How ‘Fringe’ Is Radical Feminism?
A few days ago, I happened to notice my Turner Middle School yearbook — the Signal, from 1973, when I was in eighth grade — on one of the bookshelves in my office, and started looking through it. My 11-year-old daughter Reagan became curious, and I began showing her some of the pictures, commenting on which girls I had crushes on (basically, all of them) and after a while, Reagan said, “Wow, Dad, you must have been totally annoying.” True, that. Anyway, among the girls I pointed out were (a) Alice, the first girl I ever kissed, and (b) Kathy, the second girl I ever kissed (neither of these kisses happened until ninth grade, however).
Quite coincidentally (the reason I’m telling this) a couple days later, the same Kathy commented on my Facebook page where I’d posted my article “Reading Feminist Theory,” asking about my “obsession with fringe feminist theory. . . . What is your point?”
A fair question. Since I started blogging regularly about this in January (“Mental Illness and Radical Feminism”), several regular readers have appreciated my work and encouraged me to write an ebook about it. Knowing from prior experience what grueling work it is to put together a book, I dreaded the thought, but in July, I finally surrendered. The “Sex Trouble” series, which began July 14 (“Radical Feminism and the Long Shadow of the Lavender Menace”) is basically an ongoing preview of draft chapters. The business of sorting all this stuff out, editing and compiling it, still lies several weeks or months in the future, but regular readers can watch the process as the unwieldy beast takes shape.
My “obsession,” therefore, is actually work, and my point is that “fringe feminist theory” isn’t fringe anymore. Remember this?
Ms. magazine found that over 900 programs in the women’s studies field were functioning in the US in 2009. That meant 10,000 courses teaching over 90,000 students at 700 colleges and universities across the nation . . . That included 31 Master’s programs and 13 Ph.D. programs . . .[T]he American Association of University Women has started advocating to implement “gender studies” programs in public high schools, and the Feminist Majority Foundation is enthusiastic about the prospect of teaching 10-year-olds about “sexuality and gender identity” with a focus on “gender equity” while girls “are still malleable and relatively free of . . . gender role bias.”
If you research the faculty and curricula of Women’s Studies programs, and examine the content of their output in journals of academic feminism, you find yourself in a swamp of radicalism. Research a little more, and you find that Women’s Studies is “interdisciplinary,” which means that radical gender theory seeps into history, political science, psychology and other fields. The field of sociology, for example, appears to have been swallowed whole by radical feminists. At many schools, Women’s Studies is most commonly a minor, rather than a major, so you have students majoring in psychology, history or English with a Women’s Studies minor, and feminist doctrines thereby become part of the academic discourse far beyond the Women’s Studies classrooms, as these students go onto graduate school in their major field.
The extreme doctrines taught in Women’s Studies are not cordoned off from the rest of academia, and the fear of being accused of sexism — discrimination is a violation of civil rights, which could mean getting dragged into an ugly federal lawsuit — is so overwhelming within higher education that no member of the faculty or administration will criticize the radical feminist agenda. Unhindered by any opposition, then, the high priestesses of radical feminism have an influence on campus far greater than their numbers might suggest. The 90,000 students enrolled annually in Women’s Studies programs are less than 3% of total enrollment in U.S. colleges and universities; however, these numbers add up cumulatively year after year, so that it’s likely there are more than 500,000 American women under 30 who have taken at least one Women’s Studies class. Having scoured the Internet for online syllabi, I can assure you that even the basic “Intro to Women’s Studies” class is likely to be crammed full of radicalism.
