November 18, 2015

Are you a feminist? "Yes. What else is there to be? Everything else is being an asshole. These are your choices."

"I have three sisters, and no brothers. In my family it is all women, and they are very strong, opinionated, professional women, and the idea that they would be in some way disadvantaged by comparison to men was just ludicrous, and if you had tried to suggest it to them you’d have got hit. So I learned it early."

Said Salman Rushdie, one of 15 famous men asked the question. Don't know if I like the hitting. But equality is achieved in negative and positive ways, and domestic violence is another field of human activity.

I like this answer: "Yes. Absolutely, of course. It’s a stupid question. Sorry." That's by Darren Aronofsky, whoever he is.

I checked. He's a movie director. Directed the movie Meade and I saw the day we met. That damned movie nearly kept us apart! Here's the blog post I wrote about it: "10 thoughts about 'The Wrestler.'" You'd never know I'd just met the man I'd marry 7 months later. The post begins, "To be fair to Marisa Tomei, it should have been titled 'Meat.'" Meat... almost a homophone for Meade, but there's zero mention of Meade in that post.

How would Meade answer the question asked of the 15 famous men? I say the question in exactly the words used by the magazine at the link: "Are you a feminist?" Pause. He says:  "Do I believe that women are people? Yes." Good answer. The problem with the question, what irks Aronofsky, I suppose, is that the question contains an abstract term that you might not want to adopt. Your head floods with thoughts about the people who define the term and why they might want to pin you down. What do they want from you? But you can muse too long about the meaning of the term. You need to jump to yes as fast as you can.* If you don't say "yes" right away, as Salman Rushdie revealed, you'll be considered an asshole. Meade had a better answer than the 15 famous men, I think, because he got his definition in quickly and elegantly and got to that "yes" easily. And his definition evoked the great old saying: "Feminism is the radical notion that women are people."
________________________________
* Or Salman Rushdie's mother might hit you.

108 comments:

Shouting Thomas said...

No, I am Catholic, a Christian and I worship the God and the faith of the patriarchy.

Meade said...

I married sideways.

TreeJoe said...

Apparently, you married in spite of meat.

Danno said...

Why is Mr. Rushdie even pontificating on this topic when radical Islam is in the news in such a big way? At least his mom didn't put out a fatwa on him too.

Titus said...

I went to college with Darren Aronfsky.

He directed my fave movie-Requiem For A Dream.

Ellen Bursteyn-tour de force.

Shouting Thomas said...

Another appeal to the fabulous past that Althouse and her fellow weird sisters have manufactured, in which Christian women in the West were subject to some sort of... who the fuck knows what?

It's all a fucking lie.

Althouse is a lazy, fat, pampered and absolutely spoiled woman living in a stinky coven of fag hags, and nobody will even bother to persecute her for that.

Nice try, prof, though. Keep trying. You really are a nigger... somehow... somewhere... or maybe grandma was...

Lord knows the trouble niggers like Althouse have seen.

Titus said...

Also, Black Swan-Natalie Portman-tour de force.

David Begley said...

What was the Supreme Leader's answer or is he not famous enough to be asked?

Bob Boyd said...

A woman asking a man "Are you a feminist?" is like your wife asking, "Do these pants make my butt look big?"

A woman asking a woman, "Are you a feminist?" is a whole different matter.

Michael Fitzgerald said...

Do I believe that feminists are people? No. Especially not men who instantly declare that anyone not feminist is an asshole. Especially when the feminist declaring that is Salman Rushdie, an asshole.

Derp said...

I guess what a feminist wants more than anything is to flood America with members of a group who believe that women are second class citizens as decreed by God! So I guess I am not a feminist, because I don't believe that.

Laslo Spatula said...

If saying that you are a Feminist gets the woman into bed than why not?

I am Laslo.

Derp said...

Salmon Rushdie, under a death fatwa, I believe for insulting Islam. Ha ha ha! Those Muslims are such jokers, I bet for every Mel Brooks the Jews produce, the Muslims produce a thousand!

surfed said...

I grew up I an era (1950's and 60's) where women ruled and schooled. Just a sideways glance from a women whether I knew her or not and I would freeze until given permission to move. I can still remember a woman unknown to me leaning out her car window and asking me if my mom knew that I was way over town on my bike. And no matter how fast I peddled I could never beat that phone call home. Don't even get me started on nuns. So in answer the question "Are you a feminist?" I'll answer that its a pretty small term for the strong imperious women who inhabited my life from the age of 1 day to 18 years old (and beyond).

Derp said...

Theme of the blog today. People under serious death threats from Islamists!

damikesc said...

But modern feminism IS NOT that. It's misandry. It's why most women detest feminists and you have to excuse their "excesses" so often.

Will Cate said...

