“As far as feminist endorsements are concerned, this was the holy grail: A word with a complicated history reclaimed by the most powerful celebrity in the world. . . . Beyoncé would become the subject of two-thirds of all tweets about feminism in the 24 hours after her appearance [at the 2014 Video Music Awards].”
— Jessica Bennett, Time magazine, Aug. 26, 2014
“Beyoncé is . . . idolised for her feminist credentials in the November 2013 [Australian] edition of Cosmopolitan. The ‘first lady of awesomeness’ is praised for her ability to ‘influence the global conversation on feminism, race, sexuality, philanthropy, justice, marriage, love and friendship’ via the ‘booty-popping’ way that she gets her fans involved in the politics of empowerment.’ . . .
“The fact that she ‘still reserves the right to be a Feminist in Heels’ . . . is presented as the main reason to love her.”
— Kate Farhall, in Freedom Fallacy: The Limits of Liberal Feminism, edited by Miranda Kiraly and Meagan Tyler
“Feminism teaches women that to be normalis to be inferior.”
— Robert Stacy McCain, Sex Trouble: Radical Feminism and the War Against Human Nature
No intelligent person imagines it was mere coincidence that one of the world’s biggest pop singers decided to help “re-brand” feminism in 2014. Two years earlier, feminism had proved a valuable political weapon that helped re-elect President Obama after the accusation that Republicans were waging a “war on women” enabled the Democrat to score the largest “gender gap” advantage among female voters ever recorded by Gallup. With Hillary Clinton generally coinsidered a shoo-in favorite to be the Democrats’ presidential nominee in 2016, a relentless push to popularize the “feminist” label has been underway in the liberal media, who are always willing to tell any lie that will help elect Democrats.
As much as any Republican might be offended by the media’s dishonest marketing of “pop feminism,” however, there is another group even more offended — actual feminists, the kind who believe in the movement’s political philosophy and radical egalitarian theory. This kind of feminism, the academic dogma promoted by professors in university Women’s Studies program, has nothing to do with the “booty-popping” celebrity “Feminist in Heels” act that Beyoncé displayed during her 2014 VMA performance. Determined to fight back against this vacuous “re-branding” of feminism, a group of radical scholars have published a new book Freedom Fallacy: The Limits of Liberal Feminism. Edited by two Australians, author Miranda Kiraly and university researcher Meagan Tyler, the book is a collection essays by the editors and 17 other writers, 11 of whom are Australian, three Canadian, two British and one American. Of the 19 contributors to Freedom Fallacy, 14 are associated with universities either as faculty or as graduate students. The others work for non-profit organizations, except Meghan Murphy, proprietor of Feminist Current, “Canada’s leading feminist website.”
Freedom Fallacy got a rather ironic plug last week when #GamerGate scourge Anita Sarkeesian tweeted out a link with this message:
“Feminism is about the collective liberation of women as
a social class. Feminism is not about personal choice.”
This rejection of “personal choice” contradicts everything most people who call themselves “feminist” claim to believe, of course, but as I explain in the introduction to Sex Trouble:
Almost everyone claims to accept feminism if they can be permitted to define it in the most commonly accepted understanding of “equality” as basic fairness. Especially in terms of educational and employment opportunity, no one argues in favor of discrimination against women. Yet this widely accepted idea of feminism, as a concern for equality in the sense of fairness and opportunity, is not the goal of the feminist movement today, nor was this the goal of the movement when it began in the late 1960s. The leaders of the Women’s Liberation movement were radicals — many of them were avowed Marxists — who advocated a social revolution to destroy the basic institutions of Western civilization, which they denounced as an oppressive system of male supremacy, often labeled “patriarchy.
So-called “Second Wave” feminism burned hot and then flamed out, even as its radical ideas were misunderstood by many of those who embraced the Women’s Liberation banner as a trendy political fashion statement.
The contributors to Freedom Fallacy recognize a similar problem with what Kate Farhall calls the recent “explosion of a new, popular feminism . . . rebranded and marketed to a younger, more pop-culture oriented generation.” A Ph.D. candidate at the University of Melbourne, Farhall examines how “pop feminism” is presented in women’s magazines that “consciously align themselves with this popular feminism, lauding the achievements of openly feminist celebrities, explicitly engaging with feminist issues and applauding strong, empowered women” even while continuing to emphasize conventional ideas of beauty:
Feminist research consistently shows the objectification of women and the pressure of feminine beauty ideals to be problematic and limiting to women. Consequently, the dueal emphases of women’s freedom and adherence to feminine beauty standards seemingly render this popular form of feminism, not only internally incoherent, but counterproductive to women’s equality. . . .
On the one hand, popular feminism applauds strong women and seeks to empower young women to achieve their goals, become educated and attain a greater level of self-respect. On the other hand, beauty ideals that are unattainable for most women are still held up as a standard to emulate and those who vocally support popular feminism are often those who also objectify themselves in order to conform to a male-driven understanding of what is ‘sexy.’ . . .
