The Other McCain

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The Crazy Feminism of Joyce Trebilcot

Posted on | October 28, 2014 | 29 Comments


America lost a valuable source of feminist craziness when Professor Joyce Trebilcot died in 2009 at age 74. For more than three decades, Trebilcot supplied the feminist movement with its necessary raw material — insanity — and in its obituary of this distinguished academic, Washington University St. Louis described her contributions:

Trebilcot, who joined the University in 1970 as assistant professor of philosophy, helped found the women’s studies major in 1972 and the program in 1975. She served as coordinator of the program from 1980-1992. . . .
“Working with a group of committed students and faculty, Joyce Trebilcot played an integral role in developing women’s studies at Washington University from a special major into an interdisciplinary program in the 1970s,” said Mary Ann Dzuback, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program. . . .
A founding member of the Society for Women in Philosophy and of the editorial board of Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, Trebilcot grew up in Oakland, Calif., and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a doctorate from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Professor Trebilcot left behind a lesbian widow, her partner Jan Crites, as well as a formidable body of insane feminist writings. Perhaps most widely cited was her influential 1974 treatise “Sex Roles: The Argument From Nature,” a landmark work of lunatic feminism.

Addressing herself to the question of whether male/female sex roles are justified by “natural psychological differences between the sexes,” Professor Trebilcot in effect answered, “So what?”

In this paper I argue that whether there are natural psychological differences between females and males has little bearing on the issue of whether society should reserve certain roles for females and others for males. . . .
The question is, after all, not what women and men naturally are, but what kind of society is morally justifiable. In order to answer this question, we must appeal to the notions of justice, equality, and liberty. It is these moral concepts, not the empirical issue of sex differences, which should have pride of place in the philosophical discussion of sex roles.

OK, so “what kind of society is morally justifiable”?

If you ask a lesbian feminist that question, you might not be surprised that her answer is “lesbian feminist society,” and Professor Trebilcot seems to have dedicated much of her career to that proposition. Her 1994 book Dyke Ideas: Process, Politics, Daily Life is a collection of essays devoted to Professor Trebilcot’s gynocentric philosophy. One of her essays in that volume, “Dyke Methods, or Principles for the Discovery/Creation for the Withstanding,” was first published in the feminist journal Hypatia in 1988. It begins with Professor Trebilcot’s statement that she is “[a]larmed by the domination inherent in the patriarchal idea of truth.” She states her purpose thus:

The methods I discuss in this essay are, most narrowly conceived, methods for using language. They are, therefore, methods for a great deal else as well — experiencing, thinking, acting. But my focus is on language, on verbal language, on English; my focus is on how, as a dyke — a conscious, committed, political lesbian — I can use words in thinking, speaking, and writing to contribute to the discovery/creation of consciously lesbian realities.

To a student of psychology, this looks suspiciously like “magic thinking” and “word salad,” typical symptoms of schizophrenia. Yet keep in mind that this was written by a tenured professor who, at the time, was serving as coordinator of her university Women’s Studies program.

The Continuum of Feminist Insanity

Among the inmates of our nation’s mental hospitals are perhaps thousands of women who, if handed a Ph.D. in philosophy, could get tenure-track positions under the standards that prevailed in the Women’s Studies programs of the 1970s, when it seemed that any crazy lesbian like Professor Trebilcot (or Mary Daly or Sally Miller Gearhart) could become an academic superstar. This explains why feminism, unlike some other fads of its era, has proven so remarkably persistent. It’s hard to make a career of tie-dyed T-shirts and bell-bottom pants, but being a professional crazy lesbian? The National Women’s Studies Association is dedicated to making such careers possible. The teenage lesbian with no skills (other than an aptitude for “critical theory” jargon) and no interest in getting an actual job can become a Women’s Studies major at her college and at least hope that her avid emulation of feminism’s founding foremothers will qualify her to teach this lunatic nonsense to other disturbed young women. Alternatively, she can apply for a job as a hotel desk clerk, or work for a nonprofit like the Feminist Majority Foundation. If all else fails, she can become a radical feminist blogger and proclaim to the world: “PIV is always rape, OK?”

We can perceive a Continuum of Feminist Insanity, as we might call it, between (a) pioneering lunatics like Joyce Trebilcot and (b) the crazy feminists who turned a (non-existent) “rape epidemic” on college campuses into California’s “affirmative consent” law. What has happened is that unrealistic beliefs about men, women and sex have obtained intellectual prestige. These beliefs have gained institutional authority from the hegemonic influence of feminism within academia and, inevitably, once the lunatics took over the asylum, they acquired political power sufficient to legislate crazy laws.

Quod erat demonstrandum.

How has this happened? You see that in the 1970s, when the first Women’s Studies programs were created, this enabled obscure academic mediocrities — previously undistinguished women who happened to have obtained advanced degrees in the humanities and social sciences — suddenly to become superstars within the universe of Official Feminism. All that was necessary, to a feminist with a Ph.D. and a faculty sinecure, was to write articles and books that espoused feminist ideals and made arguments politically useful to feminism’s goals. No argument was too ludicrous for publication, if it served a feminist purpose. Joyce Trebilcot’s 1974 argument about sex roles, for example, wasn’t so much an argument (in the sense of formal logic) as it was a crude bait-and-switch: Begin by discussing evidence regarding general psychological differences between men and women and then — abracadabra! — declare that the differences don’t matter, because “notions of justice, equality, and liberty” are more important than facts. As a formula for insanity, feminism rivals LSD in its potency.

