The Corner

Modern Feminism: Appalling Stupidity Backed by Hysterical Rage

Modern feminism is getting embarrassing. There’s a reason why so few women identify as feminists: It’s less a true “women’s movement” than the public face of hysterical leftist intolerance — combined, of course, with utterly bizarre (and bizarrely stupid) ideas.

While I had numerous brushes with extremist feminists in law school — women who declared that all (heterosexual) sex was rape and often responded with literal screams to classroom speech they didn’t like — it all felt fashionably fake. Surely no one took that level of extremism into the real world, did they? Then my wife encountered a lesbian couple in Ithaca, N.Y., who was raising their child to be “genderless.” They refused to call him a boy or girl, allowing him to “choose his gender” identity during his teenage years. And, apparently, they are not alone.

Most people — including most liberals — believe that kind of behavior is insane. NPR, by contrast, writes a glowing profile of women raising their “boychicks.” It’s hard to craft a more nauseating self-parodic paragraph than this self-identified “queer-identified male-partnered monogamist’s” description of her son:

She describes her boychick, born in March 2007, as a “male-assigned at birth — and so far apparently comfortable with that assignment, white, currently able-bodied, congenitally hypothyroid, cosleeper, former breastfed toddler, elimination communication graduate, sling baby and early walker, trial and terror, cliched light of our life, and impetus for the blog. Odds are good he will be the most privileged of persons: a middle class, able bodied, cisgender, straight, white male.”

The true insanity is not that there are crazy people in this world — there always are (I can tell some stories after 45 years in church) — but that modern feminism actually strives to elevate the crazy, the stupid, and the just plain hysterical into the realm of actually relevant cultural and political commentary. Consider these examples:

1. A woman (who likely identifies as a feminist herself) quite sensibly writes that college girls should drink responsibly as a form of defense against sexual assault, and other feminists call her a ”rape denialist.” 

2. A feminist hero writes about an extended period of grotesque sexualized conduct involving her sister — conduct that would lead the Left to write any conservative woman out of respectable society — and prominent feminists rush to her defense (though, to be fair, it seems that to some in the feminist world, defending Lena Dunham is a “white feminist” thing to do).

3. A man helped remotely guide a spacecraft onto a comet — let me say that again, a man helped remotely guide a spacecraft onto a comet – but to some feminists that’s less important than his geektastic shirt. 

The stupid is so very strong here. The list could go on and on. In fact, we should never forget that perhaps the single-most stupid political argument in modern politics — that you’re waging a “war on women” unless you completely support requiring all employers of any faith or no faith at all to provide employees with free contraceptives and abortifacients — was adopted enthusiastically and wholeheartedly for at least two full years by one of our major political parties.

This is a movement that seems to be all about short-term gains, mostly through name-calling and other forms of online bullying, at the expense of any long-term intellectual coherence or even basic integrity. But in the long run how many women want to be identified with a movement whose champions can’t even listen to a mildly controversial speech without having to walk out to keep from either blacking out or throwing up? How many women want to be identified with a movement that is currently arguing over whether the founder of Facebook’s preference for plain T-shirts is sexist? 

All of these reactions display a level of hyper-sensitivity and emotional fragility that every woman I know finds repugnant. Treating women as equals in our culture and politics is simple fairness. Modern feminism, by contrast, has nothing to do with fairness and everything to do with the special pleading of its entitled commentariat. 

Treating women as equals does not mean that we ignore differences — men and women tend to have different strengths and weaknesses, different likes and dislikes, and will often choose different career paths, family roles, television shows, books, and movies. In fact, men and women tend to like that they’re different and celebrate those differences. Feminism has reacted to this obvious reality by either arguing that our myriad differences are mere social constructs or by arguing that — to borrow my wife’s excellent summary of feminist philosophy – men and women are the same, except when women are better. After all, it wasn’t long ago that one prominent feminist argued that our entire “postindustrial society” was just “better suited to women.”

Feminism doesn’t really have a philosophy. It’s barely even an ideology. It’s mostly just a series of temper tantrums thrown by a small, privileged minority. And, unless it changes, it will soon be irrelevant.

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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