The book “Nasty Women” is a compilation of essay’s by women of the American Feminist movement and as Theodore Roosevelt said “the credit belongs to the man in the arena”. But, in this case the credit belongs to the women in the arena.
This is a very sensitive subject. It has become very complex and integrated into various aspects of our society. My purpose is to provide clarity, structure, perspective, and understanding; to be fair and unbiased.
The first few essay’s in the book I noticed the authors were very upset about many things. One of the most recurring phrases was similar to “I felt this” or “I feel this way about this”. As the essay’s and explanations continue the phrases disappear and other authors provide some assertions and clarity to some of their frustrations. However, the book got its title because of a comment made by President Trump.
Upon further reading and studying of the various essay’s I noticed that there were some very good citations on events and some facts. On the other end of the spectrum it seemed as if some of the assertions and claims were somewhat extreme. Remember, they and I am talking about a Feminist movement that has had many changes throughout the years since about two or three decades ago. Each author is an individual and gives her thoughts, knowledge, and feelings on their chosen subject.
For example; Kate Harding’s chosen subject is titled “Are Women Persons?”. She provides a very good explanation of the angst women feel by trying to be a strong, independent, and intelligent woman while fulfilling the role of mother, wife, caregiver, and professional. She explains that Americans have relied on “the self-sacrificing love of women, to keep this country upright”. Also, “Conveniently elided from this butcher-baker narrative are the caregivers, the cooks, the cleaners. The mothers. The wives.” “An economy that we rarely discuss”. After writing these explanations she says that the economy and the women behind this is one of love. Basically women do what they do and sacrifice many things, including themselves, out of love.
I will say there is a fare amount of anxiety and feelings of under-appreciation by many women in our current American society. Harding also explains that “It is men who are raised to participate in a strict economy of self-interest”. She states that basically, many women have these feelings because the economy of love, seldom spoken of, is not easy and women partake in “mind-numbing care”, laundry, and “endless repetitions” of traditional female roles as caregivers even though they have just as much mental capacity and intelligence as any other man.
This is true, but would not be a fair assumption to say all men are like this. Many mothers raise their son’s to love, respect, and treat women equally. There are many women that sacrifice much and give of themselves to support, nurture their family, and its members because of love. There are also many women that have the capacity and capability to balance family and a profession. However, where are these feelings of anxiety and under-appreciation coming from? I believe that women are trying to ask men to help them reach and come to a balance. Society needs to recognize, give credit to, and cherish women that fulfill these types of roles in our society and not just on Mother’s Day. Men need to be taught, again by their parents, how to love, respect, cherish, and honor their mothers. Having good examples and role models in the home will provide learning opportunities and examples of how boys are supposed to grow into men that will do these things. Also, in so doing as to roles and responsibilities boys need to be taught to protect their families and take responsibility. In portioning and equaling roles and responsibilities it would be unbalanced if the mother were to take on the additional role of protector.
I am not saying that women are helpless. They aren’t. But in providing a balance in the family and home it is necessary for the parents to give and take certain portions of their roles and responsibilities. I saw something recently on Facebook of a man and a woman taking care of each other. The explanation in the picture said “When a man truly loves a women, she becomes his weakness. When a woman truly loves a man, he becomes her strength.” Something to think about.
Sarah Hepola’s essay is titled “Refusing to Numb the Pain”. She provides some very good insites and balance into how some women might have felt about President Trump’s win over Hillary Clinton. Comparing this to Kate Harding’s essay “Are Women Persons?”, Harding also talks about Hillary Clinton being the Feminists champion. However, at the same time she explains a hint of frustration at Clinton and the Progressive and Democratic men on the Left side of the political aisle.
Before three decades ago, women such as Susan B. Anthony and Katy Stanton fought for and championed Women’s Suffrage. But, they were racist. They included some African American women in their cause but did not give them as much attention and freedom as they now have. Some aspects of American society were just as controversial and volatile as they are today. However, that is because there are those that are more concerned about power than they are equality and understanding.
What occurred to me in my mind was a question when I read some of these things. My question was, why do Liberal and Progressive women continue to support people like Hillary Clinton and Leftist men when they have experienced so much frustration and anxiety from them? It might have been that Hillary Clinton was their best hope at the time, but things change and she is not the only woman with leadership and experience in America that has the ability to champion the Feminist movement and their cause. As an example I would choose someone such as Tammy Bruce, Jeanine Pirro, Tammy Baldwin, Condoleezza Rice, or Candice Owens.
Getting back to Sarah Hepola’s essay. What stood out to me was when she wrote two things. The first was “One of the many challenges of the next few years will be finding a balance between necessary rage and some slice of inner peace.” and “But experience has taught me that calling people names and cutting them out because I don’t approve of their beliefs only diminishes my worldview.” I believe this was a portion of the complex mix of women President Trump was speaking of when he said “Nasty Women.”
