Note: This article is also available in Romanian.
What do we mean by the word “feminism”? This question has become increasingly crucial to the way that we talk about men, women and sex in the 21st century. 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.”
Women are oppressed and men are their oppressors, feminists declared, calling for the destruction of this systematic oppression: “Smash patriarchy!”
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.” They insist instead that 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. A feminist blogger explained this in July 2014:
Radical Feminism is, and has always been a political movement focused on liberating girls and women, those who are born into the sex caste female, from the unnatural, yet universal roles patriarchy has assigned.
Radical Feminism fights to disassemble the subliminal sex role behavior performances that cause female subordination. . . . This is socialized behavior instruction. It’s a teaching, a grooming from birth that is false, harmful to our freedom and must stop.
What this blogger described as “the unnatural, yet universal roles patriarchy has assigned” are the characteristics we call masculinity and femininity — the normal traits and behaviors of men and women. Feminists consider these roles “unnatural,” both the cause and effect of “female subordination,” and their movement can therefore never be satisfied with the simple fairness that most of us think of as “equality.” As long as these “universal roles” (masculine men and feminine women) continue to define human existence, feminism has not achieved its objective.
“PIV is always rape, OK?” Mocking laughter greeted this declaration from an anonymous radical feminist blogger who, in December 2013, explained that heterosexual intercourse — PIV being a feminist acronym for “penis-in-vagina” — is “inherently harmful,” a manifestation of male supremacy and the patriarchy’s violent oppression of women. The same blogger elsewhere declared, “No woman is heterosexual,” a statement that seems absurd, except to those who have studied the influential feminist scholars whose theories support such a claim.
Heterosexuality, these authors argue, is never a woman’s own free choice, nor is female heterosexuality the result of natural instinct or biological urges. Rather, according to radical theorists whose works are commonly taught in Women’s Studies courses at universities everywhere, women who are sexually attracted to men have been indoctrinated — brainwashed by “hetero-grooming” — to believe that male companionship is desirable or necessary to their happiness.
The blogger whose anti-PIV rantings inspired so much laughter (“Was she dropped on her head?”) was, in fact, able to cite as sources for her arguments such eminent feminist authors as Mary Daly, Dee Graham and Sheila Jeffreys. To say that these lesbian feminists are “controversial,” and that their radical views are not shared by the majority of American women who call themselves “feminists,” is by no means a refutation of their arguments.
Those who would attempt to separate “mainstream” feminism from the more radical aspects of its ideology cannot avoid the problem that the faculty and curricula of university Women’s Studies programs — where feminism wields the authority of an official philosophy — are disproportionately dominated by radical lesbians.
This hegemonic influence is not merely manifested in the fact that outspoken lesbian activists are employed as directors and professors in Women’s Studies programs everywhere, but also plainly evident in the textbooks and readings assigned in their classrooms. Even if a moderate heterosexual feminist were to become a Women’s Studies professor, she would find it nearly impossible to assign a textbook that was not crammed with radical anti-male/anti-heterosexual readings from lesbian feminists like Charlotte Bunch, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Janice Raymond, Judith Butler and others.
It is this radical ideology which drives the feminist “rape culture” discourse that claims (contrary to evidence) women on college campuses are systematically victimized by male sexual violence. University administrations, state legislatures and even the federal government have reacted to these feminist claims, despite data showing that incidents of rape have declined nationwide in the past two decades, and that female college students are actually less likely to be raped than women who don’t attend college. When I covered a “SlutWalk” protest in Washington, D.C. — half-naked women marching to show that the way a woman dresses doesn’t mean she is “asking for it” — I listened to their chants and realized that their message was really about silencing critics of feminism: “Shut up, because rape.”
Feminism is a totalitarian movement that seeks to eliminate opposition by branding critics “misogynists” and “rape apologists” or as Amanda Marcotte called them, “rape truthers.” Attempts to discuss the actual prevalence of rape on college campuses are shouted down by feminist activists, and even after feminist claims are proven false (as when a Rolling Stone story about a “gang rape” at the University of Virginia was exposed as fraudulent), this doesn’t end the militant rhetoric. Why? Because the “rape culture” discourse isn’t about rape, it’s about culture. It is specifically about promoting a campus culture that is hostile to men and hostile to heterosexuality. This anti-male propaganda is intended to inspire in female students an attitude of hatred and suspicion toward male students: Fear and Loathing of the Penis.
Encountering this hateful attitude in feminist blogs, I began researching these radical theories in depth. Studying dozens of books by feminist authors, I encountered many dangerous ideas and theories, some of them so crazy as to provoke laughter. Thus was inspired “McCain’s Law of Feminism.”
There are three kinds of feminism:
1. Feminism that is wrong;
2. Feminism that is crazy;
3. Feminism that is both wrong and crazy.
When in doubt, it’s usually Number Three.
Sarcasm aside, however, it’s no joking matter. Feminists take their ideas very seriously, and their influence in our society — especially among the intellectual elite — means that we cannot afford to laugh them off, no matter how wrong or how crazy their ideas may be. Nor does the wrongness or insanity of their ideas mean that the problems feminists complain about are non-existent. Even if there is no “epidemic” of rape on university campuses, men do rape women, men do harass women, men do cheat and lie and do other bad things that hurt and harm women.
The problem with feminism is that, after more than four decades, the movement has changed society in ways that actually make it more likely that women will suffer these harms. Feminists have successfully attacked basic institutions — especially marriage and the family — that should provide women protection from many of these harms. Feminists have also attacked cultural norms of morality, and undermined customs of courtesy and decency, fostering a climate where there are no commonly recognized rules to prevent or mediate conflicts between men and women. The destruction of civilized restraints has unleashed savage impulses, so that sexual relations at times approach the “war of all against all” of which Thomas Hobbes once warned.
“The personal is political,” Women’s Liberation leader Carol Hanisch declared in the 1960s, and this is exactly the problem with the feminist movement. These are desperately unhappy women whose grievances are so profoundly personal that attempts to solve them through politics can never succeed. Feminists are crazy, but their craziness is rooted in anger, and this anger expresses itself as the politics of revenge. For women who succumb to this ideology of insane rage, it does not matter to whether their theories are wrong or whether innocent human beings are harmed by the policies they advocate.
The feminist movement demands blood sacrifice — the lives of more than a million unborn children are destroyed annually in the name of “a woman’s right to choose” — to appease their need for sadistic vengeance against the society they blame for their personal unhappiness. A movement organized with the death of innocents as one of its basic demands is not a movement that will be honest or ethical in the pursuit of its other demands. Feminism’s lies are therefore never accidental or random. Rather, deliberate deception is necessary to the movement’s success. Feminists lie because if they told the truth, their movement would be recognized for what it is, and would collapse in discredited failure.
Having spent more than a year researching feminist theory, I have exposed what can only be described as a bottomless abyss of perverse insanity. Bizarre ideas that were once discussed only in obscure academic journals now make headlines on a daily basis. The Pentagon shoves women into Army Ranger training. Former Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner “comes out” as transsexual. Pop singer Miley Cyrus announces her bisexuality and launches a crusade against “gender norms and identity.” Public schools want to teach radical feminist gender theory to elementary school kids. Feminism’s war against human nature is leading our society into a chaotic bedlam of androgynous confusion. As we stare together into the feminist abyss, we can never forget that the abyss is also staring back at us.
Editorial note: This article is adapted from Sex Trouble: Essays on Radical Feminism and the War Against Human Nature.–Eds