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The Integrity of Women and Gender Studies

 I recommend reading Christina Hoff Sommers’ 1994 book, “Who Stole Feminism?” especially for those pursuing a degree in women and gender studies.

Sommers is a former philosophy professor who herself has taught WGS courses. Her book calls into question the integrity of WGS programs.

She claims rather than promoting scholarly pursuits, they serve as centers of indoctrination for a radical strain of feminism that unfairly vilifies men and needlessly portrays women as victims.

Just to be clear, questioning the integrity of an entire academic field is a serious accusation and should not be taken lightly. But I believe Sommers’ claims are substantiated, and unfortunately, continue to be relevant more than 20 years after her book was written.

Speaking from my own experiences, I have been a member of the University system for nearly a decade now, both as a student and an employee. I have not had much contact with WGS programs specifically, but I have been frequently exposed to feminist ideology.

During this time I have come to the same conclusion that Sommers has: feminism is a corrupt ideology that promotes a fictitious narrative (i.e. women are oppressed by the patriarchy) by presenting false and/or misleading information as if it were undisputed fact.

Furthermore, feminists lack the desire and/or ability to engage in logical discourse. Instead they would rather slander their opposition by labeling it as sexist.

Two of many falsehoods I have seen promoted by academic feminists are pay inequality (women earn 77 percent of what men do for equal work) and rape culture (1 in 4 women are raped during college). These are easily refutable statistics that distort the truth and omit critical variables.

But the reason this misinformation is tolerated is because people know they will be labeled as sexist if they even dare question it.

This is the same kind of environment that Sommers describes in WGS programs. WGS courses tend to be discussion based, but what constitutes legitimate discussion is so heavily restricted that students have little choice but to either conform to feminist ideology or be labeled as sexist.

Sommers even claims that in some courses the simple act of creating logical arguments based on objective reasoning is considered patriarchal, and therefore not tolerated.

The corruption described by Sommers runs even deeper than this, and some of it is shocking. People need to understand that these programs are responsible for creating much of the ideology driving radical feminism.

As it stands today, WGS programs are biased towards a political agenda at the expense of academic integrity. This is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

On a final note, Sommers’ book has received a lot of criticism from feminists. My advice to you: hear what the critics have to say, and then read her book. You decide who is being more reasonable. If that is too much work, at least visit her YouTube channel, “Factual Feminist” (sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute).

12 Replies to “The Integrity of Women and Gender Studies”

    1. @Orlando Kelvin: You are validating my criticism that feminism is intolerant of dissent. You substitute the word ‘troll’ for ‘sexism’, but it is the same concept. You are refusing to engage in logical discourse and resort only to using ad hominem attacks.

  1. So, you read one book by one anti-feminist that agrees with your personal perspective and thus feel you can tell Women’s and Gender Studies majors (and graduates) what they get wrong about their own field and scholarship?

    May I suggest some Michael Kimmel to you? A feminist sociologist who researches and teaches on masculinity, I think you’ll appreciate his work. “Angry White Men,” “Guyland,” “Manhood in America: A Cultural History,” and (read this first!) “The Guy’s Guide to Feminism.”

    1. Yes, I think I am presenting a fair criticism of Women and Gender Studies programs, and with it American third-wave feminism. Christina Hoff Sommers is an accomplished scholar who herself has taught WGS courses and was in good standing with the field prior to the publication of her book. So I consider her book to be a credible source on this subject.

      Just to reiterate, I have been a member of the university system now for nearly a decade. In today’s day and age, frequent exposure to feminist ideology is a part of being a member of a university. So my opinion is based on a decade’s worth of observation, not just on reading one book.

      Furthermore, you have not attempted to refute any of my arguments. You have provided a reading list, but were unable to establish how it is relevant to the discussion. So I will reiterate my arguments and give you a second chance to try and refute them.

      1.) Feminism is a corrupt ideology that unfairly vilifies men and needlessly portrays women as victims.

      This is evidenced by the fact that they use easily refutable statistics such as pay inequality (women earn 77% of what men do for equal work) and rape culture (1 in 4 women are raped during college) as evidence for the existence of the oppressive patriarchy.

