can “expose their shame” like real feminists.
Kutner does do a great job of illustrating exactly why contemporary feminism is under an onslaught of criticism. It has become a “brand,” a top-heavy social network that functions much like an episode of Oprah’s Favorite Things. Feminists at the top stand in front of armies of women, throwing out gift-wrapped causes while shouting, “You get to be a victim! And you get to be a victim! EVERYONE GETS TO BE A VICTIM!” And the white, upper-class, yuppie Western feminists, the daughters of Smith College grads who lusted after Betty Friedan and dressed up like Playboy sex toys in honor of Gloria Steinem, squeal with glee.
First-world feminists, get the memo: When your best response to a 17-year-old’s humility and intellect is a haughty, myth-propelled, buzz-word loaded value judgement, you do more to defend her observation than detract from it.