Books, Feminism, recent, Women

The End of an Era—A Feminist Firebrand Looks Back

After 9/11, I felt as if the Afghanistan I’d fled so long ago had followed me right into the future and into the West. That distant and dangerous country began to dominate American and European headlines. Muslim women started wearing burqas (head, face, and body coverings) and niqabs (face masks) on the streets of New York City, London, and Paris.

As global violence against women gained horrendous momentum, many Western feminists became increasingly afraid to criticize that violence lest they be condemned as colonialists and racists. This fear often trumped their concern for women’s human rights globally.

This was not the universalist feminism I helped pioneer. We favored multicultural diversity; we were not multicultural relativists. We called out misogyny when we saw it and didn’t exempt a rapist, a wife beater, or a pedophile because he was poor (his victims were also poor) or a man of color (his victims were often also people of color). We had little sympathy for a perpetrator because he had suffered an abused childhood (so had his victims).

Fighting for abortion and gay marriage rights in America is a legitimate undertaking, but so is standing with Muslim, ex-Muslim, Hindu, and Sikh dissidents, gays, and members of religiously persecuted minorities, all of whom are fighting for their lives.

World events have made feminist ideas far more important—yet, at the same time, Western feminism has lost some of its power. It’s now a diversionary feminism that is also far more invested in blaming the West for the world’s misery than in defending Western values, which have inspired countless liberation movements, including our own feminist revolution.

Celebrity endorsements of feminism or media-inspired Celebrity Moments, are not necessarily movements. If Helen Mirren, whom I love, wears a sparkly skirt in which the word “feminist” is embroidered again and again, I may like it, but I do not think it equivalent to the Emancipation Proclamation. The Balkanization of identity that passes for feminism in the 21st Century saddens me. Such Balkanization makes it almost impossible to unite in coalition to fight for issues that may not personally affect all the protestors.

Many feminist academics and journalists now believe that speaking out against head scarves, face veils, the burqa, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, and polygamy is somehow racist. I did not foresee the extent to which feminists who, philosophically, are universalists would paradoxically become isolationists. Such timidity (presumably in the service of opposing racism) is perhaps the greatest failing of the feminist establishment. Postmodern ways of thinking have also led feminists to believe that confronting narratives on social media or signing petitions are as important and world shattering as rescuing living beings from captivity.

I recant none of the visionary ideals of Second Wave abolitionist feminism. Rather, as a feminist—not an antifeminist—I feel obliged to say that something has gone terribly wrong among our thinking classes. The multicultural canon has not led to independent, tolerant, diverse, or objective ways of thinking. On the contrary; it has led to conformity, incivility, and totalitarian herd thinking.

Do I now regret founding women’s studies?

No, I do not. Expanding the canon to include women of ideas, women’s history, and radical and original feminist views was long overdue. My generation’s feminists forever empowered me. I’m in their debt. They share in my accomplishments.

However, as of the 21st Century, I find myself surrounded by an angry, entitled, and barbaric patriarchy. I am referring to the movements to ban or restrict abortion; legalize and/or decriminalize prostitution and to legalize commercial surrogacy; the quantum rise of sex slavery and trafficking as well as Islamist terrorism, gender apartheid, and censorship; the obsession with transgender victimization; the disappearance of “women” from women’s studies which long ago morphed into gender studies and then into LGBTQIA studies; and in the massive increase and normalization of pornography.

In addition, the 50th anniversary of Stonewall and gay celebrations remember those who died from AIDS but not those who died from ovarian, uterine, or breast cancer. Domestic violence, sexual harassment, rape, and incest, are not mainstay subjects in what used to be Women’s Studies. Now, the hot button issues are diatribes about Western-only colonialism, queer people of color, police brutality against young black men, “Islamophobia,” etc. In short, radical feminism is losing on every front.

That the “good-old bad-old times” didn’t last, that illusions were shattered and people were betrayed is hardly unique. Perhaps, if the world keeps spinning on its axis, another great opening in history may come round, and if our best work is preserved, and preserved accurately, future generations may be able to stand on our shoulders.

May this memoir stand against the rank and swelling tide of revisionist feminist history.

By now, at least 100 active pioneer feminists I knew or with whom I worked or whose work brightened my days have died— and with them, an entire universe is gone.

I’m here—but without so many I’ve cherished.

Most women cannot survive without their female friends; we tend to have a handful of best friends, not just one. I could not have stayed the warrior’s course without such intimates.

Here are some of the souls with whom I served. We were soldiers, brave and true; we were friends, near and dear.

Barbara Seaman (1935–2008) was the author of The Doctors’ Case Against the Pill (1969), Free and Female (1972), and Women and the Crisis in Sex Hormones (1977).

Barbara and the Boston Women’s Health Collective essentially founded the feminist health movement. Barbara lost her lucrative income as a magazine writer when the drug companies—whose ads fueled women’s publications—insisted that she be blackballed. And so she was—but she saved the lives of millions of women.

Barbara Seaman and Phyllis Chesler, 2002-2003. NYC.

Barbara cofounded the National Women’s Health Network—and the network was really her baby. It is still going strong. Barbara mentored newcomers and strategized and shaped the network’s agenda. She was generous with her time and resources. She turned no one away and would find just the right physician for any woman who asked, no matter where she lived. Always, always, when she had to change literary agents, she would insist that I move with her, so keen was she to share her contacts. I did so only once, but it was a good fit until that agent died.

Barbara was as generous to stars as she was to woebegone waifs. With a few exceptions, she thought the best of everyone.

Barbara remained connected to me even though we disagreed strongly on certain issues. When ideological or political splits of one kind or another swirled around us, we held each other close. I have no doubt that she took some heat on my account, but she never mentioned it if she did.

Barbara wore dresses and low-heeled shoes and sometimes a string of pearls. I suspect that she probably once wore hats and gloves. But she was one of us, perhaps a more gracious rebel than most.

Barbara never complained about her personal woes. She shared some heartbreaking secrets with me—but never belabored the point. She told only a few of us that she was dying of lung cancer and did so only toward the end. Although she was dying, she came to my son’s wedding. I have her happy, smiling face in a photo that I’ll forever treasure.

Jill Johnston (1929–2010) wrote many articles and a bevy of books: Lesbian Nation: The Feminist Solution, Gullible’s Travels, Mother Bound.

We knew each other before she became famous for her girl-on-girl kiss at Town Hall in Manhattan in 1971—a great piece of performance art, if you ask me—and an action that horrified both Norman Mailer and most of the assembled feminists.

Of course, I was there—we all were—to see Germaine Greer, Jacqueline Ceballos (then president of the New York City chapter of the National Organization for Women); Diana Trilling, the literary critic; and Johnston, the irrepressible lesbian journalist, take down the ever-pugnacious and attention-hungry Mailer, who had been spoiling for a fight with feminists.

Jill Johnston, Ingrid Nyboe, Phyllis Chesler. Mid-1990s. NYC.

Mailer had written an antifeminist screed, ‘The Prisoner of Sex,’ for Harper’s Magazine, in which he had been grossly unfair to Kate Millett. Germaine wore a feather boa and flirted outrageously with him that night. Billed as a debate on the issues, it was, in turn, serious, ridiculous, upsetting, and funny. The women were in favor of women’s liberation. Mailer was just in favor of women, so long as they knew their place.

Jill was a bohemian, a butch girl, an artiste, a gadfly, an outcast, a word dancer. Her long public kiss at Town Hall was her out-of-the-box response to an otherwise serious evening. Jill did that a lot—tried to steal the show, mess things up.

Jill kept asking me why I thought she had to come out as a lesbian in her 1971 Village Voice column under the famous headline ‘Lois Lane Is a Lesbian.’ I had no answer for her.

