Interview with Echidne of the Snakes

Echidne of the Snakes has been blogging since late 2003, her very first post exclaiming that “[i]t is the time for darkness. Today’s blog will reflect that.” Though the blog has a feminist theme, it often expounds on more general political topics. Echidne describes herself as a “minor greek goddess,” and her name is presumably derived from Echidna, a mytholigical figure depicted as a “she viper.”

Bloggasm interviewed her previously in early 2006.

Simon Owens: With the prospect of Hilary Clinton receiving the Democratic nomination, how will this affect feminist discussion over the next two years? Do you think Republican attackers will try to tread lightly over the subject of Clinton’s gender, or do you think this will be the most politically incorrect election we’ve had in years?

Echidne: It has already affected feminist discussion, because some feminists have publicly come out in support of another candidate, which in this case means a male candidate, given the scarcity of women in politics. As I see it the conflict is between wanting a more representative system of government, one with more women in it, and between wanting certain political stances (such as getting out of Iraq quickly) respected.

I don’t think Republican attackers would tread lightly on anything that could help them. The form those attackers will take depends on the calculations they make inside their heads. For instance, how much would misogyny gain them and how much would it lose them?

By the way, “politically incorrect” is a paradoxical term to use, because what is really “politically correct” is to be whatever the people in power want you to be, and feminists are not in power. The whole term smells of Luntzian thought pretzeling.

Simon Owens: You’ve responded to Ann Althouse‘s anti-feminist statements numerous times. Several bloggers have noted that Althouse is the only person who considers herself a feminist. Do you think that “feminist” has become such a mainstream word that it’s starting to lose its meaning, to the point where people like Althouse can continually claim they fall under that label?

Echidne: Not numerous times. I’ve talked about some of Althouse’s posts and articles, but only two or three of them. I don’t think Althouse thinks of herself as the only feminist alive (that would be me), but I’ve pointed out that she appears to believe that the dirty work of feminism belongs to someone else.

As to the meaning of the term “feminism”, I think that many startlingly new proposals of the second wave of feminism are now mainstream and fairly accepted, but that the term “feminism” itself has been smeared and turned into something quite nasty-smelling by Rush Limbaugh and the like, to such an extent that to say that one is a feminist (i.e., a believer of equal opportunities for women and men and a believer in the equal valuation of traditionally male and female spheres of activities) reads to many as saying that one hates men. So the term itself didn’t get mainstreamed, even though some of its ideas did.

Simon Owens: In our last interview, you described Pandagon as a blog that deals largely with feminist issues. How did the recent witch hunt the conservatives conducted on Amanda Marcotte affect you?

Echidne: It didn’t affect me personally, but I wrote on some of things that William Donohue has done in the past and the sort of access he has in the mainstream media, access, which nobody from the liberal/progressive blogosphere can even dream about. It is not a fair fight at all, and Amanda got attacked by it. Anyone writing about feminism knows that keeping women in their traditional places is an important subtext in much of today’s wingnuttery. Sadly.

Simon Owens: What’s your policy on deleting comments from feminist-hating trolls? How many do you get on a weekly basis? Do you find that they increase whenever a conservative blogger links to you?

Echidne: I try not to delete comments if there is anything factual or debatable in them, and sometimes I leave a comment even if it doesn’t satisfy this rule if it tells us something more about the anti-feminists.

The weekly dirtload varies and is affected by what I post and by the links to them. But I’m a fairly mild-mannered goddess and so get spared the very nastiest kinds of trolls.

Simon Owens: Have your thoughts on feminism evolved since you started your blog back in 2003? Has there been any major changes in the feminist movement since then?

Echidne: My thoughts are always changing but not the basic platform from which my feminism grew. I pay more attention to the rest of the world now that the Internet offers me so much more information. I’m also much more aware of and informed about the anti-woman and anti-feminist sentiment out there, and better equipped to argue the claims attached to it.

I think that the feminist movement has changed since 2003, although I’m not sure if the changes are major or not yet. There is a greater openness to different discussions, many more young women writing and working in the area and a feeling of something being born. My guess is that we are in the fermenting stage right now. What will come out of it is interesting to witness.

***

(Related posts: Why I love Glenn Greenwald, The untouchable is now touchable: Abstinence-only education being pushed towards medical students)

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