Is Tracie Egan Feminist?


Written by Emily Hobbs
01 Monday 01st June 2009


By employing writers who are not afraid to show themselves as three-dimensional, clever women with personalities and senses of humor, these sites have helped to keep the debate relevant and give the movement bigger balls than ever. One such writer is New Yorker, Tracie Egan. An editor at Jezebel and former anonymous, since ‘outed’ blogger of One D At A Time, aka ‘Slut Machine’, Egan has written in disarmingly frank detail about her one-night stands, excessive drinking, fights with boyfriends, and sexually transmitted diseases.


“I was always more interested in celebrating the more fun aspects of liberation”, says Egan. “So that’s why I wanted to write about sex. I wanted to be as honest as I could. If people think that women who have sex are sluts then I guess that makes me one. Which isn’t a bad thing. It’s kind of like a Rorsach test for sexuality. Anyone who is uncomfortable with themselves and their own sexuality would get uncomfortable with any sort of honesty or reality about sex.”

For many, a lot of Egan’s contributions to the feminist conversation come from a challenging and uncomfortable place and this has won her as many fans as it has detractors. Speaking of the comments posted on One D At A Time, she says;

“I didn’t care when some stupid guys would say ‘you’re so disgusting, you’re such a pig’ or whatever, what bothered me was when women who are otherwise intelligent and would describe themselves as feminists got really pissed off at what I wrote. Not that they have to find someone else’s sex life endearing and funny, but I thought that they would at least be able to see the purpose in writing about something like sex and they could at least see the humour or entertainment in it. It doesn’t mean that someone who writes about their sex life isn’t as much of a feminist as they are. By being critical of another woman getting attention for speaking her mind they’re being critical of women speaking their minds full-stop.”

It would be easy to mistake, or even dismiss Egan’s online persona as that of provocateur, but to do that would be to miss the point. Egan managed to oxygenate the debate surrounding all such double standards and female sexual guilt in a piece she wrote a couple of years ago for Vice magazine titled ‘One rape please (to go)’ about her recruitment of a male escort to ‘rape’ her.


Understandably, the piece hit a few nerves and Egan drew criticism for being an irresponsible rape apologist. The obvious intellectual defence was to say that by orchestrating her own 'rape' she was making a statement about reversing the locus of power and control in a scenario that is almost always about a man wielding power and control over a woman. But the shouty caps lock brigade slightly overlooked the real point of the piece, which was that Egan was daring to admit to something that hundreds of thousands of women would falsely deny for fear of appearing un-feminist; that she fantasised about rape. What Egan asserted was that as an autonomous sexual person, she was entitled to take ownership of that fantasy and even act it out if she wanted - a freedom of choice and sexual expression perfectly in keeping with feminist principles. Unfortunately in the event, the escort didn’t quite manage to deliver and instead asked her out on a date. Egan declined.

What feminists like Egan do is to not only call out double standards between men and women, but also call out double standards within feminism. Despite identifying as feminists, women can still perceive falling for the wrong person, not using protection, drinking too much, having sex on a first date, and hating their bodies as signs of failure, as if somehow to be fallible is to be ‘un-feminist’.


“I don’t think that women should always have to strive to be altruistic, do-gooders, nurturing, peace loving vegetarians or whatever”, says Egan. “It’s not about being a better person than men, it’s about proving you’re a person, the same as everyone.”


Of her blog, Egan says;

“I wasn’t trying to be all ‘Look at me’, it was more about ‘Hey, does anyone else feel weird about putting a tampon in and then having to poop immediately afterwards?’ ‘Am I going to ‘deliver’ it if I push too much?’ I just wanted to be able to relate. I mean, that’s what the internet is for: porn and connecting. Like, I would write about having herpes and a girl would email me and say ‘Thank you so much for writing about it because I felt so gross and disgusting and like no one was ever going to marry me’, and I was like ‘Wow you really thought no one was going to marry you?’ I mean herpes is just like a form of Chicken Pox on your vagina, if it happens, it’s going to be ok.”


For a movement whose discourse has always been about proving women’s strength and equal capability to the patriarchy, examining the flaws of our gender is bound to make some feel uncomfortable. But the danger then is that feminists are holding themselves to higher standards than they would impose on men.




“It’s like the thing with Sarah Palin”, Egan says. “I understand why she would be hated for her stance on abortion and rape kits, but I disliked that people were saying, ‘She’s only popular because she’s pretty, she’s so stupid’. We won’t have true equality until a woman as stupid as George Bush could be president. Why do women have to achieve so much more than men just to be equal to them?”


“I think overall if there’s one mission or goal for feminism across the board it’s about achieving equality through being people rather than superwomen. If I were the boss of feminism it would be about having choices and not about dictating what those choices should be or judging women for what the choices they make are.”

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