America’s Failing Feminism

When Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers came to campus to discuss her vision of feminism based on equality and the freedom of each sex to do as it chooses last week, the Sexual Assault Peer Education program protested her presence. It emailed its members stating that “an extremist anti-feminist speaker that dismisses and denies survivors of sexual assault” was coming to campus and insisted on “trigger warnings” outside the event.

Continuing, this past Monday The Hoya’s Editorial Board published the editorial “No More Distractions” (April 21, 2015, The Hoya, A2) about how outrageous it was to bring a speaker on campus that disagrees with them. The editorial argued that Dr. Sommers’ opinion and prior writings on sexual assault statistics were distracting and that this “is not the conversation that students should be having.” This is despite the fact that Dr. Sommers’ remarks on campus were about her version of feminism. She only addressed sexual assault because the protestors brought it up.

This knee-jerk reaction of dismissing opinions that do not sit well with the listener while ignoring the substance of what is actually being discussed is indicative of a larger problem within the modern feminist movement. Despite what every self-proclaimed feminist has rather condescendingly reassured me, modern feminism is not simply about the fact that men and women should be equal. This patronizing definition ignores how incredibly politicized modern feminism has become. It is not simply a movement aimed at getting men and women equal treatment. It is deeply embedded in a hyper-political framework, and removing it from this framework would constitute a misunderstanding of social movements and the true meaning of feminism today.

For example, feminist political organizations regularly focus on abortion rather than on achieving equal representation, marginalizing pro-life women. The National Organization for Women prefers to donate money to men’s political campaigns rather than support a pro-life woman. With only 19.4 percent of Congress made up of women, we are far from accomplishing parity in politics. If equality were really the aim of these feminists, they would not exclude pro-life women from their organizations.

The fate of those who fail to live up to the feminist political agenda is much worse — even liberal feminists do not escape the scathing punishment. When Patricia Arquette used her Oscar acceptance speech to discuss the wage gap, some derided her for not saying enough about intersectionality, while others even labeled her comments as “insulting.” Speeches can only last so long, yet not including “enough” will prompt endless vitriol from some of today’s feminists.

And that is how some modern feminists treat those who largely agree with them. The real fury is reserved for those who dare to think differently. Dr. Sommers, one of many advocates for accurate statistics and due process when it comes to campus sexual assault, was on the receiving end of this fury last week. She was called a “rape apologist” for refusing to conform to the feminist political agenda.

If feminists were consistent in their outrage, this would also mean the Department of Justice and The Washington Post are equally deserving of being labeled “rape apologists.” They agree that the “one-in-five college-aged women is sexually assaulted” statistic repeated by campus activists, the White House, and the Center for Disease Control is false since it is based on a study done at two universities and not the nation at large.

As journalist Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post column “Fact Checker” notes, “This oft-cited statistic comes from a Web-based survey of two large universities, making it misleading to suggest that it is representative of the experience of all college women.” The Department of Justice puts the rate of reported sexual assault among college women at a much lower 0.61 percent — and that number is on the decline. Having an honest discussion about sexual assault is necessary in order to confront the problem. The real disservice to victims of sexual assault is the promulgation of false statistics that undermine their cause and belittle their fights for justice.

Although ignoring the facts of underlying opposing opinions and resorting to name-calling is beyond obscene and falls outside the accepted boundaries of civil discourse, it is par for the course for modern feminists. Feminist hysteria over every oppositional opinion has turned them into caricatures of themselves.

When only 18 percent of Americans identify themselves with a movement that alleges to solely stand for equality, the problem is not with Americans. It is with the movement. Most women are all too happy avoiding the laughingstock that some say modern feminism has become. To advance true equality with the broad support of all women, the movement needs to be more inclusive and less political. If feminists want us to sign on, they need to adapt.

Mallory Carr is a junior in the College. This is the final appearance of The Right Corner this semester.

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  1. ModerateAnon says:

    While I am appreciative that this article is well-written and well-argued, I’d argue that many of the major premises in this piece are extremely misguided.

