The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

‘Heteropatriarchy’ as a Dye Marker: Feminism as Lesbian Supremacy

Posted on | October 30, 2016 | 3 Comments


If you are in a hurry, and don’t have time to read what I’m about to explain, do yourself a favor: Go to Twitter and search for the word “heteropatriarchy.” This word did not exist 30 years ago, and I will explain its origins and significance, but just scroll down through those Twitter search results. Even ignoring all the ironic joking hipster uses, as well as any anti-feminists invoking the word to mock Third-Wave nonsense, you will still find many people using this term with as much sincerity as Julius Streicher denouncing Jews in 1923.

What is the significance of the word “heteropatriarchy”? Where and how did it originate? To answer this, I will cite as authority Professor Claudia Card’s 1989 essay “Pluralist Lesbian Separatism” (in Lesbian Philosophies and Cultures, edited by Jeffner Allen, 1990, p. 133):

If openness in practice to any woman willing to identify herself as lesbian is not simply an expedient for finding women with certain loyalties, which is fundamental may be not having certain beliefs but, more promisingly, certain potentialities and relationships to histories of oppression. So understood, lesbian separatism would have as a purpose nurturing and supporting the lesbian(s) — the women-lovers — in all women. . . “Lesbian” derives from Sappho of Lesbos (ca 600 B.C.E.), an influential paradigm of woman-loving in European cultures. There are no doubt equally valuable paradigms yet to be discovered by many of us. A lesbian separatism with such flexibility would not be based on dissent, although it would dissent from what Jan Raymond has recently called “heteropatriarchy.” Such lesbian separatism would interpret feminist separatism by finding the devaluing of women’s woman-loving a key factor in women’s oppression.

Now, even the most well-informed student of feminist theory as it has developed since the late 1960s would probably have to read that passage quite carefully to grasp what Professor Card is implying here. The author she cites as having coined the term “heteropatriarchy” is Janice G. Raymond, a retired professor of Women’s Studies at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. The 1986 book cited by Professor Card is Professor Raymond’s A Passion for Friends: Toward a Philosophy of Female Affection, which deals with subjects along the same lines as Professor Lillian Faderman’s 1981 book Surpassing the Love of Men: Romantic Friendship and Love between Women from the Renaissance to the Present and Professor Sheila Jeffreys’ 1997 book The Spinster and Her Enemies: Feminism and Sexuality, 1880-1930. The reader must perceive, from the sample of references I’ve listed here, how many feminist professors spent years busy working on the same general idea: The fight against patriarchy (a synonym of “male supremacy,” as early Second Wave feminists called it) was also a fight against heterosexuality. The term “heteropatriarchy” represented this idea, and was coined by Professor Raymond who, not coincidentally, was a protege of Professor Mary Daly, arguably the most extreme pioneer of man-hating lesbian feminism.

In Professor Raymond’s 1986 book where she coined the term “heteropatriarchy,” set begins by setting up a Manichean duality between what she calls gyn/affection (i.e., “woman-loving” or female friendship) and hetero-relations (i.e., male/female relationships). She puts forward the idea that a woman’s “original vital Self” is somehow lost or denied because she lives in “a woman-hating society [where] female friendship has been tabooed to the extent that there are women who hate their original Selves and other women.” Professor Raymond advocates gyn/affection (“the passion that women feel for women”) as the answer to the “need to create a feminist politics based on . . . an ideal of friendship that invests women with personal and socioeconomic power.”

Professor Raymond’s basic meaning doesn’t really require explanation to anyone with two eyes and a brain. However, my meaning in previously referring to the notorious Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher might need to be explained. What I am saying is that Professor Raymond was engaged in anti-male hate propaganda. Her argument requires us to accept a series propositions that are provably false. It is not true, for example, that heterosexual women are deprived of an “original vital Self,” nor is it true that America is (or was in 1986) a “woman-hating culture.” It is wrong for her to imply that heterosexual women cannot be friends with each other, or that a woman forfeits her “personal and socioeconomic power” when she marries her husband, to cite just a few of the obviously false implications embedded in Professor Raymond’s argument. To accept her claims as valid, you must believe that no man has ever actually loved his wife, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I am expected to believe that Professor Raymond loves my wife more than I do. At the core of Professor Raymond’s argument is a very widely held belief among feminists that males are morally and intellectually inferior to women, because all men are dishonest. Any man who claims to love a woman (or to love women, generally) is a liar, feminist theory implies, because heterosexuality is harmful to women. Because only women can actually love women, any woman who is not a lesbian must hate herself — this is the feminist belief conveyed by the word “heteropatriarchy.”

Feminists become quite angry when anyone examines their arguments carefully and elucidates the logical consequences of feminist theory. In fact, I’ve noticed, even such critics of feminism as Daphne Patai, Wendy McElroy and Christina Hoff Sommers refrain from doing this in the direct and explicit way I do. We may assume that this reflects their concern to avoid gay-bashing, and I suppose it is necessary for me to disavow any such intent myself. Rather, my purpose is to show how the feminist conception of “equality” is hostile to, and feminist theory is incompatible with, the interests of heterosexual women. The normal woman hopes to marry a man who is successful in his career, so that he is able to support her and her children, but the feminist agenda of “equality” requires impeding economic opportunity for men, e.g., through affirmative-action quotas (“diversity” policies) that give female employees an unfair advantage over males in terms of hiring, salaries and promotions. Such policies are almost sacrosanct in academia, for example, as was made clear by the feminist mob that destroyed Lawrence Summers’ tenure as president of Harvard University. When we review the infamous 2005 “innate differences” controversy at Harvard, we see that Summers’ real “sin” was in defending merit-based hiring practices against feminist arguments for affirmative action in what are called the STEM fields.

