She has blue hair and a pierced nose and her name is Michelle. During last year’s National Young Feminist Leadership Conference (NYFLC), Michelle was one of the attending college students who used social media to complain that the event was too normal. “Next year, less binary, more queer feminism,” Michelle urged on Twitter, and several other young feminists expressed similar sentiments about the annual D.C. conference sponsored by the Feminist Majority Foundation. Perhaps you don’t understand what Michelle meant by “binary” in this context, and maybe the phrase “queer feminism” strikes you as rather odd, but this is the language and ideology promoted in the academic bastions of Women’s Studies programs at colleges and universities across the country nowadays.
There was no shortage of queer feminism when the NYFLC convened this past weekend at the Crystal City Doubletree Hotel in Arlington, Virginia. The opening session Saturday featured two speakers urging the young feminists to reclaim “Our Sexual and Gender Identities.” One of those speakers, lesbian activist Darlene Nipper, gave a speech that was an emotional moment for blue-haired queer feminist Michelle, who gushed on Twitter: “Glad my tears from Darlene Nipper’s speech didn’t ruin my eyeliner.” Nipper was followed by a transgender atheist from the University of South Carolina known as Rukia Brooks, a member of the university’s Feminist Collective. The inclusion of such persons (“Rukia” was born male and is in a pre-surgical stage of the “transition” process) in feminist ranks has been somewhat controversial. Radical lesbians like Professor Sheila Jeffreys and Professor Janice Raymond have especially complained about demands that they accept “transwomen” as valid substitutes for actual women. Yet the agenda of Feminist Majority’s conference for college girls was all about being “inclusive,” so the fact that Rukia Brooks has a penis did not disqualify him/her from the ranks of women victimized by the oppressive patriarchy.
Sharing a sense of victimhood has long been a central organizing principle of feminism. It was University of Illinois-Chicago Professor Sandra Bartky who declared that “Feminist consciousness is consciousness of victimization… to see oneself as a victim.” Thanks to the academic trend of Queer Theory, this kind of consciousness is potentially available to nearly everyone. Much credit for this innovation is due to Professor Judith Butler, who used French postmodernist philosophy to celebrate sexual deviancy in her 1990 book Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Professor Butler’s jargon-strewn treatise is simultaneously (a) unreadable and (b) a feminist bestseller, because it is assigned coursework for students in Women’s Studies programs. More than 700 U.S. colleges and universities offer such programs, enrolling a combined total of 90,000 students annually. Women’s Studies courses are the academic engine that drives what has been dubbed the Feminist-Industrial Complex, generating a lucrative demand for books like Professor Butler’s Gender Trouble, which annually sells thousands of copies simply because it is required reading.
Quite strange reading it is, too. Professor Butler declares that the division of humanity into male and female is an artificial illusion, the gender binary produced by the heterosexual matrix. Therefore, those characteristics we think of as naturally male (masculine) and female (feminine) are not natural at all, according to Queer Theory. Instead, these categories are imposed on us by the oppressive demands of the male-supremacist system of patriarchy. According to Professor Butler’s doctrine, a person with a penis and XY chromosomes — genetically male — can escape the gender binary and be just as much a “woman” as any person with XX chromosomes and a vagina. At least that’s what Professor Butler seems to be saying in her opaque scholastic prose, and it’s how her theory has been widely interpreted by delusional young people like Rukia Brooks. They invent new identities for themselves (“genderqueer” and “demisexual” are among the proliferating labels) and then claim to be victims of oppression (e.g., “transphobia”) if others do not recognize their self-declared status. At George Washington University, conservative students in the campus chapter of Young America’s Foundation (YAF) were labeled a “hate group” for refusing to play along with this victimhood game. University officials demand that YAF leaders undergo “training sessions” to teach them “about gender identities and sexualities,” and the group could be banned from campus in they don’t comply.
Totalitarian thought-control programs are necessary to 21st-century academia because the dogma promulgated on campus so clearly contradicts common sense. Feminists have recently popularized the phrase “rape culture” to describe any discussion of human sexuality that does not conform to feminist ideology. Promoting the demonstrably false claim that America’s university campuses are plagued by a “rape epidemic,” feminists strive to silence the voices of those who dispute this claim. When columnist George Will cited evidence that feminists were lying about the prevalence of rape, he was denounced as a “rape apologist.” At Reed College in Oregon, a student was reportedly banned from class for arguing against the same feminist lie, namely the statistical claim that 1-in-5 female college students are victims of sexual assault. “In fact, rape on college campuses is — like rape everywhere else in America — plummeting in frequency,” University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds wrote in December, dismissing the “1-in-5” statistic as “thoroughly bogus.”
Bogus though their arguments may be, feminists have never let facts get in their way. The kind of fanaticism necessary to believe that the categories male and female are a “gender binary” illusion goes a long way in contemporary academia, where dissent against feminist ideology is harshly punished. Larry Summers was forced to resign as president of Harvard University after a 2005 incident in which he suggested that “innate differences” between men and women explained the relative shortage of top female scientific researchers. Whatever differences actually do exist, feminists seem determined to eradicate. During a lunch break at this weekend’s Young Feminist conference, journalist Gabby Morrongiello overheard a conversation among attendees in which one described a radical feminist gesture: “She had her breasts removed so men had one less reason to objectify her. Such a cool idea!”
