Anita Sarkeesian, self-dubbed “social justice activist” details that, had she not engaged with the sphere of contemporary feminist academia, she would not have become a feminist. A convert to the faith, it was only by adopting the “systemic and institutional framework” depicted by modern feminist writers was Sarkeesian able to “see how oppression manifests in many subtle ways under the systems of what bell hooks calls white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy.”
Sarkeesian’s feminism wouldn’t exist without this systemic framework, a mode of thinking that has caused her to question the individualism she sees inherent within the “neo-liberal worldview”. Therefore, “choice feminism” empowers oppression, because a choice good for one woman isn’t necessarily good for all women.
Sarkeesian believes that “Choice feminism obscures the reality that women don’t have a choice.” The real question is, if women refuse to believe in the “systemic and institutional framework” preached by feminist academics, are they free to embrace the reality of having more choices than they’ve previously been led to believe? What would a feminism free of oppression look like? Could it function outside the walls of the academic temple?
A group of students from Siena College protested in front of a billboard in Newtonville, New York, saying the sign is sexist and promotes gender stereotypes.
The advertisement on the billboard, from Teakwood Builders, Inc., features a luxury kitchen with the text, “Your wife wants me.”
Siena student Delaney Rivers said in an e-mail to News10.com:
[The billboard] implies that men are the primary financial supporters of women and that women are materialistic and portrayed as having no other value outside of the kitchen. This is especially egregious towards students at our institution as many of us are working towards financial independence in hopes to have successful careers and equality in our relationships.
The feminist protesters held up signs with slogans like, “I can buy my own kitchen,” “Women left the kitchen decades ago,” and “Men can make their own sandwiches.”
Jim Sasco, president of Teakwood Builders, issued a response to the protesters:
Thank you for the message regarding the report on our billboard in Newtonville. A vast majority of Teakwood’s clients are women. Frequently they are the decision makers about major expenditures. This billboard – and the entire “Your wife wants me” campaign is good-natured, tongue in cheek fun meant to appeal to women who have a sense of humor, a sense of history and healthy self-esteem.
We applaud the students involved in the protest for their excitement about their cause.
And we thank them for drawing attention to the gorgeous Teakwood kitchen on the billboard.
I don’t have any statistics to back this up, but I’m guessing that there is some correlation between those three things — a sense of humor, a sense of history, and a healthy self-esteem. The strongest women I know — those with the highest self-esteem — generally also have a well-developed sense of humor.
There’s a lesson in there somewhere for the “concern trolling” crowd.
— Olivia Emigh (@SoooOblivias) March 21, 2015
@SoooOblivias BUT THOSE ARE MARBLE COUNTERTOPS WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!
— Lyndsey Fifield (@lyndseyfifield) March 25, 2015
— Paula Bolyard (@pbolyard) March 25, 2015
VIDEO: What’s More Sexist, Meghan Trainor Singing to Her Future Husband, or JCPenney’s Butt-Firming Jeans for Teens?
You have to admit the retro stylings of YouTube star Meghan Trainor make for some catchy little tunes. But in her latest video, Dear Future Husband, the siren dons pinup-wear while scrubbing the floor of a 50′s kitchen and warning her husband he’d better compliment her every day and buy her jewelry. Contemporary feminists are in an uproar over the classic imagery, but does Trainor have a better grip on the inherent power of her sexuality than the teenage girls who feel the need to buy “butt-enhancing jeans” at JCPenney?
The national department store catalog includes:
The “YMI Wanna Betta Butt Skinny Jeggings” boasts: “With a slight lift and shift and contouring seams, our wanna betta butt skinny jeggings hug you in just the right places to give you a firmer, more flattering look.”
“Rewind Smoothie Super Stretch Booty Buddy Skinny Jeans” features “rear-end-enhancing structure” designed to “augment your jean collection — and your backside” and comes in an acid wash finish.
Penney’s isn’t alone. Several online stores including Modaxpress, Hourglass Angel, and even Amazon offer butt enhancing denim to a teenage crowd. Where’s the feminist outrage over a wardrobe enhancement specifically targeted to those vulnerable teen girls suffering all those dreaded body-image issues? Perhaps they’re too busy in Trainor’s kitchen arguing over who gets to make the pie.
Lily James and Kenneth Branagh provided truly thoughtful, eloquent answers to the question of how Disney’s newest Cinderella embodies the reinvention of the princess in a 21st century feminist light.
Contrary to popular culture’s interpretation of sex as power through the crowning of figures like Queen Bey, the star and director of Cinderella each proffer the concept of a feminism that draws its power from a woman’s spirit rather than her body. It is Cinderella’s graceful attitude and her desire to treat others with goodness that is the source of both her beauty and ultimately her power as a woman.
The real question is, in a world full of Dunhams and Kardashians, is feminism ready to go spiritual to find the purpose it so desperately needs?
Want to see Girls in a PG-13 nutshell? Check out last night’s sketch from Late Night With Seth Meyers in which Lena Dunham portrays her on-screen alter-ego Hannah Horvath working a pitch meeting in the writer’s room of the late night talk/sketch show. She essentially mocks the standard tropes of Girls, horrifying her fellow writers with her weird concepts of sexual humor and turning everything into a form of feminist victimization. Think Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm only not funny. Which is probably why the best line came from a fellow female writer who requested, ”Please do not group my pitch with yours.”
The award for most obnoxious line goes to: ”Aren’t you predominately Jewish male comedy writers supposed to be stuffing your gross faces with bagels constantly?”
While the award for most ignorant observation goes to: ”Seth lets a woman or person of color host a late night talk show for the first time ever, because that’s never happened and that’s f’d up!” Tell it to Joan Rivers or Arsenio Hall. Although this line proved the most instructive of how small Dunham’s bubble truly is.
Camille Paglia sits with Reason TV’s Nick Gillespie to discuss the failings of contemporary feminism, specifically in relation to the contemporary feminist obsession with gender politics which Paglia dubs “gender myopia.” Tagging the culture’s current obsession with viewing the world through the lenses of “race, class and gender” (what Gillespie titles “the holy trinity”) as a “distortion of the 1960s,” Paglia, a self-described atheist, explains that “Marxism is not sufficient as a metaphysical system for explaining the cosmos.”
The powerful dialogue should be required viewing for all college freshmen and women, of course. A general in the culture wars, Paglia continues to be the only academic unafraid to conquer Marxist ideology and its subsequent theoretical fields on its own turf.
With Cinderella (2015), director Kenneth Branagh and screenwriter Chris Weitz have done the almost unimaginable. They’ve displayed sincere affection between a prince and a servant girl, without post-modern angst or politically correct messaging.
The angst-ridden feminists have obviously reached the same conclusion — and they’re not going to stand for it. They’re swarming social media to promote a sad, angry — and they say honest — trailer of the Disney classic, produced by Screen Junkies. Taking nearly five torturous minutes to spout feminist talking points about how Cinderella teaches girls “to be pushovers, do all the housework, and that their problems will disappear if they’re hot enough to land a rich husband,” the “Honest Trailer” is a humorless attempt to suck every last drop of fun out of childhood make-believe, imagination, and the enduring joy of fairy tales.
