“Feminism confuses many people who do not understand that the movement has a political philosophy — a theory — and that this theory is fundamentally incompatible with human nature. In fact, feminists do not believe there is such a thing as ‘human nature.’ Instead, they insist, all human behavior (especially including sexual behavior) is ‘socially constructed’ and, because feminists believe that the society that constructs our behavior is a male-dominated system which oppresses women, everything that we accept as ‘human nature’ is part of that oppressive system.”
— Robert Stacy McCain, Sex Trouble: Radical Feminism and the War on Human Nature, p. 3
It takes a lot of money to learn how to disregard — or condemn as “oppression” — ordinary common sense about human nature. When my wife and I went to the accountant to have our taxes done, one of my business expenses was the approximately $700 I’d spent buying feminist books from Amazon.com during 2014. This was necessary for my research into radical feminist gender theory in the book Sex Trouble. The research continues because, as I say in the introduction to the first edition, Sex Trouble is “a work in progress,” and my current plan is to publish a revised and expanded second edition in August. Here are the 10 most recent books I’ve purchased in the past two months:
- Modern Feminist Theory by Jennifer Rich (2014)
- The Lesbian Heresy: A Feminist Perspective on the Lesbian Sexual Revolution by Sheila Jeffreys (1993)
- Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution by Adrienne Rich (1986)
- On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose 1966-1978 by Adrienne Rich (1979)
- Daring To Be Bad: Radical Feminism in America 1967-1975 by Alice Echols, 1989
- Personal Politics: The Roots of Women’s Liberation in the Civil Rights Movement & the New Left by Sara Evans, 1979
- The Lesbian Issue: Essays from Signs, edited by Estelle B. Freedman, et al. (1985)
- Blood, Bread, and Poetry: Selected Prose 1979-1985 by Adrienne Rich (1986)
- Lesbianism and the Women’s Movement edited by Nancy Myron and Charlotte Bunch (1975)
- Freedom Fallacy: The Limits of Liberal Feminism, edited by Miranda Kiraly and Meagan Tyler (2015)
Each of these titles was purchased for a reason. For example, Estelle Freedman is a Stanford University professor who is hugely influential in academia, being for example the editor of The Essential Feminist Reader(2007), an assigned textbook in many introductory Women’s Studies courses. That she was also editor of a 1985 collection of lesbian-feminist essays is not a coincidence and, when I encountered a reference to Professor Freedman’s earlier work in the notes of another feminist book, I decided to check it out. (Very interesting.) As to the 1975 book co-edited by Charlotte Bunch, well, you can Google her name and perhaps figure out why Professor Bunch’s controversial past might be highly relevant and newsworthy in 2016.
What nearly all of these books have in common is that they are either written or edited by Women’s Studies professors or else, as in the case of Adrienne Rich, are by authors whose works are included in the Women’s Studies curricula. As readers of Sex Trouble know, the book focuses on academia — the Feminist-Industrial Complex — because it is by institutionalizing their power in colleges and universities, with Women’s Studies departments as the engine of their influence, that radical feminists have gained hegemonic authority within elite culture.
Academic feminism has received relatively little critical scrutiny
Academic feminism has received relatively little critical scrutiny (Professing Feminism: Education and Indoctrination in Women’s Studiesby Daphne Patai and Noretta Koertge being a commendable exception), and most people have no idea what kind of bizarre nonsense students are being taught nowadays. If you think of feminism as mere “equality” in the sense of basic fairness, you need to read Sex Trouble and find out what feminism really means. And it’s only $11.69 in paperback, which is a lot less than you’d pay to study this stuff at college.
Friday, in discussing Kate Spencer (a feminist victim of “body shame” and other patriarchal oppressions), I mentioned that she had gotten a bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies from Bates College, an elite private liberal arts college where annual tuition is $47,030. Here is the official description of that program:
The goal of the Program in Women and Gender Studies is to enable learners to recognize, analyze, and transform gender relations as they appear in everyday life. The program provides the opportunity to study women as social agents whose identities and experiences are shaped by systems of race, class, sexuality, and national power. At the same time, to study gender is to refute simple assertions about women, men, and gender binaries, and to strive instead for richly detailed accounts of the political, economic, and technological conditions through which relations of power have been established and maintained.