Feminism in its current, popular form, then, would seem reluctant to confront or criticise male power. These tensions between a ‘sexy’ popular feminism and more substantive challenges to the patriarchy are also played out in women’s magazines.
Permit me to interrupt Farhall here to say that I have always considered women’s magazines to be degrading, insipid trash. Why would any literate person waste their time reading Cosmopolitan?
The very fact that these magazines are so popular with teenage girls tells you something about the failure of public education to inculcate civilized tastes and decent morality in youth. If you want your daughter to be a shallow slut, just buy her a subscription to Cosmo. Being a shallow slut is certainly not “empowering,” yet such is the “feminism” marketed by women’s magazines. Farhall quotes a young columnist from the May 2013 Australian edition of Cosmopolitan celebrating the fashionable popular brand of feminism:
“I shave my legs, I own red lipstick, I wear five-inch heels. I love my job and I love men. . . . I’m a feminist and I’m proud of it. I hope you are too.”
Can the reader guess which part of that declaration is most disturbing to Farhall? If you guessed, “I love men,” you win the prize:
Popular feminism is rebranded as fun, flirty and feminine and actively placed in direct opposition to alternative iterations of feminism that are labelled as outdated and unattractive. . . . It is difficult to see how conforming to traditional notions of heterosexual femininity will bring about equality.
Here we have the radical War on Human Nature, the “gender theory” attack on our understanding of masculinity and femininity as the normal traits of normal people in normal relationships. To distill this theory to its essence (as articulated by Professor Judith Butler) it’s the “social construction” of the gender binary within the heterosexual matrix. I explained gender theory in “Feminists Against Heterosexuality”:
To translate this to plain English, if you are a normal (feminine) woman who feels normal (heterosexual) attraction toward normal (masculine) men, this means that you have been brainwashed by society into accepting your own oppression under the system of male supremacy. Feminists believe that heterosexuality is imposed on women by the patriarchy — women are “coerced into heterosexuality,” as Professor Marilyn Frye explained — and feminine behavior is simply the performance of inferiority. Gender “glamorizes the subordinate status of females” and creates an artificial appearance of male-female difference in order “to clearly mark the subordinate class [i.e., females] from the privileged class [i.e., males].”
Thus, there are no natural differences between male and female, according to feminist theory, only the oppressive hierarchy of “gender” by which society enforces male supremacy.
This anti-male/anti-heterosexual ideology is what students learn in university Women’s Studies classes, where textbooks edited by lesbians are taught by professors who, typically, are either lesbians or Marxists or both. The curriculum is openly hostile to Judeo-Christian morality and the traditional family, and the purpose of this intellectual assault is, as Professor Butler says, “the subversion of identity.” No one should be surprised when a student in an “Introduction to Feminist Theory” course at SUNY-Buffalo leaves the classroom exclaiming, “Every time I walk out of this class I just become more sexually confused!”
If human identity is “socially constructed,” as feminists insist, then it may also be deconstructed and, because opposition to feminism is effectively prohibited within academia, no student on the 21st-century is likely to encounter an articulate criticism of these theories.
“The fanatical rigidity of the feminist worldview can permit no dissent. Critics must be silenced and opponents must be demonized as ‘haters.’ Feminism encourages the young True Believer to think of herself as intellectually and morally superior to others. She possesses the extraordinary insight necessary to obtain the radical gnosis, and is therefore qualified to enlighten others.”
— Robert Stacy McCain, “What Feminists Mean by ‘Equality,’” April 4
In the atmosphere created by feminist hegemony in academia, sexually normal students (especially those from Christian homes whose worldview has been shaped by biblical teaching) become doubtful and confused because they encounter no intellectually respectable authorities responding to the challenge of gender theory. By contrast, sexually deviant students — including promiscuous heterosexual women as well as everyone whose preferences are officially represented on campus by the rainbow flag of LGBT groups — are incited to an attitude of radical certainty about their own oppression.
No one may “slut-shame” the college girl who sleeps around, for disapproval of promiscuity can only mean you are a misogynist, and any expression of disapproval toward LGBT preference is proof that you’re ahomophobe. Within the parameters of Correct Thought established by the rules of acceptable 21st-century campus discourse, the only sexual behaviors that can be criticized are:
- The chaste behavior of women who refuse to participate in the booze-and-sex rituals of college “hook-up culture”;
- Male heterosexuality.
In effect, the feminist influence on college sexual attitudes amounts to a direct reversal of the old sexist double-standard that celebrated the promiscuous male “stud” while denigrating the promiscuous female “slut.” Now, feminism’s insistence on female “sexual autonomy” justifies the woman in being as promiscuous as she pleases, while the attitudes of the promiscuous male are condemned as “rape culture.” Under no circumstance, however, do feminists endorse or advocate the most obvious alternative to the hook-up culture — chastity within a system of courtship directed toward the goal of lifelong monogamous heterosexual pair-bonding, i.e., traditional marriage. In the climate that currently prevails in academia, a woman can be celebrated for being either a slut or a lesbian, but is targeted for ridicule as a “prude” (or a religious bigot) if she is a virgin. Meanwhile, the only males whose sexual behavior merits praise on campus are gay men. Male heterosexual college students are classified by feminists into three categories:
- Potential rapists waiting for a suitable opportunity to rape;
- “Rape apologists” who, while lacking the masculine appetite for predatory violence necessary to commit rape themselves, nevertheless are alleged to admire rapists as sexual outlaws enacting all men’s secret fantasy.