“I nearly spat out my salad,” Morrongiello told me in a brief phone interview Sunday. A member of the George Washington YAF chapter, Morrongiello attended the feminist conference as a correspondent for Campus Reform and noticed lesbian couples in the panel audiences “canoodling” during the discussion. As a result of Supreme Court decisions in Lawrence v. Texas (2003) and Windsor v. United States (2013), homosexuality has now gained the status of a constitutional right, which means that disapproval of lesbian canoodling is effectively prohibited. This new dispensation, which we might call the Compulsory Approval Doctrine, has the consequence of abolishing religious liberty. “Marriage equality” requires universal recognition of same-sex unions. Woe be unto the baker who, for religious reasons, refuses to provide a cake or the florist who refuses to provide flowers for a gay wedding.
What this agenda means for the future was in evidence at the National Young Feminist Leadership Conference, where college girls attended a “Sex Positivity” panel discussion about “exploring and deconstructing gender norms” that included Bevin Brandlandigham of the Queer Fat Femme blog. Young feminist leaders also had a “Queering Your Campus” panel offering “inclusive discussions… to organize on campus for gender-neutral restrooms or housing” and “sustain a queer campus community.” That panel was moderated by Nancy Aragon, “a proud queer feminist” who is a National Campus Organizer for the Feminist Majority Foundation. The conference also featured the “LGBTQ Frontiers” panel teaching “what true liberation and equality for LGBTQ people looks like.” That panel was moderated by Carmen Rios, the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Communication Coordinator, who has described herself as a “raging lesbian feminist.” In between gay advocacy and “deconstructing gender norms,” the young feminist leaders also found time to celebrate abortion, to demonize men as “perpetrators” of sexual assault and other forms of “violence against women,” and to denounce Christianity in a panel entitled “Keep Your Religion Off Our Backs!” There was even a panel on the so-called “GamerGate” controversy, stigmatizing male videogame players as “misogynists” for opposing feminist attempts to control the billion-dollar video gaming industry.
What is now emerging as the feminist agenda for the 21st century is a war against human nature. The ideology promulgated within America’s institutions of higher education is not only anti-male, but anti-heterosexual. Male college students are now routinely accused of “date rape” — often many months after the alleged incidents — and deprived of their due-process rights by university administrators who impose punishment without any evidence of wrongdoing other than the say-so of a female accuser. A student a Cornell University, who was expelled his senior year in such a case, has recently sued the university. Meanwhile, at Columbia University, Emma Sulkowicz got academic credit for a protest against the administration which refused to punish Paul Nungesser, the classmate she accused of sexual assault. Sulkowicz’s protest made her a feminist icon, but when Cathy Young interviewed Nungesser for the Daily Beast, it was obvious that there was no evidence to support Sulkowicz’s claim. Males need not even touch a woman, however, to incur feminist wrath. Masculinity itself is now commonly branded “toxic” by feminists, and males who even glance admiringly at females are condemned for “objectifying” women with “the male gaze.”
Targeted by such implacable feminist hostility, many young men have simply retreated. The prevalence of anti-male attitudes in academia is certainly one reason why men are less likely to attend college and less likely to graduate. Women are now 33 percent more likely than men to obtain a bachelor’s degree, and in some majors — including education, psychology, and health professions — women get more than 70 percent of the diplomas. Yet the effects of feminism’s anti-male agenda aren’t limited to university campuses. Dr. Helen Smith has observed that men are now “boycotting” marriage and fatherhood. In her 2013 book Men on Strike, Dr. Smith describes how men, “sensing the backlash against them,” have responded to “the lack of incentive today’s society offers” for involvement in relationships with women and children. This male retreat from responsibility is rational, Dr. Smith insists, because of the punitive attitudes toward men that have become a matter of public policy in American society.
No amount of “success” in their war against human nature can ever satisfy feminists, however. The declining presence of men on college campuses does not prevent feminists from disparaging the remaining male students as sexists and potential rapists, nor do feminists hesitate to prohibit as “harassment” any manifestation of male sexual interest in women. Having triumphed in academia, where federal Title IX legislation is wielded as a weapon against anyone who dares oppose them, feminists now look forward to obtaining hegemonic power throughout society. It was no accident that Democrats made accusations of a Republican “War on Women” a central theme of Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign, as he was re-elected with the largest “gender gap” ever recorded by Gallup. Nor is it an accident that Hillary Clinton’s only plausible rival for the 2016 Democrat nomination is Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Yet the political consequences of feminism’s ascendancy are not merely a matter of elections and legislation because, as feminists have been saying for decades, “the personal is political.” Hatred of men has become so pervasive that a feminist expects applause when she announces that she aborted a male fetus because she did not wish to bring another violent oppressor into the world. Indeed, feminist ideology discourages motherhood, per se, so that the “child-free” woman has become the symbol of female empowerment. Of course, the average young American woman today has little hope of having a traditional family even if she wants one. The advance of feminism’s anti-male agenda in our society has steadily eroded opportunities for a young man to succeed in life, to obtain an education, to pursue a career or earn an income that would enable him to support a wife and children. There are thus fewer reasons why women should want to associate with males, whose very existence feminists regard as oppressive. In other words, just because feminist ideology seems crazy doesn’t mean it hasn’t been successful in undermining the foundation of Western civilization.
No one should be surprised that “queer feminism” was so prominent at a conference for college feminists. What surprised me were the rumors that there were heterosexual women attending the National Young Feminist Leadership Conference. As far as I know, however, no man had the courage to investigate if those rumors were actually true.
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