Christina Hoff Sommers is an iconoclastic feminist thinker who sees the current politicized feminism, with its “rape culture” and demonization of “heteronormative” male behavior, as a kind of Cargo Cult of special pleading and nursed grievances. This interview with her in Ravishly has some great bits:
[Y]ou recently answered the question, “Why Call Yourself a Feminist?” A reader wrote in and asked you to drop the moniker because it’s been so “sullied” with man-hating rhetoric. You basically responded that you simply want women to be “free, responsible, self-determining beings.” That your concept of feminism has nothing to do with “denigrating men or fixating on victimhood.” How do your studies and writings help forge a much-needed, “healthy, evidence-based women’s movement.” What does evidence-based mean exactly?
Classical equality of opportunity feminism (I call it “freedom feminism”) is a legitimate human rights movement. There were arbitrary laws holding women back. Women organized and set things right. But, as I try to show in my writings, that reality-based movement has been hijacked by male-averse, conspiracy-minded activists. (I call them “gender feminists”). American women happen to be among the freest, most self-determining people in the world, but the gender feminists seek to liberate them from an all-encompassing “patriarchal rape culture.” What is their evidence that such a culture exists? They point to their own research as proof. But most of that research, including their famous statistics on women’s victimization, is spurious. Gender feminism is the opposite of an evidence-based movement—it’s propaganda based. Social movements fueled by paranoia and fantasy tend to be toxic.
What’s your take-away from the #YesAllWomen phenomenon? Is it more gasoline on the gender-dividing fire, a societal zeitgeist or something in the middle?
Hashtag feminism (e.g. #YesAllWomen) is a scourge. It brings out the worst in contemporary feminism: injustice-collecting, trauma-valorizing, male-bashing. It also encourages group think and vigilanteeism. Other than that, it’s fine.
Iconoclast and attention-seeking public intellectual Camille Paglia agrees:
A peevish, grudging rancor against men has been one of the most unpalatable and unjust features of second- and third-wave feminism. Men’s faults, failings and foibles have been seized on and magnified into gruesome bills of indictment. Ideologue professors at our leading universities indoctrinate impressionable undergraduates with carelessly fact-free theories alleging that gender is an arbitrary, oppressive fiction with no basis in biology.
Is it any wonder that so many high-achieving young women, despite all the happy talk about their academic success, find themselves in the early stages of their careers in chronic uncertainty or anxiety about their prospects for an emotionally fulfilled private life? When an educated culture routinely denigrates masculinity and manhood, then women will be perpetually stuck with boys, who have no incentive to mature or to honor their commitments. And without strong men as models to either embrace or (for dissident lesbians) to resist, women will never attain a centered and profound sense of themselves as women.
From my long observation, which predates the sexual revolution, this remains a serious problem afflicting Anglo-American society, with its Puritan residue. In France, Italy, Spain, Latin America and Brazil, in contrast, many ambitious professional women seem to have found a formula for asserting power and authority in the workplace while still projecting sexual allure and even glamour. This is the true feminine mystique, which cannot be taught but flows from an instinctive recognition of sexual differences. In today’s punitive atmosphere of sentimental propaganda about gender, the sexual imagination has understandably fled into the alternate world of online pornography, where the rude but exhilarating forces of primitive nature rollick unconstrained by religious or feminist moralism.
It was always the proper mission of feminism to attack and reconstruct the ossified social practices that had led to wide-ranging discrimination against women. But surely it was and is possible for a progressive reform movement to achieve that without stereotyping, belittling or demonizing men. History must be seen clearly and fairly: obstructive traditions arose not from men’s hatred or enslavement of women but from the natural division of labor that had developed over thousands of years during the agrarian period and that once immensely benefited and protected women, permitting them to remain at the hearth to care for helpless infants and children. Over the past century, it was labor-saving appliances, invented by men and spread by capitalism, that liberated women from daily drudgery.
What is troubling in too many books and articles by feminist journalists in the U.S. is, despite their putative leftism, an implicit privileging of bourgeois values and culture. The particular focused, clerical and managerial skills of the upper-middle-class elite are presented as the highest desideratum, the ultimate evolutionary point of humanity. Yes, there has been a gradual transition from an industrial to a service-sector economy in which women, who generally prefer a safe, clean, quiet work environment thrive.
After the next inevitable apocalypse, men will be desperately needed again! Oh, sure, there will be the odd gun-toting Amazonian survivalist gal, who can rustle game out of the bush and feed her flock, but most women and children will be expecting men to scrounge for food and water and to defend the home turf. Indeed, men are absolutely indispensable right now, invisible as it is to most feminists, who seem blind to the infrastructure that makes their own work lives possible. It is overwhelmingly men who do the dirty, dangerous work of building roads, pouring concrete, laying bricks, tarring roofs, hanging electric wires, excavating natural gas and sewage lines, cutting and clearing trees, and bulldozing the landscape for housing developments. It is men who heft and weld the giant steel beams that frame our office buildings, and it is men who do the hair-raising work of insetting and sealing the finely tempered plate-glass windows of skyscrapers 50 stories tall.
