There’s Always a Backstory
Jess Zimmerman (@j_zimms) had come to my attention before, although I couldn’t remember why her Twitter profile seemed familiar when I saw it Sunday. @SeverEnergia on Twitter sent me a link to Zimmerman’s blog post with this (deliberately) infuriating headline:
Before we get to the content of that specimen of feminist idiocy, let’s pause first to examine it in terms of genre. It is first and foremost an example of the Ironic Surrealism School of Punditry: “Let me make an argument so obviously far-fetched as to be impossible, call it ‘counterintuitive,’ and then bask in the applause from my peers in the intelligentsia.”
It is the cleverness of the argument — the show-off strut — that is the point of all such punditry. This is the stock-in-trade of writers at Salon and Slate. When you see a headline like, “ISIS Victory in Syria Would Be the Best Thing for Israel,” or “The Biblical Argument for Gay Marriage,” you know you’re dealing with the Ironic Surrealism School of Punditry. Anyone who has read Hayek’s “The Intellectuals and Socialism” understands what this is really about. Behold, the elite mind in action: Figure out what side of the argument represents ordinary common sense, then exert your superior skills of verbal articulation to “prove” that common sense is wrong. Find an eternal verity, some belief that our culture has traditionally held dear, and write 5,000 words demonstrating that it is a “myth.” With a little luck, a clever essay like that will get published in The Nation and land you a six-figure contract to turn your Ironic Surrealist argument into a book, and never mind the disastrous consequences if your cleverness should actually be implemented as public policy. In a culture dominated by liberalism, consequences are for the Little People. John Kenneth Galbraith’s entire career consisted of making Clever Arguments for Bad Policy, yet his influence was never diminished by his wrongness.
With this in mind, we return to Jess Zimmerman’s Ironic Surrealist argument for Why Man-Hating Is Good for Men:
I drink from a coffee mug that says “Male Tears.” Female friends sign off emails to me with “ban men” or “kill all men.” In at least three people’s phone contacts, my name is followed by an emoji depicting a man with a big red slash through him. When I have the loathsome task of submitting an author bio, I frequently describe myself as a professional misandrist.
And yet the boys love it. My Twitter bio — “cool and nice internet misandrist of note” — is a quote from a man. A male friend once called me “misandrist Jesus,” which I am not sure what that means but it’s the best. Another said I was “the Temple Grandin of misandry” for the gentle, understanding way in which I lead men to the slaughter. I am not just a misandrist; I am a Man Whisperer.
How’s that work? How can I hate men and still like men, and even more, have the men (mostly) LIKE that I hate men? How can men not just find my misandry jokes funny, but take them to be genuinely good news? Well, listen up while I whisper you, boys: Misandry is on your side. . . .
Zimmerman’s basic theme — “Men love me because I hate men” — is the classic counterintuitive gesture of the Ironic Surrealist. Her claim falls apart the minute you examine her biography, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, eh? Here’s some more Zimmerman:
You may have read my friend Amanda [Hess]’s terrific piece about ironic misandry at Slate, in which I am obscenely proud to be heavily quoted. . . . In it, I say that men who have a problem with misandry jokes are “universally brittle, insecure, humorless weenies with victim complexes.” However, in the weeks since Amanda interviewed me, I had a male friend — not a humorless weenie but a person I cherish even though he sometimes says things like this — complain that the “misandry thing” gets to be “a bit much.” (I did say they MOSTLY like it.) Also, since the article came out, several people have half-jokingly asked me “wait, your misandry is IRONIC?” . . .
Note the attitude of narcissistic self-congratulation: “My humor is so cleverly nuanced, and men are so incredibly stupid, they don’t get the point of my humor, namely that I am vastly superior to men.”
Once you see that Zimmerman’s only purpose is to demonstrate her personal superiority, everything else she writes becomes predictable. Because the basic premise of her arguments is always the same, her conclusion is never really surprising: “I Am Smarter Than You, and Therefore [Whatever].” Evidence is irrelevant. Logic is unnecessary. As for common sense, did any feminist ever let common sense get in her way?
NO, NONE OF US LITERALLY WANT TO KILL ALL MEN.
I mean, even leaving aside the legality of it, and issues like weapons acquisition and storage space for bodies, who has the TIME? Feminists got sh*t to do.
Here’s what we do want to kill: the concept of masculinity. And you should want that, too.