      2.) Feminists lack the desire and/or ability to engage in logical discourse. Instead they would rather slander their opposition by labeling it as sexist.

      To your credit you have not called me sexist, but so far you have demonstrated that you lack the desire and/or ability to engage in logical discourse. This is evidenced by the fact that you have not attempted to refute any of my arguments.

      But you are not representative of most feminists. Most feminists have the knee-jerk reaction of responding to dissent by labeling it as sexist.

      3.) WGS programs are biased towards a political ideology (i.e. feminism) at the expense of academic integrity.

      Sommer’s book states that students have little choice in WGS courses but to either conform to feminist ideology or be labeled as sexist. If you want some more evidence of this, go on to NDSU’s WGS website. They openly state that they are endorsing feminist ideology. I consider this to be an unfair bias. I cannot think of any other academic department in a publicly funded university that openly endorses a political ideology to the extent that WGS programs do. WGS programs are unique in this regard.

  2. Well, fudge. Let’s try this again (and if a moderator would be kind enough to delete the comment I screwed up, that would be awesome
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    I’ve marked out your statements with [ ] this time. *fingers crossed*
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    [ Yes, I think I am presenting a fair criticism of Women and Gender Studies programs, and with it American third-wave feminism. Christina Hoff Sommers is an accomplished scholar who herself has taught WGS courses and was in good standing with the field prior to the publication of her book. So I consider her book to be a credible source on this subject.
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    Just to reiterate, I have been a member of the university system now for nearly a decade. In today’s day and age, frequent exposure to feminist ideology is a part of being a member of a university. So my opinion is based on a decade’s worth of observation, not just on reading one book.]
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    You may think that, but what you are presenting is an uninformed criticism of a program you admit you have “had little contact with.”
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    Argument from authority? Really? I’m sure you think those “credentials” are sufficient, but I’m a 46-year-old woman who actually earned dual degrees in sociology and WGS. I can tell you from my studies and my 30-ish years of observational experience in and outside of academia that there is no single “feminism.” There are numerous branches — intersectional feminism, queer feminism, women of color (WOC) feminism, black feminism, Latinx feminism, global feminism, analytic feminism, materialist feminism, cultural feminism, ecofeminism, gynocentric feminism, standpoint feminism, Marxist feminism, liberal feminism, etc. Even the oxymoronic “Christian feminism” and “conservative feminism.”
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    Each provides a particular lens to examine and understand the role of gender in social and institutional systems, much the same as Keynesian, Marxist, and Neo-classical theories provide a specific framework to examine and understand economic systems. “Radical feminism” refers to a specific feminist theory and a particular subset of feminists; using it wrongly simply highlights your lack of education and information regarding feminism and WGS.
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    [Furthermore, you have not attempted to refute any of my arguments. You have provided a reading list, but were unable to establish how it is relevant to the discussion. So I will reiterate my arguments and give you a second chance to try and refute them.]
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    Refute what? You wrote a citation-free opinion piece based on a single book published more than two decades ago and absolute misunderstanding of feminism and Women’s and Gender Studies. To quote Christopher Hitchens: “That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”
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    However, in the interest of enlightening those who may read these comments:
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    You wrote “I haven’t had much contact with Women’s and Gender Studies programs” — yet, you’re qualified to criticise them? Imagine I wrote an essay in which I argued (without citations), “I haven’t really had much contact with Criminal Justice programs, but they teach authoritarian bullies how to circumvent the Constitution, abuse the public, and get away with it — and I know this because of my own negative experience(s) with police, and one book I read that said so, which was written by someone who used to be a professor of criminal justice but then became anti-police.” Obviously, that would be an unfair accusation, correct?
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    Yet, that is exactly what you did with Women’s and Gender Studies. There are valid criticisms of WGS programs and feminism, to be sure, but you made none of those. Instead, you repeated the same extremely tired, ancient tropes about feminists hating men, being raging ideologues, accusing everyone of sexism and “thoughtcrime,” and demanding conformity or else. (And, as an aside, in none of my classes would a source from more than 20 years ago be an acceptable reference for any paper.)
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    [1.) Feminism is a corrupt ideology that unfairly vilifies men and needlessly portrays women as victims.]
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    In fact, feminism argues that rigid gender roles and expectations surrounding masculinity and femininity are harmful to men as well as women. From stereotypes about boys to demands to “be a man” that teach boys and men to repress their emotions, to career and workplace expectations and policies about fatherhood and paternity leave. (This is where my reading list enters the picture. Kimmel does an excellent job of showing how gender-based expectations affect and are ultimately harmful to boys and men.)
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    Feminism points out the ways in which our society is structured, based on gender, which denies people the ability to reach their fullest potential. It points out the systemic and institutional systems which reinforce gendered social norms and stereotypes such as “women are caregivers; men are breadwinners” or “boys are loud; girls are quiet” and which penalizes those who fail to conform to expectations of masculine/feminine behavior (such as stay-at-home fathers or ‘unladylike’ girls). It also points out how those gender-based expectations and stereotypes differ depending on race, social class, ability, sexual orientation, etc.