I am nothing which ends with the letters -ist.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Aronofsky directed Pi and Requiem For a Dream. He was also married to (and I think had a kid with) Rachel Weisz, for which you have to admire him. She's now with Daniel Craig, but losing a woman to James frickin' Bond isn't something you can necessarily prevent I guess. I seem to recall Aaronofsky saying supportive things about Roman Polanski.

I still haven't seen The Wrestler but Todd Barry's in it, and he's one of the best living standup comedians. He's great live, and he was a large reason Dr. Katz was such a good show.

Bobby said...

My father was a firm believer that men should never hit women under any circumstances. Once, when I was maybe five, I shoved my sister to the ground, she told him about it, and I caught a beating like you wouldn't believe. My sisters learned this and for several years thereafter, they would assault me because I wouldn't change the channel or give them my toy or just because they wanted to be entertained and they knew my only viable defense was to run away (thereby giving them control of whatever they wanted). Most of the time, I had no one to whom I could appeal. (My one grandmother, born and raised in the old country, didn't believe girls should ever fight and would punish them severely if she caught them- but she wasn't always around.)

I learned from an early age the foolishness of unilateral disarmament, and the tendency of humans to abuse those whom they can, just because they can, when they know they can get away with it.

Rick said...

Everything else is being an asshole. These are your choices.


I see even famously intellectual leftists can't think. Interesting reaction for a group led by a man who cites false choices every other speech.


The only intelligent answer in the group:

Michael Stuhlbarg
I'm a huge advocate for women's rights and their right to choose whatever they want to do. So if that means I'm a feminist, then yeah, I'm a feminist.”

Bay Area Guy said...

Q: Hey, Bay Area Guy, are you a feminist?

A: God, no. Are you kidding?

Q: So, you're an anti-woman slug then?

A: Not really - at least my wife and daughter don't think so.

Q: So, why are you opposed to women getting an equal shake in life?

A: I'm not. I am pro-woman. Perhaps, the term "feminist" needs clarification. If you mean, bra-burning, Gloria Steinham-lecturing, sermonizing. Left-wing nonsense, then, Yes, count me out.

Q: I don't mean that - that's a right-wing characature. I mean equal opportunities and equal rights for women.

A: I can buy that - with a few historical and traditional caveats. Let's not forget that woman give birth, and, generally, raise children. In my humble opinion, though, stable loving marriages between 1 man and 1 woman are the best, safest vehicle to raise healthy children. We all have to find that balance of working hard to pay the rent and raise our kids. We're all in this together, so let's not upset the societal apple-cart with Utopian visions that often backfire.

Char Char Binks said...

I choose asshole.

Laslo Spatula said...

""Do I believe that women are people? Yes."

Notice that Meade's answer cleverly sidesteps the question: he rephrases it in a way that allows him to give a soap-bubble answer, and then agrees to his own definition.

I would've thought Althouse would've parsed that better.

Sorry, Meade, to blow your smooth move.

I am Laslo.

Bob Boyd said...

@ Will Cate

I admire the sentiment, but that answer won't save you from being something that ends in -ole.

Derp said...

Apparently to be a feminist means you must be a rape apologist if it is a popular Democrat involved, so no, I am not a feminist.

Gahrie said...

"Feminism is the radical notion that women are people."

Bullshit.

From at least the 1970's feminism has been strongly anti-male, not just pro-female.

What is the most famous feminist quote from the period?

"A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle."

What is the controlling quote of feminism today?

"all penis in vagina sex is rape"

Laslo Spatula said...

Also: I would certainly declare myself as feminist to have sex with Marisa Tomei.

She is still hot.

I am Laslo.

Jane the Actuary said...

Here's the problem with the label "feminist": those who claim that mantle start by demanding that if you don't identify as a feminist, you support the subjugation of women. But they then go on to say that, as a feminist, you are now obliged to agree to an entire agenda of abortion, free daycare, quotas in employment and politics, etc.

It's a no-win question.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

I'm a little worried about the phrase and domestic violence is another field of human activity, Professor. Is that just throat-clearing, or if not what do you mean? I'm not sure how that relates back to the value-judgement portion of the paragraph. I mean, is it a verbal shrug dismissing your objection as not too strong, or something you acknowledge exists and don't oppose enough to override your agreement with Rushdie's conclusion, or what? "Female genital mutilation is another form of human activity," or "I don't like when people cheer for successful terrorist attacks, but murdering innocent children is another field of human activity" are also true...I'm just not sure I understand the point of that phrase.

Derp said...

Maybe we should have two terms "Feminist" and "feminist." Capital F Feminism means you shape your positions always to the benefit if the Democrat party in particular, and to the needs of the left in general, and little f feminism which means that you support fair treatment of women and the general right of women to live as they choose within their abilities...

wildswan said...

