Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Me: Feckless and Fatigued

Christine Hoff Sommers, the self-appointed conscience of American feminism, has written a critique of the feckless feminists for the Weekly Standard. When the Weekly Standard prints anything on feminism or women rights you can be prepared to hear something negative. This I have learned by the simple expedient of reading the paper!

Sommers is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (I'm fascinated by the term "resident" and imagine her camping out at the office). Her task is to bash feminism, and to that effect she has written a book about how feminism hurts boys at school and also an earlier book about who stole feminism. That book got her the job with the wingnut boys.

Explaining Sommers' purpose in life is important for the proper understanding of what she writes in the most recent piece. Her major argument is that American feminists have let down the cause of women's equality because they are not creating a mass movement to save Muslim women from the oppression so many of them experience, but are instead frittering away their time at attacking the very fair American gender system. Her evidence consists of looking at what feminist organizations designed for addressing problems within the United States do, and, lo and behold!, they indeed don't talk much about the plight of Muslim women in other countries. A little Googling could have given her some of the many websites which are involved in the very work she argues is not being done.

And who are the evil feminists who don't carry out the tasks Sommers would assign them? Katha Pollitt gets several mentions. This is very weird indeed as Pollitt has been one of the most vocal critics of the oppression of women within Islam.

I am very tired of taking down the straw-feminist the wingnuts keep erecting. It is so easy to make an argument like that if you don't care about the proof. To take it down you must show that the proof is lacking. Then the next round of straw-building starts. What also helps in all this is the almost-total darkness in which the mainstream media chooses to keep feminism in this country. Only voices like those of Sommers get instant media attention.

The fatigue is why I proposed a different approach to this whole problem: Let Christine Hoff Sommers do the work she thinks is not being done. She has money from the American Enterprise Institute and an office in which she resides. She can write a long book about the plight of Muslim women everywhere and about the ways she can free them or help to free them. She could grab a pen and do some feminist work for a change. I'm willing to be her self-appointed conscience, to keep her working on the correct topics. I can write articles telling where she goes wrong. We feminists will welcome her with open arms to do the work that needs doing.

Come to think of it, where she has gone wrong already is in her life's task of killing feminism. Once feminism is all dead and done for in the U.S., the women under Islam will be so much better off, right?
A post-script: I have more to say about some of Sommers' arguments when I've replenished my now-depleted fecklessness levels.