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    [This is evidenced by the fact that they use easily refutable statistics such as pay inequality (women earn 77% of what men do for equal work) and rape culture (1 in 4 women are raped during college) as evidence for the existence of the oppressive patriarchy.]
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    You make two claims here, but no citation to support them.
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    Intersectional feminism points out that the 77 cents statistic only applies to women in general. Women of color earn less than white women, with black women earning about 63 cents and Latinas earning about 54 cents per dollar earned by men with similar qualifications and experience. While the argument is often that the pay gap exists solely because women work lower-paying jobs or take more time off for having and raising children, some feminists argue that it is the gendered nature of work that results in more women in lower-paying “nurturing” jobs and careers and policies which limit men’s participation as caregivers, which are part of the problem. (See Josh Lev’s book: “All In”)
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    And much research has shown that in many fields, even traditionally-female low-wage occupations (nursing assistant, for example), women are still paid less than their male counterparts, even with equal qualifications. See: Understanding international differences in the gender pay gap, Blau & Kahn 2001; The Gender Pay Gap: Have women gone as far as they can? Blau & Kahn 2007; Working for the woman? Female managers and the gender wage gap, Cohen & Huffman 2007; The gender gap in top corporate jobs, Bertrand & Hallock, 2015;
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    Rape culture is too large a topic to tackle in this forum. In truth, a wide variety of scholars have shown the existence of rape culture and its effect on both men and women (and on people of non-binary identification). It is feminists who argue for policies to eradicate prison rape and eliminate the stigma that too often silences and makes invisible the male victims of rape. It is also feminists who argue that men are more than mindless animals unable to control their sexual urges. See: Repeat rape and multiple offending in undetected rapists, Lisak & Miller 2002; Towards a new feminist theory of rape, Mardorossian 2002; Keeping the ‘lady’ safe: the regulation of femininity through crime prevention literature, Campbell 2005; Sexual assault on campus: A multilevel, integrative approach to party rape, Armstrong, Hamilton & Sweeney 2006; Fraternity membership, the display of degrading sexual images of women, and rape myth acceptance, Bleecker & Murnen 2007; Reports of rape reperpetration by newly enlisted male navy personnel, McWhorter et al 2009.
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    [Feminists lack the desire and/or ability to engage in logical discourse. Instead they would rather slander their opposition by labeling it as sexist. […]But you are not representative of most feminists. Most feminists have the knee-jerk reaction of responding to dissent by labeling it as sexist.]
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    You haven’t engaged in logical discourse. Instead you engaged in a fact- and citation-free essay of personal opinion about a program which (you admit) you have no actual knowledge. Just experience with nameless “feminists.”
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    I would argue that I am entirely representative of most feminists. You simply haven’t met (or read) enough of them. Of course, there is every possibility that you ARE a sexist and simply reject criticism out of hand in order to maintain your worldview. I don’t have enough information yet to determine that.
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    [3.) WGS programs are biased towards a political ideology (i.e. feminism) at the expense of academic integrity.
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    Sommer’s book states that students have little choice in WGS courses but to either conform to feminist ideology or be labeled as sexist. If you want some more evidence of this, go on to NDSU’s WGS website. They openly state that they are endorsing feminist ideology. I consider this to be an unfair bias. I cannot think of any other academic department in a publicly funded university that openly endorses a political ideology to the extent that WGS programs do. WGS programs are unique in this regard.]
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    Can you link to the specific page of the WGS website that says this, because the only thing I can find is a statement similar to that of MSUM’s program: “The NDSU Women and Gender Studies program is an interdisciplinary academic program that focuses on women and gender issues in society, while integrating the teaching, research, and service goals of our land grant university” and the FAQ page actually rebuts many of your statements about WGS programs (like male-bashing, etc.). I cannot find any statement about feminist ideology. (This may be my own failing because the website is ridiculously unwieldy.)
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    In my experience, those who use the term “feminist ideology” don’t understand feminism or its many forms at all. While there are widely different feminist theories and even conflict between theories, virtually all share the desire to “advocate for the political, social, and economic equality of women.” Period.
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    I can’t speak for any other WGS program, but I know that at MSUM conformity is not required of students or faculty. When I was a student and when I served as TA for the Intro class, we had more than a few students (male- and female-identified) who disagreed with some of the concepts we introduced (usually related to racism and classism), but the stumbling block was not their dissent but their lack of citations to back up their argument. “I feel” and “I believe” and “That’s not true because I’ve never seen/heard/experienced it” are not acceptable arguments in academic setting, in any program. Particularly not those which can be rebutted with even minimal research.
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    Apologies for the lengthy reply but I wanted to be thorough.

