« previous post | Main | next post »

January 18, 2006

Bashing Feminists

Elizabeth Anderson: January 18, 2006

Ana Marie Cox, self-professed feminist and formerly of Wonkette fame, reviewing "Women Who Make the World Worse" by Kate O'Beirne in the New York Times Book Review, Jan. 15, 2006 (here, behind a subscriber wall), commits a howler in conceding a point to O'Beirne:

She mocks MacKinnon's (decades-old) contention that "all heterosexual intercourse is rape."

Please, sisters, at least do a little fact checking when you come across preposterous smears like this?  University of Michigan Law School Professor Catharine MacKinnon never said that.

Here's a measure of how much a group is despised:  how much malicious absurdity can one ascribe to its members and still be taken as a credible source on what they say and do?  With respect to feminists, the answer is quite a lot.  Christina Hoff Sommers, former philosopher and professional feminist basher, has been widely and credulously cited for her critique of the American Association of University Women's report, How Schools Shortchange Girls, although my fact-checking finds her critique riddled with errors, inconsistencies, and misleading claims.  Many academic critics of feminist philosophers are just as bad, often to the point of ascribing claims to feminists that are exactly the opposite of what they say.  Feminists, it seems, are not entitled to a minimally charitable or even literate reading of what they say.  Perhaps this is to be expected, if not excused, of those who wear their hatred of feminists on their sleeves.  But for feminists themselves to fall for such bashing?  Please.

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d834536ae669e200d83463d25669e2

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Bashing Feminists:

» Comments for: "Bashing Feminists" from Left2Right Comments
This post is provided as a forum for comments for the Left2Right post: "Bashing Feminists" posted on 01/18/2006 [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 18, 2006 3:16:09 AM

» Misquotation in Media: Catharine MacKinnon never, ever, ever, ever said "All heterosexual intercourse is rape." Ever. Ever. from Geekery Today
This just in Catharine MacKinnon never said that all heterosexual intercourse is rape. Andrea Dworkin never said that all heterosexual intercourse is rape, either. Quotations... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 19, 2006 7:01:04 PM

» Misquotation in Media: Catharine MacKinnon never, ever, ever, ever said "All heterosexual intercourse is rape." Ever. Ever. from Geekery Today
This just in Catharine MacKinnon never said that all heterosexual intercourse is rape. Andrea Dworkin never said that all heterosexual intercourse is rape, either. Quotations... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 19, 2006 7:12:38 PM

» Teen forums sex. from Amateur teen sex.
Teen lesbians have sex. Free sex teen galleries. Russian illegal teen sex. Teen sex. [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 28, 2009 12:58:36 PM

Comments

Posted by: CMN

No, she never said that in so many words, but I think that to be fair you also have to recognize that Prof. MacKinnon (whom I respect and whose class I took at MLS) has said a variety of things that, taken together, make that a reasonable if imprecise gloss on her position. Take the below quote from your link:

"Penetrative intercourse is, by its nature, violent. But I'm not saying that sex must be rape. What I think is that sex must not put women in a subordinate position. It must be reciprocal and not an act of aggression from a man looking only to satisfy himself. That's my point."

Now, rape is usually defined either as forcible sex or as non-consensual sex. MacKinnon clearly takes the position that, to the extent "force" is an element of the crime of rape, it ought to be satisfied by the act of penetration itself, which is inherently "violent." Thus, if rape is defined simply as "forcible sex," MacKinnon's position is that all sex involving penetration meets the definitional requirements of rape.

Of course, she doesn't really think that's how rape should be defined, so let's go at it from the "consent" angle. Well, notice that in the quote above she doesn't use the term "consent," but instead talks about "subordinate position." This is because MacKinnon doesn't think "consent" is a useful concept either--as long as there is inequality between men and women, the legitimacy of a women's "consent" is always suspect. While MacKinnon can imagine the possibility of "reciprocal" sex, certainly she and Dworkin view(ed) the present state of society as one in which women are systematically kept in a subordinate position.

So it's true that MacKinnon doesn't think sex "must be rape." But I think it an entirely fair statement of her position to say that "In our present societal circumstances of pervasive subordination of women, no sex act between a man and a woman can be clearly distinguished from rape."

If you think I am still misstating Prof. MacKinnon's view, I would be grateful for any correction. I don't doubt that many of her critics are sloppy and malicious. But unfortunately, I think to some extent the problem is that trying to pin down what she actually means is like trying to pin down Chomsky. She says things that seem logically to add up to X. She denies that she ever actually said X. Yet she never really denies that she thinks X, not without some semantic qualification that leaves it ambiguous. (I.e., "I'm not saying that sex must be rape," when the question was whether she thinks in practice it is rape.)

Posted by: CMN | Apr 28, 2006 6:20:54 PM


The comments to this entry are closed.

« previous post | Main | next post »