This is where Professor Raymond’s reference to “socioeconomic power” for women intersects with her lesbian advocacy because (a) she spent her entire career in academia, employed at taxpayer expense at a state university where (b) it is possible to believe that everything can be arranged to fit some “social justice” scheme because there are no bottom-line productivity constraints, and (c) many fields in academia are so female-dominated that this creates the illusion that such “equality” is possible throughout society, which (d) no one with a lick of common sense could actually believe. Radical feminism is pandemic on university campuses, but the private sector has a sort of natural immunity.

Many more relevant objections could be made to Professor Raymond’s claims and their logical implications, but what I hope the reader will see is how the word “heteropatriarchy” expresses a hostility toward men (and toward heterosexual relationships) that is as evident as the way Nazis and other anti-Semites use certain words (e.g., “Zionist” or “neocon”) to incite hatred against Jews. As taught in many university Women’s Studies programs, feminist theory suggests to the young woman that her “original vital Self,” to use Professor Raymond’s term, is a sort of Lesbisch Über-Mädchen — the Lesbian Supergirl — and that her heroic true identity is threatened by that cunning arch-villain, the Heterosexual Male.

Having earlier suggested that fear of being thought a homophobic “hater” might discourage critics of feminism from directly addressing the arguments implied by the word heteropatriarchy, let me now add this: Many conservatives, especially Christian conservatives, may avoid an in-depth examination of radical feminist theory for fear that some previously heterosexual women might actually be persuaded by the arguments of Professor Raymond, Professor Card, Professor Jeffries, Professor Daly, et al. If such concerns actually have inhibited conservative critics of feminism, however, I would argue that their timidity is foolish. Anyone can read Mein Kampf without becoming a Nazi, and anyone can read Mary Daly without becoming a lunatic lesbian. Really, if any woman is so weak-minded she might succumb to The Lesbian Menace by reading books written by academic proponents of feminist theory, is she strong-minded enough to be of much use in opposing The Lesbian Menace?

“Never take counsel of your fears,” as Stonewall Jackson wisely advised. A defensive strategy, arising from a secret fear that you are incapable of taking on your antagonist’s strongest arguments, signals weakness to friend and foe alike. You will demoralize your allies, and embolden your enemies, if you show a desire to avoid conflict where your opponent is seemingly invulnerable. If the antagonist has reason to believe you can be intimidated, then this will be used to your disadvantage, to maneuver you into a position of weakness. Instead, consider the possibility that what your opponent thinks to be a stronghold — a fortified position, beyond range of attack — might actually be a weakness, if it could be struck with all the force you can muster. Compel your opponent to defend a point where he thinks he cannot be challenged, and you will throw him off-balance, disrupt his plans, and often force him into errors, as he is unprepared for this kind of surprise attack.

Look here — more than 70,000 Google results for “heteropatriarchy.” More than 3,500 citations from a Google Scholar search. More than 6,000 results from searching Google Books. Who is writing these books and articles? Which professors at which universities are invoking “heteropatriarchy” in their work? Is it not apparent that this jargon term functions as a sort of linguistic dye marker for the spread of radical feminism through the intellectual bloodstream of academia?

Does anyone suppose that feminists are prepared to justify everything implied by “heteropatriarchy,” a word coined in 1986 by a radical lesbian disciple of Mary Daly? Don’t you think the average woman would be insulted by the implications of this word? Oh, she has lost her “original vital Self” because she likes men? What would the average woman say, if she knew that eminent academic feminists disdainfully describe her heterosexual relationships as “a key factor in women’s oppression”? Wouldn’t most people, male and female alike, look at the feminist theory expressed by jargon like “heteropatriarchy” and consider it symptomatic of madness? And shouldn’t voters be outraged by the fact that these insane theories of anti-male hate propaganda have been promoted for decades, and are still being promoted every day, on university campuses across America at taxpayer expense?

If the merest fraction of what Republicans spend on election campaigns were devoted to building the kind of effort needed to expose what feminism actually is, especially what is being taught in university Women’s Studies programs, I dare say within two or three years the feminist movement would be more unpopular than it has ever been. The truth is, the movement’s core ideology has never really been popular, but rather vague slogans — “liberation,” “equality,” “choice,” “empowerment,” etc. — have been accepted at a very superficial level as “feminism” without much real thought given to what these words mean, or what sort of consequences the embrace of “feminism” is likely to yield. A major part of the problem, as I see it, is that everybody just assumes they know what feminism is, and so when they encounter an academic jargon word like “heteropatriarchy,” they think of it as a joke that no one could possibly take seriously. It simply does not occur to the kind of people who give money to Republican campaigns, or to the kind of operatives who run those campaigns, that their candidates could lose elections because armies of activists (about 90,000 annually) are being trained in university Women’s Studies programs.

Whatever the result on Election Day may be, conservatives need to get smart, and organize the resources necessary to do this work.