Christina Hoff Sommers asserts feminism has been 'hijacked': disingenuous, or dangerously out of touch?
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Christina Hoff Sommers claimed in a recent interview that the feminism of today has been hijacked, speaking in particular about the #MeToo movement, the Weinstein effect, and the women’s marches. “I became a feminist in high school, way back in the last millennium. But the feminism I grew up with doesn’t have that much in common with what passes for feminism today. It wasn’t about denigrating men or fixating on victimhood. It was about being free, being a self-determining being. So sometimes I ask myself, well maybe I should just label what I am now as a humanitarian or an equalist. Am I’m tempted, but I still think the world needs a strong, reality-based women’s movement. "I’m aware that, in the minds of many, feminism connotes male-blaming and a paranoid worldview. I am mortified by all the fuss about trigger warnings and telling people to check their privilege and words like mansplaining. I think feminism has been hijacked by extremists. And I’m just not ready to cede it to the trigger-warner of the safe spacers.” For a self-labeled ‘factual feminist’, Hoff Sommers certainly does not seem concerned with backing her arguments up with either facts, specifics, nor statistics. Her arguments crumble away under the mere suggestion of scrutiny. For instance, she states that feminism is “in its current form, very male averse”, and uses confidence as a substitute for real analysis or explanation. All feminism has ever asked of men is for them to recognise the privilege handed to them by the value of their sex, over women in the same position, and for them to work alongside women to rectify a social imbalance. Can Hoff Sommers back up her claims that feminism is actually poised against men? No. She goes on to denigrate the newest generation of feminist women, stating that the focus on women’s bodies in marches, and the use of so-called ‘gross-out’ feminism, is “all quite absurd. This is not how men came to power. These are antics that reinforce some of the worst stereotypes about women… These oppression theories, and eccentric ideas that focus on the idea that we’re oppressed by being women and our bodies – this comes out of gender studies. So I don’t think this was a spontaneous movement among young women”. Hoff Sommers’ contempt for gender studies is such that she often falls back on it in her ‘straw man’ fantasies. And it’s quite smart! Pretending the millennial generation has been brainwashed into a certain mode of thinking is a fantastic way of delegitimising anything young women have to say. Never mind if it plays into historical typecasts that depreciate a gender’s ability to think critically. She also demonstrates a thorough misunderstanding, whether intentional or not, of the purpose of ‘gross-out’ feminism. Its goal is to normalise, at first through shock, women’s bodies, bodies which are traditionally viewed as demarcations of femininity. Its battle if for women to be taken as humans, not the ‘fairer sex’, building on far older beliefs held by feminists; Mary Wollstonecraft was not the last woman to call out the construction of doll-like femininity for its diminutiveness.
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