I saw her through a long list of lady loves until she found Jane O’Wyatt and then Ingrid Nyeboe, both of whom grounded her most nobly. Jill loved being legitimately married; she and Ingrid tied the knot in Denmark, where gay marriage was legal. At the time, I thought that marriage had laid the ladies low—but because Jill was so obsessed with being legal (her parents had never married, and she never knew her British father), I understood that she was driven by psychological as well as practical motives.

Of course, we had our differences—many differences—but to her credit, our credit, we continued to wrestle with them. The subject of anti-Semitism was a live wire for us. However, Jill and I fought to remain connected to each other no matter what.

One time, in the early 1980s, we saw Gone With the Wind at a movie theater out in the country. We mourned the death of poor Gerald O’Hara, the loss of Tara, the doomed Melanie and Ashley, Bonnie Blue, and Scarlett, too. It was like an opera, really. We were two opera queens who happened to be female.

Jill reminds us of our youth, both aesthetically and politically; she is gone now and so is our youth—it is gone, gone with the wind.

She was an original. We will not see her like again.

I cannot believe she is dead—although it’s been years now—or that she—that changeling child, that Huck Finn, that quintessential Peter Pan—actually managed to turn 81-years old.

Kate Millett (1934–2017)

Kate: You took your last breath on Earth in the city you loved most: Paris, the city that once welcomed the expatriates Gertrude, Alice, Pablo, Ernest, and Sir James of Dublin, and where the early morning aroma of fresh bread was reason enough for you to rise, too.

I finally understood you in historical context when I read Andrea Weiss’s Paris Was a Woman: Portraits from the Left Bank. Then I recognized your culture, one in which sophisticated and talented lesbians took many lovers, competed with each other for sexual favors, slept with their lovers’ lovers, and everyone either became lifelong friends or abandoned each other or the group entirely.

Kate Millett and Phyllis Chesler. 1975-1976. NYC.

You were just another Irish rebel living in exile. Wherever you lived, you were in exile. When you were in Paris, you were not at home on the Bowery, and when you were in New York, you missed the farm. Just as you belonged to many cities, you also had many different selves. You were many different Kates.

You were Kate, the highly ceremonial hostess, offering your guests wine as if it were a libation to the gods; floating little candlelit paper boats out on the lake at the farm for the Japanese holiday of Obon every August. You were also Kate the raging Mad Queen; Kate the unbearably humble; Kate the increasingly all too silent.

You were also Kate the straight, a married lady, who genuinely loved your husband, Fumio. Do you remember how you wept when he finally left? You called and, between tears, said that he’d left you for another woman. I was amazed but I dared not laugh. Your grief was so raw. Finally, I asked you: “But Kate, really, how many women have you left Fumio for?” I could not reason with you, your sorrow and shame were genuine.

You were the most cosmopolitan, the most continental, the most European of our feminist intellectuals (well, Andrea Dworkin was, too). You believed that ideas matter and that intellectuals must lay their bodies down for the sake of revolution.

You were always broad-minded (in both senses of the word); you would not have disapproved of my exposing you here, given how routinely you exposed yourself and everyone else in book after book, and you did so in such a fine, stream-of-consciousness prose, one that was underestimated by critics but never by me. I admired it; no, I adored it. I was going to read you the passages about you—but then you went ahead and died. You’d been drifting for some time now, whether you were in another country, upstate at the farm, marooned in a hospital, or sitting right across the table from me; before you were really gone for good, you were no longer exactly “here.”

For years now, when we would meet at the Bowery Bar, right across the street from your loft, you were already far too quiet. Sophie (Kier), Susan (Bender), sometimes Merle (Hoffman) had to join me in keeping the patter going. But you still had your wonderful laugh and your wise and twinkling eyes which signaled that you understood everything.

From time to time, you’d call and leave the most heartbreaking messages: “Hi, this is your old friend Kate Millett, remember me?” And I’d call you right back. Sometimes we were able to have a real, if only a brief, conversation, but only as long as I carried the weight for both of us. You no longer raged—at least, not at me, not on our precious phone calls, never again in person either.

On one of your visits a few years ago you told me you were working on a book about your relationship to de Beauvoir, to the woman and her work, perhaps a book that might encompass your relationship with the entire French Literary Enterprise.

I understood that you were no longer capable of undertaking a Big New Book, but I quietly volunteered to listen to you talk about this, tape your every word, and help you edit this if you wished. You said yes—but we never spoke about it again. Eventually, I heard that you were working on introducing something that you’d written long ago, perhaps your Tokyo diary, maybe something else altogether.

Although you attended marches, protests, press conferences, and sit-ins, you mainly read, wrote books, sculpted, painted, and tried to create a utopian community for lesbian artists.

You were also the Kate who could easily pass for a homeless person, out on the Bowery trying to sell your farm-grown Christmas trees in blustery winter weather. (Oh, how chapped your hands were, how red were your cheeks.)

You were Kate the sharecropper, who, like Gerald and Scarlett O’Hara, was adamant that owning land is everything and that land must be kept in the family at all costs. You drove a tractor, cut wood, stood on dangerously high ladders to get at a failing roof.

Do you remember the time I visited one weekend when I was on a hard-and-fast deadline and you demanded that I just put my shoulder to the wheel of your sheltered workshop and help you repair the roof? (I sometimes viewed the farm as your personal alternative to a loony bin.) “C’mon, Chesler,” you growled, “just get on the goddamn ladder and help me do this.”

I was horrified. Terrified. Flabbergasted. But you would not let go of me until I at least planted a victory garden of flowers by your side.

But even as Kate the farmer, you still sometimes drank your morning coffee from a French ceramic bowl, always made little toasts at dinner, and were, at all times, surrounded by books and bookshelves. Your Sexual Politics was perhaps the most influential or at least the most famous of the Second Wave feminist books—although we all stood on the shoulders of those brilliant articles and demonstrations that preceded us. That same year Shulie published her equally amazing The Dialectic of Sex.

I loved Flying, in which you captured the energy of the early days of breakneck activism, as well as the unexpected cruelty of some feminists, but you also described fame as something of a human sacrifice. Ah, Katie: You were tireless, relentless, in trolling the dark side on behalf of women’s freedom, and you did so doggedly, even during the dark days, the dog days, the days of despair.

In The Basement: Meditations on a Human Sacrifice, you more than equaled Truman Capote and Norman Mailer in your fact-based but fictionalized account of the physical and sexual torture-murder of 16-year-old Sylvia Likens in Indianapolis at the hands of a middle-aged woman named Gertrude Baniszewski, her teenage daughter and son, and some neighborhood children. They tortured Sylvia most horribly for weeks and then carved “I’m a prostitute and proud of it” into Sylvia’s skin. The details are unbearable. How did you bear it? Did you?

I remember how shocked I was by your art installation on this subject. I did a double take when I realized that the Sylvia mannequin on the floor was dressed in your clothing and had a wig on that was styled exactly the way you styled your hair.

In Going to Iran, you truly grasped the misogynistic nature of an Islamic theocratic regime that would go on to murder its best and its brightest.

Do you remember our Christmas Eve parties and the presents we all exchanged? And the New Year’s Eve parties, too? I often had to initiate the process; each time you went along with it and were always eventually very pleased—but always, always, like Shulie, you also stood a bit apart, watching it all, too silent even among your cherished intimates.

Katie: I want to thank you for your generosity, for always trying to include me, and for suggesting that others do so, too. You introduced me to extraordinary women. As you know, some of these women became very dear to me.

It was a privilege to be your friend. I will never forget you.


Read our interview with Phyllis Chesler by Louise Perry.