Permit me to digress. It has always been my belief, based on extensive youthful experience with crazy dopeheads, that Mary Daly must have had at least a few LSD trips. Anyone who has hung around acid freaks could pick up a copy of Professor Daly’s most famous book, Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism, and recognize the telltale signs she was tripping when she wrote it or, at least, Daly had done enough serious hallucinogens to acquire that permanent propensity for Cosmic Metaphysical Gibberish that longtime freaks typically display.

This is a digression, I say, but not entirely irrelevant to understanding the fundamental unrealism of feminist thought. Every author who writes about the origins of so-called “second wave” feminism in the late 1960s routinely observes the historical context of the movement’s roots in the radical New Left, including the civil rights and anti-war movements. What the historians generally fail to mention, however, is that the emergence of feminism also occurred at time when heavy experimentation with hallucinogens was commonplace among young radicals. You take a bright young bohemian — somebody with a 140 IQ, an antipathy to conventional authority and a penchant for theoretical abstraction — and supply that alienated young student with marijuana, LSD, psilocybin and other tools for “expanding their consciousness,” and I guarantee the result will include craziness.

You can’t really understand the etiology of feminism, I contend, if you ignore the Drug Factor. Perhaps not every radical woman of that era was a user of hallucinogens, but there were obviously enough Cosmic Space Travelers among them to form a critical mass of craziness.

Berkeley Beatniks and ‘Ecstatic Communion’

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro,” Hunter S. Thompson famously observed, and the revolutionary vanguard of the Women’s Liberation movement clearly included some professional weirdos. And this brings us back to the subject of Professor Joyce Trebilcot’s distinctive brand of feminist craziness. The 1988 feminist book For Lesbians Only: A Separatist Anthology includes an essay by Professor Trebilcot entitled “Craziness as a Source of Separatism.” This provides helpful bits of autobiographical information:

I begin with a brief description of the events I label “being crazy.” I am remembering my life of the late 1950s and early 1960s, when I was in my late twenties. . . .
There were two stages. First, intrusion. Men — male voices — would overhear my thoughts and want to get in. The second stage was control. The invaders not only wanted to get in, they wanted to take me over once they were in . . . This then is the core of the craziness — invasion and control, and the threat of invasion and control.
I was drawn to participate, to allow the connection to happen, but at the same time I would repeatedly block. I was drawn because of the lightness and power of participation, and because of my values — acquired primarily in Berkeley during the “Beatnik” time as a street person and student of dance and philosophy — which made participating in “ecstatic communion,” whether through drugs or religion or art or sex or some other means, the highest and consuming priority. Consciously, I accepted this “experience ethic” . . . but nevertheless . . . I would regularly block when it seemed that intense, shared experience was in the offing.
As a result, I was in almost continuous emotional turmoil. I cried a lot, and punished myself, and traveled, moving repeatedly to new places in order to try again with new groups of people.

Hmmm. The future feminist professor was, in “the late 1950s and early 1960s,” located “in Berkeley during the ‘Beatnik’ time.” It was in this context that young Joyce Trebilcot acquired her “values” while “participating in ‘ecstatic communion’ . . . through drugs,” etc.

What does the phrase “ecstatic communion” signify? Google searches for that phrase turn up a lot of New Age mystical stuff, some of it related to tantric Buddhism. In a book by David Deming, we find this reference to 11th-century Islamic philosopher Al-Ghazali:

Al-Ghazali considered the possibility that this third way of knowing, the one that might be superior to ratiocination, was the mystic or ecstatic communion experienced by the Sufis. It was “a state in which, absorbed into themselves and in the suspension of sense-perceptions, they have visions beyond the reach of intellect.”
Known variously as illumination, ecstatic communion, or intuitive knowledge, mystic communion is an experience “of a supreme, all-pervading, and indwelling power, in whom all things are one.” Mystic communion is the basis of revelation, prophecy, and religion. It is one of the most powerful forces in human history, and also one of the least understood.

Significantly, Al-Ghazali’s thoughts about “ecstatic communion” occur in a treatise that Deming describes as “a refutation of Neoplatonic Aristotelianism.” That is to say, this mystical idea of “intuitive knowledge” arises from an intellectual rejection of the Greek philosophical foundations of Western scientific thought. And according to Joyce Trebilcot, this idea of “ecstatic communion” was popular among the bohemian Beatniks of Berkeley in the late 1950s and early ’60s, when she was forming her values.

Did I mention Professor Trebilcot is a lesbian? And did I mention that her essay “Craziness as a Source of Separatism” is about rape?

