Sunday, January 18, 2009

Naomi Wolf: The Feminist Myth (Ava and C.I.)

You try to forgive Jew for Jesus Naomi Wolf. You really, really try to forgive her.

But her entire career has made it so very difficult because she's such a pathetic, vain, little girl.


This is the woman who wanted sympathy and compassion for making public accusations -- but not bringing charges -- against a historian. Naomi wanted the world's sympathy. She just didn't appear to want justice.

What she really did was smear someone's name by publicly branding the criminal but refusing to take the matter to court. Of course, in a court of law, Naomi Wolf might not come off so sympathetic or, for that matter, at all believable.

This is the woman who stood by while another woman was gang-raped, after all.

'Feminist' Naomi was oh so very happy to garner attention and sympathy at the start of this decade as she accused the historian of having made a pass. The horror. How ever did Big Hair survive?

Strangely -- or maybe not so -- while painting herself as the ultimate victim, she never felt the need to talk about her days of gang rape.

Here's how Naomi writes it in her tawdry book Promiscuities (page 178):

When the woman came to, she fled. The joke, as I recall (and my memory of this episode fades in and out of focus), was that she had escaped so fast that her shoes remained. Someone had put her red high-heeled pumps on the wood mantel of the fireplace, next to the collection of beer cans from around the world.
The guys and I were friends. Over breakfast, they did not hide the story from me or from the other girlfriends who stayed the night.

You can read on in vain for the moment where Naomi Wolf turns her prince charmings into the police, where she alerts the authorities or, for that matter, where she shows a damn bit of sympathy for the victim.

The incident took place in 1979 and, no surprise with Big Hair, the incident's all about Naomi. To have spoken out (then) would have been to be called a, as she so scholarly puts it, "lesbo."

That's the biggest insult in the world to Naomi Wolf and why she is known as the most anti-lesbian feminist poser in the US. Search in vain for any supportive statements Wolf has ever made for feminists who are lesbians. You'll never find sympathy for the gang-rape victim and you'll never find any show of solidarity with lesbians.

Big Hair is still, and will always be, the little girl laughing with the boys at the young woman who passed out and was gang-raped. That's Naomi Wolf. Not a feminist, not even pro-woman. Just a cheap, little girl striving for Daddy's love and approval (she didn't get it as child, she'll never get it as an adult).

The joke, as we know, is Naomi Wolf.

We sometimes have hopes for her -- that she'll grow the hell up, but she never fails to amuse as she attempts to redefine a feminist movement into some sort of children's picture book: Naomi Wolf & The Seven Men.

All of the above and much more is the sort of thing real feminist discuss when Naomi Wolf's name comes up. Sometimes we'll toss out how embarrassing her decision to engage in a catfight with an anti-feminist during the 90s was and how, the next time she does such a thing and shows off all her big-haired ignorance, she's on her own. But it's the sort of thing feminists discuss together and normally don't make public.

"I have to say I can't go over the silliness of the objection of Ms. Siskind and of whoever is contacting Ms. magazine," declared Naomi Wolf last week on CNN looking like Delta Burke right before Designing Women dumped her from the cast.

Oh, we're sorry. Is that not fair? Is it not fair to notice Esquire's 'Feminist We Love' from the 90s, the pin-up, has started packing on the pounds?

You know what else isn't fair? Trying to smear someone on national television.

"Although I'm interested in knowing who funds her blog," batty Naomi Wolf hissed, trying to start conspiracy talk, "because mostly what I'm seeing is attacks on Obama and derision of Obama hero worship and right now we know that you know the right wing is very, very skillful at funding kind of voices of dissent that look like something else."

Whose blog, you big-haired idiot?

Amy Siskind blogs at The Daily Beast. As two who have long known Tina Brown, we take exception at the accusation that Tina's receiving right-wing funding. We were speaking about Naomi's little stunt with a feminist of color, a famous poet (Naomi will know who we mean), and she explained to us that she thought Naomi was yet again "flaunting" her ignorance.

Yes, Amy Siskind blogs at Tina's The Daily Beast, but Naomi Wolf is an idiot (and an academic cheat -- we'll get to it). "I think she means," our poet explained, "that women's group."

The New Agenda.

No, it is not right-wing funded (nor is The New Agenda a blog, it's an organization). It is grass-roots funded and there's not a feminist worth her salt that doesn't know that and know the same of other groups that sprung up during and following Hillary Clinton's run for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. These groups sprung up because feminist 'leaders' and feminist organizations failed. Repeatedly.

Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan did defend Hillary Clinton loudly at the start of 2008. They were both wrongly called racists (Naomi Wolf is the racist in the feminist movement, ask any feminist of color) and both turned tail and ran instead of standing up. In fairness to Gloria, there was no organizational support for her. Non-feminists showed up all over with astro-turf calling her racists, suggesting she was racists, stating she didn't speak for them. (The astro-turf campaign can be traced to Melissa Harris Lacewell. She led it, she often edited pieces and, in at least one instance, wrote a slam that a student passed off as her own.)

The feminist movement was caught by surprise. We won't blame anyone for that. Gloria wrote an essay arguing for all women, arguing that all women matter and it was deliberately misinterpreted and said to argue "White women are more important than a Black man." It was nonsense. (Not the least because no "Black" man was running in the Democratic primary -- Barack is bi-racial.) It was an attempt to shut Gloria up because Hillary must not be defended and Gloria Steinem's name stood for something. So it was time to take her out, to hit her with the biggest piece of lumber they could find and send a message to all women that they would be next.

It worked too.

It's worth examing why it worked.

One reason is because Gloria can't defend herself. She's never been able to.

She can stand up for anyone else but she can't stand up for herself. It goes to the fact that she's never realized how tremendous she is.

So the response has always been that the rest of us rush to defend her.

We bring that up because that never needs to happen again.

That's not "Blame Gloria." Gloria is who she is and she led the movement very well. Her own quirks allowed an investing in her that acted as a bonding for many of us.

It worked at the time and it worked very well.

But it won't work in the future. We now need leaders who will stand up for themselves as much as they will the movement.

If ever there was a time to miss Ellen Willis, it was in 2008. The stunts that were pulled, including falsely calling Gloria a racist (or falsely calling Robin one), were a replay of the tail end of the sixties. It was the same attack tactics the New Left males (and some women) used in attempts to pull off support for feminism back then. Ellen called that crap out in real time (loudly) and we needed another Ellen in 2008.

We saw the same "see how they run like pigs from a gun"mentality. The mentality that anti-feminist Robert Scheer was hoping for (he was among those attacking Gloria). They didn't just play mean, they played dirty. And they knew from the past that a charge of racism -- even a false one -- would cause support to pause.

That's what they needed, a pause. While a strong response was not formulated, Harris Lacewell and her New Hampshire 'students' were launching the astro-turf campaign that looked genuine. And Scheer and Robert Parry were attacking Gloria Steinem.

Silence was the response from the feminist movement.

Now Robin Morgan wrote an angry, impassioned, marvelous, intense rebuttal that stands among the best things she has ever written. It was powerful and, had it come earlier, it might have accomplished something.

Maybe not.

The feminist movement failed. That goes to leaders (and 'leaders') and it goes to organizations.

Week after week, we were forced here to document the antics of Bill Moyers. We would hear from friends (big name feminists) saying we had to tackle it again and again and again . . . Now we don't care to watch the show. By Friday night, we're exhausted. We've been around the country speaking, we're headed home Saturday morning where (most weekends) we will be until Monday morning when we're flying out again. So we're not that keen to watch any Friday show regularly. But we'd watch because we did agree it was important to document what was going on.

Week after week, Bill Moyers made the Democratic Party primary about race. He did that over and over. It was time to speak of 'historic' and 'historic' was always that a "Black" man was running. It was never 'historic' to Bill that a woman was running. Never. And we called it out and we called it out and we waited for someone else to join us in speaking out.

They never did.

Why was that?

Because the movement split on Hillary and because an actual movement, the feminist movement, wasn't up to fighting the marketing. Feminists have no real access to the media unless they do like Naomi last week and whore themselves out to men.

FAIR's CounterSpin never bothers to feature feminists. A weekly radio show. No feminist guests. They don't bother to try to have an equal number of male and female guests either, but they never feel the need to explore feminism. Democracy Now? With a host who chose to publish in Larry F**nt's H**ler magazine, you know feminists don't stand a shot. A show that airs five days a week for an hour manages to offer two to three feminist segments a year. And wants applause for that. List the shows you listen to or watch, bring in PBS, find an outlet that addresses feminism. Bill Moyers and the boys don't like it. Now find a magazine. The Progressive features which feminist columnist? None. (Kate Clinton's a humor columnist. We like her but her columns in 2008 was all about attacking the woman -- be it Hillary or Palin.) In These Times? Susan J. Douglas offers a feminist take on the media. And apparently that 12 times a year column is all that's needed. (Not a slap at Douglas.) Katha Pollitt does something similar at The Nation. Although, as she admits, she finds it 'feminist' to not call out sexism during presidential election years. Now 2008 finally saw an interest in feminism from Panhandle and Real Media media. When did that take place?

