Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Amanda Marcotte Distorts Christina Hoff Summers's Position

I'm not getting into this.

I haven't read that (obviously stupid) book. I don't care about these (obviously stupid) people.

And I basically avoid anything written by Amanda Marcotte.

But, just for the record:

Christina Hoff Summers is not "anti-feminist."

And the fact that Marcotte and others label her anti-feminist actually proves the CHS is basically right. The core of her view, as I understand it--though I haven't read much of what she's written since Who Stole Feminism?--is that radicals have taken over (at least academic) feminism and pushed out the liberals. "Gender feminism" is her term for radical, leftist feminism; "equity feminism" is her term for old-style liberal feminism. CHS is an equity feminist--and so, incidentally, am I. CHS was vilified. I was in graduate school when WSF came out, and it was right on the money. In fact, the orthodox line among our deparmental feminists was that liberals cannot be feminists.

Furthermore, the reaction to it was exactly what you'd predict if what is written in the book were true. I remember being at a party and walking past one of the feminist professors and a grad student gleefully bashing CHS for being an evil anti-feminist. I stopped and pointed out that they were wrong and why, and the professor blew up at me. I explained that her reaction was exactly the kind of reaction that CHS describes, and that, thus, it proved the point. Boy, did she ever get pissed. The Chair of the department had to come over and declare our conversation over. Boy, did I ever win that argument.

Anyway, here's Marcotte, spewing the orthodox anti-CHS line, the lie that she is anti-feminist. Now, I'm in no way agreeing with what CHS says about this dumb book that I haven't read and won't...  But note Marcotte's radical distortion of CHS's words. Summers calls the dumb book (and I shudder at this, let me say):

"an irresistible, post-feminist Taming of the Shrew."

Marcotte writes:

"Christina Hoff Summers specifically singled out “taming” as exactly what uppity bitches need..."

That is just a lie, plain and simple. It is, I think, notable that Marcotte couldn't even just stick with the kind of lie that could preserve plausible deniability; rather, she had to push it beyond that point by writing that Summers "specifically singled out" taming as "exactly" what...etc. Perhaps she should get some kind of credit for lying with gusto...

Contemporary feminism of the kind that reigns in academia, the kind that Marcotte seems to be defending, brooks no disagreement. You are simply not allowed to criticize it; if you do, you're anti-feminist--or worse. I was publicly called "dangerous to women" in grad school for having the temerity to say that I didn't think that it was a big deal that the campus bookstore sold Playboy. Playboy, fer chrissake! It's practically quaint...an anachronism...

In actual fact, feminism runs the gamut from (a) the totally innocuous, egalitarian variety that is basically indistinguishable from liberalism generally, all the way to completely insane, ultra-leftist, totalitarian, irrationalist varieties. The cutting edge, the loudest voices, are clearly left of liberal, and they believe things that no liberal ought to accept. Worse, they trade on a kind of equivocation by proclaiming that if you don't buy their radical brand of feminism, then you are anti-feminist...which they intend to illicitly carry the force of anti-liberal-feminist. Which would be bad...though they themselves do not think so. Being anti-radical-feminist is actually good, and we all should be that. But if you disagree with the radicals--even by being a liberal--they'll call you anti-feminist, hoping that will carry the old implication that you are sexist. But, of course, being anti-feminist in the newer sense--that is, anti-radical-feminist--does not make you a sexist. It might very well just make you a liberal. It makes you sensible.

Anyway. The Marcotte piece is crap. But that book looks like uber-crap...so let all these folks tear each other up for all I care...


Blogger Dark Avenger said...

Why didn't you quote the whole of the CHS quote, Winston:

An irresistible, post-feminist Taming of the Shrew. Don’t be scared by the premise. This is not a story about a woman relinquishing her identiuty. Quite the opposite. It is a riveting tale about how a brilliant, strong-minded woman liberated herself from a dreary, male-bashing, reality-denying feminism

Of course, as Ms. Marcotte pointed out:

I do not agree with Summers that hating abusers is “male-bashing” nor “reality-denying”. In fact, by conflating all men with abusers, it’s Summers that is the male-basher here. I believe that men are perfectly capable of treating women well—and that doing so not only can be sexy, but is sexier than treating women like trash—but also that reality demonstrates this every day. It’s Summers and her ilk that are male-bashing and reality-denying.