What she seems to have been describing, in terms of male “intrusion and control,” was her dissatisfaction with the experience of heterosexuality as a 20-something woman amid the hedonistic Beatnik bohemians of Berkeley. She was “hearing the voices of men trying to rape me,” she explains, and when she says she “would regularly block,” it seems this phrase refers to her inability to achieve psychosexual satisfaction in her experiences with men at that time:

I now understand all these refusals as resistances to rape, that is, to invasion and control by others.
My interpretation of these experiences has shifted over the years. At the most painful time, it seemed to me that what was going on was that I wanted to do what they wanted me to, I wanted to participate in what was going on, but I simply could not, I was unable, I did not know how. I now understand this nonparticipation not as inability, but as refusal: it is not that I could not take part, but that I would not. And the reason I would not is that I wanted to protect myself from the assault, from the intrusion, from the loss of my own will. . . . I resisted in order to continue as an individual — in order not be submerged, subjected, merged.
The patriarchal term “crazy” applies to all this, first, because I was certainly behaving in ways Western patriarchy takes to be typical of craziness — raving and crying. And when I talked about what was happening to me, my talk was “crazy talk.” . . . One who just merges and submerges is not crazy, and one who just refuses isn’t either. . . .
This resistance to control . . . is a preparation for lesbian separatism.

The most literal reading of this text would be that Trebilcot’s “nonparticipation” means that she rejected all male advances, but I suspect she also may be describing as “resistances” her inability to enjoy sex with men even when she consented to it amid that Beatnik culture where “ecstatic communion” was the goal and her experiences weren’t exactly ecstatic. Doing drugs and getting humped by a smelly existentialist art student, maybe? Not the sort of thing to inspire ecstasy, and you see Trebilcot talking about how her “interpretation of these experiences has shifted over the years” — feminist subjectivity now “empowering” her to view her Beatnik experiences as rape two decades later. Behavior that was judged crazy (“raving and crying”) circa 1962, Trebilcot wished readers to believe more than 20 years later, was actually symptomatic of her “resistance to control,” an early manifestation of the lesbianism she did not adopt as her identity until after the feminist revolution made lesbianism socially acceptable.

In her 20s, she was merely unhappy and viewed by others as crazy; by the time she reached her 40s, however, feminism had taught her (a) that her unhappiness was caused by “Western patriarchy,” (b) that she was a lesbian, and (c) that the men who seduced her (or tried to seduce her) in her Beatnik youth were actually rapists.

As soon as I say this, I know someone will Google up an image of an elderly and unattractive Joyce Trebilcot, but I’m prepared to stipulate that the young Trebilcot was reasonably attractive. She was, however, a sort of bookish young lady, a distinct type of female one encounters who lacks the animal vigor necessary to overcome civilized inhibitions, who can’t stop thinking and just do it with the passionate sense of abandonment required to achieve psychosexual satisfaction. That primitive “me Tarzan, you Jane” sexuality first requires Jane to attract the jungle man, and then to shed her self-consciousness in experiencing his savage masculinity in its most basic expression.

By the time Trebilcot was in her 40s, and writing about “the philosophical discussion of sex roles,” she had clearly arrived at her logical destination: Feminism is a journey to lesbianism. What was “crazy talk” in 1962 was profound scholarly wisdom by 1974.

The fact that few people outside academia recognize the name Joyce Trebilcot should not lead us to believe that she was not influential, nor should we suppose that a professor who retired in 1995 has no relevance for the meaning of feminism today. What Professor Trebilcot discussed as “sex roles” in 1974, after all, is the same basic idea now known as Gender Theory, and such pioneers of academic feminism promoted concepts that have far-reaching impact in the 21st century. Consider, just as one example, University of Wisconsin Professor Claudia Card. From her Wikipedia page:

She earned her BA from the University of Wisconsin–Madison (1962) and her MA (1964) and Ph.D. (1969) from Harvard University, where she wrote her dissertation under the direction of John Rawls. Joining the faculty in the philosophy department at Wisconsin straight from her Harvard studies, Card has been a significant voice there, and in the profession, ever since. Although securely rooted in and dedicated to Wisconsin, Card has held visiting professorships at The Goethe Institute (Frankfurt, Germany), Dartmouth College (Hanover NH), and the University of Pittsburgh. Card has written 4 treatises, edited or co-edited 6 books, published nearly 150 articles and reviews. She has delivered nearly 250 papers at conferences, colleges, and universities and has been featured in 29 radio broadcasts. In 2013, Card was invited to deliver the prestigious Paul Carus Lectures, a series of 3 lectures delivered to the American Philosophical Association; these will be delivered at the Central Division in 2016. She delivered the John Dewey Lecture to the Central APA in 2008. In April 2011 Card became the President of the APA’s Central Division.