Excerpted, with permission, from A Politically Incorrect Feminist: Creating a Movement with Bitches, Lunatics, Dykes, Prodigies, Warriors, and Wonder Women by Phyllis Chesler. ©2018. Published by St. Martin’s Press. All rights reserved.

Phyllis Chesler, Ph.D, is the author of 18 books, including Women and Madness, Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman, and An American Bride in Kabul.


  1. laconnectrice says

    Wonderful analysis. As a feminist of the second wave, I share it. Same issue in France.

    • prince says

      Feminism should have been built on the principles of liberalism, where each individual is empowered with the same rights and each us judged by their own actions.

      Instead, the second wave feminism diverted from these foundations and built their church on the shifting sands of identity groups, making all women victims, and all men oppressors, painting any sign of unequal outcome as another proof of the dominance of the patriarchy.

      Now that the gigantic monster you created turned on you, you bemoan for the good old days where the creature seemed such a nice little puppy.

  2. I read it as far as the second paragraph:
    “After 9/11 …. As global violence against women gained horrendous momentum, many Western feminists became increasingly afraid to criticize that violence lest they be condemned as colonialists and racists. This fear often trumped their concern for women’s human rights globally.

    The detatchment from reality is astonishing. Violence against men is massively greater than violence against women and where is the evidence that violence against women is increasing? The evidence is of a steady long term trend downwards however acknowledgiung that woudl mean acknowledging the momentum rather than being horrendous is positive.

    The narcissistic obsession with portraying women as victims and the absolute lack of concern about men is clear.


    • Anj says

      AJ, since when did concern for women’s well being disavow men’s?
      Causes don’t lose their importance because others exist. Cancer being more prevalent than heart disease or vice versa doesn’t make it any less of a concern.
      The fact that historically there have been massive improvements doesn’t absolve current issues.
      It’s not a competition.
      Calm down dear, bringing attention to issues is hardly a narcissistic victim obsession but hysterical defensiveness certainly is…

      • There is nothing wrong with addressing issues that affect women but everything wrong with distorted alarmist propoganda which implies that violence is focussed on women and is getting worse when the opposite is true.

        • Anj says

          Aj, the piece never implied that violence is focused only ever on women & was historically getting worse. The context is after 911 when the violence against women particularly in countries affected by war had escalated. That’s not to say men did or did not suffer as much or more either.

          • ” The context is after 911 when the violence against women particularly in countries affected by war had escalated.”

            Source? You or the author’s.

          • Anj says

            Try the bleedin’ obvious for a change…

    • Saw file says

      I have to agree. That detachment and use of selective (feminist) source ‘quoting’, caused me to stop reading as well.
      No one who has objectively observed the path of academic feminism in the West, in the past few decades, believes that their goal is equality. Time and again, they’ve shown the opposite. Countering and deriding serious men’s issues seems to be a abject passion for many ‘serious’ feminists, and their cohorts.
      For example: “Anj”‘s comment

    • Another Name says

      Of course you stopped reading. You are as set in your own narcissistic narrative as anyone.

      • Uab says

        I am confused. How does someone not reading an article they disagree with indicative of narcissism. People are selective about the media they consume and teh articles they read all the time. Honestly, I tried twice and couldn’t get further until about half way through myself. I just lost interest.

  3. Edward Kremer says

    Thank you Phyllis Chesler , as usual your up front honest evaluation and courage comes across like a Sword of Light . Truth always divides the Light from the darkness.
    May I recommend that we look at the Female singers of all ages and listen to their Very Powerful High Vibrational Sounds that penetrates the heart right to the soul that uplifts the consciousness of humanity .These are incarnate angels from Heaven here now . Their mission to Awaken and Enlighten this planet to dramatically shift beyond the limitations that were intentionally put into place against women . That also kept men in the dark and curbed their freedom to be men of God. Let us recognize , encourage and back them wherever they are . Their voices with positive sounds that are Divinely inspired will Aid Greatly in opening the door to a Golden Age in our generation..

  4. MrJD says

    You preached identity politics, and you got identity politics.

    Maybe you should have preached individual liberty instead.

    What threatens you today is not “rising patriarchy.” It is your chickens, come home to roost.

  5. Nick E says

    The brainless monster you helped create is pounding on your door and taunting you!

  6. Morgan Foster says

    “Muslim women started wearing burqas (head, face, and body coverings) and niqabs (face masks) on the streets of New York City, London, and Paris.

    As global violence against women gained horrendous momentum, many Western feminists became increasingly afraid to criticize that violence lest they be condemned as colonialists and racists.”

    This is the litmus test that I apply to any woman who presents herself to me as a feminist.

    She will condemn the burka, the niqab and the hijab or I will condemn her as a coward and a hypocrite.

    • FREEDOM! says

      Does she “condemn the burka, the niqab and the hijab” or only the forced wearing of those? Because SOME women WANT to wear them. To condemn the clothing for itself is as abusive to the women wearing them as much as is being forced to wear them when you do not wish. Tweek your litmus, lest someone call you a bully and a hypocrite.

      • Lightning Rose says

        Always love it when the So Woke West thinks its incumbent on them to dictate how traditional cultures live. I’m sure when they want your input, they’ll ask for it. In the meantime, cultural colonialism much? The hubris here is mind-boggling.

        • Cynic says

          “to dictate how traditional cultures live”
          This is the progressive mind, mired in the fallacy of misplaced concreteness, it imagines that “cultures” live. No. People live, and each person is a discrete individual whose experience is unique and, in its subjective immediacy, private. We may talk about how we see, hear, feel, think but what we say is only a map to our personal territory, and no-one experiences our private territory by studying our published maps. Ascribing to a culture a moral authority which can only be found, if at all, in a God is just one more example of idolatry.

        • GRPalmer says

          Spot on.

          White progressive Feminists should be careful they are not accused of “insulting Islam”
          when they play fancy dress-up for a day wearing the Hijab like a chaste Muslim woman, only to discard it next day like some Halloween costume, and then back to drinking and fornicating.

          Just saying, progressives need to be careful how they play culture wars, they could become collateral damage.

      • “SOME women WANT to wear them”

        Very hard to substantiate that. The situation is at the mercy of idiotic tenets to do with ‘modesty’.


        *Obviously not in Saudi Arabia

        • I perfer #FreeTheNipple*

          *Obviously fat chicks excluded

      • Heike says

        Any woman who voluntarily wears the burka is a victim of internalized misogyny.

        • Miss Yellowbird says

          Ah, more self-congratulatory essays about feminists by feminists. This is another good example of how professional feminists undermine their message to regular women. Telling someone they are operating because of “internalized misogyny” is rude and invalidating, not to mention presumptuous. It shows utter disregard for the intelligence and autonomy of other women. Burkas are an extreme example, but its better to criticize the culture than the individual women who are just living their lives as best they can in a world where they are afforded very little power.

          They probably don’t need feminists condescension on top of everything else they deal with – they are probably concerned about immediate needs like food and shelter and their families, and not fretting over what rich academic feminists in other countries think of their “internalized misogyny”.

          I also didn’t read past the first few paragraphs because academic feminists exist to promote themselves, and I no longer have any interest or energy in performing the “emotional labor” of caring about feminist history. Odd how feminists tell women we shouldn’t have to perform “emotional labor” then get mad when poor women don’t want to waste their time focusing on praising the work of well-off feminist campaigners in other countries rather than focusing on their own lives and trying to get resources required to survive.

          Their constant self-promotion is tiresome and feminism is just another brand being forced down women’s throats online these days. Somehow they don’t realize how classist it is to want or expect poor, disabled, mentally ill or unemployed people to read, promote or champion feminist academics and their well-off, well-connected friends. Marxist feminists often show a remarkable blind spot for their own classism and seem to live in a self-congratulatory bubble where they see themselves as righteous defenders of the poor while actually having distain for the poor who don’t parrot their worldview or perform emotional labor for them.

