“Feminist shenanigans or satire?” Take the test proffered by Christina Hoff Sommers of the American Enterprise Institute last month. “Below are five stories about feminist antics. One is pure invention, the others are true. Can you tell which one is false?”, Sommers asked.
At the risk of spoiling someone’s fun before they take the test, this is one is true, according to Sommers:
2. Observation by a feminist musicologist concerning rape and sexual abuse themes in Beethoven’s last symphony:
The point of recapitulation in the first movement of the Ninth is one of the most horrifying moments in music, as the carefully prepared cadence is frustrated, damming up energy which finally explodes in the throttling, murderous rage of a rapist incapable of attaining release.
In the answers section, Sommers writes:
The quote about rape themes in Beethoven’s Ninth is real. It is from a 1987 article by feminist musicologist Susan McClary that appeared in the Minnesota Composers Forum Newsletter. McClary, formerly a provost at UCLA, is now professor of musicology and feminist music criticism at Case Western Reserve.
You know what else isn’t satire? Time magazine asking today, “Is Mother’s Day Sexist?”
Clearly, Sexism is everywhere. But then, so is racism, as James Taranto noted in an item at the bottom of his Best of the Web column:
Have you seen that awesome video of Charles Ramsey, the hero neighbor who rescued three kidnapped Cleveland women? If you have, Slate’s Aisha Harris disapproves of you, you racist:
It’s difficult to watch these videos and not sense that their popularity has something to do with a persistent, if unconscious, desire to see black people perform. Even before the genuinely heroic Ramsey came along, some viewers had expressed concern that the laughter directed at people like Sweet Brown plays into the most basic stereotyping of blacks as simple-minded ramblers living in the “ghetto,” socially out of step with the rest of educated America. Black or white, seeing Clark and Dodson merely as funny instances of random poor people talking nonsense is disrespectful at best. And shushing away the question of race seems like wishful thinking.
Do you enjoy the comic stylings of Richard Pryor or Chris Rock? The acting of Denzel Washington or Halle Berry? The music of Thelonious Monk or Beyoncé? The athletic feats of Jackie Robinson or LeBron James? If so, you too may be a racist.
Perhaps Slate is looking for racism in all the wrong places.