Professor Card is a very prestigious philosopher, you see, and in 1995, her book Lesbian Choices was published by Columbia University Press. This is from her book’s bibliography, page 298:

Trebilcot, Joyce. “Conceiving Women: Notes on the Logic of Feminism.” Sinister Wisdom 11 (Fall 1979):43-50.
Trebilcot, Joyce. “Notes on the Meaning of Life.” Lesbian Ethics 1, no. 1 (Fall 1984):90-91.
Trebilcot, Joyce. “Taking Responsibility for Sexuality.” In Philosophy and Sex, 2d ed., ed. Robert Backer and Frederick Elliston. Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus, 1984.
Trebilcot, Joyce. “Hortense and Gladys on Dreams.” Lesbian Ethics 1, no. 2 (Spring 1985):85-87.
Trebilcot, Joyce. “Partial Response to Those Who Worry That Separatism May Be a Political Cop-Out: Expanded Definition of Activism.” off our backs (May 1986). Reprinted in Gossip 3 (n.d.):82-84.
Trebilcot, Joyce. “Dyke Economics: Hortense and Gladys on Money.” Lesbian Ethics 3, no. 1 (Spring 1988):1-13
Trebilcot, Joyce. “Dyke Methods.” Hypatia 5, no. 1 (Spring 1990):1-13.
Trebilcot, Joyce. “More Dyke Methods.” Hypatia 5, no. 3 (Fall 1990):147-52.
Trebilcot, Joyce. “Stalking Guilt.” Lesbian Ethics 5, no. 1 (Summer 1993):72-75.

In case you lost count, nine separate works by Joyce Trebilcot were cited in this 300-page book by the influential Professor Card, a book published by a prestigious academic press. Thus were these various works that Professor Trebilcot published between 1979 and 1993 incorporated into the framework of Professor Card which in turn, we may be sure, has been cited by numerous other feminist scholars since. By this incremental process — articles by professors little known outside  the world of academic feminism, published in obscure journals and anthologies seldom read by anyone outside the scholarly echo chamber of Women’s Studies — has feminism erected its intellectual Tower of Babel. And feminism’s power on campus is such that no administrator, professor or student dares challenge it. Acquiring intellectual respectability through the accretion of essays, articles, conference papers and books, academic feminism acquires its scholarly pedigree. Women’s Studies, a field that did not exist before the 1970s, has created for itself a vast stockpile of academic resources, recognized works which appear in the notes and bibliographies of new works produced in the publish-or-perish process by which graduate students gain advanced degrees, and by which junior faculty prove themselves worthy of career advancement.

Crazy-Hating the Demonized Male Scapegoat

It has been calculated that about 90,000 students enroll annually in Women’s Studies classes at American colleges and universities, and there are thousands of instructors and professors paid to teach these courses. The Feminism-Industrial Complex, as some have called it, thus comprises a vast enterprise that controls with hegemonic power the right to speak about men, women, sex, marriage and family, so that any campus discourse on these topics is subject to being vetoed or silenced if it does not comport with feminist theory. The feminist lunatics are running the asylum of higher education, and no one should be surprised by the episodic outbreaks of craziness that result.

George Will, a Pulitzer-winning columnist for the Washington Post, criticized the anti-male hysteria of the phony “rape epidemic” on college campuses and, when he arrived to speak at Miami University of Ohio, he was greeted by an angry mob of crazy women, claiming that this eminent journalist is objectively pro-rape. Yet I would wager $20 that of those campus protesters, fewer than half had actually read the column that made Will a demonized scapegoat, an Official Symbol of Misogyny. Nor would any of them, if you handed them a copy of his column, be able to explain cogently what was wrong with it, other than Will’s claim that “when [colleges and universities] make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate.” This claim appears in the second sentence of Will’s column and several hundred words later — having mustered evidence to support his bold claim — Will writes in his penultimate paragraph:

Academia is learning that its attempts to create victim-free campuses — by making everyone hypersensitive, even delusional, about victimizations — brings increasing supervision by the regulatory state that progressivism celebrates.

What he is talking about, in his reference to “the regulatory state,” are interventions by the federal Department of Education, attempting to dictate to college administrators how they should handle claims of sexual misconduct by students. Officials justified this unprecedented intervention, as Will noted, by phony statistics that created the artificial appearance of a “rape epidemic” on campus when, in fact, data from other federal sources (the Department of Justice and the FBI) clearly show a decline in sexual assault during the past two decades. So the campus proliferation of victimhood — that is, college females who say they have been victimized — is a product resulting from the spread of an ideology (feminism) that incentivizes such claims “by making everyone hypersensitive.” The difference between an unhappy drunken hook-up and an accusation of rape? In many cases, it appears to be a matter of subjective interpretation, especially if universities “make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges.” Notice that this is a general accusation Will makes against universities; he does not claim to know whether any particular woman was raped or not. He is claiming that our institutions of higher learning make victimhood a “status . . . that confers privilege.” You can believe that or not, but you cannot fairly argue that George Will is pro-rape for writing it.

In the same way Joyce Trebilcot re-interpreted with feminist hindsight her experiences among the Beatniks in Berkeley, so has rape been re-interpreted by Trebilcot’s young academic heiresses. And it is certainly no coincidence that many of the campus feminists — both faculty and students — who are shouting most loudly about “rape culture” are lesbians. Since the 1970s, radical feminists have insisted that women’s sexuality is a matter of choice, but that lesbianism is a conscious, self-affirming, empowering (and therefore legimate) choice, whereas female heterosexuality is “socially constructed” so that the heterosexual woman is a victim of patriarchal culture, misled into believing that her sexual preference for men is natural.

