Monday, September 15, 2014

Why I'm done with Feminists and their causes.

I'll begin with an apology, a sort of journalistic "guilty with an explanation." This is not going to be the insightful, impeccably researched post I promised (to those who cared) a few weeks back; I made that promise at the height of our lively exchange on my initial post about rape, which to date has drawn nearly 100 comments*. Instead I give you what follows, which I hope does not smack too much of an unbecoming rhetorical martyrdom.

Read on before you dismiss this as histrionic.
I looked at this topicalong with related topics in the genders waras a debate. But it's not a debate. A true debate presupposes earnest engagement on both sides, a spirit of sincere intellectual inquiry that admits the possibility of persuasion via evidence and argument. There is no interest in that kind of engagement on the other side. That's why no amount of factual material, no matter how impeccable, would make a difference here. The facts don't matter. Logic doesn't matter. Sometimes, even the plight of actual women doesn't matter, as long as the ideal is upheld. Don't get me wrong, there may be engagement among regular contributors like Ron and Elizabeth and Jenny and even perhaps my persistent Anon from the aforementioned post. But there is no such interest among self-styled Feminists (and their enablers/lackeys), who enjoy a stranglehold on American Thought Leadership in media, academia and, increasingly, government. (And wait till Hillary's sworn in.)

To them this is more of a war, a war in which no prisoners are taken. A holy war, one might say in these ISIS-inflected times.

Oddly, it was the Ray Rice episode that drove this home for me. The very Feminist voices who now wanted Rice held fully accountable for his drunken rage in that elevator were the same ones who, just weeks ago, were screaming at me that women cannot be held responsible for the sex they have when drunk. Even if you want to say that protection of women from predatory men outweighs the need to apply consistent logic, that fallback argument flows from the "weaker sex" image that Feminists also reject out of hand. But when you're waging war, you see, you don't worry about such contradictions. You just try to win. You try to vanquish your enemies.

So it was that Feminist Nation set out to vanquish me.Like the religious zealots they are, critics of my column on rape sought to decapitate me professionally. (And yes, please, know that I am being "writerly." I do not in any way mean to imply that what I've gone through is equivalent to what those poor guys in that desert endured. Jesus.) Understand that these are not garden-variety trolls we're talking about, but highly placed Feminist insiders who write well-read columns or run esteemed law firms. Several of these dear women went straight to the dean of students at Lehigh in an effort to undo my mutually successful three-year relationship with the school. One critic suggested to my dean via Twitter that I was "secretly rooting for the rapists"; in subsequent tweets she speculated what that might suggest about my own treatment of women, and referenced the liability implications of keeping such an obvious degenerate on staff. "I know I would not be comfortable with my daughter in his class," she opined. (Another critic used my LinkedIn profile as a road map to major publications for which I've worked; she wrote blistering emails to top editors explaining why a reprobate like me should not be allowed to soil their pages. She threatened a more organized letter-writing initiative, a boycott and other sanctions.)

I do not know if this campaign succeeded. I do know that I have not been invited back to Lehigh to teach in the springthis, after having fairly specific discussions about my proposed coursework with my most immediate contact, Lehigh's dean of journalism, a few weeks before all this blew up. The dean of journalism is a prince of a fellow but like most folks in academia, he takes his orders from upstairs. Although again, I can't say for sure that any such orders existed. He presented entirely mundane and bureaucratic reasons for withdrawing the offer he'd extended just weeks earlier.

Think of the irony, though: If a liberal-arts education is about anything at all, shouldn't it be about the application of critical thinking to life's "givens" and orthodoxies? Shouldn't it be about subjecting dogmatism to the crucible of classroom analysis? Shouldn't one of the critical thinker's foremost goals be to deconstruct political correctness? That's what I always thought. I guess I can consider myself educated now. 
* or about 50 comments (exclusive of my own replies) from at least a dozen different contributors.


roger o'keefe said...

Steve, if you would agree to go to war with the Feminists, I would happily fund you. Put the full weight of your writing and PR abilities behind an effort to beat them back. They sorely need a good beating and I don't mean the Ray Rice kind. They're killing American society as we know it, their hatred of men is self evident. I thought you were already on board with this in SHAM but to my dismay you backtracked afterwards. Man up now and I'm with you all the way!

