In a recent interview with Spiked Review, Christina Hoff Sommers said feminism has officially gone off the rails in the age of Trump. "It's all quite absurd," said the American Enterprise Institute resident scholar. "This is not how men came to power. These are antics that reinforce some of the worst stereotypes about women. And it’s just going to isolate the movement and not make it more attractive."
In the interview, Hoff Sommers, host of "The Factual Feminist" and author of multiple leftist myth-busting studies, addressed both the roots and results of the panic-stricken "resistance" brand of feminism and the social justice Left's "intersectionality" movement. Asked why she thinks feminism dominated the headlines this year, Hoff Sommers said the election of Donald Trump certainly "had a lot to do with it." No fan of Trump, whom she described as "problematic," Hoff Sommers said that, nonetheless, leftist feminists have embarrassed themselves in their response to him.
"[T]his election has created havoc among feminists – moderates and hard-liners," she said. "Even before he became president, many thought of the US as an oppressive patriarchy, but after his election many believe they’re living out Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale. So they’ve gone into full resistance mode. For many people, including myself, Trump’s election was mortifying. He lacks a moral compass and the requisite knowledge to be a world leader. But for feminist hard-liners, Trump is the realization of their worst nightmare. Everything they’ve read in their gender-studies textbook about toxic masculinity and an oppressive patriarchy has all come true around them. But this is a distorted view. He’s problematic, but not for the reasons these feminists think."
Asked if the "panic" triggered by Trump's election has now reshaped feminism to be represented by "a certain class of women," Hoff Sommers replied, "Yes, very much so." The result, she fears, will be even more people rejecting true feminism because of its current "male averse" state. "I think feminism might alienate as many as it attracts," she said. "I think it’ll certainly scare away most men, because it seems, in its current form, very male averse."
When Spiked Review asked her if "gross-out" feminists' obsession with the female body, in the form of "pussy hats, signs of uteruses, blood-stained jeans, tampons, leg hair, body shaming," is helping or hurting the cause, Hoff Sommers slammed it all as "absurd."
"It’s all quite absurd," she said. "This is not how men came to power. These are antics that reinforce some of the worst stereotypes about women. And it’s just going to isolate the movement and not make it more attractive."
She then transitioned into discussing the reason this regressive form of feminism has become dominant. In short, it's the result of modern education, particularly the increasingly influential and destructive gender studies field.
"[A]s someone who has studied the contents of gender studies for many years, I can tell you that this is what many young people have been taught," she said. "These oppression theories, and eccentric ideas that focus on the idea that we’re oppressed by being women and our bodies – this comes out of gender studies. So I don’t think this was a spontaneous movement among young women. Gender studies is dominated by various forms of critical theory. Notions like Safe Spaces and microaggression monitoring come out of critical theory, which is a paranoid worldview about how oppressed we all are."
One particularly damaging development from gender studies is "intersectional" theory, which she dismissed as illegitimate.
"Intersectional theory, for example, views contemporary American or British society as a matrix of oppression – these interlocking, mutually reinforcing oppression categories," she explained. "So students are immersed in what I see as a kind of conspiracy theory. They don’t hear any objections to it, because objections are, by definition, backlash. So I just don’t think this is a legitimate uprising. People think, oh well, if you oppose intersectionality that’s like opposing gay rights or civil rights or women’s rights. No, those were authentic liberation movements. Intersectionality is not. Those movements were reality-based – they had tangible goals, consistent with classical liberal principles."
The mainstreaming of this radical and regressive form of feminism, she explained, is a result of journalists and activists indoctrinated by gender studies theories now pushing their agenda.
After smacking feminists for going too far with the #MeToo movement, Hoff Sommers described some of the differences between her brand of feminism and the anti-male, "paranoid," permanently victimized form dominating the landscape now. "[T] feminism I grew up with doesn’t have that much in common with what passes for feminism today," she said. "It wasn’t about denigrating men or fixating on victimhood. It was about being free, being a self-determining being."
She concluded by saying that despite considering dropping the label of "feminist" altogether, she's not ready to just yet. "I am mortified by all the fuss about trigger warnings and telling people to check their privilege and words like mansplaining," she said. "I think feminism has been hijacked by extremists. And I’m just not ready to cede it to the trigger-warner or the safe spacers."