FEMINISM   HOW        WOMEN HAVE         BETRAYED          WOMENCHRISTINA HOFF SUMMERS
U.S. $23.00                          C a n . $29.50Philosophy professor ChristinaSommers has exposed a disturbingdevelopme...
CHRISTINA HOFF SOMMERS    is an associ­ate professor of philosophy at ClarkUniversity who specializes in contem­porary mor...
FromWHO STOLE FEMINISM?American feminism is currently dominated by a group ofwomen who seek to persuade the public that Am...
WhoStoleFeminism?            How            Women            Have            Betrayed            WomenChristina Hoff Somme...
SIMON & SCHUSTER           Rockefeller Center           1230 Avenue of the Americas           New York, New York 10020Copy...
Acknowledgments     Of the m a n y friends w h o h e l p e d m e I single o u t those w h o read a n dcriticized the m a n...
8                               ACKNOWLEDGMENTS     Louise Hoff, m y sister, traveled with m e to m a n y feminist confere...
Contents        Preface   11     1. Women Under Siege 19     2. Indignation, Resentment, and Collective Guilt   41     3. ...
Preface   In Revolution from Within, Gloria Steinem informs h e r readers that "in                                        ...
12                                       PREFACE to d e m o n s t r a t e that these disorders are an inevitable consequen...
PREFACE                                          13ies Electronic Bulletin Board: "According to [the] last March of Dimesr...
14                                              PREFACEn o r s  offices, state health d e p a r t m e n t s , a n d W a s ...
PREFACE                                             15m o r e than all these things combined? W h e r e were the fact-chec...
16                                       PREFACE     American feminism is currently d o m i n a t e d by a g r o u p of w ...
PREFACE                                               17find to attack all w o m e n . It will h a r m the w o m e n w h o...
18                                       PREFACEshall take a look at the feminist institutions that n o w control large ar...
Chapter 1        Women Under Siege                                          c4          The New Feminism emphasizes       ...
20                         W H O     STOLE        FEMINISM?     T h o u g h she h a d long held a prestigious chair in Col...
WOMEN         UNDER        SIEGE                             21gling." Brenda Silver of D a r t m o u t h h a d been "stru...
22                           W H O     STOLE         FEMINISM?s u c h enclaves they can t h i n k of h o w to change or pr...
WOMEN         UNDER          SIEGE                                23enced the founders of Americas political order a n d t...
24                        W H O     STOLE       FEMINISM?have s h o w n that the old ideals of freedom, equality a n d dem...
WOMEN          UNDER         SIEGE                                 25o w n feelings of e m b a t t l e m e n t a n d "sieg...
26                             W H O        STOLE   FEMINISM?ist male h a d j u s t s h o t a n d killed fourteen w o m e ...
WOMEN         UNDER         SIEGE                               27   nal context. In the m a n  s speaking I beheld myself...
28                          W H O     STOLE         FEMINISM?of the D u t c h naturalist A n t o n i n Van Leeuwenhoek w h...
WOMEN          UNDER          SIEGE                                29at c o m m e n c e m e n t b u t o n Class Day, "a se...
30                         W H O    STOLE        FEMINISM?w o m e n , African-American w o m e n , old w o m e n , disable...
WOMEN           UNDER          SIEGE                               31lovers were immediately targeted. . . . It t u r n e ...
32                           W H O      STOLE         FEMINISM?To c o n c l u d e the e m p o w e r m e n t panel session,...
WOMEN           UNDER         SIEGE                                33fices of multicultural affairs, a n d in various coun...
34                           W H O      STOLE          FEMINISM?tual. These criticisms w o u l d always be m a d e of femi...
WOMEN          UNDER         SIEGE                              35   n a n t of marriage, she is compelled to p r o m i s ...
36                         W H O    STOLE        FEMINISM? held at Mills College in O a k l a n d , California, shows h o ...
WOMEN           UNDER         SIEGE                                37m e n t h a d been successful until several s t u d e...
38                           W H O      STOLE         FEMINISM?     T h e n Raphael s p o k e u p , although h e looked at...
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Philosophy professor Christina Sommers has exposed a disturbing development: how a group of zealots, claiming to speak for all women, are promoting a dangerous new agenda that threatens our most cherished ideals and sets women against men in all spheres of life. In case after case, Sommers shows how these extremists have propped up their arguments with highly questionable but well-funded research, presenting inflammatory and often inaccurate information and stifling any semblance of free and open scrutiny. Trumpeted as orthodoxy, the resulting "findings" on everything from rape to domestic abuse to economic bias to the supposed crisis in girls' self-esteem perpetuate a view of women as victims of the "patriarchy". Moreover, these arguments and the supposed facts on which they are based have had enormous influence beyond the academy, where they have shaken the foundations of our educational, scientific, and legal institutions and have fostered resentment and alienation in our private lives. Despite its current dominance, Sommers maintains, such a breed of feminism is at odds with the real aspirations and values of most American women and undermines the cause of true equality. Who Stole Feminism? is a call to arms that will enrage or inspire, but cannot be ignored.
Presents well-reasoned arguments against many feminists' reliance on misleading, politically-motivated "facts" about how women are victimized. The book has become the centre of debate about who really speaks for equality and for most American women.

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Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women

  1. 1. FEMINISM HOW WOMEN HAVE BETRAYED WOMENCHRISTINA HOFF SUMMERS
  2. 2. U.S. $23.00 C a n . $29.50Philosophy professor ChristinaSommers has exposed a disturbingdevelopment: how a group of zealots,claiming to speak for all women, arepromoting a dangerous new agendathat threatens our most cherished ide­als and sets women against men inall spheres of life. In case after case,Sommers shows how these extrem­ists have propped up their argumentswith highly questionable but well-fund­ed research, presenting inflamma­tory and often inaccurateinformation and stifling any sem­blance of free and open scrutiny.Trumpeted as orthodoxy, the resulting"findings" on everything from rape todomestic abuse to economic bias tothe supposed crisis in girls self-esteem perpetuate a view of womenas victims of the "patriarchy." Moreover, these arguments andthe supposed facts on which they arebased have had enormous influencebeyond the academy, where they haveshaken the foundations of our educa­tional, scientific, and legal institutionsand have fostered resentment andalienation in our private lives. Despiteits current dominance, Sommersmaintains, such a breed of feminismis at odds with the real aspirationsand values of most American womenand undermines the cause of trueequality. Who Stole Feminism? is a call toarms that will enrage or inspire, butcannot be ignored.
  3. 3. CHRISTINA HOFF SOMMERS is an associ­ate professor of philosophy at ClarkUniversity who specializes in contem­porary moral theory. The editor of twoethics textbooks, she has publishednumerous professional papers. Shehas also written articles for The NewRepublic, The Wall Street Journal, theChicago Tribune, and The NewEngland Journal of Medicine, amongother publications. She lives in theBoston area.Jacket design by Jackie SeowAuthor photograph by Joyce RavidPrinted in the U.S.A. Copyright © 1994 Simon & Schuster
  4. 4. FromWHO STOLE FEMINISM?American feminism is currently dominated by a group ofwomen who seek to persuade the public that Americanwomen are not the free creatures we think we are. Theleaders and theorists of the womens movement believethat our society is best described as a patriarchy, a "malehegemony," a "sex/gender system" in which the dominantgender works to keep women cowering and submissive. Thefeminists who hold this divisive view of our social and politi­cal reality believe that we are in a gender war, and they areeager to disseminate stories of atrocity that are designedto alert women to their plight. The "gender feminists" (as Ishall be calling them) believe that all our institutions, fromthe state to the family to the grade schools, perpetuatemale dominance. Believing that women are virtually undersiege, gender feminists naturally seek recruits to wagetheir side of the gender war. They seek support. They seekvindication. They seek ammunition. I have been moved to write this book because I am afeminist who does not like what feminism has become. Thenew gender feminism is badly in need of scrutiny. Onlyforthright appraisals can diminish its inordinate and divisiveinfluence. If others will join in a frank and honest critique,before long a more representative and less doctrinaire femi­nism will again pick up the reins. But that is not likely tohappen without a fight.
  5. 5. WhoStoleFeminism? How Women Have Betrayed WomenChristina Hoff Sommer s Simon & Schuster New York London Toronto Sydney Tokyo Singapore
  6. 6. SIMON & SCHUSTER Rockefeller Center 1230 Avenue of the Americas New York, New York 10020Copyright © 1994 by Christina SommersAll rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in anyform whatsoever.SIMON & SCHUSTER and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster Inc.Designed by Levavi & LevaviManufactured in the United States of America10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication DataSommers, Christina Hoff. Who stole feminism? : how women have betrayed women / Christina Hoff Sommers. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. 1. Feminism—Philosophy. 2. Feminism—United States—History. I. Title.HQ1154.S613 1994305.420973—dc20 94-4734 CIPISBN: 0671-79424-8The charts that appear on pages 246 and 247 are reprinted by permission of The Com­monwealth Fund, a New York-based national philanthropic organization.
  7. 7. Acknowledgments Of the m a n y friends w h o h e l p e d m e I single o u t those w h o read a n dcriticized the m a n u s c r i p t at various stages: Martin Boer, Robert Costrell,Barbara Ellis, J o h n Ellis, Ronni G o r d o n , D o n Klein, Erika Kors, EvelynRich, Gail Savitz, David Stillman, Abigail T h e r n s t r o m , a n d S t e p h a nThernstrom. I a m grateful to D a w n Baker, an u n d e r g r a d u a t e at Boston University,Peter Welsh, a political science graduate s t u d e n t at Boston College, a n dAlex Stillman, an u n d e r g r a d u a t e at J o h n s H o p k i n s . They checked factsand looked for p r i m a r y sources, w h i c h were m o r e often than n o t difficultto trace. Special t h a n k s also to Hilary Olsen for her m a n y h o u r s of proof­reading, editing, a n d retyping. I a m obliged to Lynn C h u a n d Glen Hartley for having urged m e toundertake this book. My editor, Rebecca Saletan, has been s u p e r bt h r o u g h o u t the two years I took in writing it. Denise Roy a n d JaySchweitzer ably s h e p h e r d e d the b o o k t h r o u g h the editorial a n d p r o d u c ­tion processes.
  8. 8. 8 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Louise Hoff, m y sister, traveled with m e to m a n y feminist conferences,into t h e very d e n s of t h e lionesses, providing m u c h n e e d e d moral s u p ­port. O u r m o t h e r , Dolores Hoff, has s h o w n us b o t h that being a feministhas n o t h i n g to d o w i t h resenting m e n . It is easy e n o u g h to get grants for feminist research aimed at showingh o w w o m e n are being s h o r t c h a n g e d a n d "silenced" by the male establish­m e n t . It is n o t so easy to receive grants for a study that criticizes thefeminist establishment for its errors a n d excesses. The Lynde a n d HarryBradley F o u n d a t i o n , the Carthage F o u n d a t i o n , a n d the J o h n M. OlinF o u n d a t i o n believed that w h a t I h a d to say was important, a n d I thankt h e m for their gracious a n d g e n e r o u s s u p p o r t for this project. I could n o thave written this b o o k w i t h o u t their aid a n d cooperation, n o r withoutthe s u p p o r t of Clark University, w h i c h allowed m e a two-year leave a n da w a r d e d m e a Mellon Faculty Development Grant a n d a Higgins ResearchGrant. N u m e r o u s o t h e r s — t o o n u m e r o u s to identify h e r e — s u p p o r t e d m emorally a n d intellectually. They k n o w well w h o they are a n d k n o w aswell h o w thankful I a m . I apologize for n o t acknowledging t h e m by n a m e . A great deal of w h a t is valuable a n d right about Who Stole Feminism? isd u e to the w i s d o m , e n c o u r a g e m e n t , a n d unfailing assistance of m y h u s ­b a n d , Fred S o m m e r s . My views o n feminism are controversial, a n d w h e nthose w h o d o n o t take well to criticism react by maligning m e rather thanm y a r g u m e n t , Fred helps m e stay calm a n d clear. I a m grateful to m y stepson, Tamler Sommers, w h o s e twenty-three-year-old perspective saved m e m o r e than once from w h a t he assured m ewere m i s g u i d e d efforts at h u m o r . This b o o k is dedicated to Fred, to Tamler, a n d to m y nine-year-oldson, David S o m m e r s , w h o is, I suspect, delighted to see the last of itswriting.
