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Classically Promoting Anti Feminism

By: Natalie Lopez



If you’ve been on YouTube lately, you’ll know exactly who I’m talking about when I mention the unavoidable ads. As much as I don’t understand how exactly the YouTube ad algorithm works, I’m pretty sure my watch history didn’t trigger her invitation to my feed. If you hadn’t already guessed it, I’m talking about Classically Abby, the conservative lifestyle channel headed by Abigail Roth Shapiro. If her name sounds familiar, you might be thinking of her older brother, Ben Shapiro. Taking a page from the family book, Ben Shapiro is also very publicly conservative and a political commentator that has attracted lots of media attention for his outspoken attacks on democrats and social issues. So it seems that everyone of her videos preaches among the same lines. With titles like, “Why I Came Out As Conservative”, “Why YOU Should Dress Modestly” and “Why We Should NOT Just #BelieveAllWomen” it’s easy to see that Abby wants to spread an ideology. Only, why is this being shared with me? Even after disliking, reporting and blocking her videos and channel, I can’t seem to shake her from being advertised to me.

I looked more into Abby and how her ads were so powerful in resisting my blocking of her channel. It seemed that I definitely wasn’t the only person that had a problem with the persistent ads. The videos with the boldest titles, the most advertised of course, all feature comments mentioning the same situation and spite for the bother. Abby is just under 70,000 subscribers, which were very recently gained, so why did she previously invest so much money to carry her message? More important, what is her message?

At first look-over her channel, Abby is teaching the world how to be – in her words – classic. If you didn’t know that was a thing that could be taught or even that it was a proper way to describe a modern woman, neither did I. Abby preaches a time when women were more conservative in thought, dress, and almost everything else. Seemingly as conservative as they come, the ClassicallyAbby channel is outspokenly anti-abbortion, religious (and believes you should marry within your faith), against the Me Too movement (doesn’t think you should believe survivors), and includes the occasional skin care routine. What I took from this is that Abby is very anti-feminist, among other things.

In her perception, Classically Abby lists that women play the victim in cases of sexual assault, believes women should conform to mens’ livestyles when entering a marriage, believes the gender roles should be clear and divided, and tells women to cover up and monitor how they dress. If you were ever unsure about what an anti-feminist sounds like, it’s her. Frankly, I’d never heard of such an outspoken anti-feminist before her, and there’s a good reason for that: her perceptions are insane and misogynistic. Classically Abby struggles through the dislikes and hate comments to produce videos which are intended to transfer value from her onto her husband (and all men). She teaches women that we need to cover up in order to leave something to be desired, as if a woman’s body is indubitably to be viewed as a sexual object that needs to be hidden just enough to stay respected. In insisting there is one right way to dress, she slut shames the women who choose to wear crop tops or who don’t want to wear ginormous scarves with their summer dresses. She tells that she needed to change much of her single life to adapt to her husband and advises women not to expect men to change their old ways. Why should a wife conform to a new lifestyle that their husband won’t bother to change for? Abby clearly announces that she believes it’s a woman’s job to focus on the relationship and by all means, not make your husband uncomfortable.

We shouldn’t be listening to Abby on these ideas. Feminism is always necessary. Always. It’s 2020, the centennial anniversary to the woman’s right to vote, yet there still exists an extensive gender divide. Even more, something that Abby might not understand, there exists issues between feminism and equal rights for women of color. In every space, the fight for gender equality is different for BIPOC who identify as women. Abby’s physical and identifying privilege is also coupled with the fact that she has a net worth of a few hundred thousand dollars while her brother exceeds a 25 million dollar net worth. Money is not an issue for the Shapiro family and as they aren’t a part of the working class, she wouldn’t understand the struggles that many women in this country go through with financial struggles and wage gaps. Often times there exists less obstacles for high-income, heterosexual, cisgender, white women, which is why Abby speaks from a privileged perspective that invalidates the struggles of other women.

It’s important that we don’t go back to believing we should shame women for problems that are “provoked”. (Intersectional) Feminism has the clear intention of advancing the voices of all women, and it’s not something anyone of us should try to speak (or make a YouTube channel) against. So no, we shouldn’t be listening to Abby when it comes to how to be a “proper, classic” woman. I still don’t know why these recommendations persist beyond every option I have to avoid Abby, but they’re not harmless, because Abby’s message is in itself dangerous. You may choose to follow her makeup tutorials, but even then I wouldn’t choose to participate in raising her view revenue on the chance that it goes straight back into advertising more conservative points that spell out anti-feminist ideas.

