Critique of Sociological Images post ‘The Hunger Games, Hollywood, & Fighting Fuck Toys’

Today, Dr. Caroline Heldman writes for Sociological Images that Hollywood execs are missing out on revenues because Hollywood continues to depict female action heroes as “Fighting Fuck Toys” (FFT) which are not believable or compelling protagonists.  She notes that the recent blockbuster “The Hunger Games” has been a box office success, despite its heroine being a “believable, reluctant hero” who “isn’t objectified once.”  Heldman, who is a regular political commentator for Fox News, Fox Business News, RT America, and Al Jazeera English, seems genuinely confused as to why Hollywood so routinely spits out box office flops like ElektraCatwoman, and Sucker Punch portraying hypersexualized female protagonists when the FFT action heroine-genre doesn’t seem to be particularly lucrative.

Could it be that money really isn’t the point?  And, are we completely sure that the female protagonist in “The Hunger Games” is not objectified?

Heldman writes that The Hunger Games‘s protagonist, Katniss Everdeen

succeeds with audiences where other women heroes have failed because she isn’t an FFT. Fighting fuck toys are hyper-sexualized women protagonists who are able to “kick ass” (and kill) with the best of them — and look good doing it. The FFT appears empowered, but her very existence serves the pleasure of the heterosexual male viewer. In short, the FFT takes female agency and appropriates it for the male gaze.

First of all, media analyses centering “the male gaze” are just completely misguided generally, not to mention an utter bore.  There is no analysis of what is meant by “the male gaze” because it is a “Feminism 101” concept; we are directed to educate ourselves about the “Male gaze” on the “Finally, a feminism 101 blog”.  There we fall asleep reading about how, although the concepts of the gaze and the male gaze were first

introduced as part of film theory, the term can and is often applied to other kinds of media. It is often used in critiques of advertisements, television, and the fine arts.

[…]

The male gaze in advertising is actually a fairly well-studied topic, and it — rather than film — is often what comes to mind when the term is invoked. This is because, more than just being an object of a gaze, the woman in the advertisement becomes what’s being bought and sold: “The message though was always the same: buy the product, get the girl; or buy the product to get to be like the girl so you can get your man” in other words, “‘Buy’ the image, ‘get’ the woman” (Wykes, p. 41). In this way, the male gaze enables women to be a commodity that helps the products to get sold (the “sex sells” adage that comes up whenever we talk about modern marketing). Even advertising aimed at women is not exempt: it engages in the mirror effect described above, wherein women are encouraged to view themselves as the photographer views the model, therefore buying the product in order to become more like the model advertising it.

Okay, but since liberal analysts generally agree, being liberals, that the commodification of women’s sexuality is okay, and that prostitution and pornography themselves are okay, why do they continuously take issue with women in advertising images becoming what’s bought and sold?  Literally selling women’s sex, including their sexual labor and their very bodies is not a problem for liberals ethically or politically, so why can’t they stop talking about it?

It gives them something to say, and supports the patriarchal institution of the academy by giving film-school students something to wank about, but this criticism does not provide any meaningful analysis of patriarchal power structures, or get to the root of women’s oppression by men.  If liberal analysts actually had a problem with porn and prostitution in real life, they might then point out that commodifying female sexuality and bodies in advertising normalizes porn and prostitution — which it does — and that observation would be based in an actual political theory and be relevant to sexual politics; alas, it does not and it is not.

Seriously, what the hell?  Liberal media analysis is so boring, but the real problem with it is that it’s a theoretical dead-end.  As is this:

Heldman seems genuinely confused as to why Hollywood generally refuses to produce content that does not very obviously, overtly and gratuitously objectify women, when there might be money to be made there, and she uses the commercial success of “The Hunger Games” as evidence that this is true.  She seems completely unaware — or rejects the idea — that the patriarchal media is a propaganda machine that deliberately turns out anti-woman, pro-patriarchal political propaganda first and foremost; and that money is important, because money and the money system supports male power, but money in and of itself is not the whole purpose of Hollywood filmmaking or of any media imagery or of anything.  Supporting male power is the point.

But interestingly, at the same time Heldman seems to believe that the female protagonist is not objectified, she notes this:

While the movie arguably plays up the romance angle more than the books, The Hunger Games is still squarely an action thriller, set in a dystopic future world where teens fight to the death in a reality show.

