This house believes that the creation of feminist icons and their cults of personality are good for the feminist movement.
The success of a minority movement, that is to say the reversal of 500 years of marginalization, exclusion, and victimization, will never be measured at the top. It ought to be measured instead by averages. That is to say, that in a world where we have a black president, more black men get locked up now proportionally than they have before. In a world in which we have the most discussion of female sexuality in popular literature and in popular music, the wage gap between the two sexes has been stagnating and refusing to move. We build a tradition in the likes of Sojourner Truth, of Rosa Parks, of Harriet Tubman who said that all we want of you is the right for us to remain mediocre. That women don’t need to be exceptional, that women don’t need to be perfect. That you should not measure us by our success as leaders of this movement, but rather what it’s doing for all women and the people that we represent.
What we’re going to contribute, and our main piece of our extension is going to be the most intrinsic feature of iconography, that is to say individualism. And individualism itself is patriarchy and an extension of the very worst things that keep women down.
But first, I’m going to weigh in, and this is going to be my first substantive contribution, I’m going to weigh in on the disagreement on the opening half, which conveniently for us characterizes as one between access and the quality of that kind of message.
We on closing, say that you don’t need to trade off on quantity for quality because you get more quantity on our side. Why is this the case. Three different reasons.
Number one, there are very high barriers of entry when it comes to the kind of feminism in pop culture that they’re talking about. That is to say, you require a certain social capital, that is to say belonging to a western world, speaking directly to the contribution of closing, that is to say you need to be able to pay for things like concert tickets or own books and CDs and those kinds of things in a way that going to an occupy Wall Street movement for instance, which requires no funding does not. There are barriers of entry that exist by geography, by cost of association that do not exist under our side.
Number two, you alienate people because you are not sufficiently intersectional. That’s to say when Patricia Arket gave her golden globe acceptance speech and said, “now the blacks have wage equality so it’s time that women do too” that puts off African American people from engaging with that kind of movement. That’s to say, the people who are most likely to ally with you are automatically disposed to stand against you.
Number three, you oppose the existence of a heterogeneous existence of ideas. That’s to say, feminism internally is incredibly diverse and when you have one particular conception of feminism i.e. that of Taylor Swift or Beyonce, that people who disagree with you are going to be put off. So when it comes to the quantity of access, how much movement that we get, we always favor on our side movements like Occupy Wall Street, the Suffragette movement, which literally, adjudicator, had chapters in every single country in the world, that is to say people fighting for suffragetts. The reason why that’s the case is that structurally there don’t exist the same kinds of barriers, that means you get better access under our side.
Our substantive contribution then, takes the government case on its best possible grounds. So let’s give them everything they want. Emerging trends of feminist consumers who produce enough demand for these kinds of things, and the existence of non-market forces, like us favoring Malala doesn’t necessarily require much money for instance. So let’s say, under their side you don’t get the kind of commercialized role models in which, we think you do under our side. So let’s say they exclusively want to talk about people like Ayaan Hirshi and Rosa Parks. Why do we still win? Because it is intrinsic in the nature of iconography that it is individual, that it is hierarchical, and that it is top down. It is premised on the success of individuals. That’s problematic for two distinct reasons.
Number one, it defines feminist success in the language of individualism. That’s to say that success is to have money, success is to have like an attractive husband, it’s to have it all, it’s to be able to lean in. The problem with that is twofold. The first, is that the problems that women face i.e. the problems that feminists ought be combating, are social problems. That’s the existence of a rape culture. That means that when there exists billboards and all sorts discussions of sex are framed around men taking the lead. That is the existence of perceptions that suggest that women are incompetent and that they deserve lower wages. There is a problem in the status quo, Mr. Speaker, when many of the people who bop along to Taylor Swift for instance, don’t understand why we need to equalize maternity and paternity leave. Support for that particular policy is going down among feminists, and the reason for that is they fail to see the social nature of the problems that women have.
The second problem is that it emboldens opposition against them. So what’s the number one thing that conservatives say against feminists. That you guys only care about yourselves and your families. Rather than thinking about society at large. We neutralize that line of attack when we reframe feminism in terms of a social movement in the manner of occupy wall street. The second problem is that it defines feminism as perfection. That’s to say it says that you need to be flawless. That’s Beyonce’s whole message. The problem with that is that it is harmful to individual well being when the majority of instances can’t attain that level of perfection either because they just don’t have singing talents or literary talents that many of these people do. But two, because of the existence of social constraints that prevent them.
POI: So in many instances people fail and it harms their individual well being. But the second thing that we think this does, is that it allows you to blame women who don’t succeed. That is to say, it’s because you weren’t individually exceptional enough rather than because societal constraints pulled you down. That’s what happens when you say what it means to be a feminist is for you to be flawless, for you to be perfect, for at all times for you to be confident that’s not what really occurs.
Developing countries. Two things to say right. Number one, we think in the vast majority of instances this isn’t the center of the debate because, as opening told you, much of it has to do with capital right, and where the media has influence. So Malala and those people will be much smaller in many instances than others. But second, especially in developing countries this is harmful. Three reasons. Number one, you require the building of broad based coalitions most in developing countries, when you have for instance the vast majority of poor people suffering very similar problems. And number two, you exacerbate the harms when you highlight one particular group within a developing country. Particularly damaging given the kinds of divisions that are likely to occur. The biggest problem with iconography is the fact that it’s individualistic. We’re very proud to oppose.