The Corner


Christina Hoff Sommers on the Hijacking of Feminism

Just as the Civil Rights movement morphed into a toxic mutation that runs almost completely contrary to the ideals of the original, so has feminism. The Civil Rights movement used to stress the need for legal equality so each individual could achieve his or her goals in life but has turned to coercive egalitarianism emphasizing victimization and groupthink. So too with feminism, which originally strove for equality for women but now belabors silly theories of oppression.

Recently, Professor Christina Hoff Sommers, who is an original feminist and loves attacking the absurd claims made by the new feminists, spoke at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Martin Center’s Shannon Watkins attended her talk and writes about it in this Martin Center article. Her main target was “intersectional feminism,” one of those academic constructs that has about as much relationship to the real world as Marxism does. Watkins writes, “Intersectional feminism, according to Sommers, does not educate college women about their human dignity. Instead, its narrow focus on systematic oppression encourages them to feel victimized and resentful toward men. (Since she does not conform to intersectional feminism, Sommers now refers to herself as a ‘dissident’ feminist.)”

Quite so. That’s what most of the ersatz “identity” fields do — focusing on resentment.

At least Sommers received a respectful hearing at UNC, which hasn’t always treated speakers who go against the leftist grain well. At other campuses, Sommers has run into hysteria fomented by feminists and progressives who don’t like the way she challenges their worldview.

Among her targets was the way Women’s and Gender Studies programs hew exclusively to the new feminism. Watkins notes, “In her view, those textbooks broke a ’sacred commandment’ of the academy: ‘thou shalt present both sides of the story.’ Sommers argues that today things have gotten worse. Only a ‘fanatical’ form of feminism is being taught, and anyone who disagrees is demonized. Instead of encouraging students to think for themselves, the university is telling them what to think.”

One might conclude that these academics are afraid to let students hear any arguments from traditional, “equity feminists” lest they come to doubt all the theorizing about oppression. The one-sidedness of the teaching in the “discipline” of Women’s Studies is sadly similar to what we now find in many other fields, including some that used to be respectable ones, like anthropology.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.


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