“Women are a degraded and terrorized people. Women are degraded and terrorized by men. … Women’s bodies are possessed by men. … Women are an enslaved population. … Women are an occupied people.”
— Andrea Dworkin, 1977 speech at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, in Letters from a War Zone(1993)
One of the strange things about feminism is how this movement, built upon hateful slander, has acquired the power to silence its critics. In 1977, when a few dozen women turned out to hear Andrea Dworkin speak in Amherst, it was still possible to oppose feminism on an American university campus. Today, dissenting voices are almost never heard in academia, where feminists exercise the kind of controlling power wielded by the mullahs in Tehran or by Kim Jung Un in Pyongyang.
What has happened is that the pursuit of “equality” — enforced by federal authority under Title IX — has made university officials fearful of claims of “discrimination” under the so-called “hostile environment” doctrine. No one in academia dares to challenge feminism directly. Remember that Larry Summers was forced to resign as president of Harvard after he suggested there are “innate differences” between men and women. Feminists stage tumultuous protests whenever a dissident like Christina Hoff Sommers or Wendy McElroy appears on campus.
Silencing opposition is necessary to feminism’s success in reducing educational opportunities for males. Females are already 57 percent of college enrollment and in some fields, such as psychology, women outnumber males more than 3-to-1. As the percentage of males on campus dwindles, feminists in academia become ever more vehement in their denunciations of male students as rapists and harassers. Colleges now “teach women that men are the enemy and men are treated as such on campus,” as Helen Smith explains in her book Men on Strike. “Many men have just decided that they don’t belong in college . . . more and more men drop out of college or never attend.”
Feminist hegemony in academia has fostered an implacable hostility toward males on campus, and perceptive young men recognize feminism as the source of this hatred. The problem is that there are few if any male professors on the faculty of the modern university who are willing to criticize feminist ideology. With no good examples to follow, young men tend to express their opposition to feminism in ways that are crude and inarticulate, transparently motivated by personal resentment. This tendency, in turn, inspires feminists to become even more militant, as when Helen Lewis declared in 2012 that “the comments on any article about feminism justify feminism.” Such circular reasoning — that opposition to feminism proves the need for more feminism — points us toward a future of endless hostility, as feminism becomes more and more anti-male, and men become more and more anti-feminist.
We can only avert such an escalation of hostility by understanding its origins and history, which requires us recognize the actual source of this conflict, namely feminist aggression. Consider, as an example, the role played by the radical provocateur Andrea Dworkin. In her 1993 collectionLetters from a War Zone, Dworkin includes her 1977 speech at Amherst denouncing pornography:
Fascist propaganda celebrating sexual violence against women is sweeping this land. Fascist propaganda celebrating the sexual degradation of women is innundating cities, college campuses, small towns. Pornography is the propaganda of sexual fascism. Pornography is the propaganda of sexual terrorism.
Rather than to describe pornography as immoral and obscene, you see, Dworkin characterized it as expressing male “sexual fascism.” This is an important distinction. A Christian must deplore pornography as sinful, yet Dworkin was a radical atheist who hated Christianity at least as much as she hated pornography. Rather than condeming pornography on moralgrounds, Dworkin made pornography Exhibit A in her political indictment of males. Introducing the text of that 1977 speech (“Pornography: The New Terrorism,” page 197 of Letters from a War Zone), Dworkin tells us that she subsequently “gave this speech on lots of college campuses.” She also describes the immediate effect this speech had the first time she gave it to University of Massachusetts students:
They mobilized on the spot to demonstrate against the pornography being shown on campus: a film advertised in the school newspaper . . . that had been brought on campus by a man who had just been arrested for beating the woman he lived with
Porno films being shown on the campus of a state university? That never happened when I was in college in Alabama back in the 1970s, but then again, Alabama is not Massachusetts. However, there was an interesting denouement to Dworkin’s speech at U-Mass. A few months later, undoubtedly incited by her radicalism, feminists on the staff of the student newspaper began quarreling with males on the staff over editorial policy and, in May 1978, feminist protesters seized control of the newspaper’s offices:
Fifty women took over the offices of the student newspaper of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst at 2 a.m. [May 1], demanding that women’s news receive more coverage in the paper.
The protesters, who were still in the building last night, said they will not leave until their demands are met in a “legally binding document.”
The students are demanding guaranteed space for women’s news, editorial control over women’s stories and the right of women’s staff members to pick women’s news editors.
