I have met and heard the tragic stories of many parents. PA is a function, by and large, of a custodial ex-partner, although some alienation can start while the couple is still together.

This blog is a story of experiences and observations of dysfunctional Family Law (FLAW), an arena pitting parent against parent, with children as the prize. Due to the gender bias in Family Law, that I have observed, this Blog has evolved from a focus solely on PA to one of the broader Family/Children's Rights area and the impact of Feminist mythology on Canadian Jurisprudence and the Divorce Industry.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

What’s Wrong and What’s Right with Contemporary Feminism?

Lecture by Christina Hoff Sommers*

For the past two decades I have devoted myself to studying the influence of feminism on American culture-—with a special focus on campus feminism. In the next 35-40 minutes I'll give you the best information I have on this topic. But, of course, information is never the whole story; I have a point of view and you'll hear about that as well.

This evening I will be arguing that contemporary feminism has taken a wrong turn. In my view, the noble cause of women's emancipation is being damaged in at least three ways by the contemporary women's movement.1 First, today's movement takes a very dim view of men; second, it wildly overstates the victim status of American women; and third, it is dogmatically attached to the view that men and women are essentially the same. In the time I have with you, I will try to explain and justify these criticisms, and conclude by offering what I think is a reasonable and humane alternative to current feminism. I will also extend an olive branch to the feminists I criticize. But first a few words about my background.

Before the early 1990s I was a feminist academic in good standing. I was invited to feminist conferences and asked to review papers for a feminist philosophy journal. My courses at Clark University were cross-listed with Women's Studies. That all changed in 1994 when I published a book entitled Who Stole Feminism? The book was strongly feminist, but it rejected the idea that American women were oppressed. For the most part, feminism had succeeded, I said. By the nineties, I argued, American women were among the freest and most liberated in the world. It was no longer reasonable to say that as a group women were far worse off than men. Yes, there were still inequities, but to speak of American society as a "patriarchy" or to refer to American women as second class citizens was frankly absurd.

In the book, I showed how feminism was being hijacked by gender war eccentrics in the universities. And when I say eccentric I mean it. To give one quick example, one of my colleagues in feminist philosophy referred to her seminars as "ovulars."2 She rejected the masculinist "seminar" because the root of that word is associated with, well, the very essence of male power. It is actually very funny when you think about it. But this woman was not kidding.

When Who Stole Feminism was first published, some prominent feminists actually agreed with what I had to say: I even received some fan mail –- but not much. For the most part, the feminist establishment was outraged. I was quickly subjected to a colorful attack for my heresies. Many feminist leaders and writers remain convinced that the United States is an oppressive patriarchy. They did not appreciate my plea for moderation. Some called me a backlasher, a traitor to my gender, anti-woman. One angry critic referred to Margaret Thatcher and me as "those two female impersonators."

Just as an aside, I should tell you that all of this notoriety has not been easy for my parents -- who are very liberal and dismayed to find their daughter reviled by people they admire -- like the feminist leader Gloria Steinem--or, much worse, admired by people they regard as diabolical. (My father was driving along a country road in Vermont when he heard conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh praise something I had written. He almost smashed into a snow bank.) But of course, whatever their reservations, my parents remain loyal fans. When a columnist from Playboy magazine interviewed me, my father was eager to get hold of that issue. The problem was how do you buy a copy of Playboy when you are an old-fashioned gentleman, living in a small Vermont town where everyone knows you. He solved the problem by quietly crossing the border into Keene, New Hampshire where no one knew him. He was still more than a little embarrassed: feeling the need to explain himself to the sales clerk he told her, "It's OK, I'm only buying this because my daughter's in it."

Well, anyway -- I am not a backlasher, a traitor, anti-woman or a female impersonator. What I am is a philosophy professor with a respect for logic, clear thinking, rules of evidence and –- I hope –- a strong sense of fairness. In fact, I think it's my bias toward logic, reason, and fairness that has put me at odds with the feminist establishment.

