Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil. Usually the strength of a mass movement is proportionate to the vividness and tangibility of its devil. – Eric Hoffer
It’s fairly common these days to hear people marveling at the fact that neofeminists and religious fundamentalists agree on the prohibition of prostitution and porn, but actually it’s not remotely surprising. What causes these people’s confusion is that they have bought into the artificial and long-outmoded political framework of “right” and “left”, which was a poor fit to real political landscapes when it was first used in reference to the French Assembly more than 200 years ago and has become completely worthless since the rise of industrial welfare states in the 20th century. Because pre-industrial societies changed only slowly, the labels “liberal” and “conservative” actually meant something in the 1700s. But modern telecommunications created a cosmopolitan bazaar of ideas and industrialization made it possible to implement those ideas with astonishing speed, so trying to fit modern politics into an 18th-century dualism is as absurd and futile as attempting to describe modern technology using only the scientific terminology of that period.
Adherents of political dualism classify feminism as “leftist” or “liberal” because it seeks to replace much of the existing social order, but by this same standard we would have to classify Islamic militants as “liberals”…which I hardly think most people would. Dualists think of religion as inherently “conservative” (even when it wants to turn a society upside-down) because religion has been around for a while; it’s an “old” (therefore “conservative”) way of doing things. But as I pointed out in my column of April 26th, it’s a mistake to think of neofeminism as anything other than a religion:
Though [secular] religions concern themselves with physical reality and avoid talk of the soul, the Divine or other such esoteric concepts, they are yet religions because they insist on rigid adherence to a morality and interpretation of reality (i.e. an approved set of both “truth” and facts) derived entirely from knowledge revealed in sacred scriptures by the founders of the religion. The dogma of…neofeminism…must be accepted unquestioningly by adherents; dissidence is suppressed and any scientifically-sound facts which contradict the teachings are denied…the Scandinavian countries infected with institutionalized neofeminism are every bit as irrational and ideologically-driven as the staunchest theocracy.
Neofeminist tenets such as “social construction of gender” and the mystical interconnectedness of all women fly in the face of biology, psychology, physics and common sense, and as I said yesterday the idea that “humans are an exception to every single rule of mammalian biology is religion, not science; it’s no different from the fundamentalist denial of evolution.” Attempting to comprehend ardent feminism in general and neofeminism in particular as what it claims to be, a political philosophy, will leave a rational person scratching his head over the plenitude of contradictions. But when one understands it for what it actually is, a religion, it all falls into place. Now, this is all theoretical for me; though (like most girls my age) I went through a feminist stage in my teens, the kind of dogmatic feminism which qualifies as a religion has never really penetrated the Deep South, and even if it had I was far too critical a thinker to ever embrace its evident absurdities. But a couple of weeks ago I got an email from a friend of mine who had just read the March 25th column, and I found her “insider” viewpoint to be well worth sharing (with her kind permission):
I grew up with a lot of exposure to feminism. My stepmother is an ardent feminist with a big collection of feminist books, some of which I read…Second Wave feminism did explicitly preach that all women are interconnected in a giant sisterhood, and that this sisterhood is the only thing that can defeat the patriarchy. Women born since 1970, raised in bigger cities or suburbs, and college educated, were often taught in their late teens, if not sooner, that womanhood is a single entity. As ludicrous as it sounds to a sensible adult, I did find the idea appealing when I was 13 and I didn’t know any better. This appeals to the normal human desire for group membership, which is especially strong during the teen years, so many girls embraced the idea enthusiastically. Hence this idea of a super-group of all women soon became one of the defining characteristics of feminism.
Camille Paglia said in an interview: “Next, one of my major criticisms of Naomi [Wolf] is that she has drifted from any kind of ethnic affiliation. I have constantly said this about her, Susan Faludi, or Gloria Steinem: that these women are not identifiably anything. Feminism has become their entire metaphysical, religious, and cultural world view.” For women raised in liberal, mostly secular families, where there is no clear identification with one’s ethnicity or one’s family’s historical faith, feminism has become their substitute for religion. They react to any women who behaves in any way that is considered non- or anti-feminist the way religious fanatics react to apostates.
I got my first hint that there was something wrong with feminism from one of the essays in Sisterhood is Powerful [edited by Robin Morgan] called “The Tired Old Question of Male Children”, in which a lesbian advocated figuring out how to reproduce by parthenogenesis and then routinely aborting all male babies to create an all-female human race. At 13, I knew, there is something wrong with people who would even allow that to be included in their anthology, even if they don’t agree with it. But it wasn’t until a couple of years later that I really started questioning feminism…Many girls who are raised with these ideas never question them, and then they get these ideas massively reinforced by what they’re taught in college…
I think she’s bang on. Though the neofeminist leaders must be held accountable for their crimes against society in general and women in particular, the rank and file who parrot their dogma are no more culpable than fundamentalist Christian women who believe that the Bible is literal fact or conservative Muslim women who never question why they must hide their faces and figures under concealing garments. They have been taught not to think, and they learned their lessons well. So the predictable reaction of such an indoctrinated feminist to prostitution or porn is the same as that of her conventionally-religious sisters: she condemns it as sinful, and attacks any defense of it as blasphemy against the catechism which has been drummed into her.