some of us are brave

Trickle Down Feminism Trickles Down On Itself

Back in June I wrote a piece about what I called “trickle down feminism“, about which I said:

Trickle-down economics wasn’t the best experience for people like me. You will have to forgive me, then, if I have similar doubts about trickle down feminism.

In it I show my work on the term, crediting a twitter conversation. It’s basically Marxist feminism with some Angela Davis thrown in. Nothing new about that. Except I did specifically use a term and frame my argument around it to explicate my ideas. Where I come from that’s intellectual labor.

It had a great turn on the interwebs. It appeared at Racialicious, was cited in The Nation, and I was invited to Feminist Magazine Radio and WFAE to expound.

This month Sarah L Jaffe wrote an article in Dissent Magazine entitle “Trickle Down Feminism.” Dissent is a notable outlet. I read it. The title, for obvious reasons, resonated with me.

Screen shot 2013-01-26 at 8.05.45 PM

She goes on to make a Marxist feminist case for the welfare of poor and working class women. She excludes race as such types are want to do but OK. She closes with:


But the campaign for paid sick leave is a hopeful sign, a sign that perhaps feminism is reconsidering its place on the picket line. Trickle-down feminism won’t do the job.

“Trickle down feminism” is her title, her frame, and her closing. Not one attribution anywhere.

I’ve engaged Sarah on twitter. I seemed to vaguely recall talking to her about my article. Mayhaps she neglected to mention my name in her article by accident. I nudged:

Screen shot 2013-01-26 at 7.13.55 PM

She responded that she loved my piece…but not enough for attribution.

Today someone surely more powerful than I am sought to give Sarah the credit she denies me and her response was:

Screen shot 2013-01-26 at 7.49.11 PM

She “thinks” she heard it “somewhere else.” Granted I’ve been called worse but at least they looked at me while they said it.

Still no mention of my name until Bryce intervened:

Screen shot 2013-01-26 at 7.50.33 PM

I’m confused but not really. That is how the trickle down cookie crumbles, n’est-ca pas?


10 comments on “Trickle Down Feminism Trickles Down On Itself

  1. chris
    January 27, 2013

    “She excludes race as such types are want to do but OK…”
    Okay, I give up. What does “such types” mean?
    I always tell my students: you can’t copywriter an idea, only the expression of an idea. I quite like the phrase “trickle down feminism” but I would suspect (without any supporting evidence) that there is a kind of inevitability about the term. And it very much strikes me as something I heard in the 70’s when working class women pointed out that most of the advantages of feminist consciousness were accruing to upper-class women.

    • Tressie
      January 27, 2013

      As class conflict theorists are want to do.

      • chris
        January 27, 2013

        Thank you.
        Sometimes i think I need a glossary when you are dealing with discipline specific ideas. But I feel like I’m making progress.

  2. Oops, ignore my previous message; I was multi-processing badly.

    I think “trickle down feminism” is simply the sort of phrase that appeals to people who’re cynical about the 1%, regardless of its makeup. I suspect I’ll be using it.

    My google fu also fails to bring up Quindlen’s use of the term.

  3. The one I found is here:

    Haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but it’s short, so I’ll read it now.

  4. tressiemc22
    January 27, 2013

    So the citation, dear readers, is: Quindlen, A. (2002). Transcript of speech at Women and Girl’s Third Annual Grant Awards Luncheon. Fairfield County Community Foundation, April 10, 2002.

    Sadly, as is the case with speeches, no text so I’m not sure of its usage etc. And I don’t see any other references to the term and Quindlen in any indexes. Do with that as you will.

    • Darn. Now you’ve got me wanting to find Quindlen’s speech.

      Anyway, I think you’re safely in the realm of independent creation, so you should rightly continue to be pleased that you came up with the phrase.

  5. I did a little googling. The term goes back to 2002 at least. It’s in the title of a piece by Kari Kendall Cameron.

    • tressiemc22
      January 27, 2013

      Excellent thank you! I will attribute (although to be clear I’d never heard of this piece before; I’ll be transparent about that). Perhaps others will do the same.

    • tressiemc22
      January 27, 2013

      And according to the paper it is actually Anna Quindlen, which would make sense knowing of Quindlen.

      ETA: But I can’t find the 2002 citation. Weird. I’ll throw a mishmash together. Again, marxist class conflict feminist theories aren’t exactly new. Not sure Quindlen got it into the current zeitgeist but I’ll draw a line for readers. Thanks, again.

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