I am not here to urge you to reject old-fashioned classical feminism of the sort that won women the vote, educational opportunity and many other freedoms. I am a passionate supporter of that style of feminism, which I call equity feminism. An equity feminist wants for women what she wants for everyone—-fair treatment, respect, and dignity. Equity feminism promotes harmony and good will between the sexes and it can lead to a much saner, happier and more ethical world.

Equity feminism is not new. It is rooted in the classically liberal political tradition that had its beginnings in the European Enlightenment. It was classical liberalism that inspired the First Wave of feminism in the 19th century, which secured women the vote; it also informed the Second Wave in the sixties and seventies that further enhanced women's freedoms and opportunities. By any reasonable measure, equity feminism is a great American success story.

American women are flourishing. To give just a few examples from higher education: Women today earn 57 percent of bachelor's degrees, 59 percent of master's degrees, and, 50 percent of doctorate degrees. In every racial and ethnic groups studied by the U.S. Department of Education, young women are outperforming their male counterparts.3

Are things perfect for women? Certainly not. But they are not perfect for men either. The fact is the major battles of American women for equal treatment and opportunity have been fought and won. Yes, women are still struggling with how to balance family and work; yes, we need to find ways to get more young women interested in running for public office and entering fields like math, computer science and engineering. But for the most part the hard work of equity feminism in the 21st century now lies outside this country, in countries where women are truly oppressed. There are many parts of the world, especially in the Middle East and Africa, where women have not yet seen so much as a ripple of freedom, let alone two major waves of liberation. I believe that the liberation of women in the developing world will be the greatest human rights struggle of our time.

Why then, you may be wondering, does my position and that of other equity feminist scholars such as Camille Paglia, Daphne Patai, or the late Elizabeth Fox-Genovese arouse so much opposition? I will explain. If you have had a feminist speaker at your school, taken an introductory women's studies class, or visited the website of one or more of our national women's groups, you will not find the successes of equity feminism celebrated; you will not find expressions of happiness for the freedoms and opportunities American women now enjoy. The dominant philosophy of today's women's movement is not equity feminism--but "victim feminism." "Victim" feminists don't want to hear about the ways in which women have succeeded. They want to focus on and often invent new ways and perspectives in which women can be regarded as oppressed and subordinated to men. When I criticize contemporary feminism it is this version, this perspective, that I have in mind. Let me explain more fully what it is and why, for all our sakes, it should be repudiated.

Many outspoken feminist activists and scholars are convinced that feminist research has uncovered and exposed a pervasive and tenacious system by which men persist in subordinating and oppressing women--they call it the sex/gender system. The University of Illinois philosophy professor Sandra Lee Bartky (paraphrasing the sociologist Gayle Rubin) has defined the sex-gender system as that "complex process whereby bi-sexual infants are transformed into male and female gender personalities, the one destined to command, the other to obey."4 When I read this quote to my husband, he asked, "Now which sex is it that has to obey?"

Gender feminists tend to see conventional masculinity as a pathology and the source of much of what is wrong in the world. Let me give a specific example that should be familiar to you. (A quick disclaimer: it is hard to talk about campus gender feminism without using a lot of colorful language -– as you shall see.)

How many of you have heard of the Vagina Monologues? How many have seen it performed? For those who do not know, The V-Monologues is a play written by Eve Ensler. It is staged every year--at least once--on more than 600 American college campuses. It consists of various women talking in graphic, and I mean detailed and explicit terms -- about their intimate anatomy.

I realize that a lot of students go to the play just to have a good time. It has a lot of raunchy jokes that audience members seem to enjoy. And some of the scenes are emotionally powerful and draw attention to the very serious problem of violence against women. But what I want to point out to you is the play's deeper gender feminist message. It is all about exposing the ravages of patriarchy and the evils of all things masculine. The play is poisonously anti-male.

There are no admirable males in the Monologues–-the play presents a rogues' gallery of male brutes, sadists, child-molesters, genital mutilators, gang rapists and hateful little boys. What passes as the one sympathetic male character, according to Eve Ensler, her concession to the male gender, is a man named Bob.

