Zootopia: Good Feminism

When I was growing up, the political face
of feminism was not this open-minded. If
you didn't want to be prime minister, you
couldn't call yourself liberated.
I came to feminism relatively late in life--I didn't consistently refer to myself as one until I was in my mid-20s.

My primary reason: I formed a hearty dislike of 1980s political feminism. (Any consistent reader of this blog may form the opinion that I hated growing up in the '80s. I didn't. I had a fine time! But I don't remember the political activist climate with any degree of enthusiasm.) I had to age a bit to realize that there are many, many other forms of feminism than the type I encountered in my teens--and a bit older than that to encounter trenchant criticism of '80s political feminism.

The face of political feminism in the 1970s and '80s was NOW (National Organization of Women), specifically a NOW that stated emphatically that women weren't really liberated unless they (1) worked full-time; (2) had less than 3 children; (3) voted Democrat; (4) had a secular mindset.

In real life, none of these criteria are automatically linked. One reason that the ERA amendment did not pass in 1982 is that organizations like NOW consistently overlooked (even denigrated) church-grown organizations which were filled to the brim with organizing, planning, active women of both political parties. In contrast to NOW, Phyllis Schlafly was able to utilize such women to establish an organized, well-planned, and active anti-ERA movement.

Finally, people like Susan Pinker came
along and questioned what women
actually want to do with their lives.
I have no interest in discussing whether the ERA should or should not have passed. As a libertarian, I am generally more against National involvement in people's personal lives than for it. However, the point here is that 1980s political feminism was embarrassingly non-inclusive. When my mother attended an ERA political rally in Albany with two fellow church members, they each came away feeling ignored, dismissed, and belittled. My mother decided that she could spend her time better elsewhere and eventually went back to college to get her master's degree!

Accompanying NOW's rigid, dictatorial, all-women-fit-into-one-cookie-cutter mentality were the assumptions that (1) women ought to support female candidates on principle; (2) there are women's causes that women should care about/promote more than other causes; (3) women are intrinsically more noble and virtuous people than men (so if women were in charge, the world would be a better place). 

I admit, I have some respect for (1) even if I don't practice it myself. True believers of (1) will vote for Sarah Palin and for Geraldine Ferraro. I admire consistency.

I think (2) is ridiculous. I think there is nothing more patronizing than being told that as a woman, I'm supposed to care more about children's education than, say, war.

I think (3) is sexist in more ways than one.

Zootopia is about (3).

When Judy informs the press that the sentient animals in cages have reverted to their savage ways because they all have a predator/primitive streak just waiting to get out, she might as well be saying, "The male can't help but be uncivilized."

And note, the animals that go wild are all male.

Nick's disillusionment at her statement is rooted in more than childhood trauma (which is devastating enough). What's he supposed to do with that information? Apologize for existing? Constantly watch himself? Support only those programs that non-prey (i.e. women) approve of? Blame all his behavior on his "maleness"? Shed his supposedly "dangerous" male behavior? Get a sex change?

He is willing to be her equal (not higher than or lower than) partner. Is she willing to be his?

Kudos to Disney:

She is.

Double kudos: one is allowed to conclude that they remain great friends--or became a couple. Either way, they're partners.

1 comment:

FreeLiveFree said...

Feminists do a lot of self-sabotage.

That being said I've seen a lot of stupidity in the so called "manosphere." You have websites that alternate between teaching men how to pick up women for one night stands (using techniques that work best on damaged women) and complaining about how all women are sluts these days. With absolutely no irony. They talk about how feminists degrade traditional motherhood and then talk about him do all the "real work". Gee, you want to marry a stay at home wife, why don't you show respect for the position?

Which seems to me to show how personal responsibility is more important than any kind of ideology.