  9. 9. Contents Preface 11 1. Women Under Siege 19 2. Indignation, Resentment, and Collective Guilt 41 3. Transforming the Academy 50 4. New Epistemologies 74 5. The Feminist Classroom 87 6. A Bureaucracy of Ones Own 118 7. The Self-Esteem Study 137 8. The Wellesley Report: A Gender at Risk 157 9. Noble Lies 188 10. Rape Research 209 11. The Backlash Myth 22712. The Gender Wardens 255Notes 276 Index 307
  10. 10. Preface In Revolution from Within, Gloria Steinem informs h e r readers that "in 1this country alone . . . a b o u t 150,000 females die of anorexia each y e a r . "That is m o r e t h a n three times the a n n u a l n u m b e r of fatalities from caraccidents for the total population. Steinem refers readers to a n o t h e r fem­inist best-seller, N a o m i W o l f s The Beauty Myth. A n d in Ms. W o l f s b o o kone again finds the statistic, along w i t h the authors outrage. " H o w , " sheasks, "would America react to the mass self-immolation b y h u n g e r of its 2favorite s o n s ? " Although " n o t h i n g justifies comparison w i t h the H o l o ­caust," she cannot refrain from m a k i n g o n e anyway. " W h e n confrontedwith a vast n u m b e r of emaciated bodies starved n o t by n a t u r e b u t by 3m e n , one m u s t notice a certain r e s e m b l a n c e . " W h e r e did Ms. Wolf get her figures? H e r source is Fasting Girls: TheEmergence of Anorexia Nervosa as a Modern Disease* by J o a n Brumberg, ahistorian a n d former director of w o m e n s studies at Cornell University.Brumberg, too, is fully aware of the political significance of the startlingstatistic. She points o u t that the w o m e n w h o s t u d y eating p r o b l e m s "seek
  11. 11. 12 PREFACE to d e m o n s t r a t e that these disorders are an inevitable consequence of a misogynistic society that d e m e a n s w o m e n . . . by objectifying their 5 b o d i e s . " Professor Brumberg, in t u r n , attributes the figure to the Ameri­ can Anorexia a n d Bulimia Association. I called the American Anorexia a n d Bulimia Association a n d s p o k e to Dr. Diane Mickley, its president. " W e were misquoted," she said. In a 1 9 8 5 newsletter the association h a d referred to 150,000 to 2 0 0 , 0 0 0 suf­ferers (not fatalities) of anorexia nervosa. W h a t is the correct m o r b i d i t y rate? Most experts are reluctant to give exact figures. O n e clinician told m e that of 1,400 patients she h a d treated in ten years, four h a d d i e d — a l l t h r o u g h suicide. The National Center for Health Statistics r e p o r t e d 101 deaths from anorexia nervosa in 1983 a n d 6 6 7 d e a t h s in 1 9 8 8 . T h o m a s D u n n of the Division of Vital Statistics at the National C e n t e r for Health Statistics reports that in 1991 there were 5 4 d e a t h s from anorexia nervosa a n d n o deaths from bulimia. The deaths of these y o u n g w o m e n are a tragedy, certainly, b u t in a country of o n e h u n d r e d million a d u l t females, s u c h n u m b e r s are hardly evidence of a "holocaust." Yet n o w the false figure, s u p p o r t i n g the view that o u r "sexist society" d e m e a n s w o m e n by objectifying their bodies, is widely accepted as true.A n n Landers repeated it in h e r syndicated c o l u m n in April 1992: "Every year, 1 5 0 , 0 0 0 A m e r i c a n w o m e n die from complications associated with 7 anorexia a n d b u l i m i a . " I sent N a o m i Wolf a letter p o i n t i n g out that Dr. Mickley h a d said she was mistaken. Wolf sent m e w o r d o n February 3, 1 9 9 3 , that she intends 8 to revise h e r figures o n anorexia in a later edition of The Beauty Myth.Will s h e actually state that the correct figure is less than o n e h u n d r e d per year? A n d will s h e correct the implications she d r e w from the false report? For e x a m p l e , will s h e revise her thesis that masses of y o u n g w o m e n are being "starved n o t by n a t u r e b u t by m e n " a n d her declaration that " w o m e n m u s t claim anorexia as political damage d o n e to us by a social o r d e r that considers o u r destruction i n s i g n i f i c a n t . . . as Jews identify the 9 death c a m p s " ? Will Ms. Steinem advise h e r readers of the egregious statistical error? Will Ms. Landers? Will it even matter? By n o w , the 150,000 figure has m a d e it into college textbooks. A recent w o m e n s studies text, aptly titled 10 The Knowledge Explosion, contains the erroneous figure in its preface. T h e anorexia "crisis" is only o n e s a m p l e of the kind of provocative b u t inaccurate information b e i n g p u r v e y e d b y w o m e n about "womens issues" these days. O n N o v e m b e r 4 , 1 9 9 2 , Deborah Louis, president of the Na­ tional W o m e n s Studies Association, sent a message to the W o m e n s Stud-
  12. 12. PREFACE 13ies Electronic Bulletin Board: "According to [the] last March of Dimesreport, domestic violence (vs. p r e g n a n t w o m e n ) is n o w responsible form o r e birth defects t h a n all other causes c o m b i n e d . Personally [this] 11strikes m e as the m o s t disgusting piece of data Ive seen in a long w h i l e . "This was, indeed, unsettling news. But it s e e m e d implausible. I asked m yneighbor, a pediatric neurologist at Bostons Childrens Hospital, a b o u tthe report. He told m e that although severe battery m a y occasionally causemiscarriage, h e h a d never heard of battery as a significant cause of birthdefects. Yet on February 2 3 , 1 9 9 3 , Patricia Ireland, president of the Na­tional Organization of W o m e n , m a d e a similar claim d u r i n g a PBS inter­view with Charlie Rose: "Battery of p r e g n a n t w o m e n is the n u m b e r o n ecause of birth defects in this country." I called the March of Dimes to get a copy of the report. Maureen Corry,director of the Marchs Education a n d Health Promotion Program, d e n i e dany knowledge of it. " W e have never seen this research before," shesaid. I did a search a n d found t h a t — s t u d y or n o study—journalists a r o u n dthe country were citing it. Domestic violence is the leading cause of birth defects, m o r e than all other medical causes c o m b i n e d , according to a March of Dimes study. (Boston Globe, September 2, 1991) Especially grotesque is the brutality reserved for p r e g n a n t w o m e n : the March of Dimes has c o n c l u d e d that the battering of w o m e n d u r i n g pregnancy causes m o r e birth defects than all the diseases p u t together for w h i c h children are usually i m m u n i z e d . (Time magazine, J a n u a r y 18, 1993) The March of Dimes has c o n c l u d e d that the battering of w o m e n d u r i n g pregnancy causes m o r e birth defects than all the diseases p u t together for w h i c h children are usually i m m u n i z e d . (Dallas Morning News, February 7, 1993) The March of Dimes says battering d u r i n g pregnancy causes m o r e birth defects t h a n all diseases for w h i c h children are i m m u n i z e d . (Arizona Republic, March 2 1 , 1993) The March of Dimes estimates that domestic violence is the largest single cause of birth defects. (Chicago Tribune, April 18, 1993)I called the March of Dimes again. Andrea Ziltzer of their media relationsd e p a r t m e n t told m e that the r u m o r was s p i n n i n g out of control. Gover-
  13. 13. 14 PREFACEn o r s offices, state health d e p a r t m e n t s , a n d W a s h i n g t o n politicians hadflooded the office w i t h p h o n e calls. Even the office of Senator EdwardK e n n e d y h a d r e q u e s t e d a copy of the "report." The March of Dimes h a dasked Time for a retraction. For s o m e reason, Time was stalling. W h e n I finally reached J e a n n e McDowell, w h o h a d written the Timearticle, the first thing she said was "That was an error." She s o u n d e dgenuinely sorry a n d embarrassed. She explained that she is always carefula b o u t checking sources, b u t this time, for s o m e reason, she h a d not. Timewas s u p p o s e d to have p r i n t e d a retraction in the letters column, b u tbecause of a m i x u p , it h a d failed to d o so. Time has since called the Marchof Dimes m e d i a relations d e p a r t m e n t to apologize. An official retractionfinally a p p e a r e d in the magazine on December 6, 1 9 9 3 , u n d e r the head­ 12ing "Inaccurate I n f o r m a t i o n . " I asked Ms. McDowell a b o u t h e r source. She h a d relied on informationgiven h e r b y the San Francisco Family Violence Prevention F u n d , w h i c hin t u r n h a d o b t a i n e d it from Sarah Buel, a founder of the domesticviolence advocacy project at Harvard Law School w h o n o w heads a d o ­ 13mestic a b u s e project in M a s s a c h u s e t t s . Ms. Buel h a d obtained it fromCaroline W h i t e h e a d , a maternal n u r s e a n d child care specialist in Raleigh,N o r t h Carolina. I called Ms. W h i t e h e a d . "It b l o w s m y m i n d . It is not true," she said. The whole m i x u p began,she explained, w h e n she i n t r o d u c e d Sarah Buel as a speaker at a 1989conference for n u r s e s a n d social w o r k e r s . In presenting her, Ms. W h i t e ­h e a d m e n t i o n e d that a c c o r d i n g to s o m e March of Dimes research she hadseen, m o r e w o m e n are screened for birth defects than are ever screenedfor d o m e s t i c battery. "In other w o r d s , w h a t I said was, W e screen forbattery far less t h a n w e screen for birth defects. " Ms. W h i t e h e a d h a dsaid n o t h i n g at all a b o u t battery causing birth defects. "Sarah misunder­stood m e , " s h e said. Buel w e n t on to p u t the erroneous information intoan u n p u b l i s h e d m a n u s c r i p t , w h i c h was t h e n circulated a m o n g familyviolence professionals. They saw n o reason to d o u b t its authority a n d 14repeated the claim to o t h e r s . I called Sarah Buel a n d told h e r that it seemed she had misheard Ms.W h i t e h e a d . She w a s surprised. " O h , I m u s t have misunderstood her. Illhave to give h e r a call. She is m y source." She thanked m e for havinginformed her of the error, p o i n t i n g o u t that she h a d been about to repeatit yet again in a n e w article she was writing. W h y w a s everybody so credulous? Battery responsible for m o r e birthdefects t h a n all o t h e r causes c o m b i n e d ? More than genetic disorders suchas spina bifida, D o w n s y n d r o m e , Tay-Sachs, sickle-cell anemia? Moret h a n congenital h e a r t disorders? More than alcohol, crack, or A I D S —
  14. 14. PREFACE 15m o r e than all these things combined? W h e r e were the fact-checkers, theeditors, the skeptical journalists? Unfortunately, the anorexia statistic a n d the March of Dimes "study"are typical of the quality of information w e are getting o n m a n y w o m e n sissues from feminist researchers, w o m e n s advocates, a n d journalists.More often than not, a closer look at the s u p p o r t i n g e v i d e n c e — t h e s t u d ­ies a n d statistics on eating disorders, domestic battery, rape, sexual ha­rassment, bias against girls in school, wage differentials, or the demise ofthe nuclear family—will raise grave questions a b o u t credibility, n o t tospeak of objectivity. W h e n they engage in exaggeration, oversimplification, a n d obfusca-tion, the feminist researchers m a y be n o different from s u c h other a d v o ­cacy groups as the National Rifle Association or the tobacco industry. Butw h e n the NRA does a "study that s h o w s . . . ," or the tobacco i n d u s t r yfinds "data that s u g g e s t . . . ," journalists are o n their guard. T h e y checksources a n d seek dissenting opinions. In January 1993 n e w s p a p e r s a n d television n e t w o r k s r e p o r t e d analarming finding: incidence of domestic battery t e n d e d to rise by 4 0percent on Super Bowl Sunday. NBC, w h i c h was broadcasting the g a m ethat year, m a d e special pleas to m e n to stay calm. Feminists called foremergency preparations in anticipation of the expected increase in vio­lence on J a n u a r y 3 1 . They also used the occasion to drive h o m e themessage that maleness a n d violence against w o m e n are s y n o n y m o u s .Nancy Isaac, a Harvard School of Public Health research associate w h ospecializes in domestic violence, told the Boston Globe: "Its a day for m e nto revel in their maleness a n d unfortunately, for a lot of m e n that includes 1 5being violent toward w o m e n if they w a n t to b e . " Journalists across the country accepted the 4 0 p e r c e n t figure at facevalue a n d duly reported the bleak tidings. T h e sole exception was KenRingle, a reporter at the Washington Post, w h o decided to check o n thesources. As we shall see later in this b o o k , h e quickly found that the story 16had n o basis in fact. It turns out that Super Bowl S u n d a y is in n o waydifferent from other days in the a m o u n t of domestic violence. T h o u g hRingle exposed the r u m o r , it h a d d o n e its work: millions of Americanw o m e n w h o heard a b o u t it are completely u n a w a r e that it is n o t true.W h a t they d o " k n o w " is that American males, especially the sports fansa m o n g them, are a dangerous a n d violent species. To the question " W h y is everyone so credulous?" w e m u s t a d d another:" W h y are certain feminists so eager to p u t m e n in a b a d light?" I shall tryto answer b o t h these questions a n d to s h o w h o w the implications affectus all.