What they did with the college was unforgivable, and though I hear you on the decapitation, I don't think you went overboard at all in making the analogy. They're just as ruthless in their way as the ISIS crowd.

Steve Salerno said...

Roger, while I appreciate your support, this is also why I try to shy away from making the blog too personally about me. (Unavoidable in this case.) It leads to offers like yours (or other situations where people somehow get more involved in my affairs than they really ought to be). This is a blog, not a diary or a go-fund-me page. Hell, I never even really used SHAMblog as a merchandising outlet for my book, which almost every other author does nowadays.

That said, I thank you for coming to my defense. Defenders I can use...and MEN can use.

Jenny said...

There's something rotten in the ivory tower. Here we have the ugliest side of academic freedom, where interpretations are shaped to fit an agenda rather than genuine freedom. Disgusting!

Steve Salerno said...

Jenny, thank you for your vote of confidence. I must say that in my classroom I have walked the walk, not just talked the talk. My students would be hard pressed to know how I personally felt on any given issue, and I will countenance any well-considered argument on any side of any issue, as long as it is that: a well-considered argument, not just a rant or personal diatribe against someone. Then we subject the arguments to a greater evidentiary analysis and the acid test of consensus reasoning. If a female student said--as some uber-Feminists argue online--"we'd be better off if we just killed all the men outright," I would say "Well let's examine that. What's the case in favor of it? What would happen if we actually did it (aside from the fact that you guys would need a new teacher next semester)?" And the college might well allow that discussion to proceed. But suffice it to say I could never, EVER allow a corresponding ("let's kill all the women") argument from a male student. That would be labeled hate speech.

I tell my students on Day 1 that my classroom is a PC-free zone, and if they don't think they have the heart for that--if they're not ready to have their most deeply held ideas challenged--then "maybe this isn't the class for you."

Anonymous said...

Don't try to blame others and cry foul when your own ridiculous ideas come back to haunt you. Your anti-woman sentiments were obvious in that post as well as in others, and why should any thinking person, especially a mother tolerate that kind of man in a classroom teaching her daughter? You voiced your feelings and then other people voiced their feelings about you. That's life, take it like a man so to speak.

College isn't all about thinking, its about helping to shape a good, well-rounded person. And in a safe environment above all!

Steve Salerno said...

Anon, there is nothing inherently "anti-woman" about suggesting that rape laws and campus policies place an unfair burden on young men. You may disagree with that--and clearly many do--but it is not misogyny to propose that the pendulum has swung too far toward a femme-centric conception of sexual politics.

Also, I cannot tell you how much I disagree with your notion of the college as incubator of model citizens; that is playing a very dangerous game. After all, in the South of the 1950s, a model black citizen would've been one trained to give up her seat to whites on a crowded bus. Indeed, a model woman of that era would've been trained to be "well-rounded" only in the sense that she knew how to cook, clean and tend to her hubby's sexual needs without protest; certainly she would not have been conditioned to think of herself as a career woman or political player. Once we accept the premise that a college is responsible for teaching mores, we're left with the problem of deciding whose mores are to be taught. If anything, a college should be a place for testing and challenging social norms.

father victim of system said...

It's a different topic but, I'm a victim of sex in a way in being held financially liable for a child that isn't mine. They told me I did not contest the paternity in time even though I'd been in military and moved twice since she filed the paperwork. So she's got me by the short hairs for the next 16 years. There is no way the baby is mine, she would not even consent to the DNA test once the window for my appeal expired. The court wouldn't order one for the same reason, I missed my opportunity. How is that right? No one cares about what the real truth is?

I think you should take that Roger guy up on his offer, someone needs to fight for us! The system is set up to stick it to us in every way possible.

Steve Salerno said...