    1. I will try to split this up into sections that best summarize some of your main points:
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      1.) You are indeed correct that I have not definitively debunked feminism in this one article.
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      Luckily I have plan to rectify this situation: I am going to continue writing articles that criticize feminism. I wanted this first article to publicly and definitively state where I stand. And I wanted to provide the most credible resource I could find to back up my beliefs. I have every intention to substantiate my claims in future articles (in fact some of those articles are already written). I feel like in time, the truth will present itself and we will see if my criticisms are valid.
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      2.) You claim that Christina Hoff Sommers and my personal experiences are not credible resources.
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      ‘Who Stole Feminism’ is a credible resource for a couple reasons. First, the feminist community (in particular WGS programs) has never publicly addressed her criticisms. There were many half-hearted attempts to discredit her, but they ignored some of her most important chapters. For instance, Chapter 4: New Epistemologies, is one of the most revealing criticisms of WGS programs I have ever seen. Basically, she is saying that feminist epistemology, in conjunction with feminist pedagogy, grants students very little leeway in questioning feminist ideology. To date, I have never seen anyone even attempt to refute the claims she made in this chapter. It is almost as if the feminist/WGS community thinks that ignoring her is sufficient to refute her claims.
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      ‘Who Stole Feminism’ is still a credible resource, despite being 20 years old. For starters, I recommended visiting her YouTube channel, which is currently active. On her videos she has the same criticisms of WGS programs that she had 20 years ago. She is saying the situation has not improved one bit. I have not heard of any sort of effort on behalf of WGS programs to seriously address the criticisms she made 20 years ago.
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      Now you say my experiences are not relevant because I have not been a member of WGS programs? Think about what you are saying! WGS programs openly promote a political ideology (i.e. feminism), but I am not allowed to question these teachings because I am not a member of these programs? I presented a valid criticism of these programs, along with a credible resource to back up my claims. Apparently that is not enough. What does it take to gain enough credibility to question the teachings of WGS programs?
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      For an ideology that claims to be anti-corruption, this is very hypocritical. I think it is abundantly clear at this point that the teachings of WGS programs are impossible to question unless you yourself are a member of one of these programs. Even then you may not be able to question the teachings. They are essentially functioning like a priest class that considers itself above criticism. They get to dictate their morality onto society (on the taxpayer’s dime no less), but no one is allowed to question these teachings unless they themselves are a member.
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      Here’s some food for thought to add to the situation. You provided a paper addressing the prevalence of rape in the Navy. Have you ever been a member of the Navy? If not, then by your reasoning you should not be allowed to criticize what goes on in the Navy. If my lack of experience in WGS programs bars me from criticizing the culture of these programs, then your (potential) lack of service in the Navy would also bar you from criticizing what goes in this institution. You are (potentially) guilty of the same misdeed you accuse me of.
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      3.) Gender Pay Inequality
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      On a more positive note, I think me and you may have some common ground! My problem with the pay gap statistic (i.e. women earn 77% of what men do for performing equal work) is this: men and women are not performing equal work. This statistic cites the median wages for all full-time men and women. It omits numerous critical variables. You openly acknowledge this.
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      This is why this statistic makes me so upset. I have found that 9 out of 10 times, when you point out to feminists that men and women are not performing equal work, they openly acknowledge it. They know this statistic is misleading, but they continue to cite it as if it were undisputed fact. The president even cites it in his state of the union address. They have even gone so far as to establish a holiday in its honor. Do you know how much it undermines the credibility of your movement when one of its primary talking points is based on a misleading statistic? Not to mention that most members know it is misleading?
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      4.) WGS programs openly promote feminist ideology.
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      I am not trying to being sarcastic, but are you seriously trying to refute the claim that WGS programs promote feminist ideology? The NDSU webpage is actually pretty mild in comparison to some around the country. But the resources page provides numerous links to feminist resources. Plus, here is a line from their FAQ page:
