Kathleen Parker’s latest is all cultural, gender essentialism

Kathleen Parker, who called President Obama a woman because he wasn’t aggressive enough, blamed military women for their own rapes, and thinks Sarah Palin is a feminist, has a new piece of crap at The Daily Beast titled Why Women Make Lousy Men. You just know this is going to be special.

Parker’s latest argument is based in cultural essentialism that’s particularly indefensible in this current political moment — the idea that women in the “enlightened West” have lost our femininity in attempting to succeed in a man’s world. We have something to learn about how to stay women from our counterparts in the Middle East, presented as a monolith of backwards thinking. In the US, where Parker continues to argue women are outperforming men (despite seeming to not even buy her own argument any more), she claims women have lost their femininity by trying to succeed on men’s terms in a male dominated workplace. Apparently men are controlling and women considerate. There’s also something about neckties. Meanwhile, women in the Middle East are fighting legitimate sexism unlike their counterparts in the US, and they’ve managed to hold on to their femininity while doing it. It’s unclear, but I think this means they can’t get jobs.

As usual, she inserts grains of truth to attempt to legitimize her racist, sexist ramblings. She mentions that working women are also responsible for raising children, but she also doesn’t want men to take on that responsibility. But her argument is still based on the notion that traits associated with masculinity and femininity are actually essential difference between men and women, except this time she’s using the equally disturbing notion of essential differences between “the West” and “the Middle East” to somehow support her argument, saying we’ve lost the essential womanhood our backwards sisters still have. In the end Parker’s article is an offensive, illogical, jumbled mess. Just like always.

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/samll/ Sam Lindsay-Levine

    “Why One Socially Constructed Gender Role Makes Lousy Version Of Other, Oppositionally Constructed Gender Role”

    It could be an Onion article!

  • http://feministing.com/members/secondbeach/ SecondBeach

    Yeah, love her invocation of the abaya as the extreme of anti-feminism. So culturally deaf.

    I agree that women actively trying to grab at all the negative masculine in the name of equality and to even the playing field is ill-advised, but this article is the wrong way to do it.

    Also, finally, many parliaments with large numbers of women have REQUIREMENTS for a minimum representation of women.

  • http://feministing.com/members/radicalhw/ Shannon Drury

    And someone gave her a book contract with a title like “Save the Males”? Is there really panic over the fact that the U.S. Senate is 83% male? I must be forgetting that book publishing is something like 99% male….

  • http://feministing.com/members/nerdette/ Rea M.