Two feminists criticize modern feminism

As the cis-gendered possessor of a Y chromosome, I have little credibility to pronounce on feminism, though I often allude to how it’s become fractured by identity politics, is a bit self-contradictory, extolling symbols of oppression like the hijab as well as giving Muslim misogyny a pass, often seems more concerned with trivial than important issues, and even demonizes women like Ayaan Hirsi Ali who call for more attention to serious problems of religiously-based oppression of women.

But today I’ll let feminists speak about feminism—or at least former feminists who now are being expelled from the sorority for their heresies in criticizing the movement. There are two articles, and the first one, “Why I no longer identify as a feminist“, by Helen Pluckrose in Areo, is very good. Here’s her ID given in the article:

Helen Pluckrose is a researcher in the humanities who focuses on late medieval/early modern religious writing for and about women. She is critical of postmodernism and cultural constructivism which she sees as currently dominating the humanities.

Pluckrose was brought up as a feminist by a feminist mother, but has become distressed by certain trends in “third wave” feminism, and is now abjuring the label of feminist. The problems she sees are these:

A transformation of the movement, which she partly attributes to postmodernism:

Liberal feminist aims gradually shifted from the position:

“Everyone deserves human rights and equality, and feminism focuses on achieving them for women.”

to

“Individuals and groups of all sexes, races, religions and sexualities have their own truths, norms and values. All truths, cultural norms and moral values are equal. Those of white, Western, heterosexual men have unfairly dominated in the past so now they and all their ideas must be set aside for marginalized groups.”

Liberal feminism had shifted from the universality of equal human rights to identity politics. No longer were ideas valued on their merit but on the identity of the speaker and this was multifaceted, incorporating sex, gender identity, race, religion, sexuality and physical ability. The value of an identity in social justice terms is dependent on its degree of marginalization, and these stack up and vie for primacy. This is where liberal feminism went so badly wrong. When postcolonial guilt fought with feminism, feminism lost. When it fought with LGBT rights, they lost too.

“Intersectionality”:

So aware of Western imperialism having trampled on other cultures historically, Western liberal feminism now embraced their most patriarchal aspects. A Western liberal feminist can, on the same day, take part in a slut walk to protest Western women being judged by their clothing and accuse anyone criticizing the niqab of Islamophobia. She can demand the prosecution of a Christian baker for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a same sex-couple, and condemn the planning of a Gay Pride march through a heavily Muslim area as racist. Many intersectional feminists do not limit themselves to the criticism of other white, Western feminists but pour vitriolic, racist abuse on liberal Muslim and ex-Muslim feminists and LGBT activists. The misogyny and homophobia of Christianity may be criticized by all (quite rightly) but the misogyny and homophobia of Islam by none, not even Muslims. The right to criticize one’s own culture and religion is seemingly restricted to white westerners (The best analysis of “The Racism of Some Anti-racists” is by Tom Owolade).

Universal liberal feminists were horrified by this development. Our old adversaries, the radical feminists, looked positively rational in comparison. They might tell us we are culturally conditioned into internalized misogyny, and they certainly had a pessimistic and paranoid worldview but at least it was coherent. The intersectional feminists were not even internally consistent. In addition to the cultural relativity, the rules change day by day as new sins against social justice are invented. We opposed the radical feminists for their extreme antipathy towards men but at least they shared a bond of sisterhood with each other. The intersectional feminists not only exhibit great prejudice against men but also turn on each other at the slightest imagined infraction of the rules. Having not the slightest regard for reason or evidence, they vilify and harass those imagined to have transgressed.

The transformation of women’s self-image from strong people to weak and vulnerable ones:

In addition to their failure to support the most vulnerable women in society, intersectional feminism cultivated a culture of victimhood, negatively impacting all women in society but particularly young women. Women are oppressed, we are told, by men explaining anything, spreading their legs on a train and committing vague sins like “expecting unequal amounts of emotional labour.” If they call out to us or proposition us, we should be terrified. If obnoxious men attempt to grope us or succeed, we have experienced an appalling sexual assault from which we may never recover. Not only are we oppressed by seemingly all men but by anyone expressing anti-feminist ideas or feminist ones we don’t like. More than this, we are rendered “unsafe” by them, particularly those women who are trans and may have to hear that a trans exclusionary radical feminist has said something in a place they don’t have to go to. It is hard to imagine how women manage to survive leaving the house at all.

Even in the house, we cannot be entirely sure of “safety.” Men might say mean things to us on the internet, and we couldn’t possibly cope with that.

Rage about relatively trivial issues:

 I agree with Ayaan Hirsi Ali that western feminism needs to stop focusing on “trivial bullshit.” I don’t have a huge amount of sympathy for women who feel traumatized and excluded by scientists’ shirts or video games. When it comes to the little things, the playing field becomes much more even. We all have gendered expectations we’d rather not comply with. I suggest not doing it. There is very little point in complaining about gender expectations whilst perpetuating them. The idea that women cannot defy such expectations because of fear of disapproval seems contrary to the entire ethos of feminist activism and those who have gone before us.

Finally, Pluckrose gives a dichtomous classification she posted on her Facebook page:

 

*********

The second piece is “If this is feminism. . . “, published in The Philosophical Salon by Kelly Oliver, who’s identified like this:

Kelly Oliver is W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University. She is the author of over one hundred articles and twenty books, including, most recently, “Hunting Girls”; “Earth and World: Philosophy After the Apollo Missions”; and “Technologies of Life and Death: From Cloning to Capital Punishment”.