  15. 15. 16 PREFACE American feminism is currently d o m i n a t e d by a g r o u p of w o m e n w h oseek to p e r s u a d e the p u b l i c that American w o m e n are not the free creaturesw e t h i n k w e are. T h e leaders a n d theorists of the w o m e n s m o v e m e n t be­lieve that o u r society is best described as a patriarchy, a "male hegemony,"a "sex/gender system" in w h i c h the d o m i n a n t gender w o r k s to keepw o m e n cowering a n d submissive. T h e feminists w h o hold this divisiveview of o u r social a n d political reality believe w e are in a gender war, a n dthey are eager to disseminate stories of atrocity that are designed to alertw o m e n to their plight. T h e "gender feminists" (as I shall call them) believethat all o u r institutions, from the state to the family to the grade schools,p e r p e t u a t e male d o m i n a n c e . Believing that w o m e n are virtually u n d e rsiege, g e n d e r feminists naturally seek recruits to their side of the genderwar. T h e y seek s u p p o r t . T h e y seek vindication. They seek a m m u n i t i o n . N o t everyone, i n c l u d i n g m a n y w o m e n w h o consider themselves femi­nists, is convinced that c o n t e m p o r a r y American w o m e n live in an oppres­sive "male h e g e m o n y . " To c o n f o u n d the skeptics a n d persuade theu n d e c i d e d , the g e n d e r feminists are constantly on the lookout for proof,for the s m o k i n g g u n , the telling fact that will drive h o m e to the publich o w p r o f o u n d l y the system is rigged against w o m e n . To rally w o m e n totheir cause, it is n o t e n o u g h to r e m i n d u s that m a n y brutal a n d selfishm e n h a r m w o m e n . T h e y m u s t p e r s u a d e u s that the system itself sanctionsmale brutality. T h e y m u s t convince us that the oppression of w o m e n ,sustained from generation to generation, is a structural feature of oursociety. Well-funded, prestigious organizations as well as individuals are en­gaged in this enterprise. In 1 9 9 2 , for example, the American Associationof University W o m e n a n d the Wellesley College Center for Research onW o m e n a n n o u n c e d findings that o u r schools systematically favor boysa n d are c o n t r i b u t i n g to a d r a m a t i c d r o p in girls self-esteem. In anotherstudy, the C o m m o n w e a l t h F u n d , relying o n polls taken by Louis Harrisa n d Associates, s p r e a d the n e w s that 3 7 percent of American w o m e n arepsychologically a b u s e d by their h u s b a n d s or partners every year and that" 4 0 p e r c e n t of w o m e n . . . experience severe depression in a given 17w e e k . " As w e shall see, these alarming reports have little more basis infact t h a n did the S u p e r Bowl hoax. I recently told a friend that I was coming across a lot of mistakes a n dmisleading data in feminist studies. "Its a mess," I said. "Are you sureyou w a n t to write a b o u t it?" s h e asked. "The far right will use what you
  16. 16. PREFACE 17find to attack all w o m e n . It will h a r m the w o m e n w h o are w o r k i n g insuch p r o b l e m areas as battery a n d wage discrimination. W h y d o anythingto endanger o u r fragile gains?" My friends questions were sobering, a n dI w a n t to u n d e r s c o r e at the outset that I d o not m e a n to confuse thew o m e n w h o w o r k in the trenches to help the victims of true a b u s e a n ddiscrimination w i t h the g e n d e r feminists w h o s e falsehoods a n d exagger­ations are m u d d y i n g the waters of American feminism. These feministideologues are helping n o one; on the contrary, their divisive a n d resent­ful p h i l o s o p h y a d d s to the woes of o u r society a n d h u r t s legitimate fem­inism. N o t only are w o m e n w h o suffer real a b u s e n o t helped by u n t r u t h s ,they are in fact h a r m e d by inaccuracies a n d exaggerations. For example, as Ms. W h i t e h e a d noted, m o r e w o m e n are screened forbirth defects than for battery. She was touching on a terribly i m p o r t a n tproblem. Battery is still n o t taken seriously e n o u g h as a medical p r o b l e m .Most hospitals have p r o c e d u r e s to avoid discharging patients at high riskof suffering a relapse of the condition for w h i c h they are being treated.Yet few hospitals have p r o c e d u r e s that w o u l d p u t w o m e n likely to sufferfurther abuse in t o u c h with the professional services that could h e l p t h e mavoid it, a real a n d shocking p r o b l e m . That battery is the chief cause ofbirth defects is p e r h a p s m o r e shocking, b u t it is u n t r u e . T h e March ofDimes has developed an excellent hospital "Protocol of Care for the Bat­tered W o m a n . " W o u l d n t it have been m o r e effective to publicize thep r o b l e m that Ms. W h i t e h e a d h a d actually talked a b o u t a n d p r o m o t e d theMarch of Dimes solution? True, the alleged findings h a d great value asgender feminist p r o p a g a n d a . But, being incorrect, they could lead tonothing constructive in the way of alleviating the actual suffering ofwomen. American w o m e n owe an incalculable d e b t to the classically liberalfeminists w h o came before u s a n d fought long a n d h a r d , a n d ultimatelywith spectacular success, to gain for w o m e n the rights that the m e n ofthis country h a d taken for granted for over two h u n d r e d years. Exposingthe hypocrisy of the g e n d e r feminists will n o t jeopardize those achieve­ments. Battered w o m e n d o n t n e e d u n t r u t h s to m a k e their case before afair-minded public that hates a n d despises bullies; there is e n o u g h tragictruth to go a r o u n d . W i t h that in m i n d , I shall evaluate here the views of s u c h feminists asGloria Steinem, Patricia Ireland, Susan Faludi, Marilyn French, N a o m iWolf, a n d Catharine MacKinnon a n d the findings that inform t h e m . I
  17. 17. 18 PREFACEshall take a look at the feminist institutions that n o w control large areasof information a b o u t w o m e n . I shall take n o t e of overly trusting journal­ists a n d the m a n y politicians w h o are eager to s h o w that they "get it." Above all, I shall e x a m i n e the philosophy, the beliefs, a n d the passionsof the feminist theorists a n d r e s e a r c h e r s — t h e ones w h o d o the "studiesthat s h o w . . . " a n d w h o p r o v i d e the m o v e m e n t its intellectual leadership.These articulate, energetic, a n d d e t e r m i n e d w o m e n are training a genera­tion of y o u n g activists. All indications are that the n e w crop of y o u n gfeminist ideologues c o m i n g o u t of o u r nations colleges are even angrier,m o r e resentful, a n d m o r e indifferent to the truth t h a n their mentors. T h e large majority of w o m e n , including the majority of college w o m e n ,are distancing themselves from this anger a n d resentfulness. Unfortu­nately, they associate these attitudes w i t h feminism, a n d so they concludethat they are n o t really feminists. According to a 1992 Time/CNN poll,a l t h o u g h 5 7 p e r c e n t of the w o m e n r e s p o n d i n g said they believed therewas a n e e d for a s t r o n g w o m e n s m o v e m e n t , 6 3 percent said they d o not 18consider themselves feminists. A n o t h e r poll c o n d u c t e d by R. H. Brush-k i n r e p o r t e d that only 16 p e r c e n t of college w o m e n "definitely" con­ 19sidered themselves to b e feminists. In effect, the g e n d e r feminists lack a grass roots constituency. Theyb l a m e a m e d i a "backlash" for the defection of the majority of w o m e n . Butw h a t h a p p e n e d is clear e n o u g h : the gender feminists have stolen "femin­ism" from a m a i n s t r e a m that h a d never acknowledged their leadership. T h e w o m e n currently m a n n i n g — w o m a n n i n g — t h e feminist rampartsd o n o t take well to criticism. H o w could they? As they see it, they aredealing w i t h a massive e p i d e m i c of male atrocity a n d a constituency ofb e n i g h t e d w o m e n w h o have yet to c o m p r e h e n d the seriousness of theirp r e d i c a m e n t . H e n c e , male critics m u s t b e "sexist" a n d "reactionary," andfemale critics "traitors," "collaborators," or "backlashers." This kind ofreaction has h a d a powerful inhibiting effect. It has alienated a n d silencedw o m e n a n d m e n alike. I have b e e n m o v e d to write this b o o k because I a m a feminist w h od o e s n o t like w h a t feminism has b e c o m e . The n e w gender feminism isbadly in n e e d of scrutiny. O n l y forthright appraisals can diminish itsinordinate a n d divisive influence. If others join in a frank a n d honestcritique, before long a m o r e representative a n d less doctrinaire feminismwill again p i c k u p t h e reins. But that is n o t likely to h a p p e n without afight.
