(This article first appeared on the original Counter-Feminist blog, in October 2006.)
new thinking requires new categories. To that end I would like to
introduce an alternative taxonomy, a different way of parsing the data. Please understand that customary feminist taxonomies do not map to this schema—only individual feminists do.
Disaffection toward the male sex is distributed along a continuum that we shall call the misandric axis.
This axis ranges all the way from white-hot animosity at one end, to
mild dissatisfaction (barely worth a mention ) at the other. Between the
two lies every shade you can imagine. The misandric axis should not be visualized as a line; the term "axis" is conceptual only, meant to suggest a transitional spectrum.
refers strictly to disaffection toward men, of whatever degree. That
and nothing else. It has no reference to any other phenomenon that might
be arrayed on a continuum.
In our present system, we
make concession to the naive popular understanding of "radical". When
most people say "radical feminist", they are talking about a hateful,
extreme person who is "way out there". We shall adopt the identical
meaning in our own analysis, even though feminists themselves adhere to a
However, while sanctioning the common
manner of speech, we also employ the etymological sense of "radical" as
denoting root—in this case, the root of feminism itself. The exoteric
meaning of "radical" just happens to coincide with the esoteric truth
about feminism, and we shall make use of this happy conjunction.
Radical feminism, then, means exactly the same as thing "man-hating feminism". Man-hating is the quintessential core, or root,
of feminism. A radical feminist, being "of the root", is ipso facto a
man-hating feminist. And the more man-hating she is, the more radical
Radical feminism should be distinguished from
milder forms of the ideology. Most women are not man-haters—and even
those who are, are not all equally hateful. But given that man-hating is
what fuels the movement, the less man-hating a particular feminist is
the more feministically marginal
she is. The strength of feminism derives from man-hating; who hates men
the most is a strong feminist, and the weaker is her hatred of men the
weaker is her feminism. (Called "weak" because it is only weakly
connected to the root.)
Radical feminism may be divided into the twin categories of academic radical and pop radical. These sectors are on a par as regards their hatred of men, but they differ in point of intellectual sophistication.
By "academic" I mean bookishly
well-educated. Frequently this implies an ongoing connection to the
world of colleges and universities. Note that not all academic feminists
are radical; sometimes they are weak feminists.
By "pop", I mean an eclectic pastiche of ideological tag-ends, t-shirt slogans, sound bites, ipso factoids,
bathroom wall graffiti and "cheap shots", all of a pronounced anti-male
tone, which the individual finds useful or gratifying. (Think of the
recent "boys are stupid" t-shirts marketed to adolescent girls.)
Intellectual substance is neither necessary, nor desireable, nor even possible for pop feminism—if it gets too deep, it won't remain "pop".
The pops and the academics are two ends of a continuum. To speak of them as discrete categories is simply a rhetorical convenience. Bear that in mind.
feminists (man-hating or otherwise) wish to distance themselves from
the pop-radicals, who are like uncouth country cousins airing the dirty
family "unmentionables" in front of the high-class people whom they (the
academic feminists) wish to impress. They believe (or wish the rest of
us to believe that they believe) that pop feminism is not the real
feminism—and they wish the rest of us to believe this likewise!
Pop-radical feminism is in no important way distinct from radical feminism generally, being indeed the caricatural excresence
of radical feminism. As befits caricature, it Reveals Truth by
Exaggeration. What the intelligentsia have devised upon their Mt.
Olympus is, after a trickle-down interval, taken up at the so-called
street level by people with primal sensibilities and undisciplined
impulses, who very likely wouldn't know Susan B. Anthony from Anthony
The end product is oddly transformed but
fundamentally the same: with layers of academic varnish stripped away,
the authentic core of radical feminism stands naked to the world's gaze."Oh,
he's such a patriarchal jerk; he forgets to lower the seat, he forgets
to shave, he forgot all about our anniversary, he never buys me any
presents, he ignores me, he bores me! etc. . . .". Don't laugh;
some are exactly that ignorant. A slightly greater number are not quite
so primitive . . . but close. And so on up the scale by incremental
The most quintessentially revealing things
about feminism as a whole issue from the mouths of pop-radical
feminists. These people aren't trying to fool anyone, or else they are
too ignorant to realize that they aren't fooling anyone, but either way
they are fools in broad daylight and for this we could even thank them,
for they give the game away. Their very presence is a kind of marker dye
revealing the course of deeper currents.
Yes, radical pop feminism is very much the "real" feminism. Why? Because it is radical.
Radical means "of the root", and that's as real, or authentic, as it
gets. When the average person says "radical feminist" it is very often
with pop radical feminists in mind. However, the average person is also aware of such academic radicals as Greer, MacKinnon, Morgan, Dworkin, Firestone, and other feminosi
of their sort, and knows enough to classify them too as "radical".