"Father," you reference one of the great and most telling tragedies of postmodern American life. The "paternity system" is set up to deprive men of due process each step of the way. And your case testifies to the system's disregard for truth and justice. You'd think that even if a guy for whatever reason fails to comply with certain stipulated procedures, the court would nonetheless order a DNA test to settle the matter. You'd be wrong. Even in cases where men are serving overseas (and thus were not notified of the action in a timely fashion, or couldn't get leave to do something about it in any case), the system slogs along and gives the mother what she wants. I've written of cases where a man could prove--after the fact--that he wasn't even in the same country when the child was conceived, and because the woman and/or her attorney cagily manipulated the process, he was denied his day in court and his pay was docked for child support. As it happens, my family was victimized by paternity fraud.

Interested readers should Google this; I think you'll be shocked at the dimensions of the scandal, and the absurd bias towards the mother's interests. And there are almost NEVER any penalties for a woman who files false allegations of paternity. As I've noted before, paternity fraud is "the one sex crime we never punish."

RevRon's Rants said...

Steve, I genuinely regret the fact that you - and many other men - are facing the kind of over-reaction and PC-based retribution that has become operational policy for the most militant feminists, and which they are pursuing so effectively in their dealings with terrified administrators and others.

That said, I see the over-reactions as a pendulum swing, a response to the previously held barefoot and pregnant mentality. Unlike yourself and other victims of this extreme pendulum swing, I see it as an inevitable response to those who would be more "comfortable" returning to the mentality of the 1950s.

As is my nature, I believe that just as a pendulum swings in ever-decreasing arcs in its progression toward a more centrist point of balance. It is sad that some men are victimized by the current position on that arc, just as it was sad when women were so routinely repressed, exploited, and abused when attitudes mirrored those of a minority of your responders.

That such wide swings are part of progress toward a state of balance is unfortunate, and to some, devastating. I see your own response as being somewhat over-reaching. Not as severely as some on the male side, and certainly not as severe as some on the female side, but still an effort to find balance by pulling harder from that center.

Understandable, and, to be truthful, necessary. I only hope that you are eventually satisfied - even vindicated - by the inevitable move toward the center. But bear in mind that there will always be throwbacks and extremists on both sides of any situation, striving to achieve "victory," rather than recognizing that there need not be any enmity. Hang in there, my friend. And hold to the thought:
Illegitimi non carborundum!

Steve Salerno said...

I hear you, Ron, and I appreciate your ongoing support, even though we are not in total agreement about the underlying issue. I think I'm actually closer to your position than you, or my Feminist haters, realize. It's more a question of nuance. Of course I stand up for women who are raped, and I loath men who rape and abuse. I just don't want to tar all men in the process, or redefine assault so broadly that, as the (in)famous Feminist once lectured us, "all sex is rape."

But see, nuance is irrelevant, as is the gradual settlement of a pendulum to something like a steady state, if people embrace a scorched-earth policy in the heat of battle. If one side of the debate literally seeks to destroy the other side, then what does it matter where the pendulum settles? The damage has been done.

And I'm not alone in my "suffering" at the hands of rabid, extremist factions of the PC police. Whether the topic is rape, or women's rights generally, or paternity issues (as a previous commenter noted), or "the black/white thing," there have already been many casualties; jobs lost; people silenced or denied tenure or what-have-you. And moving away from a literal meaning to a more metaphorical sense, one of the larger casualties has been the right to speak openly and say unpopular things. Last night, for example, at my former employer Lehigh, there was a forum on race, featuring Trayvon's poor mother. And so far as I can tell from both media coverage and a couple of first-hand accounts, the tenor of the presentation consisted entirely of "the awful things whites do to blacks." There was not even a suggestion that blacks could bear any of the blame, even for their own incarceration. All of that now, is framed as an incontrovertible symptom of "the new Jim Crow": Blacks are in prison because we (whites) put them there for fun and profit, end of story. That is the only permissible lens on black dysfunction that one can employ in today's academia. It's tragic.

Jenny said...

