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Notes on Feminism and the Culture Wars


Notes and interviews about feminism, sex, gender, history, power, and radical Christian conservatism in politics. Hosted by Elizabeth Hungerford.

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Bess summarizes Nancy Whittier's analytic framework for understanding the difference between coalition (ideological congruence) and collaborative adversarial relationships, using anti-pornography feminists and Catharine MacKinnon's novel civil legislation as an example. Spoiler: MacKinnon and anti-pornography feminists were not in coalition with anti-pornography conservatives and remained in active opposition to anti-pornography conservatives' legal goals & morality-based understandings of the harms of pornography. Feminists were known to say: Sex is not obscene!
Rethinking Coalitions: Anti-Pornography Feminists, Conservatives, and Relationships between Collaborative Adversarial Movements by Nancy Whittier. See also Whittier's longer work (yes, a book) Frenemies: Feminists, Conservatives, and Sexual Violence (2018).

REFERENCES (see also previous show notes)

recorded 5/31/2022

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In less than 25 minutes, Bess finally talks about her feminist principles and the purpose of the podcast: differentiating feminist analysis from old fashioned conservatism.

Using the example of a popular conservative framework that describes people who adopt a transgender identity as "mentally ill," Bess explains how this understanding of transgender people and their identities is in conflict with at least three basic feminist principles:

  1. Structural social critique (anti-individualism)
  2. Anti-authoritarianism
  3. Anti-essentialism

Feminist analysis: A Feminist Critique of Cisgender, one of Bess's favorite feminist (but not radical feminist!) essays about anti-(gender) essentialism, first published on June 8, 2012.

Conservative analysis: Alliance Defending Freedom, radical Christian nationalists who provide support to self-identified feminist organizations to spread moral panic about transgender people, are protecting "God's creative order" with "Generational Wins!" Learn more!

Gay marriage was first recognized in Massachusetts in 2004 via a beautifully written judicial decision: Goodridge v. The Dept of Public Health. We've come a long way, but it was not long ago that lesbian legal rights were just a fantasy.

Next time! No, really! Rethinking Coalitions: Anti-Pornography Feminists, Conservatives, and Relationships between Collaborative Adversarial Movements by Nancy Whittier

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PART ONE of this conversation, including notes and more links!
In this second part of Shani and Kathy's conversation, I ask them about the role of criticism and disagreement in a political movements. Shani talks about what infighting means, loyalty, secrets, and interpersonal empathy with women who are being abused by trans rights activists. Kathy references Susan Faludi's classic feminist book Backlash and discusses the power disparities between Concerned Women for America (CWA) and the Women's Liberation Front (WoLF). They also discuss anti-intellectualism, pseudo-populism, the complicated history of women's rights in the US, and building a support base of conservative (rather than feminist) women.
WoLF's statement on work with anti-abortion fundraiser Zachary Freeman.
Alliance Defending Freedom's description of "Generations Wins" in five key areas:

  1. Protecting Life
  2. Religious Freedom
  3. Marriage and Family: "Ensuring the law respects God’s creative order for marriage, the family, and human sexuality."
  4. Free Speech
  5. Parental Rights

The complicated history of Mississippi's property laws, the first state to guarantee married women's inherited property rights.

Wyoming was the first state to grant women the right to vote, in part because white men felt outnumbered by black and Chinese men.
Next time! Rethinking Coalitions: Anti-Pornography Feminists, Conservatives, and Relationships between Collaborative Adversarial Movements by Nancy Whittier

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Katherine M Acosta blogs at Cassandra Speaks/She's Right You Know.

Women's Liberation Front ("WoLF") staff and board; wikipedia entry.

Feminists in Struggle ("FiST") website about us page, with first blog entries posted in March 2019, including support for the Declaration on Women's Sex-Based Rights.

Women's Declaration International (WDI), formerly the Women's Humans Rights Campaign USA, website, board of directors, and international site.

Feminist identified organizations working together, examples

  • Ann Menasche, founder of FiST, and Kara Dansky, former board member of WoLF (current board member of WDI USA), interviewed in April 2019 on Women's Liberation Radio Network.
  • WoLF and WHRC share political messaging in June 2021, directed at the Loudoun County school board.
  • FiST event about academic freedom in late January 2022, WoLF board member, Dr. Devin Jane Buckley, was a featured speaker.

WHRC USA's work with conservatives

WoLF's work with conservatives, examples

  • Harris Funeral Homes amicus brief, in support of ADF's client.
  • WoLF v. US lawsuit filed in 2016; accepted $15,000 from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) to cover legal costs associated with litigation.
  • Meriwether amicus brief about preferred pronouns, in support of ADF's client.
  • Gavin Grimm amicus brief with the Family Policy Alliance.
  • Parent Resource Guide on Transgender Issues by WoLF, the Heritage Foundation, and the Family Policy Alliance, supported by the American College of Pediatricians

PART TWO of conversation and notes, w/more links!

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