She also has appointments in African-American Diaspora Studies, Film Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies—and those are considerable credentials. But she’s been attacked for defending philosopher Rebecca Tuvel’s article, “In defense of transracialism”, a philosophical analysis of the similarities of arguments used to support transgender people (approved by the Left) and arguments used to support people like Rachael Dolezal, who claimed, though of white descent, that she was really black (disapproved by the Left). I posted about Tuvel’s piece here, supporting her right to philosophically analyze a question that has puzzled even me. Tuvel, who explicitly supported transgender rights, was vilified for showing the similarity of arguments supporting those and those that could support “transracialism.” She was called a transphobe—by people who apparently didn’t read the article (or read it and lied about it).

For her philosophical article, Tuvel was demonized, her article subject to an apology by the journal that published it, excoriated in a letter by many scholars (including philosophers!), and became the victim of threats. As an untenured professor, colleagues warned Tuvel that her academic future was jeopardized, and that she had better Get Right With God before she was let go. Her opponents claimed that Tuvel’s simple philosophical article traumatized them, caused them PTSD (oy!), and, indeed, promulgated violence.

Such is the Regressive Left, whose weapons are not discussion but outrage and threats. Kelly Oliver, publicly defending Tuvel’s right to publish her article without being demonized, describes how she, Oliver, was also demonized—for siding with the Wrong Person. Colleagues told her privately that they sympathized with Oliver and Tuvel, but had to publicly crucify Tuvel for the sake of The Movement. That’s absolutely reprehensible—a craven attitude that should be publicized and mocked.

I’ll give just two short quotes from Oliver’s defense of Tuvel and her take on Tuvelgate:

Part of the problem with the response to Tuvel’s article is that some seem to feel that they are the only ones who have the legitimate right to talk about certain topics. At best, this is identity politics run amok; at worst it is a turf war. Indeed, it leads to a kind of academic Selfie culture where all we can do is take pictures of ourselves and never consider the lives of others. Another criticism of Tuvel’s article is that it didn’t cite enough trans scholarship or philosophy of race. While this may be true, it doesn’t defeat her argument. Apparently, Tuvel’s worst offense was the “deadnaming” of Caitlyn Jenner. Deadnaming is using a trans person’s birth name instead of their chosen name, which can do harm when outing a person as trans, or when that person considers their old self or old name “dead.” I was fiercely attacked on Facebook for pointing out that Jenner is a public figure, a Reality TV star, who doesn’t reject deadnaming herself in her book: “Transgender guidelines suggest that I no longer be referred to as Bruce in any circumstance. Here are my guidelines: I will refer to the name Bruce when I think it appropriate. Bruce existed for sixty-five years, and Caitlyn is just going on her second birthday. That’s the reality.” The irony is that some of the same people publicly disparaging Tuvel for deadnaming Jenner, privately admitted that they’d never heard the word “deadnaming” before the Facebook frenzy. Call it a teachable moment.

Given Jenner’s own statements, the fracas about “deadnaming” is ludicrous. Finally, Oliver’s conclusion (her emphasis):

We live in an era of outrage—let’s call it the Trump era. That’s how Trump got elected, by voicing outrage. His most ardent disciples uncritically and unthinkingly believe everything he says because it is expressed with anger and zest. Civility is suspected of being “political,” which has become a dirty word. It’s hard to argue with outrage, and that’s precisely the problem. Outrage has become the new truth. At one extreme, we have Trump and his supporters proudly embracing political incorrectness, and at the other, we have the political correctness police calling for censorship of a scholarly article written by someone working for social justice. On both sides, we have virulent intolerance fueled by hatred. The feminist thought police are the flip side of the alternative facts machine. And both are threats to the open dialogue that is so vital for critical thought inside and outside the academy.

What I find most distressing about the hostile attacks against Tuvel, the article, and my defense of an open dialogue about it, is that there are people and institutions out there that are trying to deny rights to women, especially trans women and women of color. Dissent and debate allow feminism—and scholarship more generally—to flourish and advance, while insults and censorship are the tools of those who would shut us down. In this battle, feminists embracing inclusivity are not the enemy. Far from it. The real enemy is our culture of displaced outrage and its symptoms, namely the thought police and the alternative facts machine. Let’s have critical debate and philosophical arguments instead of cyber-shaming and personal insults.

As I said, I’m a male, which gives me “privilege” and thus denies me the right to criticize feminism. But I will do so to this extent: the second brand of feminism outlined by Pluckrose in her tw**t is deeply offensive to me, and I can’t support it. I guess that makes me a “feminist” who supports complete equality of opportunity for and treatment of women—and to many that makes me not a feminist at all.

80 Comments

  1. Ann German
    Posted May 9, 2017 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Dear PCCE: Some of my favorite feminists are men. By the way, you and I are the same age (graduated high school in 1967) so I imagine we have similar life experiences which inform our opinions. This is good stuff and I thank you. I despair, frankly, about the current state of “identity politics” and intolerance in younger people. More than one of my friends blame pussygrabber’s win on this fracturing of the “left.” A good example of a feminist? Sally Yates!

  2. Sastra
    Posted May 9, 2017 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    “Individuals and groups of all sexes, races, religions and sexualities have their own truths, norms and values. All truths, cultural norms and moral values are equal. Those of white, Western, heterosexual men have unfairly dominated in the past so now they and all their ideas must be set aside for marginalized groups.”

