The Corner

Politics & Policy

Feminists, Bad and Good

Margaret Atwood, the author of The Handmaid’s Tale, is defending herself from the charge of being a “bad feminist,” a charge directed at her because she has, to her great credit, defended due process for men accused of sexual abuse. Here is part of her apologia:

My fundamental position is that women are human beings, with the full range of saintly and demonic behaviours this entails, including criminal ones. They’re not angels, incapable of wrongdoing. If they were, we wouldn’t need a legal system.

So far, so good. She continues,

Nor do I believe that women are children, incapable of agency or of making moral decisions. If they were, we’re back to the 19th century, and women should not own property, have credit cards, have access to higher education, control their own reproduction or vote. There are powerful groups in North America pushing this agenda, but they are not usually considered feminists.

Oh come on. It is true that there are powerful groups — not powerful enough, in my opinion — that want to keep women from being able to hire people to kill their unborn children. The idea that there are powerful groups “pushing” to keep women from owning property, having credit cards, having access to higher education, or voting is lunatic. Naturally this passage from Atwood has passed without comment from good feminists and bad feminists alike.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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