Last night I was rolling my face off and thinking about “Factual Feminist” Christina Hoff Sommers, as you do. It all started about five days ago when I started listening to her recent interview on the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast. I’m not sure why I didn’t skip that one. I am, let’s just say, not a fan of hers. I’ve actually written what I wanted to be a scathing critique of her antics.
Still, I hit play for a good old fashioned hate listen. Rogan kept talking about how how calm and reasonable and polite she sounded. And I’m like, “But listen to the content!” Yet as I listened something weird happened. A little bud of empathy welled up inside me, before I could snuff it out with righteous indignation. She seemed authentic, humble. I understood where she was coming from, more than I ever thought possible. She was in a world and saw something wrong, and wanted to help make it right. And was cast out and shamed for trying. Which is very close to what’s happened to me several times. Her world was academia and she was trying to correct misandry. My world was libertarianism and I was trying to correct misogyny. But, like, we’re both well-intended. Yes, she needs to make a career to get her message out. And she needs an audience. And some in that audience, like gamer gate people, are vile and horrible people. Just as some people who read me are vile, horrible people. Just look at my Facebook comments. And that’s after extensive blocking.
But that doesn’t mean she’s busting feminist myths to gather up her army of MRA trolls. Like, who the fuck would want that? She honestly loves men, and hates the way that some feminists cherry pick facts to make it seem like they’re the enemy. I get that. I respect that, frankly.
Then I saw her latest video in my Facebook timeline. Great, I thought. I can watch this and go back to hating her.
But I didn’t! Because I realized another thing. Feminism is classist. I mean, I knew that. White feminism and all. But the REASON it seems like feminists ignore men is that they’re ignoring the men AT THE BOTTOM. Yes, there is a patriarchy, but only at the top. At the bottom, men are fucking fucked in a lot of ways, which Sommers points out, correctly.
It used to annoy me that she was hijacking feminism for some regressive gender-norm bullshit. But now I like that she’s reclaiming feminism and making it something that cares deeply about and addresses the plight of low-income, low-education men. Because, she’s right. They are oppressed by sexism too. And we need to fight for them as well. I do wish she would have corrected Rogan when he said he’s not a feminist but actually a humanist and attributed the definition of feminism to humanism which actually already has a definition and she’s a feminist and a former philosophy professor so really why in the fuck would she not gently let him know that he isn’t doing philosophy right?
It still like kinda gets me that she downplays the plight of women. But she comes from a world where she was surrounded by hatred of men. I come from a world where I have been surrounded by hatred of women. Well, more just patronizing, downplaying, ignoring, and mocking. But still. I’ve gotten plenty of straight up hate simply for saying I’m a feminist. Misogyny is felt when you realize how many people hate a woman who is unashamed. So to claim that gender equality has been achieved to the point where we can forget about women’s advancement just doesn’t sit well when I have hateful, gendered messages from men sitting in my inbox for the crime of speaking my mind while having a vagina.
YET, I can’t say who is more oppressed. And I wouldn’t want to. Because it’s a stupid contest no one should want to win. We are all oppressed by sexism.