    As always, my first question is whether or not the people being put in this category would agree that yes, this is what they’re saying. I admire Daniel Dennett’s suggestion that, before any debate, one needs to be able to articulate the other side’s position so well they ask to “borrow” your wording. One of the most tedious aspects of many disagreements is the complaint that the other side is attacking a Straw Man.

    For instance, I think the casual reference to being outraged by “men saying mean things to us on the internet” slides over the often astonishing amount of relentless vitriol involved in some of these cyber attacks. The dosage makes the poison.

    (That said, I do agree that there’s a problem with at least some members of what’s been called the Regressive Left. In addition to Jerry, I’m also a regular reader of Ophelia Benson, a feminist who regularly comments on the same issues.)

    • Posted May 9, 2017 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      “I admire Daniel Dennett’s suggestion that, before any debate, one needs to be able to articulate the other side’s position so well they ask to “borrow” your wording.”

      Probably the best advice I have ever read. Since being exposed to this a few years ago, I invoke it on myself to ward off my own biases, and I have used it a few times in spirited convos that are going off the rails.

      “Joe/Fred/Sally, can you describe to me what you think my position actually is?”

      What comes back is usually some strawman version of my argument, which I correct, and then I counter with a good summation of or even an improvement to their position. I might even follow up with “your argument is important enough to be dealt with honestly and in its strongest form, so please do the same to mine.”

      It’s like a verbal leg sweep; stops someone in their tracks without really hurting them. And then convo can proceed more productively from there.

      • Posted May 9, 2017 at 10:46 am | Permalink

        Apologies to the feminists for using a gendered term “strawman”. Should be strawperson or strawthing.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted May 9, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

          It’s a Bad Thing so perfectly able to be associated only with men. 😉

    • peepuk
      Posted May 9, 2017 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      “As always, my first question is whether or not the people being put in this category would agree that yes, this is what they’re saying.”

      Totally agree, in practice however this happens not very often. Even DD did forget it quite often (Sam Harris).

    • Helen Pluckrose
      Posted May 9, 2017 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      I am talking about the people who do say that. If they don’t say that, they’re not the feminists I’m criticising. These are the intersectionals. They rather dominate now, I’m afraid.

      • Sastra
        Posted May 9, 2017 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

        I know. I’m just wondering if the self-identified intersectional feminists who really do seem to fit into this group would agree with the description.

        If not, then they need to modify each individual point — as opposed to coming up with some completely new (and frustratingly vague) definition of their own. It’s also extremely helpful if people on both sides of the aisle illustrate their positions with clear and specific examples.

      • Sastra
        Posted May 9, 2017 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

        By the way, I didn’t mean to imply above that you didn’t use clear and specific examples.

        And, as I just told Jerry, if you’re getting pushback from people defending the rightness of the description, then my question has been answered.

    • TJR
      Posted May 9, 2017 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      Absolutely correct of course, and extremists always tend to be more visible than moderates, so its easy to overestimate their numbers and importance.

      However, there’s not much doubt that some people do fit that description.

    • Posted May 9, 2017 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      Pluckrose herself has addressed your comment:

      • Sastra
        Posted May 9, 2017 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

        Thanks!

        I wasn’t saying that her description was a Straw Man, or that feminists don’t say and do this. I was wondering if the Intersectional feminists she’s describing would accept the description.

        If there are people responding with “feminists are right to say/do this!” — then my question is answered. Yup. At least some apparently do.

        • Posted May 9, 2017 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

          I think it’s worth noting that the intersectionalists obviously agree on the facts in that Twitter picture, but might object to the way the facts are phrased.

          “The UK & the US are oppressive patriarchies that perpetuate rape culture?”

          That’s an intersectionalist talking point.

          “Gender is a cultural construct & anyone who says otherwise is a misogynist?”

          They might substitute some other epithet for, “misogynist,” but otherwise would be in full agreement.

          “Sexist generalizations and insults are OK as long as they’re against men?”

          They’d probably bridle at that. But “rape culture” is, emphatically, an insulting and sexist generalization against men.

          “Women can’t cope with criticism of ideas or people being mean on the internet?”

          Again, no small bit of bristling…but what else is the point of a “safe space?”

          “People who say things we don’t like should be no-platformed & vilified?”

          They’d substitute “promote rape culture” or something like that for “things we don’t like,” but that’s one of their loudest talking points.

          …I could go on, but that should be more than enough. Doesn’t quite pass the Dennett test, perhaps, but it’s not far off.

          Cheers,

          b&

          >

    • Posted May 11, 2017 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      Benson claimed that online ridicule of her constituted actionable workplace harassment, because, as a full-time blogger, the entire world wide web was her ‘workplace’. With fractured logic like that, Benson really has nothing of value to add to any conversation.

  3. Kevin
    Posted May 9, 2017 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Feminism is a landscape, complex and broadly shaped. Like being vegetarian. On one extreme there are people who don’t care about animals or the environment, they just don’t like to eat meat. All the way to violent extremists even PETA would not endorse.

    One thing is for certain about feminism: if it does not condemn organized religion it misses the opportunity to erode the foundation for women’s subjugation. Nothing in human history has provided more oppression for women than religion. That should be feminism’s main priority.

  4. ChrisH
    Posted May 9, 2017 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Call me old-fashioned, but I find that calling everything rape trivializes, erm, ***actual*** rape.

    Luckily I’ve had little to do with this sort of thinking since I left university (1994 graduate), but things definitely seem to have got worse since then!