Analyzing gender enriches our ability to apprehend the differing social roles assigned to individuals, the inequitable distribution of material resources, and the ties between structures of knowledge and larger systems of privilege and oppression. Courses examine women and gender relations in multiple cultural, historical, and material contexts, encouraging the use of transnational, multiracial feminist perspectives
The chairwoman of the department is Professor Rebecca Herzig:
Historian Rebecca Herzig holds the College’s only full-time faculty appointment in Women and Gender Studies. She teaches an array of interdisciplinary courses on science, technology, and medicine, as well as the program’s required methods course, Methods and Modes of Inquiry. Her latest book, Plucked: A History of Hair Removal, is available now at nyupress.org.
A small school like Bates College (with fewer than 1,800 students) can afford only one full-time Women’s Studies professor, but because the field is “interdisciplinary,” it is also taught by faculty from other departments. By this cross-departmental influence, feminist ideology permeates the curriculum. Thus, the Bates College Women and Gender Studies faculty also includes Holly Ewing (Associate Professor, Environmental Studies), Leslie Hill (Associate Professor, Politics), Sue Houchins (Associate Professor, African American Studies), Erica Rand(Professor, Art and Visual Culture), and Emily W. Kane (Professor, Sociology). In case you’re wondering what kind of innovative scholarship these eminent academics are sharing with their students, I’ll point out that Professor Kane is author of The Gender Trap: Parents and the Pitfalls of Raising Boys and Girls (2012) and Rethinking Gender and Sexuality in Childhood (2013). Perhaps you will not be surprised to learn that Professor Kane is implacably hostile to “traditionally gendered childhoods” and “conventional gender expectations,” which she blames for “persistent gender inequalities.”
This is what feminism has been about for more than 40 years. In 1969, the feminist collective Redstockings declared:
We identify the agents of our oppression as men. . . . Men have controlled all political, economic and cultural institutions and backed up this control with physical force. They have used their power to keep women in an inferior position. . . . All men have oppressed women.
The “inferior position” of women and the “power” which men use to oppress women — the source of those “persistent gender inequalities” denounced by Professor Kane — are simply the results of normal human behaviors, i.e., masculinity and femininity, love, marriage, sex, parenthood and the traditional family. Normal relations between normal men and normal women are both the cause and effect of women’s oppression, whereby women are “exploited as sex objects” and “breeders,” as the Redstockings declared:
We are considered inferior beings, whose only purpose is to enhance men’s lives. Our humanity is denied.
Is this true? Was it true in 1969 or at any previous time? Did your father exploit your mother as a “breeder”? Was your grandfather the agent of your grandmother’s oppression? Was your great-grandmother’s humanity denied because your great-grandfather kept her in an inferior position as a “sex object”? This is what feminist theory teaches, that human history has been nothing but a gigantic patriarchal conspiracy through which men (all men) have oppressed women (all women), and the overthrow of this collective oppression requires a revolution:
Because we have lived so intimately with our oppressors, in isolation from each other, we have been kept from seeing our personal suffering as a political condition. This creates the illusion that a woman’s relationship with her man is a matter of interplay between two unique personalities, and can be worked out individually. In reality, every such relationship is a class relationship, and the conflicts between individual men and women are political conflicts that can only be solved collectively.