    SAPE has every right to express their disagreement with Mrs. Sommers for her views and the Georgetown College Republicans for their decision to bring her to campus. However, from my interactions with the members of the group I would contend that their discontent was with Mrs. Sommers’ harsh presentation of her beliefs, thus making the experience difficult for actual survivors. I would also argue that through research before her talk, a survivor of sexual assault could discern that this lecture was not suitable for his or her current temperament. On this point, I think that the arguments on both sides are problematic but it also flawed to argue that SAPE and other individuals protested because they simply disagreed with Mrs. Sommer’s beliefs.

    Further, I think the author of this piece has deliberately picked through the article written by the Editorial Board in order to find excepts which she could deliberately exploit. The article actually says “It is necessary and valuable to promote the free expression of a plurality of views,” which in my humble opinion illustrates a blatant disregard for the actual content of the text and intent of the author.

    Moving on, to argue that modern feminism actually marginalizes pro-life women is almost laughable. Especially at Georgetown, where the university recognized pro-life student group is permitted to host weeklong programming while Hoyas For Choice has yet to be given the time of day.

    While I don’t agree with Mrs. Sommers on every one of her beliefs, I do believe that inviting her to campus as an educated and well-respected scholar was an appropriate decision. These types of speakers, similar to Jim Kim from the World Bank, provide valuable insight into issues which we may not often be exposed to at Georgetown. A university is supposed to promote a plethora of different views, not to elevate one view above another.

    Continuing to peddle the narrative the nonviolent protest occur simply out of disagreement with a speaker’s beliefs instead of their decision to demonstrate their disagreement with a larger social issue is something that is extremely unfortunate and a trend that I hope eventually ceases to exist.

  2. “Despite what every self-proclaimed feminist has rather condescendingly reassured me, modern feminism is not simply about the fact that men and women should be equal.”

    Really? You’ve spoken to every self-proclaimed feminist and they’ve all told you this? Wow!

    • Tony Host says:

      Really? Strawmanning with facile disingenuous semantic games? We are all adults here. It is unfortunate that one group refuses to accept that role or any of its responsibilities.

      We ALL , including YOU, are well aware that the import of the sentence was, “every selfproclaimed feminist, THAT I HAVE TALKED TO OR THAT TALKED TO ME.”

      you insult the intelligence of EVERYONE involved when you imply that the author was dumb enough to think her audiece dumb enough, that she could and would DELIBERATELY prevaricate on the assumption that all her readers would REALLY think she talked to EVERY feminist in the world. No, she gives the reader more credit than that, more credit than YOU do, certainly.

      Further, your “argument”is nothing but a cheap point scoring exercise. You know why? She asserted that feminist have all told her feminism is about equality. THIS is what you responded to with ” HA! You didnt talk to EVERY feminist though”.

      Your argument only goes through if you meant to imply that if she HAD talked to more feministsm they would have informed her that feminism is NOT about equality, which bolsters her second, nain point. If they would have all told her it WAS, then her view of the consensus of feminist being feminism=equality would be RIGHT, regardless of her view of the practical reality or honesty of this view, and your “point” is totally moot.

      So either you have talked yourself into a corner and exposed the worthlessness of your own argument, OR you think that many feminists agree that feminism is NOT about equality, and you AGAIN prove her OTHER point for her. I suggest you work on basic reading and grammar. You were unable to realize that the subject of her sentence was that feminists falsely all claim feminism is about equality.

      The form and import of your retort to this therefore means you disagree with her assertion that all feminusts SAY “F=E” and therefore you think feminists dont even SAY this.

      Or again, if you do NOT disagree that all feminists SAY “F=E”, you were making an empty statement as this would have no effect on her argument.

      i get the feeling you ACTUALLY wanted to disagree with her assertion that “f=\=e” , and that when feminists say “f=e” they are lying.
      if you meant to dispute this, as i THINK you did, then questioning her perception of what feminists SAY has no bearing on whether “f=e” in reality.
      You would not only have had to assert that those feminists saying “f=e”
      are RIGHT, but for it to be more than a bare assertion, you would have to provide EVIDENCE that feminism, IN ACTUAL PRACTICE AND REALITY, NOT BY A DICTIONARY THAT IS TOTALLY UNDESCRIPTIVE OF FEMINISM AS IT IS PRACTICED CURRENTLY, really IS about equality only, and POSITIVELY REFUTE WITH REAL EVIDENCE, that feminists in actual practice use identity politics and other tactics in order to gain special privilege for women over men. Of course you could NEVER do this because of the mountains of evidence that despite their dictionary pointing, everything feminists currently do is about getting AHEAD OF MEN, NOT EQUAL WITH THEM.