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted May 9, 2017 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      Exactly my point about the overuse of the word “oppression” among the middle-class Left. My thinking put me on the not-right list of several Unitarians.

  5. Ann German
    Posted May 9, 2017 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    “Cultural anxiety” is trending on twitter . . . apparently it is a euphemism for racism. WOW. EVERYONE needs to download the “Dalek Relaxation” video from Diane McPherson’s site!

  6. MKray
    Posted May 9, 2017 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    I hope that by the time global warming bites, people will have realized that we (men and women) are all in this together, and rise above genderal tribalism.

  7. Phil Rounds
    Posted May 9, 2017 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    We have too many “isms”. Humanism should be all we need.

  8. Posted May 9, 2017 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Hear, hear.

    We all know how the Nazis forced people whom they identified as various sorts of vermin to wear distinctive clothing, no? A blue Star of David armband for a jew, a pink triangle for an homosexual, and so on?

    When somebody wears something like that today, it’s a calculated expression of defiance. “Come and get me, you sick Nazis — here’s my armband, so you know exactly who I am.”

    The hijab and niqab serve as a similar form of forced-shame identification today in the Islamic world. “Look, everybody: here’s a subhuman. You can tell at a glance by the way it’s dressed.”

    Were modern “feminists” serious about defending women’s rights, they’d wear such intrinsically offensive and demeaning garb, if at all, in solidarity and outrage.

    But what do they actually do? Praise the good little sand niggers for the nice way the points of the armband’s star compliments the shape of the nose….

    Cheers,

    b&

    • Posted May 9, 2017 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      Rock paper scissors. Women’s rights are paper, fear of being seen as “Islamophobic” or pro-Western are the scissors. And rocks are what fill the cranial spaces of regressive liberals.

  9. Historian
    Posted May 9, 2017 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    The transformation of the feminist movement into one with many radical elements is quite typical of social and political movements. In the political sphere, the Russian and French Revolutions are classic examples of where relatively moderate reformist movements were captured by the radicals. The question is whether the center will hold against extremist challenges. It did in the American Revolution. If the radicals capture a movement, the next question is whether they can resist challenges from counter-revolutionaries. Extremism fell in the French Revolution, but not in the Russian Revolution (although over time the Soviets became quite conservative in certain ways).

    In the case of feminism, it seems that people like Pluckrose and Oliver are “counter-revolutionaries,” trying to restore feminism to its more sane roots. It is too early to tell if they will succeed.

    • TJR
      Posted May 9, 2017 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      Very similar to the Labour party both 35 years ago and now.

      In the early 80s the extremists (Foot, Benn etc) took over and nearly destroyed the party, but the counter-revolutionaries (Kinnock, Healey etc) just managed to save it.

      At the moment I’m not sure who might save the party from Corbyn etc.

    • Posted May 9, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      Correct me if I’m wrong – eventually the label “conservative” was applied to those who resisted Gorbachev’s reforms, no?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 9, 2017 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      Yes, it’s the Mensheviks vs. the Bolsheviks, the Girondists vs. the Jacobins. These things seem always to end in blood-letting — even if, has here, the blood is metaphorical.

  10. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted May 9, 2017 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    There is much to very much like in those articles. The section on “The transformation of women’s self-image from strong people to weak and vulnerable ones” rang very true to me, especially.

    • darrelle
      Posted May 9, 2017 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      Yes, me too.

      It seems to me that I have a lot more respect for women, LTGBQ(. . .), Muslims, etc. than the typical transectionalist, feminist, illiberal leftist, whatever.

    • Kiwi Dave
      Posted May 9, 2017 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

      All those women from 40 years ago singing along with Helen Reddy, ‘I am strong, I am woman, I can do anything’ etc were obviously mistaken.

  11. DrBrydon
    Posted May 9, 2017 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Deadnaming? LOL. “ZOMG!! How dare she have done this thing I’d never heard of!?!?”

    The more pickeyune the complaints of the SJWs become, the more I feel there aren’t any big problems. I’m not sure whether that is intentional. Big problems cut across cultures.

  12. peepuk
    Posted May 9, 2017 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t the popularity of Social Justice Extremism caused by globalization? Without globalization there wouldn’t probably much demand for this.

    It’s about making non white minorities feel better about their original culture with the idea to create a more level playing field for all. Ending the (perceived) white supremacy; not much wrong with that.

    Unfortunately it appears that cultural relativism doesn’t mix well with feminism.

    It’s logically incoherent to fight for women’s rights and at the same time defend discrimination against some women only because they do not have the right (white) skin-color.

    • Posted May 11, 2017 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      SJW extremism shares many aspects of cults. It seems a pitfall that humans are inherently susceptible to.

  13. Joseph Lapsley
    Posted May 9, 2017 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    These descriptions of 3rd wave feminism don’t fit well with my experience of it. I’m a guy and most of 3rd wave feminism I see as an improvement on the 2nd wave’s ambivalence over the virgin/whore dichotomy, sexuality, and femininity as oppression and/or empowering, comfortable gender performance. Intersectionality is an empirically solid perspective on history and society–I teach it all the time. Are there excesses? Sure, but they don’t come across my path often.

    • Posted May 9, 2017 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      Intersectionality is an empirically solid perspective on history and society–I teach it all the time.

      Eh, I think you might be missing something very fundamental about reality.

      First, it is undeniably true that all experience takes place on the stage of the mind and is therefore subjective. Even to the point that Chopra’s insane inanity about the Moon only existing when you think of it being true within the limited scope of consciousness — but with the caveat that consciousness is the complete entirety of your universe.