In 1998, when Daphne Patai published Heterophobia — a book I highly recommend — this phenomenon was already clearly evident, but radicalism has steadily accumulated strength since then. Because the mainstream media prefer to ignore this subject, you’re not likely to realize how far it’s gone unless you start researching it. While looking for feminist texts on Amazon, for example, I found Interrogating Heteronormativity in Primary Schools: The ‘No Outsiders’ Project, edited by Renee DePalma and Elizabeth Atkinson:
The No Outsiders team, a collaboration of primary education practitioners and university researchers, has taken groundbreaking steps in addressing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in primary schools. DePalma and Atkinson and their colleagues from the ESRC-funded No Outsiders research team explore and analyze central issues which permeate the team’s challenge to gender conformity through primary education.
The need for primary teachers and other professionals working with children to address equality in relation to sexual orientation and gender expression is becoming increasingly urgent in the light of recent changes in UK legislation. . . .
This academic companion to the team’s practice-focused book drawing on the project teachers’ classroom work, Undoing Homophobia in Primary Schools, will be essential reading for all those in primary education who are concerned to challenge this last bastion of inequality, as well as for students and researchers in sociology, cultural studies, queer studies and related fields where the underlying discourses shaping heteronormativity and gender conformity require urgent analysis in the move towards a fairer society.
Notice this idea — challenging “gender conformity . . . working with children to address equality in relation to sexual orientation and gender expression” — is considered “increasingly urgent” because of changes in British law relating to homosexuality (e.g., the Equality Act of 2007). Similar arguments are being made in the United States and Canada: The legalization of same-sex marriage, we are told, means that our entire education system needs to be revamped to be “inclusive,” yadda, yadda, yadda. It is not enough, then, that your tax dollars should pay for a public school system to indoctrinate kids with atheism, global warming hysteria, multiculturalism and other such progressive dogma. No, it is now necessary that the radicals must “challenge this last bastion of inequality” — primary school — with postmodern gender theory developed by the disciples of Michel Foucault and Judith Butler.
Can you say “gender is a social construct,” boys and girls?
This bizarre experiment was funded with a grant of £575,000 ($950,000) from the British Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and sparked controversy when it made headlines in 2007:
Schools are teaching children as young as four about same-sex relationships to comply with new gay rights laws . . .
They are introducing youngsters to homosexuality using a series of story books in preparation for controversial regulations coming into force next month.
Fourteen primary schools are already taking part in a £600,000 Government-funded study aimed at familiarising children with gay and lesbian relationships.
The research team behind the project intends to post the findings on national websites to help all schools use the books in their literacy lessons. . . .
The academics working on the study say showing children that homosexuality is part of everyday life helps reduce homophobic bullying in the playground.
They claim schools need to ensure they are serving the needs of gay pupils and parents to comply with the Equality Act. However the scheme sparked alarm among Christian groups who fear the legislation could leave schools open to lawsuits if they refuse to use books with gay characters. . . .
The use of the books in England prompted claims that repealing Section 28 — the law banning the promotion of homosexuality in schools — has increased the use of inappropriate teaching materials.
There are also claims that new gay rights laws, coming into force on April 6, will allow schools to be sued if they do not use homosexual texts. . . .
Dr Elizabeth Atkinson, reader in social and educational inquiry at Sunderland University, said: “The purpose of the project is to support schools in meeting their requirements under the Equality Act, which will require all public institutions to meet the needs of gay and lesbian users.
“There’s very little out there at the moment to enable them to meet the needs of all pupils.”
The No Outsiders project, which has received funding from the Economic and Social Research Council, is run by Sunderland jointly with Exeter University and London’s Institute of Education.
It has been launched in 14 schools across the North East, the South West, London and the Midlands.
Dr Atkinson added: “We are already finding that books like these are changing attitudes around homosexuality. Pupils are more willing to understand issues of discrimination.”
However Simon Calvert, spokesman for the Christian Institute, said: “The predictions of those who said the repeal of Section 28 would result in the active promotion of homosexuality in schools are coming true.”
The pro-gay British media was alarmed at the backlash:
So far, it has prompted such headlines as ‘Four-year-olds will get gay fairy tales at school’ and ‘Pro-gay kids’ books launched’. In one article, Stephen Green, director of the Christian Voice advocacy group says: “The arrogance of people like Elizabeth Atkinson, using children as guinea pigs is outrageous and thoroughly wicked.”