  18. 18. Chapter 1 Women Under Siege c4 The New Feminism emphasizes the importance of the "womens point of view," the Old Feminism believes in the primary importance of the human being. 1 — W I N I F R E D HOLTBY, 1926 A surprising n u m b e r of clever a n d powerful feminists share theconviction that American w o m e n still live in a patriarchy w h e r e m e ncollectively keep w o m e n d o w n . It is customary for these feminists toassemble to exchange stories a n d to talk a b o u t the "anger issues" that vexthem. O n e such c o n f e r e n c e — " O u t of the Academy a n d Into the W o r l d w i t hCarolyn H e i l b r u n " — t o o k place at the Graduate Center of City Universityof N e w York in O c t o b e r 1992. The m o r n i n g sessions were devoted toh o n o r i n g the feminist scholar a n d mystery writer Carolyn H e i l b r u n o nthe occasion of her voluntary retirement from Columbia University afterthirty-two years of tenure. I h a d j u s t then b e e n reading Marilyn FrenchsThe War Against Women, w h i c h Ms. Heilbrun touts on the cover as a b o o k 2that "lays out w o m e n s state in this w o r l d — a n d it is a state of s i e g e . " Intelligent w o m e n w h o sincerely believe that American w o m e n are ina gender war intrigue m e , so a day with Ms. Heilbrun a n d her admirerspromised to be rewarding. I arrived early, b u t so did an overflow c r o w dof m o r e than five h u n d r e d w o m e n . I was lucky to get a seat.
  19. 19. 20 W H O STOLE FEMINISM? T h o u g h she h a d long held a prestigious chair in Columbias Englishd e p a r t m e n t , Heilbrun m a d e it clear that she felt beleaguered there. Butshe h a d survived. "In life, as in fiction," she told the New York Times," w o m e n w h o speak o u t usually e n d u p p u n i s h e d or dead. Im lucky to 3escape w i t h m y p e n s i o n a n d a year of l e a v e . " Thirty-two years ago, therew e r e n o t e n u r e d female professors in Columbias English d e p a r t m e n t .N o w eight of its thirty-two t e n u r e d professors are w o m e n , a n d a majorityof its j u n i o r professors are w o m e n . According to the Times, such facts d o 4n o t impress Heilbrun. "Female doesnt m e a n feminist," she s n a p p e d . As if to u n d e r s c o r e that C o l u m b i a was intent o n slighting her, ProfessorHeilbrun accused the male a n d female m e m b e r s of the Columbia Englishd e p a r t m e n t of deliberately scheduling their o w n feminist conference onthe s a m e day as the conference h o n o r i n g her. T h e Chronicle of HigherEducation later r e p o r t e d that Ms. Heilbrun was mistaken: the rival confer­ence, " W o m e n at the T u r n of the Century: 1 8 9 0 - 1 9 1 0 , " had been 5p l a n n e d m a n y m o n t h s before this o n e . Heilbruns t h e m e of "siege" set the tone for the rest of the conference.As the Chronicle p u t it, "If s o m e o n e as p r o m i n e n t as Ms. Heilbrun could 6feel so isolated a n d p o w e r l e s s . . . w h e r e did that leave other feminists?"O n e a d m i r e r of Ms. Heilbrun, Professor Pauline Bart of the University ofIllinois, s p o k e of H e i l b r u n a n d herself as victims of mass persecution:"Carolyn [Heilbrun] a n d p e o p l e like us will survive, from the outside ifneed be. O n e of m y male s t u d e n t s , a Chilean refugee, a n d his wife j u s th a d a baby. They n a m e d h i m Paolo, after m e , because his father foughtb a c k a n d w a s t o r t u r e d u n d e r Pinochet, a n d h e sees m e carrying on in 7that t r a d i t i o n . " T h r o u g h o u t the day, speakers recited tales of outrage a n d w a r n e d ofi m p e n d i n g male backlash. Sarah Ruddick, a N e w School for Social Re­search feminist k n o w n for "valorizing" w o m e n as the gentle n u r t u r e r s ofo u r species, p a i d tribute to Heilbruns "politicized anger": " O u r anger, as Carolyn p u t s it so well, arouses the patriarchy to disgust." The historian Blanche W i e s e n C o o k ( w h o h a d j u s t released a b o o k in w h i c h she claimed that Eleanor Roosevelt w a s really a lesbian) spoke of the vital stake w o m e nh a d in the i m p e n d i n g 1 9 9 2 presidential election: "It is a cross-road thatwill lead to a F o u r t h Reich or a real o p p o r t u n i t y . " J a n e Marcus, of the City University of N e w York, called the afternoon"Anger Session" to order, i n t r o d u c i n g herself as "an expert on anger" a n dt h a n k i n g H e i l b r u n for teaching h e r "to use m y rage in m y writing." Shei n t r o d u c e d the other panelists as angry in o n e way or another: AliceJ a r d i n e of Harvard Universitys French d e p a r t m e n t was "angry and strug-
  20. 20. WOMEN UNDER SIEGE 21gling." Brenda Silver of D a r t m o u t h h a d been "struggling a n d angry since 1972." Catharine Stimpson, former provost at Rutgers a n d recently se­lected to head the distinguished MacArthur Fellows Program, was intro­ 8duced as "an enraged a n d engaged intellectual." Gloria Steinem took the m i c r o p h o n e a n d explained w h y she was en­raged: "I have b e c o m e even m o r e angry . . . the alternative is depression."To deal with patriarchal schools, she r e c o m m e n d e d an " u n d e r g r o u n dsystem of education," a bartering system in w h i c h a midwife could ex­change her services "in r e t u r n for Latin American history." Steinem be­lieves things are so b a d for c o n t e m p o r a r y American w o m e n that w e m i g h thave to consider setting u p centers for training political organizers. For s o m e o n e like m e , w h o does n o t believe that American w o m e n arein a state of siege (and so lacks the basis for the k i n d of anger that drivesout depression), the conference was depressing. It was clear that thesewell-favored w o m e n sincerely felt aggrieved. It was equally clear to m ethat the bitter spirits they were dispensing to the American p u b l i c w e r eu n w h o l e s o m e a n d divisive. For w h o m d o these "engaged a n d enraged" w o m e n at the conferencespeak? W h o is their constituency? It might be said that as academics a n dintellectuals they speak for n o one b u t themselves. But that w o u l d b e tomistake their mission. They see themselves as the second wave of thefeminist m o v e m e n t , as the moral v a n g u a r d fighting a w a r to save w o m e n .But d o American w o m e n need to b e saved by anyone? The w o m e n at the Heilbrun conference are the N e w Feminists: articu­late, p r o n e to self-dramatization, a n d chronically offended. M a n y of thew o m e n on the "Anger" panel were t e n u r e d professors at prestigious u n i ­versities. All h a d fine a n d expensive educations. Yet, listening to t h e mone w o u l d never guess that they live in a country w h o s e w o m e n arelegally as free as the m e n a n d w h o s e institutions of higher learning n o whave m o r e female than male students. It was inevitable that s u c h single-minded a n d energetic w o m e n w o u l dfind their way into leadership positions. It is unfortunate for Americanfeminism that their ideology a n d attitude are diverting the w o m e n sm o v e m e n t from its true p u r p o s e s . The p r e s u m p t i o n that m e n are collectively engaged in keeping w o m e nd o w n invites feminist b o n d i n g in a resentful c o m m u n i t y . W h e n a Heil­b r u n or a Steinem advises us that m e n are n o t a b o u t to relinquish theirhegemony, the implicit moral is that w o m e n m u s t form self-protectiveenclaves. In such enclaves w o m e n can speak o u t safely a n d help o n eanother to recover from the indignities they suffer u n d e r patriarchy. In
  21. 21. 22 W H O STOLE FEMINISM?s u c h enclaves they can t h i n k of h o w to change or provide alternatives tothe "androcentric" institutions that have always prevailed in educationa n d the workplace. T h e message is that w o m e n m u s t be "gynocentric,"that they m u s t j o i n w i t h a n d b e loyal only to w o m e n . T h e traditional, classically liberal, humanistic feminism that was initi­ated m o r e t h a n 150 years ago was very different. It h a d a specific agenda,d e m a n d i n g for w o m e n the s a m e rights before the law that m e n enjoyed.T h e suffrage h a d to be w o n , a n d the laws regarding property, marriage,divorce, a n d child custody h a d to be m a d e equitable. More recently,abortion rights h a d to b e protected. T h e old mainstream feminism con­centrated o n legal reforms. In seeking specific a n d achievable ends, it didn o t p r o m o t e a gynocentric stance; self-segregation of w o m e n had n o partin an agenda that s o u g h t equality a n d equal access for w o m e n . Most American w o m e n subscribe philosophically to that older "FirstW a v e " k i n d of feminism w h o s e m a i n goal is equity, especially in politicsa n d education. A First W a v e , "mainstream," or "equity" feminist wantsfor w o m e n w h a t she w a n t s for everyone: fair treatment, w i t h o u t discrim­ination. " W e ask n o better laws than those you have m a d e for yourselves.W e n e e d n o other protection t h a n that w h i c h your present laws secure toyou," said Elizabeth C a d y Stanton, p e r h a p s the ablest e x p o n e n t of equity 9feminism, addressing the N e w York State Legislature in 1 8 5 4 . T h e equityagenda m a y n o t yet b e fully achieved, b u t by any reasonable measure,equity feminism has t u r n e d o u t to b e a great American success story. Heilbrun, Steinem, a n d other current feminist notables ride this FirstW a v e for its p o p u l a r i t y a n d its moral authority, b u t most of t h e m adhereto a n e w , m o r e radical, "Second W a v e " doctrine: that w o m e n , even m o d ­ern American w o m e n , are in thrall to "a system of male d o m i n a n c e "variously referred to as "heteropatriarchy" or the sex/gender system. Ac­cording to o n e feminist theorist, the sex/gender system is "that complexprocess w h e r e b y bi-sexual infants are transformed into male a n d female 10g e n d e r personalities, the o n e destined to c o m m a n d , the other to o b e y . "Sex/gender feminism ("gender feminism" for short) is the prevailing ide­ology a m o n g c o n t e m p o r a r y feminist p h i l o s o p h e r s a n d leaders. But it lacksa grass roots constituency. T h e N e w Feminists claim continuity with the likes of the eighteenth-century feminist Mary Wollstonecraft or later feminists like the Grimkésisters, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, a n d Harriet Taylor.But those giants of the w o m e n s m o v e m e n t g r o u n d e d their feminist de­m a n d s o n E n l i g h t e n m e n t principles of individual justice. By contrast, theN e w Feminists have little faith in the Enlightenment principles that influ-