Bob is described like this.

"Bob was the most ordinary man I ever met. He was thin and tall and nondescript…..He wasn't very funny or articulate or mysterious...I didn't particularly like Bob."5

What redeems him in Ensler's eyes is his fondness for staring at his girl friend's vagina for extended periods of time. According to her text, the girlfriend says of Bob,

"He stayed looking for almost an hour as if he were studying a map, observing the moon, staring into my eyes, but it was my vagina. I began . . . to feel proud."

Aside from Ensler's disturbing segment about Bob the vagina gazer, the central message of the V-day movement is that most men are violent inconsiderate brutes.

And here is the problem with the play and with the gender feminist philosophy that informs it: Most men are not brutes. They are not oppressors. Yes, there are some contemptible Neanderthals among us, and I have no sympathy for them whatsoever. But to confuse them with the ethical majority of men is blatantly sexist. Yet again and again, we find that contemporary feminists take the worst case example of pathological masculinity and treat it as the male norm.


Let me turn to my second major objection to contemporary feminism: its reckless disregard for the truth. In doing research for my books, I looked carefully at some standard feminist claims about women and violence, depression, eating disorders, pay equity and education. What I found is that most –- not all —- but most of the victim statistics are, at best, misleading –- at worst, completely inaccurate. I don't have the time to go through the long, twisted story about all the (ms.)information that passes for education in this area.6 I will quickly give you a few examples of what I found just in the area of domestic violence. Since this is a law school, I will cite a popular legal textbook.

Nancy Lemon is a professor at the law school at UC Berkeley and an authority on domestic violence. She is the editor of Domestic Violence Law, 2nd edition (2001, 2005), which Berkeley law school's website describes as the "premiere textbook on the subject."

Here is what you find on page one in the first selection in the "History and Overview" section. (The author is Cheryl Ward Smith.)

"The history of women's abuse began over 2,700 years ago in the year 753 BC. It was during the reign of Romulus of Rome that wife abuse was accepted and condoned under the Laws of Chastisement. . . .. The laws permitted a man to beat his wife with a rod or switch so long as its circumference was no greater than the girth of the base of the man's right thumb. The law became common know as 'The Rule of Thumb.' These laws established a tradition which was perpetuated in English Common Law in most of Europe."

Problem one: Romulus of Rome never existed. He is a figure in Roman mythology--the son of Mars, nursed by a wolf. Problem two: The phrase "rule of thumb" did not originate with any law about wife beating. Nor has anyone been able to find any such law. There is by now a large amount of literature on the Rule of Thumb hoax.7

The errors continue. On page 12, in a selection by Joan Zorza, we read: "The March of Dimes found that battered women have twice the rate of miscarriages and give birth to more babies with more defects than women who may suffer from immunizable illness or disease." The March of Dimes denies doing any such study.8

Zorza also informs readers that "Between 20 and 35 percent of women seeking medical care in emergency room in America are there because of domestic violence." This claim is ubiquitous in the feminist canon. But is it false. There are two legitimate studies on emergency room admissions: one by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and another by the Centers for Disease Control. The results of both indicate that domestic violence is a serious problem, but that it is far down on the list of reasons women go to emergency rooms. Approximately one half of one percent of women in emergency rooms are there seeking treatment for injuries from domestic violence.9

I have time for just one more quick example of feminist misinformation. The Penguin Atlas of Women in the World (2008) edited by geographer Joni Seager, now in its fourth edition, is a staple in women's studies classes in our colleges and universities. It was named "Reference Book of the Year" by the American Library Association, among other awards. "Nobody should be without this book," says feminist icon Gloria Steinem. Joni Seager, Professor and Chair of Geography at Hunter College, is a feminist environmentalist. Her atlas, a series of color-coded maps and charts, documents the status of women in the nations of the world, highlighting countries where women are most at risk for poverty, illiteracy, and oppression by men.

