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A Revolution Without Dancing

… Ugh. That’ll learn me not to Make Statements while I’m drunk. Seriously: the “calling in gay and/or Bjork” thing? I had meant to post something in support of it, and I also thought it was funny that when I told someone I missed work he said, “oh, you called in gay!” And then I hadn’t posted yet, and it was 11:45 p.m., and I was watching this PJ Harvey cover of “Satisfaction” on the YouTube, and somehow my need to steal that dude’s joke became identical with my need to
share the PJ Harvey video with the world became identical with my thoughts on “Satisfaction” as feminist statement (like, yeah, the Rolling Stones are totally sexist dudes, but in a female voice it means differently, and anyway, as Emma Goldman said, “a revolution without arguments after which I get to cry to ‘Angie’ in a crappy bar is not a revolution worth having”) became identical with “withdrawing a marginalized group’s labor and capital from the market in order to demonstrate that group’s crucial role in society is a pretty great statement, at least on a symbolic level” and all of this, combined with a not insubstantial amount of whiskey, melded into a post that was… well, not offensive, I don’t think, but definitely dumb, and also not really about any of the above-listed things at all. So, yeah, for the record: I would say that drinking and feminist politics definitely have a relationship, of the “they totally do not get along and should not be invited to the same party” sort.

Which is not at all the point of this article! The point of this article, actually, is probably to whip the lady blogs into a furor and thereby increase the author’s name recognition – oh, and hey! it worked – but Alex Morris, on the way to her (his?) five minutes as a succes de scandale, manages to make some random point about how feminists are all big lousy drinky drunks who ruined feminism, as in:

For better or worse, drinking has become entwined with progressive feminism. “I don’t think that the drinking in and of itself is feminist, but I do think that it comes from a feminist place, that it can bolster one’s sense of herself as liberated,” says Jezebel editor Jessica Grose. “You know, the whole point of Third Wave feminism is that individual choice should not be judged. If you choose to opt out and be a stay-at-home mom, then that’s your choice.” And if you choose to drink yourself unconscious in some random guy’s bed, that’s also your prerogative. To say that you shouldn’t would be paternalistic hand-wringing, implying that a woman needs to be protected from herself.

Yes, ladies: thanks to feminism, you can be a selfless stay-at-home mother or a drunk slut who gets date raped! I mean, I guess it kind of sucks that there are no other options, but hey! At least you have a choice!

This article is so dumb in so many ways (for example, it contains about 5,900 iterations of the word “alcopops,” which I think means Zima and sparkletinis, and I don’t think the young, Third Wave-influenced, New York-based feminists to whom Morris refers would ever even drink these apparently feminism-killing beverages; I mean, fuck, he or she is talking about me here, indirectly, and I’d get drunk off my own fermented urine rather than put a Captain Morgan’s Bottled Raspberry Mojito Drink to my lips; girls drink them, sure, but the girls who do that and the girls Morris writes about are culturally and alcoholically distinct groups) that it is tempting to focus entirely on its mistakes and to ignore the real news: all of these responses, which are fun. You’ll note that none of these writers really denies drinking! In fact, some of them use the piece as a way to squeeze in irrelevant back-handed boasts about what big drunks they are. Check out this irresponsible twat, who, within the space of one essay, manages to reflect poorly on women, feminists, bloggers and alcoholics alike.

The thing is, it’s not as if I’ve never yelled at another lady, or accused her of killing feminism. I do that a lot, actually! It is this super fun circular dialogue that goes as follows:

GIRL #1: You’re killing feminism! Stop it!
GIRL #2: Stop saying that I’ve killed feminism! It kills feminism when you accuse me of killing feminism!
GIRL #1: You’re the feminism-killer, as evidenced by your efforts to censor all criticism of or dialogue about your feminism-killing, which by the way have killed feminism again!

It just goes on from there. I mean, I hated the “Thinking and Drinking” thing – hated it – because I generally believe that jokes about date rape are never ever ever funny. I could probably find lots of folks to back me up on that. Then again, those same folks would probably be disgusted by my frequent and casual use of the word “retard,” and I would make fun of them for being vegetarians, and the whole thing would just go South really fast, so maybe we should all just aim for a little more nuance and a little less righteous scorn.

This may come as a shock, but a lot of feminists are, um, girls – and the narrative of morality, for girls, is pretty retarded. We’re all brought up on the same fairy tales, which tell us that women are either pure, virtuous maidens or evil witches – stay-at-home mothers or drunk sluts. There’s Cinderella, and there’s her Wicked Stepsisters, but the character of the Stepsister Who’s Pretty Nice and Tries Really Hard but Has Some Failings does not exist. We require perfection of ourselves, and we require perfection of others, and in the process of demanding universal moral purity, we all too often make hypocrites of ourselves.

It was Emma Goldman who said that “a revolution without dancing is not a revolution worth having,” and I don’t know about you, but I don’t dance until I’ve had a few. She also said that “it requires less mental effort to condemn than to think,” which, if true, means that Alex Morris’s article about drunk feminists must have been an absolute breeze to write. She did not, on the other hand, say “I yell because I care.” The person who said that – often! to me! – was my mom. We all care, and we’re all yelling, and just because we don’t always agree doesn’t mean that we can’t respect each other. These conversations about who’s killing feminism – whether they take the form of shouting matches, passive-aggressive blog posts, or articles in New York magazine – are, in fact, the proof that feminism is alive and well, if a bit hung over.