Posted on | January 8, 2012 | 66 Comments
Time constraints have improved my ability to ignore Maureen Dowd. Many months now often elapse between my ever bothering to notice anything she’s written. Today, however, Pete Da Tech Guy called my attention to Ms. Dowd’s unseemly assault on Rick Santorum’s family. And then Pete sat down and wrote a rather stunning contrast of the parallel lives of Ms. Dowd and Mrs. Santorum, for the benefit of Meghan McCain.
The feminists will never forgive Pete for this, of course.
It is my experience that feminists, when angry, revert to predictable arguments about the ignorance and prejudice of their critics. Yet when I recommend to them books written by women critical of the feminist belief system, these supposedly knowledgeable and open-minded women can never be bothered to read the books I recommend.
No feminist can ever concede that any critic could have a valid argument. Thus the starting point of the debate is that there can be no debate: The anti-feminist critic is simply presumed wrong, and all that needs be explained is why the critic is wrong. The Soviet “show trials” of the 1930s were less predictable than the arguments of feminists.
If ever feminists permitted doubt to penetrate their ironclad worldview, the whole ridiculous egalitarian house of cards would instantly collapse, and they would be left without an ideology to justify their folly. They should therefore be hated less than they are pitied.
UPDATE: It is unfortunate that some of my conservative friends, including Dan Collins (in the comments below) and Sissy Willis on Twitter, insist on attempting to rescue the term “feminism” from its deserved opprobrium. Here we return to Little Miss Attila’s frantic efforts to define a conservative feminism — an oxymoron — and above all I regret that, having wasted part of my day taking notice of Maureen Dowd, I must now briefly reiterate an argument that all honest and intelligent people would concede I had already decisively won.
The originators and leading advocates of feminism have always seen themselves, and properly so, as part of the Progressive Left. Feminists have therefore contested any and all attempts by conservatives to co-opt and redefine the term “feminism” as something compatible with conservatism. Yet there are many soi-disant conservatives who, desirous of seeming fashionably modern and perhaps insufficiently knowledgeable of feminism’s leftist origins, persist in claiming that conservatives who reject feminism — as all actual conservative do — are guilty of throwing out the good feminist baby with the bad feminist bathwater. (Of course, true feminists would insist that the baby must be aborted, lest womyn be compelled to submit to the institution of partiarchal oppression known as “motherhood.”)
Conservatives who defend feminism are not merely wasting their own time, but wasting the time of those of us who are required to leave aside useful work in order to refute their misguided arguments. It’s as if free-market economists should be compelled to waste their time arguing with conservatives who claim that Keynesianism is not entirely bad. And I am weary of trying to talk sense to these peddlers of “conservative feminism” nonsense. My first extended iteration of this argument was in a November 2008 column about the hateful fury of gay-rights activists that accompanied the Proposition 8 controversy in California:
The gay rage in California can be traced directly to the Supreme Court’s 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision, which voided a Texas sodomy law because, as Justice Anthony Kennedy declared, “our laws and traditions in the past half century…show an emerging awareness that liberty gives substantial protection to adult persons in deciding how to conduct their private lives in matters pertaining to sex.”
The Lawrence ruling was the culmination of what Justice Antonin Scalia called “a 17-year crusade” to overturn the 1986 Bowers v. Hardwick decision (which had upheld Georgia’s sodomy statute) and, as Scalia noted in his dissent, the Court’s “emerging awareness” argument was a disingenuous way to avoid actually declaring a “fundamental right” to sodomy. The legal effect was the same, however, and Lawrence was repeatedly cited in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s decision five months later mandating the legalization of gay marriage in that state.
If homosexuality is a right, and denying legal recognition to same-sex marriage is a violation of that right, then the rage of gay activists against their opponents is entirely justified. Proposition 8 does not deny tolerance, safety and freedom to gays and lesbians, whose right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is as secure in California as anywhere in the world.
Tolerance, safety and freedom are not the same as equality, however, and equality is the freight that liberals seek to smuggle into arguments via “rights talk.” Gay activists do not construe their “rights” in terms of liberty, but in terms of radical and absolute equality. They insist that same-sex relationships are identical to — entirely analogous to and fungible with — traditional marriage.
Common sense resists this assertion, perceiving something fundamentally false in the gay marriage argument. Yet it seems common-sense resistance can only be justified by resort to religious faith, through the understanding that men are “endowed by their Creator” with rights. Eliminate the Creator from discussion, and it becomes impossible to refute the activists’ indignant demand for equality.
This is what the self-declared “conservative feminists” refuse to acknowledge: Feminism has no meaning outside the context
of rights and equality. Once you begin defining the roles and relations of men and women in such terms, you have taken an irretrievable step down the slippery slope toward radical egalitarianism. The very fact that people who call themselves conservatives are incapable of recognizing what should be self-evident — that the radical conclusion of the egalitarian argument is implicit in its premises — should profoundly trouble those concerned about the future prospects of conservatism in America. In January 2009, I expanded my argument in controversy with Conor Friedersdorf:
Are men and women equal in the fullest sense of the word? If so, then equality implies fungibility — the two things are interchangeable and one may be substituted for the other in any circumstance whatsoever. (La mort à la différence!) Therefore, it is of no consequence whether I marry a woman or a man.
Americans have been so rigorously indoctrinated about the sacredness of equality as a political, legal and social principle that one fears they’ve actually begun to believe that this kind of equality is possible or desirable, which is lunacy.
Men and women are different, and the differences are so obvious, intrinsic and profound that to prohibit “discrimination” between the sexes is to require people to pretend to believe in a transparent falsehood. No sane person could actually believe that men and women are equal — that is to say, fungible — in this way, and therefore the entirety of the feminist worldview is premised on a susceptibility to insanity.