When McCain selected Sarah Palin as his running mate. Suddenly, it was "McSexist" and, goodness, the whole world was interested in sexism. When Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews, Davy Shuster and assorted others were launching daily sexist attacks against Hillary, no one wanted to hear from feminists.

There was money to be made in smearing women -- be it Hillary or Sarah. A lot of money grubbers stepped forward.

Naomi Wolf was an East Coast contingent in the praise Barack and smear Hillary crowd. The nutty Naomi, who first saw Jesus and then Karl Marx, spent most of 2008 issuing the-sky-is-falling warnings that made her sound more deranged than Alvy Singer when he's offering his JFK conspiracy theory. Erica Jong informed the world Naomi had to go on valium just to make it through the 2008 elections. Yes, she truly went that nuts. One fears for her child and one hopes Naomi seeks out the drug treatment she so desperately needs.

While Gloria and Robin were endorsing Hillary, Naomi was endorsing Barack -- a fact CNN should have disclosed to their viewers last week. That February endorsement ("Why Barack Obama Got My Vote") should have been disclosed. Especially considering that Naomi wanted, last week, to present Barack as a feminist:

I think many of Obama's policies obviously are good for women and children and families whether its raising the minimum wage, shoring up social security cause women are disproportionately elderly and impovrished uh supporting laws against violence against women ensuring that women will have choice on their reproductive lives and especially in an imploding economy your last segment was about record foreclosures.

None of the above made it into "Why Barack Obama Got My Vote." Feminist issues weren't even addressed. She finally alluded to them in a paragraph 32 of her 32 paragraph endrosement. Apparently, that's what a 'feminist' does. She ignores feminist issues for 31 paragraphs when endorsing a candidate and then tosses out some unsupported hogwash ("the man is a feminist") in her final paragraph. In a single sentence of her final paragraph, mind you. 'Feminist' Naomi, thinks feminist issues rate a single sentence.

In September, she'd take to typing up "Sarah 'Evita' Palin," and, no, that's not feminism either. (For the record, the musical Evita is one of the most sexist Broadway hits in the second half of the 20th century.)

By September, the feminist leaders and 'leaders' that couldn't stick up for Hillary against sexism (Naomi Wolf never called out the sexism against Hillary and regularly laughed at sexist jokes about Hillary by several PIG attorneys -- Naomi will know exactly which men we mean) were attacking Sarah Palin.

For Robin, it was because she can't stand to be called racist (despite knowing that it was a false charge). For Gloria, it was because she always schills for the Democratic Party (always has, always will, she may have cried tears in Miami but she was on board immediately after and she was undermining women -- and supporting the male power structure -- at the 1976 convention). Gloria at least had the sense to grasp she'd gone too far.

Bean counters only care about this coming election. Their elevation destroyed the Democratic Party (no, it is not 'back' -- it's benefitting from a repulsion over the last eight years). The feminist movement is a centuries old movement. It will be here one hundred years from now and it will be around even after that. Point?

One hundred years from now, feminists aren't going to give a s**t about some bi-racial male's first. They're not going to dance around reality over some so-called feel good, Field Of Dreams candidate. They're going to look at 2008 in disgust. They're not going to believe what women did to each other and did to each other to promote a man.

It wasn't about combatting racism. Were that the case, the same 'leaders' would have supported the Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente ticket. Instead feminist 'leaders' ignored that ticket. They ignored Cynthia and Rosa, praised Barack daily and ripped apart Sarah Palin with sexist comments and with outright lies.

One hundred years from now this will not be seen as a proud moment. Tomorrow's feminists won't be outrage that today's feminist 'leaders' disagreed with Palin (they will be outraged that they ignored McKinney's presidential run). But they will be furious that today's 'leaders' thought they could fight Palin by lying about her. And that they would lie to please men. That alleged feminists would sell themselves out -- would WHORE themselves out -- for men will be shocking.

Naomi's always been willing to shine up to the boys. Here she is expalining how her friend Cara wants to return to work but Cara's husband Sam says no because he doesn't want them to pay for child care and didn't want to assume any of the child care duties himself (misconceptions, page 249):

Sam wasn't a bad guy. And we did not know what it felt like from his point of view. He was like a lot of the other nice guys in our circle: they believed in fairness. They were men who believed in the values of feminism and wanted to raise their daughters in a world that would be fair to them. They loved their wives. It was just that the child care sacrifice wasn't going to come out of their professional chit pile.

No, Big Hair, Sam is a "bad guy." You can find men who batter women that will tell you they love those women. Love doesn't have a damn thing to do with it. It's about control. And with Sam, it's about control as well. Offering lies and cover for men who abuse is a pattern with Naomi. Maybe they abuse by curtailing women's freedoms, maybe they abuse by gang-rape. Regardless of how they abuse, you can always find Naomi Wolf offering an excuse for them and rushing to assure that they're "good" guys.