Predictably, the feminist opinion leaders are helping to promote the Cinderella deconstruction video, just to make sure our impressionable daughters are gobsmacked with their sad, un-fun worldview before they ever get a chance to dream about princesses, glass slippers, fairy godmothers, and talking mice.
— ELLE Magazine (US) (@ELLEmagazine) March 16, 2015
The honest trailer for Cinderella is spot on: Starring "I Ain't Saying She a Gold Digger"! http://t.co/YKo3htKJnP
— Emiliya Shtraus (@EmiliyaShtraus) March 16, 2015
— Seventeen Magazine (@seventeenmag) March 16, 2015
This honest trailer for ‘Cinderella’ reminds us how sexist the original story really is http://t.co/qTaXkPKSR4
— TIME.com (@TIME) March 11, 2015
— Disney Trends (@Disneylizer) March 16, 2015
Melissa McGrath, an undergraduate student at Ohio State University, was invited to participate in her college’s TEDx Talk, because, although not in possession of a doctorate, McGrath has “a valid story to tell, and (she thinks) that will shine through.” Her thesis: Feminism proffers salvation.
Her “valid story” plays like a tent-revival testimonial about how feminist theory, reinforced by college professors, informed her that it was not her fault that she was sexually assaulted on campus. Avoiding the details of her assault, McGrath instead focuses on feminist liturgy as a method for teaching “intersectionality” that is, how the human race is tied together in a Marxist state of oppressor and oppressed.
Pulling all the approved contemporary feminist buzzwords from “white privilege” to “rape culture” McGrath weaves the kind of soap box narrative trademarked by the best faith-based snake oil salesmen (and women) of the 20th century. Her’s is a speech proving that feminism isn’t just ideology, but idolatry; a religion whose places of worship are in university classrooms, whose holy texts are available at your nearest bookstore, and whose icons live on “Pinterest boards” and social media outlets.
Cover image “Female Jesus” by Juno.
In last night’s episode of HBO’s Girls, Hannah’s father came out of the closet.
Blah, blah, blah, right? At least until the end of the episode when Hannah confronts her father and says, gay or straight, she doesn’t want to know about his sex life.
Wait a minute? Is there something slightly traditionalist about Ms. Dunham after all?
No kid in her right mind wants to consider that her parents have sex. Yet for Ms. Dunham, who grew up around a considerable amount of father-generated sexual art, scripting a character who makes such a pedestrian proclamation is actually out of the ordinary.
Where is the line drawn in the progressive mind when it comes to loved ones and their sexual exploits? Could it be that the Queen of Sharing doesn’t want to share so much after all? Or is it more like others aren’t allowed to share as much as she does?
The UK Daily Mail has concluded that even nice guys are evil, publishing research conducted by a series of Boston academics who have discovered a new misogyny dubbed “benevolent sexism”:
If you’re the sort of gentleman who holds the door open for a lady – or the sort of woman who expects him to – then be warned.
Such acts of chivalry may actually be ‘benevolent sexism’ in disguise, according to researchers.
Experts say this type of sexism is harder to spot than the ‘hostile sexism’ we are more familiar with – because it often masquerades as gallantry. It is typified by paternal and protective behaviour, from encouraging smiles to holding doors open.
US researchers argue that while women may enjoy being showered with attention, benevolent sexism is ‘insidious’ and men who are guilty of it see women as incompetent beings who require their ‘cherished protection’.
Professor Judith Hall, of Northeastern University in Boston, said: ‘Benevolent sexism is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing that perpetuates support for gender inequality among women.
‘These supposed gestures of good faith may entice women to accept the status quo in society because sexism literally looks welcoming, appealing and harmless.’
Other telltale signs of benevolent sexism include frequent smiling as well as the ability to engage in warm, friendly chit-chat.
Wayne Goss is a 37-year old makeup artist with 15 years of experience and nearly a million YouTube followers. Lately he’s been receiving a lot of requests from female clients to make them up drag queen style, in large part due to the popularity of the drag queen look on television and social media. As Goss illustrates, drag queens use makeup to create the feminine look already inherent in female faces. Essentially, he’s been asked to mask natural femininity with a false face, leading him to question how we interpret the female look and concepts of natural female beauty.
Last year the UK police refused to respond to video footage of doctors agreeing to perform sex-selective abortions that target female babies, claiming that prosecution would “not be in the public interest.” In response to law enforcement’s blind eye, MK Fiona Bruce presented an amendment before Parliament that would ban gendercide in the UK. Originally received with an overwhelmingly positive response, the amendment failed to become law this past week ironically thanks to the seemingly pro-feminist protests of the Labour Party and Trade Union Congress. The language and nature of their protests against this amendment act as yet another illustration of how contemporary feminist ethos, in this case motivated by demented multiculturalism, is actively working against the cause of women’s equality across the globe.
This afternoon, MPs are considering following Fiona Bruce into restricting abortion rights and giving foetuses more rights than people.
— Another Angry Woman (@stavvers) February 23, 2015
Breitbart London reports that the protest against the amendment was spearheaded by Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, who referenced the language of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in a letter to Labour party representatives. In the letter she claims that banning sex-selective abortions would lead to “troubling consequences” such as a limitation on abortions for “gender specific abnormalities.” She also opposed the amendment’s use of the term “unborn child” as “children” are granted more legal protection in the UK than “foetuses.”
Her pro-choice defense was so stereotypical it garnered criticisms dubbing it “at best ludicrous misinformation, and at worse pernicious scare mongering.” As to the “gender specific abnormalities” claim, the law contained a caveat permitting abortions for medical reasons, regardless of gender. For advocates of the amendment, Cooper’s preferential treatment of the word “foetus” over “unborn child” turned her argument into a pro-choice one, plain and simple. If only it were that easy.
The real perniciousness came in documents circulated by the TUC regarding the gendercide amendment that stated:
“The amendment does not attempt to address the root causes of deeply entrenched gender discrimination but rather has divided communities.” It also said that banning sex selective abortions might leave women vulnerable to domestic abuse.
Sex-selective abortion is rooted in specific cultural beliefs. That’s right: Stop everything and sound the multiculturalist alarm bells, lest we step on anyone’s toes, child, foetus or otherwise. In a 2012 report titled “Why do feminists ignore gendercide,” the Heritage Foundation details:
“Son preference is a symptom of deeply rooted social biases and stereotypes about gender,” a representative of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum said in congressional testimony. “Gender inequity cannot be solved by banning abortion.”
Jonathan V. Last, who writes about cultural and political issues, begs to differ. The choice is clear, he argued last summer in the Wall Street Journal. “Restrict abortion,” Last wrote, “or accept the slaughter of millions of baby girls and the calamities that are likely to come with it.”