Fear not, men: even if feminists genuinely, fiercely desired to permanently banish you all to Dude Island, we simply do not have the resources. Even supposing we had a line on an island that could fit half the human population (I guess Australia could handle it, at sufficient density) there’s no way we could afford it — especially not after all this time being underpaid, passed over, glass ceilinged, or sidelined onto the mommy track.
Ironically, the very oppression that would make us want to banish you to the Island makes us incapable of purchasing one that can fit you jerks. That’s what this has all been about, right? Well, pat yourself on the back, you won.
You can read the rest of Jess Zimmerman’s column which was published in August 2014. That is to say, Zimmerman’s “ironic” har-dee-har-har defense of anti-male rhetoric hit the Internet just about the time Sabrina Rubin Erdely arrived in Charlottesville, Virginia, prepared to manufacture the journalistic “proof” that America’s elite university campuses are in the grip of a rape epidemic. And we all know how that turned out, don’t we?
Oppressors, Victims and the Larger Truth
Feminism is a totalitarian doctrine of hatred, and the movement’s incessant drumbeat of anti-male propaganda is intended to encourage anti-male attitudes and anti-male policies. It is dishonest for Jess Zimmerman (or Amanda Hess or any other feminist) to suggest otherwise. Perceiving the world through the warped lens of an ideology that divides humanity into Male Oppressors and Female Victims, feminists therefore consider any harm inflicted on any male to be Social Justice.
No harm that befalls a male is wrong or unfair, because no member of the Oppressor class can ever claim to be a Victim. Whatever lies feminists must tell in order to destroy Male Supremacy are always justified, because the Larger Truth (i.e., the universal victimhood of women under patriarchy) is more important than any mundane fact.
Cruelty toward men is thus the ordinary policy of feminism, just as dishonesty is the ordinary mode of feminist discourse. And if any man dares to point this out — to call feminism what it actually is, to describe what feminists actually do — well, this just proves that he is an ignorant bigot or one of those men whom Jess Zimmerman insults as “universally brittle, insecure, humorless weenies with victim complexes.”
Har dee har har.
Tell it to Phi Kappa Psi, ma’am. I’m sure their lawyers can take time away from working on their defamation lawsuit to answer your insult.
Jess Zimmerman plays a familiar feminist Three-Card Monte game, seeking to convince us that her anti-male ideology is not anti-male. She isn’t against men, you see, she’s against “the concept of masculinity.”
What does that feminist jargon mean? It means that everything you believe is normal is actually wrong. Men being masculine? Wrong. Women being feminine? Wrong. Heterosexuality? “PIV is always rape, OK?”
While Ms. Zimmerman would have us believe that men are trembling in fear at the prospect that feminism may “permanently banish you all to Dude Island,” it is not men’s banishment, but rather women’s self-imposed exile, which is the inexorable conclusion of the feminist syllogism. Oh, yes, it does indeed involve an island — a Greek island near the coast of Asia Minor — and feminism is a sort of navigational chart to help women in their metaphorical journey across the Mytilini Srait.
Those who have read my book Sex Trouble: Radical Feminism and the War Against Human Nature know how swiftly the Women’s Liberation movement of the 1960s gave rise to “The Lavender Menace.” By 1970, radical lesbians like Rita Mae Brown and Karla Jay were disrupting feminist conferences to declare the self-evident truth that the movement’s revolutionary goal of equality — i.e., “liberation” from the tyrannical yoke of male supremacy — was incompatible with heterosexuality.
What may perhaps surprise the reader of Sex Trouble is that, rather than trying to prove radical feminists are wrong, I begin with the premise that they are correct: “Sexual equality,” in the radical sense, is incompatible with the normal lives of normal people.
This is why feminists like Susan Faludi spent the 1990s fuming about “backlash,” blaming the failures of the feminist movement on right-wing opposition. What actually happened was that feminism, an ideological witch’s brew that emerged from the Marxist cauldrons of the 1960s New Left, simply proved to be incompatible with the kind of life most women prefer, a life that involves men, marriage and motherhood. If what a woman wants out of life is abortion, divorce and lesbianism, she will find no trouble justifying her choices by feminist ideology. Charlotte Bunch, Jill Johnston, Mary Daly, Andrea Dworkin, Monique Wittig, Adrienne Rich, Marilyn Frye, Sarah Lucia Hoagland, Joyce Trebilcot, Sheila Jeffreys, Janice Raymond — there is a vast syllabus of radical feminist literature explaining why, as I say, “Feminism Is a Journey to Lesbianism.”
