Ada, as you know, feminist bloggers are always getting lots of critical comments. I feel like we are a real part of the club now. And I know that the sentiments in this comment are not unusual.
As for the actual criticisms: I, like you, think that blogging about pop culture versus doing the kind of political work that everyone recognizes as political work—such as electing more women to Congress—is a false choice. You can do both.
But even if I spent my entire life thinking and writing about feminism and culture, which I mostly do, I’m definitely not going to apologize for it or minimize it. I don’t think what I am doing is less important than what people engaged in other kinds of political work do; I think all different kinds of political work support (and critique and revise) one another.
Besides, getting more women elected to Congress without changing the culture means getting more women elected to Congress who are in tune with our still-fucked-up current culture. Feminists have been writing for years about how often women who rise to power get there because they say and do the kinds of things that the men in power say and do. That’s how you get a Phyllis Schlafly. Or a Sarah Palin. And many of those women try to put restrictions on the rest of us.
Pop culture is all around us. We can’t get away from it. “Feminist” herself alludes to this in her comment on our Lady Gaga post when she says that she doesn’t want 10 year olds to see the “Telephone” video. Why worry about the meaning of a video in the first place if this stuff doesn’t matter?
Because it matters. What happens in public office is one tiny part of politics. Not to mention that people in public office watch tv, too. (Or if they don’t, I’m a little worried about them being out of touch.) And plenty of pop culture is actually explicitly political—I’m thinking of someone like M.I.A. for example.
I would agree with “Feminist” that the American women’s movement has been incredibly successful but we didn’t, to use her word, “win.” If we did it wouldn’t be such a big deal that a woman just won the Oscar for Best Director for the first time. People who don’t conform to the ideal of the middle-class hetero nuclear familes wouldn’t have to worry about health care. Teenage girls wouldn’t have eating disorders or worry about getting raped. We would never again argue about a woman’s right to an abortion. I mean, I could keep going here.
But I have a Janelle Monae song I am in the mood to listen to.