The Clare Spark Blog

February 13, 2016

“…a pretty face….”

WSJ March, 2016 – Women’s Style

WSJgirls002The last few days in the 2016 campaign have seen an increase in the chatter about feminism, mostly focused on the gap between Millennial young women and [relics] from the feminism as it is imagined to have existed in the second wave of “feminism” in the 1970s.

Even the Washington Post has taken notice, starting a new series on “New Wave Feminism” (http://link.washingtonpost.com/public/6095592), while right-leaning Fox News Channel invited Harvard Crimson staffer Molly Roberts to represent the Ivy Millennials in an evaluation of the same subject. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/02/hillary-clinton-2016-young-women-gender-213620. Ms. Roberts, close to scowling during the entire segment, is apparently unaware that the second wave feminists of the 1970s came out of the antiwar movement, and were equally “anti-racist” and “anti-imperialist.” (Some were right-wing social democrats, while many were communists.)

The media have been equally ignorant of 60s-70s politics. Gloria Steinem has been castigated for stating (jokingly) that the millennial girls are simply “going where the boys are.” Persons of my age will remember that the antiwar demonstrations were a magnet for protesters of both genders looking for hook-ups. Indeed Steinem got lots of publicity because of her glamour and well-known connections with powerful males in publishing.

Also making news this week was Madeline Albright, consigning non-Hillary Clinton supporters to eternal damnation in hell. What this signaled to me was the moralism of both “Left” and “Right.” Meanwhile, fashion magazine of the Wall Street Journal today has reduced to sexual objects even the “privileged” women who can afford the major designers.

Meanwhile, Ted Cruz had to pull a political ad directed against Marco Rubio because the production company failed to vet a “soft porn” actress (Amy Lindsay), whose chief line was that it was foolish to trust “a [lying] pretty face.” Nobody in the press noticed that this was a slap against an allegedly effeminate Rubio.

So much for progress in gender relations: “plus ça change….”

June 15, 2015

Hillary Clinton and second wave feminism: Looking Backwards

Suffragettes, NYT, 1921

Suffragettes, NYT, 1921

Mrs. Clinton’s most recent rollout relied on two elements of sentimentality*: the log cabin rags-to-riches theme made famous by the Jacksonians, and the tribute to her mother and grandmother in the closing moments of her speech, thus linking her to the white-garbed, very pure tail end of first wave feminists who struggled for Votes for Women.

This is what the second wave of feminism hath wrought: a woman riding on the coattails of a former president, and a woman demanding to be the first person of her gender to hold the highest office of the land.

Forget her silence about trade deals and foreign policy, even though, were she elected, she would be commander-in-chief of the military, whose connection to foreign relations needs no mention here.. Because any famous woman will do, especially if she mouths aging communist platitudes such as income inequality. After all, the second wave feminists came out of the antiwar movement that has never lost its glamour for Hollywood producers and writers—just look at the highly touted series Aquarius, alleging darkly that unspeakable atrocities were visited on the peasants of Viet Nam, and developing the theme that Charlie Manson was in league with murderous, crypto-gay, impure Republicans.

“Rags to Riches” late 19th C.

The Clinton speech took its own swipe at (reactionary) Republicans as the enemies of the Progress that she associates with “the workers” who are now magically absorbed into the “middle class” that she so aggressively defends, as if we remained mired in the Middle Ages when small producers were the objects of elite defenders of the status quo.

It is the role of ideology to create consensus, but at what price?

* Sentiment reformism bases its appeal on a purified, transformed heart, evading the appeal to a change of mind, by contrast, rational appeals based on increased understanding of policy. Sentimental reformism is hence irrational.

Movie poster, 1941

Movie poster, 1941

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