      Nevertheless, there are certain things that anybody and everybody can be overwhelmingly confident about because they can be reliably independently verified. The Sun will rise in the East tomorrow, and if you drop a large rock on your bare foot you will feel pain.

      Where the intersectionalists and other woo-ists go off the rails is where they mistrake the observation of the universality of subjectivism for something profound. Chopra, for example, thinks that the hunk o’ rock a quarter million miles away is what stops existing when you stop thinking about it. No; merely the cluster of mental symbology stops existing within your consciousness when you stop thinking of it — but you can be overwhelmingly confident that the hunk o’ rock doesn’t give a damn whether or not you think of it. Granted, it’s the cluster of mental symbology that’s all that your consciousness has access to and so is all that the Moon is to you…but you should be confident that that’s a map, nothing more, and that the territory is independent of your map, even if you couldn’t ever visit the territory even if you wanted to. Even Armstrong, standing on the Moon, only had his mental construct of the Moon accessible to his consciousness.

      And, yes. It’s very important to understand the mental symbology — to appreciate, in the case of the Moon, not just the physical properties, but werewolves and cold war ambitions and a Debussy piano suite and all the rest.

      But it’s also just as important to not mistrake that mental symbology for the hunk o’ rock itself…

      …which is what intersectionality (and all the other woo-isms) inevitably does.

      Cheers,

      b&

      >

      • nicky
        Posted May 9, 2017 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

        Ben, you lost me there….

        • Paul Schoeckel
          Posted May 9, 2017 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

          I would have been as well, but I’ve looked up examples of intersectionality. They are the same as the definition and use intersectionality as a defining character of intersectionality.
          An example of a barn shouldn’t be that it looks like a barn.
          I’d ask Joseph what he teaches, exactly, that shows “Intersectionality is an empirically solid perspective on history and society” that could not be described by another less confusing means.

          • Posted May 9, 2017 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

            Yes. At its base, “intersectionality” means that all history has to be viewed through the perspective of whatever non-white-straight-male oppressed people are being attacked by straight white males. And that the perspective is what matters and dominates all else; objective facts are straight white male tools of oppression, and must be made to fit the perspective.

            Granted, that’s not how the dictionary defines the term, but it’s undeniably how it operates in practice.

            That’s how we get the sorts of idiotic nonsense like the misogynist fat-shaming squirrels of yesterday’s post. Whether or not misogyny or fat-shaming even makes sense in the context of squirrels is irrelevant; it’s the perspective of the author that she’s been fat-shamed while female that matters, and the squirrels are the lens through which her perspective is validated.

            Again, there is a context in which all of that makes sense: the mind of the intersectionalist. And that context is the entirety of the universe of the intersectionalist — just as your own mind is the entirety of your own universe.

            But the ways in which the PoMo crowd privilege subjectivity over objectivity…it’s not helpful, and it’s very unhealthy. A sense of perspective, that their minds, though the entirety of their personal universes, aren’t even so much as a rounding error in the context of the objective universe we perceive ourselves to be in, would be a good starting place….

            Cheers,

            b&

            >

            • Posted May 9, 2017 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

              I truly don’t get how PoMo even gets off the ground. If logic and reason are just tools of oppression, by what means does one arrive at the conclusion that….logic and reason and objective facts are tools of oppression.

              I mean, if reason is merely another “narrative”, what epistemological basis for concluding that reason is just another narrative. Seems to me that one is still using reason to argue that, uh, reason cannot arrive at objective truth.

              This is the verbal equivalent of a dog chasing its tail. How does an entire discipline get founded on something that seems so transparently self-refuting?

              • Posted May 9, 2017 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

                “what epistemological basis for concluding that reason is just another narrative.”

                Should say “what is the epistemological basis for concluding that reason is just another narrative?”

              • Posted May 9, 2017 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

                Alas, all you’ve done is identify yet another tool the patriarchy uses to oppress the disadvantaged. If reason and fact diminish the narrative of the lived experience of oppressed persons, that can only be because straight white men designed reason and facts in such a way as to perpetuate the injustice.

                You might think I’m kidding. But that would be because you’re a slave to logic and facts, which we just established are tools of oppression that straight white men use to perpetuate the culture of violence against the disadvantaged.

                Cheers,

                b&

                >

              • Posted May 9, 2017 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

                “If reason and fact diminish the narrative of the lived experience of oppressed persons, that can only be because straight white men designed reason and facts in such a way as to perpetuate the injustice.”

                So completely unfalsifiable. Now where have we seen belief systems that are hermetically sealed from criticism and manage to seduce even very smart people?

              • Posted May 9, 2017 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

                Now you begin to understand the scope of the problem.

                It’s curious, you know.

                If you include but one little absurdity in your reasoning, one tiny little contradiction in even a single premise, you can, from that foundation, derive literally anything imaginable.

                And, yet, despite the truly limitless landscape upon whose canvas such things can be painted, they all inevitably acquire the same basic depressingly destructive tribalistic patterns. An elite priesthood establishes some greater degree of equality (with themselves as the most equal of all), and suddenly you’re off to the self-perpetuating races at the expense of those not quite as equal….

                Honestly, it often seems the real miracle is that we ever manage to make any sort of progress at all.

                Cheers,

                b&

                >

    • Posted May 11, 2017 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      “Intersectionality” in its non-controversial construction is so banal as to merit no more than a passing nod of recognition, and is applicable in no tangible way.

