204 Search Results for: feminism

Rehabilitating Feminism

Several years ago, I came across a video of Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz on Youtube where he explained the difference between Islam and Islamism. Islam, he explained, is a personal faith shared by much of the world’s population, and it enriches a person’s life with meaning, purpose, and community. Islamism is the belief that that personal faith should be implemented as law for the rest of the world to follow. It is, in other words, the belief that government should be an extension of Islam. This is what a nuanced and evolving rhetoric can do for us. In making this distinction, Nawaz was able to give me clarity on a subject that I’d previously found incredibly muddy, all by articulating and naming a difference between two groups of people who claimed the same name for themselves. It allowed me to realize that I wasn’t concerned about the religion itself, but with the ideology that attempted to inflict that religion upon on everyone else. I had been conflating and confusing the two, which, when I wasn’t …

In Praise of Ambivalence — “Young” Feminism, Gender Identity and Free Speech

Alice Dreger, the historian of science, sex researcher, activist, and author of a much-discussed book of last year, has recently called attention to the loss of ambivalence as an acceptable attitude in contemporary politics and beyond. “Once upon a time,” she writes, “we were allowed to feel ambivalent about people. We were allowed to say, ‘I like what they did here, but that bit over there doesn’t thrill me so much.’ Those days are gone. Today the rule is that if someone — a scientist, a writer, a broadcaster, a politician — does one thing we don’t like, they’re dead to us.” I’m going to suggest that this development leads to another kind of loss: the loss of our ability to work together, or better, learn from each other, despite intense disagreement over certain issues. Whether it’s because our opponent hails from a different political party, or voted differently on a key referendum, or thinks about economics or gun control or immigration or social values — or whatever — in a way we struggle to …

Feminism Blinds Students to the Truth About Men

As a student at Barnard, a women’s college in NYC, feminism pervades all aspects of the curriculum. As students, we’re awash in the pervasive narrative that women are always on the losing side of the gender wars. This is ridiculous. At a school where acknowledging intersectionality is de rigueur, one would expect to encounter dialogue about issues that men face too.  However, after two years here, I have never witnessed students or professors broach the topic in a positive way. What’s more alarming is how often female peers display conspiratorial glee when they make fun of and delegitimize men’s issues. Last week for example, a classmate posted a video featuring the scholar Christina Hoff Sommers to the Barnard 2018 class Facebook page. The video had legitimate talking points about male academic underachievement. However, in a  vicious effort to delegitimize the video’s claim that “male underachievement is everyone’s concern,” a fellow student sanctimoniously wrote that the concern is “not [her’s],” followed with an acronym that denoted laughter. This outright delegitimization of male issues was met with …

After Cologne, Feminism is Dead

If German history in general is short on laughs (even Schopenhauer’s explanation of the psychology of humour in The World As Will and Representation is unrelentingly miserable) the period 1933 to 1945 is emphatically joyless. Though one of the few tragi-comic chapters in the horror story of Nazism concerns a strange little organization called the Association of German National Jews. They were a pro-National Socialist Jewish group whose membership not only welcomed Hitler’s accession but actively promoted the self-eradication of Jewish identity and its absorption into the new, heroic, master-culture represented by the Nazis (it was said of them, tongue only partly in cheek, that their motto was “down with us”). In 1935, predictably and forcibly, the group was disbanded. Whereas Stalin had his useful idiots, for Hitler there could be no useful Jews. With the above in mind, Marx needs revision. History repeats itself: First as farce, then as tragedy. No longer the unofficial motto of a handful of obscure pre-war self-hating Jews, Down With Us has latterly been adopted (or so it seems) as an …

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Dismiss Radical Feminism

My advice on feminist issues is seldom – oh, all right – never requested. The recent, shall we say, clusterfuck over at New Matilda has ended my usual reticence. Jack Kilbride, a Melbourne university student, offered a few tame and clumsily expressed opinions on feminism as it is currently practiced. To summarise: he considers himself a feminist; he thinks that the fight for gender equality is one of the defining issues of our time; he prefers the strategy of Emma Watson and the HeForShe campaign to Clementine Ford’s feminism of the gutter; he argues, rather cutely, I think, that people should try to be nicer to each other. Only the last part really ought to be controversial, as it came gift-wrapped in a stupid and risible and perhaps even dangerous package: if feminists would stop being so nasty about online abuse, online abusers would stop being so nasty. Respectability, if it’s still a virtue, is overrated anyway. Kilbride’s argument was rightly called out for being wrong. The commenters and responders went further, though. For them, …

