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Your Feminist Future

Posted on | June 25, 2014 | 25 Comments

#YesAllWomen can become crazy cat ladies!

A Wisconsin woman who was charged with stealing back 15 cats from the Humane Society was arrested for violating the conditions of her bond.
Lee Ann Shore, 46, was arrested last month after she allegedly broke into the Coulee Region Humane Society in Onalaska, Wis. to get cats that were seized from her earlier in May.
Shore’s apartment had been condemned, according to Coulee Region’s executive director Heather Hankins.
“They took out 17 cats, and the reason being that the living conditions were not suitable for people or animals,” she said.

While we don’t have much information on Lee Ann Shore‘s life history or educational background, I’m willing to take a wild guess.

Lest you think the “crazy cat lady” jokes are merely a hateful stereotype of feminists as unloved, lonely and mentally ill, permit me to call your attention to the life of Shulamith Firestone. In 1967, Firestone was a founder of Chicago’s “West Side” group, the first Women’s Liberation group in America. In 1970, she published one of the most influential of early feminist books, The Dialectic of Sex.

Soon after that triumph at age 25, however, Firestone “disentegrated rapidly, losing her emotional equilibrium and her sense of herself in the world,” as feminist historian Susan Brownmiller wrote, a polite way of saying that Firestone had a nervous breakdown and lost her mind.

She had been nearly forgotten by the time she died in 2012:

When Shulamith Firestone’s body was found late last August, in her studio apartment on the fifth floor of a tenement walkup on East Tenth Street, she had been dead for some days. She was sixty-seven, and she had battled schizophrenia for decades, surviving on public assistance. There was no food in the apartment, and one theory is that Firestone starved . . .

You can read the whole thing, but the question is this: If Shulamith Firestone “battled schizophrenia for decades,” exactly when did that battle begin? Is it not possible that the radical feminism which made her famous in the late 1960s and early ’70s was, in fact, simply an early symptom of the madness that ultimately destroyed her?

 

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  • https://twitter.com/Mthomps016 M. Thompson

    That’s not feminism.

    That’s just high-end insanity. My cat would object to the assumption that having cats makes you crazy, if he could talk.

  • robertstacymccain

    I’m not saying that cats make people crazy. I’m saying that an overwhelming desire for the companionship of cats is a symptom of being crazy.

  • texlovera

    Soooo, instead of a feminazi, she was a feminutsy…

  • Julie Pascal

    I think that my husband would be a crazy cat lady, given a chance. I think it’s more about not trusting anyone to take care of an animal that you give away. We’ve had a couple litters of kittens and we’d have them *all* still today if I allowed it.

    This isn’t to pick on him, btw. I understand the impulse is all.

    Unless this lady had her own eyes on those cats she couldn’t believe they were okay. Even while she certainly knew she wasn’t doing a good job of it *she* had to be the one with those cats.

    Most animal adoption places have redirected the Cat Lady impulse to completely ridiculous lengths of applications and proof that you’ll provide a good home and signed statements that you’ll not ever ever “re-home” the animal yourself, but will return it to that same agency. That way they get to keep complete control without turning their own apartment into a toxic super site.

  • Zohydro
  • Anon Y. Mous

    There are 3 kinds of feminism: 1. Feminism that is wrong. 2. Feminism that is crazy. 3. Feminism that is both wrong and crazy.

    Of course, that is only true if you define out of feminism what many people are thinking of when they use that term. Namely, equal rights under the law for women. Equal treatment in society, etc. Things that are not absolutist; for example, recognizing that a factory that uses dangerous chemicals in its manufacturing processes might reasonably exclude pregnant women, or even all fertile women, if the chemicals are know to cause birth defects.

    If feminism is not the right word to describe that viewpoint, than what is? What name would you give that philosophy? Recognizing that while that may be a mainstream viewpoint today, at one time, it was not even the majority view, how would you describe the philosophy when it was emerging?

    I think that feminism is the right word, but there are a lot of crazies who have taken the philosophy in directions that are way out there, and not widely supported. It is great that you highlight these nutballs, as well as the dangerousness of the successes these nutballs have in getting their weird ideas implemented, I think you are mistaken when you ignore the aspects of their philosophies that are widely accepted.

  • Prophet Mohammed

    I loved cats, but hated dogs. Coincidence?

