Welcome to The Lemon Harangue. A Harangue is defined as a speech addressed to a public assembly...a ranting speech or writing...a lecture.
In reality, it's just a place for me to stand on my soap box and rant at times, rave at other times, and hopefully have some good, lighthearted fun. Hope you enjoy!
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Dear New York Times: Caitlyn Jenner Is Not The Wrong
Kind of Feminist
Donna Carol Voss is
an author, blogger, speaker, and mom. A Berkeley grad, a former pagan, a Mormon
on purpose, and an original thinker on 21st century living, she is the author
of "One of Everything," the story of how she got from
where she was to where she is. Contact:
With apologies to my
mother, who ardently supported the Equal Rights Amendment
in 1972, I solemnly proclaim that feminists got it wrong again in their
reaction to Caitlyn Jenner.
Burkett, who may be remembered for her own Kanye moment
at the 2010 Oscars, wrote an editorial in the New York Times called “What Makes a Woman?”
The gist of her
article is that Caitlyn Jenner (and Laverne Cox for that matter) are not women because
they have not been forced since birth to endure the disadvantages of being
“They haven’t suffered through business
meetings with men talking to their breasts or woken up after sex terrified
they’d forgotten to take their birth control pills the day before. They haven’t
had to cope with the onset of their periods in the middle of a crowded subway,
the humiliation of discovering that their male work partners’ checks were far
larger than theirs, or the fear of being too weak to ward off rapists.”
You know what?
Neither have I.
If Burkett and the
many, many feminists commenting in support of her article wish to elevate
negative experiences to the apotheosis of Womanhood, that’s their right. But
it’s also their loss.
Not once in her
entire article did she mention the power to create life in our bodies or the
superpower of making milk to sustain that life. Creating and sustaining life.
How do those two awe-inspiring acts get left out of an article called “What
Makes a Woman?”
Elinor Burkett is upset Caitlyn is
getting a lot of attention for being the wrong kind of woman.
Personally, I don’t
care what Jenner and Cox call themselves as long as they don’t expect me to
change what I call myself. It is America, after all. Knock yourself out.
I owe my mother
another apology, because feminists didn’t get everything wrong. I have options
my grandmother never dreamed of, even without the Equal Rights Amendment. But
there’s a problem when only 23 percent of us want to call ourselves
Carly Fiorina gets
In response to a boy
who asked her what feminism is, she said, “Feminism began as a rallying cry to
empower women … But over the years, feminism has devolved into a left-leaning
political ideology where women are pitted against men.”
And we come full
circle back to Caitlyn Jenner.
Elinor Burkett is not
upset that Caitlyn Jenner used to be Bruce Jenner; she’s upset that Caitlyn
Jenner isn’t a feminist. No self-respecting feminist would be caught dead on
the cover of Vanity Fair with corset and come-hither stare because that kind of
woman is pleasing to men. Elinor Burkett is upset that Caitlyn is getting a lot
of attention for being the wrong kind of woman.
If Caitlyn had
appeared in a flannel shirt and Birkenstocks, I doubt we would have seen the
same hue and cry. At least not from feminists.
A woman who relishes,
enhances, or flaunts the male-pleasing aspects of femininity is seen as a
sell-out by third-wave feminists. The right kind of woman to them is one who
doesn’t need to please men, the kind of woman who needs a man like a fish needs
The power women
gained through feminism is now being used by feminists against women who don’t
tow the party line. Make-up? Pink nail polish? Stay-at-home mom? Horrors.
That’s why these
women are so upset. It isn’t really that another Kardashian on another magazine
cover materially affects how women are treated in the world. It’s that these
women don’t respect that kind of woman. Kind of the respect problem feminism
was meant to fix. Ironic.
supposed to have fine print: You can be free only if you compete with men for
resources; if you present as sex kitten-y, shame on you. That’s no longer
I didn’t get that
I feel sorry for the
women who did.
Feminism was supposed
to be about expanding women’s options, not eliminating certain options as
unworthy. Very intelligent, very competent, very driven, successful women can
still be stay-at-home moms and sex kittens. It isn’t either/or. And I hasten to
add that sex kitten is in the eye of the beholder. We don’t all look like
Caitlyn Jenner, with or without Photoshop, but any of us can embrace that
aspect of ourselves.
when it banished sex kittens to the trash heap, and feminists themselves were
often caricatured as unattractive, unfeminine women. Nobody won.
If that’s all the
power third-wave feminism brought us—that we are reduced to nothing but sex
kittens if some of us present as sex kittens—what was the point?
The saddest part of
all is the absolute dead-end feminism will be if it persists in making the perfect
the enemy of the good.
I can’t think of any
other arena—dieting, marriage, career, friendship, childrearing—where it’s
efficacious to fixate on the negative. What we focus on, we get more of. By all
means, let’s keep progressing, but could we please look up the track now
instead of down?
It would take a
radical feminist to see things this way, but Elinor Burkett actually views
transgender women (i.e., “people who haven’t lived their whole lives as women”)
as just a tricky, tricky way for men to keep defining women.
That makes me wince.
Despite the fireworks
of transgender awareness going off around us, maybe one in one hundred people
has gender dysphoria. Elinor Burkett is concerned that about two million
transgender women will blow it for 160 million women-born-women (the ones whose
periods started on the subway).
feminist gives so much of her power away? I wince again.
Maybe it’s time to
put feminism per se on the shelf. Carly Fiorina says she wants to reclaim
feminism as women choosing the lives they want to live. I don’t know if
feminism can be reclaimed. The word is inextricably bound with scarcity
mentality, with the idea that women are at the mercy of men and must compete
directly with them, on their terms, to gain anything.
Maybe we need
something better. Maybe we need original thinking for 21st century women.
women can choose the life we want to live and honor the entire continuum of
Womanhood. We move up and down it over the course of our lives, sometimes more
sex kitten, sometime more mom, sometimes more CEO, but always all woman.
We look up from our
navel gazing to consider the plight of women and girls in the world who would
kill to trade the realities of their lives for worries about breast size and employment
We take seriously our
ability to influence others, through our hands that rock the cradle and through
our votes that elect a president.
We aren’t threatened
by new or different expressions of Womanhood because we’re secure in our own
expression. No one can take away the power we have, so we don’t need to
challenge anyone else’s.
We need a new vision.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull was raised to peck for food in the
sand and huddle for warmth in the fog. He could have dedicated his whole life
to becoming the best pecker and huddler. But he had a vision that took him to
the brilliant blue sky and the thrill of flying for speed. His original
thinking broke through barriers of consciousness and possibility. And once he
broke through, he brought all the other gulls with him.