Sunday, August 17, 2008

Washington Post Takes Another Bite At the Feminist Bookstore

I was settling down to read my Sunday dose of aggravation, also known as the Washington Post’s Outlook section. I was actually quite pleased with the selection of essays this week. There is a very poignant and frankly heart-rendering story of former Guantanamo prisoner number #261, Jumah al Dossari, who details in an understated manner, his 5 ½ years of detention and torture. It’s a Russian novel in 1,600 words. Everyone should know Jumah al Dossari’s story. Just like we should know Maher Arar’s. Or Dilawar who was 22 years old and killed by the U.S. by torture. We should know these names the same way we remember Emmett Till, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, all killed for being the wrong people in the wrong place.

But just as I’m about to figuratively pat the Outlook editor John Pomfret on the back for a good line up this week I find this column by Leonard Sax called “'Twilight' Sinks Its Teeth Into Feminism.” Oh great, here we go again. Yet another Sunday Outlook author who is selected to tell us feminism doesn’t work -- this time its because women’s genetic code tells us we love baking cookies.

Leonard Sax is interested in discussing the Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series, which despite being incredibly popular, I know nothing about it. So I can’t evaluate his summarization of the series and it passive female heroine. But I don’t need to be an expert on teen fiction to get to the burning straw woman of Sax’s argument. Which is “hey you feminists, despite all your indoctrination, girls still want to read about passive victims and boys still want to watch porn and play video games. So take that!”

Here’s the key passages:

Yet on some level, it seems that children may know human nature better than grown-ups do.
We really should just make children tenured faculty until they grow up and their education ruins their unspoiled nature.
Consider: The fascination that romance holds for many girls is not a mere social construct; it derives from something deeper.
Boys however do not ever care about romance. That’s why they never understand why all those video games and Star Wars have “rescue the princess” as plot points. Or why Harry Potter had a girlfriend. And feminists truly believe that little girls shouldn’t even know what a romantic fairytale is until they’ve gone through an intensive Womyn’s Studies program in college.
In my research on youth and gender issues, I have found that despite all the indoctrination they've received to the contrary, most of the hundreds of teenage girls I have interviewed in the United States, Australia and New Zealand nevertheless believe that human nature is gendered to the core.
Because, as we’ve shown, if kids believe something, then it is demonstrable fact. Also did you know that candy makes a good lunch?
They are hungry for books that reflect that sensibility. Three decades of adults pretending that gender doesn't matter haven't created a generation of feminists who don't need men;
Feminists, when we say “we want equality” what we really mean is “you are no different from men, in fact you don’t even need men. In fact, we actually hate men.”
they have instead created a horde of girls who adore the traditional male and female roles and relationships in the "Twilight" saga.
Because no other vampire series has ever been popular, ever. And no other book is also popular amongst teens.
Likewise, ignoring gender differences hasn't created a generation of boys who muse about their feelings while they work on their scrapbooks.
Damn it! That means the feminist movement has failed! I mean if little boys aren’t playing with dolls then what else could feminists ever possibly want to achieve?
Instead, a growing number of boys in this country spend much of their free time absorbed in the masculine mayhem of video games such as Grand Theft Auto and Halo or surfing the Internet for pornography.
Yeah, I wondered why at the NOW national conference the panel on "How to Separate Men From Their Video Games and Porn" was so poorly attended. I guess every video game out there (and porno) is just more proof that our national goal of emasculation isn’t working. Why! Why must we always fight these losing battles against HUMAN NATURE instead of trying to achieve tangible successes like getting equal pay for equal work and getting access to contraception? I’m sure glad we never tried to go after sexual harassment in the workplace either, because god knows it’s just in men’s nature to be assholes and you can’t change that either.
For more than three decades, political correctness has required that educators and parents pretend that gender doesn't really matter. The results of that policy are upon us: a growing cohort of young men who spend many hours each week playing video games and looking at pornography online, while their sisters and friends dream of gentle werewolves who are content to cuddle with them and dazzling vampires who will protect them from danger. In other words, ignoring gender differences is contributing to a growing gender divide.
So starting back in 1978, little girls who were told “you can’t be anything you want to be,” really should have been told “but really all you want is to be the princess rescued by the cuddly teddy bear.” I can see now why that section I was taught in primary school called “WHY IT DOESN’T MATTER IF YOU ARE A BOY OR A GIRL” was invented. To beat out of me any inherent genetic ideas I had about loving teddy bears and unicorns, and Princess Leia in an iron bikini. Little girls who want to be the hero of their own fiction? Sorry, it’s just in your HUMAN NATURE to have limited fantasies. Oh and stop bothering the boys for a turn on the Nintendo Wii, you know video games are only for boys.

--crossposted at Feminist Underground

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