      Like i was saying, you DO NOT really think she was trying to make her readers believe she talked to several million women. You are not THAT dumb.
      HOPEFULLY you dont think everyone else dumb enough to think that of her either, just because you dishonestly assert it. Therefore you were JUST making a pathetic juvenile attempt to be a grammar nazi.

      Ironically your lack of reading comprehension or logical skill caused you not only to FAIL, but, regardless how one parses any statement by any party, resulted in your complete and inevitable self-pwnage.

      I KNOW this is VERY complicated for you, so lets go over it one more time

      A. She said that, DESPITE what “all feminists” SAY, “f=/=e”

      B. You said “HA, you did not talk to ALL feminists!”

      1. Either you meant that if she HAD, the feminists would have said that “f=/=e” in which case her argument that all those she actually DID talk to said “f=e” (come on, we KNOW she meant that, rather than really thinking she was convincing her audience that she talked to several million women. If you cant even concede this, i dont know what to say to you, but you are an idiot) AND her argumnt that “f=/=e” is SUPPORTED by some feminists themselves.

      2. Or, you meamt that the other feminists would agree with those she talked to, in which case you are admitting that your statement was empty and changes NOTHING about her argument and you were SOLELY being a pedantic grammar nazi.

      3. Or, you are going to double down that you REALLY think she was saying she talked to several million feminists, and your whole argument IS that you think she was deliberately lying, hoping everyone would believr she talked to EVERY feminist alive, in which case i will say you are either just stupid ( i do not think this, of you, though) or you are outright lying by claiming to believe what only a moron would REALLY think, in which case you are a LIAR, (but probably STILL stupid.)

      In conclusion, you had NO ARGUMENT to refute her statement, and younVERY likely know her statements are all true. But in your butthurt you grasped at the only straw, the last resort of those knowingly wrong but too cowardly and spiteful to fess up. You TRIED to be a gramnar nazi.
      Too bad the ONLY part of her whole article that you had the skill or comprehension to attack, and where you THOUGHT you had an “opening” (wrongly, unless you MEANT to come off as someone willing to be totally disengenuous of what you or any sane person would really think was said,just to twist it to your ends,which IS, BTW, how you look), was the ONE PART where any attack by you from that angle could ONLY strengthen her whole argument and expose you as unintelligent, ignorant, or lying, but most likely all three of these.

      You pwned yourself harder than anyone else ever could have. All i had to do was point it out. Thanks for letting us know your level of intelligence and honesty. Now we can safely ignore you forever. Thanks for the lulz, though, sweetcheeks.

  3. Studies that have given a reported sexual assault rate of under 1% tend to ask questions along the lines of “have you ever been forced or coerced into engaging in unwanted sexual activity”. The numerous studies that have replicated the 20% claim tend to ask “has anyone ever engaged in sexual activities with you when you were too drunk or otherwise incapacitated to give consent?”.

    Rape and sexual assault that occurs by force or threat of force is in fact incredibly rare, which is why those studies have given such low rates. However, focusing on forcible sexual assaults completely ignores the much more numerous non-forcible cases of rape or sexual assault that occur when the victim is unable to give consent. I’ll also note that most of the studies that have given rates below 1% will give very in-depth explanations along these lines, typically as an appendix.

    And honestly, I’m not even sure why you are so fixated on the exact rate. Campus sexual assault is incredibly common, which is why these studies are being conducted in the first place. Yes, some reports may make mistakes every now and again, but the 20% has been demonstrated time and time again to be a reasonably accurate figure. Honestly, I think its absurd that we should delay addressing sexual assault on college campuses so can nitpick over the statistics.