  22. 22. WOMEN UNDER SIEGE 23enced the founders of Americas political order a n d that inspired the greatclassical feminists to wage their fight for w o m e n s rights. The idea that w o m e n are in a g e n d e r w a r originated in the midsixties,w h e n the antiwar a n d antigovernment m o o d revivified a n d redirected thew o m e n s m o v e m e n t away from its E n l i g h t e n m e n t liberal p h i l o s o p h y to am o r e radical, antiestablishment philosophy. T h e decisive battles of thesexual revolution h a d b e e n w o n , a n d s t u d e n t s h e r e a n d o n the C o n t i n e n twere reading Herbert Marcuse, Karl Marx, Franz F a n o n , a n d Jean-PaulSartre a n d learning h o w to critique their culture a n d institutions in h e a d yn e w ways. They began to see the university, the military, a n d the govern­m e n t as merely different parts of a defective status q u o . Betty Friedan a n d Germaine Greer w o u l d c o n t i n u e to offer w o m e n aliberal version of consciousness raising w h o s e aim was to a w a k e n t h e mto n e w possibilities of individual self-fulfillment. But by the midseventies,faith in liberal solutions to social p r o b l e m s h a d w a n e d , a n d the old styleof consciousness raising that encouraged w o m e n to seek avenues of self-fulfillment rapidly gave way to o n e that initiated w o m e n into an appreci­ation of their subordinate situation in the patriarchy a n d the joys a n dcomforts of g r o u p solidarity. Having "transcended" the liberalism of Friedan a n d the fierce individ­ualism of Greer, feminists began to w o r k seriously o n getting w o m e n tobecome aware of the political d i m e n s i o n of their lives. Kate MillettsSexual Politics was critical in m o v i n g feminism in this n e w direction. Ittaught w o m e n that politics was essentially sexual a n d that even the so-called democracies were male hegemonies: "However m u t e d its p r e s e n tappearance m a y be, sexual d o m i n i o n obtains nevertheless as p e r h a p s themost pervasive ideology of o u r culture a n d provides its m o s t fundamental 11concept of p o w e r . " The N e w Feminists began to direct their energies toward gettingw o m e n to j o i n in the c o m m o n struggle against patriarchy, to view societythrough the sex/gender prism. W h e n a w o m a n s feminist consciousnessis thus "raised," she learns to identify her personal self with her gender.She sees her relations to m e n in political terms ("the personal is thepolitical"). This "insight" into the n a t u r e of male/female relations m a k e sthe gender feminist impatient with piecemeal liberal reformist solutionsa n d leads her to strive for a m o r e radical transformation of o u r societythan earlier feminists h a d envisioned. It is n o w c o m m o n p l a c e for feminist p h i l o s o p h e r s to reject the En­lightenment ideals of the old feminism. According to the University ofColorado feminist theorist Alison Jaggar, "Radical a n d socialist feminists
  23. 23. 24 W H O STOLE FEMINISM?have s h o w n that the old ideals of freedom, equality a n d democracy are 12insufficient." Iris Young, of the University of Pittsburgh, echoes thec o n t e m p o r a r y feminist disillusionment with the classically liberal femin­ism of yesteryear, claiming that "after two centuries of faith . . . the ideal 13of equality a n d fraternity" n o longer p r e v a i l s : Most feminists of the n i n e t e e n t h a n d twentieth century, including feminists of the early second wave, have been h u m a n i s t feminists. In recent years, a different a c c o u n t of w o m e n s oppression has gained influence, however, partly growing from a critique of h u m a n ­ ist feminism. Gynocentric feminism defines w o m e n s oppression as the devaluation a n d repression of w o m e n s experience by a mascu- 14 linist culture that exalts violence a n d individualism. T h e University of W i s c o n s i n p h i l o s o p h e r Andrea Nye acknowledgesthat the liberal agenda h a d been successful in gaining w o m e n legal free­d o m s , b u t she insists that this m e a n s very little, because "the liberatedenfranchised w o m a n m i g h t complain that democratic society has only 15r e t u r n e d her to a m o r e p r o f o u n d s u b o r d i n a t i o n . " T h e loss of faith in classically liberal solutions, coupled with the con­viction that w o m e n r e m a i n besieged a n d subject to a relentless a n d vi­cious male backlash, has t u r n e d the m o v e m e n t inward. W e hear verylittle today a b o u t h o w w o m e n can j o i n with m e n on equal terms tocontribute to a universal h u m a n culture. Instead, feminist ideology hastaken a divisive, gynocentric t u r n , a n d the emphasis n o w is on w o m e n asa political class w h o s e interests are at o d d s with the interests of m e n .W o m e n m u s t b e loyal to w o m e n , u n i t e d in principled hostility to themales w h o seek to h o l d fast to their patriarchal privileges a n d powers. This clash of "old" a n d " n e w " feminism is itself n o t h i n g new. Here isthe British feminist a n d novelist Winifred Holtby writing in 1926: "TheN e w F e m i n i s m emphasizes the i m p o r t a n c e of the womens point of view,the O l d F e m i n i s m believes in the p r i m a r y importance of the h u m a n 16being. . . . Personally I a m . . . an O l d F e m i n i s t . " The old feminism hash a d m a n y e x p o n e n t s , from Elizabeth Cady Stanton a n d Susan B. A n t h o n yin the m i d d l e of the n i n e t e e n t h century to Betty Friedan a n d GermaineGreer in o u r o w n day. It d e m a n d e d that w o m e n be allowed to live asfreely as m e n . To m o s t Americans, that was a fair d e m a n d . T h e oldfeminism w a s neither defeatist n o r gender-divisive, a n d it is even n o w thep h i l o s o p h y of the feminist "mainstream." T h e N e w Feminists, m a n y of t h e m privileged, all of t h e m legally p r o ­tected a n d free, are p r e o c c u p i e d w i t h their o w n sense of h u r t and their
  24. 24. WOMEN UNDER SIEGE 25o w n feelings of e m b a t t l e m e n t a n d "siege." W h e n they speak of theirpersonal plight they use w o r d s a p p r o p r i a t e to the tragic plight of m a n yAmerican w o m e n of a bygone day a n d of millions of contemporary, trulyoppressed w o m e n in other countries. But their resentful rhetoric dis­credits the American w o m e n s m o v e m e n t today a n d seriously distorts itspriorities. Indeed, o n e of the m a i n hallmarks of the N e w Feminism is its degreeof self-preoccupation. Feminists like Elizabeth Stanton a n d Susan B. An­thony were keenly aware of themselves as privileged, middle-class, p r o ­tected w o m e n . They u n d e r s t o o d h o w inappropriate it w o u l d b e to equatetheir struggles with those of less fortunate w o m e n , a n d it never occurredto t h e m to air their p e r s o n a l grievances before the public. During the Clarence T h o m a s - A n i t a Hill hearings, Catharine Mac­Kinnon, the influential feminist theorist a n d professor of law at the Uni­versity of Michigan, seized the o p p o r t u n i t y for a "national teach-in" o nfeminist perspectives. Calling the Senates treatment of Ms. Hill "a publichanging," she was q u i c k to p r o m o t e it as an example of h o w w o m e nsuffer w h e n other w o m e n are mistreated. She was similarly affected byPatricia Bowmans ordeal in the trial of William Kennedy Smith: W a t c h i n g the second p u b l i c h a n g i n g of a w o m a n w h o accused a powerful m a n of sexual violation reflects the way in w h i c h sexual assault in the United States today resembles lynching in times n o t long past. O n e is lynched a n d r a p e d as a m e m b e r of a socially s u b o r d i n a t e d g r o u p . Each is an act of torture, a violent sexual h u ­ miliation ritual in w h i c h victims are often killed. W h e n it h a p p e n s , the target p o p u l a t i o n cringes, w i t h d r a w s , identifies a n d disidentifies 17 in t e r r o r . That the ordeals of Ms. Hill a n d Ms. B o w m a n were comparable tolynchings is debatable. Although the dire effect they h a d on Ms. Mac­Kinnon a n d other N e w Feminists m a y n o t be debatable, the alleged r a m ­ified effect o n all w o m e n , the so-called "target p o p u l a t i o n , " is. In fact,there is n o evidence that m o s t w o m e n , including those w h o believed thatthe truth lay m o r e w i t h Ms. Hill or Ms. Bowman, felt terrorized or "tar­geted"; or that they "cringed" or t h o u g h t of themselves as m e m b e r s of a"socially s u b o r d i n a t e d g r o u p . " Alice J a r d i n e ("angry a n d struggling" at the Heilbrun conference) toldthe Harvard Crimson h o w she reacted to the report that a crazed misogyn-
  25. 25. 26 W H O STOLE FEMINISM?ist male h a d j u s t s h o t a n d killed fourteen w o m e n s t u d e n t s at the Univer­sity of Montreal: " W h a t I saw in the incident in Montreal was the actingo u t of w h a t I experience discursively every day of m y life a n d particularly 18at this i n s t i t u t i o n . " Ms. J a r d i n e s claim sets a standard of sisterly e m p a ­thy that n o t m a n y can h o p e to m a t c h , b u t her exquisite sensibility isparadigmatic for the N e w Feminist. Popular b o o k s advertising motifs of humiliation, subordination, a n dmale backlash bolster the doctrine of a bifurcated society in w h i c h w o m e nare t r a p p e d in the sex/gender system. T h e feminists w h o write theseb o o k s s p e a k of the sex/gender system as a "lens" that reveals the world ina n e w way, giving t h e m a n e w perspective o n society a n d m a k i n g t h e mauthorities o n w h a t facts to "see," to stress, a n d to deplore. Virginia Held, a p h i l o s o p h y professor at the City University of N e wYork, r e p o r t e d o n the feminist conviction that feminist philosophers arethe initiators of an intellectual revolution comparable to those of "Coper­ 19nicus, Darwin, a n d F r e u d . " Indeed, as Held points out, "some feministst h i n k the latest revolution will be even m o r e profound." According toHeld, the sex/gender system is the controlling insight of this feministrevolution. Ms. Held tells u s of the impact that the discovery of the sex/g e n d e r system has h a d o n feminist theory: " N o w that the sex/gender 20system has b e c o m e visible to u s , w e can see it e v e r y w h e r e . " Indeed, m o s t feminist p h i l o s o p h e r s are "sex/gender feminists," a n dm o s t d o "see it everywhere." Held describes the "intellectually gripping"effect of the n e w perspective. I confess I sometimes envy Held a n d hersister g e n d e r feminists for the excitement they experience from seeing thew o r l d t h r o u g h the lens of sexual politics. O n the other h a n d , I believethat h o w these feminist theorists regard American society is m o r e a matterof t e m p e r a m e n t t h a n a matter of insight into social reality. T h e belief thatAmerican w o m e n are living in thrall to m e n seems to suit s o m e w o m e nm o r e t h a n others. I have found that it does not suit m e . A n y o n e reading c o n t e m p o r a r y feminist literature will find a genre ofwriting c o n c e r n e d w i t h personal outrage. Professor Kathryn Allen Ra-buzzi of Syracuse University o p e n s her b o o k Motherself b y recounting thisincident: As I was walking d o w n a sleazy section of Second Avenue in N e w York City a few years ago, a voice s u d d e n l y i n t r u d e d o n m y con­ sciousness: "Hey Mama, spare change?" The w o r d s outraged m e . . . . Although I h a d b y t h e n b e e n a m o t h e r for m a n y years, never till that m o m e n t h a d I seen myself as " M a m a " in s u c h an impersonal, exter-
  26. 26. WOMEN UNDER SIEGE 27 nal context. In the m a n s speaking I beheld myself anew. " 1 " disap­ 21 peared, as t h o u g h t u r n e d inside out, a n d "Mama" took m y p l a c e . Ms. Rabuzzi informs u s that the p a n h a n d l e r s term caused in her a"shocking dislocation of self." Similarly, University of Illinois feministtheorist Sandra Lee Bartky recounts: It is a fine spring day, a n d with an utter lack of self-consciousness, I a m b o u n c i n g d o w n the street. S u d d e n l y . . . catcalls a n d whistles fill the air. These noises are clearly sexual in intent a n d they are m e a n t for m e ; they c o m e from across the street. I freeze. As Sartre w o u l d say, I have been petrified by the gaze of the Other. My face flushes a n d m y m o t i o n s b e c o m e stiff a n d self-conscious. T h e b o d y which only a m o m e n t before I inhabited w i t h s u c h ease n o w floods m y consciousness. I have b e e n m a d e into an object. . . . Blissfully unaware, breasts b o u n c i n g , eyes o n the birds in the trees, I could have passed b y w i t h o u t having b e e n t u r n e d to stone. But I m u s t b e made to k n o w that I a m a "nice piece of ass": I m u s t b e m a d e to see myself as they see m e . T h e r e is an element of c o m p u l s i o n in . . . this being-made-to-be-aware of ones o w n flesh: like being m a d e to apologize, it is humiliating. . . . W h a t I describe seems less the s p o n ­ taneous expression of a healthy eroticism than a ritual of subjuga­ 22 tion. Marilyn French, the a u t h o r of The War Against Women, finds herselfvulnerable in m u s e u m s : Artists a p p r o p r i a t e the female b o d y as their subject, their possession . . . assaulting female reality a n d a u t o n o m y . . . . Visiting galleries a n d m u s e u m s (especially the P o m p i d o u Center in Paris) I feel as­ saulted by twentieth-century abstract sculpture that resembles ex­ 23 aggerated female b o d y parts, mainly b r e a s t s . Janet Radcliffe Richards has p o i n t e d to s o m e significant similarities 24between m o d e r n feminism a n d r e l i g i o n . 1 t h i n k she is right, b u t there isan interesting difference in the public testimony of the adherents. T h edevout tend to confess their sins. By contrast, the feminist ideologuetestifies relentlessly to h o w she has b e e n sinned against. Moreover, shesees revelations of monstrosity in the m o s t familiar a n d seemingly i n n o c ­u o u s p h e n o m e n a . H e r experience of the w o r l d m a y b e c o m p a r e d to that