      In practice, it is used as a sort of Oppression Bingo card, whereby individuals vie for the most total unprivileged-ness (ironically thereby garnering the most privilege among the group). One’s intersectional quotient can also be invoked, via ‘lived experience’, to trump a lesser intersectioned person’s argument, thus ending all rational debate and inquiry.

  14. Posted May 9, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    “I guess that makes me a “feminist” who supports complete equality of opportunity for and treatment of women—and to many that makes me not a feminist at all.”

    Right on. Count me in.

  15. Rob
    Posted May 9, 2017 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    I’m not yet willing to give up the label of feminist.

    My background is evangelical Christianity, and I’m not for a second willing to concede that women are to be submissive, can’t be leaders, or are less capable than men, or are responsible for men’s sexual behavior. I insist at all times that women be treated equally.

    (Frankly, some of the issues discussed above are far removed from my life experience, but I passionately hate oppression in all forms.)

  16. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted May 9, 2017 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    A hilarious and prophetic parody of feminism is the play “Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)”

    “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodnight_Desdemona_%28Good_Morning_Juliet%29”

  17. Heather Hastie
    Posted May 9, 2017 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    I worry that traditional feminists are saying they’re not going to call themselves feminists anymore because of the radical fringe that currently dominates in some spheres. If we’re going to maintain feminism as something that supports equality for all women, those of us who eschew extremist talking points have to stay part of it.

    Situations such as those where some so-called feminists refuse to criticize things like Islamism, or portray all Palestinians as saints and all Israelis as devils incarnate, can’t last. As this post and several commenters have pointed out, the positions are incoherent. Most of those holding them are young and will grow up. Then they will develop more nuanced and sophisticated positions.

    Long-term, inconsistent dogma doesn’t last. They’re doing damage to the reputation of the women’s movement at the moment. However, I can’t see it causing women’s rights to go backwards. They’re the squeaky wheel getting the oil right now. They have no effect on the lives of most women though.

    • Posted May 9, 2017 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      I worry that traditional feminists are saying they’re not going to call themselves feminists anymore because of the radical fringe that currently dominates in some spheres.

      They may be radical, but they’re not the fringe any longer. They’re the leadership as well as the rank and file of the movement that operates under the name.

      My positions haven’t changed from the days when I would unthinkingly consider myself a feminist. I still support the Equal Rights Amendment, am still ashamed that women earn some $0.80 for every dollar a man makes, still get upset at all the gender-segregated professions out there, still cringe when a woman’s attire is even mentioned in the context of her sexual assault. And don’t get me started on the pussy-grabber-in-chief!

      But I’m starting to think that it’s much less important to identify these as feminist subjects, and much more important to identify them as human rights matters.

      Cheers,

      b&

      >

      • Posted May 9, 2017 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        “am still ashamed that women earn some $0.80 for every dollar a man makes”

        You know this is just the gross wage gap, and does not necessarily mean that women are earning 20 cents less for the same work.

        The gross wage gap is still a major issue, mind you, as it demonstrates that women tend to work in lower paying jobs, which I doubt is by “choice”.

        • Posted May 11, 2017 at 9:59 am | Permalink

          This infinitely repeated lie about ‘for the same work’ — symptomatic of an unquestioning adherence to unquestionable dogma — is yet another example of how feminism has destroyed itself from within.

          • Posted May 11, 2017 at 10:31 am | Permalink

            Also completely counter-productive; it’s the text book example of misdiagnosing the problem and therefore coming up with the poor solutions.

            The actual state of things, where women tend earn the same as men all things being equal (type of job, education, experience, etc), but overall as a group earn less than men is a problem that requires different solutions and leads to discussions that many feminists would rather not have.

            • Posted May 11, 2017 at 11:30 am | Permalink

              Exactly. Nearly all of the wage gap is due to gender traitors’ … err… women’s voluntary choices. It also ignores that men, given their druthers, would also prefer to work fewer hours, with more schedule flexibly, in more amenable work environments, with better non-monetary benefits, etc. Not to mention, spend more time with their family. But they are expected to ‘bring home the bacon’, as parents must consciously or unconsciously enact a division of labor, with one concentrating on earning, the other on child-raising and family care. Given the obvious biological dimorphism, we as a society must accept there will always be a certain ‘gap’.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted May 9, 2017 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

        That’s a fair point about human rights. It’s slightly different for me too because I’m from a country where this isn’t an issue. NZers are much more pragmatic, mainly because we have to be. When you’re as small as us, everyone has to get along because otherwise nothing would get done. There are people with extreme opinions, but mostly there just aren’t enough of them in any one group to separate themselves out from the rest of us.

        • Posted May 9, 2017 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

          And that’s an equally fair point about societal context…here in the States, those who wear their feminism on their sleeves are, increasingly, all too eager to adopt the mold of the “feminazi” caricature.

          It raises a disturbing prospect — one where the harshest critics of feminism may actually one day be less obstructionist to civil equality for all, regardless of gender, than self-titled feminists….

          Cheers,

          b&

          >

    • Paul Schoeckel
      Posted May 9, 2017 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      “Long-term, inconsistent dogma doesn’t last.” Perhaps you haven’t heard about these things called religions.

      • Posted May 9, 2017 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

        +1

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted May 9, 2017 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

        That doesn’t last. People are constantly trying to reform it and inventing new religions to try and get it right, and finally more and more are recognizing that atheism is the only position that makes sense. It’s taken a while, and some countries are taking longer than others. In my country, if atheism was a religion it’d be the biggest at c. 42% last census.