Feminism Must be Reclaimed from Radicals

Few serious thinkers will argue that the women’s movement is no longer necessary. Few would argue that the movement does not have a noble history. Liberal feminists however, need to reclaim it. Although feminism has a noble history, it was hijacked in the 1970s, with motley crews such as the New York Radical Women and the Redstockings stealing the show. After that, “radical” feminism was propelled by the likes of Andrea Dworkin and Catharine Mackinnon. Dworkin, whose contempt for women matched her hatred of men, famously wrote that women who enjoyed heterosexual sex with men were “collaborators, more base than other collaborators have ever been: experiencing pleasure in their own inferiority.”1 These radical feminists incited a backlash against all of feminism, despite only ever representing its lunatic fringe. In contrast to radical feminism–built on the dubious theory of sexual castes– the philosophy of liberal feminism is empirical and straightforward. Under classical liberalism, women have the inalienable right to be educated, employed and self-determining, and within the broader feminist canon, there is a treasure-trove of pragmatic …

Bad Feminism

“Pop-feminism,” as a movement, valorises feelings above reason, cynicism above hope. It has regressed to a point where anything at all, no matter how irrational or how narcissistic, can be celebrated as ‘feminist’. Articles such as: I Look Down On Young Women With Husbands And Kids And I’m Not Sorry, or How Accepting Leggings as Pants Made Me a Better Feminist are shared wide and far on social media as feminist political statements. Anyone can identify as a “feminist”. Even men who openly admit to domestic violence, such as Hugo Schwyzer. There are no boundaries, no benchmarks and no standards to which feminism will hold itself accountable. It was not meant to be like this. In 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft published The Vindication of the Rights of Women. Her basic hypothesis was that women are capable of reason; just as men are. Yet because women are denied a rigorous education, this capability is rarely expressed. Wollstonecraft’s achievement was to extend Enlightenment principles to women. Women were rational. Women were not innately ignorant, or naive, but socialised to be that way because …

Lifestyle feminism, because you’re worth it

Women’s magazines, both online and offline, host advertising on their pages and on their websites. The articles in women’s magazines and news-sites are incidental. “Content” exists merely as a delivery device for advertising. Next to the checkout in the supermarket you can spot magazine covers with stories about celebrities who are “too thin” next to stories about celebrities who are “too fat”. Mixed messages hit an audience where it hurts. At the same time as triggering female insecurity, magazines encourage women to be “empowered” by presenting different ways in which it can be bought in the form of fashion tips and beauty advice. Herein lies the hook: conflicting and contradictory messages about modern feminine identity inflames ambivalence. Media influence encourages women to self-obsess over the most trivial minutiae. Women’s unstable identity is then remedied through the act of consumption. If you can’t be confident about who you are or what you are doing with your life, at least you can be confident about what you buy. Say Media, the web advertising firm who own xoJane …

Ordeal by Title IX

I I missed the call. But the fact that it had been made on a Saturday morning—September 29th, 2018—was cause for concern. Why was the dean, who never phoned me, calling on a weekend? When I rang back his voice was tense. He informed me that he was removing me from my classes “effective immediately.” I was told to expect an email informing me of this decision. I was no longer allowed on campus. Nor was I permitted to contact any member of the faculty, staff, or students, “on pain of termination.” No reason was given for any of this. Nor was I given a chance to defend myself. Twelve days earlier I had received a letter from the University stating that I was the subject of a Title IX investigation. The letter said that an inquiry had been opened in June, prompted by an anonymous complaint concerning two departments on campus, one of which was mine. That inquiry uncovered an allegation that I had sexually harassed a graduate student in 2006. No information was …

The Truth According to Social Justice—A Review of ‘Cynical Theories’

A review of Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity―and Why This Harms Everybody, by Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay, Pitchstone Publishing (August 25th, 2020), 352 pages. In November 1964, the American historian Richard Hofstadter published an essay in Harper’s Magazine about the paranoid style in American politics, arguing that “American politics has often been an arena for angry minds” ripe for “conspiratorial fantasy.” Arguably, many elites in contemporary mainstream American institutions appear to believe that anybody expressing concern about a so-called cancel culture has been in possession of such a paranoid mindset. Even when 150 artists and writers signed an open letter in none other than Harper’s Magazine, decrying “a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity,” the response from many has been to mock these concerns and dismiss them as “paranoid,” or “privileged.” The backlash to the Harper’s Letter comes on the heels of John McWhorter’s thesis that anti-racism …