drunkblogging: fudge off, Jessica Valenti
Oh look, someone called out Jessica Valenti for being a shitty writer and behold! An epic blog post whining about it! Huzzah! I’ve got a beer and a shot of whiskey, and I’m going to see if I can critique this shit with the delightful kiss of alcohol and maybe an awesome record. Hang on, I’m-a get the booze in place and put on Master Of Puppets.
…that’s better. Awww yeah! Cannot kill the family, battery is found in ME! BATTERY! BATT-ER-Y! Anyway.
So Valenti’s pissed because Nina Power wrote a book called The One-Dimensional Women, which, as part of a more general critique of modern feminism, characterizes Valenti’s personal brand of feminism as facile and self-serving. I should note that have not read Power’s book, though it does look mighty interesting from the bits available on Google Books. Anyway, the quote that’s gotten Valenti pants-shittingly furious is:
Stripped of any internationalist and political quality, feminism becomes about as radical as a diamanté phone cover. Valenti ‘truly believes’ that feminism is necessary for women ‘to live happy fulfilled lives’. Slipping down as easily as a friendly-bacteria yoghurt drink, Valenti’s version of feminism, with its total lack of structural analysis, genuine outrage, or collective demand, believes it has to compliment capitalism in order to effectively sell its product. When she claims that ‘ladies, we have to take individual action’, what she really means is that it’s every woman for herself and if it is the Feminist™ woman who gets the nicest shoes and the chocolatiest sex, then that’s just too bad for you, sister.
OH SHIT, VALENTI! FUCK! Someone pointed out that your relentless emphasis on individual actions may be a little navel-gazey, and while the personal is indeed political, focusing your politics exclusively on your personal deeds and feelings is hardly constructive. I would like to pop in a quote here from the wonderful Chandra Mohanty, which I feel describes the writing of Valenti and her ilk very well: “The 1960s and 1970s slogan ‘The personal is political’ has been recrafted as ‘The political is personal.’ In other words, all politics is collapsed into the personal and questions of individual behaviors, attitudes, and life-style stand in for political analysis of the social. Individual political struggles are seen as the only relevant and legitimate form of political struggle.” I felt particularly jocular when I read Valenti’s rebuttal and got to the part where she’s like “I know about collective action because I WRITE A BLOG WITH UMPTY MILLION VIEWERS AND WE WRITE LETTERS AND DO GOOGLE BOMBS AND SHIT.” Yeah, you write a fucking blog. It’s not a “community.” Can anything be a “community” now? Me and the fucking cats and this glass of Evan Williams are a community! We’ve got a ponY!
Oh, and as for your insistence that you wrote a book and it was stuffed with structural analysis the way a turducken is stuffed with various bird meats: yes, I have seen you do structural analysis. That doesn’t mean it’s not superficial and derivative and resembles a horrible first draft shat out by someone in my Women’s Studies 101 class.
Something I was not aware of was that critiquing terrible writing means you’re an elitist. But apparently, OH YEZZZ:
A common critique of [Full Frontal Feminism], and of Feministing when it first started, was that they weren’t “serious” enough. For some reason, some people think that if you’re making feminism palatable or giving it mass appeal, you must be doing something wrong. Better that feminism is limited to an elite few, and that anything written about gender justice is reserved for those lucky enough to go to grad school or who live in a world where feminism is readily available and discussed often.
No, dumbshit, that’s not my fucking critique. I am not scared of the unwashed masses gaining access to writing about gender equity. My concern is that you seem to think the way to get people to read feminist thought is to dumb it down a whole lot, and say things like “feminists have better sex because we’re self-actualized,” (in the interest of fairness I should note that it’s not q direct quote, but I think it’s a fair summation), and drag out that tired old line about “i used to think feminists were hairy and hideous and dour but now I know better.” Guess what? I, too, maintain a femme-y appearance (in a slobby Road Warrior extra kind of way, but nonetheless) and am a feminist. Lots of women do this. it’s not a huge fucking deal, really. And by attempting to distance yourself from THOSE FEMINISTS you are propping up some fucking offensive myths about feminism in the name of supposedly dismantling them.
Valenti accuses Power of “ignoring the reality of women’s lives.” You wanna talk about “ignoring the reality of women’s lives”? How about how your entire fucking assumed audience is young white hetero American ladies, at least for Full Frontal Feminism? Which is something that you have been called out on REPEATEDLY (look here for more) I am seriously pissing myself over the dazzling level of myopia on display here. Also, I switched the recrod to Dio! Fucking yes! RAINBOW IN THE DAAAAAARK
If you can’t tell from this post I am so over the imperative to be nice in feminist circles. I mean, I don’t think Jessica Valenti is a horrible person or anything. I just get real frustrated with this kind of garbage. I HATE calls of “OMG elitist,” when it comes to books on theory, it’s personal for me. I grew up in a family that was poor but bookish. We may have had a trailer with mice infestations and kitchen tile that was peeling up, but my mom always made sure I had books to read and wanted me to do well in school. You people who insist that The Poors can’t understand intellectual shit, you are erasing my personal history and being fucking insulting and kind of secret classist to boot (oh, they can’t understand what we’re saying, the poor dears, let’s dumb it down for them).
Anyway, yeah, being nice? overrated. Critique (of hideous enforced gender norms) is what feminism was founded on, for fuck’s sake. I am a hater and I’m fine with it.
And I’m now officially drunk. Threee sheets to the wind. Thanks, Jessica, you whiny fuck.
I would like to offer a bonus angry Hulk punch to Sady Doyle and Tiger Beatdown. SADY?! WHY?! I like your writing a lot of the time. You bring the funny. Why must you defensd such a miserably incompetent writer just because she is one of your feminist blog cohorts?! Are we the Mafia now? Should I start leaving horse parts on the furniture? I don’t wanna.
(Sober-er ETA: Just to be clear, any advocacy of violence is not at all serious. And I do not mean “waaah, I am disagreed with,” here, I mean “this is not, in my view, up to the standards of critical thinking I usually see on this here blog.”)
Time to stumble to the health food store for a snack. Who wants yogurt? I think I do! My gut will love this!, though my liver and I are stilll not on speaking terms.