Face it ladies: Feminism is dead.
Just the other day, my Facebook dashboard was lit up with protests over Chick-fil-A’s assholery regarding gay people. Gay people were irate about this excerpt from an interview with the CFA head honcho:
Some have opposed the company’s support of the traditional family. “Well, guilty as charged,” said Cathy when asked about the company’s position. “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.
The statement is actually more offensive to women than to gay people. At least with the gays, Cathy doesn’t take it for granted that gay people are subservient. That’s why he has to throw money at keeping us down!
Let’s go through that second line, slow like…
We are a family-owned business, a family-led business…
Sounds ok so far! The whole family helps run the family business! How wholesome!
…and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that. [Emphasis mine.]
…and then everything goes to shit. “We” wasn’t referring to the family–it was referring to the men who run Chick-fil-A! Where have you been? And none of them has moved on to their second-or-more wife yet! Someone bring this man a cookie. In this sanctimonious parable of biblical business success, it’s just understood that A) women don’t run shit and B) as first wife, your status is “first wife.” Congratulations, you stove-tending baby-monitor–your husband is giving God thanks that you haven’t turned into an alimony vacuum! (Find a pool boy. Immediately.)
No one else seemed troubled by this amid the storm of gay protest. I’m the guy who, just the other day, told Jonathan, “I’m really driving terrible today. Still better than any woman.” And even by my standards, this statement from Cathy was low!
I asked Susan, while we were eating at O’Charley’s on the way back from climbing at Fosters, why women had so disastrously failed us all.
“It’s because if you complain about it, you’ll be written off as some screeching, whiny harpy, and nobody will want to hang out with you. If you try to stake a feminist claim, people will just say you hate men, end of story. And if you try to do anything serious about it, like sue, you won’t win, so the most you can do is just ignore it, otherwise you’ll go crazy, because you would constantly be angry.”
Was it possible maybe women just didn’t notice the anti-feminist statement from Cathy?
“No, we see that stuff everywhere, all the time.”
And on other climbing trips I’ve taken with women during which I asked about this whole war on women thing, the general feeling seems to be, “I am angry but I’m just not talking about it unless someone specifically asks.” So, you’re not actually ignoring it, you’re noticing it, you’re just not responding to it, on the basis that if a response isn’t likely to generate change on the part of the attacker, it’s pointless.
It’s not that you, as women, are afraid to stand up and fight for your rights or someone else’s–the Facebook commenters proved that straight women are plenty willing to boycott (and publicly lambast) Chick-fil-A on behalf of gay people, and gay women are plenty willing to boycott Chick-fil-A on behalf of themselves as gay people, but both groups, bizarrely, see doing it on behalf of women as fruitless.
If there’s one thing the gay rights movement proved over the last thirty years, it’s that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and that unending pressure despite overwhelming individual losses (eg. the vast majority of marriage ballot initiatives that failed, the losing BSA lawsuit, the first sodomy SCOTUS case) still generated huge success over the long run. The dark empire might win at court, and at the ballot box, and those Boy Scouts with their faggy uniforms are still banning us, but in the meantime, all your kids are gay, and so is your boyfriend, and your news anchor. Surprise! The victory for the patriarchy for the last 99 years has been to convince women that they can fight valiantly for any cause, except their own. There are campaigns for things like breast cancer and domestic violence, which almost serve as surrogates to the cause, but nobody seems to spend their time fighting for feminism the way people fight for everything else. Women will walk 800 5ks for breast cancer before leaning over to protect their vagina. And rights related to possessing one.
You’re probably wondering by this point, why do YOU (as in me, as in Alex) care? Man? Do you just want to be that guy who’s cool because he’s a guy but he’s still about feminism and therefore deserves a cookie?
No. For one, I don’t even like cookies. Two, the reason I don’t like the whole patriarchy thing is just because it is seriously not working out for me at all. No one has yet brought me a cute young secretary with cleavage who brings me coffee. When I was educated in school about women’s suffrage in the 1910’s, and how that was basically the conclusion of American feminism, I was like, clearly, I’m supposed to make $100,000 a year upon turning 22 and from then on I’m supposed to never make my own coffee again. Instead, half of my bosses and professors were women, who could be mean to me. And because they made significantly less money than their male counterparts, my bosses and professors were unresponsive to my demands that they bring me coffee. Or at least, I imagine that’s the reason, or they just didn’t know how to get to Starbucks, or maybe they stopped teaching that in woman school.