William Sundstrom, the editor-in-chief, said the paper will probably not change its policies “because news should be integrated, not segregated.” . . .
Sit-in leaders said yesterday they decided to occupy the building when provious negotiations “accomplished nothing.”
“In the past, women’s news staff attempts to provide high quality coverage of women’s issues have been consistently sabotaged by staff members of other departments,” Julie Melrose, women’s editor and a sit-in leader, said yesterday.
She alleged that the staff arbitrarily cuts news stories about women, censors feminist editorials, omits articles submitted by women, runs sexist ads, and harasses female staff members.
Michael Smolens, sports editor and one of the paper’s negotiators, said yesterday the newspaper covers women’s issues fairly, adding the protesters are upset because the news “lacks a feminist bent.”
The only time he remembers that the staff censored a feminist editorial was when the editorial attacked staff members by name, Smolens said.
Whether the claims of censorship and harassment were true is perhaps irrelevant at this late date. The point is that feminists resented the authority of the male editors, either in terms of editorial content or staffing decisions, and insisted that women on the staff should be permitted to exercise control independent of the male editors.
This incident demonstrated the teleological purpose of feminism, to abolish male power, per se. As long as any man occupies any position in which he exercises any authority over any women, feminism’s work is not accomplished. Viewing the world through the distorted lenses of radicalism, the feminist sees herself as oppressed — a member of “an enslaved population . . . an occupied people,” as Dworkin said — and resents any man who possesses superior status, prestige or influence. Feminist ideology portrays males as parasitical usurpers, and thus denies that any man can ever deserve respect for his achievements, because his success is always the result of unfair “male privilege.” Nor can anyauthority exercised by a man ever be recognized as legitimate by feminists, because male power is inherently harmful to women.
What emerges from this resentful worldview is a feminist rhetoric that is deliberately insulting toward males. No man is trustworthy, no man deserves praise and no man possesses any ability that can entitle him to feminist admiration. This is why the “male feminist” is such a pathetic figure, imagining that he can earn respect from women by endorsing an ideology that denies any intrinsic basis for such respect. (Feminism’s first rule for men is “SHUT UP!”) Feminists reserve a particularly venomous hatred for liberal men like Noah Berlatsky, whose “Playboy Feminism”has made him a target of Canadian feminist Meghan Murphy’s ire.
Confronted by the characteric hatefulness of the feminist, a young man is likely to deduce that this angry woman — who seems to despise him merely because he is male — is a lesbian. Certainly this deduction is not unwarranted, when we consider, inter alia, that the leading introductory Women’s Studies textbook is edited by three lesbian professors, and that the communications director of the Feminist Majority Foundation described herself as a “raging lesbian feminist.” To quote the title of a 2010 textbook written by Professor Mimi Marinucci, Feminism Is Queer, and who am I to disagree? Despite all evidence, including Professor Bonnie Zimmerman’s declaration that “historically, lesbianism and feminism have been coterminous if not identical social phenomena,” any man who points this out is met with angry condemnation. You are a misogynist, a bigoted homophobe expressing ignorant stereotypes, if you mention the remarkable prevalence of lesbianism among feminists.
“To the extent that women harbor negative attitudes toward lesbians and lesbianism, we demonstrate identification with men. To the extent that women express negative attitudes toward lesbians in our words and deeds, we strengthen patriarchy.”
— Dee Graham, Loving to Survive: Sexual Terror, Men’s Violence, and Women’s Lives (1994)
Recall that Professor Graham’s theories about “sexual terror” were achief inspiration for the feminist blogger Radical Wind’s rant “PIV is always rape, OK?” The well-informed researcher thumbing through the notes, bibliography and index of Professor Graham’s 1994 book notices that she cites a veritable all-star lineup of Second-Wave lesbian feminists: Charlotte Bunch, Mary Daly, Adrienne Rich, Sarah Lucia Hoagland, Audre Lorde, Sonia Johnson, Pauline Bart, Marilyn Frye and, of course, Andrea Dworkin:
Dworkin, A., 87, 93, 116, 123, 162, 200, 206, 275, 276
That’s an index entry from p. 310 of Professor Graham’s book, which includes citations to Dworkin’s Woman Hating (1974), Right Wing Women (1983) and Intercourse (1987). This is certainly not a coincidence, any more than the 1978 feminist takeover of the U-Mass student newspaper was a coincidence. Andrea Dworkin knew exactly what she was doing when she incited feminist hatred against males,, and on page 27 of Letters from a War Zone,, Dworkin describes what happened after the U-Mass takeover, “The male editors especially aroused anger against the women by calling them lesbians.” Describing this as a “hate campaign these male editors waged,” Dworkin provided the text of a speech she gave at a rally in support of the U-Mass feminists in which she compared the student newspapers male editors to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels:
Enemies of women, those who are determined to deny us freedom and dignity, use the word lesbian to provoke a hatred of women who do not conform. . . . This hatred is sustained and expressed by virtually every insitituion. . . The threat is that this hatred will explode into violence. The threat is omnipresent because violence against women is culturally applauded. . . .