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      “If I get a WGS minor, will I become the “f” word — a feminist?
      Holy cow, you just might!”
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      You have provided a laundry list of different feminist viewpoints. I think you, me and everybody else knows full well that WGS programs have had a significant role in the formation of these viewpoints.
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      5.) Whatever you want to say about rape culture, 1 in 4 women are not raped during college.
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      This is not true. It was not true when Ms. Magazine came out with this fallacious statistic back in the 1980’s. It was not true in 1994 when Sommers wrote her book. It was not true when I went to college from 2006-2010. And it is not true today. But feminists have always cited it as if it were true.
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      The lack of consistency in this statistic is a testament to its dubious nature. It seems like feminists freely use it in any of the following combinations: 1 in 4 to 1 in 5 women are raped, or raped and/or sexually assaulted. And what is sexual assault? From what I have seen, it can mean anything and everything under the sun. Sometimes feminists play so fast and loose with what constitutes sexual assault/rape that I am surprised it is not closer to 100% of students (both men and women) that are raped during college.
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      Like pay inequality, can’t you see how much it undermines the credibility of your movement when one of its primary talking points is based on a misleading statistic?
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      6.) Everything that goes against feminist ideology is labeled as sexism.
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      I think that feminists, as a first resort, almost always respond to opposition by labeling it as sexism. You seem to disagree with me on this. I think half the reason why such allegations have been so sparse for this article is because I openly called them out on this tactic in the article itself. Either way, it has not been proven that this is the case. But I think in time, we will see who is right. Here’s why I think this way.
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      This is a partial list of arguments I am going to make in future articles. I think they will be dismissed as sexism, regardless of their objective merits. But maybe I am wrong. We will see.
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      -Blaming rape victims is not necessarily sexist.
      -Some degree of slut-shaming is a good thing.
      -Some degree of gender inequality (especially in the form of gender roles) is a good thing.
      -Feminist gender theory is pseudoscience.
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      Now, here is my problem with allegations of sexism. Alleging sexism is a logical fallacy known as an ad hominem attack. In order for such allegations to be philosophically relevant, my opposition must establish how the validity of my thesis is dependent on my personal character. If they cannot do this, then they can call me sexist all they want. It will not detract from the validity of my theses.
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      Another thing I need to add: there are other ways that feminists allege sexism. They may call you a troll, rape apologist, hate mongerer or misogynist. But it is the same concept. Your arguments are being dismissed purely on an irrelevant ad hominem attack.
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      7.) Feminism is not a diverse ideology.
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      Feminists always seem to respond to opposition by saying that X criticism is not characteristic of the ideology as a whole, and only represents a radical minority. I do not like this, as I think there are several unifying characteristics that represent mainstream American third-wave feminism. And I think that overall, American third-wave feminism is a radical ideology.
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      -Patriarchal values are to blame for most of society’s problems, especially the oppression of women.
      -Gender roles are purely social constructs created by the patriarchy as a way of oppressing women.
      -The patriarchy should be overthrown by eliminating all gender roles.
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      This is all I have got for now, but hopefully you will gain some insight into why I feel so strongly on this subject. I do not want to destroy you in argument, I just want you (and all feminists) to understand what they are doing.
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      On a final note, do you realize that this is among the first legitimate discussions I have ever had on the subject of feminism? It has taken me years just to figure out how to word an argument so that it does not get dismissed as sexism outright. Do you Jennifer Knecht realize that you personally are breaking new ground for me in that I am actually allowed to have a legitimate discussion on feminism? This is by far the furthest I have ever gotten on this subject without being dismissed as a misogynist. Can you see why feminist’s opponents get so frustrated?

