Feminism has failed, you guys. Finished! Kaput! Dunzo! To what can we attribute this latest death knell? A writer for The New York Times thinks that feminists have not been sufficiently upset about New York Police Department Officer Gilberto Valle, aka the “Cannibal Cop,” who plotted to kidnap, rape and cook women, including his own wife. Part of the problem is that writer Ginia Bellafante’s thesis doesn’t seem to be very well flushed out: Bellafante fondly recalls the time in the 1980s when a woman stomped around the Upper West Side with a blown-up cover of Hustler featuring a woman shoved into a meat grinder, demanding people sign a petition (presumably against pornography). From there, Bellafante segues into recapping Officer Valle’s creepy, cannibalistic plot and wondering why “there’s been more vocal outrage over Seth McFarlane’s distasteful Oscar jokes than there has been over the uncountable numbers apparently willing to think about women in the same terms as shell steaks.”
Um? Maybe because cannibals eating women isn’t really feminism’s most pressing problem?
I’m not cannibal expert (unless we are discussing the cannibalization of Girl Scout Thin Mints) but I don’t see a man who wanted to cook, rape and eat women as expressly misogynist so much as expressly crazy. Clearly the devaluing of women’s lives and a sadistic desire to see women suffer were behind Officer Valle’s plans to some degree and indeed could be connected to sexism elsewhere in our culture. But I see him as a mentally ill person first, not as this great misogynist representative of our culture at large. And anyway, focusing on the craziness of a couple of mentally ill folks instead of larger systemic injustices seems like a poor use of time.
There are so many ways that misogyny and sexism impact women’s lives every day — marriage equality, equal pay, access to abortion, access to the morning after pill, ageism, lookism, I could go on and on. Feminists are screaming and yelling, blogging and tweeting, all over the Internet all day long about those issues. And even if feminists aren’t standing on the UWS of Manhattan, yelling at people to sign a petition about porn, doesn’t mean we don’t get out in public either. Ever heard of the March For Women’s Lives or SlutWalks? Ever read Racialicious or Feministing or Reproductive Health Reality Check? Instead, Bellafante patronizingly suggests in her piece, entitled “Remember Misogyny,” that women today have become so complacent that we’re content to let cannibals eat us all. Or something.
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