Okay, now listen up. I’m going to mansplain what Kellyanne Conway meant when she said she’s not a feminist “in a classic sense,” in her remarks made at CPAC.
The Washington Post reported what she said; I’ll quote it so there’s no misunderstanding.
“It’s difficult for me to call myself a feminist in a classic sense because it seems to be very anti-male, and it certainly is very pro-abortion, and I’m neither anti-male or pro-abortion,” Conway said during a conversation onstage with conservative commentator Mercedes Schlapp. “So, there’s an individual feminism, if you will, that you make your own choices. … I look at myself as a product of my choices, not a victim of my circumstances.”
Since I’m a man, that automatically means I surely can’t understand two women talking to each other, and since I’m a man, I certainly have no way to communicate their thoughts in a way women can understand. I get that.
But as a man (presumably speaking only to other men by this point, since all women rolled their eyes and clicked away at “listen up”), here’s what I hear Conway saying:
She defines “Classic feminism” as the result of the sexual revolution, where Christian morals were rejected in favor of “do what feels good.” Its the logical extension of the 50s housewife in an apron, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the kids being thrown out as anachronistic and oppressive. It’s Mary Tyler Moore, Maude, and Murphy Brown. It’s not Martha Stewart fluffing pillows and roasting a turkey–it’s Stewart as she was as a federal prisoner, like “Orange is the New Black.”
Therefore, any woman, regardless of her social status, achievements, education, or position, who is okay with a housewife raising kids, taking them to Sunday School, doing the PTA thing, cleaning and cooking for her family (without the frenetic career juggling–a real housewife), is not, by her definition, a “classic feminist.”
“Classic feminists” are fully invested in “intersectionality.” Here, let me mansplain that too.
Intersectionality is a concept often used in critical theories to describe the ways in which oppressive institutions (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism, etc.) are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another. The concept first came from legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989 and is largely used in critical theories, especially Feminist theory, when discussing systematic oppression. When possible, credit Kimberlé Crenshaw for coining the term “intersectionality” and bringing the concept to wider attention.
We can skip the “-isms” and get right to the point, like men do. “Intersectionality” is that Pale Penis People are everyone’s oppressors, the Patriarchy is evil, and everyone who isn’t a straight, white, male with proper genitalia is automatically an oppressed class, entitled to reparations, social justice, and support in the battle against “The Man.”
“You know, this whole sisterhood, this whole ‘let’s go march for women’s rights’ and, you know, just constantly talking about what women look like or what they wear or making fun of their choices or presuming that they’re not as powerful as the men around,” Conway said. “This presumptive negativity about women in power, I think, is very unfortunate.”
Since I’m a man, I had to get a gut-check on this, so I asked the nearest woman to me (my wife). She told me that when she hears the word “feminism” she thinks of man-haters. She thinks of television shows where the men are portrayed as buffoons, where women call their husbands a “moron.” Imagine if the TV dad called his wife a “moron.” Yeah, that was some good wifesplaining.
A “classic feminist” is one who thinks men need to come down a notch in order for themselves to succeed. This is why you get things like “menstrual equity.” (Sorry, that one defies mansplaining.) This kind of feminist (who is not necessarily a woman, mind you) thinks that women can and should do everything men do, including impregnate themselves, fight wars, play in the NFL, and grow beards.
It’s not enough that women can occupy any high position like CEO or senator or President of the United States. Women must also be gods (“goddesses” is sexist). They must have the exclusive and irrevocable power of life and death over each and every new addition to Planet Earth.
Because they have uteruses.
Although if you have a uterus and don’t agree with that position, you can’t be a “classic feminist,” even if you are the first woman in history to manage a successful presidential campaign. Even if you’re president.
Conway agrees. “I would tell my three daughters and your daughters, or you, that the job for first female president of the United States remains open, so go for it.” She forgot to tell her daughters that they can’t be the first feminist president.
Consider this mansplained.