— Stop Gendercide Now (@SGNIreland) January 27, 2014
Let her walk uncovered down a Saudi street and come back and tell us how about feminism in Islam. pic.twitter.com/yz57JlCX8R
— Tommy Robinson (@TRobinsonNewEra) February 5, 2015
Owen Jones opines in the UK Guardian that women are “taken less seriously than men” and, as a result, the “pandemic of violence against women will continue.” Coming on the heels of the famed Arquette faux pas at the Oscars, his essay easily reads as more of the same old “War on Women” schtick, and to a great extent it is. However, his opening argument is worth noting for what it does say and for what Jones does not. Somehow, like most contemporary feminists with a platform, he manages to acknowledge the grotesque abuses of women living in Islamic cultures while completely refusing to point out that radicalized Islam is the number one serious threat to women across the globe.
— Revolution News (@NewsRevo) February 21, 2015
Jones begins by recounting the story of Özgecan Aslan a 20-year-old Turkish college student who was tortured, raped and murdered, her body then burned as evidence, by a bus driver.
Across Twitter, Turkish women have responded by sharing their experiences of harassment, objectification and abuse. But something else happened: men took to the streets wearing miniskirts, protesting at male violence against women and at those who excuse it or play it down. Before assessing how men can best speak out in support of women, it’s worth looking at the scale of gender oppression. The statistics reveal what looks like a campaign of terror. According to the World Health Organisation, over a third of women globally have suffered violence from a partner or sexual violence from another man. The UN estimates that about 133 million girls and women have suffered female genital mutilation, and believes that nearly all of the 4.5 million people “forced into sexual exploitation” are girls and women.
He stops there, short of pointing out that the WHO statistics cited clearly show that the greatest threat of violence against women exists in primarily Islamic countries. While he mentions female genital mutilation, he again neglects to tie in the fact that FGM is most commonly practiced in Muslim countries and among extremist Islamic cultures.
Jones bases his argument in a story of a Muslim girl tortured and murdered by a man in a Muslim country that is growing more religious by the day, only to devolve into the same demeaning politically correct tropes of contemporary gender feminism. He finds it ironic that men dare to call themselves feminists and decides “…men will only stop killing, raping, injuring and oppressing women if they change.” Change what? Their gender? For Jones, as it is for so many other feminist activists, it is easier to just throw a blanket of blame onto men than to confront the source of evil that exacts a real “campaign of terror” against women: radical Islam.
What’s worse, Jones doesn’t hesitate to make his case for women all about gay men. In yet another ironic twist, after accusing men of co-opting the feminist movement for their own egotistical needs, he uses gender feminist theory to defend a tangent on gay rights:
And while men are not oppressed by men’s oppression of women, some are certainly damaged by it. Gay men are a striking example: we are deemed to be too much like women. But some straight men suffer because of an aggressive form of masculinity too. The boundaries of how a man is supposed to behave are aggressively policed by both sexism and its cousin, homophobia. Men who do not conform to this stereotype – by talking about their feelings, failing to objectify women, not punching other men enough – risk being abused as unmanly. “Stop being such a woman,” or “Stop being such a poof.” Not only does that leave many men struggling with mental distress, unable to talk about their feelings; it also is one major reason that suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50.
If gender stereotypes are a cause of male suicide, they only have gender feminists to blame. Wait – wasn’t this supposed to be an argument in favor of feminism and the female voice?
— Jason (@Vision365) February 14, 2015
Last week social media jumped on the story of a woman who supposedly decided to have a late-term abortion specifically because she found out she was having a boy. Based on a near-anonymous comment posted on an Internet forum, the story is highly questionable at best. Nevertheless, both pro- and anti-abortion advocates pounced on the missive. The dialogue generated took on a life of its own, inspiring the following comment from feminist site Jezebel:
“The virality of this story is sort of a nice reminder about confirmation bias: when something fits our preferred narrative just a little too snugly, it’s probably time for skepticism,” wrote Jezebel’s Anna Merlan.
How, exactly, does gendercide “fit our narrative” in the West, especially in relation to boys?
This year you could spend your Valentine’s Day in a theater full of middle-aged women oozing over a hot-bodied twenty-something whipping his blindfolded secretary to the point of striking blood in the name of “love.” Daytime television loves to play up to the Soccer Mom demographic (a title first dubbed to describe Clinton fans, ironically) seeking fantasy fulfillment in the form of sexual fiction. It was corny enough when shirtless Fabios graced the covers. Now that the most popular sex trilogy focuses on a woman who willingly allows herself to be sexually abused, is pop culture humoring those bored housewives too much?
While the majority of Fifty Shades fans are typical middle-aged marrieds dissatisfied with their partners (or even themselves), anywhere from 5-25% of Americans “show affinity” for BDSM (Bondage/Domination-Discipline/Sadism/Masochism) in the bedroom. On an issue that poses a particular sexual threat to women, feminists are split 50-50 between being against sexual abuse and for a narcissistic “if it feels good, do it” sexual ethos. Hence, a pervert who trolls Fanfiction.net (the original home of Hobbit-inspired Elvish/Dwarf porn) can turn her twisted sexual fantasies into an overnight sensation. After all, it’s all about love in the end. Or is it?
— WPEC CBS 12 News (@CBS12) December 4, 2014
For a while now, my editor David Swindle has been plaguing me to start a series on Jewish identity. Like any good family we disagree with each other about practically everything, cultural and religious identification included. I can’t think of one Jewish setting in which I wasn’t directly or indirectly accused by fellow Jews of being a “bad Jew” for some mundane reason or another. One incident involved the infamous “pepperoni pizza at a Hillel event, for or against” argument. (Truly the greatest Jewish American struggle of our time.) Joseph’s brothers beat him up, threw him in a ditch, and not much has changed since, attitude-wise. Need further proof? Check out the latest argument over how Jewish Americans relate to the Holocaust.
Apparently 73% of us rank the Holocaust as our top-rated “essential” to being Jewish. This disturbs renowned academic Jacob Neusner who’s made a career out of entwining himself into the vines of the Ivy League. Neusner’s argument boils down to the concept that American Jews have no real sense of or connection to their own identity. Therefore, they need to go outside the geographical box to find themselves, either through the Holocaust or Zionism.
I received an email from an academic who was dismayed to learn that a female friend who is a professor believes that all men are rapists. He wrote to ask for my help in how to cope (I have abbreviated and changed some of the wording for privacy) :
I am in an online group of professors and academics and a female professor who I am friends with posted on an internet meme about “Teaching Men Not to Rape.” The gist of this document was something along the lines of :
1. Don’t put drugs in women’s drinks.
2. When you see a woman walking by herself, leave her alone.
3. If you pull over to help a woman whose car has broken down, remember not to rape her.
4. If you are in an elevator and a woman gets in, don’t rape her.
5. When you encounter a woman who is asleep, the safest course of action is to not rape her.
6. Never creep into a woman’s home through an unlocked door or window, or spring out at her from between parked cars, or rape her.