For a man, she'll do anything. Women aren't so lucky. Women of color even less so. In Fire With Fire, Naomi decides the 'feminist' thing is to compare and contrast Victoria Woodhull (White) and Madame C.J. Walker (African-American) (pp. 164 - 166). She tells you both women are "power feminists" but, after that, the race is 'won' by Woodhull. Woodhull is "beautiful, sensual, charasmatic" and Walker is . . . well, Black.

It takes a special kind of racism to rave over the looks of a White woman you are supposedly comparing with an African-American woman and offer no praise on the latter woman's looks. Naomi Wolf's been trapped in the beauty myth for decades -- long before she ever stumbled upon the phrase.

The Beauty Myth, the 'book' that made her a 'name'. Parts of it are dead on arrival, others sparkle. Isn't it past time that Naomi gave credit where it's due? The parts that work in the book, she 'borrowed' from Judith N. Shklar.

All of the sparkling literary and historical critiques are ones Shklar built her lectures around. Naomi's largely gotten away with her 'borrowed' passages. People whisper about it and laugh about it, but few bother to call her out on it. Shklar is deceased but, too bad for Naomi, Shklar's The Faces Of Injustice (based on one set of lectures) came out in 1990, a year before The Beauty Myth and based on a series of lectures given in 1988. (Filled with examples Shklar's students -- including the famous political theorist who is the most vocal about Naomi's 'borrowing' -- can tell you were present for over a decade in the woman's lectures.)

The Faces Of Injustice is a masterpiece, one of the finest works of political theory published in the 1990s. (Disclosure, one of us -- C.I. -- knew Shklar and The Common Ills is named after one of Shklar's key phrases for what plagues societies. We both know Naomi -- and work hard to avoid her.) Shklar's book is the best sections of The Beauty Myth with none of the faltering moments where Naomi tries to think for herself.

Naomi Wolf is a fraud and a joke. Every few years, she reinvents herself and a number of feminists pull for her and pray this will be the incarnation that doesn't self-embarrass. Never happens.

On CNN she dreamed aloud, "Well maybe America's about to enter an outside-the-box era where we get that all our problems -- whether you're White, Black, male, female -- are collective problems and let's solve them together."

Together? It's a bit hard to come together when you're uninvited. Naomi's list leaves off lesbians and, again, that's a move she's repeatedly made. During her public catfight of the early nineties, she repeatedly dismissed her anti-feminist opponent with slurs about the woman's bi-sexuality. She thought it was funny and, certainly, many men laughed along with her. She never noticed the looks from women and, when confronted privately on it, she blew it off.

Yet she then wanted credit for her 'progressive' view of lesbians in 1997's Promiscuities which included such 'celebrations' of lesbians as this comparison between herself (a woman who slept with men) and Tonya (a woman who slept with women): "Tonya's attraction was to the illumination of sameness, mine was to that implicit in otherness." No, she didn't grasp how insulting that came off or how it backed up the Victorian 'enlightened' view of gays and lesbians as stunted adults.

"I think many of Obama's policies obviously are good for women and children and families," said Naomi because Naomi's just that way. This is the ridiculous woman who bored the world with 2001's misconceptions -- taking a fluffy, puffy 'feminist' look at the tragedies to be found in the to-nanny-or-not-to-nanny subset. That laughable book is why she had to move to a small publisher. Karma destroyed that 'picture perfect' marriage. It did not, however, bring Naomi back down to earth. Which is why she can lump women and children together and why she can operate as if all women are mothers or will become them.

During her bobble-head moments on CNN, Naomi would insist, "I'm so tired of these debates -- and it's not just CNN -- that are all symbol and no substance." She would insist that after floating her baseless smear against The New Agenda. Let's return to that smear because it was very telling.

Although I'm interested in knowing who funds her blog because mostly what I'm seeing is attacks on Obama and derision of Obama hero worship and right now we know that, you know, the right wing is very, very skillful at funding kind of voices of dissent that look like something else.

Naomi Wolf is seeing "derision of Obama hero worship" and that indicates "the right wing"? Yeah, it does if you're so damn stupid that you believe in hero worship to begin with. Adults aren't supposed to take part in hero worship. It's one of those things you leave behind in childhood. You're supposed to have grown the hell up and grasped reality. But for Naomi, "hero worship" is nothing to deride? For Naomi, it's supposed to pass as political 'maturity.'

That tells you the sorry state of her mind all these years later. Possibly junked out on Valium, she shows up on CNN to make a fool of herself. And that, dear readers, is all Naomi Wolf has ever been successful at.
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