  3. Unfortunately, Mr. Frohlich, your beliefs are neither true nor justified, and to think you have more Knowledge than someone who has a doctorate in Women’s and Gender Studies or Feminist Theory is absurd. Feminist theory is actually built around philosophical structure and arguments in Women’s Studies courses will compare to those in philosophy courses. You have never taken a Women’s Studies courses, and have justified your beliefs with a book, by your general university experience, and with the fact that this is your opinion. But philosophical arguments are not based on opinions. You don’t know what feminism is, you made no point to make the opponents argument for why feminism is necessary and then prove it’s unnecessary. Your premises are unsound, your argument is bad and you should feel bad.

    1. I am glad you mentioned the philosophical structure of feminist theory. Sommers actually dedicated an entire chapter to this topic (Chapter 4: New Epistemologies). Contrary to what you are saying, she claims that feminist epistemology is full of fringe theories that do not conform to mainstream philosophy. She claims that feminist epistemology, in conjunction with feminist pedagogy, grants students very little leeway in questioning feminist ideology. I think Sommers’ criticisms of feminist epistemology should at least be acknowledged for two reasons:
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      1.) She has a PhD in philosophy and is a former professor of philosophy.
      2.) For all the criticism Sommers has received from feminists, I have never seen anyone even try to refute the claims she made in this chapter. This is unfortunate as I consider this to be one of the most important chapters in her book.
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      Now onto my second point. You have only deepened my conviction that WGS programs function like corrupt, dogmatic, authoritarian institutions. WGS programs openly endorse a political ideology (i.e. feminism) despite the fact that many operate in publicly funded universities all over the country. They are allowed to push their ideology onto me, but I am not allowed to question it since I am not a member of the system? You even imply that since I am not a member of the system, my arguments should not even be acknowledged. Think about what you are saying!
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      If we are going to employ this reasoning, then I should not be allowed to question the teachings of any Christian church since I do not have a PhD in theology and am not an ordained minister. Yes, I am comparing WGS majors/professors to a priest class that considers itself above criticism.
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      Furthermore, you did not call me sexist, but you may as well have as you essentially employed the same tactic. You are still vilifying me for opposing feminism. And why? Like I said, am I not allowed to question the teachings of an institution which is promoting a political ideology, on the taxpayer’s dime no less? My premises are not unsound, I provided a credible resource to back up my claims. Apparently you do not think this is enough. What do you have to do to gain enough credibility to question the teachings of WGS programs?

