On Being Bad For Feminism’s Image

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In this essay, author Monica Dux writes:

While researching our book my co-author Zora Simic and I asked women what turned them off the feminist label. The most common answer was that it’s the man-hating, hairy-legged lesbian. In a way this wasn’t surprising. Since the 1980s most surveys of women on feminism have returned similar findings. What was surprising is that this hirsute cliche : now more than 30 years old : is still so prevalent in women’s minds.

We all know what she looks like. She’s unwaxed, unattractive and unfeminine (probably with saggy boobs, given her predilection for torching bras). But while most women can describe her characteristics, they can rarely name a woman who personifies the stereotype.

Blogger Lauredhel retorts:

Here’s the thing, Monica Dux. I, a person your co-author Zora interviewed at some length for the book, have hairy legs. I have hairy ampits. I’m fat, which is generally considered”unattractive”in Western patriarchal culture. My breasts sag. Apart from the lesbianism, I am your scary negative cliche. And some of my friends are 100% your scary negative cliche. This person is not a myth. We’re out here. And we’re feminists.

Read the whole blistering post here, and skim the comments as well. I liked this one (rendered here only in part)(NB: Monica Dux shows up to explain herself):

You’ve touched everything that bothers me about (some) third wave feminism, that being the idea that it’s a counter-movement to the second wave, destined to rid the world of bad feminist stereotypes and promote the idea that”you can be pretty and still be feminist”(which is, in effect, the same as saying that if you don’t fit certain standards of attractiveness or heteronormativity you shouldn’t advertise yourself as a feminist because you might give people the wrong idea).

–Ann Bartow

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0 Responses to On Being Bad For Feminism’s Image

  1. barbara burke says:

    I think it is important to state that Third-Wave feminists are committed to the same ideals of sexual equality as Second-Wavers. We may use different tools and have different ideas for achieving those goals. Yet, we too, are a political movement. Professor Bridget Crawford in her Michigan Law Review article on feminist legal theory tells how Third-Wave feminism actually began as a response to our witnessing the humiliation and outrageous sexism of the Anita Hill hearings. This impelled Rebecca Walker to encourage our demographic group to engage in political action and become the “Third-Wave.”
    Perhaps it is the perceived contradictions of Third-Wave feminists that cause others to dismiss us. But as Professor Deborah Waire Post has said, feminism is all about contradictions and deconstructing them and finally living with them. It is, as Professor Post writes, “the struggle to be liberated without being exploited, to feel pleasure without unwanted pain, to preserve economic self-sufficiency without surrendering to commodification.” I see that as a perfect definition of Third-Wave feminism and the goals of the movement.
    Finally, I just want to say that if Mary Jo Frug were alive today she would unquestioningly embrace Third-Wave feminism. For, one can argue, she was really Third-Wave during the Second-Wave.

  2. Ann Bartow says:

    Your comment isn’t responsive to the actual content of the post.

    Be that as it may, if you are going to talk about Mary Joe Frug at least give her the dignity of spelling her name correctly. She labeled herself a postmodernist. Feminist law profs Liz Schneider and Regina Austin published an essay about Frug’s feminism that is accessible here:

  3. barbara burke says:

    Oh, sorry. I though it was Jo. Her own authored articles spell her name “Jo”. And some legal scholar named Gerald Frug spells her name “Jo” too. But what does he know. Perhaps I should write and tell him to correct it.

  4. Ann Bartow says:

    Maybe you could try looking her up Lexis? And leaving Gerald Frug the fuck alone? It really disgusts me when people invoke Mary Joe Frug for their own purposes, when she cannot speak for herself.

    I remember this like it was yesterday:

  5. barbara burke says:

    Hi, Professor Bartow,

    My first post was in response to the comment you cross-posted from the Monica Dux article. It mentioned the negative views of Third-Wave feminism. In that sense, I thought my post was responsive.
    As far as Mary Jo Frug, I have checked the spelling of her name many times. This is because I have seen it spelled both ways. I, too, believe it is important to spell a person’s name correctly.
    Please know that I was not invoking Frug’s name for my own purposes. I have read everything she has written. Her work is instrumental in helping me to have an informed opinion and critical perspective in law school. Her life as I have read about it was truly amazing; and yes, I have often wondered what it must have been like for female legal scholars that April day when Mary Jo Frug was killed. One writer described it as her world being shattered.
    I have been working on a paper for the last eight months and much of it focuses on Mary Jo Frug’s postmodernism. I am trying to make the connection between that and a potential Third-Wave legal theory. That is my only reason I guess in the earlier post for bringing up her name. But from your reaction now I am thinking my theory might be tenuous at best.
    Anyway, no offense was intended on my part. If I did – mea culpa.

  6. Ann Bartow says:

    There is nothing wrong with drawing links between Frug’s writings and those of other feminist legal theorists who define themselves as Third Wave. Your theory that Frug’s postmodern legal feminism might have some things in common with third wave feminism is probably correct. But saying, as you did, “I just want to say that if Mary Jo Frug were alive today she would unquestioningly embrace Third-Wave feminism” in the context of your first comment was you claiming her for “your side,” using her, and that really bugged me.

    As for spelling, let me suggest doing some research before launching sarcastic attacks. Find a copy of her casebook, Women and the Law, and you will see her name: Mary Joe Frug. There is a picture of it here: http://www.amazon.com/Frugs-Women-Law-University-Casebook/dp/1566626080/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1223248667&sr=8-6

    Or get a copy of her book, Postmodern Legal Feminism, and you will see her name: Mary Joe Frug. There is a picture of it here: http://www.amazon.com/Postmodern-Legal-Feminism-Mary-Frug/dp/0415906202/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1223248830&sr=1-2

    In the links in my previous comment, note that both the NYT and the Harvard Crimson spelled her name Mary Joe Frug. Search “Mary Joe Frug” on Lexis and you will get almost 500 results. Search “Mary Jo Frug” and you will uncover only a dozen or so typos.