THE RETURN OF THE PRODIGAL FEMINIST
It's now all the rage to be a recovering feminist. Just about every such 12-stepper who writes a mea culpa book exposing feminist follies is celebrated as a groundbreaker. The "revelations" and "insights" offered by this new crop of feminist turncoats may be a welcome change, but they are neither new nor original.
For example, the rapturous reception given to reformed feminist Linda G. Mills for her book, Insult to Injury: Rethinking Our Responses to Intimate Abuse, is completely overwrought. One intoxicated libertarian reviewer even heralded the thing for being "full of heresies." According to this review-lite, among the "heretical" conclusions expressed by Professor Mills is "that the conventional feminist paradigm of domestic violence as a form of patriarchal oppression is woefully inadequate."
"Woefully inadequate" in the Mills book implies that the predominant problem with that paradigm is that it doesn't work well in practice for all couples – that to be useful, the concept of society as a patriarchal system needs to be supplemented. Far from being heretical, this theme is not even praiseworthy – it is philosophically limp. Like Marxism, feminism doesn't work not because it's "woefully inadequate," and needs some tweaking, but because it's false, it's a lie – it's a deliberate attempt to rape reality, to impose a false consciousness on others.
As I wrote in 1999, "in reality it [feminism] is nothing but a theoretical understanding. Its take on wife assault is just one of many competing perspectives. The feminist orthodoxy, moreover, appeals to carefully selected studies that support its view and overlooks, discounts or ignores those studies challenging it."
In support, I cited Terri Petkau's truly radical analysis. This Canadian sociologist provided both an analytical evisceration of feminist constructs (such as "cycle of violence") as well as an empirical invalidation – evidence for which she culled from research with patrol constables. The officers rejected outright the feminist account of wife assault because they found it inconsistent with what they encountered on the beat.
In other words, the feminist theory collided with reality.
But struck by historical Alzheimer's, our reviewer (and many others who have been similarly afflicted) goes on to glorify Mills for uncovering "years of research, which mainstream feminism has glossed over or ignored," and which "shows that ... like men, women are frequently aggressive in intimate settings."
This is news?
This column has also highlighted the trailblazing work of Professor John Fekete in Moral Panic: Biopolitics Rising. The book, hailed by noted philosophy professor Agnes Heller as "a masterpiece of critical theory," exposed the collection of single-sex, violence-against-women surveys that formed the sham case leveled at all men by American and Canadian feminists. Problems of unrepresentative samples, reliance on anecdotes, and use of over-inclusive survey questions represented just the tip of this methodological heap of trash.
In the early 1990s, Fekete and philosopher Ferrel Christensen at the University of Alberta also uncovered and exposed dozens of well-controlled two-sex surveys conducted over the past 30 years in Canada and in the U.S., all of which revealed that women assault their partners as often as – or more often than – men do. Gender symmetry in "intimate abuse" is as well documented as it is well concealed by government and special-interest number crunchers.
These pioneers seem to have been forgotten by Sally-come-lately, retreaded feminists, and their reviewer cheerleaders.
And with her 1997 book, When She Was Bad, Patricia Pearson completed the picture. I previously described Pearson's impressive piecing of "chilling real-life examples and scholarly research to show that violence committed by women is every bit as vicious, albeit different, as violence perpetrated by men." Pearson's message: The fact that women are more likely to be injured in domestic altercations points to differences in physical strength between men and women, not in culpability.
Again, none of this should be big news.
Now the popular TV show, "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" has geared up to spread the feminist line about one of the grisliest crimes imaginable: so-called honor killings. You know the drill: bad man, good woman – Arab men refuse to let go of patriarchal privilege and power; Arab women are the besieged political class who desperately want to – but can't – protect their daughters from this fate. But does this represent what is really going on in Arab cultures?
Here's what a "Palestinian" woman, Amira Abu Hanhan Qaoud, did to her child, after the girl – who had been raped and impregnated by her brothers – refused to commit suicide.
Plastic bag, razor, and wooden stick in hand, the mother entered her sleeping daughter's room. "Tonight you die, Rofayda," the wicked witch announced, before wrapping the bag tightly around the girl's head. The murderess Qaoud then spent the next 20 minutes slicing away at Rofayda's wrists, ignoring pleas of "No, mother, no!" Just to be sure, this alleged mother struck her daughter on the head with the stick after the poor child passed out.
Yet members of Qaoud's community are nonplussed – they see the woman as driven by devotion to both community and family.
That is something my stepfather would confirm about this culture. He was a dedicated Israeli government doctor who worked in the "occupied" territories, specifically in the villages of Tira, Tulkarem and the Jenin neighborhood. One of the activities he undertook (but didn't have to) was to surgically stitch up the hymens of young girls so as to prevent their barbaric mothers and fathers from slaying them. He was always very sad when his secret patchwork failed to convince the family, and the girl was found the next day with the traditional axe in her spine. Sometimes a virgin was slaughtered if she didn't bleed "sufficiently" on her wedding night.
His experience was confirmed by anthropologist Ilsa Glaser's eye-opening (but also not new) work on female aggression in the Palestinian Authority. Glaser found that women's gossip and nagging played a causal role in the events leading up to these butcherings. By spreading rumors about the targeted woman, and by putting pressure on the men to act, women were instrumental in instigating the murders.
It may be too much to ask the nouveau anti-feminist punditocracy to also remember intellectuals like Christina Hoff Sommers and Camille Paglia, who brought down the feminist house of cards with unparalleled, savage sophistication.
If they can't recall the history of the ideas and those who went before them, perhaps the various reviewers and writers on menstrual affairs can at least be persuaded to burble less about the originality of the burgeoning breed of lapsed feminists.
©By ILANA MERCER
December 5, 2003