It plays up the romance.  The heterosexual romance between our heroine Katniss Everdeen and not one but two male hunters, Peeta and Gale.  Where heterosexual romance centers PIV and the domestic, sexual and reproductive servitude of women to men, and where women are mere “useful objects” to men, serving male interests and male power literally until the women are used up, and then tossed out like so much garbage.

I have news for Dr. Caroline Heldman: Katniss Everdeen is objectified in “The Hunger Games.”  The Fighting Fuck Toy is not the only way female heroines are objectified, and it’s not the most insidious either.

And “The Hunger Games” can easily be read as supportive of male institutions and male power because it is supportive of male institutions and male power.  Being a product of the patriarchal propaganda machine, it is that by definition, but how it is supportive of male power is readily ascertained if one only performs an honest critical analysis of it.  In other words: that this image and all media images support male power is demonstrable.  But you do need a theoretical foundation from which to start, meaning that one must first articulate the mechanisms of women’s real-life oppression and the foundations of male power, and then plug in the facts, to see which male-power-supportive themes are represented in any particular image, film, or genre.  And that is precisely where liberal media criticism falls flat.

Please see our “About,” “Why Radfem?” and “The Gears” pages for additional information about this project.

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35 responses to “Critique of Sociological Images post ‘The Hunger Games, Hollywood, & Fighting Fuck Toys’”

  1. Caroline Heldman says :

    As a radical feminist, I think this is a great analysis of the other ways in which Katniss is objectified/supports male power structures. I’m saddened by the tone of your critique and your misreading that this is a liberal feminist critique, that I support porn (read “hypocrite”), or that I am “confused” (read “stupid”) because I address one layer in an easily accessible way instead of writing an academic piece that addresses the many ills of this film.

  2. FCM says :

    hi caroline! thanks for reading, and sorry you dont like the tone.

    regarding your statement that you are a radical feminist, and that your critique was not liberal, or liberal feminist, the proof that your analysis is a liberal analysis is in the pudding. words have meaning, and “radical feminist” means something and is based in a specific ideology that is different from liberal politics and liberal feminism. if you would like to clarify what your non-liberal or radical feminist points were (or are) please do so. radical commentary is always appreciated.

    also, whether you personally support porn does not negate the fact that liberal ideology supports porn. but if you wish to set the record straight, do you support it or not? and if not, why didnt you clarify that in your critique? it would have made more sense to ground it in an analysis of the harms of porn; as it is, it is grounded in nothing (or in an analysis of the “gaze” which is not much more than nothing, really).

    i also disagree that your piece was not academic. critiques of the gaze and the male gaze are very academic and rooted in “film theory” and actually are not accessible at all, if you mean that academic and accessible are mutually exclusive. again, the proof is in the pudding.

  3. Caroline Heldman says :

    Did you seriously just tell that there’s a difference between radical and liberal feminists? Again, tone. You’re “conversing” with someone whose Ph.D. focuses on feminism and who has been writing radical feminist critiques for over ten years. What makes your reply even more ridiculous is that it arrived in the middle of editing a piece about how radical feminists were right (which I, along with maybe Robert Jensen and Gail Dines have been saying for years). I have many replies to your response, but you’re so condescending that I won’t take the time to engage.

  4. FCM says :

    the proof of liberalism versus radicalism is in the pudding, and you have yet to make a radical feminist point or retract any of your obviously liberal points. and you havent added anything to this conversation at all. BTW academic-credential-dropping isnt very radical and it definitely doesnt support your claim that you are being accessible and nonacademic. neither is the tone-argument radical. you say “again, tone.” i say again, pudding.

  5. witchwind says :

    Great to see a critique of the film hunger games, even if it’s a critique of a critique. I only saw the trailer but it so struck me as so archetypical of patriarchal war myth-making that I thought I might write something about it, although I’m not sure I could endure the whole mind-polluting film, well, definitely not on big screen and I don’t want to pay for that. So here is what I had in mind, sorry if it’s long

    Having studied (endured) theories of (male) international relations, what immediately struck me about the trailer is that the world the film depicts was like a by-the-book copy of basic 19th cent. International relations realpolitik with an additional gladiator-like twist, and a spice of male necro(techno)logy. It’s basically men treating the world like a square, flat, zero-sum chess-game, where some men who think they’re gods move around their dead pawns.

    1. The pawns in reality refer to male (sometimes female) subordinates that rulers send away as cannon fodder in their disputes against other pal rulers over “territory”.