          It’s a bubble where there is a lot of high-minded talk about poor and marginalized women while showing open disregard for their agency and autonomy by claiming they are victims of “internalized misogyny” or trying to shame them for having dependent relationships with men, or mocking them by calling them “handmaidens to the patriarchy”.

          Truly oppressed women deserve to have their autonomy respected whenever possible – to lighten the already heavy burden being imposed by others. Instead, pampered western feminists like to blame them for being anti-feminist or not feminist enough. This is like tying an ideological rock to the ankle of a woman who is already struggling to get uphill.

          It’s not just about showing contempt for oppressed women in other countries – I’ve used feminist crisis services in several states in the US and the condescending attitude is the same. Many appear to exist so these sheltered, privileged gender studies majors can boost their resumes and push their favorite ideological narratives on women who are suffering. This is yet another way that feminism and gender studies have made the world worse rather than better.

          Also in things like transgenderism, one set of feminists is demanding everyone must now down to them or else and the other is claiming they are all creeps like the ball waxer who keeps getting radfems banned from Twitter. The enemy of my enemy is not my friend by the way. I’m not on the side of the ones who got her banned, but instead laughing at pot meet kettle argument by gcers and the idiocy of doing a pr junket for a lawsuit you haven’t won yet.

          For the record, everyone involved in that JY/MMTwitter drama is unpleasant and awful and to me it’s like watching the Canadian Jerry Springer show. All of their problems are caused by Canadian HRT being too heavy-handed and easily misused, so I don’t know why TERFs keep trying to rally Americans to the cause. They should try to fix their own problems before bothering people in other countries about it. Anyhow, there should be some sane middle ground on the issue instead of so much internet drama.

          Feminists also love to brag about their rape crisis centers, but IME most of them only offer “peer counseling” from immature, unprofessional gender studies students who are so swimming in radical intersectionalism that it is ridiculous and insulting. One of the reasons I’ve started openly criticizing feminism both online and in real life is because I think victims of sexual assault (who come from all sexes, genders, ages, cultures and backgrounds) should not be forced to seek help from organizations with so much bias baked in and almost all rape services are staffed by strident young intersectional feminists.

          No other area of violent crime expects its victims to submit themselves to the purveyors of radical ideologies in order to get help, and I believe that all feminist-run rape crisis centers should be defunded and replaced with pragmatic, action-based services. It would be better to offer rape victims non-ideologically biased counseling and legal services like they do for victims of other crimes. I have told some the feminists who run these centers this to their faces IRL, and they react by calling me “ungrateful” because feminists run rape crisis for themselves, not the victims.

          People don’t get sent to MRA traffic investigators whose motto is “women are bad drivers” when they get in car wrecks, and victims of sexual assault also deserve non-biased counseling and legal services as well. It’s unfair to force people to engage with politically motivated counseling services.

          In the US, I have never visited a rape crisis center that was staffed by anything but the most obnoxiously intersectional and self-congratulatory of asshole feminists. They have made it abundantly clear that actual victims come second to their ultimate allegiance to feminism and social justice causes. If a victim does not openly embrace intersectional feminism, she will not be treated well at the rape crisis center by feminists and this is an unacceptable way to treat victims of violent crimes.

          You can see this in the drama in Canada over whether to let a transgender woman be a crisis counselor. I don’t see why they couldn’t make a part of the phone tree that says – press #1 if you prefer a counselor of your own bio sex or not. That way the center isn’t discriminating but individuals can choose what they are comfortable with. I don’t know if in Canada that is still considered discriminating, but this just illustrates why the whole RCC concept is outdated and should be scrapped for non-biased victims services that are focused on providing information instead of pushing ideology.

          Many women who don’t take the feminist label are not actually anti-feminist (they believe basic tenants of women’s rights, and so do I), but feminists hate her for not accepting the label rather than asking what they themselves are doing to make her distance herself from the label. This is why I do not believe radical feminists have any business running rape crisis on ideology and if this Chesler person is responsible for gender studies then certainly no thanks to you and your friends, lady. Feminists are making life harder for women who have already suffered enough by adding the extra burden of expecting them to embrace intersectional theory of all stupid things when they are already traumatized.

          Too often modern feminism is focused on foisting itself on normal women who are struggling. They expect us to preform the emotional/intellectual labor of parsing the history and tenets of academic feminism or to rush to support their latest campaign instead of recognizing that that is just another burden in a world full of burdens. People who actually care about poor women should be lifting their burdens rather than castigating them for not accepting or promoting the ideologically ridged gospel of feminism.

          • This was an excellent read and, with a few edits, quite publishable. Thank you Miss yellowbird, this was much better than the article, and I mean that not because I mostly agree with you.

          • MarkieMark127 says

            Miss Yellowbird, thank you for this absolutely superb read.

      • ” Because SOME women WANT to wear them.”

        Some men like wearing full-leather gimp suits, but we don’t let their wives parade them through the shopping mall on leashes while they’re wearing them. Society is supposed to have some standards so that people know the difference between right and wrong. Otherwise we’re going to confuse the hell out of children and immigrants who are trying to learn those concepts.

        If your spouse feels like dressing up in a way that shows their submission to you as property, keep that shit in the bedroom where it belongs. Whether you call it Sharia or S&M or BDSM or whatever, that’s a private matter and we don’t need to see it.

    • TarsTarkas says

      Bitching about a Patriarchy that allows them to attack it without personal consequence (because in Western Civilization words are not considered violence (or weren’t until recently that is)) while remaining silent while a real (but non-white) Patriarchy treats women worse than chattel is the height of cowardly hypocrisy.
      But then this is nothing new. Anybody remember Mrs. Jellyby from Bleak House?

  7. Pingback: Le féminisme n’est plus ce qu’il fut. Phyllis Chesler, féministe historique | Laconnectrice's Weblog

  8. FREEDOM! says

    Feminism is evil, divisive tripe.

    “The advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes” does not exist for feminists.
    Feminists want special rights, rules, protections, treatment, and recognition; feminists do not want “equality”.
    The more “equal” the treatment women received, the more vicious, vindictive, and (ironically) vulnerable became feminist women.

    Yet the feminist’s greatest enemy is still women, specifically the strong, secure women who love their men.
    There are too many daughters, sisters, grandmothers, and mothers who will never stand with feminists.

    Feminists do not support women, they give punctilious support to aberrant and divisive ideas; then they try to ram those ideas down everyone’s throat with bully tactics.

    “The advocacy of women’s rights” is a misnomer as feminism does NOT support or advocate a WOMEN’S rights. It only supports its own ideas.

    Feminism: The advocacy of legal inequality toward males, affirmative action advantage for SOME females, the vilification of Judaeo-christian so-called “family values”, conservative politics, pro-life opinions, and the primaeval biblical worldview. (Show me a “feminist” who steadfastly supports some women’s right to hold Judaeo-christian family values and live openly with a conservative, pro-life, biblical worldview.)

    Feminism is not women’s advocacy but merely a fight for the legal right to commit extreme prejudice against the aforementioned men and gather support and funding to pressure others to deviate from any semblance of a nuclear family, or conservative views, or pro-life positions, and/or Judaeo-christian biblical ideology.

    • Canadian Moxie says

      LOL! Trolls like you don’t bother to read the article or even understand feminism and its incarnations. If you’d read it, you’d know that feminism is not a monolith and she’s bemoaning its modern incarnation. Congrats-we see you for the tool you are!