Feminism: You have to believe that it's possible a women will work out well doing something you've only ever seen men do well.

However, just to throw gas on the flames, what about the military? I don't think women can keep up with men in ground combat, they can't box and remain healthy women, and they can't play contact sports with men on an equal level. Now will they be as good in cyber-war? Very few women subscribe to magazines like Maximum PC which I take to mean that almost all women are not interested in computers in the way needed for being a good cyber warrior. But those that are interested could be as good, I am sure and they.

Ann Althouse said...

"Aronofsky directed Pi and Requiem For a Dream."

I saw "Pi." Hated it.

buwaya puti said...

My instant answer is no, and always has been, because I don't mind being an asshole. I also will admit to being a fascist, if asked.
This disarms your enemies - because it generally is an enemy that would ask such a question. It throws them, and redirects the conversation to other ground.

buwaya puti said...

Bay Area guy - that's weak. Let the other person justify THEIR ideology. You be the inquisitor.
Yes, you will be the asshole. But now you are the asshole they want to persuade.

sunsong said...

"“Feminism has fought no wars. It has killed no opponents. It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, practiced no cruelties. Its battles have been for education, for the vote, for better working conditions…for safety on the streets…for child care, for social welfare…for rape crisis centers, women’s refuges, reforms in the law.
If someone says, “Oh, I’m not a feminist,” I ask, “Why, what’s your problem?

~ Dale Spender

Amy said...

So by his own logic, Shumer should resign and support another woman for his own senate seat, because she would make a better senator than he does?
(I do think mostly anybody would make a better senator but that's not the point here.)
A lot of this feminist knee-jerk stuff is bs and can't stand up to scrutiny if you actually think about it for more than a second.

Titus said...

Aronfsky is one of those male directors who writes good parts for women.

Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman did it in a cab in Black Swan-hot!

tits and muscles.

EDH said...

Rush Limbaugh's 35 "Undeniable Truths" were part of an article he wrote for the Sacramento Union back in 1988.

Here they are...

24. Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women access to the mainstream of society.

Gahrie said...

"“Feminism has fought no wars. It has killed no opponents. It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, practiced no cruelties.

Tell that to the 40 million aborted babies, and the countless millions raised without a father.

M Jordan said...

Women don't walk on 12" steel I-beams to build skyscrapers. They don't pull wire or pipe. The only ones you see on a road crew are the ones holding a flag. They don't clean out septic systems. They don't replace your transmission. There are women cops but they need backup from men. They don't build cruise ships though they do ride on them.

This is all fine with me. Men do the hard, heavy dirt work and build infrastructure. Women do the soft, light, people work and build social units. It's all good. But why must "feminists" pretend?

Gahrie said...

I'm a little worried about the phrase and domestic violence is another field of human activity, Professor. Is that just throat-clearing, or if not what do you mean?

What she means is: men beating women is bad, but women beating men is OK...so it is all about context.

Gahrie said...

I have three brothers, and no sisters. In my family it is all men, and they are very strong, opinionated, professional men, and the idea that they would be in some way disadvantaged by comparison to womenwas just ludicrous, and if you had tried to suggest it to them you’d have got hit. So I learned it early."

Said any women, ever, .... Don't know if I like the hitting. But equality is achieved in negative and positive ways, and domestic violence is another field of human activity.


Can you imagine Althouse ever writing that?

Neither can I, which is why feminism sucks and is evil.

SGT Ted said...

I believe woman are people. I believe people, especially the uber-self proclaimed feminists, can be utter assholes.

Gahrie said...

To clarify:

I think men hitting women is wrong, but I also believe women hitting men is wrong.

Feminists (including Althouse) believe that men hitting women is wrong, but are fine with women hitting men. Hell, they promote it as a form of empowerment.

Derp said...

they are very strong, opinionated, professional men,

Nothing is more charming than an "opinionated" man. But when women are opinionated, for some reason there is a double standard....


Ha ha ha ! Sorry,, couldn't keep a straight face.

Temujin said...

It's funny that the notion of strong, opinionated women is suddenly a feminist idea. I say 'suddenly' because it's as if there have been no strong, opinionated women throughout history before the geniuses of the past 30 (40? 50?) years came along. There have always been, and will always be strong, opinionated women. And men. Though these days, I must admit, there seem to be more strong women than men. But that has to do with defining men down for a generation or two, and thats another topic for another time.

I find it offensive to ask people to pony up and declare their love for feminism. Offensive and trite. It IS a stupid question. But it's purpose is not so much the answer as it is to simply clarify who's on 'our side' and who needs to be destroyed. Think I'm wrong?

Today, measuring the quality of a person is done by checking to see if they can properly verbalize the party speak or not. If they steer off course, they are not merely wrong. They must be destroyed. The only thing missing is pockets of young people gathering around the accused with their little red books waving in the air.