In writing my book “Freedom and The Will To Move Forward”, Hepola’s first statement that I quoted led me to write about two distinctions that the Feminists should make. These two distinctions are the Extreme Feminists and the Traditional Feminists. Maybe Hepola didn’t have enough space or time to clarify or expound on what she meant. However, I have noticed certain trends and in recent events with certain people from the Liberal side of the movement have showed up in the streets wearing obscene costumes with dildos and half naked claiming to be a part of the Feminist movement. This has included people such as Miley Cyrus.
I further explain in my book that there are probably a lot of women that still want to be a part of the Feminist movement but there are some things they would rather avoid. I have seen and heard many women say they have to unite for the sole purpose and reason that they are all women. However, including certain groups and factions might only hurt the movement as a whole and stifle progress. This is why I believe it is important to divide the movement into two distinct groups. One is an example of what they do not want and the other is the best example group. Otherwise, a great portion of our American society might continue to be unstable. If many people, including men, do not understand and do not have a visual distinction they do not know exactly what to support and what not to.
In the past there have been many men, including Democrat and Republican men that have given support to the Feminist movement. They have shown up at the rallies and assisted individual women in various aspects of their careers. But I believe they need more than just to say “I’m here supporting you even though I don’t know exactly what it is I’m supporting”.
Sarah Hepola further explains this when she writes “But as those illusions drop away, the gift is that our vision sharpens, our depth of field grows deeper. Mine is no longer the hazy motion blur of a seven-beer buzz; it is the quiet focus of a soldier in the trenches. If we ever want to change the world – first we must see it.” She defines and explains the tension many women feel and go through when Feminist subjects arise.
However, I believe that what would alleviate some of this tension is to have men that are educated and understand what the movement is about and to not keep the apple from them. “Nasty Women” is not going to be the last book on Feminism that I read or review. It might be viewed from many that a man reading about Feminist subjects is not masculine. I believe on the contrary. There are many women, Feminist women, that like for their men to be masculine. But, they also would probably like even more if their men were educated on the subjects that are important to them.
“Nasty Women” was published in October of 2017, about a year ago. The first mention I’ve seen of moving goal posts was in an essay by Jamia Wilson titled “Farewell to Meritocracy”. Jamia Wilson explains the frustration felt by many women of the minority in a system of meritocracy. This is a system where people are supposed to be able to get ahead based on merit. I wonder exactly where the oppression continues to come from?
Wilson writes “Clinton’s loss led me to actively reject social conditioning and internalized oppression, by focusing less on how to be included in systems with ever-moving goalposts, and more on paving insurgent ground by building new structures and more inclusive movements within my own community.” This frustration is understandable. However, referring to a previous essay by Sarah Hepola, this might be coming from where women of the Feminist movement have placed their trust and faith. In other instances these adverse dynamics might be coming from interpersonal interactions with individuals that culminate into a group.
Towards the end of the book is an essay by Meridith Talusan titled “We’ve Always Been Nasty”. I don’t know exactly how much of this is true but I quote “There is a mountain of evidence that Trump has committed impeachable offenses that may also involve other members of his administration, yet we have not used our bodies and selves to forcibly fight for his removal” and “We must risk imprisonment, because it is our unjust presence in prisons that stands a chance of demonstrating grave injustice.” I would say that might be somewhat on the extreme side. This gives an example of the complexity in the spectrum of the individual women in the Feminist movement. “Nasty Women” is not just a collection of essays, rather it is a collection of essays by individual women with various degrees of experience, wisdom, feelings, and leadership abilities. I’m sure that there are many women that would not want to resort to some of these types of demonstrations to get their point across. But including these types of sentiments into their cause and movement has great potential to cause confusion, anxiety, and again stifle progress and understanding.
It is not my intent to label women as creatures of feeling and habit. Actually it is quite the opposite. Women have a great capacity for logic of thought and the ability to control their own emotions. I know this to be true because I used to lead and work with female Soldiers. I had a female Soldier once that was very good at her work. I was in charge of maintenance and she was my clerk. One day after work she approached me and explained that our boss was having her work for three weeks straight without a break. I was not aware of this because she never said anything and she was required to work after everybody else was gone for the day. Needless to say I was angry. While explaining she held her composure and was respectful as a Soldier. But, I took the time to listen to her and I expressed that I understood. When she realized that I understood and empathized with her she could not help but start to cry. I told her that it was alright to feel the way she did and that crying did not mean she was unprofessional nor was she weak. She did her best. I then told her to go home and that she could have an extra day off.
I explain this situation because my Soldier, even though she cried, was still professional and tough. I had the opportunity to work with her on many other occasions. Sometimes I had witnessed her being somewhat sassy and assertive to get her point across. In other situations I had seen her be tough and carrying her weight in responsibilities and gruel just like everybody else in the field or in garrison. However, she also knew when she could be the way she was and when it was not appropriate to do so. I believe the reason why she felt she could cry in front of me was because I had built rapor and a good working relationship with her. Therefore, she knew that I would not make fun of her or berate her for being herself, for being a women, and being human.
I do not want this to be a final conclusion. The Feminist movement and cause is very complex and should not be concluded or final assumptions made based on one book about Feminism. The authors in “Nasty Women” are all different and they are their own women.
Book Review by Jamin Chavez