I just this morning finished reading The Morning After: Sex, Fear, and Feminism, by Katie Roiphe. Some of what follows here is the review I posted on Goodreads. Goodreads lets you link your activity to Facebook, and I would very much have liked to do that in this instance. But working, as I do, at a university, particularly in the college that has hosted the women I mention below, I find myself in the unenviable position of having to censor myself daily.
I came across Roiphe’s book excerpted in an article, which I can no longer recall. Something in Reason, maybe? That seems likely. First published in 1994, it was referenced in response to the recent barrage of reporting on campus rape, and the backlash of what have turned out to be numerous false accusations and outright fabrications, all in the name of “shedding light” on the campus rape epidemic. An epidemic, one could, and should, reasonably argue, is in the imaginations of the new feminists. The problems with perpetuating this mythical epidemic, lie not only in the way in which studies are conducted on the alleged instances, but on the very definitions of rape and sexual assualt. Roiphe addresses these issues, among others, in her book.
Roiphe’s biting analysis of the feminist mindset could just as easily have been written today as 20 years ago, from the persistence of the so-called “rape culture” to the very statistics being paraded around as “evidence” of a sexual assault “epidemic”. Working on a university campus, I can attest to the perpetuation of this clinging to victimhood, only now it has been ingrained in young women from birth by their mothers, the young women at Roiphe’s Take Back the Night rallies and Sports Illustrated protests.
The new feminists are determined to not only be treated as equals to men, but demand to be elevated to a higher status, a status that is somehow more delicate and sacred than men. Women want it both ways and decry the patriarchy when they are denied. Women today bemoan the alleged war on women while single mindedly waging a war on men. The self inflicted dichotomy of the victimized feminist is tragic, disappointing, and off putting. This is not the feminism I was raised to believe in. My brand of feminism – the ideal that I can do whatever I want so long as I have determination and a work ethic – is now considered the “wrong” feminism.
My outlook on the world is branded as anti-feminist. The message I get every single day, is that unless I toe the new feminist line, I am not a real woman; I am self hating; I am delusional; I am unable to think for myself (by which it is meant that I should let the new feminists think for me); I am brainwashed; I am oppressed by the patriarchy.
Camille Paglia put it best, I think, when she said “Feminism is dead. The movement is absolutely dead. The women’s movement tried to suppress dissident voices for way too long. There’s no room for dissent. Feminist ideology is like a new religion for a lot of neurotic women. You can’t talk to them about anything.”
I wish this book was required reading at our university, particularly in a time when we are bringing women – Anita Hill, Soraya Chemaly, etc. – to our campus to speak to our young women on these very topics, (from a decidedly and determinedly one sided ideological position.) The new feminists are right. I am oppressed. But they are my oppressors.