    • Rita
      Posted May 9, 2017 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      +1

  18. nicky
    Posted May 9, 2017 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Thank the gods there are some real feminists left (no pun intended 😆).

  19. DiscoveredJoys
    Posted May 9, 2017 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    There’s an interesting article on AEON at the moment https://aeon.co/ideas/stuck-on-one-idea-of-justice-or-beauty-rhizomes-can-help which makes the point that much of Western thought is ‘tree like’ in that you can trace the metaphor back to a single trunk of Platonic ideal truth – whereas often ideas are metaphorically more like rhizomes, splitting and growing in complex ways.

    Perhaps there is no single ideal feminism which is why all the rhizome shootlets argue so forcefully between themselves in defence of their own ‘one true ideal’?

  20. Posted May 9, 2017 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    For some reason this piece brought to mind an observation of Samuel Johnson’s: ”Nature has given women so much power that the law has very wisely given them little.”

    In the historical “battle of the sexes,” it would appear that the feminist movement has improved the status of women. This is an illusion. Despite superficial changes, the basic principle holds: aside from their natural advantages, which are many, women have always had, and always will have, only as much power as men see fit to give them.

    This will not be a popular viewpoint on this site, but that’s just how it is. I’m guessing Darwin would agree.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 9, 2017 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      That kind of essentialism doesn’t have a great track record:

      “The negro … has no rights the white man is bound to respect.”

      — Chief Justice Roger Taney, Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857)

      • Posted May 9, 2017 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

        Not only that, but mirandaga’s proposition depends on the premise that women are ultimately powerless in the face of male dominance.

        And, while it’s true that, on average, any given male could physically overwhelm any given female in unarmed combat…humanity has advanced so far beyond unarmed one-on-one personal combat that the mere notion that anything even remotely like that could hypothetically be relevant is absurd.

        If nothing else, women are far too valuable as productive members of society for society to be able to afford to treat them unequally. There’re so many brilliant women doctors, engineers, tradespeople, and on and on, up and down the socioeconomic status ladder. We all benefit enormously from the contributions they make to build a better world.

        Never mind any fundamental arguments about justice or civil liberty or anything like that. You’ve got to be profoundly ignorant or self-destructively delusional to want to do anything to suppress the economic productivity of women. For your own selfishness, even if you’re the manliest macho manly man in the history of masculinity, it is overwhelmingly in your own best interests to deal with women in an assiduously equal and fair and honest and non-discriminatory manner. Anything less, and you’ll fail to live up to your own full potential — and spectacularly so.

        Cheers,

        b&

        >

        • Posted May 9, 2017 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

          “For your own selfishness, even if you’re the manliest macho manly man in the history of masculinity, it is overwhelmingly in your own best interests to deal with women in an assiduously equal and fair and honest and non-discriminatory manner.”

          Exactly my point: women will have as much power, equality, etc. as men find it in their self-interest to give them. If abortion didn’t benefit men as well as women, you can bet it would still be illegal.

          • Posted May 9, 2017 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

            Eh, you read far too much into that part of my post.

            Yes, full equality for women is in the best interest of men, which is enough reason for men to selfishly support the proposition.

            But women already have enough power that, were this merely a raw power struggle with the assumption that men must automatically win…

            …that’s some mighty strong short-sightedness on your part. Assuming you’re a man, let me assure you: you’re far less powerful and more vulnerable than you seem to think you are.

            And you’re grossly misunderstanding the full dynamics of the matter by thinking of it in terms of unassailable male dominance.

            Cheers,

            b&

            >

        • BJ
          Posted May 9, 2017 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

          It also rests on the idea that the law is somehow biased against women, instead of towards them. At least in the US, women get taken to trial for the same crimes about 50% of the time that men do, get convicted about 50% less for the same crimes when they are taken to trial, “win” 85-95% of divorce cases, have the “Duluth Model” (AKA the “it’s always the man who is the abuser, even if he called in the abuse” model) when it comes to domestic abuse despite numerous studies showing that men and women are physically abusive at about the same rates. Women also live about eight years longer on average, make up less than 25% of the suicide rate (can you imagine the outcry if the numbers for male suicide and female suicide were reversed? And all the papers there would be on why the numbers are so high for women? But nobody cares), make up less than 25% of the homeless community….I could go on, but I doubt it would change any minds.

          • Posted May 10, 2017 at 10:02 am | Permalink

            It won’t. Because men still control the top echelons of power, somehow this wipes away everything you cited (I assume all of this is true). All men, particularly white men, are assumed to share equally in the fruits of the patriarchy. The fact that many, many men are struggling despite the success of the few apex males does not compute with many folks.

          • Posted May 10, 2017 at 10:16 am | Permalink

            One more point on this. Although the claim that “white males are the only group that it is acceptable to ridicule” seems like vacuous whining by clueless, privileged white people, there is more than a grain of truth in this. One only need to look at the diversity initiatives, not only in academia but in other organizations.

            Diversity initiatives, if implemented consistently, should be as equally concerned with a female hegemony in say, education, as much as they are concerned with white male dominance of corporate boards. But in practice, diversity initiatives are simply a selective tool to reduce white male participation. Maybe I am wrong, but it seems that nobody worries about groups having too few white males. White men are viewed like the benign mold you get in your shower; tolerated to an extent, reduced if at all possible, and never actively desired.