      • Jeremiah says

        The modern incarnation has loads of problems. Especially after aroubd 2010 is when shit started really going off the deep end with the “social justice warrior” nonsense, but there was a period from about the mid 90s until then when pro sex 3rd wave feminism wasnt so bad.

        Now these 2nd wave feminists were outrageous for their own reasons. In many ways they were worse than the third wavers. They were radicals who espoused what can only be described as ridiculous anti sex anti man drivel. Just because the 2nd wavers now see the crazy in the current third wavers doesnt mean they were somehow rational and reasonable in their day.

        And yes I did read the whole article. The tributes to past 2nd wavers who have died were quite strange at times.

    • Fuzzy Headed Mang says

      Are you including fighting to get women the vote and the freedom to sign documents in their own name rather than their husband’s in your definition of feminism as the legal right to commit extreme prejudice against men?

  9. V 2.0 says

    Can we have a new word for those of us who just want to make sure no one passes any laws to prevent us from earning our own money, walking around in a pair of shorts in the summer or deciding what we want to do with our uterus? All this moaning about misogyny is getting tedious and condescending. How did the ‘patriarchy’ come about? Was someone handing them out at the beginning of time and we missed our chance? If we are really concerned about equality maybe we should look into it. Obviously men were better than us in some way in the past so lets figure out our weaknesses and address them (one being a tendency to whine as opposed to do, it seems). I would rather chew of my arm than hang out with any of the above ‘warriors’. Sounds like being stuck talking about hot flashes and fad diets with the other women at my mother in laws. Blech.

    • Canadian Moxie says

      You’ve just outed yourself as a man.

      • Canadian Moxie, what an odd thing to say. Can you elaborate why what she says makes her a man?

  10. Lightning Rose says

    I was 13 the year Title IX came in. The message we got was that for the first time in history, we were deemed as important as men, as smart as men, as responsible for the outcomes of our actions as men. From 1973 on, we would be taken seriously as full citizens of the realm.

    We did not fight to be a cosseted “victim” class. We did not fight for “protection,” predicated on the idea we are too weak or stupid to take care of ourselves. We did not fight for “special” status in any venue or occupation I’m aware of.

    I worked in the the 1970’s on commercial fishing boats, because I enjoyed the life-or-death authenticity of the job, one of a handful of women with the moxie to do so at that time. We earned the respect of male crews by being as useful as they were. This entire culture of “victimization” is anathema to capable women. BTW, my 2-year-old filly is more than capable of repelling unwanted advances, as is my 4-month old puppy. I just don’t buy the whole Victim Feminism paradigm; for anyone who understands natural law, and sees how animals conduct business, it’s horseshit!

    The retrogression of this cultural moment is poised to take us back to Victorian times, when females were considered too “sensitive” or “hysterical” to compete on a level playing field with men. THIS IS NOT WHAT WE FOUGHT FOR. If you want “equality,” pull up your Big Girl panties and stop fucking whining because the world won’t treat you like a Speshul Snowflake. I’ve had about enough of whatever-wave-this-is “feminism.”

    • bumble bee says

      “I’ve had about enough of whatever-wave-this-is “feminism.””

      It’s called low tide feminism and it stinks!

    • Xi Jinping says

      Seeing as a lot of modern radical feminists come from educational institutions, we should transfer them to a different place to learn.

      Somewhere like the camps the Chinese are sending the Uyghers where they are cleansed of their radical ways.

      Don’t let them leave until they graduate. They will be thankful for it, as they will feel strengthened, educated and empowered — not weak, stupid and helpless. They will find better jobs, make greater contributions to society and engage in less conflicts with other people.

  11. bumble bee says

    Feminism has lost it ability to be about feminism because they have allowed it to be mongrelized, or should I say bastardized by having other groups dictate its identity lest they lose support from those other groups. Feminism, like all the other movements we are currently bombarded with, is no longer distinct and self sustaining because it is too closely tide to every other liberal movement.

    Pro-life feminists are no longer allowed to publicly partake in public demonstrations, marches, rallies. Feminists are no longer allowed to support women in sports lest the trans-athletes and the trans community at large denounce you. All the liberal causes are now one cause and if any portion wants to exercise their own distinct ideology, they will be attacked and vilified.

    They have allowed other groups to determine and define what feminism entails, and until there is some breaking away into defined groups again, where ideologies can reclaim their own agenda, this one single entity will dissolve into its lowest common denominator.

    • Morgan Foster says

      @bumble bee

      Feminism has been swallowed up whole by socialists. In the same way as Irish republicanism.

    • Jeremiah says

      On a sidenote I was astonished by what I recently read about two biological girls who run track who’ve sued the high school sports governing body in CT. I wasnt surprised that they were having to unfairly compete against biological males, but that the legal standard for competing as a girl was SOLEY self identification.

      You don’t have to take estrogen or testosterone blocking drugs. You don’t have to have a letter from a psychiatrist and therapist who confirm you are trans in their opinion. You don’t even have to socially transition and dress and appear as a woman. You can still be named Jimmy.

      A guy can literally just say he’s a trans woman 1 day and be allowed to compete against girls the next day. Not only allowed but is legally required to be allowed to do this by the state of CT.

      That just takes crazy to a whole new level.

      • Jeremiah says

        If their lawsuit fails I dream that one day half the track boys will just self identify as trans and then when not a single biological woman even makes it to the quarter finals or whatever then MAYBE people will finally wake up to how crazy this is.

      • Jeremiah says

        I mean at the very least the boy should have had a couple of years of documentation of his diagnoses, a couple of years of actually socially transitioning, and a couple of years of either taking puberty blockers or estrogen.

        • Birgitta Nielsen-Carney says

          If the boy has gone through puberty, it won’t matter if he has taken oestrogen for a few years, he will still have greater bone and muscles mass.

  12. Aeshema says

    “I am referring to the movements to ban or restrict abortion; legalize and/or decriminalize prostitution and to legalize commercial surrogacy”

    so basically she is for womens liberation, the right for women to do what they want with their body, but only if it’s what she deems acceptable or morally right. Next she will be saying that it’s wrong for women to exchange money for labour as well. These are choices that those people are making and they should be free to make them.

    • humanist says

      “I am referring to the movements to ban or restrict abortion; legalize and/or decriminalize prostitution and to legalize commercial surrogacy”

      To be in favour of leaving a moral choice like abortion to the unfettered discretion of the pregnant woman, but to be against leaving a moral choice like the decision to take money for sex, or for incubating a fetus, is so obviously illogical that it could only be the opinion of a woman.

    • aix42 says

      Porno and the chaste female conundrum. There is a simplicity in addressing grievances to the patriarchy in that it absolves or even denies the matriarchy. How is a women to behave? Can women claim no agency throughout history? Can all women be victims or collaborators? I look to Camille Paglia to remind us of the Greco-Roman side of the ‘West’. Are women excluded from the grotesque and sublime? Free women include forthright schoolmarms and horny sluts.

      • “Free women include forthright schoolmarms and horny sluts.”

        Hear, hear.

        My partner is one of the most vocal advocates for true freedom of women that I know, and she hates feminism just as much as organized religion for the very reason that both try to restrict, control and shame her for what she does with her body. She’s all for women’s rights so long as they’re equal with men’s rights, and so long as they come with equal responsibilities and penalties for failure, because she doesn’t believe anyone should face discrimination because of how they were born. She’s a tomboy who doesn’t wear makeup and gets her clothes at the army surplus. She abhors the commercial dieting and weight-loss industry (because body-shaming), but also makes sure to eat balanced meals and work out regularly, just to keep healthy, not to squeeze into a skimpy dress. Her refusal to be a tribalistic woman comes with the sacrifice of not having very many women as friends, which she views as a gain rather than a loss overall.