  • Alan Markus

    Not sure what her case has to do with feminism, but as with most cat hoarders there probably is a mental illness component. Like you said, you don’t have much information on her, but here is some of her “life history” based on court records that show about 12 cases spanning the past 10 years or so. Several Evictions, Insurance Claim by her Landlord, Operating After Revocations, Disorderly Conducts, and Injunction. Also a Child Support action – looks like child in custody of her parents, she not paying support, unable to find employment. Court refused a visitation request, and withdrew order that she be made to apply for Social Security Disability. Not sure if the case results are linkable, but here goes:
    WI Public Case Search

  • RKae

    Where did you get that mugshot of Garrison Keillor in a witch’s wig?

  • concern00

    Now you’re just being an opioid agonist.

  • Julie Pascal

    “If feminism is not the right word to describe that viewpoint, than what is?”

    Equality?

    The idea that people who do not identify as feminist are FOR unequal treatment under the law, or in society is without any basis… in which case that definition means absolutely nothing at all. One may as well identify as a human being.

    I’ll be honest here… I’ve never considered myself a feminist because even back when I was a teenager it was pro-abortion or nothing.

    But on a purely objective rationale I object to using “feminist” as a synonym for equality. First, as I said, who is it that is against equality for women? (In the real world, not in Democrat spin-land!) And it’s never limited to “equality for women”, which would at least make sense, but in practice, even for the casual users of the term (I spelled that out last week or so right on this blog) it’s used to bundle up “everything good in the world” or “everything I’m in favor of.”

    What then is a person who is a masculinist? Someone in favor of everything bad in the world? Why are “men’s rights” viewed negatively? (Okay, partly because some of the advocates are the mirror image of the crazy branch of feminists, but somehow that matters on the “men” end of the spectrum but not the “womyn” end?) Of course we don’t use “masculinist” for Everything Bad in the World we use the term “patriarchy” for Everything Bad in the World. Which is irrational on every level.

    Even for casual feminists, the “equality” feminists who might not hate their male relatives even if they tolerate rants about patriarchy, it’s a short hand for progressive, redistributionist, buy-my-birth-control politics.

    So… no. It doesn’t mean “equality for women”. It pretty much never has.

  • Mm

    Your blog is not boring, that’s for sure.

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  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady
  • Anon Y. Mous

    Equality is a part of the philosophy of feminism. That does not mean that it is exclusive to feminism, but it is one of their values.

    Check out this link:
    http://www2.nycbar.org/SLEOP/WomenChangingtheLawforWomen.htm

    It includes the following:

    1971 – Reed v. Reed, 404 U.S.71. This is the first case that then Professor Ginsburg argued to the Supreme Court and the first case in which the Supreme Court applied the Fourteenth Amendment to prohibit gender discrimination.

    a. An Idaho statute governing the appointment of administrators of estates required that “of several persons claiming and equally entitled to administer, males must be preferred to females…” When a teenaged boy died without a will, his parents, who were separated, each filed an application to act as administrator of his estate. The probate court appointed the father as administrator in accordance with the preference specified in the statute. The Idaho Supreme Court upheld the statute, concluding that eliminating females was “‘neither illogical nor arbitrary'” because it eliminated an area of controversy.

    b. The Supreme Court unanimously held that the provision violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment:”….whatever may be said as to the positive values of avoiding intrafamily controversy, the choice in this context may not lawfully be mandated
    solely on the basis of sex.” Id. at 76-77.

    There is much, much more at the link. When the term started to be used in the USA, that is largely what it was about. Women were disfavored under the law in many circumstances, and there were plenty of people who saw no problem with that fact. Those laws did not just spring into being of their own accord. They were written by people. Largely, people who were men. Not that I have anything against men, being one myself. It is just the fact of what occurred. The people who dedicated themselves to changing this aspect of our society had a name for themselves. It was feminist. It wasn’t just they who used the word. It was commonplace for people who were not feminists to also use the word in the same way.

    It is much like the environmentalists. They started out as opposing the worst forms of pollution: smoke stacks billowing toxic gases into the air, factories dumping sludge into our waterways, etc. And, there was much support by the public in general for that movement. That’s why they were so successful in getting the worst stuff dialed way back.

    But, all the environmentalists did not come to a point where they thought they had accomplished their mission and could let things be. Instead, some are continually going further and further in their demands about what needs to be fixed next. Tear down all dams to restore the natural habitat, banning plastic shopping bags because they don’t break down fast enough in a landfill, etc.

    That said, it does not mean the entire environmental movement is the exclusive domain of humanity haters, and only the wrong or the crazy could ever identify as an environmentalist. Anyone who says that it is so is just flat out wrong.