Every day along the Delaware River in Philadelphia, one can watch the passage of vast oil tankers and towering cargo ships arriving from all over the world. These stately colossi are loaded, steered and off-loaded by men. The modern economy, with its vast production and distribution network, is a male epic, in which women have found a productive role — but women were not its author. Surely, modern women are strong enough now to give credit where credit is due!
Most men and women, most of the time, are simply getting along in the world with mutual respect and the Golden Rule. But it suits the goal of political power for some people to maintain that injustices of the past — Jim Crow government-enforced racism against black people, the oppression of women through restrictions on employment and gender roles, the mistreatment of gay people — are just as much a problem as ever and justify more and more nanny-state micromanagement of dating, salaries, and employment policies to make everything come out exactly equal for everyone regardless of ability, effort, or interest. Then everything will be perfect!
How about letting people be who they want to be? Why not mind your own business? Let women (and men) choose their careers and decide how much they want to work, or how much time they want to spend with their children. That is the freedom feminists fought for!
The feminist grievance bubble seeks to control our very language to create a special, protected victim status for women when they feel vulnerable.
The “rape culture” lie has been promoted so much that the White House is planning to force colleges to implement a new procedure tilted toward finding students guilty of rape: the accused will be convicted by a much lower standard of proof than viewed as just in the outside world. There’s no evidence that forcible rape on campus is a greater problem than it used to be, but “rape” is now being redefined so loosely as to allow any sexual act when drunk or which someone later decides they feel bad about to be classified as rape — by that standard I have been raped, and most adults have. To avoid false accusations, young men are now being advised to record every sexual encounter and multiple verbal consents before proceeding. I’m sure that will improve the campus atmosphere!
In Britain, there are more obvious efforts by extreme feminist pressure groups to control sexual behavior, bringing them to full circle with their Puritanical forebears.
As I began planning interviews for my recently launched podcast, I decided to talk to women who have come under attack, both from neo-puritanical groups like Object (and others, such as UK Feminista), and old-style religious puritans. I’ve met and interviewed strippers, prostitutes, female pornographers, female sex writers and female academics who research sexuality, and discovered some shocking things: that Object have never approached and talked to the women who they claim to be “saving from exploitation”; that Object have ignored the weight of research and evidence that exists showing that abuse is powered by secrecy and censorship, not by sexual freedom.
In east London, Object are working alongside religious fundamentalists to have strip clubs closed down. They link the existence of strip clubs with increases in rape, although evidence doesn’t back that claim. They lie about links to “trafficking”, ignoring that licensed venues are forced by EU regulation to check workers’ passports. They picket the venues and harass the workers, and their campaign will ensure gay clubs close as well as straight ones (a fact they’re remarkably quiet about).
Quite simply, Object is a hate group. Its methods are those of lies and intimidation. It deliberately avoids facts that may undermine its fundamentalist belief that free sexuality is bad for women. Yet it receives donations and media time from sources that other hate groups (far-right racists, for example) could not.
If Object and UK Feminista won’t talk to women involved in the sex industries, I can. In my upcoming podcast episode, I interview strippers who have become political activists and trade unionists in order to defend their chosen way of making a living, and their right (once fought for and won by feminists) to do as they choose with their own bodies. Object, without ever meeting these women (they refuse to), or setting foot in a strip club (their minds are made up), have labelled the women simultaneously victims, and a root cause of rape and domestic violence, without a shred of evidence to back any of these claims.
Note that sex trafficking, while it does still occur, is massively hyped by those who want more money and power to “control” it. Some supposed victims have had their stories completely debunked. Again a neo-Puritan impulse (“uncontrolled sex danger!”) is hyped to get funds and political control.
Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations
[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations, available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]
Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”
Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.
More reading on this topic:
Why We Are Attracted to Bad Partners (Who Resemble a Parent)
Modern Feminism, Social Justice Warriors, and the American Ideal of Freedom
“Why Are Great Husbands Being Abandoned?”
Evolve or Die: Survival Value of the Feminine Imperative
Feminism’s Heritage: Freedom vs. Special Protections
Red Pill Women — Female MRAs
Perfect Soulmates or Fellow Travelers: Being Happy Depends on Perspective
Mate-Seeking: The Science of Finding Your Best Partner
“The Science of Happily Ever After” – Couples Communications