Ten Feminist Plagues: Right-Wing Governors, Media Double-Standards, Flawed Criminal Justice System By Sarah Seltzer

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April 18, 2014

This is the sixth in Zeek’s intergenerational Passover series of feminist plagues. We’re publishing a new one for each day of Passover, featuring Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Chanel Dubofsky, Avigayil Halpern, Susan Lubeck, Jacqueline Nicholls, Sarah Seltzer, and Rabbi Elianna Yolkut.

Charlotte Trouper on Flickr

By Sarah Marian Seltzer

Blood. The blood that is spilled, metaphorically speaking and literally, by governors who are refusing to expand Medicaid under Obamacare and give healthcare to the most vulnerable among us. People with treatable conditions are already dying because they fall in the gap between Medicaid and being able to afford regular insurance. It’s really a travesty.

Frogs. Mansplainers. They keep hopping up into our Twitter feeds and at organizing meetings to tell women that we really don’t understand feminism, or social justice, as much as they do. Hop away, guys.

Lice. The itchy, pervasive, contagious disease of self-loathing, because our very human bodies don’t live up to a photoshopped social ideal. The beauty myth: a parasite that clings to us but doesn’t have to come from within us.

Storms of fire. The ridiculously sexist things that continue to be hurled down at women by male politicians who don’t understand the female anatomy, the definition of rape, or what it’s like to experience gender discrimination.

Boils. Those age-old intra-left arguments, purity contests, and dismissals of allies’ critiques. Yes, we should give other progressives the benefit of the doubt when we can. But most importantly, we progressives with privilege of our own should try not to get defensive when we’re “called out” on our own blind spots, which are many.

Darkness. Speaking of blind spots, our own ignorance is a plague on feminism. We should never stop trying to foreground the voices and experiences of people of color, transgender people, and anyone else who is marginalized from mainstream feminist activism.

Blight The lack of family leave, paid sick leave, and vacation time that continually depletes the reserves of energy American workers have to spend time with our passions and our loved ones. Paternity leave and paid maternity leave. Can we get on this already?

Wild beasts. So-called Men’s Rights Activists, who disrupt, harass, and target feminist gatherings and can be dangerous.

Locusts. The buzzing, hovering media noise and double standard that makes public figures who don’t conform to gender norms have to run an extra gauntlet.

Hail. The endless anti-abortion bills that are being hurled down from statehouses across the country, landing on the backs of women and families as they restrict our reproductive rights.

Death of the Firstborn. Jordan Davis. Trayvon Martin. Renisha McBride. The continued prosecution of Marissa Alexander. A flawed criminal justice system that devalues black life in America is a true feminist plague. It’s our business, and our tragedy, to make sure it doesn’t keep happening.

Sarah Marian Seltzer is a journalist and fiction writer based in New York City. Find her at www.sarahmseltzer.com and tweeting too much at @sarahmseltzer.

Editor’s Note

This project was inspired, generally, by the 39th Annual Feminist Seder held this March at the home of Barbara Kane and the conversations we had there about creating more intergenerational spaces for feminists and social justice activists, and, specifically, by Letty Cottin Pogrebin’s reading there of “The Ten Plagues According to Women,” which appears here. Over the past few weeks, I reached out to Jewish feminists between the ages of 17 and 70-something, asking each to use the 10 Plagues as a point of departure. To redefine them or reflect on what each sees as today’s plagues, from a Jewish feminist perspective. Spread the word about this intergenerational Zeek series for Passover, featuring Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Chanel Dubofsky, Avigayil Halpern, Susan Lubeck, Jacqueline Nicholls, Sarah Seltzer, and Rabbi Elianna Yolkut.–Erica Brody

Hey, Zeek Readers! Be active participants in this conversation. Share your own list of modern-day plagues! Think about the themes that underlie or distinguish these plagues and respond in the comments! Share!

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