Steve, what I have long admired about you — and about most of the people who read and comment here — is your willingness to talk about difficult and often unpopular truths in a reasoned way that is just provocative enough to get to the real issues. I suspect most people who sympathize with you also have a personal tale of woe (or two or three hundred) in mind. I certainly do. I guess what it comes down to is, as always, the very personal nature of living, and of how you yourself prefer to be treated: with understanding, compassion, respect, and with genuine interest. These people who oppose you have made up their minds that you are this or that, and the reality of who you are is irrelevant to them. This is because they see you as a tool to help construct their own little platform. Ron is (as usual) right about the idea of "victory" and that the reality is "there need not be any enmity." There also need not be a continuing regression in our ways of communicating. I recently heard the idea of someone drawing a line in the sand not in front but behind. In other words, the line wouldn't separate people but keep them on the same side while still focusing on the significant points represented by the line.

Steve Salerno said...

Jenny, thanks as always for your support. Of course, you'll be dismissed as "this or that" yourself for "taking my side"--or people will just see you as a blind loyalist (even though we know that's not what you are).

Whatever the case, I just wish more people could separate ideas from egos. Why is it that so many people will fight tooth and nail to defend what they think--rather than just looking at what they think as a raw idea, a notion to be tested, not reflecting in any significant way on who they are or what they're worth? Isn't it fun to just bounce ideas off one another, no matter how controversial? But we've got so partisan and segregated in our thinking that someday soon, when I'm in the ice cream store and I order chocolate, I half-expect someone behind me to scream, "Chocolate!! What's wrong with you?? What kind of person are you, anyway??"

I do understand that when you're talking about the battle of the sexes, it's not that simple. There are very real implications to whether someone "is" chocolate or vanilla--and women rightfully feel that they have fought for generations now for the right to "be vanilla." (Or strawberry.) Same with the black/white thing. Ideas have consequences. But why do we marry ourselves to an idea so steadfastly before we even know if it's valid? Women want the right to work outside the home--and they deserve that right, as free people--but IF (I'm just offering a hypothetical) it can be proved that "not having mommy around" has a negative impact on a child, and an even worse impact than "not having daddy around," many women would fight tooth and nail to prevent that information from getting out; they'd even fight to prevent the underlying research from being funded/done. And they'd try to destroy YOU personally for doing the research. That strikes me as wrong. If you want, show why the research is flawed; explain why the damage to the child isn't as important as the fulfillment for the adult; explain that a woman having a job and an independent income pays larger (offsetting) benefits for the family and even in the end for the child as s/he grows. That's how it's supposed to work. It shouldn't be that there are some ideas you simply can't have, and you have to (at least metaphorically) kill the messenger.

Why can't it be: We're just having a discussion?

I have very strong feelings about certain things, but they're just feelings--they're not me--and I question them often. I can simultaneously hold a very strong opinion and also recognize that I could well be wrong (in some universal epistemological sense). Here's a favorite of mine: I believe in God, yes I do. I'm also SURE that I'm wrong.

And if you disagree with my opinion, I don't dislike YOU for disagreeing, no more than I would dislike a computer program for spitting out an analysis with which I differed.

Cosmic Connie said...

I'm a feminist and I'm in your corner, Steve. So don't declare war on all of us. Although my recent "situation" isn't the same as yours and hasn't (so far) affected my livelihood, I still know what it is to be falsely accused, misrepresented, and vilified, and to be locked out of any avenue where you might be able to face your accuser(s) and defend yourself. I also know that in many cases, when you do get a chance to defend yourself it is just wasted effort, for your words go right over the heads of those whose minds are already made up.

We really do need more honesty in the debates over gender roles. And there are awful double standards from which men suffer as much or more than women -- child custody being one of them. But I think Ron nailed it: it's a pendulum thing. Still, I am so sorry that you have become collateral damage. I hope you are vindicated, but I also hope that you don't go off the deep end as Roger seems to be encouraging you to do.

Steve Salerno said...

I'm very sorry about your situation, too, lovely Connie. (I mean that in the holistic sense. Now watch somebody use that as evidence of my being patronizing and misogynistic.)

And I don't mind pendulums swinging as long as people aren't grabbing the damn thing and bashing me over the head with it.

Dimension Skipper said...