Brando said...

The problem is "feminist" means different things to different people, so it is a loaded term. Sort of like asking "are you a conservative" or "are you a patriot".

Believing in gender equality is all nice and good--who wouldn't be in favor of treating women as individuals and be against treating them worse simply because they're women? But when "feminist" becomes synonymous with "favoring government intervention" and "seeing gender discrimination where it may not be present" and "tearing down men"--and for many "feminists" this is how their feminism manifests itself--you can understand why so few men and women want to be identified with the term.

SGT Ted said...

Too many women think that being a bitch or being an asshole is being a strong feminist.

SGT Ted said...

"Are you a Feminist?" is simply "Are you a loyal Party member?" for yet another leftwing identity group.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

Are you a feminist?

Somewhere in the USA right now there are multitudes of teenaged girls on tumblr who are convinced they are being denied "basic human rights." That is how ridiculous our world has become.

Isn't it interesting that as inequality is purged from society, the quest for victim-hood status becomes more desperate?

Sebastian said...

"Feminism is the radical notion that women are people."

This is the foundational lie.

By the way, I don't mean to pry, but are you sure Meade was entirely serious in his answer?

damikesc said...

"“Feminism has fought no wars. It has killed no opponents. It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, practiced no cruelties. Its battles have been for education, for the vote, for better working conditions…for safety on the streets…for child care, for social welfare…for rape crisis centers, women’s refuges, reforms in the law.

In order:
1) True
2) True
3) False. Look at college campuses and the demand for all sorts of asinine "consent" courses.
4) True
5) False. False rape claims are incredibly damaging.
6) False.
7) True over 100 years ago. Now...not so much.
8) False. Men have incredibly deteriorated working conditions.
9) False.
10) False. Feminists loathe stay-at-home moms
11) False.
12) True, but rape crisis centers are horribly not useful.

dreams said...

A feminist is a female jerk. A male feminist is just a suck-up jerk.

Meade said...

Will Cate said...
"I am nothing which ends with the letters -ist."

At least now we know you're not a biologist, chemist, geologist or physicist. Women's Studies major?

campy said...

"Feminism is the radical notion that women are people."

Needs to be completed: ... and men are scum.

That's what most feminists actually believe. That's why I'm not a feminist.

Anonymous said...

Love the way Meade turned the question "Are you a feminist?" into a completely different question: "Do you believe that women are people?" Way to go, Meade!

When feminists ask people whether they are feminists, and a respondent answers, "No," the feminists usually ask a second question: "Do you believe that men and women are equal?" The response to this question is often "Yes." The feminist will then say, "Then you're a feminist."

The question "Do you believe that men and women are equal?" is actually a trick question. You can believe that men and women are ontological equals--that each is a valuable being--without believing that they are equal in other ways. Men are on average physically bigger and stronger than women, and on average they surpass women in capacity for abstract thinking. and they are also, on average, more aggressive and competitive than women. On the other hand, on average, women surpass men in emotional empathy, close observation of other people, and verbal communication.

Second, being a feminist isn't just believing in, say, equal access to education and jobs, equal pay for the same work, equal voting rights, and so forth. It means subscribing to the whole feminist ideology, whose core attitude is resentment of men and hostility toward them. That's why only 20 percent of women call themselves feminists.

n.n said...

Feminist pro-choice or principled? There is a bloody difference.

Derp said...

Salmon Rushdie is well aware of the penalties for giving an impolitic answer to an ideologue.

Meade said...

"Sorry, Meade, to blow your smooth move."

Not at all. Moving smooth is what I'm famous for.

I'm a smooth movist.

Fernandinande said...

"I am not a Feminist, nor do I sympathize with Feminism as I understand it."

"I am not a member of the Feminist Party nor any of its front organizations. I reject the tenets and practices of any movement - fascism, communism, etc. - which destroys free human institutions."

"I am not, and have never been, a member of the Feminist Party."

"To Feminism, either in its original Marxist form, or in its Stalinist perversion, I am fundamentally opposed."

"I am not a member of the Feminist Party, never have been one, and am sure I never shall be one."

"I post this cognizant that were I a member of the Feminist Party I could not do so with honesty. I am not nor have I ever been a member of the Feminist Party nor affiliated with that party in any sense."

holdfast said...

I'm not an asshole. I'm a dick. And you need dicks, because a dick is the only thing that can f*ck an asshole.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32iCWzpDpKs

mikee said...

Althouse needs to re-read Rushdie's answer. He rejects on the basis of his family life the defining principle of feminism, which is that women are oppressed by men. Women in his family weren't.

Dude1394 said...

Meade obviously knows he will not get "hit" in the traditional sense. :)

Nichevo said...

