Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Feminine Chauvinist Mistake Part One: Leslie Bennetts



I've always felt that all women were simply feminist be definition, no matter where you fall politically, reproductive rights, wages, etc will effect you as a woman at some point in your life and you usually can't opt out. The majority of "politically active" feminists turned me off early on in college because they seemed to care more about pop culture critiques and materialism than the aforementioned basics. I was not that surprised when Naomi Wolf wrote an interesting book about beauty with glaring inaccuracies and then became a conservative mom flip flopping on abortion rights and opening an expensive charmschool for wealthy post grads...zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Glaring examples of what I loathe (and what we should all be aware of) can be summed up clearly by looking at two recent books causing the obligatory post-modern brouhaha in the media; Ariel Levy's "Feminist Chauvinist Pigs and Leslie Bennett's "The Feminine Mistake." Levy's book explores "The Girls Gone Wild epidemic" of women acting trashy and slutty while Bennett's implores stay at home moms to get out the house, get their kids into day care and garner career skills lest the bread winning hubby suddenly depart.


First things first, any woman (or man) employing a full-time childcare provider or domestic worker of any age, race or background to whom she is not paying a living wage, medical and dental benefits and sick days/paid vacation to has absolutely no right to call themselves a feminist-EVER. They should also reconsider calling themselves a Christian or a Buddhist etc either as religions teach us not to exploit others.
The career oriented lifestyle that Bennetts advocates for most women conveniently leaves out the other sector of millions of women (many of color) that will get screwed over in the process as women leave their children and go back into the work force and that's why her book is a horrendously awful read. She indirectly advocates that women step on other women-not a very ethical example to set for our children.

The upper middle class feminist elite realized early that like workers in sweatshops, the childcare provider is invisible and when they could no longer be aloof such as failed Clinton Attorney General nominee Zoe Baird's "nannygate" the elite fems still never spoke out and waited for it die down. These same women, who would scoff at the notion of a childcare provider getting healthcare or god forbid a 401K, think nothing of spending thousands of dollars a month on fresh flowers and cosmetics, they along with their husbands, rationalize being exploitive everday.

"OUR GAL FROM MEXICO GET'S 1.60 AN HOUR..."

It's actually the parents with less money who have not only tried to pay better wages but co-parent with their caregivers instead of viewing them as cogs in a machine to amass more money and security. Many single or working mom's have even started to hire only part-time childcare as a way to make it easier on everyone, agumenting caregivers with family members and starting babysitting COOPs with other parents but once again these are usually middle to lower class women willing to scarifice money for more time with their children and their own sense of decency towards others.
For various, historically entrenched reasons rich women depend on the class system and many of these women participate in female rights groups, new age religions and even charities! If you want proof just go to a wealthy part of town and you'll see the full-time nannies, usually non-English speaking immigrant women of color or a college student of any race raising, the children of the wealthy.

Leslie Bennetts claims she's simply posing a list of important data and not being judgemental as she issues a warning for stay home moms. She just wants them to know the potential pitfalls that can befall the unskilled (as if this was news to ANYONE) but she does not include any statistics on the growing epidemic of Autism and childhood violence all potentially connected to the reaction that children have when they are marginalized from birth into the realm of "quality time."
Nor does she recognize a very vocal and angry group of young men and boys who've come up in childcare and have propably spent more time downloading hardcore porn and playing multi-user internet games than getting to know themselves or their parents.

Bennetts is a People magazine/Vanity Fair writer who obviously wants a piece of the media action (like many of us do) in a debate that is so much more important than gaining your own blog on Huffington's site--a blog on which she refused to publish my feedback comments.
Like a kid waiting for a ride home from school it should have showed up by now.

COMING SOON! Part Two: The Real Raunch Culture Queen (Sorry Ariel but it isn't Paris Hilton...)

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7 Comments:

Blogger Bex said...

Hi Amanda
Nice to "find you" again in blog world! Thanks for popping by my blog x
Crikey that is one epic read - and raises lots of discussion no doubt.
I'm not sure I am intellectual enough to comment though!!!

Love n Hugs and will bookmark you and pop back soon
Bex xx

10:20 PM  
Blogger Amanda and SuperAmanda said...

Thanks Bex! You know I'm only rarely this BORING!!!!

11:01 PM  
Blogger Housewife said...

"any woman (or man) employing a full-time childcare provider or domestic worker of any age, race or background to whom she is not paying a living wage, medical and dental benefits and sick days/paid vacation to has absolutely no right to call themselves a feminist-EVER."

I like it when those "mothers" complain about how stupid the worker is who is raising their child...

Um... okay, so you want a moron for a kid?

You can't even be nice to the woman who snuggles your children?

I find the whole argument terribly unimpressive.

I'm judgmental all the time, it's my best asset. Both authors are manipulative, deceptive and not nearly as articulate as you've been in your post.

Feminism includes liking women.

I don't think they do.

12:54 AM  
Blogger E.L. Wisty said...

Hi Amanda!


First things first, any woman (or man) employing a full-time childcare provider or domestic worker of any age, race or background to whom she is not paying a living wage, medical and dental benefits and sick days/paid vacation to has absolutely no right to call themselves a feminist-EVER. They should also reconsider calling themselves a Christian or a Buddhist etc either as religions teach us not to exploit others.


I haven't read any of the books you mention so I can't comment on them, but I powerfully agree with this. It appears that their brand of feminism means that issues of equality are the right of only those who are in the same class as they - who never need, due to their money, to face the very basic problem of how to actually survive in this life. The poor, the immigrants, the misfortunate don't have to be cared about as long as the only contact they need to have with them is the poorly-paid servants.

7:12 PM  
Blogger Adrianna said...

Nobody, woman or man, should be employing someone full time in an exploitative manner. Agreed.

But why the heck would you assume that's what working mothers do? And why the heck would a full-time working woman (nanny/child care worker) accept a job that did this? I think you're making some leaps of assumption...

10:30 PM  
Blogger Nabonidus said...

Amen to all of it, Amanda. I haven't read the mentioned books either, but living in So Cal most of my life, uh, yeah.

I'm currently witnessing a disgusting other facet of this. Lack of legal help for women, the poor and the disabled.
I got a lawyer (briefly),to get legal aid to admit recently that they don't help you unless you have children. If you are a low income single woman good luck if you need legal aid.
The lawyer said "You know, the websites all sound great, except they don't list these exclusions. It would save people a lot of time if you revised your sites."
So these .gov websites that provide links to supposed legal help for women, etc, are mostly bogus. But of course it looks good which is all that matters. Who cares if the links actually work.
Sorry for griping, but this does kinda play into some of the thigns I've been thinking about lately. ;)
I can imagine a Nanny that has cared for others' kids, going to get some legal advice to try and defend herself or get monies owed,
and getting the BS runaround that I have had these days.
It would be the exact same: "Do you have kids?"
"well, technically no, but"
"Can't help you".
Grrrr....

6:21 PM  
Blogger Nabonidus said...

Ooops, I meant to mention that I realize it's a different thing, but at the same time I also realize that
a popular thing to do here is to control the nannies, women through fear of immigration problems. :(
Which is more where the legal help would be needed. I didn't mean to apply it the same, you know. :)

There have been some real horror stories here though with nannies,
as you know I'm sure. Fear of deportation.:(

6:31 PM  

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