    2. According to this male world-view, the round earth is a flat, fragmented, cross-ruled “territory” that is meant to be controlled from above like a rat-lab, invaded and pillaged. Every bit of life is objectified, that is, made dead, or kept barely enough alive to be exploited and then chucked away like garbage. This also fits all patriarchal western biblical views of the world, with a male God towering over his square garden, his “game”. These wars are always dick-centered: controlled and organised by men or token women possessed by men, they “penetrate territories” and “penetrate bodies” and kill with their phallus-shape weapons and canons that “ejaculate” death. Just like PIV!!

    3. In apparence the god-like pawn-moving men are playing against each-other, but as all divisions between men this division masks the fact that both are men, whose common enemy and target is women.

    4. This film supports and glorifies a male system of war, which is THE insititution by which men as a class manage to hold power over women, without which they couldn’t maintain the constant terror and threat of death necessary to keep women under constant control, since they as a class monopolise the use and production of weapons. It also glorifies modern means of patriarchal control over women: technology and images, both being different modes of mind and body rapism and a way of gradually attempting to replace women and life by
    dead robots.

    5. The heroïne couldn’t be more objectified: she herself is an object to be conquered between two men (romance in patriarchy is a lie for rape and death) and she’s also an objectified pawn put to death in a game she has no control over. She is prodded by robots, moulded like clay according to the sadisitic interests of the rulers, brainwashed… And she’s also objectified by the spectators who are supposed to wank off to the thrill of seeing her in such distress – this is only possible if her body is eroticised in patriarchal terms.

    6. To finish, the trailer also reminded me of a passage of Mary Daly in Gyn-Ecology, p.7:
    “The walls of Patriarchal Pleasure Park represent the condition of being perpetually parked, locked into the parking lot of the past. A basic meaning of park is “game preserve”. The father’s foreground is precisely this: an arena where the wildness of nature and of women’s Selves is domesticated, preserved. It is the place for the preservation of females who are the “fair game” of the fathers, that they may be served to these predatory Park Owners, and service them at their pleasure.”

  6. Lysandra says :

    I am so glad to see this here! I was hoping this blog would take on that post, because when I read it I really found it wanting but I couldn’t articulate why.

    But you do need a theoretical foundation from which to start, meaning that one must first articulate the mechanisms of women’s real-life oppression and the foundations of male power,

    This right here–this is pure gold. It’s what was leaving me unsatisfied about that original Soc Images post, and really what leaves me unsatisfied about so much of liberal feminism, but I hadn’t been able to put it into words.

    So thank you for this post, and also thanks to witchwind for fleshing out the radical analysis of this film even more. In my family, on my Facebook page, and in my community, everyone and their second cousin is gushing about this story. I haven’t read the books or seen the movie (yet?) and I was hoping for some Radical Feminist critique before making a decision whether to do so.

    As a final note, I am shocked that anyone would think there’s no difference between liberal feminism and radical feminism, especially someone with a PhD focusing on feminism. I sure as hell have no PhD in feminism–I’ve never even taken a single women’s studies class–but it’s clear as day to me that there’s an enormous gulf between the sex-positive, postmodernist, relatively fun and non-threatening liberal feminism and the incisive, no-holds-barred, absolutely threatening (to patriarchy) radical feminism. And I’m still relatively new to radical feminism.

  7. FCM says :

    hi lysandra

    i think caroline was saying that she knows theres a difference, and the way we are supposed to know she knows theres a difference is because she SHOULD know, seeing as how she has a doctorate and work experience. which is a spurious claim a best. and what she has yet to do, of course, is to make an actual radical feminist point.

    but in all seriousness, if my *tone* was really so egregious, i will apologize for it, rather than doubling down, i mean why not right? even though thats completely subjective and irrelevant to the validity of my actual points, fine. i will play nice. meanwhile, caroline is doubling down on her claim that her article was not liberal, and that she is a radical, and doubling down on her assertion that we are supposed to accept thats true BECAUSE SHE SAYS SO. sorry, but “because i said so” is not feminist analysis. its not! theres a widget in the sidebar to that effect. its offensive, pathetic and aggravating all at once. and the credential dropping! wow. that went over like a lead balloon didnt it? which is exactly what academic credentials are worth in radical space, and when discussing and imagining real freedom for women. funny she wouldnt have anticipated that. credentials are worthless here mkay? its what you DO that counts, and academented cred is at least as likely to hurt your analysis as help it. if you are a radical, prove it. its not that hard. SHOW DONT TELL.