"Think as I think," said a man



"Think as I think," said a man,
"Or you are abominably wicked;
You are a toad."

And after I had thought of it,
I said, "I will, then, be a toad."


--Stephen Crane, The Black Riders

jr565 said...

I'm no feminist. But I too like strong women and don't think they need to stay home or can't work or vote. In other words, I don't need feminism to hold those positions.
Feminism is about trigger warnings and safe spaces. And that I have no use for.

Xmas said...

R.S. McCain has a book and a long series of blog posts about the books and studies that underpin modern Feminism. Basically, the proper response to "Are you a Feminist?" is "Do I believe because of the Patriarchal power structure that all heterosexual sex is rape like McKinnon, Dworkin, Bunch, Rich and Wittig? No, I do not. Nor do I believe in destroying modern civilization as these calls to 'Smash the Patriarchy' demand."

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

"“Feminism has fought no wars. It has killed no opponents. It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, practiced no cruelties... blah, blah, blah"

So Hillary, the great feminist candidate, didn't overthrow Libya after all? It may not have resulted in concentration camps but there was certainly killing and cruelties aplenty.

n.n said...

jr565:

That's what feminists don't get. There was never a "war on women". There was never a deprivation of rights (e.g. voting). There was a non-uniform acknowledgment of individual dignity and a selective disregard for intrinsic value, which has only progressed in a liberal or unprincipled society. From one real and perceived extreme to another with the development of equivalence and construction of congruences, most notably under the establishment of a pro-choice cult.

Scott M said...

Really depends on how the questioner defines the term, doesn't it, what with waves and such...

n.n said...

Feminism has fought wars to prove equivalence. It has killed an unprecedented number of wholly innocent human lives for wealth, pleasure, and leisure. It has set up concentration camps for competing men and women, economically and socially starved its enemies, and practiced torture and cannibalism of enemy combatants (e.g. babies). Its battles have been for declining quality but not quantity of education, for the illegal and ineligible vote, for shifted working conditions, for submission of dignity and rights on the streets, for delegated child care, for profiting from the welfare industry, for fostering a rape culture, displacing and replacing aborted and planned Americans, negative progressions in the law (e.g. rites to murder, assumptions of guilt, dysfunctional relationships).

If someone says, “Oh, I’m not a feminist,” I ask, “Why would you be?”

Ann Althouse said...

"Althouse needs to re-read Rushdie's answer. He rejects on the basis of his family life the defining principle of feminism, which is that women are oppressed by men. Women in his family weren't."

What do you think I got wrong?

Ann Althouse said...

He was raised around women who expected to be treated as equals and wouldn't have accepted anything less. You're inserting some "defining principle of feminism" which he didn't use and you're extending it absolutely, to mean that all women are always oppressed by men. Who thinks that?! Straw man.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...I saw "Pi." Hated it.

And Requiem? I saw Pi in college--I remember it as an interesting film but tough to watch, very in your face with disharmonious visuals and sound to portray the protagonists' mental and emotional state. Lots of people find Requiem difficult to watch, as well, though more for the bleakness than the sensory assault, I think.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Straw man? Tut tut. Straw person.

averagejoe said...

The only reason the jihadis were never able to behead Salman Rushdie was because it was safely tucked so far up his ass.

Gahrie said...

you're extending it absolutely, to mean that all women are always oppressed by men. Who thinks that?

How about every other feminist except you and Camille Paglia?

Jennifer Lawrence is making tens of millions to play pretend and is bitching about it.

Every academic feminist on twitter is bitching about it.

The quite popular idea that all penis in vagina sex is rape is a perfect example of it.

Frankly, it is a big reason why so many people refuse to call themselves feminist anymore.

vanderleun said...

Meade: I've often speculated on why you don't return to full bore feminism. Did you grow a brain? Did you run off to keep from giving one more boring law class? I like to think that you killed Andrea Dworkin. It's the romantic in me.
Althouse: It's a combination of all three.
Meade: And what in heaven's name brought you to marry me?
Althouse: My mental health. I came to marriage for the waters.
Meade: The waters? What waters? We're in a desert.
Althouse: I was misinformed.

cubanbob said...

Ann Althouse said...
"Althouse needs to re-read Rushdie's answer. He rejects on the basis of his family life the defining principle of feminism, which is that women are oppressed by men. Women in his family weren't."

What do you think I got wrong?

11/18/15, 11:37 AM
Ann Althouse said...
He was raised around women who expected to be treated as equals and wouldn't have accepted anything less. You're inserting some "defining principle of feminism" which he didn't use and you're extending it absolutely, to mean that all women are always oppressed by men. Who thinks that?! Straw man."

Tell us your definition of feminism. Let us not start with a presumed and agreed upon starting point. Then based on your definition of the term we may agree for the purposes of this blog that alternative to being a feminist is being an asshole or that being a feminist is being an asshole.