I think this article circles the same core of the argument that you've been attempting to shed light on, Steve, although it seems to land slightly more toward the feminism side of the center of the gender rights spectrum at issue than you do. (At least that's my impression.) The article makes the case that feminism is necessary (and attempts to explain why), but that extreme feminism is just as wrong by way of overcompensation. Anyway, just thought you and others might be interested...

Why Do We Need Feminism, Shouldn’t We Just Be Humanists and Equalists?
by Daniel Fincke
July 17, 2014

(Btw, the comments section may be of some interest as well.)

Steve Salerno said...

Thank you DimSkip, for your typically on-point contribution, and your support through the years.

Steve Salerno said...

Btw, DimSkip, I don't disagree with the author's premise that there are reasons for blocs of people to organize in support of certain specific causes, like workplace equality. What I object to is the attempt to exalt Womanhood as a concept, and the overzealous prosecution, if you will, of any cause that in any way benefits women, despite all consequent damage to society and/or men: the desire to be "more equal," if you will.

And even in the case of workplace equality, women have sometimes gotten in their own way, IMO, with their shotgun-style fringe agendas, like a lot of this nebulous hostile environment stuff. I am convinced that if women worried less about coworkers' occasional admiring glances and more about brass-tacks job issues, equal-pay-for-equal-work would already be a reality.

Anonymous said...

Poor Steve, did you get your feelings hurt? For years you've been a privileged white guy telling everybody else why they're wrong. Karma's a bitch, huh?

RevRon's Rants said...

Anon 9:05. I generally refrain from asking questions for which the answer is obvious, but do you have anything to actually contribute to the discussion, or do you just get some strange satisfaction from being obnoxiously juvenile?

Anonymous said...

RevRon, you think you're so clever, Steve's fate speaks for itself. He got what he deserved. The attitudes he expressed with such glee were disgraceful at best and illegal at worst. I agree with his critic who said she would not let her daughter be in his class. Stop circling the wagons, he's a lost cause.

Steve Salerno said...

It's getting personal but I've always given people more leash when it comes to me...and what the hell, at this juncture I might as well let the trolls have their say. Underscores my point, in a perverse way.

RevRon's Rants said...

One only circles the wagons when a threat is perceived, and I've never felt threatened by juvenile taunts.

Ludwig said...

So this is what our universities have become. As someone who teaches at one, I'm agreeing wholeheartedly with you: it's shameful what I'm discouraged from teaching, even from personally believing.

Universities (or, rather, its practitioners) are supposed to be critics of orthodoxy. When we're at the point where rationally questioning orthodoxy is grounds for termination, and let's not kid ourselves that you were 'laid off' for strictly 'bureaucratic reasons,' then the university has failed in some profound way. University professors were protected from reprisal for speaking boldly about the Vietnam War. That was the point of academic freedom. It's OK to be critical, it seems, so long as you're not critical of those in power at the university.

Things change, and universities do too, so I'm aware that invoking some 'it used to be that way in the 60s' chain of reasoning is a genetic fallacy. With that said, I don't find reasons for the current model to be convincing. How much of what transpires at a university is rooted in PR fear and terror? Going no further than your own NFL example, Ray Rice was punished harshly not because of what he did, but because of the public's reaction to what he did. I'm uneasy about this happening in a private company whose purpose is to make money, never mind at a university where intellectual development is supposed to be of paramount importance - at least that's what university mission statements claim.

Expect failure, Steve, but keep trying anyway...

Morten Tolboll said...

Steve, I guess it must be interesting for you, and the comments here, to have some knowledge about how feminism has been discussed on University of Southern Denmark, as well as some leading (true) feminists - (the American philosopher Noretta Koertge, and Daphne Patai a feminist scholar and author) - have been expressed their worry about the development of feminism.

What I call the "new" feminism is what my professor in philosophy, David Favrholdt, calls radical feminism, set up as in opposition to reform feminism.

Radical feminism is right now about to develop into some kind intellectual apartheid in the third wold - radical feminists as for example Sandra Harding is supporting Islamic terrorism as a "progressive" attack on western science, which are carried by Western men

I hate to refer to myself, but this is an article I have written on the deep problem of the this new feminism:

The New Feminism and the Philosophy of Women´s Magazines.