  8. FCM says :

    its also possible that she is a radfem who wrote a libfem analysis for publication. shit happens. but dont double down on the assertion that its radical and not liberal when thats completely baseless; just admit you capitulated to get published. not that hard. or is it? 🙂 therein lies the rub. having anything whatsoever to do with liberalism is antithetical to the truth. it is completely poisoned. the branches, the roots, the fruit, and the soil are all poison.

  9. Lysandra says :

    Oh! I see that now, I was reading Caroline’s comment wrong.

    The tone argument is interesting. I mean, I suppose at the end of the day maybe tone matters a bit in how palpable something is and how likely we are to reach certain audiences, but the way that some people talk about it you’d think it was the only thing that matters. I think it’s just a diversion tactic, to avoid addressing the substance of what’s being said. I mean, I can say some really nasty shit in a nice tone and it’s still nasty shit. Or I can speak truth in an abrasive tone, but the tone doesnt doesn’t take away the fact that the substance of what I’ve said is the truth.

    But I’m a little surprised that this is one of Caroline’s main points in her comments to you. Isn’t “the tone argument” one of the biggest liberal feminist talking points? Having spent several years wrapped up in the liberal feminist blogosphere, it became quite clear to me that it was a major feminist faux pas to even mention tone. But it’s been 6-9 months since I read anything from that sphere (except Sociological Images since I’m a sociology nerd, which is why I was so excited to see THIS blog spring up!) so maybe I’m out of that loop now.

    In any case, none of this really matters as much as the substance of the argument, does it? So far it seems to me like you (FCM) have made a very solid case for what you are saying. I’m curious to see if Caroline has anything of substance to say about it.

  10. FCM says :

    yes, libfems know not to use tone argument on each other, and some of them even know why its invalid yet they use it on radfems all the time. radfems are very MEAN, you see. its as far as they ever get in responding to our analysis. its disappointing.

  11. witchwind says :

    The truth can never be separated from the messenger though. It’s always incarnated by someone. We each have our own way of saying the truth and when we say the truth, in the way we say it we also say something about ourselves and how we relate to that truth, how we relate to the person we’re talking to and what this truth means to us, and why we need to say it this way and not another. This is what makes radfem discussions so interesting because every women saying the truth brings something new to our worldview, opens something further, adds a brick in the radfem spiral.

    Maybe if someone else did a radfem critique of her article it might have been done in such a way that she would have said “thanks for the critique, it changed the way I see the film / liberalism, next time I’ll take that into account”. Or maybe not, and maybe she’s not ready to go that far yet.

    This is an interesting discussion because the question of how to tell the truth is something I’ve being thinking about very hard the last few weeks. I’ve been thinking about it because I do presentations in which the aim of the presentation is to tell the truth about patriarchy and its tools of oppression against women to people who aren’t at all feminist, children and adults alike. And I quickly realised that while I could tell the truth in blogs, in real life it’s not the same, and you have to convince people in very little time and the way I do it matters, whether I like it or not – this really pissed me off at first but I had no choice if I wanted to continue without exposing myself to retaliation that could risk my health, sanity, etc. Without compromising on one inch of radfeminism, I have to think of ways they can relate to it personnally to accompany them at their own pace through the stages of radfem analysis. This only works for women by the way. I still don’t know what to do about the men in the room, unfortunately I can’t kick them out.

  12. Noanodyne says :

    Caroline Heldman was never going to be able to have this discussion here. A look at how she got where she is professionally, politically, and ideologically will tell us why.

    She has an undergraduate degree in Business Management and worked as the General Manager of Bio-Energy Systems and Research Manager for Consumer Health Sciences, which collects market research data from consumers regarding the use of pharmaceuticals on behalf of major manufacturers. Shilling for pharmaceutical companies is not the classic foundation for a radical feminist, since they are one of the most destructive of women of all the patriarchal institutions. But let’s give Dr. Heldman the benefit of the doubt and imagine that work is what radicalized her.

    She then got both her MA and Ph.D. in Political Science — which virtually always means mainstream politics — and her dissertation was on Consumerism in American Politics. But she did a comprehensive exam in Women and Politics. Hmmm, also sounds mainstream since no one even approaching a radical feminist viewpoint has taken part in American Politics, but let’s keep looking.

    She is now an Associate Professor of Politics where she specializes in “the American presidency and systems of power” (let’s remember how many females have been U.S. president and what happened to the handful of women who tried for it; that’s a lesson in trying harder to fit in, not in overthrowing the entire system, and she studies and comments on that process for a living).