William said...

Rushdie has been married four times. I would guess that some of his ex wives were not sufficiently supportive of his feminism and he was forced to move on.

Rick said...

all women are always oppressed by men. Who thinks that?!Straw man.

Change men to "structures created by and maintained by men" and essentially every theoretical feminist believes this. Isn't this what feminists mean by Patriarchy? Are we to believe opposition to the Patriarchy is some fringe view no one believes rather than the unifying tenet of modern feminism?

I Callahan said...

My sisters learned this and for several years thereafter

Did you ever, later in life, remind your father about this story? If so, what was his reaction then?

Ann Althouse said...

"Tell us your definition of feminism. Let us not start with a presumed and agreed upon starting point. Then based on your definition of the term we may agree for the purposes of this blog that alternative to being a feminist is being an asshole or that being a feminist is being an asshole."

The starting point is that a magazine asked a particular question, using a word that was not defined in the question.

The second thing that happened was 15 men reacted to that question, asked in that form, using that word, and without a definition.

That presented them with a problem that they needed to deal with.

I presented Meade with the same problem. I was impressed with his solution.

At no point in that sequence is there any relevance to how I would define the word. It's a word susceptible to a variety of definitions and because of that it's tricky to use it, and if you resist using it, you can get pilloried for that too. That's the problem to be solved, and it cannot be solved by my setting the definition.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said... That's the problem to be solved, and it cannot be solved by my setting the definition.

I agree, but it might nevertheless be interesting to your readers to learn your preferred definition--not so much the one you'd give if prompted in the way this magazine did, but your actual working definition. "Tell us" is a bit of a demand, though, and not all that polite.

To satisfy commenter curiosity would you please state for us how you define feminism?

Brando said...

"Feminism is the radical notion that women are people."

I'm impressed by the bait and switch--define feminism to be something reasonable, and of course everyone should be a feminist! Then latch it onto far more controversial, less supportable positions (e.g., we need government to guarantee paid maternal leave, women can't walk ten feet without getting raped on campus, the male patriarchy is holding women back, women make less than men and that's because of sexism) and when people balk you can call them anti-feminist.

Let's try this--a patriot is someone who loves this country. Are you a patriot? Of course you are! Now, true patriots also favor doubling the size of our military and invading this list of countries I've provided, and of course every law passed by Congress is terrific if you're a patriot, so don't dissent, citizen! Hey, if you have a problem with these things you must not be a patriot!

Sebastian said...

"If you don't say "yes" right away, as Salman Rushdie revealed, you'll be considered an asshole."

By "revealing" it the way he did, he also called it into question, and subtly alluded to the PC conformity the term and the question inspire. His reference to his emancipated female relatives also has a critical edge, suggesting that women's lib didn't need "feminism."

Of course, Rushdie is a reliable Prog. But not 100% totally PC reliable, and therefore more interesting. No die-hard Western Prog would dare write the Satanic Verses. He has spoken up for free speech in near-Millian tones. Here he is ever so slightly calling BS.

n.n said...

Feminism is a quasi-religion and ideology with a female-oriented bias. In its worst incarnation, it manifests as a prejudice that is hostile to men, dissenting women, and "babies". Where "babies" represents anything that burdens indulgence in the female ego and body, in the same manner as their male chauvinist counterparts, and narcissists generally.

Meade said...

Then I take it you are NOT a feminist.

damikesc said...

I'll go with a simpler question.

Professor, do you believe there is a wage gap between men and women that is caused by societal pressures and a lack of respect for women?

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Brando said...I'm impressed by the bait and switch--define feminism to be something reasonable, and of course everyone should be a feminist! Then latch it onto far more controversial, less supportable positions...and when people balk you can call them anti-feminist.

The generalized form of this style of argument has been called the "motte and bailey" fallacy. The term was apparently coined, or at least popularized, in a paper in Metaphilosophy in 2005. The strong, defensible proposition is the motte and the shaky, indefensible assertions are the bailey. You assert the "bailey" and then when challenged retreat to the "motte." The bonus here is that you can additionally claim your attackers are illegitimate since they're attacking the motte ("hey, this guy doesn't believe women are real people!") when actually they're just disagreeing with the propositions you won't (or can't) defend when pressed.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

damikesc: "caused by societal pressures" is big enough to stroll through--"market forces" are driven by the interaction of supply and demand, which is a function of social/cultural forces (tastes, beliefs, attitudes, etc) so if someone wanted to weasel out of answering your question in a way that gives you the information you actually want they could do so easily.

RonF said...

My answer to that would be "Many people think different things when you say the word 'feminist'. What do YOU mean by the word 'feminist'? Then I'll tell you if I agree to that."

Nichevo said...

"What's a feminist?"