    • Here is the CDC question regarding incapacitated persons:

      “Have you suspected that someone has had sexual contact with you when you were unable to provide consent or stop what was happening because you were passed out, drugged, drunk, incapacitated, or asleep?”

      If the subject answers yes they are graded as a sexual assault victim.

      The first problem is this question assumes any sexual contact with a person, not fully awake, is sexual assault, even when consent was previously given. Notice where the word “or” is placed.

      Second, it implies that consent has to be given every time. This is because it asks whether someone had sexual contact with you when you would have been unable to provide consent. In other words, it assumes away the possibility that consent could be implied from an ongoing intimate relationship.

      Finally, its asked whether the subject simply “suspects” something was done to them. There’s no probability attached to this. 50%, 10%, 1%??? How much do you have to suspect?

      This study has other poorly worded questions, such as defining an attempted forced kiss is a sexual assault. Any girl who’s turned her cheek to rebuff a kiss at the end of the night, how is she suppose to answer this?

      When women are asked more directly whether they believe they were victims of sexual assault, the numbers plummet. The CDC’s questions are written as vaguely and broadly as possible to maximize an affirmative response.

      • that’s true; studies about sexual assault by feminists tend to get numbers around 20% but if you were to ask all the women that were written down as “victims of sexual assault” if they think that they’ve been sexually assaulted, about 95% of them are gonna say no

  4. Well the actions of about 10 students and our moronic Ed Board have made Georgetown look terrible to the rest of the US as well as employers who would probably like to hire people with skin thicker than a butterfly’s wing, so well done Mallory on trying to spread truth. Expect to get flamed mercilessly by the same idiots though.

  5. Another Student says:

    Carr, I found the survey you cited after a very brief Google search. The survey addresses these discrepancies, and the differences come out to wording. The Department of Justice survey only asked about rapes that occurred through force or the threat of force, while surveys that gave a higher percentage addresses rapes that occurred when the victim was too incapacitated to give consent (which is much more common). I think it was rather sloppy of you not to address this in your article. I also found it problematic that you cherry-picked the lowest rate given in a study and presented it as the unquestionable truth, while flat-out ignoring other studies that have given higher rates of sexual assault.

    Here is the link to the study that gave the 0.61% claim:

    The study can be found by clicking on the word “PDF”. I suggest everyone go to page 15, which addresses the differences in survey results.

    The study that gave the 0.61% asked questions along the lines of “Incidents involving forced or unwanted sexual acts are often difficult to talk about. (Other than any incidents already mentioned), have you been forced or coerced to engage in unwanted sexual activity by (a) someone you didn’t know before, (b) a casual acquaintance? OR (c) someone you know well?”

    The studies that have given the higher percentages of assaults asked questions along the lines of ” When you were drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent, how many people ever (proceeds to list various forms of sexual assault)”

    • Gregory Chames says:

      I think the point was less about what the actual statistic is, but rather that there are wild statistical differences at either spectrum, and from reliable enough sources. This is the example of the other side of the spectrum from a pretty big and trustworthy source, but whether it’s right or not, it is rarely, if ever, used by anyone or even mentioned.

  6. An actual feminist says:

    In response to your point, “For example, feminist political organizations regularly focus on abortion rather than on achieving equal representation, marginalizing pro-life women. The National Organization for Women prefers to donate money to men’s political campaigns rather than support a pro-life woman.”

    This wouldn’t be necessary if pro-life men and women didn’t politicize abortion and reproductive justice in the first place. Feminists and women’s organizations aren’t the ones trying to legislate away women’s access to healthcare, and firmly believe that this is a decision that should remain between a woman and her DOCTOR, not her government. If politicians and “pro-life” parties would take women’s health out of the political sphere, perhaps there actually could be a way to work together to achieve equality. As it stands, people like Christina Hoff Sommers and others who work to limit women’s choices are the ones actively contributing to our inequality. Look at yourself and your own views first before you try to criticize a movement you know nothing about.