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Vulnerability as a Vice

By: Sheyenne White

It was a humid night filled with ambivalence that paved the path for a profoundly sudden and striking realization. It was particularly late and I couldn’t sleep so I turned to Netflix to comfort me. Needless to say, I approached my quest for some quick entertainment in a distracted and inattentive manner. In my deep dive into Netflix’s extensive collection of movies and tv shows, I stumbled upon a a self declared fat lesbian Australian comedian named Hannah Gadsby. My curiosity was piqued but the little teaser clip is what hooked me. The thirty second clip revealed her epiphany that “self deprecation is not humility but humiliation.” Her epiphany quickly became mine as it forced me to reflect on my own self destructive habits. To paint a picture, I was sitting on my bed dumbfounded as I came to the understanding that my at times overwhelming insecurities are tied to my struggles with vulnerability.

Vulnerability has long been associated with femininity, weakness, and dependency. Considering that I proudly identify as an intersectional feminist, I think this reductive negative view of vulnerability is bullshit. However, I have come to realize that my disdain for the current dualist nature of vulnerability—one that positions vulnerability in opposition to invulnerability—has allowed me to create a dangerous dichotomy between vulnerability and strength.  It is by my very own contempt for arbitrary gender associations that I fell into the trap of a “together woman” and demonized vulnerability in the process. A “together woman” is defined as one who presents themselves with poise, dignity, and most importantly competence. It must be noted that these traits cannot always be conveyed organically and one’s unwillingness to accept that allows one to construct a facade. The comfort behind the facade pushes one to concoct a mask, with the purpose of concealing internal uncertainties and apprehensions from the outside world in fear that such inner turmoil will be dismissed as mediocrity. The irony lies in the fact that this style of thinking directly aligns with gendered loopholes and reinforces the same gender stereotype I was grappling with in the first place.

Nonetheless, I believe this contradiction of mine is more universal than what I imagined. The struggle to find a place for vulnerability within contemporary feminist thought can be traced back to the patriarchal aggressive binary frame that dictates gender norms; a framework that equates vulnerability with a susceptibility to harm and instead promotes invulnerability. However, invulnerability fosters an unhealthy desire for control and security so as to mitigate unpredictable and threatening events. On the contrary, vulnerability forces one to unveil their insecurities and risk emotional exposure. Simply put, the fear of vulnerability is a reflection of one’s fears surrounding themselves. Until we own our truth and embrace our individuality, we will be stuck in a perpetual cycle of subconscious self-loathing. I am a person who thrives on projecting the illusion that I have it all together, and being vulnerable means revealing that I actually… don’t. The walls I have built to protect myself from the instability of life has curbed my ability to devote myself to authenticity and accept my humanity.

After all, humanity is inherently rendered vulnerable and therefore vulnerability paints the true contours of recognition for the individual. With this in mind, the pursuit of invulnerability is illogical to say the least and we must learn to embody vulnerability. Ultimately, only a more comprehensive, nuanced and nonreductive concept of vulnerability can combat obsolete gender associations. It may seem strange that this epiphany of mine came from a Netflix comedy special but I’ll forever be thankful for Hannah Gadsby’s reminder that the incompatibility between vulnerability and strength is nothing but a myth.

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Why Feminism is Inherently Intersectional

By: Claire Armstrong

A few years ago, if you were to ask me who my feminist icons were, you would have thought I grew up in the seventies. Early on in my exploration of feminism, I read Gloria Steinem’s book, My Life on the Road, and it inspired me to do my research into second wave feminism and learn about the feminists who came before me. I was so inspired by women like Steinem, Bella Abzug, and Betty Friedan, and I would have loved to go back in time to join their ranks. I still think the work they did was incredibly valuable, but now I see issues with the second wave feminist movement as a whole. 

My biggest problem with second wave feminism, and what I think most significantly distinguishes it from my own definition of feminism, is that, at the forefront, it often was not intersectional. There was a lot of debate among activists about the inclusion of Black and lesbian rights in the Equal Rights Amendment and in the goals delineated at the National Women’s Conference in Houston in 1977. Some second-wave feminist leaders, such as Friedan (who authored The Feminine Mystique, which is often hailed as the work that kick-started second-wave feminism) felt that including explicit demands for racial or sexual equality would make the goals of second-wave feminism seem too radical and alienate potential supporters. It is important to note that there were women of color, LGBTQ+ women, and active allies of marginalized groups who did advocate for the inclusion of rights for women who were not cisgendered, white and straight. However, their voices were not at the forefront of the movement. The mindset that the feminist movement should obtain equality for cis, straight women before including the needs of any marginalized women made white feminism all too pervasive. 

In 2020, we can make no more excuses for white feminism. We never should have, so now is our chance to draw the line. Feminism is inherently intersectional. It is connected to all issues of inequality. If white women want to fight for equity for themselves, they must also fight for equity for racial minorities, the LGBTQ+ community, the differently-abled, and all other marginalized groups. For too long, many women have not felt included in the movement that claims to champion equal opportunity for all. White women must remember that for so many women, achieving gender equity would still not place them on a level playing field, because they also face other forms of discrimination. Feminists must advocate for equal opportunity for all marginalized groups so that when we do at last achieve gender equity, women of all walks of life will be able to access the opportunities they deserve.