Uber-Privileged Feminists Say “F*ck You!” to Low Income Women   4 comments

And to lesbians and to immigrant women and really to anyone who isn’t wealthy, straight, white, and preferably male and Christian. Because that’s what you’re doing when you’re supporting the presidential aspirations of anti-feminist wingnut Michele “Kill the Poor” Bachmann. And yes, The New Agenda, a nonpartisan women’s activist group, is actually urging women to vote for Bachmann, or Palin, should she throw her hat in the ring.

For those not familiar with this organization’s history, The New Agenda was founded by former Wall Street executive Amy Siskind in the aftermath of the 2008 election. Siskind, a longtime Democrat, supported Hillary Clinton during the Democratic Primary and, like many of us, was appalled by the sexist treatment of first Clinton, then Palin. And so The New Agenda was created to combat sexism and elect more women to political office. Laudable objectives to be sure, except for one thing: The politics of the women they champion appear to be irrelevant; simply being equipped with a vagina is all it takes to win the support of The New Agenda.

As a result, Siskind’s organization routinely supports conservative candidates whose policies do enormous harm to huge segments of the female population. Such as South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley who championed the nation’s toughest photo ID law in an effort to disenfranchise low income voters (who tend to vote Democratic). Cheering on Bachmann, however, is a little surprising, even for The New Agenda.

For one, Bachmann is an outspoken anti-feminist who believes wives must obey their husbands. But no worries! Siskind explains that while Bachmann may not be a feminist, she’s definitely “pro-woman”! In fact, feminism is kinda passé; the new “pro-woman” movement is where it’s at!

With Bachmann at the helm of this new movement, one can only assume that the top priorities of “pro-woman” activists must be as follows:

  1. Increase low income women’s vulnerability to rape, domestic violence, homelessness, sexual harassment and exploitation by increasing their poverty.
  2. Defund the limited health care options of low income women so they will die sooner and save wealthy taxpayers some dough.
  3. Prevent low income women from accessing affordable birth control and force them into the hands of back-alley butchers when they must abort a pregnancy they didn’t want or can’t afford.
  4. Ensure that undocumented immigrant women have no recourse against violence and exploitation by making law enforcement check the immigration status of suspected “illegals.”
  5. Repeal hate crime statutes and promote violence and discrimination against lesbian and bisexual women by calling them satanic and claiming they prey on children.
  6. Strengthen patriarchy by encouraging men to take charge and wives to submit to their husbands.

If those are pro-woman policies, I wonder what anti-woman policies would look like.

Of course Siskind and her well-off friends won’t be the targets of these policies; they may even benefit financially from Bachmann’s efforts to increase income inequality. Could they really be so ignorant as to believe that what’s good for them is good for all women? Or do they just not care?

Income inequality and wealth disparities in the United States are comparable to Third World countries, and our economy is in shambles as a result. But as far as Bachmann is concerned, the working poor still make too much money. The top 25% own 90% of the nation’s wealth and the bottom 25% own nothing at all? Not good enough for Bachmann. She won’t rest until ALL the wealth is in the hands of the top 25%. Or better yet, the top 10%!

Sadly, I’m not kidding. Although the current minimum wage isn’t nearly enough for a full-time worker to live on, Bachmann thinks it’s too high! She is considering eliminating that pesky minimum wage altogether. And since the rich in this country just aren’t rich enough, she would also cut taxes on corporate income and capital gains (via Echidne). Uneffingbelievable!

Neither Bachmann nor Palin has much of a chance being elected President. And yet it bothers me that there are feminists who are so caught up in their desire for increased female representation that they don’t care how much their preferred candidate’s policies hurt less privileged women. I don’t deny that there would be some value simply in having a female President, if only so little girls (and boys) would no longer react with skepticism or disbelief when told that women can become President. But, frankly, if you think that’s more important than the lives of low income women, undocumented immigrants, lesbians, and others targeted by Bachmann’s policies, you may want to reevaluate your priorities.