Perhaps we can reinvent feminism to be about selfishness for everyone, men included. If I’m not getting anything out of this system, other than making 30% more in the event I become a tenured history professor, I would rather just be able to wear eyeliner, because I have no intention of becoming a tenured history professor, and I make a really good Dracula at Halloween. It’s just like heterosexism and straight men. Are you aware of how many straight men feign an interest in televised sports because that’s what they’re supposed to do as straight men? Most of them do not care. When I am with straight men, they breathe a sigh of relief. “You know what I don’t care about?” they tell me. “Sports. I don’t know how many conversations I get into where this string of gibberish I don’t understand is coming out of everyone’s mouth about teams I’ve never heard of and I have to nod my head the whole time.” Bob Costas? He would rather be making biscuits. Straight men are abandoning the heterosexist normative paradigm not because of a sense of social justice, but because finally, finally we’ve presented them an alternative to memorizing batting averages, and it includes the ability to not feel guilty about jerking off their friend while they were drunk in college.
Now, I can’t expect to have any effect on the feminist movement whatsoever, because if lesson #1 in woman school is to not fight in the battle for feminism, lesson #2 is to not let a man tell you to do anything. Y’all will just have to figure that out on your own.
But I can exert some influence over the queer rights movement, being eleven years into it. Thus, I can make sure we recognize and use again the strategies that have worked, and in particular, kibosh this ridiculous notion that we in any way mishandled the Chick-Fil-A brouhaha. Chick-Fil-A probably won’t go out of business, isn’t likely to reverse course, and the haters had some success in reframing the debate as one about freedom of speech. But we proved that within hours of demonstrated asshattery we can provide a punishing economic disincentive to any major company, and not only flame the hell out of people who are Chick-Fil-A appreciators, even more importantly, we’ll shun the Chick-Fil-A apologists. Even the homos who got all whiney-faced about gay people not acting like genteel southern ladies, and who argued that we should accept the views of The Oppressors, were ripped a new a-hole and, at least on my Facebook, defriended. Some asked, “aren’t there companies and organizations worse than Chick-Fil-A? Like the organizations they were donating to?” And I say, exactly. We didn’t find the most morally reprehensible target–we found the weakest. We didn’t go after the company that was smart about hiding their anti-gay prejudices–we chose the one with the hapless spokesman. And in the food industry, where a minor shift in customer base can wreak havoc. The Boy Scouts came out with their bullshit proclamation within hours of Chick-Fil-A’s hapless interview, but the Boy Scouts own property in perpetuity and are funded by organizations with stronger barriers to economic harm from boycotts or cancelled contracts. We chose our target accordingly. That we have enough people with enough training to steer the movement in such a masterful way during their coffee break, such that our biggest mistake after engineering a massive, well publicized, still ongoing boycott is that the kiss-in didn’t go well enough (for shame!), is pretty good evidence that we have our collective shit together. We even let them believe that they had “reframed” the debate to be one about free speech. The assumption of a free speech argument is that you should be free to say things that are utterly reprehensible, and thus, the talking heads representing both sides were forced to begin with the supposition that Chick-Fil-A’s position was reprehensible. How is THAT for framing, motherfuckers? You just got so reframed you don’t even know how fuckin reframed you got. I would almost go so far as to say that Michelangelo Signorile’s “port mortem on the Chick-Fil-A battle” was a feigned, european soccer player case of crocodile tears just to keep the wool pulled over the eyes of the oppressors so they wouldn’t know how hard we just finished fucking them, but if so, Signorile has been the most dedicated con artist ever. It would explain why he’s been pretending to be a horrible writer for so many years. (Editor: He’ll be crying real tears if he reads this. Me: He’ll never read this. Editor: I’m guessing he Googles himself frequently. Me: So do I! Editor: Yes, I can see the search reports. Me: You can see those?)
So, ladies–break out the lawsuits and the meme generators. Sure, your lawsuit will probably lose, and the company probably won’t change policy. Your advantage, should you choose to seize it, is that you can count on the oppressors being too clueless to realize that while you were losing the battle, they were losing the war.