Cleverest shortest answer excluding "No"

Anthony said...

"No, I love women. 'Feminists' are rabid Leftists who really don't give a f*** about women, just their power politics. "

Shouting Thomas said...

"He was raised around women who expected to be treated as equals and wouldn't have accepted anything less."

So was everybody, professor.

The great oppression of Western women (and you're niggerhood) never existed.

You're a fucking liar. You've been lying for decades in order to fabricate a phony past.

Stop lying.

Quaestor said...

And his definition evoked the great old saying: "Feminism is the radical notion that women are people."

Which answers nothing. Toddlers are also people, but we don't generally employ them as operators of construction machinery.

People who fall back on great old sayings generally haven't the resources to answer the question in terms that satisfy the principle of refutability. Anybody who says that the alternative to feminism is assholery is implying that feminism cannot be falsified, which puts in the category of religion rather than philosophy.

Feminism is a shifting, nebulous intellectual chimera, a hydra that grows and sheds heads willy-nilly with only one over-arching principle at its back, namely the immediate needs of the Democratic Party. This is why Clarence Thomas is a monster who has no place siting as a justice of the High Court because of a remark about a pubic hair, and Bill Clinton is a secular saint who is entitled to a free grope, among other things.

Rush Limbaugh is widely regarded as an asshole by feminists for many reasons, but primarily by his coinage of the term feminazi, implying a kinship with National Socialism. Feminists vehemently reject this, and perhaps rightly so, but in one important respect feminism and nazism are similar. When Helmut Christian Goebbels, only son of Joseph Goebbels, asked his father, "What is National Socialism?" the Reichs Propaganda Minister answered with the typical boilerplate he had been using on the German people for years -- National Socialism is the organized will of the Volk... blah, blah, blah -- which the son found only confusing and contradictory. Finally in exasperation Goebbels summed up the Party philosophy as simply this: National Socialism is whatever the F├╝hrer says it is. The glowering expression on his father's face told young Helmut that that was as good as it was going to get. Feminism is like this. It is whatever the leadership says it is, and it is not whatever the leadership says it is not. There are no doctrinal guideposts that allow individual feminists to make distinctions of is and is not. If there were Bill Clinton would have been convicted and deposed. One would be a fool put his foot into such intellectual quicksand. Quaestor is not a fool, therefore Quaestor is not a feminist. If the alternative is being labelled an asshole, then Quaestor wears the label as a badge of honor.

damikesc said...

In Rush's defense, he specifically spelled out what a feminazi was. A feminist for whom abortion is the single most important thing in the world. Said there were very few of them.

Also got heat for performing caller abortions on bad callers. Turn on a vacuum and end the call. Pointed out that the real thing doesn't bug people nearly as badly as a vacuum sound effect and hanging up on somebody.

Ann Althouse said...

"Here are two definitions: 1. a feminist is anyone who believes in the equality of the sexes, and 2. a feminist is someone who centers her political activities on the interests of women and steadfastly puts those interests first. The trouble with No. 1 is that pretty much everyone is a feminist now. The trouble with No. 2 is that you get to kick out everyone who, say, muddied the issue of sexual harassment in order to help Bill Clinton out of a jam. "Definition No. 2 is good if you'd like to put people to the test. Plus, it's amusing when you have to kick yourself out, too. I know I would—not because I put party politics ahead of women (like the would-be feminists I'd enjoy giving the boot), but because equality and justice are more important than doggedly advancing the interests of your own kind. So, that means I've stumbled back to definition No. 1—and the end of the conversation."

http://althouse.blogspot.com/2015/10/carly-fiorina-has-feminists-on-defensive.html

Quaestor said...

Typo alert: siting

Should read: This is why Clarence Thomas is a monster who has no place sitting as a justice of the High Court because of a remark about a pubic hair

Meade said...

A feminist is anyone who advocates for the social, political, legal, and economic rights of women. Feminists can be and frequently are assholes equal to nonfeminists.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Professor: Thanks. I agree definition 1. is all but universally agreed-to in most of America today, which I guess just points out that asking the question in the way NYMag did isn't really designed to get a deep, thoughtful answer.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Meade said...A feminist is anyone who advocates for the social, political, legal, and economic rights of women

In practical terms, though, that just shifts the argument over to "what properly constitutes the social, political, legal, and economic rights of women" and what's just special pleading? It's a fine dictionary definition of the movement, but unless you have underlying agreement as to those terms (their meaning, extent, etc) then you can still have two people saying they're feminists and vigorously disagreeing that the other is correct!

Quaestor said...

Here are two definitions: 1. a feminist is anyone who believes in the equality of the sexes, and 2. a feminist is someone who centers her political activities on the interests of women and steadfastly puts those interests first. The trouble with No. 1 is that pretty much everyone is a feminist now.

