The Opinionated Bitch – on ‘What Are Women For’?
My attention was drawn to an article sweeping across the ether entitled What Are Women For? by James Poulos in The Daily Caller. I ignored it until, while getting ready for work yesterday, I heard him defending the piece on “Up With Chris Hayes” and the conversation drew me into the room. Carefully listening for the basis of his thesis, it dawned on me, there wasn’t one, so I gave in and found his piece on the web that you can read in its entirety here. Let me say it’s not an easy read. Either I’m getting older and my reading comprehension is waning with my brain cells, or after several attempts in making sense of his piece, I could only come to one conclusion: it was written by yet another clueless, privileged white guy attempting to define the role of women in our society. This is a subject that has come to the forefront of national politics with the GOP debate rhetoric, the tras-vaginal probe legislation in Virginia and the national debate on women’s reproductive rights. Oh, his missive is filled with flowery language, circular reasoning and big, misused words – but there was a statement hidden at the bottom of the article that finally sunk in.
“Ironically, one of the best places to look for a way out of the impasse is the strain of left feminism that insists an inherently unique female “voice” actually exists. That’s a claim about nature. Much good would come from a broader recognition that women have a privileged relationship with the natural world. That’s a relationship which must receive its social due — if masculinity in its inherent and imitative varieties (including imitation by quasi-feminized males of quasi-masculinized females!) is not to conquer the world.”
So, women, based solely on their biology, have a ‘privileged relationship’ with the natural world? We are closer to nature because we are able to give birth and therefore, that’s what we are ‘for’? And if we are unable to bear children, as I was, does that then mean I am ‘for’… nothing? Geesh, Mr. Poulos, got misogyny? One of the unintended consequences of sending so many people to college is an explosion in college-like essays in which the authors try to reduce a complex and fluid subject to a single, simple point. It read more like an application essay of a man applying to Oral Robert University. His point is that the men are the doers, the creators and the masters of our universe and women are essentially here to birth more creators and doers and to keep things civilized in the process.
It speaks to a larger issue as well – the asking of the question itself. Here’s a man who thinks it’s acceptable to ask the question “What Are Women For?” only to conclude that they are here to make babies and then defends it by claiming to foist women on an intellectual pedestal above the men they’re here to serve. He’s placed the pedestal so high, trying to jump down looks like a suicide attempt. Pass the barf bag. What if he had asked, what are African-Americans for? “What is the solar system for?” “What are Jews for”, “What is love for?” If you even start to answer these questions, you’re already lost. This is the kind of destructive macho rhetoric promulgated by those without imagination. Look, our daughters were not placed on this planet to quell any male’s barbaric intentions. Our daughters have their own dreams and aspirations to attain. You, the barbaric males, are supposed to quell your own barbaric intentions. For those who rely on religious justification to agree with his premise, there’s a reason your Creator laced the Golden Rule through all of the world’s major religions. Of course, it is acceptable to ask the question, but he shouldn’t be surprised at reactions like mine when challenged after the fact.
But once you get past the fifty cent words the author is not actually capable of using correctly, you’re left with nothing but the sort of empty sexist drivel one would hear from old men downing suds and munching on pretzels at the local shot and a beer bar. If Poulos is what passes for a thoughtful and open-minded writer on the Right, then I prefer the Santorums of the world. At least they wear their Puritanical ideals proudly on their sleeves.
Funny how no one ever asked what men are for. They just are, and everything revolves around them. I’m weary of men defining who I am based on my plumbing. Unless and until Social Conservatives learn there is more to being a woman than her womb, we will continue to hear this sad, limiting and woefully inept commentary. The one area of superiority we women will always maintain is our ability to remember and believe me, we will. That muscle memory will be exercised in the voting booth in November. For men who claim to know so much about women, they always forget that.
Maybe the next time Mr. Poulos wants to get our attention, he’ll shoot for a higher goal in life than being able to fart loud enough to trigger every car alarm on the block.
Carol Baker is a political writer, satirist, and co-host with Vicki Childs of our Here Women Talk weekly internet talk radio how called BROADSIDED.
Originally published February 26, 2012