Women’s Studies is not just the Big Mama of the “identity studies” rackets at North American institutions of higher education – it’s also arguably the most influential, its foundational tenets having become, on virtually every college campus, a rigid institutional orthodoxy that the individual student challenges at his or her peril. At the heart of that orthodoxy, of course, is the idea that we live in a “patriarchy,” in which male power and oppression are ubiquitous. One corollary of this view is that rape is not a crime committed by one twisted individual against a helpless victim but is, rather, a product of those universal male attributes, aggression and misogyny. As innumerable young men are informed at freshman orientation, they, and all other males, are potential rapists, every last one of them. Indeed, as one course after another, in a range of disciplines, strives to underscore nowadays, pretty much every negative phenomenon in human society can be traced to the poisonous needs and uncontrollable impulses of males, without whom there would, for example, be no war, no cutthroat competition, no violence of any kind.
For a long time, there was no organized opposition to this vile anti-male claptrap in North American universities and colleges. Feminists maintained briskly that there was no need for any such opposition: the very study of Western civilization, they insisted, was, with very few exceptions, one long celebration of men’s accomplishments, beginning with Homer, Aristotle, Aeschylus, and other males whose domination of the canon and curriculum could only be explained by the gender oppression that had silenced women’s voices from time immemorial. Besides, feminists claimed, there was no other reasonable way of looking at things: the patriarchy exists, it is, and that’s that. Any man who sought to argue that gender identity and the relations between men and women are rather more complicated and nuanced than the word “patriarchy” suggests merely proved thereby his own failure to evolve into an enlightened member of his sex.
For there is, in the feminist academy, an acknowledgment that men can rise above their primitive patriarchal urges. Indeed, there is a whole discipline devoted to this notion. It is called Men’s Studies, and it can be found in the course catalogues of a hundred or so colleges and universities in North America. As the Rutgers anthropologist Lionel Tiger (who invented the term “male bonding”) pithily puts it, Men’s Studies is “a wholly owned branch of women’s studies,” viewing maleness from a thorougly feminist perspective and accepting without hesitation the premise of patriarchy. Essentially, as I note in my book The Victims’ Revolution, Men’s Studies exists to answer the question: “Why are men so awful?” Its founder was an Australian sociologist, Robert W. Connell, who, in an act that certainly seemed to speak volumes about his feelings about male identity (but whose larger significance has been strictly off-limits as a topic of discussion in the discipline he founded), underwent an operation in 2008 that turned him into a her.
In recent years, to be sure, another kind of men’s studies has managed to take tenuous root on a few campuses. As one of its leading practitioners, Miles Groth of Wagner College on Staten Island, puts it, it’s not about activism but about real academic inquiry, bringing together literature, film, and anthropological, sociological, and psychological studies in an effort to understand “the experience of being male (not male behavior)” and to enlighten “college-age males who are now so bewildered by the fallout from ideological feminism that they are in a precarious situation.” What, people like Groth want to know, has “driven guys away from college”? Why have “suicide rates among boys…increased in the last 15 years at an alarming rate”?
Part of the answer can surely be glimpsed in a stunning You Tube video of a protest that took place at the University of Toronto on November 16. The occasion was a lecture by Warren Farrell, who in the 1970s was a prominent feminist – and even a leader of the National Organization for Women – but who, when the women’s movement, in his view, turned overtly anti-male, left it to write books with titles like The Myth of Male Power. In Women’s Studies he’s viewed as an enemy, his words twisted to make him sound, among other things, like an apologist for rape (thus the sign, held by one of the Toronto protesters, reading “Date rape is not ‘exciting’”). I haven’t followed Farrell’s work closely, but I know enough about Women’s Studies to understand what I’m looking at when I view this You Tube video: a group of students who have been transformed by their teachers, as effectively and chillingly as any product of Mao’s Cultural Revolution or any member of the Khmer Rouge, into mindless mouthpieces for a party line and, in at least a couple of cases, into terrifying fountains of sanctimonious rage.
One of a handful of young men who are there in solidarity with their feminist sisters explains why they’ve gathered there outside the lecture hall where Farrell is scheduled to speak: “We’re here to shut down an event that is promoting the patriarchy!” And when police officers, behaving in the most restrained and respectful Canadian manner, try to keep them from accomplishing that end, the protesters shout furiously at the fuzz: “This is what men’s rights look like!” Note the restraint on the part of a cop as a couple of co-eds get right in his face, hurling at him the worst of verbal slurs. Look at the sardonic Nazi salute offered by one of the protesters, as if these policemen were comparable to the Gestapo. Check out the potty-mouthed gal berating a guy who’s committed the capital crime of wanting to attend a lecture: “You should be fucking ashamed of yourself. You’re fucking scum! You’re fucking scum!…You’re woman-hating, fucking scum!” And then, the same girl, to a cop: “You should be fucking proud of yourself!” As if he were a member of the Taliban. (But of course she would never be so rude to a member of the Taliban.)
Pause the video and look into the eyes of the young men who want to attend the lecture. Then pause it and look into the eyes of the two or three particularly rabid young women who, if they weren’t half these guys’ size, would doubtless have been ready and willing to do them physical harm. Who are the bullies here? On which which of the two sides of this dustup do the people seem to be meek and mild, and on which side does one observe what appears to be a frenzied, fanatical contempt for the opposite sex? As Groth put it in an e-mail to me:
Here is misandry, deeply irrational, generalized to boys (the theme of the presentation) and to law enforcement officers whose job is to preserve civic order (here identified with men, even given the presence of women officers). The setting of the ugly events outside of the venue (a major university) is significant as the site of where misandric ideology is by now deeply embedded and insulated from discussion by intimidated administrators. Comparable behavior in anticipation of a profeminist presentation is by now unthinkable and would have produced an immediate expression of outrage on campus and in the media. Hateful, violent behavior in the name of non-violent behavior against women – this paradox needs explaining. Non-violent protest against government policies in the 60′s was a coherent response. This meanness ostensibly in response to an issue of social injustice is neither a response nor coherent.
Well, you can certainly say that again. Alas, this is the true face of Women’s Studies – a “discipline” that, at its core, has nothing whatsoever to do with education in any objective sense and everything to do with the inculcation of an unreasoning enmity for an entire sex (and that includes inculcating self-hatred in young men). These pointlessly angry young women have been taught by their feminist professors that they’re victims of the patriarchy, and they’ve bought the whole thing hook, line, and sinker; but they’ve also been taught – by, perversely, the very same professors – to think and act like authoritarian thugs, gangsters in the service of what is, when you come right down to it, and whether or not they realize it, nothing less than an ideology of hate.
Plainly, Groth and his colleagues have their work cut out for them.
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