    She has taught two courses perhaps related to some version of “feminism”:
    “Gender and American Politics” and “Controversies in Sexuality,” the latter of which is described this way:
    “This course introduces four theoretical perspectives on sexuality: biology (sexuality is a matter of sexual bodies and chemistry), psychological (sexuality is a matter of mental states and processes), social constructionist (sexuality is a cultural and historical product), and conflict (sexuality is a contested arena in which different groups vie for power). With these perspectives in mind, we explore four broad questions: How should we regulate sexual behavior? What is sexual consent? Who’s responsible for the fact that sex makes babies? And, what is good sex?”

    I don’t think we have to wonder too hard what “good sex” is in a class being taught as part of a core liberal arts track in a classically liberal college.

    We can look at the rest of her curriculum vita for more clues (like that there is ONE publication with the word “feminist” or “feminism” in it, but I get to that farther down).

    She gave a conference presentation: “Consumer Culture and the Gaze” (with Jennifer Holmes) — that was a paper given during a session about “New Generation: Feminism, Activisim, and Political Participation Among Young Women” — she’s got that “gaze” thing down pat.

    Heldman is a journal referee for the “Journal of Women, Politics & Policy” which is part of The Institute for Women’s Policy Research. The Journal “explores women’s roles in the political process—as voters, activists, leaders in interest groups and political parties, and office holders in the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government, including the increasingly relevant international bodies such as the European Union and the World Trade Organization. It examines the impact of public policies on women’s lives,examining areas such as tax and budget issues, poverty reduction and income security, education and employment, care giving, and health and human rights, including violence, safety, and reproductive rights. This multidisciplinary, international journal presents the work of social scientists—including political scientists, sociologists, economists, and public policy specialists—who study the world through a gendered lens and uncover how gender functions in the political and policy arenas. Throughout, the journal places a special emphasis on the intersection of gender, race/ethnicity, class, and other dimensions of women’s experiences.”

    We can give her this one, who knows what radical stuff could sneak in from time to time. So she may have at least seen some radical analysis at some point.

    She co-edited the anthology (you know, other people’s ideas and writing) “Rethinking Madame President: Is the US Ready for a Woman in the White House?” the description of which makes it sound like a mainstream political science text and it’s doubtful that it’s heavy on radical feminist analysis.

    But much more tellingly, Heldman has been political commentator for Fox News and Fox Business News — obviously two of the most reactionary, pro-patriarchal media organizations that have ever existed. It’s not hard to imagine she’s the feminist token there. And being a token in institutions that have the destruction of your sex class close to their heart can do things to you. Ahem, moving on.

    She seems to be a go-to spokesperson for what mainstream feminist media critics think about what other mainstream feminist media critics are doing (cough SocImages), but did get it right for one statement when she was interviewed for The Huffington Post to get her comments about the film “Miss Representation”: “The root cause of the vast under representation of women in positions of power is patriarchy.” But in the whole rest of the interview she gives us the liberal professor version of how sexist the U.S. media is, but never gets to the big issue of WHY the media treats women as sex objects, etc. That’s a pattern for her, keep that in mind as we continue on.

    She’s written for Ms. magazine and seems to have written the same kind of liberal-feminism article over and over for a while now. This abstract is from an article she wrote for them in 2008:
    “On a typical day, you might see ads featuring a naked woman’s body tempting viewers to buy an electronic organizer, partially exposed women’s breasts being used to sell fishing line, or a woman’s rear-wearing only a thong-being used to pitch a new running shoe. […] Dove beauty products launched a much-lauded advertising campaign that used “real women” (i.e., not super-skinny ones) instead of models, but then Dove’s parent company, Unilever, put out hypersexual ads for Axe men’s body spray that showed the fragrance driving scantily clad women into orgiastic states.”

    This is instructive for anyone who hasn’t been following this discussion over time. If you’ve just arrived, this should give you a very clear indication that “feminists” like Heldman have been providing this kind of analysis for at least four years without ever saying anything new. Those of us who have been following know that this has been going on much longer, but let’s just cut to the point: When exactly will it not be enough to simply point out the obvious and take a paycheck for doing so?

    I’m sure Heldman isn’t paid for every single thing she writes — or for every interview — she is a woman talking about feminist concepts after all. But she’s been putting herself out there as an expert in various places for a while now and it’s completely valid to ask whether she’s doing the cause of women’s liberation any damn good. As this post on Radfem-ological Images does.