In her 1984 essay “Taking Responsibility for Sexuality,” Joyce Trebilcot criticizes the belief that “one’s sexuality . . . is inherited, or acquired in childhood . . . something that happens to you.” Such a view of sexuality “tends to keep you docile: you are passive, submissive, with respect to it,” Trebilcot explains, thus denying women the ability “to participate in the creating of our own sexual identities”:

As those familiar with feminist theory know, feminists advocate lesbianism on a variety of grounds. Some emphasize, for instance, that [on the basis of Freud’s Oedipal theory of mother-love] lesbianism is “natural” for women, as heterosexuality is for men. Another approach is based on the claim that in patriarchy, equality in a heterosexual relationship is impossible. . . . A third argument holds that women committed to feminism should give all their energies to women. . . .
I am particularly concerned here with women’s taking responsibility for our sexual identities as lesbian or heterosexual. . . .
A paradigm case of taking responsibility for one’s sexuality is coming out as a lesbian. It is characteristic . . . that a woman does not know whether to say that she has discovered that she is a lesbian, or that she has decided to be a lesbian. . . . In coming out, one connects an already-existing reality — sensations, feelings, identification with women — with a new understanding or concept of who one is. . . .
To discover that one has been a lesbian all along is to interpret past experiences in a new way. . . . But coming out involves also deciding to be a lesbian, which is to say deciding not to participate in the institution of heterosexuality and to . . . love women. . . .
Patriarchy, although it takes different forms in different cultures, always depends on the ability of men to control women through heterosexuality. . . . Were large numbers of women to take responsibility for our own sexuality and in doing so reject heterosexuality, the very concepts of woman and man would be shattered.

Professor Trebilcot was crazy, not stupid. The reader gets the message — men bad, lesbians good — because lesbianism is described in positive terms, as an exciting new thing “discovered,” self-affirming and responsible. By contrast, female heterosexuality is presented as routine participation in a lifeless “institution” through which men control women. Trebilcot’s presentation is as tendentious as a sales pitch (Discover Your Exciting New Lesbian Self!), inciting women to reject male control, “take responsibility” and “love women.”

Anyone who is “familiar with feminist theory,” as Professor Trebilcot said, not only knows that feminists advocate lesbianism, but also that they have expended many thousands of words either attacking Freudian theories or else trying to turn the Oedipal conflict into an argument to justify lesbianism as women’s authentic and “natural” sexuality as Professor Trebilcot said.

Freudianism has always struck me as ludicrous, but in wading through dozens of volumes of feminist theory over the past few months, I have seen author after author devote herself either to debunking Freud or adapting his theories to feminist purposes. You see this most obviously when it comes to the subject of lesbian motherhood.

We have seen (“Another Feminist ‘Success’ Story”) that there are obvious problems in trying to “deconstruct” parenting and childhood to fit feminist theory. Now witness a feminist author, University of California-Davis Professor Maureen Sullivan, employ Freudian concepts in her 2004 book The Family of Woman: Lesbian Mothers, Their Children, and the Undoing of Gender:

Do lesbian mothers sexually “other” their sons? . . . In traditional psychoanalytic formulations the sexual otherness of boys/men derives not only from their having different sexual organs but from the desirability of the phallus as representing power, privilege, and pleasure. . . .
Even though lesbian mothers and their children live in a heteronormative world where the phallus represents power, privilege, and often pleasure, these cultural meanings do not necessarily hold sway in the lesbian mother household. Bay Area mother Jill Collins had this to say about her three-year-old son’s growing awareness of genitality:

He takes showers with me on a regular basis because I find that’s the most convenient way to bathe him. He’s been talking about his penis. And [his friend] James’s penis. And my penis. And I keep telling him I don’t have one, you know, and he likes to look, and now he’s saying, “Jillie doesn’t have a penis. Mommy doesn’t have a penis. Auntie Kate doesn’t have a penis. James has a penis. John has a penis. Danny has a penis.” He’s got it! Except for he really doesn’t know what that means. He knows where his is, but he can’t know where mine isn’t. It’s like he doesn’t see that it’s not there you know.

If it is safe to assume that lesbian parents have no need to develop libidinal investments in boy children, then the argument that heterosexual mothers “push” preoedipal sons into libidinally tinged oedipal dynamics because sons are “like father/male partner” will not hold for them. Moreover, even if lesbian mothers . . . “other” boy children in the more libidinally neutral sense of perceiving boys’ anatomical differentness — where boys’ sexual organs are merely different, with no special valences attached to them — it still makes little sense for there to be any “pushing” of sons into oedipal dynamics. Sometimes a penis is just a penis.

You see the kind of multi-layered craziness we’re dealing with here? In the course of researching my “Sex Trouble” series, I’ve gathered all these books crammed full of theoretical lunacy like this.

Do I understand “oedipal dynamics” the way a Ph.D. does? Of course not. However, speaking as the father of six children, I don’t need any theoretical training to say: You’re crazy!

A ‘Social Revolution’ of Craziness

You don’t have to be able to diagram a sentence to understand plain English, and you don’t need to make sense of a phrase like “libidinally tinged oedipal dynamics” to say that “Jill Collins” (a pseudonym for the lesbian who takes showers with the 3-year-old son of her partner) is unlikely to raise a son who is psychologically normal. This doesn’t mean “Danny” will grow up to be a serial killer (or a transgender porn star), but what is the basic message of lesbian motherhood?


