Time To Fight The Backlash

I found this video yesterday, and once you see it, you will understand, I hope, why I was so angry that these misogynistic attitudes are not only still tolerated, but are now, it seems, considered perfectly acceptable in our society.  I am so pissed off and depressed to see all the years of hard work feminists have put in have somehow been negated and we are now more of a misogynistic nation (USA) than we were a decade or two ago, when we seemed to finally be making so much headway in gaining respect for women.  This is a backlash in full force, and IMO, brought on when women dared to run for president.  Obviously some folks thought it was time to put us in our place, show us that we were nothing but dirty jokes.  The real shock for me came when I ran this on the news stream on Facebook, and not one person responded to it.  Is this acceptable now?  Have we really slipped so far back in our quest to become recognized as full human beings?  Well, watch the video, and you tell me what you think about it. 

As an older feminist, I am really interested in what younger feminists think of this.  Thanks in advance for your input.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/tashabunny/ natasha

    I’m a younger feminist (nineteen) and all of the sexism during campaign ’08 is what got me into the modern feminist movement. I was always pro-feminist, but the kind of stuff in this video sparked my anger enough to start looking into a movement that I had thought no longer existed. With all of the sexism, I was surprised to find that we hadn’t come as far as I hoped. I’ve wondered if in recent history we have gone a bit backwards, but since I’m young, I haven’t really had anything to compare it to, so I’m glad to hear from an older feminist who has been thinking it too.

    • http://feministing.com/members/dreamspeaker/ dreamspeaker

      natsha, There is no doubt in my mind that we are in the midst of a backlash, and in some ways, things have gotten far worse for women lately. The one truly positive thing that came out of all the blatant sexism that began during the 2008 campaign was that it re-energized the feminist movement, and brought young women like you into the fold.
      They have unwittingly awakened a sleeping giant.

      I know that a lot of older women, including me, were absolutely amazed at the show of misogyny that came at us in the 2008 campaigns, when a woman came so close to becoming president. ( By the way, did you know Hillary was the first woman to win a single primary in a presidential race in US history? ) This scared some people, and they are out to put women back “in our place.”

      I had believed that we had come a whole lot further when it comes to just plain old respect for women than we have. It was a very sad thing to deal with, after decades of working to further women’s rights. Not that we didn’t know we still had a long way to go before then. Equal pay and the ERA, for example.

      Before seeing that video, I was furious enough at how women are now treated by the mainstream media. To have pundits on TV calling women candidates bitches, and just the whole demeaning nature of the campaign, would not have flown a couple of decades ago. Not without all hell breaking loose. The fact that so few people seemed to care, or seemed interested in fighting back, is still infuriating. What will it take?

      The “unstable women” stereotype has made a major comeback as well, something that really ticks me off. Along with how women’s hormones being treated as legitimate, science-backed reason to keep women out of high office. So you can only imagine my rage when I saw that video, then how accepted these terms and images of women seemed to be on mainstream sites.

      What shocked me to the core in the 2008 campaigns were the demeaning, crude and misogynistic remarks I heard from supposed “progressives.” The sad fact it, all too many self-proclaimed progressives are openly misogynistic.

      This is mind boggling, that those who claim to be for justice for all have see nothing whatsoever wrong with misogynistic attacks like the ones in that video, as long as those attacks are directed at women. A mere half of the human race. As a progressive, I had expected far better from fellow progressives. The fact that women’s history is not taught in any depth in our schools is a huge part of the problem, IMO.

      I also believe that the language used in regards to women has really set us back light years. I certainly don’t remember people putting up with the sort of words, like bitch and whore/ho, etc. being used in the late 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s.

      Still, even in the face of the ugliest anti-feminist backlashes I have seen in my life, we have made a lot of gains as well. And each of those gains came at a cost, and brought a backlash in it’s wake. Since I was young, women have won the right to hold jobs and professions they were discouraged from, or straight up banned from.

      Women fought for, and won the battles for Title Nine, Roe vs Wade, and so that women could become cops and firefighters and airline pilots, all very radical ideas back when. When people first talked about women going into space, some male scientists said that, yes, someday women might go into space, to service male astronauts sexually during long space voyages. Yep, this was the prevailing attitude toward women when I was growing up.

      So, believe me, those of us who fought those battles back then can take any damned backlash anyone wants to dish out, and win in the end. This is just another battle. I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am to see so many young women, and men, now reawakening to feminism, and ready to take up the mantle and keep right on fighting for women’s rights. It gives me hope in these very bleak times.

