Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sorry, Mom, but I'm going to go all "radical" feminist for a minute: OR why I have decided to tell the world about the time Orin Hatch grabbed my butt

not that anyone except my mom would consider me "radical" with my feminism... well, maybe that's too strong a statement. probably my bff would, too.

So, y'all know I don't like to get all political because peeps with SO many different political views read the blog (plus I'm a confrontation-phobic mormon girl who understands only *passive* aggression so I don't like to get yelled at in the comments) but it's election season and sometimes I can't help myself because I have a big, fat, mouth.

I've been doing research on the ERA for a book I'm working on. The book is set somewhere between 1973 and 1978 (haven't decided yet), and has a pregnant teenager, so I need to know all this stuff.

First: BYU is usually pretty good with having books. Best library in the country, according to many years of the Princeton review. But how many books could I find specifically about the ERA? Three. One was a "children's" book. One was written by Orin Hatch. The other they have mysteriously managed to keep out of my mailbox. Granted, I didn't look very hard for these books and maybe if I'd looked harder I could've found more, but usually the BYU library is so good I don't *have* to look very hard. Should this tell me something? Maybe. I dunno.

Second: So I'm reading Orin's book. Orin and I go way back. (refer to the title of this post!) And the first few chapters, I'm actually impressed. Dude was making a really intelligent, fascinating argument against the ERA. Stuff about the technicalities of wording in the way the constitution is interpreted irregardless of original intent. Stuff about the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. Stuff I totally hadn't thought of and was finding deeply compelling.

And then...

We get to chapter 7.

Chapter 7 is where Orin tries to shock us by all of the horrible things that could happen if we pass the ERA. Things, that if they were to happen, we might "regret" (page 41). Here are some of the things:

1) Homemaking might have to be recognized as a profession; and we might even [horror!] have to allow homemakers social security. [Um... I was a SAHM for awhile and, seriously, hardest thing in my life. Ever. Period. I say, YAY for recognizing it as WORK.]

2)Wives might have an equal claim to property! [Because... the house I live in belongs to my husband? Pulease.]

3)And speaking of men, did you know that we might have to give fathers of illegitimate children, like, a right to *see* them?! [because encouraging father-child interaction is SO horrific?]

4) Women might realize that many of the skills of motherhood are [wait for it] *learned.* As in, you're not born with them just because you're a girl! We can't have that, can we?!

5) And if women realize that they're not suited to motherhood, they *might not have babies.* [because what *every* baby wants is a mother who resents them.][mini rant: and why is it bad to reward *devoted* mothers (#1) and to encourage *ambivalent* mothers? (#5) seriously? end mini rant.]

6) And those women who decide that they want to work part time and be with their kids part time? Well, the government would have to provide day care for them. [Wouldn't this sorta get a lot of women off welfare? And this is bad... how?]

7) Oh, I could go on. But my obvious snarkiness is starting to annoy even me.


So I try to keep reading. Chapter 10 is all about how we can't give rights to WOMEN because then HOMOSEXUALS might have the right to get married. [If we can set aside the fact that ALL of the logic Orin used about the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment (*against* the ERA) is prettymuch the *identical* logic used by those who say that gay marriage is a constitutional right...] Can you say RED HERRING?!

And then I get to chapter 11. The "potty" chapter. (I kid you not.) Which says that if we pass the ERA, we'll have to have unisex bathrooms because we have to treat everyone the same. [It also says a very snarky thing about feminists lacking "common sense," but I digress.]

Oh, Orin. Seriously? Seriously the ONLY way to treat the sexes equally is to have a unisex bathroom?! How about this: instead of everyone having access to "identical" facilities, we write into law, "everyone shall have an identical *right of access* to the facilities *they require* for potty purposes." That way disabled people would have handicapped stalls. Men could have their urinals. Women could have the 2X-as-many-as-men bathrooms that they need all nicely equipped with tampon receptacles. And even the strictest constitutionalists would agree that this satisfies the "identical" treatment required by the ERA.

I had to stop reading. I was about to start crying. And it was mostly Orin's fault. And a little bit the fault of the fact that SO many people use RIDICULOUS excuses to avoid taking action. Things that could have been super-easily overcome if they were *at all* interested in treating the marginalized as equals.

Thus, let us return to my title. Orin Hatch did, in fact, grab my butt. (True story!) I haven't put it online before because, well, what did he ever do to me? (except grab my butt.) But because Orin ticked me off? The truth must. be. told.

But this post is already too long. Read tomorrow to find out the rest of the butt-grabbing drama!

19 comments:

nicole said...

I can't believe you're making us wait for the rest of the butt grabbing drama. (I'd get more riled up about the ERA hogwash, but I have to finish a paper by tomorrow. Thanks for the distraction.)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
bff said...

Well, "radical" technically means a specific branch of feminist philosophy. I'm not sure you are so much of a radical as a legislative or (gasp) liberal feminist. The liberal label is not that you believe in destroying males or worshiping nature; the distinction is an outside-in approach vs an inside-out approach. Liberal/legislative feminism says that we have to go from the outside--laws--to the inside--minds--so you change the laws to reflect *legal* egalitarianism first, and those who don't like it can go hang themselves but they still are bound by the laws. Radical feminism says that you have to go from the inside--hearts and minds and social assumptions and norms--to effect the external (laws etc), to influence how society works. The word "radical" indicates at the radix, the root. Change the way people think about gender and sex, and the world will follow. I'm not sure you have that kind of patience....

