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January 2 2018

Christina Hoff Sommers: Counterintuitive Thoughts on the Current State of the Feminist Movement

by Charlotte Hays

Feminism, as you recall, was Merriam Webster's word of the year in 2017, and I'm not exactly going out on a limb in predicting that it will be an important word in 2018.

Factual Feminist host Christina Hoff Sommers, author of the seminal Who Stole Feminism?, gave a must-read interview on the state of feminism that was published over the holidays in Spiked.  

Why was feminism such a hot topic last year?

While the surprise result of the 2016 presidential election was a trigger, Hoff Sommers doesn't think that the movement as manifested in the Women's March that kicked off last year is a spontaneous movement among young women. It grew out of academia. She makes this point when asked about the particular shape that the protest has taken--the focus on women's bodies, as shown in the pussy hats worn in the march and signs featuring parts of the female anatomy. Hoff Sommers comments:  

Eurgh. It’s all quite absurd. This is not how men came to power. These are antics that reinforce some of the worst stereotypes about women. And it’s just going to isolate the movement and not make it more attractive.

People say there is s generational tension. They say: ‘Well, the world is changing and this is how young people are thinking.’ But as someone who has studied the contents of gender studies for many years, I can tell you that this is what many young people have been taught. 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.

Gender studies is dominated by various forms of critical theory. Notions like Safe Spaces and microaggression monitoring come out of critical theory, which is a paranoid worldview about how oppressed we all are. Intersectional theory, for example, views contemporary American or British society as a matrix of oppression – these interlocking, mutually reinforcing oppression categories. So students are immersed in what I see as a kind of conspiracy theory. They don’t hear any objections to it, because objections are, by definition, backlash.

So I just don’t think this is a legitimate uprising. People think, oh well, if you oppose intersectionality that’s like opposing gay rights or civil rights or women’s rights. No, those were authentic liberation movements. Intersectionality is not. Those movements were reality-based – they had tangible goals, consistent with classical liberal principles.

Hoff Sommers talks about the difficulty in obtaining accurate statistics, what she calls "fainting couch" feminism, and the kind of feminism she embraced early on, a feminism that concentrates on equity and opportunity for women. Please take a few moments and read this important interview.

IIndependent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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