It is horrifying, but not surprising, that the males on the [student newspaper] . . . have used the word lesbian in the malicious way I have just discribed. With contempt and ridicule, they have been waging a furtive, ruthless propaganda campaign against the feminist occupiers. They are using the word lesbian to rouse the most virulent woman hating on this campus.. . . They are using the word lesbian to hide the true history of their own woman-hating malice in running that corrupt, pretentious, utterly hypocritical newspaper.
Were they? In the wake of the protests, U-Mass hired Janice Raymond (a lesbian protégé of Mary Daly) as a professor of Women’s Women’s studies, where she remained until her retirement in 2002. In the acknowledgements for her 1986 book A Passion for Friends: Toward a Philosophy of Female Affection, Professor Raymond thanks Andrea Dworkin (“a source of inspiration and strength”) and also thanks another woman whose name may you might recognize: “Julie Melrose dauntlessly read the proofs of this book aloud with me.” Professor Raymond’s personal proofreader, you see, was the same Julie Melrose who as a U-Mass undergraduate led the occupation of the student newspaper. However, don’t speculate why Ms. Melrose would be proofreading a lesbian professor’s lesbian book years later, or you’ll be called a Nazi who wants to “provoke a hatred of women who do not conform.”
So, whatever happened to the male editors of the U-Mass Collegian? In her 1978 speech, Dworkin said these young men “used words to foster ignorance and to encourage bigotry”:
It is shameful to continue to tolerate their flagrant contempt for women, for lesbians; for words, for news, for simple fairness and equity. It is honorable and right to take from them the power they have so abused. I hope that you will strip them of it altogether.
Down with men! Strip them of their power! This is the sum and essence of radical feminism — males can never be trusted with power, because males will always use power to oppress women.
Dworkin’s denunciation, however, failed to persuade university officials to act against the Collegian‘s male editors. William Sundstrom, the editor-in-chief, went on to get his Ph.D. in economics from Stanford and is now a professor at Santa Clara University in California. Meanwhile, theCollegian‘s sports editor — the paper’s negotiator during their standoff with the feminist protest mob — has gone onto an illustrious career in journalism. Michael Smolens has been government and politics editor at the San Diego Union-Tribune since 1992.
Feminists foster hatred against men, and it should not surprise us that men resent this hatred. Nor should we be surprised by the association between feminism and lesbianism, which feminists themselves have done so much to encourage. This is a real phenomenon, as I explain in the final chapter of Sex Trouble:
In 1980, Australian feminist Denise Thompson described how “countless numbers of lesbians” joined the feminist movement because it offered them “the possibility of a cultural community of women whose primary commitment was to other women rather than to men.” Furthermore, Thompson added, the rise of the feminist movement produced a “mass exodus of feminist women from the confining structures of heterosexuality” in such numbers as to raise questions about “the institution of heterosexuality in the consciousness of those feminists who, for whatever reason, chose not to change their sexual orientation.” And why shouldn’t this have been the expected result?
Women “changed their sexual/social orientation from men to women,” Thompson explained, “in response to the feminist political critique of their personal situations of social subordination.” If the personal is political (as feminists say) and if women’s relationships with men are “confining structures” of “social subordination,” why would any feminist be heterosexual?
You can buy Sex Trouble at Amazon and read the whole thing. It is not yet illegal to tell the truth about feminism, nor is it “hate” to say that a lesbian is a lesbian. It is feminists, and not their critics, who are promoting hate by inciting hostility between men and women.
Cathy Young described Andrea Dworkin as “a relentless preacher of hatred toward men.” Dworkin has been dead for more than 10 years, but the hatred she encouraged lives on, and the only weapon with which we can fight feminism is the truth.