Not for a minute do I doubt that lesbian mothers can raise feminist daughters — lesbian mothers exemplify in their lifestyle what feminism teaches in theory — but it’s hard to imagine a boy failing to perceive how his lesbian mother has rejected males, per se.

Again, to emphasize, perceiving potential problems is possible even if we stipulate both sides of the basic pro-gay argument about families: Yes, we acknowledge that children of same-sex households can and do live useful and productive lives. Yes, we acknowledge that “normal” families can produce badly broken — indeed, dangerously criminal — offspring. Still, isn’t it just common sense to expect that lesbian motherhood would yield non-normal outcomes in terms of the psychological health and sexuality of their children?

Never mind whatever social-science survey data on this topic anyone might cite today. Given the known biases of academia, I am not even slightly surprised by sociologists and psychologists publishing studies that proclaim Everybody’s Happy in Gay City.

Let’s wait until, say 2063 — when the children born in 2013 are 50 — and compare their life outcomes, particularly in terms of their own marriages and families, before declaring that we know that there are no harms produced by same-sex parenting. (I choose 2013 as the reference point because it was that year, in the Windsor decision, that the Supreme Court normalized same-sex marriage.) Even if we don’t think that children will be obviously harmed by growing up in gay households, however, this doesn’t mean that gay parenting is the same as normal parenting. And guess what? The critical praise for Maureen Sullivan’s book emphasized this difference:

“Sullivan makes a compelling argument that
lesbian families challenge, at root, the very basis of
patriarchal familial norms, and indeed modern notions
of biological fixity.”

— Arlene Stein, author of Sex and Sensibility

“Maureen Sullivan’s book is a notable document of
the quiet social revolution that is producing
new forms of the family.”

— R. W. Connell, author of Gender and Power

You see that Stein (Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, Rutgers University) and Connell (Professor of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney, Australia) praise this book about lesbian motherhood precisely because they view this phenomenon as part of a “social revolution” challenging “patriarchal familial norms.” (Tobi Hill-Meyer could not be reached for comment.)

Just as Joyce Trebilcot was not neutral about lesbianism, neither is Maureen Sullivan’s book neutral about lesbian motherhood. Sullivan is as objective about lesbian motherhood as Barack Obama is objective about the Democrat Party. The praise for Sullivan’s book reflects the same bias as Trebilcot’s ideas about “responsible sexuality” — men bad, lesbians good —  which is to say that its message is the same as feminism in general. Remember that Trebilcot in 1974 argued that  “moral concepts,” including “notions of justice, equality, and liberty,” are more important than “the empirical issue of sex differences . . . in the philosophical discussion of sex roles.”

It does not matter, from a feminist perspective, whether men and women are actually different in meaningful ways. For the sake of “moral concepts” — that is to say, intellectual abstractions — we must pretend that sexual differences don’t exist. However, despite this requisite philosophical commitment to a make-believe game of ignoring real differences between men and women, Trebilcot (and feminists generally) insist that males are distinctly inferior. Males exercise illegitimate power (patriarchy) that is inherently harmful to women. Male power is always selfish and coercive, even where it is not actually violent, so that this harmful patriarchal “control” is used to force or deceive women into heterosexuality. The only possible escape from this male control is for women to become lesbians — preferring female sexual partners as more desirable than male partners, without regard to feminism’s philosophical commitment to the belief that there are no actual differences between men and women.

If the complex logic of Joyce Trebilcot’s feminism makes sense to you, congratulations: You must be a highly distinguished Ph.D.

Or maybe you’re just crazy.




29 Responses to “The Crazy Feminism of Joyce Trebilcot”

  1. Steve Skubinna
    October 29th, 2014 @ 12:01 am

    You must live right – everybody’s favorite deranged feminist is back with her detailed proposal for Utopia. Hint: it involves apartheid and genocide. But don’t sweat it, just for the guys.

    I am coming to the conclusion that Radical Wind is putting us on. In fact, I doubt it’s really a female type member of the other leading major gender. “She” has to be Dave Barry goofing on us.

  2. Steve Skubinna
    October 29th, 2014 @ 12:07 am

    First of all, you’ve fallen for a prank. Maureen O’Sullivan is NOT some academic nutcase, she was an actress who played Jane in a bunch of Tarzan movies.

    The Freudian stuff should have tipped you off it was a hoax. I mean, by 2004 nobody was taking Freud seriously anymore.

    Oddly, I note that you dropped the “O” from her last name. Verl sloppy, Mister McCain.

  3. robertstacymccain
    October 29th, 2014 @ 12:13 am

    I know, right: Her name is MAUREEN SULLIVAN — without the “O” — and the coincidental similarity to the Tarzan actress is rather unsettling.

  4. Finrod Felagund
    October 29th, 2014 @ 12:38 am

    I tend to be of the opinion that LSD doesn’t make you crazy, it just unlocks crazy that was already there.