I linked to articles to try and give her information on the rape statistics and how most men are decent guys but her response was that she gets near men in public and feels that they could overcome her physically.
Do you have any advice on how to deal with this kind of stuff for fathers, fathers who are professors, and folks who would like to be able to take this stuff on at work without risking losing their job? Any thoughts would be appreciated.
My response to this reader was:
You are too kind. You are trying to engage in an intellectual discussion where there is none. These ideas are based on what makes women feel good and give the Uncle Tims of the world a chance to strut their stuff by playing along with the game in the hopes of accolades. I think the disconnect here for you is “how can you engage with such a person?” How do you deal with someone who thinks you and your son are rapists while being a “friend” to you. Whether she is a parent or not matters none. Many nasty people who hate men have sons. The goal here is to let “friends” or colleagues know that their prejudices may have consequences. How do you do that?
It sounds like you tried to use logic but you were not satisfied with the results of her response. One way to fight back is by using their own words against them. How about this:
“I can’t believe someone with your open-mindedness would buy into this propaganda. Your open expression of such views as a professor may make male students feel uncomfortable producing a hostile learning environment for male students. I am sure that 50 years ago there were women who were afraid to be in a crowd of African Americans but we didn’t design our society to accommodate their prejudices. You need to think about whether it is fair or legal to stereotype a whole group of people based on gender.”
She will go onto deny profusely that this is not the case and maybe call you a “rape apologist.” Response? Was Atticus Finch a rape apologist?
Anyway, you get the idea. Use their own progressive ideas against them and often that will shut them down by using a bunch of Title IX rhetoric.
Dear readers, do you have some more tips for our distressed dad on how to deal with a “friend” or colleague who thinks all men are rapists?
If the new all-female cast of Ghostbusters has taught us anything, it’s that radical progressives are locked in a tense battle with the scary monsters under their beds. Seriously: at this point, the main cultural enemies of extreme liberals are made-up boogeymen from the feverish imagination of progressivism itself.
This was never more clear than last week, when Jezebel (an intellectual black hole masquerading as a news website) published a satirical blog post under the fabricated authorship of “A Hysterical Man.” The article was called “New All-Feminist Ghostbusters Is A Punch in the Dick to All of Mankind.” It was an imaginary response to Paul Feig’s announcement that his Ghostbusters reboot will star four women. What we were all supposed to believe was that Jezebel’s post was a cleverly exaggerated send-up of the misogynist hysterics that had actually erupted among the stunted ogres and half-men who supposedly infest the blogosphere.
Jezebel’s cardboard cut-out man is a sniveling mess of pent-up rage and mommy issues. He alternates between bigoted venom (he refers to the new cast as “four angry dykes”) and sudden outbursts of the repressed Freudian hang-ups that fuel his hatred of women (“I HATE MY MOM, A LOT”). The article is peppered with links to actual posts from actual men having actual opinions about the movie, so you know Jezebel isn’t being unfair. There really is an army of knuckle-dragging trolls out there in the “manosphere,” clamoring to deny women their rights. And Jezebel really does have them pegged.
Except it’s all a complete fairytale. For one thing, barely any of the links in the Jezebel article say what Jezebel implies they do. Just a couple of examples: Jezebel’s imaginary man squeals that the film is a “betrayal.” The word is suggestively hyperlinked to what turns out to be an introspective and even-handed reflection from a man who feels ambivalent about the film, but “not because it’s an all female cast.” Another link leads to commenters who predict that the movie will suck “for at least 10 reasons, all which [sic] have nothing to do with the fact that the leads are women.” There’s the usual online trash-talk, but the slavering histrionics that Jezebel satirizes are nowhere to be found. The one lonely little nugget of truth among Jezebel’s fantasy citations is that someone did, in fact, rename the movie Ballbusters. Which, like, let’s be honest, is pretty hilarious.
And another thing. You could scour the internet for days and you still wouldn’t find a single reputable writer who even remotely resembles “Hysterical Man.” That’s even if, unlike Jezebel’s fact-checking team, you spent more than half an hour on research and you didn’t have this week’s episode of Girls playing in another tab.
Look, rebooting the movie with an all-female cast is a dumb idea. I imagine it’ll be terrible. It’ll probably flop like a rubber chicken at the box office. Whatever. But no one — as in, no one — is cursing the heavens because it stars women. Of course you’ll find a troglodyte or two mouthing off in his mom’s basement — you’ll find those in ample measure on the Left and the Right. But among the vast majority of sentient beings, the worst you’ll find is some mild annoyance about the incessant lip service that Hollywood pays to the delusional far-Left. Jezebel’s bloodthirsty internet trolls are about as real as the ones Hans Christian Andersen warned you about.
This isn’t the first time progressives have made up a big bad super-villain and done valiant, imaginary battle with him. Remember when Emma Watson delivered that big feminist call to arms on the floor of the UN? Remember when we heard about those backwards, disgusting, cowardly orcs threatening to teach Watson a lesson by leaking nude pictures of her? Remember when that turned out to be a barefaced lie invented to condemn the website 4Chan for an act of blackmail that it didn’t commit? Probably not, because the second the hoax was revealed, the story got buried by the mainstream press.
The goal of all this is to cast the Left as embattled heroes, shuddering but never breaking under the slings and arrows of their monstrous persecutors on the Right. The trick works by sleight-of-hand, highlighting and magnifying the lowest of the low. Progressive bloggers strategically take the schoolyard taunts of poorly behaved teenagers and the violent outbursts of the mentally ill as representative of the entire philosophy of conservatism. If an unhinged sociopath goes on a murderous rampage, well, we need to talk about the evils of masculinity “before boys and men commit more mass shootings.” And if that sociopath plastered vile ravings across the gutters of the internet, then his massacre was the fault of “misogyny and gun culture” in our “sexist society.” By shining a spotlight on disturbed extremists, progressives can effectively claim that the entire world is against them.
It would all just be ridiculous if credulous do-gooders didn’t gulp this narrative down like candy. Jezebel’s fabricated misogynist is making the rounds, and he’s doing exactly what he was created to do — tricking people into thinking that he’s real. There are university newspaper articles out there right now that cite Jezebel’s article — and nothing else — as proof that the asinine forces of masculinity are waging a war on women. Some people are even convinced the post is real.
This is more than a straw man argument. In a straw man argument, there actually has to be an opposing view to misinterpret. This is intellectual shadow-boxing, a mythological Orwellian hate-magnet conjured out of thin air to unite adherents under the banner of an ideology that otherwise has absolutely nothing going for it. Progressives have made a science out of whipping themselves into a froth of righteous indignation over nothing to win followers and votes. If we’re not careful, it’ll work.
Self-dubbed “meninists” have gone on defense after a Superbowl commercial inspired women to proclaim to the world the power of being #LikeAGirl. Ironically, the sexism inherent in their response pales in comparison to the gender bias expressed in defense of the commercial. Once again, gender feminists out themselves as a group bent on erasing gender, specifically female gender, from American culture. The problem is that they are so bloody brainwashed in indoctrination that they don’t even realize they’re doing it.
