Saturday, October 24, 2015

Speculation On Modern Feminism And Feminists

A response to an Amy Alkon blog post regarding an Emily Hill essay on modern feminism that Ms. Alkon's commenting system ate, which I wanted to preserve owing to length:

Modern feminism is totalitarian and expansionist, albeit the latter not in the typical sense one thinks of when discussing political ideologies. Instead, its adherents seek ever-smaller microaggressions to police (nanoaggressions? picoaggressions?). There's some evidence that self-described feminists are in numerical decline, perhaps a consequence of the cognitive dissonance that exists in the gap of defining feminism as simple equality between the sexes, and real-world proposals offered up by its adherents (e.g. affirmative consent laws, bogus rape statistics, wooly-headed wage gaps, and the conspiracy theories of "rape culture" and "patriarchy").

Such a feminism seems so obviously idiotic it should be self-extinguishing within a generation or so; it's hard to imagine a majority of women are that dumb. Yet Jezebel and other smaller feminist media outlets steam on, which proves they have a readership broad enough. My theory, untroubled by data or research in the matter, is that modern feminism draws from two reservoirs of support, one small, one large:
  1. Lesbian separatists and other deeply disaffected women, who staff the academic walls of womens' studies departments and provide the bulk of feminist theory. They are, necessarily, a small subgroup.
  2. Lay feminists in the world outside the academy, who are probably overall less extreme in their prescriptions but not necessarily in their ardor for what they perceive the cause to be. Among them, especially among younger women, is a large contingent of only children, daughters of comparative privilege who had little intimate contact with boys as peers (or near peers) at a young age, and thus lack empathy and understanding for them.
The historical contributions of the former group toward defining feminism (think Andrea Dworkin, but there are many others) are incontestable. The latter is my own conception of young feminists' background today, informed only by anecdote. A fuller investigation into the demographics of modern feminism would prove fascinating, yet no one seems willing to fund such an excursion.

Update: Apparently a hidden condition of Alkon's commenting system relegated this to the spam folder. An earlier version of this is now up, but the remarks above are refined a bit from that earlier effort.

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