David Thompson


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January 26, 2011



"...totalists, demanding not that misguided ideas and ugly expressions be corrected or criticised but that they be eradicated."

If they keep lowering the threshhold of racism/sexism/homophobia the struggle goes on forever and the funding never stops. Jobs for life.


“Jobs for life.”

Such cynicism. Tsk. But yes, for some it’s a very good hustle and virtually inexhaustible.

A while ago, a commenter named Candice wondered whether the wild overstatement of some American feminists might be a result of having so few serious battles to fight: “The problem,” she said, “is that it is a million gossamer threads instead of a few mighty cords as it was in, say, the 70s.” I referred to an earlier exchange, during which a commenter recounted the surprise on someone’s face when she announced an interest in physics while at school. This had been offered as evidence that more must be done today to eradicate sexism. But even if we assume that such surprise still persists to any significant degree, I’m not sure one can legislate against surprised expressions. An inordinate concern with details of this kind - or with “unconscious biases” and “invisible privileges” - leads to intrusiveness, authoritarianism and enormous subjectivity. Trying to correct “a million gossamer threads” is rather like chasing shadows. Very soon we’re in the territory of witchfinders.

So, for instance, the Guardian’s Zoe Williams gets paid to tell us - based on nothing - that “hoodie” is a sinister racial code word. While David K Shipler insists that, “Elitist is another word for arrogant, which is another word for uppity, that old calumny applied to blacks who stood up for themselves.” If you’re prepared to trek circuitously through a thesaurus, making flimsy connections that were never intended, then you can eventually find some pretext to denounce any speaker as seething with secret bigotry.


"Such cynicism. Tsk."

My natural disposition (plus the onset of middle age). Though it got a lot worse the day I started reading this blog. ;)


"Craig Rogers, an evangelical Christian student at California State University, recently filed a $2.5 million sexual-harassment suit against a lesbian professor of psychology, claiming that anti-male bias in one of her lectures violated campus rules and left him feeling 'raped and trapped.'"

Ridiculous obviously, but not sure I mind. How else is this kind of culture going to eat itself? Anti-male bias SHOULD violate campus rules. Bring it on.


To clarify, it's a natural consequence of that kind of thinking. If women / "racial minorities" can claim victim status and use it to their advantage then it's only a matter of time before the out-of-favour groups such as Christians / men / whites start to get just as precious, whiny and litigation-happy. The wheel turns.


Amy Bloom is entirely correct. Feminism is the offspring of nazism (in which it has substituted "woman" for "aryan") and communism (Friedan's and de Beauvoir's ideology). There is not now and cannot be a feminism of freedom of any kind. Rauch is correct, too, but for one thing: the totalists (whose ideologies are also derived from nazism and communism) are also wrong.

I note Mr Eugenides's blog is by invitation only. There is fear and sensibility in that one.

David Gillies

The anti-oppression victimology is a direct upshot of the Marxist inability to perceive people as discrete units. There is no existence outside the group. There is always an arrow of oppression. One of the more toxic tropes from a toxic life was Lenin's, "who, whom?"


My own thoughts are that Sociopaths are attracted to Marxism because it doesn't see people as individuals more things to be used.


"The modern anti-racist and anti-sexist and anti-homophobic campaigners are totalists, demanding not that misguided ideas and ugly expressions be corrected or criticised but that they be eradicated."

Obviously, total eradication per se would be the only way to make sure. I certainly wouldn't trust anyone else to not be having those ugly thoughts, and they wouldn't trust me, either...Voila!


David Gillies,

“There is no existence outside the group. There is always an arrow of oppression.”

The prevalence of doctrinaire personalities is quite striking. Over at Reason, Michael Moynihan noted how for some feminism is a kind of “gender studies Stalinism,” where acceptance depends on mouthing the approved positions on a range of peripheral or unrelated issues. Some see feminism and gun ownership as incompatible; for others eating meat is heresy. More typically, scepticism regarding the scale of the problem and the role of government in fixing it may be grounds for exclusion, as is any discernible ambivalence regarding abortion.