  27. 27. 28 W H O STOLE FEMINISM?of the D u t c h naturalist A n t o n i n Van Leeuwenhoek w h e n h e looked forthe first time at a d r o p of water t h r o u g h the microscope h e h a d inventeda n d saw there a teeming p r e d a t o r y jungle. This, for example, is w h a t Professor Susan McClary, a musicologist atthe University of Minnesota, tells u s to listen for in Beethovens N i n t hS y m p h o n y : "The p o i n t of recapitulation in the first m o v e m e n t of theN i n t h is o n e of the m o s t horrifying m o m e n t s in music, as the carefullyp r e p a r e d cadence is frustrated, d a m m i n g u p energy w h i c h finally ex­plodes in the throttling, m u r d e r o u s rage of a rapist incapable of attaining 25r e l e a s e . " McClary also directs u s to b e alert to themes of male mastur­bation in the m u s i c of Richard Strauss a n d Gustav Mahler. T h e "gender w a r " requires a constant flow of h o r r o r stories showingw o m e n that male perfidy a n d female humiliation are everywhere. Theg e n d e r feminists w h o expose these evils for us often argue that w h a tappears i n n o c e n t to the u n t r a i n e d perception is in fact degrading tow o m e n . They highlight the p a i n this causes to those feminists w h o aresufficiently aware of w h a t is really going on. Addressing the Scripps College graduating class of 1992, N a o m i Wolftold of a n incident from h e r o w n c o m m e n c e m e n t exercises w h e n she wasg r a d u a t e d from Yale eight years before. Dick Cavett, the speaker, h a d 26m a d e the experience a "graduation from h e l l . " Cavett, himself a Yalea l u m n u s , h a d o p e n e d his address w i t h an anecdote a b o u t his undergrad­uate days: " W h e n I w a s a n u n d e r g r a d u a t e . . . the w o m e n w e n t to Vassar.At Vassar they h a d n u d e p h o t o g r a p h s taken of the w o m e n in gym classto check their p o s t u r e . O n e year the p h o t o s were stolen, a n d t u r n e d u pfor sale in N e w Havens red light district. . . . T h e p h o t o s found n o buy­ers." According to Ms. Wolf, the m o m e n t was devastating. "There wewere, silent in o u r black g o w n s , o u r tassels, o u r b r a n d - n e w shoes. W ed a r e d n o t b r e a k the silence. . . . That afternoon, several h u n d r e d m e nw e r e confirmed in the p o w e r of a powerful institution. But m a n y of thew o m e n felt the s h a m e of the powerless: the choking silence, the complic­ 27ity, the h e l p l e s s n e s s . " Never m i n d that Ms. Wolf was addressing s o m eof the m o s t privileged y o u n g w o m e n in the country. T h e remainder ofher speech w a s devoted to giving t h e m suggestions for the "survival kit"they w o u l d n e e d in the hostile male w o r l d they were a b o u t to enter. Is it possible that the Yale w o m e n were so stricken by Cavetts tastelessjoke? Did the Scripps w o m e n really n e e d a survival kit? If these privilegedy o u n g w o m e n are really so fragile, w h a t could W o l f s survival kit d o fort h e m anyway? (It s e e m s that Cavett discombobulated Wolf even m o r et h a n she realized. In a letter to the Times, Cavett p o i n t e d out that t h o u g hWolf h a d called h i m "the speaker" at her c o m m e n c e m e n t , h e spoke not
  28. 28. WOMEN UNDER SIEGE 29at c o m m e n c e m e n t b u t o n Class Day, "a separate, m o r e lighthearted 28event." ) Wolf herself was s h o w i n g the Scripps graduating class h o w she sur­vives, b u t t h o u g h her m e t h o d s were different, her general a p p r o a c h wasold-fashioned indeed. Earlier in this century, m a n y h o u s e h o l d s still h a dsmelling salts on h a n d in the event that "delicate" w o m e n reacted todisplays of male vulgarity by fainting. Today, w o m e n of delicacy have an e w way to d e m o n s t r a t e their exquisitely fragile sensibilities: by explain­ing to a n y o n e w h o will listen h o w they have b e e n blighted a n d violatedby s o m e males offensive coarseness. If n o t h i n g of a telling n a t u r e hasrecently h a p p e n e d to us, we can tell a b o u t h o w w e felt o n hearing w h a th a p p e n e d to others. W e faint, "discursively" a n d publicly, at o u r h u m i l i ­ations at the h a n d s of m e n . The Hyatt Regency in Austin, Texas, is a pleasant hotel, b u t not all ofthe five h u n d r e d participants of the 1992 National W o m e n s StudiesAssociation Conference were h a p p y w i t h it. O n e w o m a n , a professor ofw o m e n s studies from a w e l l - k n o w n s o u t h e r n college, c o m p l a i n e d to m eabout the w e d d i n g s being held there t h r o u g h o u t the w e e k e n d . " W h y havethey p u t us in a setting w h e r e that sort of thing is going on?" The conference participants represented a cross section of the N e wFeminist leadership in all areas of the w o m e n s m o v e m e n t . S o m e h e a du r b a n w o m e n s centers. O t h e r s w o r k in the offices of i m p o r t a n t politi­cians. Many of the w o m e n w h o a t t e n d e d the conference are in the acad­emy in one capacity or another, either as teachers or as administrators. Being aggrieved was a conference motif. T h e keynote speaker, A n n e t t eKolodny, a feminist literary scholar a n d former d e a n of the h u m a n i t i e sfaculty at the University of Arizona, o p e n e d the proceedings w i t h a briefhistory of the "narratives of p a i n " within the NWSA. She r e p o r t e d thatten years ago, the organization "almost came apart over outcries by o u rlesbian sisters that w e h a d failed adequately to listen to their m a n yvoices." Five years ago, sisters in the Jewish caucus h a d w e p t at their o w n"sense of invisibility." Three years later the Disability caucus threatenedto quit, a n d the following year the w o m e n of color w a l k e d out. A p e r n i ­cious bigotry, Kolodny confessed, persisted in the NWSA. " O u r litaniesof outrage . . . overcame o u r fragile consensus of shared c o m m i t m e n t a n d 29the center w o u l d n o longer h o l d . " At past conferences, oppressed w o m e n h a d accused other w o m e n ofoppressing them. Participants m e t in g r o u p s defined by their grievancesand healing needs: Jewish w o m e n , Jewish lesbians, Asian-American
  29. 29. 30 W H O STOLE FEMINISM?w o m e n , African-American w o m e n , old w o m e n , disabled w o m e n , fatw o m e n , w o m e n w h o s e sexuality is in transition. N o n e of the groupsp r o v e d stable. T h e fat g r o u p polarized into gay a n d straight factions, a n dthe Jewish w o m e n discovered they were deeply divided: s o m e accepted 30being Jewish; others w e r e seeking to recover from i t . This year, concerne x t e n d e d to "marginalized" allergy g r o u p s . Participants were sent advancenotice n o t to bring perfumes, dry-cleaned clothing, hairspray, or otherirritants to the conference o u t of concern for allergic sisters. Hypercon-cern is n o w the n o r m : at the first National Lesbian Convention in Atlanta,flash cameras w e r e o u t l a w e d — o n g r o u n d s that they might bring on epi­leptic fits. Eleanor Smeal, the former president of N O W , was scheduled to be the first speaker o n the N W S A " e m p o w e r m e n t panel," b u t her plane h a dbeen delayed in M e m p h i s . To pass the time, we were introduced to anarray of panelists w h o w e r e t o u t e d as being experienced in conflict reso­lution. O n e w o m a n w a s i n t r o d u c e d as a m e m b e r of the M o h a w k nationw h o "facilitates antibias training." Another, an erstwhile dancer, was de­scribed as a black lesbian activist w h o was "doing an amazing, miraculousj o b o n c a m p u s e s b u i l d i n g coalitions." A third, w h o h a d training as aholistic health practitioner, h e a d e d w o r k s h o p s that "creatively optimizeh u m a n capacity." T h e m o d e r a t o r told u s that "these w o m e n have agreed to c o m e to usas a team a n d w o r k together to h e l p us figure out h o w w e m i g h t begin todeal m u c h m o r e effectively. . . with issues of inclusion, e m p o w e r m e n t ,diversity." To k e e p o u r spirits high, w e were taught the w o r d s to a r o u n d ,w h i c h w e dutifully sang: W e have c o m e this far by strength, Leaning o n each other. Trusting in each others w o r d s . W e never failed each other yet. Singing, oh, oh, oh. Cant turn a r o u n d . W e have c o m e this far by strength. After several m i n u t e s of singing a n d still n o Smeal, panelist Angela (theformer dancer) took the m i k e to tell a b o u t " o u c h experiences." An " o u c h "is w h e n you experience racism, sexism, classism, h o m o p h o b i a , ableism,ageism, or lookism. O n e of Angelas biggest ouches came after her lesbians u p p o r t g r o u p splintered into two factions, black a n d white. Tension thendeveloped in h e r black g r o u p b e t w e e n those w h o s e lovers were black a n dthose w h o s e lovers were white. "Those of us in the g r o u p w h o h a d white
  30. 30. WOMEN UNDER SIEGE 31lovers were immediately targeted. . . . It t u r n e d into a horrible mess. . . .1 e n d e d u p leaving that g r o u p for self-protection." A weary Eleanor Smeal finally arrived a n d was pressed into i m m e d i a t eservice. She confided that she was feeling discouraged a b o u t the feministmovement. " W e need totally n e w concepts. . . . In m a n y ways its n o tworking. . . . It is so depressing. W e are leaving . . . the next generation[in a] mess." Smeals liveliest m o m e n t came w h e n she attacked "liberalmales on the c a m p u s , " saying, "they have k e p t us apart. They have mar­ginalized o u r programs. W e need fighting m a d n e s s . " Despite the call to arms, Smeals talk was a d o w n e r , a n d the m o d e r a t o racted quickly to raise o u r spirits: " W h a t w e w a n t to d o n o w is to dwellfor a m i n u t e on success. . . . T h i n k a b o u t the fact that w e have b e e n sosuccessful in transforming the curriculum." It was s o o n time for a n o t h e rsong. W e are sisters in a circle. W e are sisters in a struggle. Sisters o n e a n d all. W e are colors of the rainbow, Sisters o n e a n d all. As it h a p p e n e d , I did have a real sister (in the unexciting biologicalsense) with m e at the conference. Louise a n d I were frankly relieved tohave the singing interrupted by a coffee break. C r e a m was available, b u tp e r h a p s not for long. T h e ecofeminist caucus h a d b e e n p u s h i n g to elimi­nate all meat, fish, eggs, a n d dairy p r o d u c t s at NWSA events. As the b r e a kended, Phyllis, the panelist from the M o h a w k nation, came a r o u n d w i t htwo little p u p p e t s , a dog a n d a teddy bear, to inform us, "Teddy a n d hisfriend say its time to go back inside." Louise, w h o is a psychologist, w a sbeginning to find the conference professionally intriguing. Phyllis, w h o told us that in addition to her M o h a w k ancestry she isFrench a n d Irish with traces of Algonquin, asked us to "take a m o m e n tto give ourselves a big hug. Let m e r e m i n d us that the p e r s o n werehugging is the m o s t i m p o r t a n t p e r s o n w e have in o u r life." She c o n t i n u e d : Lets d o it again! Each a n d every o n e of you is m y relative . . . w e are interconnected. W e are i n t e r d e p e n d e n t . A n d w e have respect. Those are principles. So, w h a t w o u l d I n e e d from you in a loving relationship, the r e m i n d e r that I have gotten away from m y princi­ ples here; a n d to help m e get back to m y principles. Even if I have to say "ouch" a n d h u g m y p u p p e t s — o r whatever I have to d o .
