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    Thursday, August 03, 2006

    On That Weird Moment On The View The Other Day And The Limits of Younger Women's Solidarity

    Click here to see the video of The View wherein Barbara Walters, Joy Behar, Lisa Loeb (apparently now on the show- who knew?), and Elizabeth Hasslebeck. The Big Feminist Blogs gave it their treatment, as did Gawker, saying:

    [Discussion of Plan B] sent young Hasselbeck into a tizzy of earnest "life begins at penetration" arguments, getting herself so worked up that her voice slipped into the trying-not-to-cry quiver. Den mother Barbara Walters eventually had to step in and calm the girl down; after the segment, we're certain that Hasselbeck stomped off to her room and slammed the door. "You'll never understand me, Barbara! I hate this family! I can't wait till I go to college and get away from you people!"

    You know what? As much as I disagree with her opinion, I was fucking infuriated by the way Barbara Walters talked to her like she was a naughty child, when she got a bit heated. People keep saying she "wigged out," "flipped out," or "lost her shit": have these people ever seen CNN? She spoke louder. She's allowed.

    To make matters worse, after she was condescended to after expressing herself pretty articulately on the show, the "feminist blogosphere" jumped right in with the ageism. She's not a baby. She doesn't appear, from that clip, stupid or childish. I disagree 150% with her point of view, but this proliferation of the youtube clip on every blog disgusts me. Barbara Walters looked like a patronizing older woman who couldn't deal with the passion of a young woman taking over HER show.

    The response of feminist bloggers to this, not their disagreement with Hasslebeck which is legitimate, but their characterization of her as a little girl or a dumb blonde, reminded me of a few weeks back when young feminist bloggers couldn't wait to get behind Katha Pollitt against Ana Maria Cox. It was bizarre because Cox's arguments seemed far more aligned to what they express on their blogs everyday. Many of these bloggers laughing at Hasslebeck are the same ones and many of them don't hesitate to make their names specifically as young women whose voices need to be heard/read at least in part because they're young women.

    Which also reminds me of a discussion on Bitch|Lab about how someone like Camille Paglia might be using the "feminist" label in some way to get ahead. And I can't help but wonder if that doesn't actually pertain to some feminist bloggers' playing the "youth card". Young women should be listened to, respected, and treated as equals when young women = those particular feminist bloggers.

    I think it's entirely possible both to critique what Hasslebeck was saying, while simultaneously critiquing the way Barbara Walters handled the situation. She had no qualms about blatantly humiliating this young woman, just as in Katha Pollitt didn't seem to see anything wrong with tarring a whole generation of young women "featherheads".


    Blogger belledame222 said...

    KP really said "featherheads?"

    10:08 PM  
    Blogger EL said...

    I referred to "young featherheads" who think their abortion rights are secure and aren't planning to vote. And [the thread] was all about how wrong I was to think that young women weren't all that political -- and I hope I was wrong! But then someone said, no that's right -- they are featherheads. And she talked about the women at her school.

    That's a quote from her interview in Salon last month.

    Let me be clear: there's a hell of a lot I like about KP. She's one of the few voices of reason in many debates on the Women's Studies List-serv. But this got to me. More than that, the willingness of younger women (who seem, under other circumstances, to take pride in being younger women, not superior to younger women) to pat her on the back for that, really really got to me.

    1:12 AM  
    Blogger Bitch | Lab said...

    wow. buried in work as I've been, I hadn't seen this brouhaha. i haven't even been looking at headlines that come in through the feeds to catch names.

    and yeah, that is totally KP. I love her in so many other ways, but I've been quite disturbed by her attitude since, what? 1999 when she first starting talking this way.

    You've heard me drop the phrase, "push up bra" feminism derisively ? I read it in a debate with her. she used it.

    Why? As anyone who's ever seriously examined this stuff can see, it's nearly always this media generated myth.

    What's worse was that she immediately pinned that on me. she tried to pin it on tbyfield in a debate, too. but t byfield, currently a dean at the Parson's school and , at that time, a translator of the work of Foucault, wasn't having it. heh. i don't think t byfield every revealed gender or age. heh.

    i still giggle over that one to this day.

    but, like EL, it gets to me.

    and wow and holy cow i'm going to avoid reading who the hell called this woman names like that, even as young women themselves.

    i don't want to know.

    7:41 PM  
    Anonymous Ampersand said...

    I pretty much agree with you regarding The View. But imo you're being totally unfair to Pollitt. As she wrote on Feministing:

    I think you're misreading it a bit. If you'll look again, you'll see that I did not characterize ALL young women as featherheads -- I characterized as featherheads those young women who think abortion rights are safe etc.

    ...Of course it is true that many older women also take abortion rights for granted. They are featherheads also.

    I can see disagreeing with her, but to say that she is "tarring a whole generation of young women," when she's clearly not referring to the "whole" generation, isn't right.

    8:37 PM  

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