There's a much bigger problem with No.1 besides ubiquity. What does equality of the sexes mean? In mathematics equality has a useful definition. In short mathematical equality means two or more terms are interchangeable. Without that definition no higher maths are possible. I think it's patently evident that humans are not equal in that sense. I may hope to be treated with something like equal treatment before the law as is Payton Manning (though the history of practical jurisprudence mitigates against that hope) but I'd be a fool to think the Broncos would welcome me as a replacement QB.

Does equality of the sexes mean equal before the law? Ask any man who has tried to save the life of his in utero son or daughter. Does equality of the sexes mean equal treatment of university students before those kangaroo administrative courts that operate on the principle that an accusation of rape is as good as a fact of rape?

How about equal pay for equal work? Sounds good until one runs into the claims of those who believe that seniority confers a privilege.

n.n said...

Individual dignity and intrinsic value. Feminists like male chauvinists don't respect the first and selectively acknowledge the latter. They're like the human rights groups that deny intrinsic value and the civil rights groups that deny individual dignity. A progressive or more correctly negative progressive (i.e. regressive) form is class diversity, not based on principles, but on opportunism.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Feminists are people who believe that women are not respected when they act like selfish and obnoxious assholes.

They're entirely correct.

Rhythm and Balls said...

The hilarious thing about self-proclaimed feminists in 2015 America is that their primary gripe involves unequal/unfair treatment in the workplace.

To which every man who ever existed wonders when it was that there has ever been fair/equal treatment in the workplace.

The rest of it is generally family issues projected onto the amorphous catch-all scapegoat known as "society". Women who grew up in families that listened to them don't feel that society is against them. Women who didn't grow up that way, do feel that society is against them.

Feminists are usually ultra horrible at accepting that women receive and are enthusiastically offered forms of entitlement and even narcissistic entitlement that no man would dare dream of asking for. Not because he'd feel "unworthy". But because he knows that fairness wouldn't allow it. It's true that these are often entitlements that aren't usually requested and might not even be desired by a woman, but that's not the point. The point is that they're not going away and moreover that women don't tend to wish them away - even if that would be the fair "trade" to make on behalf of "complete equality". They want the material benefits of a capitalistic, prosperous society but not its inevitable economic judgments. That seems to be a fact that there's no getting around.

Because men were primarily responsible for developing trade and economics - systems that required trust and therefore complete honesty among strangers, they had to develop something called "honor". This was the idea that your word was your bond when it came to the face you present to the public.

Women generally have no clue what that means.

Find a completely honest and open woman, and I'll show you someone who's not a feminist.

Feminist and masculist are both sectarian perversions of humanist.

Will Cate said...

Meade said: "At least now we know you're not a biologist, chemist, geologist or physicist. Women's Studies major?"

LOL... No, I am none of those things. English major, actually.

Bruce Hayden said...

Maybe I shouldn't be surprised here on the comments. Even R&B. I think that I can say that I was a feminist for my second and third 20 years of life. And have been almost exclusively with strong women since the end of the first 20 years. There have been strong women in my family for at least as long as there has been a Republican Party. But, then, I woke up one day, and realized that many women today believed in unearned narcissism. Basically, almost everything that separates us from our pre-human ancestors was invented and initially built by men. The Internet, computers,tablets, cell phones, etc that women use to share their lives with other women and control and abuse men? Invented almost completely by men. The cars they drive to the beauty salon or shopping, and the roads upon which they drive? Invented and mostly built by men. Etc. Instead of inventing and building something useful, so many women today would seemingly prefer tearing down the men who invented and built most everything useful in this world.

You say that women build the most important thing in the world - the next generation. And that was traditionally true. When I go back to the family grave site in MI, I see male ancestors with a wife buried on each side. The first one probably died in child birth. But now, ZPG calls for 2.1 or so children, which are often born relatively close together, meaning that many women don't give up that much ch of their lives in this endeavor. And, yes, making things much worse is the idea that the state will take the resources of men and non-breeding women to suppot the child raising of unwed and previously women. The result? Uncivilized and undomesticated males running in juvenile packs, violently terrorizing the community until these males end up in prison and/or dead, and the girls doing the same thing for the next generation. This is part of what feminism has wrought. Along with guilt by accusations in college, much higher suicide and death rates for males. Feminism in action.

So, I call myself a masculinist these days, spending more time with other guys, and otherwise working for more equal rights for men over rights for women.

stevo said...

Feminism as I understand it is based on the Communist idea of dividing the world into oppressed and oppressor. It divides humanity and encourages a constant state of implicit or explicit warfare with the other. Marriage between men and women is seen as a power struggle with winners and losers, raising children becomes a shameful chore best dealt with by government agencies, and all traditional notions of love and self sacrifice are seen as a cruel joke.