  5. The Crazy Feminism of Joyce Trebilcot | That Mr. G Guy's Blog
    October 29th, 2014 @ 1:01 am

    […] The Crazy Feminism of Joyce Trebilcot. Craziness in all it’s glory. […]

  6. robertstacymccain
    October 29th, 2014 @ 1:19 am

    Yeah, but psilocybin grabs the crazy that was already there and hurls across the galaxy.


  7. Fail Burton
    October 29th, 2014 @ 1:29 am

    Have you ever read Dykes at Iwo Jima? No? That’s because the book doesn’t exist, and that’s because society doesn’t “reserve” squat.

    How about How Women Built the Pyramids or The Women of Gettysberg?

    One hilarious thing you see over and over again with these women is how they turn their own absurd fears and obsessions about male voices into a smothering centuries-long ideology on the part of men that goes waaaaay beyond something like voting and bank accounts. They take the very birds and bees themselves and turn them into unreality and oppression, which is similar to barking at the tide when it comes in. Unsurprisingly, radical feminists bark at the tide when it comes in and the moon too. The idea dykes would’be been at Iwo Jima had not men programmed girls in childhood for 5,000 years lacks merit.

    In retrospect, I’m not surprised gender feminists never target institutionalized Islamic discrimination against women as “misogyny.” In gender feminist eyes, merely being a man anywhere in space and time is an ideology. What’s a few details? From a radical feminist perspective, the difference between Islam and the West is negligible since they both indulge in the filthy now discredited and deprecated practice of getting married and raising a family.

    Buddy, I’ll tell you what: you have got to assemble these posts into a book, because it is solid gold. It’s pretty clear that the culture war in this country is a result of a fundamental shift from principle being behind law to identity determining crime. That of course is a natural multiplier from one criminal to millions at a go. It is the same shift in Nazi Germany that saw one Jew going to prison for burglary to all Jews going. That is why Anita Sarkeesian sees the Maryville school shooter as not one man but “toxic masculinity.” In principle that is no different than saying “toxic Jewishness.” One can presume the same remedy is in order for both: renounce the maleness and Judaism you constructed and which we feminists will help deconstruct. It’s as nonsensical as the 16th century Portuguese Inquisition asking whether you boiled your rice with salt or not.

    Finally, it’s interesting how feminists make rape stats grow by simply changing the definition.

  8. Fail Burton
    October 29th, 2014 @ 1:39 am

    “radical wind blowing through female outerspace”

    Is that a Freudian slip non-penis inny-outty joke? Do men secretly want to blow Mother Nature rather than just rape her, or is this woman secretly pining for the fjords?

  9. Adobe_Walls
    October 29th, 2014 @ 4:24 am

    Creative survey methodology helps too.

  10. Phil_McG
    October 29th, 2014 @ 5:10 am

    I commend Mr. McCain for his tenacity in staying the course through this jungle of madness. A lesser man would turn back or get lost in the forests of gibbering lunacy.

    Lots of crazy in Professor Tremblycoat’s oeuvre.

    There is the odd glimmer of lucidity in her writing, for example:

    Another approach is based on the claim that in patriarchy, equality in a heterosexual relationship is impossible

    She’s right! Equality and love are incompatible.

    I can’t bear children. My wife won’t kill spiders or go downstairs to investigate when she hears a noise in the night. My wife and I are not equally patient, strong, nurturing, stoic, or emotionally vulnerable. We can’t give the same things to our children.

    And the same sort of inequality is true for lesbians.

    There may be equality in God’s love, but there is not in human love. Because no two humans – be they heterosexual or crazy lesbian feminists – are the same.

    The quest for equality is an impossible dream that runs contrary to human nature. No wonder it has ruined so many minds.

  11. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    October 29th, 2014 @ 8:36 am

    Joyce could be in a Separated at Birth with Marshall Appelwhite!

  12. The Daley Gator | Does Feminism make women KRAZY? Or do KRAZY women flock to Feminism
    October 29th, 2014 @ 10:24 am

    […] riveting question. Stacy McCain answers by looking at noted nut case Joyce […]

  13. RS
    October 29th, 2014 @ 10:55 am

    To discover that one has been a lesbian all along is to interpret past experiences in a new way. . . . –Joyce Trebilcot

    In that excerpt, we see the workings of delusion. Rephrased, the sentence is, “To discover that one has been a lesbian all along is to construct a new, counterfactual reality. You have to hand it to them though. They figured out how to parlay their own psychopathologies into prestige, power, influence and money. Of course, many schizophrenics are indeed highly functioning.


    It occurs to me that the feminist writings our host as collated would form a formidable hurdle for lesbians attempting to parent boys, whether through adoption or divorce. Given that the premise behind political lesbianism is “Men/Patriarchy=Evil” by definition and brooking no exception and demanding destruction of “maleness,” it would seem that lesbians have philosophized themselves out of attempting to parent boys.

    The cross examination would begin by establishing the lesbian’s feminist bona fides, followed by her acknowledging the expertise/authority of the various worthies our host has discussed, followed by reading all the “men=evil” stuff and asking if the lesbian agrees. The question is, how does the lesbian think she can love and nurture a being she views as evil incarnate by definition?