Sorry, Winston, but cherry-picking isn't the way to win an argument.

9:49 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Bullshit, DA, and you know it.

Nothing you quote above deflects the criticism from Marcotte, because nothing in the CHS quote--and I quoted all the relevant parts--says *nor in any way implies* that women need "taming."

So, sorry, but no.

10:22 AM  
Blogger Dark Avenger said...

C'mon, Winston, bashing feminists for being "Man-hating" is so 1968.

The fact remains that CHS called it a "Post-feminist Taming of the Shrew". To imply that any kind of feminism is "man-hating" aside from CHS's own version of "feminism" is reductive nonsense. That should be obvious unless you think that Valerie Solanas was a mainstream feminist.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...


"Christina Hoff Summers specifically singled out “taming” as exactly what uppity bitches need.."

This claim is:

(a) True
(b) False


6:06 PM  
Blogger Dark Avenger said...

True, she called it a post-feminist "Taming of the Shrew".

And I see you don't want to talk about CHS claim that feminism is about being a 'dreary, man-bashing, reality-denying' kind of ideology.

Motes and beams, Winston, moats and beams.

4:44 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Do make some effort to stick to what we call "the point", please, DA:


"Christina Hoff Summers specifically singled out “taming” as exactly what uppity bitches need.."

This claim is:

(a) True
(b) False


7:50 AM  
Blogger Dark Avenger said...

True, Winston.

True or false, Winston:

Feminism is a matter of 'male-bashing, dreary, reality-denying' adherants like Ms. Marcotte, who demonstrates this by living with a partner who is male.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

1. Not a relevant question

2. You are avoiding answering the relevant question.

3. The answer to the relevant question is:

(b) False.

Summers says no such thing.

4. Summers says that the author "...liberated her self from *a* dreary, male-bashing, reality-denying feminism."

5. Thus Summers is saying that there is at least one dreary, male-bashing, reality-denying (version of) feminism, not that all feminism is such.

6. This is Summers's well-known position.

7. To fix your question:
Are there any dreary, male-bashing, reality-denying feminisms?

LOL who would ask such a thing? Of course there are. Contemporary (especially academic) feminism is rather a mess. Though feminism outside the academy seems to have moved in a better direction over the past 20 years, and that's cause for optimism.

But, of course, you didn't really want an answer. Rather, you want to play the game where you get to suggest that I'm a sexist for having any criticisms of feminism... Because that's how this game is played...

9:40 AM  
Blogger Dark Avenger said...

Are there any dreary, male-bashing, reality-denying feminisms?

Then you should be able to point to some of them by name or publications or books or articles such women have written.

Dworkin doesn't count because she's been dead a while, the same with the non-academic Valerie Solanas.

Sorry, Winston, you swallow the camel of CHS's pseudo-extreme feminists, whilst straining at the "Taming of the Shrew" gnat metaphor used by CHS, which, according to you, doesn't mean what it seems to mean especially when a feminist writes about it.

Anyway, with the writer talking about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her 'handsome cowboy' it would seem that CHS was fooled as well.

Funny how you don't talk about how such a well-known, reasonable
so-called 'equity feminist' academic was taken in by the work in question.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Wow, DA, you have descended into utter bullshit.

This is now reminiscent of the D-Kos discussion...I make point A, you conclude that someone who says A must also think B, and then challenge me to defend B, a point irrelevant to the conversation...

So we begin here with a simple, limited claim: Marcotte lied about CHS's claim.

You complain about the fact that I noted this, but know you're wrong, so move on to a separate and irrelevant topic.

Now, let us return to what we, in philosophy, so quaintly think of as "the point":


"Christina Hoff Summers specifically singled out “taming” as exactly what uppity bitches need.."

This claim is:

(a) True
(b) False

After we settle this, we can move on to the next point...though might I suggest...the Google?

Though extra points for admitting you are wrong in advance by naming Dworkin...and then trying to illegitimately rule her out on the grounds that she's been dead too long...a strange criterion in such a context...


Please answer the question about Marcotte's claim.

10:45 AM  

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