MEDIA MASH: Conservative Feminism Returns; Whose Side NPR?

There's Feminism "Lite" and Then There' s Conservative Feminism ...

There has been lots of buzz lately about the direction of feminism. Have young women, as Michelle Goldberg suggests ("Feminism for Sale") moved to "shopping and fucking feminism," influenced by TV shows like Sex and the City and zines like Bust and Maxi? As Goldberg describes it: "it's easy-to-swallow feminism, feminism that encourages you to pamper yourself and get rid of guilt and waltz through life like Audrey Hepburn." Ironically, just when Goldberg is poking at Bust Magazine, feminist icon, recently married Gloria Steinem appears on the cover of Bust's in its latest "feminism" issue. The issue includes in editor Debbie Stoler's words: "... the story of a chick who hates feminists but a boy who loves them, tales of sexy, sporty, and scary feminists ... and interviews and articles from a number of the coolest feminist movers and shakers we could find."

Speaking of Michelle Goldberg, who is, at 25, one of the sharpest social commentators we have and a prodigious producer of great copy ... She is off on a year long jaunt around the world with her partner, with big stops in India and Southeast Asia. We'll miss her, but hopefully we'll get reports from her about the youth diaspora that is attracting dot-com burnouts and escapees. Michelle says she thinks the diaspora may be the last form of Bohemia. We may also hear from Goldberg about how globalization is perceived by working people in less developed countries. Should be interesting.

Meanwhile, enter "Conservative Feminism." It has arrived, or rearrived ( John Gray's gigantic best seller: "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" was its forerunner) in the form of Laura Doyle and her book, "The Surrendered Wife" (It was the focus of a SF Bay Guardian cover story last week, but I can't supply URL since SFBG doesn't put most of its content on the web).

According to writer Annalee Newitz, Doyle outlines a "feminist: program" for women who want to become traditional submissive wives. Although Doyle advises that women maintain their assertive identities in the work place, she suggests that marital happiness will be achieved only when husbands take care of everything from household finances to initiating sex." Doyle told Newitz: "I want to help women stay married. Don't you think that's feminist?" "The fantasy," Newitz wrote, "is that once women have surrendered, the domestic sphere will become peaceful, a welcome respite after a long day of getting whiplash from smacking one's head against the glass ceiling." Doyle also suggests that becoming submissive will make women more sexually attractive. "Like the diet obsessed ... babes on HBO's Sex in the City, conservative feminists encourage women to be openly sexual.

Of course, the publicity machine for Doyle and her book is humming and the corporate media is cooperating by giving her airtime. She appeared on NBC's Dateline on January 15th. What better story for all Americans to hear in the era of Dubya Bush than that men should be enjoy complete deferrence in the privacy of the home? Hey, all those white males who voted for Bush now need to be rewarded. And they are calling this "feminism?" It's a Brave New World.

Whose Side NPR? -- Depends on Your Perspective

Recently, documentary film maker Micha X. Peled e-mailed a bunch of his colleagues, urging them to express support for NPR, PBS and NEA to their Congressmen. Nina Tottenberg had warned on NPR's Morning Edition that "if the Supreme Court supports Congress, it is in effect the end of the National Public Radio (NPR), NEA & the Public Broadcasting System(PBS). PBS, NPR and the arts are facing major cutbacks in funding."

Peter Franck, a long-time attorney for progressive media causes and colleague of Peled's, responded to Peled: "This NPR you want us to help save. Is this the same NPR which has just succeeded in its campaign to kill the FCC's LPFM (Low Power FM, also known as micro radio) initiative? By gosh, it is."

Let's hope that Peled's much anticipated documentary on WalMart gets a warmer reception.

More Magazines

On the magazine front, the Masher was pretty skeptical when he heard that new editor Kit Rachlis wanted to turn LA Magazine into a West Coast New Yorker. Well he's off to a good start with a finely edited first issue which includes a fascinating cover story about the dual lives of Lori Gonzalez, the murdered granddaughter of LA police Chief Bernard Parks, written by Jesse Katz.

And there is aMagazine - Inside Asian America, a very slick creation with the sensational Zhang Ziyi of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on the cover. But wait, some subversiveness lurks within the shiny pages. Heading the list of "newsmakers, ground breakers, influence brokers and style setters " for 2000 is W Wen Ho Lee en Ho Lee, the nuclear physicist who was pulverized by the FBI and the media before the espionage charges against him were dropped. Ranked # 7 is Helen Zia, as a "model for a new breed of revolutionary Asian American. Zia, a well known lesbian feminist, once interjected to an audience of Asian American students, "We have to stop being so fucking polite." Zia is the author of "Asian American Dreams; The Emergence of an American People" ( Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2000) regarded by many as the new bible of Asian American history."

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