Jessica Valenti of Feministing rails against such doubters as “anti-feminists” who are “trying to roll back women’s rights.” Christina Hoff Sommers dared to criticise the gross factual errors of some feminist academics and was promptly denounced by Valenti as a “faux feminist” who “fight[s] against women’s rights across the board.” Amanda Marcotte said of Sommers, “She just really hates feminism and has a symbolic hard-on for some righteous American male dominance.” Sommers had become the enemy. Likewise Daphne Patai, who was denounced by her peers as “ANTI-Women’s Studies” and therefore an oppressor. For Valenti, feminism must be a “social justice movement,” which entails subscribing to Valenti’s package of leftist boilerplate. Those who disagree, even on points of fact, risk being depicted as recidivist oppressors or unworthy of engagement.

Tina Brown described female Republicans who won nominations as “a blow to feminism.” Apparently, successful, self-made women aren’t feminists – indeed can’t be feminists – unless they have views that correspond with those of Tina Brown. Others go further, depicting dissent as incompatible with womanhood itself. Mark Morford denounced Sarah Palin as a “pseudo-woman,” suggesting that failure to conform to leftist assumptions makes a woman inauthentic. (False consciousness!) A theme repeated elsewhere by, among others, Cintra Wilson (“She ain’t no woman”) and Wendy Doniger (“Her greatest hypocrisy is in her pretence that she is a woman.”)

These are feminism’s Wearers of the Amulet™. Parochial, intolerant and terribly uptight. Not an ideal representation of the entire female gender.


“…totalists, demanding not that misguided ideas and ugly expressions be corrected or criticised but that they be eradicated.”

The “totalist” mentality is on show today in Laurie Penny’s Twitter stream: “Reading ignorant, sexist cif comments whilst standing in front of the Rokeby Venus in National Gallery. We still have so far to go.” (Twelve minutes earlier: “Reading cif comments by hateful male trolls standing in front of the Rokeby Venus in National Gallery. We still have so far to go.”)

So Laurie’s mission can’t end until “ignorant, sexist comments” no longer appear on the Guardian’s public forums, nor presumably anywhere else. The fact that some people make “ignorant sexist comments” (and others make comments she disagrees with and then dismisses as ignorant and sexist) simply will not do.

You have to wonder whether Ms Penny has thought through what it would take to achieve this level of purity.


To clarify, it's a natural consequence of that kind of thinking. If women / "racial minorities" can claim victim status and use it to their advantage then it's only a matter of time before the out-of-favour groups such as Christians / men / whites start to get just as precious, whiny and litigation-happy. The wheel turns.

Personally my favourite is the Australian man who thinks it's racist to say "G'day sport!" to him



"Mark Morford denounced Sarah Palin as a “pseudo-woman,”" .
I seem to remember exactly the same kind of insane claim made against Margaret Thatcher; that she wasn't a "Real Woman". Evidently any woman who can achieve success in life but who actually likes men and has right wing views is a legitimate target for the lefts ire. Could it be that many left-wing feminist academics and politicians, (no names, no pack drill) are actually pretty mediocre and incapable of achieving anything like the same success. Is it really, like much leftist politics, inspired by envy?



“Is it really, like much leftist politics, inspired by envy?”

I don’t know whether it’s envy, but there’s often an element of punishment. For some, professed standards can be suspended if the target is insufficiently leftwing. For example, Gloria Feldt announced on TV that Carrie Prejean had become “fair game” for coarse sexist epithets after expressing views at odds with “progressive” orthodoxy. “Feminism is about equality and justice,” said Feldt, immediately after lying about her interviewer and just before indulging in the kind of remarks that she claims to find sexist and objectionable.


Apparently tit jokes are okay, even from prominent feminists, if aimed at non-lefties.


Hate to be slightly pretentious but here's a bit of Milton which describes it perfectly:

“There be who perpetually complain of schisms and sects, and make it such a calamity that any man dissents from their maxims. ‘Tis their own pride and ignorance which causes the disturbing, who neither will hear with meeknes, nor can convince, yet all must be suppresst which is not found in their Syntagma.”


Patrick Brown

Regarding abortion absolutism, here's where it leads:


Feminists oppose time limits on abortion, because otherwise women are not "moral decision makers" (apparently a "moral decision maker" being someone who's every decision is per se morally right). Meanwhile, Philadelphia doctor Kermit Gosnell performs illegal late-term abortions by inducing the live birth of viable babies and them killing them by cutting their spinal cords with scissors. Sometimes he got his medically-untrained assistants to actually do the killing.

