The Factual Feminist

Careful readers may think that I give feminists a hard time on these pages, and they’d be right: I consider third-wave feminists to be preaching a vicious and highly destructive creed which ought to be starved of the oxygen of publicity and, more importantly, state funding.

But being against the screeching harpies of third-wave feminism does not mean I’m against equality for women, and nor does it mean I’m against much of what first-wave feminists campaigned for.  For indeed, there are many old-school feminists who fought to convince the world that women were not fragile creatures who needed to be wrapped in cotton wool, and wanted only to be allowed to compete in the same fields as men, but are now aghast at what has become of their movement.

For example, I have been reading the output of Christina Hoff Sommers for some time now, and a few days ago she wrote this excellent article in the Washington Post:

First of all, it’s time to stop calling the United States a patriarchy. A patriarchy is a system where men hold the power and women do not. Women do hold power in the United States — they lead major universities and giant corporations, write influential books, serve as state and federal judges and even manage winning presidential campaigns. American women, especially college-educated women, are the freest and most self-determining in human history. Why pretend otherwise?

Feminism is drowning in myth-information. Advocates never tire of telling us that women arecheated out of nearly a quarter of their salary; that one in four college women is sexually assaulted, or that women are facing an epidemic of online abuse and violence. Such claims are hugely distorted, but they have been repeated so often that they have taken on the aura of truth. Workplace discrimination, sexual assault and online threats are genuine problems, but to solve them women need sober analysis, not hype and spin. Exaggerated claims and crying wolf discredit good causes and send scarce resources in the wrong direction.

Too often, feminism focuses on gender inequities among elites: CEOs, MIT astrophysicists, U.S. senators. It is true that there are too few women in those positions, but we need to consider the entire workforce for context. Most backbreaking, lethally dangerous jobs — roofer, logger, roustabout and coal miner, to name a few — are done by men. It is men — especially working-class men — who are disproportionately crushed, mutilated, electrocuted or mangled at work. Activists lament the dearth of women in the Fortune 500, but they fail to mention the Unfortunate 4,500 — the approximate number of men killed on the job every year.

Big Feminism is a narrow, take-no-prisoners special-interest group. It sees the world as a zero-sum struggle between Venus and Mars. But most women want equality — not war. Men aren’t their adversaries — they are their brothers, sons, husbands and friends. As Henry Kissinger reportedly said, “No one will ever win the battle of the sexes. There’s too much fraternizing with the enemy.”

Women’s activists are now planning a Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21. The organizers want to remind the new administration that women’s rights are human rights and for the world to “HEAR OUR VOICE,” in all caps. If I may offer some unsolicited advice: If that voice is calm and judicious rather than hyperbolic and harping, people just might listen.

I don’t agree with all of it (the notion that there are too few female CEOs, for example) and nor am I on board with everything the original feminists campaigned for, but I’m glad there are people like Hoff Sommers who are taking on the third-wave lunatics from within the feminist camp.  At least it shows opposition to these people is not simply down to misogyny and a desire to keep women down.

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4 thoughts on “The Factual Feminist

  1. Similar to Hoff Sommers, but more interesting is Karen Straughan, if you aren’t already familiar with her. Whilst Sommers has some limited sympathy for the harpies, Straughan has absolutely none at all.

  2. “Check her out” might not be quite the turn of phrase you’re looking for.

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