Unfortunately there will be Bachmann opponents who’ll ignore her loathsome policy positions and use sexism to attack her instead. And then it will be up to feminists like me to come to her defense. To be honest, it won’t be easy to defend a woman whose policies are designed to inflict enormous suffering on women like me. But I’ll do it. Not because I give a damn about Michele Bachmann, but because using sexism against any woman hurts all women.


4 responses to “Uber-Privileged Feminists Say “F*ck You!” to Low Income Women

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  1. This is a very enlightening and important post. I don’t understand, however, why you call these New Agenda people “feminists.” Your own post demonstrates that these are fundamentalists that are trying to appropriate the word “feminism” to hide their true not-so-new agenda.

  2. I know it’s hard to believe, but most of these women actually aren’t fundies. Most of them aren’t even Republicans. They’re just enormously privileged and very far removed from the reality of low income women and other disadvantaged groups. Theirs is a feminism that cares greatly about highly paid female executives bumping up against the glass ceiling, while not giving a second thought to the millions of female wage slaves barely making ends meet. And they have convinced themselves that increased female representation, whether in government or corporate America, will benefit women, regardless of the politics and allegiances of said female representatives. They believe that, given the choice between a progressive male candidate who is pro-choice, pro-labor, and pro-gay rights and a conservative female candidate who is vehemently opposed to all of that, feminists should vote for the woman. Because: Woman!

    Obviously I don’t blame them for being mega privileged; I do blame them for not listening to–or caring about–women who will suffer greatly as a result of the policies some of their favored candidates are advocating. The fact that the women hurt most by these policies are some of the poorest, most oppressed and exploited people in the country makes this a brand of feminism I want absolutely nothing to do with.

  3. I totally support the 30% Solution, but…..

    You have to be sure there will still be a country for women to represent.

    During more secure times, it might be worth it to roll the dice on a woman retrofuck to get to that threshold, but now is not the time.

    There was a discussion the other day, about Clinton being president now instead, and how little change there would be.

    Sure, no war on women, at least it wouldn’t have gone unremarked, and there probably would have been a better stimulus and jobs bill.

    But there still would be little to no regulation on the banksters, more wars. So really what would have been the point? Putting in a woman as figurehead doesn’t really mean a change for women on the ground. Look at Germany, Echidne is did a post on motherhood. It’s still viewed as a woman’s responsibility to raise children, they are the ones given derogatory names for not following cultural narratives.

    Having a woman in charge doesn’t mean squat if there isn’t an acknowledged base of feminist support, IMO, like a feminist voting bloc in the legislature. Clinton wouldn’t have had it, Palin or Bachmann won’t have it, Merkel apparently doesn’t have it.

    I’m done with symbolic victories, especially after the reality that is Obama.

  4. I don’t think we’ll ever benefit from electing women who are demonstrably hostile to a huge percentage of the female population, but in more secure times I probably wouldn’t be as pissed off at the female-candidates-no-matter-what crowd. Right now, though, cheering for someone like Palin or Bachmann feels like a giant “fuck you!” to those of us at the bottom of the income pyramid. I mean, the middle class is getting eviscerated and poor and working class folks are barely holding on, and these women are seriously going to support a candidate who wants to increase income inequality?!?

    Not to mention the abortion thing. I realize reproductive choice is a non-issue for wealthy women because they can just travel to another state or another country in the event that they need to terminate a pregnancy and abortion is no longer available where they live, but many of us can’t afford to do that. A little solidarity would be nice here.

    As for the 30% solution, I’ve seen nothing that would lead me to believe that electing women hostile to women’s rights would benefit women. The study I saw showed that women in parliamentary systems are 3-4 times more likely than men to consider themselves “very active” in the area of women’s issues (almost two-thirds of elected women but only 18% of elected men put themselves in that category). It’s not surprising that a high percentage of female legislators who ran for office specifically to advance women’s rights would benefit the female population. Doesn’t mean that women not interested in women’s issues (according to the study I saw, only 3% of female reps in parliamentary systems fall into this category) would be helpful though. In fact, the research I looked at suggested that one of the reasons to aim for at least 30% female representation is to compensate for female legislators who do not care about or may even be hostile to women’s rights.

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