  31. 31. 32 W H O STOLE FEMINISM?To c o n c l u d e the e m p o w e r m e n t panel session, a "feminist facilitator" ledus in a "participatory experience." She told us to turn to o u r neighbora n d tell h e r w h a t w e liked m o s t a b o u t the NWSA. After the m o r n i n g session, Louise a n d I visited the exhibition hall.There, d o z e n s of b o o t h s offered w o m e n s studies b o o k s a n d p a r a p h e r n a ­lia. Witchcraft a n d goddess w o r s h i p supplies were in aisle one. Adjoiningaisles featured h a n d m a d e jewelry, leather crafts, p o n c h o s , a n d other peas­a n t apparel. O n e b o o t h offered videos o n do-it-yourself menstrual extrac­tions a n d h o m e abortions for those w h o w a n t to avoid "patriarchalmedicine." T h o u g h w e a k o n scholarship, the conference was strong onw o r k s h o p s a n d film screenings. W e were idly thinking of looking in ono n e of two movies: Sex and the Sandinistas a n d Were Talking Vulva. A feminist p h i l o s o p h e r , Paula Rothenberg, spotted m e a n d a p ­p r o a c h e d . She k n e w I w a s a skeptic. "I a m very uncomfortable havingyou here. I saw you taking notes. W e are in the m i d d l e of w o r k i n gt h r o u g h o u r p r o b l e m s . I feel as if you have come into the m i d d l e of m ydysfunctional family, a n d you are seeing us at the worst possible m o ­ment." But Professor Rothenbergs "dysfunctional family" has h a d m a n y suchm o m e n t s . O u c h i n g s a n d mass therapy are m o r e the n o r m than the excep­tion. T h e year before, at a meeting of w o m e n s studies p r o g r a m directors,everyone j o i n e d h a n d s to form a "healing circle." They also a s s u m e d thep o s t u r e of trees experiencing rootedness a n d tranquility. Victim testimon­ials a n d healing rituals c r o w d o u t the reading of academic papers atN W S A conferences. I told Ms. Rothenberg that this was s u p p o s e d to b ean o p e n conference a n d that I h a d every right to attend. But I did feel abit sorry for her. As a p h i l o s o p h e r she was trained to think analytically.N o w she finds herself in a "dysfunctional family" w h o s e faddish therapieseven she m u s t find fatuous. Still, she has her consolations. She is directorof the " N e w Jersey Project: Integrating the Scholarship on Gender," astate-funded educational reform m o v e m e n t to m a k e the N e w Jersey cur­riculum m o r e " w o m e n - c e n t e r e d . " Later that day, she w o u l d be boastingto fellow w o r k s h o p p e r s a b o u t h o w sympathetic the N e w Jersey chancellorof education, E d w a r d Goldberg, was to her goals. Ms. Rothenberg a n d the other Austin conferees r u n the largest g r o w t harea in the academy. T h o u g h their conferences may b e untidy, they arepolitically astute o n their campuses. They have strong influence in keyareas, in English d e p a r t m e n t s (especially freshman writing courses),F r e n c h a n d Spanish d e p a r t m e n t s , history d e p a r t m e n t s , law schools, a n ddivinity schools. T h e y are disproportionately represented in dean of stu­d e n t s offices, in d o r m i t o r y administration, in harassment offices, in of-
  32. 32. WOMEN UNDER SIEGE 33fices of multicultural affairs, a n d in various counseling centers. T h e y arequietly engaged in h u n d r e d s of well-funded projects to transform a cur­riculum that they regard as unacceptably " a n d r o c e n t r i c . " These con­sciousness-raisers are driving o u t the scholars o n m a n y c a m p u s e s . Theirmoral authority comes from a w i d e s p r e a d belief that they r e p r e s e n t" w o m e n . " In fact, their gynocentric version of feminism falls far s h o r t ofbeing representative. The conference received a w a r m letter from G o v e r n o r A n n Richardswelcoming us to the great state of Texas. T h e governor called t h e assem­bled feminists "the v a n g u a r d of the latest incarnation of the w o m e n sm o v e m e n t " a n d praised t h e m for their crucial leadership role. T h e N W S Aaudience b r o k e into t h u n d e r o u s applause as the letter was read aloud. Itis, however, unlikely that Governor Richards was aware of the witchcraftbooths, the m e n s t r u a l extraction videos, t h e t e d d y bear p u p p e t s , or t h eparanoid exposés of "phallocentric d i s c o u r s e " — l e t alone the implacablehostility to all exact t h i n k i n g as "male." Many foundations a n d g o v e r n m e n t agencies are involved in m a k i n g itfinancially possible for a lot of resentful a n d angry w o m e n to s p r e a d theirdivisive p h i l o s o p h y a n d influence. If I h a d m y way, those w h o m a k e thedecisions to s u p p o r t t h e m w i t h generous grants w o u l d b e r e q u i r e d toview the tapes of the meetings they fund, a n d t h e n asked to h u g t h e m ­selves until they " o u c h . " To u n d e r s t a n d h o w the w o m e n s m o v e m e n t has c h a n g e d , w e m u s tlook back to its beginnings. O n J u l y 14, 1 8 4 8 , the following noticeappeared in the Seneca County Courier: "A c o n v e n t i o n to discuss thesocial, civil, a n d religious condition a n d rights of w o m e n will be held inthe Wesleyan Chapel, at Seneca Falls, N.Y., o n W e d n e s d a y a n d T h u r s d a y , 3 1the 19th a n d 2 0 t h of July current; c o m m e n c i n g at 10 oclock A . M . " T h eunsigned a n n o u n c e m e n t h a d b e e n drafted b y four w o m e n m e e t i n g in theh o m e of Richard H u n t , a wealthy reformer w h o h a d offered to h e l p t h e morganize the convention. T w o of the w o m e n , Lucretia Mott a n d ElizabethCady Stanton, w e r e to b e c o m e famous. T h e tea table o n w h i c h they w r o t ethe a n n o u n c e m e n t is n o w o n exhibit at the Smithsonian as a relic of t h em o m e n t w h e n American w o m e n began the political struggle to w i n s u c helementary rights as the right to divorce w i t h o u t losing p r o p e r t y a n dchildren a n d the right to be educated, culminating in the right to votea n d the attainment of full legal equality. The press immediately called t h e m "sour old m a i d s , " "childlessw o m e n , " a n d "divorced wives" a n d implied that they w o u l d b e ineffec-
  33. 33. 34 W H O STOLE FEMINISM?tual. These criticisms w o u l d always be m a d e of feminists. In fact, theorganizers of the Seneca Falls convention were exceptionally well-favored,well-adjusted, morally a d v a n c e d w o m e n — a n d they were m a k i n g sociala n d political history. As for being old maids, that too was inaccurate.Stanton, the m o v e m e n t s principal organizer a n d scribe, w o u l d have eightchildren. N o r w a s there a n y t h i n g s o u r a b o u t them. Referring to thew o m e n w h o participated in the Seneca Falls convention, Elizabeth CadyStanton a n d Susan B. A n t h o n y later w r o t e that "they h a d not in their o w nexperience e n d u r e d the coarser forms of tyranny resulting from unjustlaws, or association w i t h i m m o r a l a n d u n s c r u p u l o u s m e n , b u t they h a dsouls large e n o u g h to feel the w r o n g s of others w i t h o u t being scarified in 32their o w n flesh." T h e small notice b r o u g h t m o r e than three h u n d r e d w o m e n to SenecaFalls. T h e organizers were n o t quite certain h o w to go about p u t t i n gtogether a convention, so they "resigned themselves to a faithful perusal 33of various masculine p r o d u c t i o n s . " They reviewed the p r o c e d u r e s oft e m p e r a n c e a n d abolitionist conventions to see h o w they h a d b e e n m a n ­aged, a n d w i t h the help of several sympathetic a n d experienced m e n , theyw e n t a h e a d w i t h their history-making program. T h e convention voted to a d o p t a "Declaration of Sentiments" writtenby Elizabeth Cady Stanton, w h o a d a p t e d the w o r d s of Jeffersons "Decla­ration of I n d e p e n d e n c e " b u t specified that the liberties d e m a n d e d werefor w o m e n as well as m e n . It o p e n e d thus: W h e n , in the course of h u m a n events, it b e c o m e s necessary for one p o r t i o n of the family of m a n to a s s u m e a m o n g the people of the earth a position different from that w h i c h they have hitherto occu­ pied, b u t o n e to w h i c h the laws of n a t u r e a n d of natures God entitle t h e m , a d e c e n t respect to the o p i n i o n s of m a n k i n d requires that they 34 s h o u l d declare the causes that impel t h e m to s u c h a c o u r s e .A n d she w e n t o n to speak of the t r u t h w e all h o l d to be self-evident, that"all m e n a n d w o m e n are created equal." T h e organizers p r e s e n t e d a list of grievances, detailing injuries thatw o m e n suffer at the h a n d s of m e n . A m o n g them: He has never p e r m i t t e d her to exercise her inalienable right to the elective franchise. . . . He has compelled her to s u b m i t to laws, in the formation of w h i c h she h a d n o voice . . . thereby leaving her w i t h o u t representation in the halls of legislation. . . . He has m a d e her, if married, in the eye of the law, civilly dead. . . . In the cove-
  34. 34. WOMEN UNDER SIEGE 35 n a n t of marriage, she is compelled to p r o m i s e obedience to h e r h u s b a n d , h e becoming, to all intents a n d p u r p o s e s , her m a s t e r — the law giving h i m p o w e r to deprive her of her liberty, a n d to 35 administer c h a s t i s e m e n t . Seneca Falls focused o n specific injustices of the k i n d that social policy could repair by m a k i n g the laws equitable. In t h i n k i n g a b o u t that first w o m e n s conference, it is helpful to r e m e m b e r the state of the averageAmerican w o m a n in the m i d - n i n e t e e n t h century. Consider the story of Hester Vaughan. In 1869, at the age of twenty, she h a d b e e n deserted b y her h u s b a n d . She found w o r k in a wealthy Philadelphia h o m e w h e r e the m a n of the h o u s e seduced her and, w h e n she b e c a m e p r e g n a n t , fired her. In a state of terrible indigence, she gave birth alone in an u n h e a t e d r e n t e d room, collapsing m i n u t e s afterward. By the time she was discovered, thebaby h a d died. She was charged w i t h m u r d e r . N o lawyer represented h e rat her trial, a n d she was n o t p e r m i t t e d to testify. An all-male j u r y found her guilty, a n d the j u d g e sentenced her to death. Elizabeth Cady Stanton a n d Susan B. A n t h o n y learned of h e r plightand organized a campaign to help her. O n e protest m e e t i n g d r e w nearlya t h o u s a n d w o m e n . Here is h o w the historian Elisabeth Griffith describesit: "They d e m a n d e d a p a r d o n for Vaughan, an e n d to the d o u b l e s t a n d a r dof morality, the right of w o m e n to serve as j u r o r s , a n d the admission ofw o m e n to law schools. . . . According to Stanton, Vaughans trial b y aj u r y of m e n . . . illustrated the indignity a n d injustice of w o m e n s legal 36status." Vaughan was p a r d o n e d . More crucially, her c h a m p i o n s a n d their s u c ­cessors w e n t on to win for American w o m e n in general full equality beforethe law, including the right to vote, the right to hold p r o p e r t y even inmarriage, the right to divorce, a n d the right to equal education. The aims of the Seneca Falls activists were clearly stated, finite, a n dpracticable. They w o u l d eventually b e realized because they w e r eg r o u n d e d in principles—recognized constitutional p r i n c i p l e s — t h a t w e r esquarely in the tradition of equity, fairness, a n d individual liberty. Stan­tons reliance on the Declaration of I n d e p e n d e n c e was n o t a ploy; it w a sa direct expression of her o w n sincere creed, a n d it was the creed of theassembled m e n a n d w o m e n . Indeed, it is w o r t h r e m e m b e r i n g that SenecaFalls was organized by b o t h m e n a n d w o m e n a n d that m e n actively 37participated in it a n d were w e l c o m e d . Misandrism (hostility to m e n , thecounterpart to misogyny) was n o t a notable feature of the w o m e n s m o v e ­m e n t until o u r o w n times. A 1992 meeting of the American Association of University W o m e n