  4. Matt: Sorry for not responding more quickly, but I was busy doing some important feminist work: babysitting my 1-year-old grandson slash indoctrinating him in feminism.
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    In the interest of brevity, I have not included your comments and numbered my responses in order to reference them.
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    1. Good luck with that. I’m sure ‘A Voice for Men’ is looking for writers….
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    2. I’m not saying they aren’t valid experiences – you are reporting your own life (which as a mixed-method sociologist, I can appreciate). But they are not enough (even when combined with a single book which validated those experiences) to invalidate an entire body of knowledge and the (oft-replicated) research by scholars in multiple fields of study.
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    Here’s where I feel I’m having trouble getting through: If you look back at what I’ve stated in previous comments, other than mentioning the age of the book, I have largely ignored it. Why? Because this is ONE book and you cite no other sources to back up your statements. PROVE it is a credible resource by showing me (or simply naming) other scholars’ work that replicates, agrees with, or demonstrates her (and your) points. (And you should know this as an upper-level student.)
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    Are you really saying this single volume, when put up against the entire body of feminist scholarship – from a variety of fields, including sociology, history, psychology, economics, philosophy, etc. – and combined with your individual experience is sufficient? What I had to read for my degree in WGS was about 400 readings, both articles and books. And that is a drop in the ocean. Yet, you are going to overturn all of that scholarship in a series of op-eds in a campus paper?
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    I’m saying yours in an uninformed perspective. As I tried to demonstrate with my analogy about criticism of CJ programs, you show a lack of understanding of feminism and what WGS programs teach, thus your analysis is built on a faulty premise.
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    To go back to that analogy – how would you respond to a critic who said such a thing? I don’t think you’d say “Oh my gosh, thank you for that enlightened perspective of the field I spent many years learning about!” Instead, you’d want to correct their perception, yes?
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    You keep saying this, but you offer no evidence. WHAT teachings, specifically, do you believe are unquestionable? And what proof do you have that students in WGS classes are not allowed to question these? Personally, I have never experienced it. I had plenty of classmates question the existence of racism, of sexism (or simply the seriousness of it), ableism, among others. I’ve had them question the necessity of feminism in the US or the Western world when compared to the abuses suffered by women in more repressive societies. I’ve seen them actually get into heated debates with professors over the legitimacy of a particular topic. What I didn’t see, ever, was a professor who said, “That’s how it is, heretic!”
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    What you’d know if you’d ever attended a WGS class: feminism, like many fields, thrives on debate. As long as you can back up your opinions with references, you can argue about anything. What you can’t do without challenge: argue against the basic humanity of women and non-binary individuals and their right to political, social, and economic equality.
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    As I said in my previous comment, there are certain core principles which form the foundation of WGS. (Many of which, by the way, are shared by sociology. The difference is often in how we approach topics of study and subjects of research. Sociology prefers a “view from above” outsider perspective in research while WGS prefers a personalized view, also known as “standpoint theory.” Feminist sociology (which I practice) combines the two.)
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    I read this, and honestly I wonder how you managed to become a senior. “Cite or GTFO” is the internet way of saying it, but I can tell you right now, you would have failed every one of my upper-level sociology and WGS courses. Some advice: every statement you make MUST be backed up by references, particularly if your goal is to “prove” your point of view and debunk an entire field.
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    I included those references to support my argument. That you apparently don’t understand how research and references, much less scholastic debate, works…well, that says a lot.
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    3. Funny. You grab onto the one statistic I pointed out was a flawed descriptor and completely ignored the rest where I pointed out (with research to back it up) that women of color earn less than white women, and that when broken down into occupational fields (where they ARE doing equal work) women earn less than their male counterparts even if they have equal (or greater) qualifications.
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    Here’s the problem: the reason this statistic is used so often is because it’s a whole lot “cleaner” than the long version. Which is: white men are still paid more than anyone else, even for equal work; that white women have the highest earnings among women, regardless of job category; that black and Latina women are still discriminated against and underpaid compared to white men and women AND men of color in the workplace.
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    Now (here we go again!), you’ve actually made an argument similar to that of feminists of color against white feminism: the 77 cent statistic does not show the whole of the pay issue and makes invisible the effect of race and gender oppression in employment.
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    4. I believe this is where your personal biases are most obvious. You are reading into it things that aren’t there. Here’s a similar description from Syracuse University: “We take an interdisciplinary approach … in order to understand, critique, and address structural and social inequalities.” That’s actually for the sociology program, and it’s pretty standard boilerplate language for programs which study systemic and individual phenomena.
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    Notice how that FAQ it says, “You MIGHT become a feminist.” (And is quite obviously tongue-in-cheek.) They’re not saying ‘you will or else!’
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    Um, yes. Feminist academics have played a significant role in the formulation of feminist theory. Just like academics in all fields have had a significant role in the formation of the central theories that underlie those fields. (ie: in sociology: Marx. Durkheim. Weber (Marianne and Max). Smith. Foucault. Hill Collins. Bourdieu. Baumann. Goffman. Mills, etc.
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    5. Again, you provide no evidence to back up your assertion. Also, I find it desperately sad that a criminal justice major actually has to ask “what is sexual assault.”
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    However, briefly, the answer is that the 1 in 4 and 1 in 5 statistic depends on which years you are speaking of and which research methods and survey models are used. It is based on research (and not just “feminist” research).
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    6. Nope. Sometimes it’s labeled racism. Or homophobia. Or classism. Or ableism. Or transphobia. Usually because it is.
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    You’ve taken no time to actually examine feminist theory, which is going to make it awfully difficult to critique and refute.
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    Great. More episodes of “men lecture women” coming up soon!
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    I get it. You don’t like being called a sexist. Here’s something to consider: are you being called a sexist, or are you being told “What you said is sexist”? (Or some combination of the two).
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    You write: “…my opposition must establish how the validity of my thesis is dependent upon my personal character.” Your personal biases inform your thesis (as they do with anyone). In fact, this is why many (most?) feminist writings of the past 25 years contains a reflexivity (or reflection) statement – order to advise readers of their standpoint and inform them of potential biases which may affect their theses. And why they then include evidence in the form of citations to support their theses.
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    7. There are unifying characteristics, I will agree. It is in how each form of feminism responds that makes them differ. Given the diversity of viewpoints present within feminism, it is hardly surprising that some might elect not to be associated with those it sees as “bad apples.”