        That all being said… she’s insatiable. I help organize gangbangs for her every week. We film them, too.

        Funny enough, she used to be a raging 3rd-wave radfem in her teenage years. In her own words: “Then I got laid.” The only “wave” of feminism she finds herself supporting these days were the suffragettes, prior to the invention of the word “feminist”, and only up until they started foolishly distracting and discrediting themselves by allying themselves with that day’s version of intersectionality: alcohol prohibition.

        Feminism is one of history’s greatest examples of how to take an otherwise noble idea and screw it all up with too many changes. No matter what wave you’re talking about, it always begins with freedom and ends in censorship. Third time wasn’t a charm for feminism, but maybe by the fourth or fifth wave you’ll get it right. Don’t touch our speech, don’t touch our beer, don’t touch our porn, don’t touch our whores, don’t take our jobs, and then MAYBE we’ll be willing to sit down and discuss things with you like civilized individuals. Otherwise, you’re just a fire-and-brimstone reverend who traded their Bible for tits and blue hair, and no decent person wants to listen to you.

  13. The vitriolic, dripping-with-hate men (hello, why we had a feminist movement was due to living in a world with mysogynist, gaslighting aholes); the equally hateful women defending their men from the big, bad feminist attacks; the bootstrapping individualist women who live like men and hate all feminists, believing only she is fit enough to get a job with only men on a fishing boat and does not live her life in any kind of context except her own will; boring and weak alternative definitions of feminism devised from these pens’ own lifestyle and values, again devoid of a context ~ social, political or otherwise. The oh-so-normal, practical women who refuse to acknowledge the hard, tall walls that feminists had to fight an entire lifetime to erode, so you could ‘wear shorts in public” without getting raped. It’s all the same group with the same refrains, so who is really playing victim and whining? Violence and the masks, faces and clothing of violence is violence in any culture or country, and feminists of the third wave (1970s ~ second was in the 1930s; first was 1850s) will not be deterred from confronting violence for fear of being called racist or colonialists if they call a spade a spade.
    Which is the lady’s (author’s) point: the movement is being seriously weakened from a growing and near fascist-liberal political correctness (oh yes, gender and trans are far more important than the study of women, and now men can surgically invade female space), and the ones to stand up to this attack are now dead. What will happen now? Dare I leave an open door to another round of peanut-gallery comments? But go for it, people; prattle on! Because nothing will stop women from their goals ~ worldwide ~ to be more than second-class citizens. Much progress has been made in the short span of 30 years. Careful, however, because we know in this Information Age that progress can be wiped-out in a generation, especially with fanatical, young, closeted homosexual Muslim men who hate women driving a movement to occupy western lands and overtake the culture. (See: Sweden) Young women and men! Take heed of history and its hero’s and heroines, for these are our only guide through the dark time that is upon the movement for women’s equal rights.
    P.S. Dear men, when-oh-when will you finally begin your own movement, for it is not for women to talk about the abuse that men suffer. That is your job to define it and then to move against it. And believe me, many of us women have been waiting decades to hear your voice shouting finally your own liberation! Many women have died already, still waiting. We need you in this fight for a more loving and alive culture, but the chains that bind you are far worse than what we women had to suffer; hence your silence for so very long.

    • Kencathedrus says

      @Deborah Sundahl: None of what you wrote here is remotely recognizable to me. The evidence of my senses tell me that Western women are the most privileged class in the world, and are oppressed in the same way that spoilt teenagers are ‘oppressed’ by their parents.

      You’re on your own here. I’m going to withdraw and leave you to your lachrymose narrative of ‘oppression’ and ‘suffering’. I’ve heard it too many times and it rings hollow in my ears. Men are tired of being held accountable for women’s happiness.

    • Morgan Foster says

      @Deborah Sundahl

      Spectacularly incoherent, and yet funny, too.

    • Heike says

      Deborah Sundahl is a TERF. No tolerance for the intolerant.

    • Citizen XY says

      Deborah wrote: “P.S. Dear men, when-oh-when will you finally begin your own movement, for it is not for women to talk about the abuse that men suffer.”

      In my region (in Canada), at one of the major universities some men attempted to get a “men’s issues club” accredited with the student union. The progressive student council denied their request, primarily due to opposition from the long-time-accredited women’s club. I can only presume if these men had expressed the correct ideals for their movement, they would have received accreditation.

      By the way comrade, Radio Habana Cuba is still broadcasting on shortwave, continuing to bring the Voice of the Revolution and the state of the ongoing (never-ending) Struggle to people around the world.
      Thought ya might like to know.
      ! Vive la Revolucion !

    • Jeremiah says

      I personally find the need for a mens movement to be even more ridiculous than the need for a women’s movement to still exist in the west in 2019. With that being said there are many groups of mens activists and whenever they try to form groups at schools they get the door shut on them time after time.

      • Citizen XY says

        By sentiment, I’d tend to agree Jeremiah, I’m not on the inside of any such groups or clubs. However I think the argument could be made that the politicking and excesses of feminism have created the space for ‘men’s issues’.

  14. Cynic says

    “especially with fanatical, young, closeted homosexual Muslim men who hate women driving a movement to occupy western lands and overtake the culture.”

    Hmm, not implausible but see what can be done with a little substitution…

    “especially with fanatical, young, closeted homosexual Jewish women who hate men driving a movement to occupy western lands and overtake the culture.”

    Every mediocrity hates and envies an able competitor, and most Feminists are mediocrities, as are most Muslims, and indeed as are most everybody else. This “Culture War” is not about Justice or Fair Play or Second Class Citizenship, it’s about a mass of mediocrities craving the recognition and applause that their fellow mediocrities reserve for the fortunate few they really admire.

  15. robert mackie says

    “AIDS but not those who died from ovarian, uterine, or breast cancer.”

    Why TF would we have special remembrance for lady bits cancer on the 50th anniversary of Stonewall ?? Should we also have a special remembrance for nut cancer, and prostate cancer? It’s asinine to draw an imaginary line around gender-specific cancer, especially on a gay day. What does gender-specific cancer have to do with being gay? Do only gays get it? So retarded.

    That’s where I stopped reading.

    Where TF are the editors?? This shit makes Quillette look like Buzzfeed.

    • Agreed, that line really threw me for a loop, too. You know how Psyduck looks when he’s all overwhelmed and holding his head? Yeah, that was my face when I read that. This is the craziest and most incoherent stretch of intersectional demands I’ve ever seen!

      Cancer had nothing — repeat — nothing at all to do with Stonewall, therefore it has nothing at all to do with Pride. Stonewall wasn’t about cops shaking down women’s cancer wards and hospices who needed to have their asses beaten by women wielding their own IV poles. No, it was about cops shaking down gay-owned and gay-friendly establishments who needed to have their asses beaten by gays and transpeople wielding parking meters ripped right out of the concrete.

      I don’t know if she was there personally at Stonewall, but she’s old enough to remember at least reading and hearing about it, especially considering she’s from New York. The author’s brain farted so hard when writing that line, it stunk up the whole article.

  16. Polling shows that men and women oppose or support abortion in roughly equal numbers, but yes, abortion opposition is about “an angry, entitled, and barbaric patriarchy.” Dismembering tiny humans: an essential right of women. Opposing this: barbaric. Got it. I don’t know, maybe I don’t get it because I’m not cosmopolitan and enlightened, like Phyllis and her late friends.

    • Anj says

      Check out the hypocrisy on M!
      All impassioned & riled up over ‘dismembering tiny humans’ (pin heads in utero) but nary a whisper over live children worldwide lacking immunisation or decent nutrition eh?
      Righteously championing the weak on his high horse… until birth. Then not so much.
      Get back to us when you & your sanctimonious brothers in arms castrati fiends ‘defend’ enforced vasectomies….

