Selling Patriarchy: The Denunciation Culture Of The New Feminism
The T-shirt summed up the philosophy of the woman wearing it at Costco: Strong Is The New Sexy.
Indeed, strong women seem to be in the ascendency. Look at the crop of women elected in the recent U.S. midterms. In many areas it’s never been a better time to be a woman looking to break a glass ceiling.
Then why does the woman’s movement seem so unhappy, so beset by oppression? Take this story about Eve Ensler’s 1994 play The Vagina Monologues. When first performed it was a bawdy celebration of feminist liberation as women discussed the unmentionable for laughs and commiseration.
Now? The Women’s Resource Center at Eastern Michigan University has decreed that the wildly popular play to be exclusionary and so it cannot be produced at the school. Claiming TVM excludes some women, including trans women, the censors at EMU feel "The Vagina Monologue" lacks diversity and inclusion. When did women stop being able to laugh at themselves?
This ban follows on the Kavanaugh SCOTUS confirmation hearings where the Left insisted that burden of proof was now secondary to a woman’s heartfelt but unsubstantiated memory from 36 years earlier. For a month the #MeToo proponents tested the public appetite for denunciation justice.
It proved a near-run thing for radical feminism when Kavanaugh was still approved and GOP polling soared heading into the midterms, allowing them to prevent a rout in the vote for Congress. Apparently junking fair play was still a bridge too far for the majority of Americans.
But for radicals and their cultural allies who play the long game, this is a brief setback. While these examples of overreach may seem absurd and beyond the public mood today, remember that gay marriage was rejected by Barack Obama and the Clintons till, after a sustained media and culture bashing, it became acceptable to the liberal middle class in the 2000s.
This long game is why the radical Left is demonizing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos who’s trying to reverse decades of summary justice at U.S. educational institutions. Background: Title IX was introduced on campuses in 1972 law to forbid gender discrimination in federally-funded educational activities. In its early days Title IX resulted in, among many things, balancing of budgets for women’s sports with men’s sports.
Gradually it morphed into a tool to attack sexual abuse on campuses. This corresponded with a dramatic expansion of what constituted sexual assault, a move that made incidents soar to alarming numbers greater than any other part of society. In the Obama administration every college that received federal funding was ordered to take action on sexual violence— or risk having that money pulled. The threat produced a deluge of complaints.
While many of these sexual-assault cases were genuine, some did not sustain the burden of proof. No matter, women were taken at their word. Making it worse for accused men, the panels (typically academics with no legal training) decided fates relying heavily on the “all women must be believed” standard of evidence pushed by Kavanaugh’s accusers. Many men were not allowed to see the evidence or even have a lawyer present before they were expelled.
Since the election of Donald Trump, DeVos is moving to apply legal standards guaranteed in the courts. Needless to say, she’s encountering a nasty, coordinated media campaign to discredit her.
For many feminists and their followers, this move to the hard-left by the movement is distressing. Feminist icon Betty Friedan wrote that the Second Stage of the movement “was about the need for the liberation of men to complete the liberation of women.” Instead, notes author, child advocate and therapist Warren Farrell, the movement abandoned the rights and interests of children and fathers. “Mothers’ rights trumped equal rights. Politics trumped equality.”
And so a joyful movement that freed women to enjoy sex and find satisfaction in the workplace turned into the current denunciation-culture that shrieks “patriarchy”,“misogyny” and “sexual abuse” at every passing cloud. All morality has become politics.
Or as feminist author and critic Camille Paglia told The Quilette: "The #MeToo movement has gone seriously off track in encouraging uncorroborated accusations dating from ten, twenty, or thirty years ago. No democracy can survive in such a paranoid climate of ambush and summary execution. This is Stalinism, a nadir of politics.” (Needless to say Paglia is reviled by the feminist hardcore.)
The politicization of everything— so fashionable under Obama== is a poor substitute for spiritual relevance, says Paglia. “Those who invest all of their spiritual energies in politics will reap the whirlwind. The evidence is all around us—the paroxysms of inchoate, infantile rage suffered by those who have turned fallible politicians into saviours and devils, godlike avatars of Good versus Evil.”
Paglia believes a reckoning will not be a political one. “Despite their general affluence, professional women of the Western world have been chronically unhappy for decades, and I conjecture that it is partly because they have been led to expect happiness from a mechanical work environment that doesn’t make men happy either.”
The reckoning for this overreach will not be achieved by men. It is a fight that women will have for the soul of their movement. If Strong Is The New Sexy will it be used to advance the power of the extremist agenda? Or will it make peace with men again in the interests of harmony?
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). He’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also the best-selling author whose new book Cap In Hand: How Salary Caps AreKilling Pro Sports And Why The Free Market Could Save Them is now available.