Sitting in a cafe in Newcastle, Dr Atkinson says she doesn’t mind that the project has attracted such vehement opposition — it’s all part of the wider debate. “To be attacked is a sign of recognition that you are doing something to change the world and the job of education is to change something for the better,” she says. “Fair enough if I’m attacked for changing the world for the better — so be it.
“We knew when we started this that the Christian groups wouldn’t like it because they don’t like homosexuals. It wasn’t surprising.” . . .
“Section 28 led to the continued marginalisation for children and adults who did not fit into specific norms,” says Dr Atkinson. “What repealing Section 28 has done is make it possible for that group of people to have their human rights recognised. It’s no good saying we’re going to have equality but there’s going to be an exception. There should be no exceptions.”
The No Outsiders project has the backing of the Department for Education and Skills and the National Union of Teachers. Dr Atkinson was recently awarded the scholar activist award by the American Educational Research Association.
But she feels a mark of success will be the day that raising awareness of homophobic bullying will be as prominent and normal as education about sexism and racism.
“If you look back 20 or 30 years ago people used to justify racism,” she says.
“We aren’t in any way teaching them about sexuality or teaching them to be gay. We’re teaching them about diversity and the right to be respected. But it will take time.”
Using children as guinea pigs in this taxpayer-funded experiment is about “human rights” and “changing the world for the better,” see?
And if you disapprove, you’re just a homophobic bully.
This totalitarian attitude — compulsory approval – has been fomented on campus within the Women’s Studies/Gender Studies faculty for the past two decades. Genuinely strange ideas about sexuality and gender have flourished within academia because no one was allowed to question feminism’s radical egalitarian dogma. Lawrence Summers, a liberal in good standing, who served in both the Clinton and Obama administrations, was chased out of his job as president of Harvard University merely for suggesting that there may be “innate” differences between men and women:
Several women who participated in the conference said . . . they had been surprised or outraged by Dr. Summers’s comments, and Denice D. Denton, the chancellor designate of the University of California, Santa Cruz, questioned Dr. Summers sharply during the conference, saying she needed to “speak truth to power.”
Denice Denton? Say, whatever happened to Denice Denton?
Denton, who was openly lesbian, resided part-time in downtown San Francisco with her partner of more than ten years, Gretchen Kalonji, a professor of materials science. On June 24, 2006, one day following Denton’s discharge from the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute where she had been treated for depression, she leapt 33 stories to her death from The Paramount, a high-rise in which she shared an apartment with Kalonji.
Probably just a coincidence.
At any rate, the trends are all pointing in the same direction:
A female PE teacher who groomed a girl pupil and then filmed them having sex in hotel rooms escaped jail yesterday.
Hayley Southwell, 27, started a relationship with the girl when she was 15 but waited until her 16th birthday to have sex with her.
Yesterday Southwell was given a 12-month suspended prison sentence after pleading guilty to engaging in sexual activity with a child under 18 in a position of trust.
The court heard how Southwell had started the nine-month relationship with the pupil at The Nelson Thomlinson school, in Wigton, Cumbria, in May last year.
At the time the pupil, who cannot be named, was 15 but Southwell groomed her and planned to have sex with her as soon as she turned 16.
Prosecutor Greg Hoare said: ‘Police investigations did not show there was anything of a sexual nature that occurred before she turned 16.
‘It was plain they were counting down the time till this girl was 16 and thereafter a sexual relationship did occur.’ . . .
There were both videos and photographs they had shared with each other, which were ‘intimately explicit’ and of a ‘sexual nature’, it was said.
“Changing the world for the better,” Dr. Atkinson would probably call it.
So that’s my point, Kathy. I’m a journalist. I’m also a Dad.
First published at TheOtherMcCain.com
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