      • “All impassioned & riled up over ‘dismembering tiny humans’ (pin heads in utero) but nary a whisper over live children worldwide lacking immunisation or decent nutrition eh?”

        Your idea of human development is wrong, but even if you were right, humans are humans no matter what they look like.

        This article isn’t about nutrition or vaccines.

        “Righteously championing the weak on his high horse… until birth. Then not so much.”

        I spent 10+ hours a week volunteering for an organization that helps underprivileged babies.

        “Get back to us when you & your sanctimonious brothers in arms castrati fiends ‘defend’ enforced vasectomies…”

        Funny, I thought I was a mother of two children. Now it turns out I’m a castrati? Well, I guess that explains why I don’t have testicles. Thanks for the info.

        • Anj says

          Ohhh M, castrati doesn’t have to to be literal. Plenty of women lack the courage of their convictions .
          Good for you for helping out the ‘underprivileged’ but thats not exactly advocating saving lives over lives that don’t exist yet.
          Using the piece to run for cover from your hypocrisy doesn’t particularly showcase your balls either.
          If pro lifers truly cared they would use their powerful lobbies & funds to truly make a difference in saving lives instead of diversion from real tragedies.
          Careful your disinterest is ‘murder’…

      • Jeremiah says

        I used to be unreservedly pro choice, but after seeing my son on sonogram at 20 weeks the idea that babies even older than that are allowed to be terminated in many places makes me sick. My pro life wife also had something to do with my change of heart, but only to an extent. I still support first trimester abortion rights especially since that is typically just medical abortion that involves taking a pill and basicslly miscarrying. Surgical abortion on the other hand can be quite gruesome and is something that should only be allowed in special cases.

        • Anj says

          I totally agree with your stance as do the majority in many modern western nations.
          Of course the pro life lobby would have you believe it’s 50-50 & we all have no qualms ‘disposing’ of healthy close to full term births.
          If their dishonest, cruel, hypocritical & fascist tactics are anything to go by, they are hardly in a position to pontificate on values let alone enforce them upon the majority.
          What’s more despicable is their domination of media space in the name only of saving lives blocking any attention or advocacy for real causes.
          But it was never about saving lives as the evidence shows rather religious zealotry, misguided guilt, romanticised delusion or control of women to name a few.
          But like ol’ M, they like to wash the blood off their hands & pat themselves on the back by putting in a few hours or a few bucks here & there.

    • Well, it’s a stretch, but I could see how abortion opposition could be linked to patriarchy, albeit not directly, but more through a series of degrees of separation. Allow me to demonstrate:

      1) The political opposition to abortion is heavily associated with conservative Christian churches.
      2) Christian churches are governed by fraternal hierarchical leadership structures.
      3) Any fraternal organization with political power and influence is, by definition, a patriarchy.
      4) Therefore, it can be concluded that abortion opposition is connected to patriarchy.

      • All that being said, I still think it would be fair to blame the politically-entrenched branch of Christianity, rather than that “patriarchy” boogieman that makes everyone but a radfem roll their eyes.

        This is also a missed opportunity for her to talk about how tolerant Jews are by comparison. They tend to be the least opposed to abortion among all the Abrahamic faiths. Jewish law allows for abortion even into the third trimester if the mother’s life is at risk, and the child is not considered to have a soul or personhood until it is born. Even my arrogant atheist mind can appreciate how respectably pragmatic that position is, and for such an ancient religion, no less!

  17. Andreas K. says

    Very interesting. had never heard of these people before this article. I am what, I suppose, this authoress would describe as traditionally sexist, misogynistic, patriarchal, etc. I learned it all from my mother and the women she brought into my life. We grew quietly non-participatory in society, aware that it existed and that it partly or largely disagreed with our little religious culture and way of life, but only ever visiting it when we were out and about on errands as a family.

    My mother and the women she brought into my life, none of them doormats, taught me what is womanhood and what is manhood. There was nothing Man could do that Woman couldn’t do except to play the part of a Father. There was nothing Woman could do that Man couldn’t do except to play the part of a Mother. Consequently, by their example, and as they viewed things, the only truly impressive accomplishment was to play the part of Father or Mother. Not simply, or even necessarily, by sexually begetting anyone, although that was accepted as the usual way. But by performing the role everywhere and to everyone.

    Though they never said as much aloud, it seemed as if there was an underlying contempt for men and women alike who expected to have their accomplishments of another kind viewed as deserving respect or winning glory. It was as if in their hearts they said, while looking at feminists and anti-feminists alike, “So what? Anyone man or woman can do that too. The only truly impressive thing is for Man to do the one thing Woman can’t, and Woman to do the one thing Man can’t.”

    I grew up and entered into the outside world, where apparently, that kind of thinking is misogyny, and it is sexist patriarchy to view humanity and society that way. But conversely, here in the outside world, if I don’t rant about THOTs and Chads and Evil Bogeyman Feminism poisoning the world, or whatever else the meming reactionary kids-these-days require, claiming to be traditionalists while never having seen real living culture and tradition…. well, then apparently, I’m not a true conservative either.

    I guess I’m just not meant to fit in anywhere. Fortunately, that’s exactly what my mother trained me to expect.

  18. Sambu says

    “I find myself surrounded by an angry, entitled, and barbaric patriarchy. I am referring to the movements to ban or restrict abortion; legalize and/or decriminalize prostitution”

    Oh yes, that terrible feature of the patriarchy, prostitution, that is legal and widely celebrated in the world’s most extreme patriarchies in the Middle East…

    How well articles like this reveal the vacuity not only of third-wave feminism, but of its second-wave precursor!

    Incoherence and intellectual dishonesty seem to have characterised the feminist movement for a very long time.

  19. Citizen XY says

    The companion interview article seemed to present Chesler in a positive light as one willing to point out problems with feminism. However what was presented is really just symptomatic of the divisions which have existed within feminism from the start. It’s nice that Chesler has belatedly and late come to the realisation that little girls aren’t all made of sugar and spice. She should have come to that realisation by the age of 10.

    With this article, the mask is really dropped.
    The state of the world remains all about Chesler and her fellow travellers versus the oppressive patriarchy, which is responsible for everything untoward. She’s willing to criticise her opponents within feminism and where the movement has diverged from what she wishes it to be, but as with the article from Julie Bindel, there is no introspection over time into her own thinking and ideology. 60 years and they’ve learned nothing, just accumulated some bad experiences and encountered some bad people along the way.

    As to “women’s studies”, these departments were created as political sops to feminists in the 60s and 70s. They were devoid of intellectual depth and rigour from the outset. If a university created a department of communist studies and staffed it entirely with avowed communists, everyone but communists would see the problem. It’s not a surprise these departments have only gotten worse as they have morphed into the current gender and cultural studies departments. Mediocrity, like weeds, tends to proliferate readily.

    And appropriating poetic military sentiments such as “stayed the warrior’s course” and “We were soldiers, brave and true” to yourself and friends is the height of hypocrisy and hubris. No, Phyllis, you’re not a warrior or soldier, you just whined and agitated for, not fought.

    • Anj says

      Yes it was very remiss of Phyllis not to confess all her heretic sins & blasphemy of secret male lingo whilst begging for forgiveness with a a billion hail mary’s to boot.
      Cute how the ‘lets not throw the baby out with the bath water’ brigade only apply it when convenient….

      • Citizen XY says

        Anj honey, for as much as it possible to make any sense of your response, there is no secret male lingo involved, such has been published for hundreds of years, which would be why Chesler was readily able to appropriate it.

        As to “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”, for whatever you are alluding to with your metaphorical baby, it presumes there is something worth retaining to begin with.