    For the Ms. Magazine Blog Heldman has an impressive list of posts, but reading all of them, you see her same pattern (and even less). [You can search for the titles to read the originals.]

    In “When the Missing are Prostitutes, Police Let Trail Go Cold” (Ms. Blog, April 27, 2011) the title says it all, literally, no analysis of why that is, just reporting.

    “No Comment: Tilly’s Teaches Women How to Listen.” (Ms. Blog, December 17, 2011) has a little bit better analysis than the usual bland liberal stuff, but the word “pornography” is never used, hence the obvious association is never made.

    Then there’s “Where are the Feminists for Bristol Palin?” (Ms. Blog, September 21, 2011), wherein she takes “feminists” (well, actually strawfeminists because we actually never find out who specifically she is addressing) to task for liberal male behavior. Makes perfect sense when you put that together with the fact that she “ran into Bristol at a television studio a few days ago.” Heldman had no trouble taking up Sarah Palin’s attempted shaming of “feminists” for not doing enough on behalf of patriarchal handmaidens.

    Heldman provided questions for the blog post “The Real Story on Human Trafficking.” (Ms. Blog, April 11, 2011) and they were answered by an expert in trafficking and prostitution. Heldman not only provided no analysis or input herself, but didn’t even bother to take part in the discussion in the comments section of the post, where some pro-prostitution tropes were never addressed.

    Her post “Was the Shooting of Giffords a Hate Crime?” (Ms. Blog, January 19, 2011) is one of the most telling of all. She uses the word “misogyny” right away, so you have the feeling that she might be about to reveal something important. But no, the conclusion is basically this: “So it is not unreasonable to assume that Loughner targeted Giffords because she is a woman in a position of power.” No doubt she was happy to have just pointed out the obvious, pretty surely congratulating herself for doing so because “few media reports note the obvious misogyny at play in this case [which] is a testament to the fact that sexism is so ingrained in U.S. culture that it’s not even worth mentioning.”

    That smug feeling Heldman gives herself for doing just enough to carry the mantle of “feminist” while never going anywhere near the main source of women’s misery is why she chose to ignore the very large elephant in the room that her lazy analysis pointed out, but didn’t address: “If so, his crime falls under federal hate crime legislation, which regulates crimes that target members of protected classes (i.e., race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability).”

    Note to Dr. Heldman: The difference between your brand of feminism and radical feminism is that a radical feminist would have noticed instantly and commented on the fact that the U.S. plainly does not protect women based on their sex. And that makes your wishing for Uncle Sam to save the day rather pathetic.

    Heldman’s article “In Hostess Club Raid, Did Police Arrest the Victims?” (Ms. Blog, December 2, 2011) is the one exception that I found to her propensity for shallow, relatively light-weight analysis. This article connects the dots to show how the trafficking of women for sex creates overlaps of immigration and prostitution policy, law, and politics. Of course, she could have gone much farther in WHY the police arrested the women and not those who traffick the women and use and abuse them, as well as the obvious links between all the patriarchal institutions involved, but I doubt that would have gotten published in any form of mainstream media that would do Heldman’s career any good (even Ms. magazine).

    Because in the end, it’s very obvious that liberal analysis of “sexism” in and around media, politics, and major news events is Heldman’s bread and butter. More examples in this list:
    http://works.bepress.com/caroline_heldman/

    And more in any one of the articles on her blog that have “feminism” as a category give the exact same impression of a fairly lazy kind of liberal feminism — hey, if they’ll pay you for this level of analysis, why bother going deeper?
    http://carolineheldman.wordpress.com/category/feminism/

    We can easily see that she worries about her image. Here she is making sure that no one will think she’s too scary or too fringe, but has her proper womanly priorities in place (she gushes about finding the right —“much younger” — man):
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/caroline-heldman/gender-roles-defying-gend_b_603681.html

    But is self-aware enough as a “feminist” spokesperson that she feels she must reassure us that she’s in full control of how people see her, and even if that’s scary to some people, she can handle it:
    http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2010/05/12/blond-joke/

    Here we see that her awareness of herself as a feminist and her form of feminism is as lazy and shallow as her analysis. And beyond that, that article that should give anyone who really cares about feminism pause — including Dr. Heldman — and especially around her supposed knowledge of radical feminist analysis. In the article she states, “I chose to dye my hair platinum blond about a decade ago when I realized that, for most of my feminist life, I had been bowing to the golden cow of masculinity.” I’ll let someone else work some analysis on that, but wow, radical, not so much.

