Letter from the Editors
Dear Sadie Friends and Fans,
The Internet has been abuzz recently with a series of articles that have attempted to ID women as either feminist or non-feminist. The announcement of Marissa Mayer’s position as CEO of tech giant Yahoo! (while seven months pregnant) was certainly exciting, but it was somewhat tempered by her admission that she doesn’t identify as a feminist because she lacks the “militant drive” and the “chip on the shoulder” endemic to contemporary feminism. Not surprisingly, this lit something of a fire under the skirts of certain feminist bloggers. Most blogs, ours included, expressed frustration regarding this disavowal, but insisted that, despite her protestations, Mayer is indeed a feminist.
Additionally, Caitlin Moran, that whip-smart Brit whose How To Be a Woman has been taking the United States by storm, argues that if a woman works—even if that woman has espoused anti-feminist rhetoric—she has benefited from feminism and is thus a feminist. For Moran, then, any woman who is alive and working in the first world is automatically a feminist, even if, like in the case of Ann Coulter, she will “take 69 cents on the dollar, or whatever the current feminist myth is about how much we make just to never have to pay for dinner.” For the record, Ann, it’s 77 cents, and I still wouldn’t take institutionalized sexism in exchange for a nice dinner.
So how does this translate for women who don’t work? Writing for the Atlantic, Elizabeth Wurtzel recently railed against the 1 percent wives of Manhattan who don’t work because it’s their “feminist choice.” The issues surrounding choice feminism are well taken: something is wrong when even anti-feminist behavior is deemed feminist because it’s a “choice.” Choice feminism is problematic because it rarely looks at the underlying racism, sexism, and/or, misogyny that often inspires that decision. Wurtzel goes on to note that when educated, presumably intelligent women opt to fill their days with Jivamukti yoga classes and late lunches rather than deadlines and briefs, they are putting themselves at risk and doing the feminist movement a huge disservice. In fact, if a woman went to Princeton and read The Second Sex and remains unemployed, Wurtzel feels personally betrayed. Wurtzel’s definition of feminism leaves many women out, including some in the 1 percent and those unemployed in the remaining 99 percent: “Real feminists earn a living, have money and means of their own.”
It is, of course, disappointing that although Mayer, who clearly earns a living (Forbes estimates that she is set to make over 100 million over the next five years), has reaped the benefits of feminism, she doesn’t recognize her indebtedness to the movement, yet the criticism she has amassed for not giving props to the women who blazed her trail sort of illustrates her whole “chip on the shoulder” comment. The thing is, as Google's first female engineer and only the twentieth female CEO of a Fortune 500 company, Mayer is a feminist role model, whether she takes up that mantle or not. It is our job to hold her up as the Tech Queen of Silicon Valley.
Instead of attacking women who refuse to identify as feminist, or stripping women of the label, why not take the time to educate people about what it means to be a feminist, and to work towards a new definition of an ever-evolving category? In this issue of Sadie, Jana Hunter of the Lower Dens discusses what it means to be a woman who is often mistaken for an adolescent boy in the music industry: “People could stand to be a lot less preoccupied with what's under somebody's skirt. It seems to get in the way of people experiencing other, much more interesting things, about life.” Also, Jesse interviews the great and inspiring Genesis Breyer P-orridge, who has embarked on a movement to deconstruct the binaries inherent to patriarchy by changing the physicality of h/er body to represent neither male or female, but a pandrogynous entity. Oh, and you can also learn how to make awesome DIY lace appliqué necklaces, and how to ease the pain of heartbreak with a simple herbal tincture. And, finally, our readers will hopefully take note that we at Sadie Magazine, everyone a self-identified feminist, don’t come with chips on our shoulders.
Love always, Sadie
x o x o
Illustration by Molly Schulman