Caitlin Flanagan’s PR Juggernaut Continues

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If you want to read another defense of Caitlin Flanagan and her dumbass book, at a website Peggy Noonan apparently calls “the best magazine in America” no less, click here. The essay is called “The Mommy-Wars Insurgency” and in it author Kay S. Hymowitz uses language like “insurgency” and “quagmire” and “feminist warrriors” to make it sound like Flanagan’s writings are some kind of important battleground in the purported “mommy wars.” Hymowitz says feminists are too humorless to understand that the mean parts of the book are actually comedy, and Flanagan is only joking! Oh and also the book’s true subject is love! Unlike feminists, Flanagan actually loves her spouse and children! Oh lighten up, she’s just kidding! Or something. The essay is ramblingly inconsistent and makes a lot of unsupported generalizations about how “women are” just as Flanagan does. It ends with these sentences:

What this talented writer reminds us of are two simple truths that are apostasy to the fundamentalists and, sadly, lost to many young women who never saw them in action: that when working properly, satisfying domestic life can embody a mother’s love for her children, the most powerful love there is; and that no matter how women choose to live, this love will forever be entangled with self-sacrifice.

Should this really be the stuff of war without end?

I think Flanagan is a dishonest writer who makes the lives of all women more difficult, but to call negative reactions to a fairly stupid book “war without end” seems a little exagerated, not unlike Flanagan’s ridiculous claims that the Democratic Party is victimizing her. Flanagan garners great visibility by telling certain powerful men stories about women that they want to hear. All most feminists can do in reaction is try to get our competing narratives out. Many have been quite successful at doing this, in part by using blogs (note the essay’s mention of Pandagon!) which is no doubt threatening to Flanagan, who seems to think that being a tool of the patriarchy entitles her to special monopolistic rights to the cultural microphone. But disagreement is not “war” and a truly thoughtful essayist and observer would recognize this, unless of course she was cynically trying to sell as many books as possible, or to push a social agenda, or both.

Link via Feministing.

–Ann Bartow

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