Dear Naomi Wolf

I hope you don't mind an open letter. Not many people read my blog anyway, so it's almost like we're in private. But not quite. I think it's a good idea to do this in the open.

Recently, you wrote an opinion piece called "Reactionaries are feminists, too." It was published widely, including in the Globe and Mail, which is where I read it. I had hoped the title was ironic, but apparently it is not.

This is the crux of your piece: "The core of feminism is individual choice and freedom, and it’s these strains that are being sounded now more by the Tea Party movement than by the left." Really? I must have missed the announcement that the Tea Party has decided to support a woman's right to choose. Individual choice and freedom, right? With regard to her own body and her reproductive rights? What about the right to choose to marry the person someone loves, regardless of what sex they are? Has the Tea Party started to support equal marriage? Curiously, you didn't touch on either subject, perhaps because if you had your premise would have collapsed like a pricked balloon.

And since when are individual choice and freedom the core of feminism? What about equality of opportunity? What about a truly level playing field, not some fictitious one generated by free-market forces? If a weak state does not impinge on personal choice, neither does it prevent someone's personal choice to discriminate against us because of our sex. Right now, at least we have some legal recourse after the fact. In the Tea Party libertarian wonderland, we would be on our own in a hostile world.

Your prime examples of "reactionary feminism" were Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann. Just before you wrote that it would be a mistake to dismiss their appeal, you related your "personal experience that to debate her [Bachmann] is to encounter someone who’s absolutely certain of facts that must exist somewhere in a parallel universe." That must be the universe in which Palin and Bachmann are feminists. You surmised that they would reject the label "feminist." I think you're right, and you know why? Because they're not!

By the way, what's with referring to them as "tigresses"—twice? I might be wrong on this, but I'm pretty sure a male journalist would have been pilloried, and rightly so, for using such a term.

Please do let us know if Palin, Bachmann, or any other "reactionary feminists" actually start working for the rights of all women, not just the rights of individual women to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. In the meantime, you might want to stick to writing about things in the actual universe.

Years ago, you wrote The Beauty Myth. You're a feminist icon. So who I am to say you're talking shite? The thing is, it doesn't matter who I am. When you talk shite, anyone gets to call you on it.

Just so you know, I'm a centrist, I eat meat, and I have never owned a pair of Birkenstocks.


Unknown said...

I have to admit that the phrase "right-wing feminism" has me shaking my head. I tend to think of myself as an advocate for the living, so I haven't made a particular study of feminism - but still that whole article had me going "huh?"

Anonymous said...

I heart you soo sooooo much.

Kaitlin Burnett said...

You cannot be a feminist if you oppose abortion. Denying a woman's right to choose denies her dominion over her own body, which is the right we need most. You said it perfectly.

Véro B said...

I can never figure out how that messy coalition on the right survives. Any good libertarian would support a woman's right to choose. But the libertarians, if that's what they really are, are in bed with the religious folks, who don't want anyone to have any kind of free choice. And somehow big business, which is pretty much amoral, is crowded into the bed too.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Naomi Wolf pretty much sucks.

KJ said...

What I find sad is that I really admired Wolf when I was younger. The Beauty Myth helped me tremendously to get over an eating disorder. It is sad to see someone you once admired become so, well, unfeminist.

DramaMan said...

You go, girl!