To achieve this solution, the Redstockings proclaimed, feminists must “develop female class consciousness . . . exposing the sexist foundation of all our institutions.” They denied “the existence of individual solutions,” condemning what they described as the false assumption “that the male-female relationship is purely personal.” The co-founder of Redstockings was Shulamith Firestone who, in her 1970 book The Dialectic of Sex, declared that “the end goal of feminist revolution must be . . . not just the elimination of male privilege but of the sex distinction itself” (p. 11). Firestone called for “an end to the incest taboo, through abolition of the family,” so that “sexuality would be released from its straitjacket to eroticize our whole culture” (p. 55). She flatly declared “Pregnancy is barbaric” (p. 180), described women as “the slave class” (p. 184), and envisioned a “new society” in which “humanity could finally revert to its natural polymorphous sexuality — all forms of sexuality would be allowed and indulged” (p. 187). Firestone denounced the family because “it reinforces biologically-based sex class (p. 198) and asserted that “marriage in its very definition . . . was organized around, and reinforces, a fundamentally oppressive biological condition” (p. 202).
The fact that Shulamith Firestone was clinically insane (a paranoid schizophrenic who died alone in 2012 at age 67) might serve as sufficient rebuttal to her doctrine, but by the time her madness became evident — she was committed to a psychiatric unit in 1987 — the radical movement she helped launch had gained a solid foothold in academia, publishing, law and politics. Firestone and other early leaders of the Women’s Liberation Movement had been political activists of the New Left. Others were journalists (e.g., Marilyn Webb, Gloria Steinem, Jill Johnston, Susan Brownmiller). It was only after the radical feminist movement shattered into incoherent splinters in the mid-1970s that the creation of Women’s Studies programs at colleges and universities provided the institutional infrastructure around which the Feminist-Industrial Complex has since been built. Thousands of professors are now employed to indoctrinate students in this ideology, and no one in 21st-century academia dares criticize or oppose feminism for fear of being accused of “discrimination” or “harassment.” What the Women’s Studies major “knows” is never contradicted by any authority on campus, and what she “knows” is that all women are victims of male supremacy.
“Male power is systemic. Coercive, legitimated, and epistemic, it is the regime.”
— Catharine MacKinnon, Toward a Feminist Theory of the State (1989)
“Recognizing that the ‘personal is political’ allowed women to identify . . . that what they took to be their own personal failings . . . were not just individual experiences. . . . The ‘private’ world was recognized as the basis of the power men wielded in the ‘public’ world of work and government. . . . The concept that the personal is political enabled feminists to understand the ways in which the workings of male dominance penetrated into their relationships with men. They could recognize how the power dynamics of male dominance made heterosexuality into a political institution, constructed male and female sexuality, and the ways in which women felt about their bodies and themselves.”
— Sheila Jeffreys, Beauty and Misogyny: Harmful Cultural Practices in the West (2014)
Because feminism now controls the terms of academic research and discussion about human sexuality, the university student today never encounters any articulate defense of normal behavior.
Love, marriage and motherhood are condemned by feminists, as is heterosexuality, per se. All of this is implicit in feminist gender theory — the “social construction” of the gender binary within the heterosexual matrix. — and anyone who does not accept this theory is subject to denunciation as a bigot, a misogynist, a homophobe.
Parents pay for their children to learn how to think this way — tuition at Bates College is, I repeat, $47,030 a year — and the question is, “Why?”
As I say, I spent about $700 buying feminist books last year and probably understand it as well as any heteropatriarchal oppressor ever could. Yetthe Sex Trouble project is a continuing effort funded by readers who understand the importance of “Taking Feminism Seriously.” Because I’ve been able to purchase many of these books used from Amazon, my total cost for the 10 feminist books I’ve purchased in the past two months was $136.42, and this library of lunatic literature will keep growing. Why? Because if God will grant me another few months of life, I expect to make some appearances at university campuses next fall, and it can be predicted that young feminists will challenge my analysis: “But you don’tunderstand feminism!”
Yet there will be a table beside me, and on that table will be these stacks of books, you see. So I’ll gesture to the table, and perhaps hold up a few of the books to cite the titles and authors by name, before answering the angry student: “No, ma’am. You don’t understand feminism.”
Doesn’t that make you want to hit freaking the tip jar?