    And finally, this is a direct quote from Dr. Heldman’s blog:
    “Professor Heldman encourages her students in particular to dialogue and disagree with her blog posts, and hopes that they will find their own political voice, if they haven’t already.”

    You know, except mean radical feminists who don’t show the proper deference to liberal feminists who play “radicals” on Fox News and in the liberal media alike.

  13. Linda says :

    The stupidity of the tone argument aside, I can’t even see how your tone could have even been perceived as in any way extreme here; could it be the fact that “radfem” is in the title of the blog by any chance? Cos everyone knows radicals are rude and mean and unsmiling.

    It’s ok to take pride in a hard-earned qualification but we have to remember that it’s still a patriarchy-based qualification from a patriarchal institution. It’s certainly not radical or even helpful for feminist struggle to then use that qualification to attempt to oppress and silence other women – that’s what men and libfems do – it should instead be used to further the feminist struggle and help other women.

    If this Caroline Heldman was radical she would have identified all the hard work that you, FCM, put into feminist discourse for free. She would be acknowledging this and seeing the huge gap between this and the relatively less threatening (to patriarchy) work that she accepts money for doing.

    I’ll take this opportunity to thank you wholeheartedly for all your hard work here and elsewhere on the nets, FCM.

    And thanks witchwind and noan for taking the time to post such enlightening comments.

  14. thebewilderness says :

    I have not read the books or seen the film. I read a critique that said that the protagonist did not actually physically and truly kick any ass whatsoever, which would be a terrible disappointment to me, but not a surprise. Can anyone tell me if this is correct?

  15. Caroline Heldman says :

    I know I said I wouldn’t respond to you anymore since you’ve chosen to be nasty for no apparent reason, but I feel an obligation to do so since you’re so poorly informed about the difference between radical and liberal feminism. Liberal feminists seek gender equity through legal and governmental means, not movie reviews that focus on how representations of sexuality reflect and uphold patriarchy. The very project is a radial feminist project, and the fact that you don’t know that but feel confident enough to “school” an expert on the subject speaks volumes about your intellectual immaturity.

  16. FCM says :

    LOL we have our own resident liberal troll. awesome.

  17. thebewilderness says :

    Wow Caroline. If you reread the comment you left in a week or so I think you are going to ask yourself how the eff did I let myself say that.
    There should be a rule about how many logical fallacies a person can load into three sentences without their head explody and their computer melting down.

  18. FCM says :

    are we seriously supposed to believe that the fun-fem blogs, when they arent obviously and actively “seeking gender equity through legal and governmental means” that they consider themselves to no longer be liberal, or that they consider themselves to be radical? or we are supposed to think that? or that soc images is a radical project? or what? what in the hell is she talking about?

  19. Noanodyne says :

    The description of SocImages never mentions “feminism” or “feminist” — those are sociologists who specialize in gender and sexuality for liberal arts institutions. There is nothing “radical” about them, their work, or their ideas. Unless Dr. Heldman thinks that bucking the patriarchy on a little blog is scary radical.

    More likely an example of when too much education is a bad thing — a PhD can do terrible things to one’s ability to see beyond her tiny specialty. No, Dr. Heldman, the definition of “liberal” that you learned during your political science degree programs is not what we’re talking about here. Thanks for filling in the blanks where we were wondering if you’d ever read any Dworkin or Daly.

  20. delphyne says :

    Feminism as a term was co-opted by anti-feminists in the 90s to mean anything they decided it to mean, with the upshot being rubbish like pro sex industry feminism or right wing women attempting to take the feminism out of feminism whilst claiming to be feminists.

    It was inevitable with the resurgence of real radical feminism at the beginning of this century that there would be a group trying to steal the term for themselves in order to dilute its effectiveness. Shame the thieves this time have turned out to be ill-informed liberal feminists who think they’re rad, man.

  21. FCM says :

    LOL @ soc images being scary radical. scary maybe, radical not so much. of either kind.

  22. FCM says :

    hopefully she will sic bill oreilly on me. although it would be difficult to distinguish his insults from hers, that would be awesome.

  23. Noanodyne says :

    The anti-sexism denizens of SocImages think they are bucking the patriarchy on their mad scary radical blog, because so many liberal-dood trolls come out to mansplain how wrong, wrong, wrong they are. I’m sure they get tons of nastier comments as well, being the go-to place for media critics of the professor variety to send their students, especially the boy ones.