        • Citizen XY says

          “it possible” –> “it is possible”

  20. John says

    Welcome to another episode of Dr. Frankenstein complains about her monster. These old feminists are all like old socialists. They always think, “it would really work if I was in charge”.

  21. Pingback: How a Feminist Prophet Became an Apostate—An Interview with Dr Phyllis Chesler - Quillette

  22. mitchellporter says

    Having read this article and the companion piece, I have been reflecting on the place of 1960s-1970s radical feminism in history. I think I would call it a phenomenon of the American “new left” of that period. Rather than being just the one big movement of the working class that was the focus of the old left, the new left also encompassed a multitude of social movements – women’s liberation, black power, gay rights, the environmental movement. I don’t know exactly what conditions made it the right time for this activist pluralism to take off, but you can see in that roster of agendas, the forerunner of today’s progressivism, with its welter of sometimes contradictory priorities.

    One difference between that time and now, is that back then, the new left had a lot of old-left assumptions about the kind of society in which their dreams would come to pass – it would be socialist or anarchist. But now, these ideals are pursued within the system of capitalism and electoral politics, and promoted by mainstream media and entertainment, or enforced by the legal and medical professions.

    It bothers Chesler that academic feminism now has gone in directions like intersectionality, “sex positive” feminism, and queer theory. I think part of the reason must be, that radical feminism got attention partly for its radicalism, but it simply lost its shock value after a few years. Burning bras, carrying signs saying “wedlock is deadlock”, that must have been transgressive spectacle. But once divorce becomes easy, millions of children are born out of wedlock, popular culture is an erotic parade, and dating is a hookup arranged through an app, that’s no longer anything special. Of course, under these circumstances, affirming traditionalism is the easy way to be radical, which is why elements of the populist right now have a dangerous energy previously possessed by the revolutionary left. But until the mainstream decides that Phyllis Schlafly, not Phyllis Chesler, was the important radical of the 1970s, its continuing quest for novelty will lead to stories e.g. about how “trans men” are changing our concept of endometriosis (a lead story I saw today on “NowThis”, a popular progressive newsfeed on Facebook).

    Something else that is clear, is the extent to which this kind of feminism is a phenomenon internal to western civilization. It would be interesting to compare Chesler’s career to that of Madhu Kishwar in India and Maria Arbatova in Russia, two women who I actually know little about, but who were feminists or women’s activists, only to later (as I understand it) become conservative nationalists, without abandoning their feminism. The west is both the source of modern imperialism, and the place which originated the anti-imperialist counternarrative of Marxism, without ever actually experiencing Marxist rule – today’s capitalist-friendly progressivism, with its element of “cultural Marxism”, is actually the closest we have come to that. Kishwar and Arbatova come from the postcolonial and postcommunist world respectively, and so are partly outside the western civilizational sphere.

    On a more frivolous note, I think it would be fun to see a dialogue between Chesler and Laura Loomer. Chesler was a socialist who fought the patriarchy, Loomer is a conservative activist who fights the progressive oligarchy, but they are both critics of Islam and defenders of Israel. It’s an interesting convergence.

  23. Morgan Foster says


    “…two women who I actually know little about, but who were feminists or women’s activists, only to later (as I understand it) become conservative nationalists, without abandoning their feminism.”

    Feminism is a subset of socialism. A woman therefore cannot be a conservative, or a nationalist, or a capitalist, for that matter, and call herself a feminist. There’s a rule, and it is strictly enforced.

  24. Otherwise great article, but what’s with the cheap drive-by shot against pornography, without going into any further detail as to why it’s supposedly part of “an angry, entitled, and barbaric patriarchy”?

    At the high end of the scale, female porn stars receive excellent health care, have the adoration of fans and more often are coming from well-educated backgrounds in tech and medicine. The highest-paid are making enough money to work two days per month and live a life of luxury. Some are breaking into directing, producing, marketing and studio management. All for doing what they enjoy doing anyway, just in front of cameras. So they have to suffer some slings and arrows from people who don’t understand. They’re tough, they can handle it, and they do it with grace.

    On the amateur side of things, women with body-image issues are finding porn to be an incredibly liberating experience that gives them an incredible boost to their self-esteem. Women who see themselves as “too fat” or “too old” or what have you, those that take the plunge and put a video out there on a porn community website, are amazed to see the outpouring of comments and responses from their newfound admirers — people thanking them, calling them attractive, asking for more material, some fans even offering to commission future works or purchase better filming equipment for them! These women can be 60+ years old, or over 250lbs, or be missing a foot, and it won’t matter — they’ll always find fans and they’ll always find support. The biggest factor in drawing in and retaining fans seems to be having an attractive personality. Who’d have thunk it?! Men, watching women have sex, for the purposes of sexual gratification, are attracted to the personalities of the women they’re watching. Mind-blowing for any anti-porn feminist, I know.

    I think Dr. Chelser has her head on 99.9% correctly when it comes to looking at things factually and logically, but when it comes to her opposition to pornography and prostitution, I can’t find myself agreeing with her. Perhaps it’s because she’s 78 years old and has lived most of her life without the Internet, so she’s seeing these issues through an “offline lens”, so to speak. Yes, porn was a bit of a sketchy business many decades ago, as was prostitution, but speaking as someone in their mid-thirties who has been watching the way the Internet has been reshaping our culture since the early 1990s, Dr. Chelser needs to update and re-evaluate her position on both of these matters and understand how things have drastically changed.

    In reading this article and the one that preceded it, I have no doubt in my mind that Dr. Chelser is more than capable of changing her mind on pornography and prostitution, and I encourage her to challenge these beliefs and attempt to see the other side of the argument. I know it’s uncommon here on Quillette, but sometimes I’ve seen authors respond to their own comment sections, so if you’re reading this, Dr. Chelser, I’d welcome and cherish a response to this and my comment in the previous article (also posted under “L”), because you are the coolest and most respectable damn feminist I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading about!

    • Why did my brain turn Chesler into Chelser? I don’t even have dyslexia!

      Ugh. I’m embarrassed. Sorry for screwing up your name constantly.

  25. Let me guess, another “We created a monster and it ate us alive” article? Meh, better things to do with my time — picking my teeth, for example!

  26. Camille Paglia – the ultimate truth teller – still lives. Thank God!

  27. Camille Paglia – the ultimate truth teller – still lives. Thank God.

  28. C Young says

    Feminism’s internal struggles are driven by the interests of competing groups of women. It now has little to do with external challenge.
    The early days were different. They were powered by traditional femininity’s discontents – women with a masculine outlook and/or, capable women prevented from taking jobs they were better equipped for than the men who took their places.
    Unfortunately, these women misstated their case. Rather than (rightly) demand their rights as individuals, they demanded that all women should act like them, fierce and assertive. Effectively condemning those who did not.
    This was pretty dumb. No political campaign can change women’s characters. Just as there were many women who resisted the old template, there were many women who didn’t like the new one. Some women want to bring up kids. Others felt that they ought to be capable of being a coder or working on a North Sea platform, but knew they were not. Yet others suffer from anxiety and depression that limited their aspirations.
    The early waves of feminism brought shame on many of these women. They simply weren’t able to live up to the new standard. Hence the drive towards generating excuses that drove the development of victimhood feminism.

  29. stripey7 says

    I don’t see anything universalist or emancipatory about wanting deny women (some men, too) control of their own bodies by keeping sex work criminalized.

    And I have yet to see an example of this supposed refusal to condemn violence by non-Westerners. This looks like a straw woman to me.

  30. Pingback: The End of an Era—A Feminist Firebrand Looks Back – Quillette |

  31. tortoise says

    What does abolitionist feminism mean? What do we want to abolish?

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