The feminist conception of male sexuality involves a paranoid hostility I call Fear and Loathing of the Penis, so that it is impossible for them to imagine that men’s attraction toward women can be inspired by sincere admiration. Nor, for that matter, can feminism accept as “natural” a woman’s pleasure in being romantically pursued by a male suitor. No, the academic feminist tells us, all that wooing and courtship — moonlight walks and intimate dinners, hugs and kisses, etc. — is a deliberate illusion that conceals the true nature of male supremacy, an oppression that obtains its most direct expression in phallocentric sexuality.
“PIV is always rape, OK?”
Feminist gender theory ultimately boils down to this lunatic derangement infamously expressed by the radical blogger Witchwind. Normal men enjoy having sexual intercourse with women. Because normal sex makes normal men happy, the radical feminist must believe, therefore normal sex is wrong. Abolishing male happiness is an essential goal of the feminist movement, which is why gender theory must exclude the possibility that normal women can also enjoy normal sex with normal men. You will never find a Woman’s Studies professor who endorses traditional female behavior oriented toward finding herself a good husband, having babies and providing domestic happiness for herself and her family. Any time a man comes home from work to find his wife has cooked a nice family dinner, the patriarchy wins.
Returning to Kate Farhall’s critique of heteronormative “pop feminism”:
Despite their recent engagement with feminist ideas, the majority of the content of contemporary women’s magazines remains grounded in mainstream understandings of femininity with an emphasis on content relating to appearance and relationships. . . .
A significant body of research addresses women’s magazines notes their focus on successful heterosexual relationships that lead to marriage as the ultimate goal for women.
Marrying men is bad for women, according to feminist theory, which has for many decades condemned women’s role in marriage as a form of slavery. Criticizing the “centrality of beauty and heterosexual relationships” in the content of women’s magazines, Kate Farhall rejects “pop feminism” as a self-contradicting sham:
Put simply, the goal of women’s equality and the achievement of beauty ideals, as defined within a patriarchal system, are incompatible. It is not possible for women to advance, to become the empowered women popular feminism both applauds and envisages, if ultimately their value is still based on their physical attractiveness and sexual attractiveness to men. An emphasis on the achievement on feminine beauty ideals is thus incompatible with women’s equality, as it serves to limit, rather than empower, women. . . .
Feminism should aspire to fight the overarching patriarchal structures that limit women, rather than teach women how to achieve success in a man’s world. Thus, a popular liberal feminism that remains committed to objectification, ultimately cannot achieve women’s freedom.
You see? Encouraging women “to achieve success in a man’s world” — the way Beyoncé did, by making millions of dollars, marrying Jay Zee and having a baby daughter — “serves to limit, rather than empower” feminists like Kate Farhall, who have no commercially valuable talent, who don’t like men and who, even if they did like men, could never develop the kind of “sexual attractiveness to men” that Beyoncé has.
Whether or not life “within a patriarchal system” is unfair to women ingeneral, it is more unfair to some women than to others. Some women — the kind of women who get college degrees in Women’s Studies and consider that an “achievement” — can’t stand the fact that other women make more money in tips on a good weekend waiting tables at Buffalo Wild Wings than Kate Farfall gets paid for writing a 5,000-word essay about “objectification.” Then the waitress meets a guy with a good job and marries him and, by the time she’s 25, she’s living with her husband and their baby in a house in the suburbs, while the academic feminist is still grinding it out in grad school, living in a tiny apartment.
Winners win and losers lose, and guess who denounces the “system” and demands “equality”? Hint: Not the winners.
Kate Farhall is correct in saying that celebrity endorsements from Beyoncé don’t really do anything for the feminist cause, because truly successful women don’t actually need feminism. Anyone who has readCarolyn Graglia’s Domestic Tranquility: A Brief Against Feminismunderstands that the kind of “equality” feminists demand is one that would actually limit, rather than increase, opportunities for women. In particular, feminism seeks to limit opportunities for women to become what Beyoncé is — a married mother — because if women can choose that kind of life, most women will choose that kind of life, and feminists hate women for choosing that kind of life.
This is what should bother us most about feminism, its claim to speak for the interests of all women, implying the obverse, that (a) any man who criticizes feminism is “anti-woman,” and (b) any woman who rejects feminism is too stupid to know her own interests.
It is the this hideous contempt for the normal lives of normal women which inspires feminists in their campaign of hateful vengeance. Consumed by frustration and resentment, feminists condemn normal women as inferior and wage War Against Human Nature in order to destroy the happiness of others by creating a totalitarian Utopia of Misery where everyone will be equally unhappy.