Reminds me a bit of Mary Daly and her plan for "nature" to somehow exterminate men for her. Get rid of 'em. Don't bother me with the details.


I am happy to be included out of feminism if that's the DoubleX definition thereof.

It seems more sensible to me that if the belief is men "use" pregnancy to control women, then women should endeavor to make pregnancy less burdensome, not by making it easier to terminate but by making it easier to continue functioning throughout pregnancy.

Which of course automatically leads in the leftist-feminist mind to more paid vacation time and whatever for the ENTIRE NINE MONTHS (what? I got the impression that up until the last, uh, trimester most healthy women were pretty much okay to keep doin' their thing; you know, given we evolved--if you believe that sort of thing, which I assume you do, given the "you" I am presumably talking to here is a pro-choice sort of woman--as upright plains-running mammals who needed to be mobile to hunt and avoid predation), whereas I'm thinking more "how can we make a work environment jive with pregnancy until someone absolutely needs time off?".

Certainly there are jobs where pregnancy is an absolute no, but there's really got to be a better way to resolve the gap there than "mandatory abortions!". (Also, speaking as the product of a reversed tubal ligation, lol@the comment thread going "OMG YOU ARE SUGGESTING A WOMAN WHO WOULD JUST ABORT ANY BABIES ANYWAY STERILIZE HERSELF? IT'S NOT LIKE A VASECTOMY WHICH IS REVERSABLE AND AN OUTPATIENT PROCEDURE." Well, actually... And a D&C is, from my understanding, hardly a walk in the park as far as "elective surgeries" go.)

Finally, addressing the strong comment thread I'm seeing of "well if you think abortion is murder but you're willing to give some special dispensation for xyz cases, you don't actual think abortion is MURDER/you're morally inconsistent/you're a coward":

1) Did it ever occur to these commenters that there are in fact a number of pro-life interests that do try to pursue and prosecute abortion docs/women who've had an abortion/etc. like they are in fact co-conspirators in a murder? It's the current attitude of the time that that is Not Done, and anyone who decides to go all vigilante on these "murderers" is considered a terrorist if they succeed--because Roe vs. Wade is still in effect and all in the states, making it against the law, and taking one's morality in one's own hands and executing perceived murderers is in fact murder itself? I'm not real sure about Catholicism but my particular branch of the Christian religion has as an article of faith that it will adhere to the laws of the land, even ones that we don't agree with; at least in so far as we won't interfere with people exercising rights given to them by the state. It is not our place to act as judge, jury, and executioner, no matter how passionately we feel about it.
2) Being pro-life, thinking that abortion involves the death of an innocent (i.e., murder), but allowing for it in the case of rape, incest, or threat to the mother's health (not her job, GPA, or vacation plans) is not morally inconsistent. (Nor is it morally inconsistent with being a supporter of just war or the death penalty correctly applied but this is a different ethical argument.) In the case of the pregnancy being a threat to the mother's health, it can be understood as a type of self-defense. Unfortunately it is self-defense against an innocent who has no say in what happens--in fact, it's rather like the two-person variety of the Trolley Problem--but it is nevertheless a case of self-defense. This is morally permissible, if unfortunate. In cases of rape and incest, where bearing the child to term would result in serious psychological damage to the mother, I argue again this is also self-defense--and again morally permissible, but unfortunate.

But you know, sophisticated ethical reasoning isn't expected from people on the conservative spectrum because we hate everyone and all that.

I'm personally "pro-life with the understanding that it's not a perfect world," which is effectively pro-life for all intents and purposes but does not oppose the presence of legal and safe abortions for the health and safety (psychological and physical) of mothers. PP's behavior over time disgusts me; the behavior, disingenuity, and lack of moral understanding of most of the pro-choice movement disgusts me, along with their use of rhetoric they clearly have not thought through.

And this new breed of feminism that apparently excludes more than it includes? Meh. If it can't do what it intends to do without using the state to protect women like we are fragile hot-house flowers, than it really hasn't succeeded at proving we're the equals of men; it's just replacing one form of paternalism with another.

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