In an attempt to defend the pride a woman should take in acting #LikeAGirl, gender feminists only manage to uphold the notion that women are weak and oppressed and need public approval in order to be “empowered.” Moreover, in order to gain that much sought-after public approval, women must take on androgynous appearances, hobbies or careers that require them to leave their femininity at home under lock and key.
Assemble a roomful of feminists to discuss the situation of women on university campuses, and what do you get? A case study in self-righteousness and intellectual hollowness.
Such was the scene at Dalhousie University’s recent panel in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in which seven feminist activists outlined the steps necessary to overcome rampant campus misogyny. One of the ideas put forward “several times” and greeted with applause, according to a report on the proceedings, was that university policy should mandate female priority in all classroom discussions.
The panel was organized in the wake of the suspension of 13 dentistry students over a scandal involving tasteless Facebook posts. These included a poster promoting the use of chloroform as a form of seduction, fantasies about violent sexuality, and a joke about how penises are helpful to women.
As has now become standard practice at North American universities, the actions of these few male students, which seem to have had absolutely no relation to any real-world violence, were eagerly trumpeted as evidence of campus-wide gendered discrimination.
What discrimination? Women are now vastly in the majority at universities all across the continent, outnumbering their male peers at a ratio of 2–1. In some disciplines, there are virtually no men left. In those where women remain in a minority, such as engineering, aggressive affirmative action programs are underway to attract them. There are likely a variety of reasons for the notable decline in male participation, but it is probable that awareness of the preference for females and a disinclination to experience both the subtle and not-so-subtle anti-male bias of these academic environments are having their unsurprising impact.
If there ever was a time in the past half-century when institutional sexism discouraged women from pursuing higher education, it is emphatically not now. A myriad of programs and special scholarships and bursaries exists to support women’s post-secondary endeavors. Whole departments devote themselves to the study of women, and most departments offer special courses on women’s history, women’s cultural production, women’s participation in war, women’s spirituality, and so on. Feminism has so pervaded the academy that every subject, at least in the humanities and social sciences, now emphasizes—even prioritizes—women’s concerns, theories, and perspectives. The vast majority of instructors in these disciplines teach from a feminist perspective; only a tiny minority would dare to teach as anti-feminists, and any disparaging classroom remarks about women would bring swift censure. Disparaging remarks about men, in contrast, are commonplace and acceptable.
So why the panel on misogyny in academia? It’s a big leap to see the sexual fantasies of a few dentistry students—swiftly and harshly punished by the university administration—as evidence of any widespread campus culture other than, perhaps, the normal sexual preoccupations of healthy young men. But feminists do not make political gains by being tolerant or reasonable. From the moment the Facebook fiasco became public, they went into full-blown rape crisis mode, insisting that emergency measures were needed to combat the stigmatizing and silencing of women.
That’s how we come to a professor’s suggestion in all seriousness that first-place in classroom discussion be reserved for women by administrative fiat. The professor who put forward the recommendation, Judy Haiven of the Sobey School of Business at St. Mary’s University, already prioritizes women’s voices as an unofficial classroom practice, and she thinks it should be extended to all. Why? Because despite all the apparent gains women have made, they are still hesitant to speak. And that must be because of the insidious social conditioning and overt sexism that tell them their opinions are unworthy.
One would think that someone like Professor Haiven, with her prestigious, well-paid job as professor of business management, who in herself seems evidence that women are not held back from academic advancement, would be reassuring women that success is possible for those with brains and dedication. Not so. Despite the fact that women now outnumber men in post-secondary achievement, Professor Haiven persists in seeing disadvantage: women are “taking a back seat” and not “taking a more active role [ …] in running things,” she laments. Jacqueline Skiptunis, the vice-president academic of the Student Union at Dal, has taken an “active role” in student government but agrees that much more is needed to promote women’s well being. She has at times felt hesitant to speak, and “when she did speak up, her statements were often questioned, and believed only when a man agreed with her.”
There you go. Incontrovertible evidence of pervasive contempt for women in the halls of academe. What is so helpful about feminist theory is the penetrating insight it provides into human realities that might otherwise seem less than clear. Might it not have been that the “questioning” Skiptunis experienced was evidence of her colleagues’ unbiased respect for truth and their belief in her integrity and tough-mindedness? Might the fact that at least some men agreed with her show that men valued her opinions and contributions? Perhaps her sense of hesitation was coloured by general insecurity rather than by any actual bias against her? Perhaps men also feel insecure about their verbal contributions to discussion?
Nonsense. Women know what their experiences mean, and feminist orthodoxy dictates that they be believed.
But some of the (risible) complexities of that orthodoxy were also made evident by the discussion following Haiven’s suggestion to privilege female voices. Judy Ashburn, a transgender outreach coordinator for Halifax’s sexual resource center, one-upped Professor Haiven by suggesting that black women should speak first. Feminism has “come a long way” since its early days, you see, moving to ever finer calibrations of victimhood according to the theory of “intersectionality.” Sure, (white) women are disadvantaged in relation to (white) men, but they have race privilege in relation to black or brown women—and thus racialized women must have priority. But it’s more complicated than that. Heterosexual women of color are privileged over their womyn-loving fellow warriors, so lesbians of color must speak before heterosexual women of color (where white lesbians fit in the hierarchy has been much disputed though never absolutely determined; perhaps they may alternate in preference with racialized straight women). And what about racialized women with disabilities? To the head of the line.
In our present climate, of course, Muslim women can claim far more damaging and virulent discrimination than even disabled black lesbians with mood disorders, so their position trumps all others, especially if they wear the niqab or burqa. (In fact, a case might be made that merely speaking first is not enough for these victims of Islamophobia and that discussion be given over to them exclusively.)
Professor Haiven may be surprised to discover that, far from reaping their due reward for centuries of oppression, white women under the logic of her theory may not be allotted much classroom time at all, and may even have to spend most of it apologizing for unearned privilege.
Two jaundiced thoughts present themselves at this juncture, prompted by my own experience of feminism and classroom gender dynamics. The first is that, under the cookie-cutter dogma of feminist ideology, it isn’t really necessary, or even desirable, for all to have their (predictable) say. Feminism is so certain of the uniform meaning of women’s experience—all of it neatly and ineluctably determined by identity categories—that all that is needed is one representative woman to speak for each specified group to guarantee feminist coherence and equitable coverage.
The second jaundiced thought is that many women remain silent for good reason. Having been nurtured and cossetted and praised all their lives, protected from the criticism or questions Skiptunis found offensive, given good grades and special scholarships to help them into university, told that all opposition was a form of misogyny to be outlawed or at least ignored, they may never have developed the determination, resilience, or independence of thought necessary to have meaningful contributions to make to complex class discussions. Given their moment to orate, they may well reveal, as teachers sometimes discover, that they have nothing of value to say. And in this, their vociferous betters have led the way.