Kerry said...

thanks, bff. my mom's definition of radical is probably different. like radical = attention seeking; or radical = crazy/extreme/irrational/penis-hating/etc. I actually like your definition of "radical feminist," though. I've never heard it (because if Orin's book on the ERA can tick me off so much, I obviously haven't studied much feminism!), but it's fascinating. I actually disagree (just slightly) with your interpretation of me, though. by your definitions, I think I'm probably both liberal AND radical. I think the laws should be changed, yes. Making me liberal. But I'm not content with changing the laws and chauvinists be darned. I *want* hearts and minds to change. Which is maybe why I write blogs and books and stuff. You're right that on certain things I'm not very patient, though. People who annoy me, mainly. ;-)

and sorry, anon (who is probably my mom?), but I had to delete your comment because it was a total SPOILER! no worries to everyone else, though, all will be revealed soon...

Jaime said...

He seriously grabbed your butt?? And I guess you can't sue him or anything because he's like, the chairman of the judiciary committee! You are so right with your rant. He's saying that the job of raising children is *only* the responsibility of the mother, especially with his argument of having to provide childcare if a woman wants to work. The government doesn't provide childcare when a man works, so why would it have to be provided for women? And why is he so afraid of people "realizing they're not suited to motherhood?" Wouldn't that be a good thing to realize before they have a kid? You are not being radical. You have proven that you have 'common sense', so according to Sen. Hatch that would preclude you from even being a feminist, so you really can't be a radical one!

Kerry said...

don't worry, Jaimie. him grabbing my butt wasn't exactly something to sue him over. just a FANTASTIC story. we always tell my brother, though, that he'll never be able to run for office because there isn't a butt out there that he hasn't grabbed. (including his sisters! ick!)

and bff, what would you call a nature worshiping feminist? cause that sounds kinda fun! (you know green me...)

oh, and there is one other little bit that I wanted to rant about momentarily... relating to #1 in the OP about how homemaking should be recognized as work--I actually find Orin's characterization of how this would work deeply offensive. He says that what would happen is that husbands would have to be classified as their wive's *employers.* making a disturbing hierarchical marriage relationship. And, ick, I think that would be awful, so we sorta agree, Orin. Where we *don't* agree is that this is the ONLY way to accomplish the recognition of SAHM's as work. I mean, you can be *self* employed, can't you? Why does a woman have to have a *boss* in order to get social security? The fact that this is the only option he can think of shows either his 1) narrow minded stupidity; 2) his dishonest shock-methods; OR 3) the fact that, at heart, dear Orin is sorta a chauvinist pig who can't possibly even *conceive* of a woman being in charge of *herself.* So annoying.

[kɹeɪ̯ɡ̊] said...

Your posting this makes me so happy.

I think I may be even more radically feminist that you.

YAY FEMINISM!!!

Kerry said...

always happy to see *you* happy, Craig. ;-)

Kerry said...

Oh, and, Craig, did you notice that my blog readers apparently find *you* to be the biggest threat to marriage? I find this hilarious.

Jaime said...

Using Orin's premise that husbands would have to be classified as their wive's *employers*, why not the other way around? Why wouldn't the husbands be classified as the wife's employee? In a situation where a woman is running the home, raising children, and feeding everyone, then the husband's sole purpose is to bring her money to make this all possible. Isn't a SAHM like the CEO of a family? So maybe *she* is the boss, and *he* is the employee.

Kerry said...

Oh, Jaimie. You radical, you. ;-)

Kerry said...

(not that I disagree... )

bff said...

You know that! Nature-worshiping feminists are ecofeminists. Started 1973, same year as Le Guin's novella "The Word for 'World' is Forest" came out. Their idea is that the oppression of women is intrinsically connected to the oppression of the environment. The metaphors are all the same, conquest is both colonial and sexual, raping the land, and of course, contesting with the Other works in both the diads of Man v Nature and Man vs Woman. You really need to read "Dancing at the Edge of the World." Before you do your next book.

Whitney said...

Well. You have successfully gotten me ticked off at Orin Hatch.

Anonymous said...

hey baby, your logic is slightly off.

Kerry said...

you talking to me, anonymous? (mom? you can just say you're mom, you know)

cause if you're not my mom you might not know that I actually teach logic. at the university. one of the best universities in the country. so I'm not so sure about that.

Anonymous said...

Hey. That last anonymous WAS NOT ME!

Love you,
Mom

Swanky Mommy said...

Can I still be a reader for this book? PUHLEASE? Can we resurrect writer's group, because I REALLY need it. But being a feminist who was adopted in the 70s, seems right up my alley. For real. Still your #1 fan.

Kerry said...

I'd love to resurrect writing group. You email me something and I'll email you something?

and you are so right about you being the perfect audience for this book! it's like you're one of the *characters.* (the mostly silent one who's all fetal, but *still*...)