anti suffragist

Frances Power Cobbe (1822-1904) was an Irish writer, leading suffragist, and anti-vivisection activist. She was a member of the London National Society for Women’s Suffrage, and founded a number of groups for animal rights, such as the Anti-Vivisection Society and the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection.

In 1875 she founded the first ever organization that dealt with the protection of animals. She wrote newspaper columns, books, and essays dealing with the causes that she cared about, for example suffrage, women’s rights, and vivisection.

Win or lose, ultimately Hillary Clinton’s 2016 candidacy refutes the ideas articulated by the anti-suffragists and revived again this year. Politics is a place that women enter, a place where women count, and a place where women belong.

So the stuff donewithwoodenteeth mentioned in her latest post about Arya is really interesting – the stuff about Arya-hating Sansa fans couching their Arya hate in feminist terms, I mean. Arya is bad because (after the #1 rationale for Arya hate, of course, which is that she’s a murderer – never mind the circumstances in which she killed the people she’s killed; self-defense? what’s that?) Arya is a misogynist who thinks other girls are stupid.

Why is Arya a misogynist? Arya, who makes friends easily with women and girls, who doesn’t look down on sex workers, who cares greatly about what her mother thinks of her (look at how worried she is about what Catelyn would think of her, and whether she’d want to take her back after everything she’s done), who insists that her fellow escapees from Harrenhal not abandon a girl who only sits and cries, and who thinks a mother’s House should matter as much in heraldry as a father’s? 

Here is how donewithwoodenteeth squares that particular circle:

[W]hat’s particularly disturbing about [people calling Arya “misogynistic”] is that if you think about it, for book readers, the only reason they would find Arya - pro-sex worker and female heroes Arya - to be “misogynistic” is if they equate misogyny with not being enough of a woman. They equate Arya not being feminine enough, not being able to fit into the highborn woman’s traditional mold, not being good at traditional feminine pursuits, and not being pretty enough as a sign of misogyny.

And then I thought about the trend within feminism to define misogyny not as the hatred of women but of femininity. I consider this trend very misguided for a lot of reasons, but for now I just want to point out a weird irony.

Anti-feminists have always been, oh, you’re only a feminist because you’re not attractive/feminine enough — I’ve been seeing a lot of old anti-suffragist cartoons circulating on this website and that’s the theme of a lot of them: the suffragette as dried-up, shrill-voiced, bitter spinster.

And of course you have Rush Limbaugh’s famous comment about the purpose of feminism: “to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society.”

So what’s ironic is that a sort of mirror image of this is cropping up within feminism: a feminist should be attractive and feminine, or else she must have ~internalized misogyny~ and be aping the masculine.