If you’ve enlisted in the Campus Conservative Revolutionary Forces (CCRF), you won’t be in the field long before you find yourself face-to-face with a Gender Theorist. They’re all over campus, striding self-righteously towards classes like “Queer Theory and Gender Performativity,” angrily shouting made-up words at perplexed passersby. You can recognize a Gender Theorist by his/her/zir/its/our/their/Wonderwoman’s shrill voice, with which he/she/ze/it/we/they/Wonderwoman will promptly upbraid you for existing. Gender Theorists are formidable intellectual foes, often capable of making several extremely loud points at once. Stand your ground, soldier! The Campus Conservative’s Field Manual is here to help. The first step is to know your enemy. So take a trip with me down the rabbit hole, into the wild and wacky world of Gender Theory.
The basic premise of Gender Theory is that sex and gender are two separate things. Sex, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), “refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women.” Basically your sex is your naughty bits (plus all the other physical stuff that comes with them). Gender, says the WHO, “refers to the socially constructed behaviours . . . that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.” So gender includes all the non-physical aspects of what it means to be a man or a woman — things like playing football instead of playing with Barbie.
The Gender Theorist battle cry is that sex and gender aren’t connected — the body you were born with doesn’t determine who you are. On the small scale, that means boys can play with Barbies and girls can play football. On a slightly bigger scale, it means boys can wear dresses. On a really big scale, it means people born male can be “women” because they feel like it: gender is just “an oppressive social construct” anyway. So you can declare yourself to be any gender you want, including a made-up one (since they’re all made-up). Options include male, female, genderqueer, purple penguin, and so on. I am making zero of those up. My spell-check didn’t even bat an eye at “genderqueer.”
Then comes the big Gender Theory punchline: the assertion that There Is No Normal. “Society” makes up these bogus “norms” like “average height” or “normal blood pressure.” But in reality we’re all a little taller or shorter than average, or a little closer to the verge of cardiac arrest than most. So, too, with genders: “there is no ‘norm,’” says one Gender Theorist; “‘there are as many orientations and genders as there are people.’” All that really matters is who you are inside — and everyone should be able to decide that for him/her/zir/its/our/their/Karl Rove’s self.
Okay, time to make our way back to the real world. I know, it’s a long climb. Start small: yes, there is such a thing as normal. Duh. The word means “the usual, average, or typical state or condition.” In other words, the thing that happens most of the time. Despite what some extremely imaginative Gender Theorists would have you believe, most people are born with boy parts or girl parts. That’s what’s normal.
So then, this idea that “who you really are” has nothing to do with your physical body. At this point, when battling a Gender Theorist, politely point out that they are speaking utter gibberish. This idea could not possibly be more unscientific. In fact (obviously), physical things like our brain chemistry, our hormone levels, and our bodily structure have a profound effect on our emotions, experiences, and actions. Just one example: when breast cancer survivors get their adrenal glands removed, they become demonstrably less interested in getting it on. The way we behave has a lot to do with what chemicals are swimming around in our body. And by and large (normally), male and female chemicals are different.
By contrast, this fantasy that we’re all actually magical elven spirits with no relationship to our bodies sounds like something out of a bad anime cartoon. “Ahhh yes, we believe that the spark of the great spirit gender lives in each man. Or woman. Or Karl Rove.” Actually, of course, we’re embodied souls: our bodies are part of the language in which our personalities are written.
So stick with me here (you might tell your Gender Theorist friend), because I know it’s crazy: people are normally born male or female. That means they’re normally quite physically different. Physical makeup affects behavior. Which means — heresy of heresies — men and women normally behave differently. Be warned: this screamingly obvious piece of information may cause a Gender Theorist’s eyes to explode in shock (careful not to get your shirt messy).
The great danger to Gender Theory is that the gaping holes in its foundational logic might potentially be visible under acute scrutiny by advanced observational tools such as eyes or a brain. To prevent this, Gender Theorists relentlessly accuse everyone who challenges them of bigotry and oppression. From Kirsten Dunst to Kevin Williamson, folks who suggest that mayyyyybe men can’t just declare that they’re women get called backwards, hateful, and (gasp) transmisogynist. And may God have mercy on your soul if you use the wrong pronoun to describe someone’s imaginary gender. This sin of sins is called a microaggression: the subtly hostile imposition of oppressive cultural norms on a free-spirited gender unicorn. The fear is (literally) that by acknowledging the thunderously apparent fact that the person you’re talking to has dude junk, you’ll violently interrupt his fantasy that he’s a sparkly spirit animal with no relationship to his body. Cry me a river.
This stuff has got to go. So go forth and do intellectual battle, campus conservatives! Honestly, in a logical world, this would be almost too easy. Too bad we don’t live in a logical world. Be on the lookout for more tips and tricks for arguing with nonsense in the next installment of The Campus Conservative’s Field Manual. Until then, if you’ve got more battle scars or stories to share from times you’ve taken on Gender Theory, write ‘em all down in the comments!
See the previous installments in this series:
— Project Pat Sajak (@ParisBurned) January 25, 2015
A few days ago a friend of mine who loves and lives vintage shared this gem from HuffPo showing a series of modern-day “pin-up” pics paired with the argument that “every body is gorgeous.” The pin-ups, all retro-themed, featured a varying number of body shapes and types in clever poses and even cleverer clothing designed to hint at sex. Because sex, good sex, ultimately relies on stimulating the human imagination. Bad sex, on the other hand, has everything to do with telling the mind what to think instead of letting it take the hint. Which is why sex today, quite frankly, stinks.
Play the body-positive feminist angle of the photos all you want. What really makes these photos awesome is that they are a reminder of a time when sex was a hint and women were in control of exactly how far they went with the nudge, the wink, the euphemism, and the nudity. Contemporary feminists love to argue that being completely naked in public is the ultimate proclamation of sexual power, because they cannot comprehend the unspoken language of sex. Anything that isn’t laid out clearly in a multi-part contract is somehow an inconclusive sexual assault. No wonder they love gays and lust after drag queens. These are the only demographics still allowed to speak the unspoken language of glamour and inference. The shaggy-haired, pantsuited crew wishes they could be that comfortable in a sparkling evening gown and heels.
The truth is, contemporary feminists don’t know how to handle the power that comes with the clothes. Naked they get. Naked comes with a contract and court protection. The resulting shock value, best left to celebrities on red carpets protected by the lens of the camera, is especially defended and praised. Second-wave theorists once decried cinema’s voyeuristic male gaze. Now they taunt it openly, flashing breasts and bottoms to the point of sheer boredom, arguing that familiarity with the naked figure will somehow both grant women ownership of their bodies and tame evil male lust. (Tell that one to the booming porn industry.)
