A “Recovering” Feminist Has a Few Words.
By Steven Yates
A useful idiot is someone who, while zealously promoting one cause, ends up advancing a very different one through stupidity, naivete or inattention. The useful idiot never sees the big picture.
Vladimir Lenin, the first Soviet dictator, is credited with coining the phrase, although according to P. Boller and J. George’s They Never Said It, he—well—most likely never said it. Not even in Russian. Whatever its origins, the phrase sometimes comes in handy.
My first two experiences with radical feminists in academia didn’t make much of an impact on me until later. The first was in Fall 1987 at Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina. It was my first full-time job out of graduate school, and I was making a presentation on what was then my area of expertise: theories about the conceptual foundations of science and the dynamics of scientific change. After outlining four such theories, I took questions.
At one point a female graduate student put up her hand and wanted to know to what extent I could relate the scarcity of women in science to scientific method. I hadn’t thought about it. The question had never occurred to me. A few women have made major contributions to science. Madame Curie comes to mind. Their methods weren’t different than those of men, so I considered the range of methods employed in the sciences to be gender-neutral. The relative scarcity of women in science I attributed mostly to women’s overall lack of interest in science. My politically incorrect answer caused me no problems at the time. This was, after all, before the main wave of feminist incursions into academia and the rise of political correctness (speech control, thought control).
The second incident occurred a few months later at an American Philosophical Association (APA) meeting where I had a job interview. The APA is the largest organization of philosophy professors in the country.
What I saw and heard was from the hall because of an unusually large, overflow crowd. A somewhat diminutive woman was being verbally attacked—hissed at, in fact!—by an audience that seemed to be mostly women. None of the panelists (also women) came to her defense. The meeting—supposedly of adults and professionals—disintegrated into chaos. I wasn’t sure what I had seen until months later, when reports began circulating and angry letters to the editor began appearing in the association’s flagship journal.
The diminutive woman, I learned, was Christina Hoff Sommers, a then-unknown professor at tiny Clark College in Massachusetts. She had read a paper on “Feminists Against the Family,” arguing just that to an audience unused to having its basic premises questioned.
Sommers had concluded that feminists in academia were more interested in promoting revolutionary social change than in furthering a responsible exchange of ideas. Their ends justified their means. Among the ends they wanted was an end to the traditional, nuclear (two-parent) family.
According to their Marxist view of things, the family is a repository of gender-oppression. Men are bourgeois; women are proletariat. Such notions, however contrived and unoriginal, took academia by storm in the 1980s and even more so in the 1990s.
Sommers distinguished between “liberal” feminism and “gender” (radical) feminism. The first promoted, e.g., equal pay for equal work, and opposed discrimination. The latter is a full-fledged world view that subjects every institution of society to scrutiny through the lens of gender. Sommers had no quarrel with the former; she had plenty of quarrels with the latter. Its influence, which puts science under the gender microscope along with everything else, explained the question from the Clemson graduate student. >>More>
(Click centre arrow to activate video)
- Create an email alert for elliot lake blogurl:https://elliotlakenews.wordpress.com/
- Add a blog search gadget for elliot lake blogurl:https://elliotlakenews.wordpress.com/ to your Google homepage
- Subscribe to a blog search feed for elliot lake blogurl:https://elliotlakenews.wordpress.com/ in Google Reader New!