  14. RS
    October 29th, 2014 @ 10:57 am

    Even Freud said, “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar,” so even he thought he was full of crap.

  15. Durasim
    October 29th, 2014 @ 11:16 am

    To discover that one has been a lesbian all along is to interpret past experiences in a new way

    In other words, she has always been at war with Eastasia. And nobody dare suggest otherwise.

  16. Wraith
    October 29th, 2014 @ 12:42 pm

    Point of order. I’ve done a whole lot of acid, and some mescaline now and again, and I still can’t make sense of the ravings of these people. I don’t think it’s possible to take enough drugs to make radical feminists seem rational…it has to be a form of inherent insanity.

  17. theBuckWheat
    October 29th, 2014 @ 12:48 pm

    Related in a queer sort of way:

    NY State blesses ‘incest’ marriage between uncle, niece

    The state’s highest court has toppled a cultural taboo — legalizing a degree of incest, at least between an uncle and niece — in a unanimous ruling.

    While the laws against “parent-child and brother-sister marriages .?.?. are grounded in the almost universal horror with which such marriages are viewed .?.?. there is no comparably strong objection to uncle-niece marriages,” Tuesday’s ruling reads.

    Judge Robert Smith of the Court of Appeals wrote that such unions were lawful in New York until 1893 and Rhode Island allows them….

  18. Jabba the Tutt
    October 29th, 2014 @ 2:08 pm

    Card has held visiting professorships at The Goethe Institute (Frankfurt, Germany),

    I call BS on this. The Goethe Institut teaches the German Language. They don’t have professors and they don’t need Americans to teach German.

  19. K-Bob
    October 29th, 2014 @ 5:50 pm

    Emily Barley at Breitbart London has a post up on Benedict Cumberbatch having worn a “this is what a feminist looks like” tee shirt.

    I invited folks to attend Stacy’s ongoing Sex Trouble series here.

    I later added: “I think he should have worn a “This is what someone with too many consonants in his name looks like” tee shirt.”

  20. DukeLax
    October 29th, 2014 @ 6:36 pm

    When American law enforcement started “Taking the pork” so to speak, in return for their full participation in the “Manufactured statistics Alliances”, they slowly set into motion this beast we are now wrestling, that is stripping mens basic constitutional due process rights.
    If you take the “manufactured statistics Alliances” that have poisoned American law enforcement, and add it to the “Media Lace Curtain” that feeds the constant flow of Inflama-prop into every Americans living room…….what you get is a super federally pork bloated law enforcement, that get federal dollars to harass and persecute innocent males.

  21. Daniel Freeman
    October 29th, 2014 @ 6:36 pm

    In retrospect, I’m not surprised gender feminists never target institutionalized Islamic discrimination against women as “misogyny.” . . . From a radical feminist perspective, the difference between Islam and the West is negligible since they both indulge in the filthy now discredited and deprecated practice of getting married and raising a family.

    I think that feminism’s oikophobia (hat tip to our host for that word) has a lot to do with it too, since it’s basically the dark side of xenophilia. If you demonize the familiar, it’s a small step to idealize the foreign, and vice-versa.

  22. Daniel Freeman
    October 30th, 2014 @ 12:41 am

    The linked article points out that the half-uncle and half-niece in question had as much consanguinity as cousins, which were already legal in the state.

  23. theoldsargesays
    October 30th, 2014 @ 11:33 pm

    Why do dykes cut their hair like soldiers?

  24. FMJRA 2.0: Astradyne : The Other McCain
    November 1st, 2014 @ 9:00 pm

    […] The Crazy Feminism of Joyce Trebilcot Batshit Crazy News The DaleyGator That Mr. G Guy […]

  25. Daniel Freeman
    November 2nd, 2014 @ 3:43 am

    Why do soldiers cut their hair like that? Why do moms? I get my hair cut short because it’s quick and easy and practical and I don’t care what I look like.

  26. theoldsargesays
    November 3rd, 2014 @ 12:37 am

    Soldiers and Marines do it because it’s uniform and more sanitary.
    I still do it for the same reasons you do.
    (I get a chuckle seeing these guys nowadays with their hair all gelled up and styled to look …I don’t know ….messy?

  27. Daniel Freeman
    November 3rd, 2014 @ 1:56 am

    So either dykes think that women will be attracted to uniformity and sanitation, or they care more about being practical than pretty, or they want to borrow power by looking more patriarchal. Or some combination thereof.

  28. theoldsargesays
    November 3rd, 2014 @ 10:24 am

    Oh, it’s definitely the patriarchy.

    Our kind has created and maintained such an iron fist on the social construct that we’ve even convinced lesbians to act like men.(well the ugly and dumpy ones anyway).

  29. News of the Week (November 3rd, 2014) | The Political Hat
    November 3rd, 2014 @ 4:16 pm

    […] The Crazy Feminism of Joyce Trebilcot America lost a valuable source of feminist craziness when Professor Joyce Trebilcot died in 2009 at age 74. For more than three decades, Trebilcot supplied the feminist movement with its necessary raw material — insanity — and in its obituary of this distinguished academic, Washington University St. Louis described her contributions […]