  24. FCM says :

    I can’t believe she flat out insulted me. That was hilarious. Wtf

  25. Linda says :

    Caroline Heldman said: “Liberal feminists seek gender equity through legal and governmental means, not movie reviews that focus on how representations of sexuality reflect and uphold patriarchy.”

    No no no, you’re conflating ideologies with aims and goals here. The ideology is the lens through which the problem is seen; the aims and goals are the desired outcomes. Equity through legal and social policy reform may be a goal of libfeminism, but that goal is informed by the ideology – liberal feminism, which, I have to inform you, is much more liberalism than feminism. It’s the way that the problem is understood and it is vastly different to the radical lens.

    Just because your article was about something besides the main goals of libfeminism (legal and policy reform) does not mean that it was not informed by your liberal feminist lens. You can apply that lens to anything, and the lens you use will be reflected in your writing, as has been pointed out to you. Your misunderstanding of the ideologies/lenses needed to be corrected. You should know that PhD students are not the only women to have an excellent grasp of feminist ideology.

  26. Linda says :

    Having said that, I have seen other (obviously) liberal feminists, on very liberal feminist blogs and forums, claim to “identify” as radical feminist. I don’t think it means what they think it means. I wonder if this is part of identity politics:
    I identify as X therefore I am X and don’t you dare imply otherwise.

  27. DavinaSquirrel says :

    It was inevitable with the resurgence of real radical feminism at the beginning of this century that there would be a group trying to steal the term for themselves in order to dilute its effectiveness. Shame the thieves this time have turned out to be ill-informed liberal feminists who think they’re rad, man.

    I couldn’t agree more Delphyne. There are a few libfems that are anti-porn, and they think this alone makes them a radfem. I have even seen some idiot claim he is a ‘radical transfeminist’ too (newsflash, radical feminism is opposed to gender, so-called sex-change, and genderqueer nonsense).

    I skimmed a few other pieces by Dr Heldman, and yes, very liberal. The next post here, The Male Gaze covers exactly what is wrong with the libfem analysis – they always stop far short of what the problem is.

    And tsk tsk really, the name-dropping, cred-dropping, to try to authenticate your authority on feminism in a radfem space – it actually has the opposite effect. Most of the best radfems have no formal qualification in women’s studies (now ‘gender studies’), and one reason is that the graduate then has to unlearn a lot of the rubbish taught in most places. And radfems all get better with age – unlike liberal feminists who suddenly find they are too old for the hipster world of liberal feminism.

    Whilst I don’t wish Dr Heldman ill with her toyboy relationship, I think she will find out eventually he is just a sponge that wants a replacement mommy. It is what 99% of the toyboy relationships are.

  28. Sargasso Sea says :

    Speaking of “intellectual immaturity”, Ms. Heldman is behaving as if we are all in the 7th grade here. But that’s the way her mainstream paymasters like it: shallow, “catty” and insulting.

    By the way, I’ve had a fundamentalist christian, quiverful woman insist that she is a radical feminist, too. Her explanation was that she is “radically feminine”. I don’t know, but maybe Ms. Heldman considers herself radical for saying anything that might be construed as critical of males…

  29. FCM says :

    Seriously. An attempted catfight on a radfem blog…and me without my scrunchee. No fair!

  30. Yisheng Qingwa says :

    Oh, WOW. Just… WOW. Yeah, she’s a real “expert”. In what, I cannot possibly fathom.

  31. Maricruz Villalobos Zamora says :

    Deliberate? Look I’m no expert, but in my personal experience men (and women who have internalized sexism) are not deliberately oppressive of women. Most of them do things that they consider to be “normal” without realizing that it’s sexist or even misogynistic

  32. FCM says :

    hi, when we discuss “intent” and whether something is deliberate or not, we often mean it in the terms mary daly described it — as in, if you know what the outcome will be, and you do it or continue to do it anyway, its because you desired that result. your comment was not specific so i dont know what you are saying is not deliberate, but this theory of causation and intent applies across the board. men know what they are doing when they do what they do. they know that PIV causes unwanted pregnancies for example, and that medical events are a drain on womens time and resources — yet men continue to demand and center PIV anyway. therefore, bringing about these kinds of female-specific harms is deliberate on mens part. its also often “deliberate” in the more obvious sense too, which is to say that there is conscious sadism involved. but not always.