What else can we conclude when we know, for example, that the editor of The Essential Feminist Reader is a lesbian activist, Professor Estelle B. Freedman, and that the three editors of the most widely assigned college-level Women’s Studies anthology, Feminist Frontiers — Verta Taylor, Leila Rupp and Nancy Whittier — are also lesbians? It could not be otherwise. No one could put together a Women’s Studies curriculum based entirely on the writing of heterosexual women.
The ‘Consciousness of Victimization’
Feminist theory as taught in our universities is a hostile indictment of the social conditions necessary to normal human sexuality. Insofar as the feminist is not merely anti-male, she must always be anti-marriage, anti-family and anti-procreation, for otherwise she is cooperating in her own oppression and collaborating with the enemy, as explained variously by “The Woman-Identified Woman” (1970), “Lesbians in Revolt” (1972) and the Leeds Revolutionary Feminist Group (1981). The fact that there are still ostensibly heterosexual women who call themselves “feminist” does not negate the lesbian logic of feminism, as was proven in 1992, when the editors of the academic journal Feminism and Psychology made a seemingly innocuous inquiry:
“How does your heterosexuality contribute to your feminist politics (and/or your feminist psychology)?” We sent a letter asking for 1,000 words in response to this question to feminists (including feminist psychologists), none of whom had ever, so far as we knew, made public statements identifying themselves as anything other than heterosexual. Two replied saying they were lesbian and had written publicly as such (we apologized). One wrote back saying she was lesbian but we weren’t to tell anyone. And many women wrote wanting to know how we knew they were heterosexual, and, indeed, how they could tell whether they were heterosexual or not, and just what is a “heterosexual” anyway? . . .
Only when we started to compile a list of heterosexual feminists as potential recipients of our letter did we realize how rare such a public identification is. It would have been much easier to compile a list of self-identified lesbian feminists. “Heterosexual” is not a popular label, and many feminists express their concern about it.
Game. Set. Match.
Reading through the compiled results of that inquiry, Heterosexuality: A Feminism and Psychology Reader (edited by Sue Wilkinson and Celia Kitzinger, 1993), you perceive that by the early 1990s, heterosexual women could no longer defend themselves in terms of feminist theory. This was noted by Professor Daphne Patai in her 1998 book, Heterophobia. In reading the Wilkinson-Kitzinger volume, Professor Patai observed, “most striking is the tone of self-criticism adopted by the heterosexual women”:
While the heterosexuals (with rare exceptions) apologized, most of the lesbian contributors took no pains to conceal their sense of superiority at living perfectly coherent feminist lives.
Recall what Advanced Feminist Logic™ teaches us:
“Feminist consciousness is consciousness of victimization . . . to come to see oneself as a victim.”
— Sandra Lee Bartky, Femininity and Domination: Studies in the Phenomenology of Oppression (1990)
Once a woman attains Feminist Consciousness, you see, there can be no reason she should ever love a man, because there is no reason why any woman can ever trust, respect or admire a man. Because the victimization of females is universal, Advanced Feminist Logic™ teaches that every female must expect to be victimized in every interaction with any male. Every word he says is a sexist lie. Every male action is undertaken to exploit and oppress women. Everything that might make a man attractive to a normal woman, the feminist recognizes as an illusion, a patriarchal deception, the socially constructed result of sexual victimhood imposed on her by the gender hierarchy of male supremacy.
While drinking from her cup of “Male Tears,” Jess Zimmerman doesn’t want her readers to take her anti-male rhetoric at face value, however, because it is important to pretend Men Can Be Feminists, Too.
This is why she finds it necessary to insist that the object of her wrath is not males, per se, but rather “the concept of masculinity.” Women are not oppressed by males, according to Ms. Zimmerman. Instead they are oppressed by a concept, and she wants you, the enlightened male, to believe that you are also a victim of this conceptual oppression.
The sadistic Jess Zimmerman expects the masochistic male to be grateful for this intellectual flogging and, if he should refuse her insulting offer, his refusal is proof of how much he hates women. The logic of her argument divides men into two categories:
- Men who agree with Jess Zimmerman;
- Ignorant sexist oppressors.
