Babe Feminism Has Little to Do with Women's Equality Movement

By Anna Quindlen Copyright New York Times News Service | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), January 23, 1994 | Go to article overview

Babe Feminism Has Little to Do with Women's Equality Movement


Anna Quindlen Copyright New York Times News Service, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


When you don't want to write about something as badly as I don't want to write about the Bobbitt case, it's nature's way of telling you to figure out why. Too easy to say that there's nothing more to say. Not good enough to note that the case of the woman who cut off her husband's penis has evoked more bad double entendres than anything in recent memory.

No, none of that is why I've avoided the Bobbitts. It's because of feminism. It's because, three decades after the movement for women's equality began, the Bobbitt case is what naysayers truly believe it is all about: cutting it off.

But never fear, gentlemen; castration was really not the point of feminism, and we women are too busy eviscerating one another to take you on.

Witness an article in Esquire magazine about a group of young women characterized as "do me feminists" because of an agenda heavy on sex when and how they want it, with no guilt, no regrets. One of them even shows up for an interview with a consensual spanking video called "Blame It on Bambi."

While the feminist theorists Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin normally get slammed for their views on pornography, in the Esquire article one is trashed for her lack of sex appeal and the other for her heft. It's a little like turnabout on the bad old "can a feminist wear mascara?" days when Gloria Steinem's politics were overshadowed by her streaked hair. It's certainly just as stupid.

"A lot of us just want to go spray-paint and make out with our boyfriends and not worry about oppression," Lois Maffeo, 29, a singer, says in Esquire. Cool - that'll make it a lot easier when you get a straight job and get paid a whole lot less than the guy you work next to.

Men who have grown tired of complaints about equal pay and violence against women will find the ideas here more cheering, especially the idea that Good Feminism equals Great Sex.

And anyone who has been suspicious of the movement heretofore can have his fears confirmed: We're angry because we're ugly.

"There are a lot of homely women in women's studies," Professor Christina Hoff Sommers of Clark University in Massachusetts, is quoted as saying. …

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