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since June 19, 2001



Victim Feminism — Quotes, Comments, Observations


Naomi Wolf (quoted in a Review by Susie Day of "Fire with Fire, The New Female Power and How It Will Change the 21st Century," By Naomi Wolf ) states:


 "Asking men to hold themselves accountable for sexism or analyzing the evidence that almost all violence against women comes from men is not man-bashing." 
Really? Women make up the smallest group of victims of violence, smaller than men, smaller than children, and the vast majority of the latter are victims of women's violence.

A society comprised only of lesbian couples would be in deep trouble, because lesbians are far more violent (some reputable researchers say 24 times more violent) than heterosexual couples.  See Lesbian Domestic Violence.

To exploit the fact that some women are victims of violence, but to hide the fact that women are the perpetrators of the majority of all family violence, to hide the fact that as many, if not more, inter-spousal fights are initiated by women as are being initiated by men, to hide that the vast majority of serious abuse and neglect of children is being done by women, mostly biological mothers, that is extremely sexist.


"Victim feminism," according to Wolf, claims power and purity by identifying with powerlessness itself. Coming out of the radical 60's Left, and misshapen by crude interpretations of 70's feminist theories--"all men are rapists," for example; "all women are lesbians"--victim feminism has repulsed the mainstream and ossified women's communities for years. A sort of evil twin of power feminism, victim feminism is responsible for "man-bashing," overt censorship, and a pervasive elitism that has forced the vast population of women to turn from Bella [Abzug] to Oprah [Winfrey] to get their needs met. It is, according to Wolf, "sexually judgmental"; "casts women...as good and attacks men...as wrong"; and "wants all other women to share its opinions." 
I have not read the book, but I get the distinct impression that Naomi Wolf's objection to victim feminism isn't really that it is wrong and wicked to hold all men responsible for all of the perceived or real injuries that women claim were inflicted upon them by men throughout the existence of mankind, but, rather, that victim feminism is so radical and ludicrous that it gives even radical feminism a bad name.

It gives me great comfort to know that not all women are that sexist.  Most women aren't even feminists, but, to paraphrase Naomi Wolf: "Asking Naomi Wolf to hold herself and other radical feminists (or redfems for short) accountable for sexism or analyzing the evidence that the vast majority of violence against family members comes from women is not woman-bashing."

The worst thing about victim feminism is that now it is being exploited commercially:
MM: The work of Naomi Wolf doesn't exactly form the theoretical backbone of my book. As you'll see in the preface to the book, I cite Elizabeth Grosz, whose work on "corporeal feminism" I think best captures what I'm trying to accomplish. In that preface, I also explain that I am definitely *not* a Katie Roiphe or a Camille Paglia. In fact, I even take the somewhat unpopular position that the work of so-called "victim feminists" like Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin has often been severely misunderstood, and is helpful and important. So what I meant by the line "I was once a frightened feminist" is that I'm still very much a feminist, but no longer as frightened or as 'crippled psychologically'--by which I meant that I was literally anxiety-ridden, as I explain in the introduction of the book. 

MM: I hope Real Knockouts gets feminists to think about and discuss why so many feminists are so wedded to the idea that men have all this physical and other power over us. I'm not saying structural, institutionalized sex inequality does not exist. Of course it does. But it seems that you, like many others, are wedded to the idea that women can't challenge men, as if that's foundational to (your version of) feminist politics. 

JCP: The good news is that by reading "Real Knockouts" I learned that with the proper training, I stand a good chance of fighting away, knocking out, or wounding an attacker sufficiently to escape. I wish all women knew this and were prepared to do so. However, they aren't. And, with the cost of self-defense courses (according to McCaughey, and in my own experience) hovering around $425.00, they aren't likely to be. 

Martha McCaughey is Assistant Professor of Women's Studies in the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies at Virginia Tech. A third-wave feminist active in anti-sexual assault education since 1989, she developed, with colleague Neal King, an alternative method for such education using images of women verbally and physically overpowering men....

The preceding quotations are from http://www.feminista.com/v1n9/knockouts.html

The commercial exploitation of victim feminism doesn't stop with the production of books that encourage women to become vigilantes or the wave of clubs that have sprung up to ostensibly teach women martial arts that they'll be able to use to kick men in the groin at the drop of a glance, for all of the wrongs that men have done to women throughout human existence, but it has begun to spill over into advertising that promotes consumer products by depicting rows upon rows of sweating and grunting women acquiring the skills with which to bring men to their knees.
   I suspected that G.I. Jane is the patron saint of victim feminists.  That suspicion was confirmed in discussions with a few women.  Never having been victims of violence and being in total power and control of their lives and that of their families, one of them even holding the job of a foreman in a steel mill, and all of them clearly dominating their husbands, some of them pointed to G.I. Jane as the prime example of the superior power of a woman who emerges victoriously against incredible odds out of the morass of the male conspiracy to oppress women.

So much for the power of propaganda and of Hollywood, but so much also for the suggestibility of some women.

God have mercy on our society.

See also:

Posted 2000 02 26
2000 05 06 (to re-format the page)
2000 05 23 (to shows link to information about lesbian DV)
2001 01 30 (format changes)
2006 03 04 (added link to Feminism for Male College Students)