  35. 35. 36 W H O STOLE FEMINISM? held at Mills College in O a k l a n d , California, shows h o w far m o d e r n 38 feminism has c o m e — o r g o n e . Mills h a d been m u c h in the news twoyears before, w h e n its b o a r d a n n o u n c e d its decision to go the way of colleges like Vassar a n d Bennington in admitting male students. Televised film footage s h o w e d sobbing, hysterical y o u n g w o m e n protesting. So distraught w e r e they at the p r o s p e c t of allowing m e n into Mills that the trustees revoked the decision. W h e n the reversal was a n n o u n c e d , the cameras rolled again, this time s h o w i n g s t u d e n t s sobbing with joy a n d relief. Mills o n the W e s t Coast, like Smith on the East Coast, remains exclusively female. As at m o s t g e n d e r feminist gatherings, the Mills College meeting h a dalmost n o m e n . O n e m a n , however, did figure p r o m i n e n t l y in a panel discussion called "The Perils a n d Pleasures of Feminist Teaching." Ra­p h a e l Atlas, professor of m u s i c at Smith College, h a d c o m e to talk a b o u tw h a t it is like to b e a male feminist at a w o m e n s college. His fellowpanelists w e r e Candice Taylor Hogan, assistant professor of history atW h e a t o n College in Massachusetts, a n d Faye Crosby, a psychology p r o ­ fessor, also from Smith. Professor Hogan spoke first, reading a p a p e r inw h i c h she described h e r t r a u m a w h e n W h e a t o n College w e n t coed. "Iwas aghast, s a d d e n e d , appalled, a n d angered. . . . T h e transition was bru­ tal, painful, a n d demoralizing." Before it could b e m a d e clear w h a t herr e m a r k s h a d to d o w i t h the conferences t h e m e , "Balancing the Educa­ tional Equation," Raphael Atlas spoke. Raphael (as all the participants called h i m ) was earnest a n d nonthreat-ening. He, too, read his p a p e r because, h e explained, its contents weretoo emotional for a m o r e informal delivery. He told us that being a malefeminist at Smith College filled his life with "great anxiety." T h e courseh e gave last s p r i n g o n w o m e n c o m p o s e r s m a d e h i m feel like "an impos-ter." H e asked, "Is it h o n e s t to identify m y project as feminist? . . . Am Ij u s t o n e of those social a n d cultural forces trying to police w o m e n svoices?" As w e p o n d e r e d these questions, Raphael told us a b o u t the m a n y colleagues a n d s t u d e n t s w h o believe that the few males at Smith "poi­s o n e d " the a t m o s p h e r e . H e said in anguished tones, " W h a t d o thesew o m e n s voices say to me? I a m alien. I d o n o t belong. 1 believe them." I felt a bit less sorry for Raphael w h e n h e finished his confession by tellingus that h e finds it all "exciting." It was Professor Crosbys turn. "In feminist pedagogy," she explained,"you d o n o t j u s t theorize, b u t take action." For h o m e w o r k , she h a dinstructed h e r i n t r o d u c t o r y psychology s t u d e n t s at Smith to b u y threec o n d o m s , m a k i n g eye contact with the vendor. She t h o u g h t the assign-
  36. 36. WOMEN UNDER SIEGE 37m e n t h a d been successful until several s t u d e n t s p o i n t e d o u t that it w a s"heterosexist." It marginalized lesbians. They told h e r a b o u t dental d a m s— c o n d o m l i k e devices useful for safe lesbian oral sex. Professor Crosby told us that d u r i n g Parents W e e k e n d , she h a d invitedher students a n d their p a r e n t s to a small interactive lecture. C o n d o m swere again a theme. T h e class played a " c o n d o m relay race," in w h i c hparents a n d s t u d e n t s raced each other to see w h i c h g r o u p of five c o u l dp u t five c o n d o m s o n an u n p e e l e d b a n a n a w i t h o u t breaking the b a n a n a .Said Professor Crosby, referring to the c o n d o m , "They h a d to o w n it a n denjoy it." O n c e again Ms. Crosby t h o u g h t all h a d g o n e well. She h a d b e e n carefulto m a k e m e n t i o n of the dental d a m s . But angry s t u d e n t s p o i n t e d o u t toher that t h o u g h she h a d shown the p a r e n t s the dental d a m s , s h e h a d n tused t h e m in the relay races. Theyd complained, she said, that "it w a s asif you said, oh, well, here are the dental d a m s — b o r i n g , insignificantlesbian sex . . . n o w lets get to the really great a n d fun heterosexual sex."Professor Crosby e n d e d by telling u s a b o u t her guilt over having b e e n"exclusionary." "I felt terrible!" Like Raphael, she w a s clearly exhilaratedby h o w terrible she felt. The w o r k s h o p h a d been a bit u n c o n v e n t i o n a l , b u t until that p o i n t allh a d been decorous. D e c o r u m was irreparably shattered b y "Rita" from theCity College of San Francisco, w h o s p o k e loudly a n d angrily from therear of the room. Addressing Raphael, s h e said, "First of all, w h y did youread your paper? As a p o e t a n d s o m e o n e w h o cares a b o u t language, Ifound it extremely dull to have to sit t h o u g h all of that." But t h e n Ritawent on to say she was so upset that s h e too preferred to read h e rstatement: "Raphael said h e was a male feminist: that is a n o x y m o r o n . Mydeep belief is that m e n cannot b e feminists. T h e y have n o place inw o m e n - c e n t e r e d spheres. Raphael is a w o m b envier a n d a feminist w a n ­n a b e — a p o s e u r in o u r midst. Let h i m take his voice into a n all-maleforum." Terry, a day care provider from O a k l a n d , w a s very m o v e d b y Ritasdeclaration. "I agree with Rita. I did n o t c o m e to a w o r k s h o p to hearthat," she said, referring to the male voice. Ms. Crosby, w h o was also the m o d e r a t o r , looked a bit n e r v o u s . Itseemed clear that she s h o u l d c o m e to the defense of h e r beleagueredSmith colleague. But she w a s patently intrigued b y w h a t she described asan "affectively charged exchange." "Rita, y o u r attack o n Raphael w a sextremely r u d e , " she said. "You are breaking, n o r m s b y attacking o u rspeaker like that. A n d that is w r o n g . But," she c o n t i n u e d , "as a feminist,I believe in breaking n o r m s . "
  37. 37. 38 W H O STOLE FEMINISM? T h e n Raphael s p o k e u p , although h e looked at the floor as h e spoke."It is a dilemma. Little parts of m e agree with Rita," h e said. "Men d o n o tbelong at Smith. So w h y a m I there? In addition to nitty-gritty issues ofj o b m a r k e t a n d m y m o d e s t research projects—I still ask: d o I belongthere? It s a d d e n s m e , demoralizes m e , a n d depresses m e . Yet I feel angertoward you, Rita. I feel you have typed m e . I w o n d e r if it is possible foru s to have a dialogue? O n the flight h o m e I will b e thinking a b o u t w h a t Im i g h t have said." Ms. Crosby was n o w in h e r element: " O n e aspect of the patriarchy isthat w e have to k e e p to schedules. But before breaking u p , let us goa r o u n d the r o o m a n d see if a n y o n e w a n t s to share their feelings." Shem o v e d about, Phil D o n a h u e - s t y l e , soliciting c o m m e n t s . Her first takerwas a w o m a n w h o said, "My heart is p o u n d i n g with Rita a n d Terry. . . . Iwas u p s e t to see a m a n o n the panel. I t h o u g h t there w o u l d be onlyw o m e n ; I w a s n o t expecting this sort of—difference." My sister Louise s p o k e u p . "I like differences between people. I try toheighten differences b e t w e e n people. I like individuals." Ms. Crosbym o v e d along hastily to a n o t h e r speaker. "My n a m e is Anthea; I a m thed a u g h t e r of Beatrice, w h o is the d a u g h t e r of her m o t h e r , w h o was a vegana n d a suffragette. Lets clap for everybody." Most people did clap. ThenRaphael called out, "Rita a n d I inhabit different spheres. I a m a whitemale, age 3 0 - 3 4 . T h a t is difficult for m e . " A gray-haired w o m a n in the back, an AAUW m e m b e r a n d an old-school feminist, v e n t u r e d meekly: "I a m in favor of educating o u r y o u n gpeople, girls a n d boys, to accept o n e a n o t h e r as equals." But beforea n y o n e could p o u n c e o n that particular heresy, it was time to go. T h e w o r k s h o p p e r s filed o u t to attend the next event. Raphael disap­p e a r e d completely. At the n e x t w o r k s h o p all the panelists were w o m e n ,w h i c h Ritas faction w o u l d u n d o u b t e d l y find m o r e comfortable. As m ysister a n d I w e r e leaving the seminar r o o m , w e passed a jubilant ProfessorCrosby speaking to a Smith College s t u d e n t a n d her visiting parents. Thep a r e n t s h a d a t t e n d e d the w o r k s h o p a n d were looking a little b e m u s e d . "Iconsider that session a great success," said Crosby, "because it was them o s t like a Smith College class t h a n a n y of the other events so far!" G e n d e r feminists d o n o t relish criticism, a n d there are n o forums w h e r eold a n d n e w feminists m e e t for a free exchange of competing ideas. I didlearn of o n e s u c h e n c o u n t e r that occurred spontaneously in the spring of1 9 9 1 at a conference called "Glasnost in T w o Cultures: Soviet Russian/N o r t h American W o m e n s Writing," s p o n s o r e d by feminist scholars at theN e w York Institute for the Humanities at N e w York University. The

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