No one is more adept at the naked game than Miley Cyrus, Disney’s good girl-gone-bad who has apparently decided to challenge Lena Dunham at her own flesh-revealing game. Her latest shoot for V magazine wasn’t a shoot, per se, as much as a catalog of naked Polaroids (the Insta-variety no doubt) snapped by a friend while on her latest tour. Compare her nude antics to original Disney bad girl Annette Funicello, who ignored Disney’s advice and dared to bare her navel in a two-piece for a series of bikini beach movies in the 1960s. Funicello’s legacy is that of teen sex symbol. Miley’s on the other hand is that of teen slut.
— Nora (@nora_da_xplora) November 1, 2014
In the Slut Walk era, Miley is just another bare-breasted woman in the crowd of feminists bent on denying psychology and biology through visual over-stimulation and court-protected denial of responsibility for inevitable consequences. As Camille Paglia so smartly comments to the pro-slut crowd:
Don’t call yourself a slut unless you are prepared to live and defend yourself like one. My creed is street-smart feminism, alert, wary, and militant—the harsh survival code of streetwalkers and drag queens. Sex is a force of nature, not just a social construct. Monsters stalk its midnight realm. Too many overprotected middle-class girls have a dangerously naive view of the world. They fail to see the animality and primitivism of sex, historically controlled by traditions of religion and morality now steadily dissolving in the West.
The sexual revolution won by my 1960s generation was a two-edged sword. Our liberation has burdened our successors with too many sexual choices too early. Their flesh-baring daily dress is a sex mime to whose arousing signals they seem blind. Only in a police state, and not even there, will women be totally safe on the streets. Honorable men do not rape. But protests and parades cannot create honor.
Contemporary feminism isn’t just about nudity. Its ancient, paganesque obsession with body image puts more demands on a woman’s body than the simple shedding of attire. Ancient Jews who desired to fit in with their Greek overlords painfully reversed their circumcisions. Today’s women go to great lengths to emasculate their otherwise feminine figures to do what, exactly? Pursue a level of strength biologically and psychologically associated with the male gender? Or carve a comfortable trans-niche of their own, not quite glam like the drag divas but not nearly as boring as the Hillaryesque powersuit crowd?
Whether it’s female body building or superhero chic, flat abs, four-packed and more, are now the ultimate pursuit in female happiness. Women once considered themselves liberated from the forced flat abs of the corset generation. Now they’re demanding their own bodies do the work of the whale bones. Cinched in tight, these picture-perfect bodies eliminate the belly pouch made famous in elegant female art for centuries. (The un-tightened belly pouch that also makes the round ligament pain common in an expanding pregnant belly easier to bear.) Goodbye, Botticelli’s bellies and all the promise of fertility within, hello flat abs and the emasculated figures that come with them.
Hyper-muscular demands on a feminine physique can have more than just an aesthetic effect on their womanhood:
A Norwegian population-based survey of nearly 4,000 women under 45 found a clear link between exercise intensity and fertility. Women who were active most days were more than three times more likely to have fertility problems than inactive women. And those who exercised to the point of exhaustion were more than twice as likely to be infertile than those who engaged in less strenuous activities, according to results published in Human Reproduction.
It is the great irony of flat abs and nude figures that women, who claim to possess a greater hold over their own sexuality, are in fact rendering themselves powerless over their own sex. Whether they are work-out freaks who reduce their chances of becoming mothers or women insisting that baring it all isn’t an invitation to a dangerous sexual encounter, contemporary feminism has crafted a cadre of goddesses willing to sacrifice themselves on the altar of so-called liberation. The only thing they’ve been liberated from is the one thing they’re after: Being thought of as sexy.
Arthur Chu wrote a wandering epithet over at Salon on “bitter nerd” Scott Aaronson’s rant against feminism. Aaronson’s complaints as detailed in Chu’s piece are far from new. As a graduate teaching assistant I had many male students (rather nerdy types) walk out of film theory classes declaring they were “horrible people” and “secret rapists” because they were born male. In the wake of the campus rape lies of 2014, who can blame these guys for believing feminism is conducting its own War Against Men:
This is not a debate about gender roles. It is not about economics or the esoterica of hateful radicals in an ivory tower. This is a war, an ideological campaign to smear all men as moral monsters. It is not a war against “patriarchy” or some imagined evil rich guy. This is a war on men as such – of all races and social classes. It is a war against your brothers, sons, fathers, friends and relatives. And right now, the bad guys and girls are winning.
— s.a.d. anne geddes (@zannekamp) November 19, 2014
“…[H]ow could [Aaronson] be targeted by books written by second-wave feminists when he was a toddler?” Chu asks incredulously. Camille Paglia answers Chu in her book Vamps and Tramps, and most recently in her Time magazine piece on the overblown campus rape epidemic. Second-wave feminists believe themselves to be superior human beings through a pseudo-science that negates biology, psychology and religion in favor of a sterile view of the world as a grand social order which must be maintained and controlled through Marxist politics. To put it rather simply, the second wave threw out biology and psychology and mocked God, making a target of every man like Scott who reads feminist literature only to walk away convinced that he’s an inherent rapist because he was born male. As Paglia explains:
The horrors and atrocities of history have been edited out of primary and secondary education except where they can be blamed on racism, sexism, and imperialism — toxins embedded in oppressive outside structures that must be smashed and remade. But the real problem resides in human nature, which religion as well as great art sees as eternally torn by a war between the forces of darkness and light.
Paglia details that Marxist feminists “…simplistically project outward onto a mythical ‘patriarchy’ their own inner conflicts and moral ambiguities.” Men have no such external myth on which to blame what Chu calls “internal demons” which is why for men these moral struggles are easily chalked off as “slippery things.” Chu writes
I do know that what could help women… is to find the guys who are doing bad things to her and stop those guys from doing that. That’s why feminism is more focused on women’s issues than men’s, because women’s issues are the things happening out in the world where we can do something about them.
This absurdity is an outgrowth of the second wave’s politicization of male rape. Female rape, highly eroticized in the ’70s, was legitimized by the feminist movement as sexual fantasy only to become an illicit crime when acted out by a male counterpart. Paglia notes, “…the illicit is always highly charged,” which is why the issue of campus rape has become the most highly charged issue of feminism today. This also explains why rape has become the source for such incredible moral ambiguity and why men, the mythical figures onto which the moral ambiguities of the female sex are projected, are increasingly blamed for women’s bad sexual decision-making.
The story of Molly Morris and Corey Mock is nothing new to the campus rape scene. Having met on Tinder, a social media app designed to fulfill hook-up scenarios, Mock pursued classmate Morris, who played hard to get until agreeing to a breakfast date. Morris took Mock up on his invitation to a party, but wound up not arriving until 2 a.m., only to find a bunch of male wrestlers with few female faces in the crowd. Partaking in plenty of booze, Morris implies she was drugged and woke up the next day naked in bed with Mock. She decided not to go to the police because “she was not emotionally ready to enter a criminal justice system that would scrutinize her life and choices.”
