The Twisted Feminism Of Gloria Allred

"I have a passion for justice, and I'm a warrior for change," Gloria Allred tells Harper's Bazaar. I don't accept the idea that a woman should have to suffer in silence." Fine. But she's also talking about... Tiger Woods' mistresses.

Gloria Allred is an altogether baffling character, a famewhore who talks about "male privilege and entitlement," a hard-charging lawyer who overcame serious challenges to get herself on TV on the most specious of premises. She points out that her firm is still doing bonafide discrimination cases, telling interviewer Leslie Bennetts, "It's not my fault if the media and the public are more interested in Tiger Woods than in women farm workers."

Well. It is her fault that she will hold a press conference at the drop of a panty.

It's not that Allred doesn't have a genuine claim to be a crusader for women's rights — at some point, anyhow, between TV spots — or that her background isn't harrowing and inspiring. Writes Bennetts,

"There's no doubt about the sincerity of Allred's commitment to female victims — or her identification with them. While working as a department store buyer, several years before she entered law school, she was paid less than men doing the same job. In 1966, when she was employed as an inner-city school teacher, she was raped at gunpoint while on vacation in Mexico. When she had an illegal abortion back in the U.S. for the resulting pregnancy, she almost hemorrhaged to death... while she was in intensive care, a nurse sneered at her, "This will teach you a lesson."

She also had an abusive husband who was bipolar and committed suicide, and was a twice-divorced single mother. She emerged from all this to become a lawyer devoted to fighting for the vulnerable:

Twenty-five years ago, she took on a cabal of Holocaust deniers, winning $100,000 and a public apology for an Auschwitz survivor. She sued to force Los Angeles County to unchain pregnant inmates while they gave birth. She championed the rights of lesbian couples during an era when politicians felt comfortable calling them derogatory names. She fought to protect rape victims from having to explain why they wore thongs or how many sex partners they had. She always was a publicity-seeker, but she also was tough and passionate and smart.

How did all this turn into Octomom and hush money for Rachel Uchitel? Back in February, when Allred was leading around a mistress whose name you've forgotten and threatening legal action because Tiger Woods had allegedly lied when he said he loved her — or in her own words, "because he led her on and broke her heart" — Sandy Banks wrote in the LA Times,

You've got to admire Allred's moxie. Sure, she's mercenary, but what good lawyer isn't. And if she leads the media around by the nose, well, that's as much our fault as hers. What troubles me more is this twisted take on feminism: rights without responsibilities.

What does that mean? Well, for starters, it means that women are also responsible for their actions, including their decisions to cheat on men who have wives — who are, of course, women with their own rights. Instead, Allred reaches for the worst stereotypes about a certain type of feminism — that it enshrines victimhood, that the simplistic answer is that men are wrong and women are right, that we whine and exaggerate wrongs. Or, as Allred tells Bennetts, "Men need to be accountable for their lives and they'll suffer the consequences if they're not."

It's all a little like Nancy Grace consumed by a pseudo-feminist avenging zombie. Maybe Allred would argue that her tabloid notoriety pays the bills that enable the gender discrimination stuff, or get people to pay attention to her when she does her more substantive cases. But in the meantime, she's doing us all a disservice by muddying the water. I know we're not supposed to be kicking people out of the club but... maybe we can sit down and have a long talk? Call us, Gloria!

Gloria Allred's Fighting Spirit [HB]
Gloria Allred's New Feminism [LAT]

Image Via Harper's Bazaar