    The same is true about feminism. The word means more than what RSM claims it does and the same goes for you. You do not get to redefine the word to suit your own purposes.

    Feminism is not a “synonym for equality”, any more than socialism is a word for fairness. Both are political movements. Feminism is a movement about the equal treatment of women. Some involved in the movement are bat-shit crazy, but that fact does not mean that the definition of the word changes.

  • kilo6

    Let’s not forget Eleanor Abernathy, the crazy cat lady from The Simpsons (if their writers were honest she would have been w womyns studys major)

    http://simpsonswiki.com/wiki/File:Eleanor_Abernathy.png

  • Mike G.

    I like cats…scattered, smothered, covered and chunked.

    No offense to cat people.

    That was a bumper sticker on the back of my truck.

  • Julie Pascal

    Something can not be defined by elements that are not *exclusive* to it. Things are defined by their exclusive elements or at the least, the exclusive combination of elements of that thing.

    Which was my point.

    If you take “feminist” to mean “believes in legal and social equality of women” you may as well simply use the label “modern human.”

    Also… hello? The definitions of words change All The Time. Just as the *movement* moved… so did the definition move.

    Otherwise they’d have had to declare victory and go home.

    So, there was second wave feminism and third wave feminism and bat shit crazy feminism. And in the very end of it, no matter your arguments for linguistic petrification, if I introduced myself thusly: “Hello, I’m Julie. I’m a feminist.” And asked anyone in the US today to guess about my political or social opinions, the list they came up with would be relatively uniform… I’d be pro-choice (of course) and like the ACA and I’d be socially liberal and vote Democrat. I’d prefer Keynes to Hayek. I’d think that the patriarchy was oppressive and that sensitivity to trigger warnings was important and I’d denounce the rape culture.

    Not a single person would ever ever ever EVER respond to “My name is Julie, I’m a feminist,” with… “Oh, you must be a libertarian, 2nd Am gun nut, pro-life military veteran. Where’s a good place in town to go shooting?”

    Not ONE.

  • Jeanette Victoria

    Just what every cat lady needs

  • Anon Y. Mous

    Something can not be defined by elements that are not *exclusive* to it.

    Nonsense. What elements are exclusive to the Republican Party. What specific political positions of the GOP are held by it and no other party?

    Answer: none.

    That doesn’t mean there isn’t such a thing as the GOP. It also doesn’t mean that a new party can’t form tomorrow that literally copies all the policies that the GOP espouses. Whether or not people will see a reason to switch to this new party is a separate matter.

    Just because you decide that you prefer not to associate yourself with the word feminist does not mean that you get to impose your redefinition of the word on everyone else. You do not have that power.

    I am not insisting that everyone who believes in equality under the law for women must be called a feminist. I am saying that the word has a wider definition than you care to admit.

  • Julie Pascal

    Yes but… if I say I’m a member of the GOP (I’m not) it means I’m a member of the GOP.

    What does saying “I’m a feminist” mean? That was my point. If I asked 100 random people to describe what they assume based on the label “feminist” they will come up with a reasonably coherent list far beyond “believes in legal and social equality for women.”

    I’m not making up the definition.

    You are.

    Because you don’t like the negative connotations. That you don’t like them doesn’t mean they go away. That “feminists” took your movement and Moved On isn’t my problem.

  • Anon Y. Mous

    I’m making up definitions? Let’s go to the dictionary. From Webster’s:
    http://www.yourdictionary.com/feminism

    feminism
    noun

    1. Rare feminine qualities

    2.a. the principle that women should have political, economic, and social rights equal to those of men

    b. the movement to win such rights for women

    Care to prove me wrong by showing me a dictionary that carries your definition? Then get back to me about who is making things up.

    I don’t mind the negative connotations. I think they have been earned and are well deserved. Go back to my very first post in this thread. My objection is making the universal statement that “There are 3 kinds of feminism: 1. Feminism that is wrong. 2. Feminism that is crazy. 3. Feminism that is both wrong and crazy.”

    This claim by Stacy (and you) that feminism is defined by the fringe element making the ridiculous statements like PIV=Rape is just wrong.

    It is factually incorrect.

    It is certainly true that there are wackos who make it their life’s work to see how much further and further they can stretch their crazy theories. But, they are not the entirety of the movement.

    It would be just the same as if someone trotted out The Rev. Fred Phelps and said that his views are representative of Christians.

    It is dishonest to try to paint a whole group of people based on the beliefs of a few.

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