    You were soclose! Let me rewrite those for you….

    – Patriarchal values, created by patriarchal SYSTEMS, repress all human beings by circumscribing their existence, by gender, into socially acceptable behaviors and limits their ability to express themselves freely and their potential to contribute to society.
    – Gender roles are social constructs created by patriarchal SYSTEMS which oppress all human beings. (Sociology agrees with this. Also, that race is a social construct of racist patriarchal systems to create dominant and subordinate groups in order to maintain the power and privilege of the dominant group.)
    – Patriarchal SYSTEMS should be replaced in order to allow all human beings to express themselves freely and reach their fullest potential, regardless of gender.
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    I have to say that I have gained little insight. Other than the fact that some feminists (or people you perceive to be feminists) have been mean to you, you don’t understand the difference between systems of oppression and individual experiences, and you really, really like a gendered system which prioritizes the male experience. Which, I imagine, is the opposite of what you wished to convey.
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    Regarding your final note: what a nice little patronizing pat on the head. Might I remind you that I’m actually old enough to have birthed you? I’ve spent years studying (and living) something which you have only tangential knowledge of and yet proclaim yourself an expert.
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    This isn’t going to make you happy, but the reason this is working thus far is because you can’t see my facial expressions, I’m able to write and re-write until I have attained a (mostly) neutral tone – and to be honest, I’m treating this as I would a discussion with my 13-year-old nephew who is incredibly bright, doesn’t have even a basic foundation in the topic at hand, but in whom I have faith in educating. 🙂
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    That said, I would be interested in continuing the conversation. It’s getting a bit out-of-control for a comment section, however. If interested, feel free to email me at [mylastname]jenn AT the googly mail place.
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    On a final note: I hope you’ll be attending Jessica Valenti’s speech on “Why Feminism (Still) Matters” on 9/17 at NDSU. You might learn something and, f nothing else, you’ll have fodder for future opinion piece.

    1. I think this is a good stopping point for our discussion. I agree it is getting a little out of hand for a comments section. I will continue to write articles that further articulate my points and I invite my opposition to do the same.

      Just one minor correction I need to make. There seems to be some confusion about my background. I am incorrectly listed as a senior in criminal justice. This is the first issue of the Spectrum for 2015-2016 so it is understandable this mistake occurred. I actually graduated in 2010 with a B.S. in chemical engineering from UND. I have been employed as an academic researcher since 2010 and became a master’s student in materials and nanotechnology at NDSU in the fall of 2013.

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