    • If you sincerely think abortion is just about women’s health, you’re completely misunderstanding the pro-life position. I don’t know whether you’re intentionally misrepresenting the situation or if you really think pro-life people are just trying to control “women’s health,” but it’s ridiculous to gloss over the other side’s actual position.

      Those of us who are pro-life believe that the unborn child has rights too. It’s as simple as that – no ulterior motives to try to “legislate away women’s access to health care.” Perhaps you too should avoid “[criticizing] a movement you know nothing about.”

      • Gregory Chames says:

        I think you’re both missing the point– she’s saying that because the feminist movement also aligns itself with a lot of liberal political agendas, it excludes many women who are conservative or somewhere in between. The point of the movement should be focused on letting women have equal representation in general, and not exclude other women by having positions that they (right or wrong) equate with all women’s self interests.
        So, whatever your stances are on the stupidly named “pro-life” and “pro-choice” names, it is not for feminists to decide, it’s up to individual women to decide.

        • Pro-Life says:

          I agree with you. I’m simply pointing out the absurdity of essentially saying, “We wouldn’t have to politically mobilize to oppose you if you didn’t just get in line and agree with us!”

  7. You claim Arquette was criticized because she did not include intersectionality in her acceptance speech, saying, “Speeches can only last so long, yet not including “enough” will prompt endless vitriol from some of today’s feminists.” Intersectionality is crucial to, but often missing from, modern feminism and she should have mentioned it. However, get your facts straight. Arquette was criticized because she claimed that gays and PoC need to help women, completely ignoring the very real discrimination these groups face and creating an unnecessary “us vs them” mentality. She wasn’t criticized for not focusing on intersectionilty; she was criticized for being the antithesis of it.

  8. If your opponents ignore you or get ticked of when you make arguments that consist of nothing but errors in fact, it does not mean your opponents are irrational, “hysterical”, or unfairly excluding you. Rather, it means that you need to either a. actually know what you are talking about or b. do some background research before making an argument. If your opinions are as poorly thought out as this article was, then they should not be given serious consideration and you have no one to blame but yourself for this.

  9. People that are not in positions of ‘power’ seem to fall into three categories.

    1. Modern-day feminists that you have been describing

    2. People actively opposed to the above (including ‘real’ feminists, such as Sommers).

    3. People who are not perhaps aware of the first group, but if informed about them would oppose them as they are rational people (this group also including ‘real’ feminists).

    For whatever reason, the people in positions of ‘power’ (from the White House, website / newspaper editors, heads of universities, the Center for Disease Control) seem to be on the whole only listening to group 1).


    Probably because they don’t see the crazy things they are actually doing, such as spamming “Trigger Warnings”, “Safe Spaces” and “Microagressions”, all they see is reports coming in saying “feminists upset at offensive material”. So of course they side with them, because that’s the PC thing to do, or so they believe.

  10. So feminists want to end rape and sexual assault. They believe that 1 in 5 women in college are sexually assaulted. Well – guess what, a more up to date and reliable study has shown that the figure is closer to 1 in 164 women! Great news!

    Except not – because that ruins the narrative – how can they expect to garner sympathy and play the victim when the threat of rape isn’t nearly as high as they thought it was?

    “Damn, the likelihood of me being raped is much less than originally thought, but which statistic will better help me portray myself as an oppressed victim of the patriarchy? Better dismiss that one and stick to the 1 in 5.”

  11. anonymous says:

    If the statistic were actually 1 in 5 as we are led to believe, wouldn’t we notice? Granted this is no scientific method, but I just feel that if 20% of women I knew were victims of sexual assault than sure I would be aware of just one of those victims! Yeah, yeah, I know the “‘rape culture’ thrives on silence” argument, but the issue of sexual assault is out in the open now and surely victims are going to start coming out about it more often and it’s gonna be more public when it happens. Sure, many of you are going to dismiss this as being non-factual, bullocks, but I just think that a crime so common that it occurs to 20% of women on college campuses couldn’t possibly go so unnoticed…unless it wasn’t happening as frequently as that. I know plenty of women, but no rape victims. That’s not meant to be proof it doesn’t happen, however I feel like it has to mean something, and if it means anything it’s that we should review the statistics and conduct more research.

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