            The move to get around this inconsistency is to dismiss the problem by citing the vast number of male dominated areas, but that is then going to a level of inter-group diversity, and not intra-group. It’s a duplicitous move as all of the benefits of diversity are at the lower intra-group level.

            For certain white males with enough status and power, this may not matter. But for many other white males of much lower status and means, this can translate into material levels of discrimination and lost opportunity.

            • BJ
              Posted May 10, 2017 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

              You’re absolutely right. Even in the sciences themselves, psychology, veterinary sciences, and a couple of others are completely dominated by women. Nobody cares.

              And nobody cares that men are forced to do the jobs nobody wants, and no feminist has ever asked for parity in: garbage hauling, mining, all the jobs that drive up their suicide rates, lower their life expectancies, and make them make up 93% of workplace injuries and 98* of workplace deaths.

    • Posted May 9, 2017 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      Despite superficial changes, the basic principle holds: aside from their natural advantages, which are many, women have always had, and always will have, only as much power as men see fit to give them.

      So you think feminism has been a total waste of time and women who have risked and sacrificed so much might as well have stayed at home and done the washing?

      Very progressive.

    • DiscoveredJoys
      Posted May 10, 2017 at 5:09 am | Permalink

      Despite superficial changes, the basic principle holds: aside from their natural advantages, which are many, women have always had, and always will have, only as much power as men see fit to give them.

      But as a thought experiment and contemplative exercise, why not try this:

      Despite superficial changes, the basic principle holds: aside from their natural advantages, which are many, women have always had, and always will have, only as much power as women choose to take.

      I’m not agreeing that either statement is ‘true’ (for certain % values of true), indeed both could be partially true at the same time. But look for the ‘patriarchy’ and you will find it. Try looking for the ‘matriarchy’ and you will find it too. You just have to treat the actual ‘victims’ of either as data, not proof of concept.

    • Posted May 11, 2017 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      Darwin, IIRC, believed males selected females, which is not borne out by observation. The proposition has been put forth that among us social humans, the selection process is perhaps mutual.

      … women have always had, and always will have, only as much power as men see fit to give them.

      This assertion would benefit greatly from evidence and elaboration.

  21. eric
    Posted May 9, 2017 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Colleagues told her privately that they sympathized with Oliver and Tuvel, but had to publicly crucify Tuvel for the sake of The Movement.

    This new McCarthyism needs a Joesephine Welch. Sadly, I think there are a lot more blackballs and ruined careers to come before that sort of resistant moment will change the public view.

    • BJ
      Posted May 9, 2017 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

      And we’re also seeing Maoist-type cultural shaming sessions on college campuses now, which is exactly where the trend started in China.

      I don’t think we’re going towards Maoism on the whole, but that’s certainly an interesting point.

      • peepuk
        Posted May 10, 2017 at 1:54 am | Permalink

        It has indeed a long tradition.

        This naming and shaming seems to work against these people. It is not very nice and having these extreme views won’t make you very popular.

      • Samedi
        Posted May 10, 2017 at 7:20 am | Permalink

        I was thinking along similar lines. The RL looks a lot to me like the totalitarian ideologies of the 20th century. I find two aspects of RL rhetoric especially concerning. First, they seem to have a strong belief in ideological purity; meaning that disagreement makes you evil and subject to having your motives questioned.

        The second is the scapegoating. Scapegoating is common, but it plays a central role for totalitarians as a sort of rallying cry for the faithful. The RL has chosen the “cisgender white male” as its scapegoat. Last century we had the “Kulaks” under Stalin, the “Revisionists” under Mao, and the “New People” under Pol Pot.

        I hope I’m wrong but I do see signs of a nascent totalitarian ideology.

      • Posted May 11, 2017 at 11:16 am | Permalink

        The ritual, public self-incrimination is nearly identical.

  22. Marc Aresteanu
    Posted May 11, 2017 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Congratulations Jerry on bringing this problem into the spotlight more and more. I’ll keep saying it. If you want to fix the SJW/regressive-left problem, fix feminism… or rather close down the gender studies departments. They are just indoctrination centers radicalizes and brainwashing young people.

  23. Posted May 13, 2017 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Feminism in the West especially, has some flaws – clearly. Blame it on the internet and every 19 year old with an internet connection having a voice. But I should think the solution for Oliver or Pluckrose would be to put it down, and call it out, instead of saying – I’m leaving, or feminism has changed. I think people discount the power of that word – a term meant to say women matter – as much as men do, which btw, regretfully has not been the case. DV victims, poor women, women who are actually victims of rape /violence and discrimination still need the protection of feminism. By deserting it, I wonder what message they are trying to send.

    As for whether women in the ‘west’ need protection, and whether the US and UK are ‘patriarchies’. I won’t speak for the UK, but the US is – and I speak from an actual patriarchal country. The US just had a healthcare bill that can treat rape and DV as a f**king pre-existing condition. Reproductive rights are STILL not guaranteed. Believe me when I tell you, there ARE developing countries (maybe not Saudi Arabia or Iran) where women have it better than that. Where their health is treated better. Now it has 13 men working on the Bill. Again, most developing countries have better representation for women’s issues. In a softer sense, patriarchy also refers to the belief that a woman’s worth resides in her sexuality. Purity rings, policing of uniforms, slut shaming of 10 year olds is still very much a thing in the US.

    Trust me, when women from countries with high rates of violence against women, and far more conservative norms surrounding divorce look at the US and pity its women (which they do) – the US does not have it great. Right now, it’s hovering somewhere above Chile.

  24. Posted June 26, 2017 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.


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