Perhaps by now the reader has become curious: Exactly who is this Jess Zimmerman? What are her qualifications to make these judgments and render these verdicts? You may not be surprised to learn that this 30-something feminist writer who wants to “kill the concept of masculinity” is also “interested in making men irrelevant to my self-concept as a woman.” She has claimed that the problem with Twitter is that “white men unconsciously build products for white men — products that subtly discourage anyone else from using them.” You have probably noticed how women and minorities so seldom use electrical power, telephones, the internal combustion engine, television, polio vaccine, etc.
“Yes, she’s a ridiculous self-parody of feminist absurdity,” says the reader, “but how did she get that way? Why is Jess Zimmerman the particular kind of fool she is?”
It may be helpful to peruse Ms. Zimmerman’s archive at xojane.com and learn, for example, that she was an adolescent “cutter” (“At cool camp I traded self-injury stories and tips with the other cutters”) or that she has a sister who is both more attractive and more successful.
Feminism is, among other things, a rationalization of personal failure and a political substitute for therapy. It is therefore utterly predictable that in 2011, the year Jess Zimmerman turned 30, she denounced “Hot Girls” who embrace patriarchal beauty standards:
Until the woman who doesn’t want to be seen as sexually available can go out with certainty that she won’t be harassed or ogled, your choice to turn heads and revel in attention is a privileged one. Until the woman who doesn’t prioritize appearance gets taken just as seriously in just the same contexts, it’s a privileged choice to achieve certain standards of beauty. . . . Feminists who want to fight for your ability to reject patriarchal standards of beauty or behavior or availability or occupation aren’t trying to constrain your choices. . . . They’re trying to give you more genuine, valid, supported options.
So, I guess somebody didn’t have a date for the prom in 1998 and we’re never going to hear the end of it. However, the most revealing example of Ms. Zimmerman’s therapeutic deployment of feminist ideology — the “Rosebud” scene in her Citizen Kane, as it were — was a 2011 column with this grabber headline:
She “had a perilous crush on the professor” in her senior-year philosophy class, and was surprised that he reciprocated her interest, considering:
What could he have wanted from me? Manic Panic hair, a fat belly and a lousy attitude are not exactly the classic accoutrements of the professor-seducing Lolita coed. But maybe he liked my outsider looks and posturing; they signaled that I wasn’t like the others, or else they just advertised my prickly vulnerability, how easy I was to take advantage of. Maybe he just responded to the habitual cut of my necklines (low).
If you anticipate a Happily Ever After ending to this story, you’re a bigger fool than Jess Zimmerman, who is by all evidence a World-Class Fool. Nothing is ever her fault, you see. Bad things just happen to her because the world is a vast patriarchal conspiracy to make pudgy girls feel sad. She deserves to be loved. She is entitled to admiration (as “the woman who doesn’t prioritize appearance” and exercises her “ability to reject patriarchal standards”) so the failure of others to provide Jess Zimmerman with love and admiration is a social injustice. If you don’t love Jess Zimmerman, you have violated her civil rights. Naturally, the fact that her affair with her professor was unhappy becomes Another Lesson in Male Evil:
I’d like this to have the sort of ending where I reconsider my priorities, rediscover my self-worth, and walk away. I did try to break it off a few times, but he always convinced me that the real problem was me: my lack of control, my ingratitude, my generally warped understanding of the world and him and myself. I believed in his authority, and he’d convinced me I couldn’t be trusted, so who was I to say it wasn’t true? . . .
In the end, I didn’t have to figure out how to walk away. He took a job at another university in another country on the other side of the world, and once he was gone he shut me out. Part of me desperately wanted him to talk to me again, but in his absence, I started studying other lessons too: about feminism, about surviving abuse, about what a certain kind of man can do when he has a little power.
Because what he’d been doing to me wasn’t a new trick. Powerful men — and not just the men, but the society they’re somehow still in charge of — have been on to this bad-teacher jam for a while. After all, if you can talk people into oppressing themselves, it saves you all the work of doing the subjugation for them.
While I disapprove of professors who sleep with their students, it’s hard to disagree with his conclusion that Jess Zimmerman’s problem was, and still is, her “generally warped understanding of the world.” And we know that somewhere, “at another university in another country on the other side of the world,” a professor of philosophy is grateful to have made his escape.
First published at TheOtherMcCain.com
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