Friday, August 20, 2010

Rape Culture 101 -- Earnest Feminism Revisited

by Connie Chastain*

Back in June, Dr. Snark posted a masterful essay titled, "How Long Can They Pin It On 'Fringe Radicals'?" If you missed it, follow this link. If you read it before, it's worth reading again.

It begins with the claim of earnest feminists, that they "don't hate men at all, and that those so-called feminists who do hate men are not really feminists at all, and that we've just got it all wrong."

I've butted heads with earnest feminists making these claims for years, in discussion groups and chat rooms online, and a few times in person. I note that in-person, face-to-face headbutting is usually much more civil, even polite, than what happens online; but feminist minds seem to be equally closed and concrete-hard, regardless of where the discussion transpires.

Earny-fems not only deny that man-hating feminists are not real feminists; they deny the many ways feminist man-hating manifests in our culture.

A couple of years ago, I had a some lively discussions about a Newsweek article by feminist Carol Gilligan claiming that studying girls can teach us about boys.

In making her case that boys can "read the human world astutely" she claims that boys, to avoid "compromising masculinity," often repudiate their "human qualities" (i.e., emotional openness, sensitivity and connectedness). She illustrates this with an anecdote about little Sam.

Four-year-old Sam asked his mother one day, "Mommy, why are you sad?" Wanting to shield him from her sadness, she replied, "I'm not sad." Sam said, "Mommy, I know you. I was inside you."

Well, I told the folks in my discussion group that this was a bunch of hooey. Utter shuck. Made. Up.

A four-year-old -- girl or boy -- would not make that kind of abstract connection, I explained. Little Sam would know his mommy was sad because she had a sad expression on her face, or because she was crying. Most kids that young would associate "being inside" someone with being devoured, a terrifying concept which does not fit with emotional openness, sensitivity and connectedness.

The outcry produced in the group was a marvelous illustration of the traversing of feminist tangents. Did I think four-year-olds don't know where babies come from? (Some of them do, but that wasn't the point.) It's because I've never had kids that I don't know what four-year-olds think. (If you have to personally experience something in order to discuss it, a great many people in that group would have to forego commenting on their favorite subjects.)

The one I liked best, though, from one of the most earnest, self-proclaimed feminists in the group, was that nobody ever heard of Carol Gilligan, so how much influence could she have?

Well, Carol Gilligan, for those who don't know, almost single-handedly started the process of making elementary and secondary education in the USA hostile to the way boys learn. You can read about it here:

This, of course, is another point of denial for earnest feminists. The schools aren't hostile to the way boys learn, they claim. They've just stopped being hostile to the ways girls learn, and the girls are catching up -- nay, surpassing -- boys.

And this defense of feminism frequently comes from women who say they have sons. Gilligan starts her article noting that she has three of them.

Regardless of how earnest feminists choose to see it, feminism is shot through with manhating. If education truly was hostile to the way little girls learn, the remedy would have been to make it accomodating of them without harming boys. The fact that the road chosen included hostility not only to the way boys learn, but to boys themselves, has now resulted in an educational boy-crisis that is difficult for even feminists to deny.

And how many folks believe that Title Nining college sports would have been so popular among certain cirles if it had only made sports equally available to female students? No, it is the eradication of so many male sports that rouse feminists to a fist-pumping "Yes!"

I could go on, but that should illustrate it well enough. What underlies so much of the feminist push to change culture in the guise of helping women is really a hostilility to men, the same hostility that creates hysteria over an imaginary "rape culture" and that equates a man accused of rape with "perpetrator" and the accuser with "victim," before it has even been determined that rape occurred.

Earnest feminists can deny it all they wish but misandry is an integral and visible component of feminism.

*Connie is a member of the FRS team. Her weekly essays appear every Friday. Her personal blog is