Here, the average person displays a rough-and-ready acumen that is
seaworthy. The pop radicals and the academic radicals are cut from the
same cloth, but the academics have a better tailor.
feminists, whether academic or pop, have colonized the feminist
gestalt, infusing their flavor, their purpose and their sepsis into the
whole of it. Those who insist that they are "not that kind of feminist"
would be well advised to swear off the word "feminism" and start a
different movement under a different name.
also a weak pop feminism, about which little need be said other than: it
is eclectic and watered down -- distant from the root of feminism like
any other kind of weak feminism.
is the venerable doctrine that non-physical sexual differences are
socially constructed. Classic timeworn example: little girls get Barbie
to play with, little boys get G.I. Joe, and such training provides the
formative template for behavior differences later in life—based on the
theory that as the twig is bent, so the tree's inclined. This might also
be named "nurture feminism", because it teaches that gender formation
is due entirely to the way children are reared—or nurtured. Old-school feminists feel that anything which establishes a biogenetic
base for behavioral sex difference might validate different roles for
men and women and thereby, so to say, shove women back into the kitchen.
Old-schoolers are motivated by what they conceive to be political necessity, fearing science might reveal something that would put them out of business.
The present writer's sympathies, such as they are, lean toward old-school feminism. I would like to believe that men and women are more alike than different, that what difference they do possess ought not be "celebrated" but rather permitted to operate nonchalantly below the floorboards, and that the assumption
of their essential similarity ought to make the foundation for whatever
lies ahead. Sexual stereotyping rubs my fur the wrong way. However, I
am prepared for the extinction of my personal preferences. It may turn
out that reality has different ideas—that men and women are indeed
fundamentally different despite what I or any old-school feminist wants
to believe. It may indeed transpire that men and women are biologically
predisposed to enact different roles upon the stage of life. And if
—IF!—that proves to be the case I shall step aside, let nature assert
itself, and bow to the inevitability of so-called patriarchy. The truth
bothers me none.
Difference feminism, unlike old-school feminism, accommodates the possibility that men and women are psychologically different for biogenetic
reasons. More importantly, difference feminism seeks to make political
hay out of this possibility, by which I mean that the difference
feminist seeks new ways to empower women by highlighting the idea of biogenetic difference, thereby spawning a universe of differential advocacies. In a nutshell, the difference feminist is happy to acknowledge biogenetic
difference IF (big "if"!) this would seem to underwrite some manner of
innate female superiority. In cases where such appears lacking, the
difference feminist prefers keep it in the background in fuzzy focus. It
is always a cherry-picking exercise.
feminism teaches (or at least allows the possibility) that men and women
are different by nature, we could call it "nature feminism". Here, an
objection might be raised: that difference feminism doesn't necessarily
believe in biogenetic difference, but only that "difference" (in the sense of separation)
should be accentuated or enforced. Yet whatever the merit of this
objection, it ought to be understood that difference feminism is
situated on a downhill slope leading toward a naturist epistemology.
Difference feminists cannot long maintain their position if they don't
reach a stabilizing decision upon the nature/nurture question. And if
they come down on the nurturist
side, the tenability of their position, in the long run, is rendered
problematic. For this reason, I contend that an intellectually valid
difference feminism would require a belief in biogenetic
difference. Self-described "difference feminists" who believe otherwise
are casting themselves adrift in cognitive space. I, unconcerned, leave
them to their travels.
Difference feminism has been
taken up largely by a younger generation of feminists, who are more
flexibly opportunistic than their older sisters, and able to scent
opportunity where the latter cannot or will not. Difference feminists
are sharper and hipper; they know that biogenetic
difference could endow women with a multitude of new entitlements and
new ways to assert dominion over men. It could also pave the way for
junk-science proofs of natural female superiority. The sky's the
This is the only ultimately significant
doctrinal difference in all of feminism. The nature/nurture divide is
the grand watershed of the entire present-day women's movement, whether
the movement's partisans acknowledge this or not. No dichotomy, in a
structural sense, is more fundamental. And yet, both divisions of
feminist doctrine map equally well to the misandric
axis. Both old-school feminism and difference feminism have a roughly
equal distribution of man-haters within their ranks. In theory, this
ought to unite them, but....they appear to squabble a bit. This latter
seems to have very little pragmatic importance, so I leave it to others
to ponder the reason for it.
Granted, feminism contains
plenty of other (trivially different) sects and coteries, but from a
counter-feminist standpoint these are of no greater interest than a
mountain of red herrings. Study it if you wish, but don't let it
monopolize your time or cloud your understanding.