  • http://feministing.com/members/dreamspeaker/ dreamspeaker

    I apologize for any mistakes I made in writing this last post. It’s 4am, and I should know better than to try writing when I’m this tired. I think/hope my basic points were made clearly enough.

  • http://feministing.com/members/rhyth7/ Jamie

    This video made me really sad. Female politicians are criticized more on how they look or act rather than on their policies or actions. They definitely are not treated as thinkers by the media. Female politicians can never win either. Hilary has been described as frigid yet too emotional, her pantsuits are ugly and manly but when she wears a v-neck it’s too much. Sarah Palin only gets attention because she’s seen as attractive and ditsy. Michelle Obama is too muscular and manly but at least she dresses nice.

    It is also saddening that the media openly uses derogatory terms and obscenities towards these women but if they say anything back (even very civilly), they’re being overemotional and sensitive or that they can’t take criticism.

    I sometimes want to get into politics because I want to make a difference and change the US for the better, but because of the racism and sexism that has arisen out of the last election, I am now afraid.

    • http://feministing.com/members/rhyth7/ Jamie

      *I want to make the distinction that female politicians are judged more by their emotional and social behavior (their demeanor) rather than their concrete actions. I wanted to make my first sentence a little clearer.

  • http://feministing.com/members/dreamspeaker/ dreamspeaker

    Jamie, you are right on the mark. Women who enter politics are forced to walk a razor’s edge of conduct, with little chance of being seen as acting or reacting in the proper way, no matter what they do. The so-called emotional meltdown of Hillary Clinton just before the New Hampshire primary in 2008 is a good example.

    When I was younger, male’s running for office were never allowed to show any sign of “weakness,” especially not crying. By the time Bill Clinton was president, it was acceptable for a male president to cry rivers.

    I remember how Bill Clinton openly wept at the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. Imagine if a woman politician had wept like that over the same thing. What rankles most is that it was the feminist movement that allowed men to cry, show emotion, and not be thought of as weak. Yet women politicians can’t show these same emotions? How unfair is that?

    I have watched the video of Hillary Clinton “crying” during her so-called meltdown repeatedly. In fact, she did not cry at all. She got tears in her eyes, and her voice broke a little as she spoke, I believe, straight from the heart. One thing is certain, she called it right. She said she was afraid that, without strong leadership, things could spin out of control, which is certainly what is now happening. Our economy is in tatters, and our government at each other’s throats.

    She also talked about things going backward. I think Hillary, a life-long feminist, meant this especially in regards to the gains women have made over the past decades. This prediction also has turned out to be the case, mostly in regards to reproductive rights. While Roe vs Wade is still in place, anti-abortion forces have made it ever more difficult for women, especially poor women, to get abortions. At the same time, these same anti-abortion groups are working to limit access to contraception for women, and sex education.

    Obama did sign a bill that was supposed to assure women equal pay, but that hasn’t had much effect. In fact, the loss of the class action law suit against Walmart by female employees, which our nation’s Supreme Court dismissed as trivial, has undoubtedly opened the floodgates of discrimination toward women in the workplace. If Hillary were to run for president again, I would hope she would use this supposed “meltdown” as a campaign ad, she was so on the mark about what lay in store for this nation.

    Also, as you pointed out, she and other women politicians are damned if they do or don’t. If she showed emotion when campaigning, got tears in her eyes, she was weak. If she became angry, she was a bitch. If she fought back too hard during debates, she was hard and too butch. If she didn’t, she was too wimpy and not strong enough to be president. In showing this normal range of emotions, now acceptable for male politicians, she was “unstable.”

    The saddest part of all is that Hillary actually won that primary, despite the incredible obstacles she faced. She won the popular vote, but powerful Super Delegates in the Democratic party took this hard won victory from her, by disenfranchising the voters of two states.

    History will not look back on that primary, or the actions of the Democrats, kindly, and the GOP used it to manipulate her supporters to vote Republican. They will do that again in 2012. I truly fear a Republican sweep of political offices. Obama is already very low in the polls, and the political mud has not even begun to fly yet.

    I am truly afraid of what 4 to 8 years of Republican rule will do to an already faltering nation, and to the gains made by women. What even one more right winger on the Supreme Court could mean for women.

    I can understand your concerns about a political career, but I truly hope that you will not back down, despite the obstacles you will face if you run for office. A path has been cut, with the blood, sweat and tears of women politicians who went before you. Please don’t allow their efforts be lost. We have to keep moving forward, fighting harder, and never, ever backing down.

    Remember the words of Susan B. Anthony. “Failure is impossible.” But only if we refuse to quit fighting for full equality for women in every sphere. Women need strong female leaders, now more than ever before. Go for it.