Her’s is a pathetic excuse that permits the consequences of her bad decision-making to be projected onto the mythical patriarchy represented by Mock and the criminal justice system. When Morris finally did approach their university’s administration Mock was found innocent, then guilty, then granted a stay and finally expelled from the school in what amounted to a politically motivated public relations debacle. Mock’s side of the story is only given by his father via the comment field at the end. He explicitly details his son’s sexual encounter to make it clear that it was, indeed, consensual. After explaining what happened to his son, he concludes, “Morally and ethically I want to say, don’t have sex until you get married. We all know that would be naive.”
— David Mastio (@DavidMastio) September 23, 2014
Would it? The reality is that abstinence has become the only 100% guaranteed way to avoid being falsely accused of sexual assault. That reality check highlights the long-forgotten intrinsic value of abstinence culture. The moralists who promoted that antiquated agenda understood that the allure of sexuality and the power of sex needed to be contextualized through marriage so societal order could be maintained. When society rejected marriage culture, it implicitly accepted the second-wave feminist alternative. Hence, every man is a rapist and every woman a victim.
Paglia argues that “rape will not be understood until we revive the old concept of the barbaric, the uncivilized.” Likewise, the problem of campus rape – that is, second-wave feminism’s grotesque predilection for falsely accusing male sex partners of assault in an attempt to soothe their own wounded pride and troubled souls – will not cease until moral order, built on a solid biological and psychological understanding of the individual and an acceptance of moral responsibility on the part of both parties, is restored.
— Liz Dosta (@Liz_Dosta) January 13, 2015
Waiting in line at Tim Horton’s a few days ago, I noticed that the man in front of me was standing with his legs wide apart, astride the aisle. I nudged my husband, David: “He’ll be getting a fine for manspreading if he’s not careful,” I whispered.
“Maybe they’ll let him off with a warning for a first offense,” David whispered back, “especially if he agrees to take re-education training.” We looked around and noticed quite a few men standing incorrectly, taking up more than their fair share of space, declaring their manly anatomy too recklessly, and failing to manifest an appropriate shame at having been born male in the West.
Okay, tickets are not actually being issued for manspreading. Not yet. But feminists have certainly vociferated about the practice as if it were nothing short of criminal: “The fact is that most of the perpetrators taking up too much space in public with their bodies are men,” asserted feminist activist Davis Carr, who has expressed her contempt for men on Twitter. “It’s hard to accept that something you do so naturally can cause other people harm.” In response to the “harm” experienced by “survivors” like Carr, manspreading has become an advertising target in cities across North America, particularly in New York, where “Dude … Stop the Spread” posters have been put up by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Ostensibly focused on men’s habit of sitting with their knees apart, pushing into other passengers’ seating area, the anti-manspreading movement is only the most recent in a spate of public service campaigns (the “Don’t Be That Guy” anti-rape poster blitz perhaps the most outrageous) to demonize (white) men by focusing on male attitudes and behaviors as social problems requiring censure.
— Rebecca Griffin (@dorothyofisrael) January 13, 2015
The manspreading campaign, which has apparently cost New Yorkers more than $76,000, has already received well-deserved ridicule by such anti-feminist luminaries as PJM’s own feisty Dr. Helen Smith (“And don’t give me the crap about the patriarchy. If you shame men in this way, you are a nasty sexist who deserves contempt”), the indefatigable Cathy Young (“The anti-spread campaign has little to do with etiquette. It’s part of a recent surge in a noxious form of feminism”), and Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente (“A new scourge stalks the land”). These writers, along with many witty bloggers and journalists (hats off to Katherine Timpf for best satirical survey of the feminist position) have ably pinpointed the Freudian triviality of feminist ire. But the fact that the cause has been taken up so seriously by transit authorities in New York City and Seattle tells us something about our present cultural moment.
It is inconceivable that any other identifiable group would be singled out in such a humiliating fashion for public correction. Obese people whose thighs spill past their seat boundaries? Women with large packages piled on adjoining seats or in aisles? Mothers neglectful of their children, who squirm, howl, and disturb other passengers unreproved while their mega-strollers block exit doorways? All these are relatively common transit inconveniences that most of us accept with equanimity. Reasonable people would find it churlish and unnecessarily divisive to mobilize against them.
When it comes to maleness, however, the big guns always come out, and seemingly with broad public support. Our feminist-compliant authorities see men as fair game to be “lessoned.” No foible or incorrect action—whether it be catcalling, telling rude jokes, hanging a girlie calendar, proffering unwanted compliments, or even kissing a workmate on the cheek—escapes the ever-expanding net of the compliance enforcers. One of my gloomy predictions for 2015 is that the move to discipline and re-educate boys and men will proceed ever more vigorously and punitively.
Expect to see many more campaigns in which feminist activists, local police, academic administrators, politicians, government bureaucrats, journalists, and community leaders form partnerships to quell unruly male behavior. Boys and young men at public school and college will be made to attend an increasing number of anti-sexual assault classes, violence-prevention programs, “affirmative consent” seminars, and “Check Your Privilege” workshops. We will see many more poster crusades telling (white, heterosexual) men what they are and are not allowed to say, do, and think (see for example, Make Your Move, ostensibly targeting sexual violence generally but focused exclusively on the supposed violence of white heterosexual men—and now being enthusiastically embraced by the same police who had sanctioned the “Don’t Be That Guy” campaign, also targeting white men exclusively).
— Alicia Kershaw (@AKerroseNYC) January 13, 2015
We will see an increasing number of man-blaming organizations dedicating to re-educating men away from violence. We will undoubtedly witness more parades of wounded female accusers—some of them stepping forward 25 years after the fact!—claiming abuse by media celebrities; and news commentators will weigh in on the problem of sexual predation as if the charges were already proven. Our newspapers will fill with yet more reports about the epidemic of women harassed in the workplace (43% according to a recent report—but look at the innocuous behavior defined as “harassment”).
Every university across North America will enact “affirmative consent” policies, effectively criminalizing a vast swath of non-coercive sexual activity defined after the fact as non-consensual. Young men at these institutions will attend performances of the Vagina Monologues, where they will see female sexuality celebrated and masculine sexuality demonized. They will sit through dozens or even hundreds of classes in which women’s achievements and experiences are portrayed as worthy of sympathy and admiration while men’s are mocked or dismissed (I know—I live in the belly of the beast). In a multitude of ways, they will be made to feel secondary, superfluous, offensive in mind and body, always in danger of a social or even criminal mis-step for which constant apology and vigilant self-monitoring are required.
It’s not the end of men just yet, but it is surely the end of the unselfconscious masculinity of young men, who are increasingly under siege by a society determined to make them uncomfortable in their own skins, guilty, apprehensive of wrong-doing, convinced that they are to blame for the world’s ills. Many feminists will applaud such a result (shame on them) as necessary for positive social transformation, but the deliberate emasculation of men is certain to have repercussions (already seen in everything from social withdrawal to self-slaughter) far more serious than matters of subway etiquette.