One map illustrates how women are kept "in their place" by restrictions on their mobility, dress, and behavior. Of course there are many such countries. But somehow the United States comes out looking as bad in this respect as Somalia, Pakistan, Niger and Afghanistan. All are shaded in a pea green, a color signifying countries where "patriarchal assumptions" operate in "potent combination with fundamentalist religious interpretations."10 Seager notes that in parts of Uganda, a man can claim an unmarried woman as his wife by raping her. The United States gets the same low rating on her charts because, Seager says, "State legislators enacted 301 anti-abortion measures between 1995 and 2001." Never mind that the Ugandan practice is barbaric—and that the activism and controversy surrounding abortion issue in the States is a sign of a contentious and free democracy working out its disagreements.

On another map the United States gets the same rating for domestic violence as Uganda and Haiti. Seager backs that up with the emergency room factoid. She says, "22 percent-35 percent of women who seek emergency medical assistance at hospital are there for reasons of domestic violence."

Some of you are probably thinking –- the literature on feminism is vast and complex –- there are bound to be some mistakes. So what? But I and other investigators have not found "some mistakes." What we have found is a large body of blatantly false information.11 The Domestic Violence Law textbook and the Penguin Atlas of Women in the World are not the exception. They are the rule.

What is more, the feminists who promote the false statistics believe them to be true. That helps explain their antipathy to critics like me, their alarm over masculinity, and their conviction that American women share a common bond of oppression with women in countries like Uganda and Afghanistan. Naturally, they feel a special urgency to share their insights with students. In 2003 Eve Ensler gave a lecture at the Radcliff Institute. To a large crowd of enthralled Harvard students (mostly young women) Ensler said, "I think that the oppression of women is universal. I think we are bonded in every single place of the world. I think the conditions are exactly the same [her emphasis]. .. The systematic global oppression of women is completely across the globe."12

It is a simple fact that American women are not oppressed. They are among the healthiest, freest, best educated women in the world and they score near the top on international surveys of happiness and life satisfaction.13 But sadly and pathetically Ensler can point to more than twenty years of feminist teaching to support her tragic pronouncement.

Does it matter that much that there is a large body of factually challenged information at the heart of contemporary feminism? Does is matter that feminist leaders in the United States think and say a lot of intemperate things? The answer is an emphatic yes. First of all, American women who truly are at risk for violence or invidious discrimination would be helped by truth and high quality research. The plight of women is not improved by sexual politics and exaggeration –- no matter how well intentioned. Misrepresentation almost always clouds the true causes of suffering and provides obstacles to genuine ways of preventing it. Truth is on the side of compassion.

Secondly, false assertions, hyperbole and crying wolf undermine the credibility and effectiveness of feminism in general. The world badly needs a sober, responsible and reality-based women's movement. But groups of American women, captive to the illusion that they themselves are still being oppressed, are not going to be helpful in building that movement. If you believe that your own house is on fire, you're not likely to help your neighbor put out a real fire in her house. And now our neighbors are global.

Finally, as a philosophy professor and as someone who respects rationality, objective scholarship, and intellectual integrity, I continue to be appalled to find distinguished university professors and prestigious publishers disseminating falsehoods. It is shameful.

I can imagine someone protesting at this point: "Fine, you have found a lot of false statistics and we agree they should be corrected. And yes, there are some colorful outspoken feminists who are sometimes a bit over the top. But what about all the accurate statistics showing that women are far from being equal to men in the United States? Isn't it true, after all, that women working full-time earn approximately 76 cents for every dollar a man earns? Isn't it true that United States women hold only about 15% of seats in the House and Senate? Isn't it true that women continue to be vastly underrepresented in higher echelons of business, science and technology? How can you deny the fact that women in the United States continue to a face serious sexist discrimination?"

Well, I don't actually deny this, but I see no reason to blindly accept it either – and this brings me to the third reason I think contemporary feminism has taken a wrong turn. Reasons for the wage gap and for why more men than women entering fields like engineering and physics may well have little to with discrimination or oppression, but much to do with the fact that males and females--on average--have markedly different preferences in life. I don't rule out the possibility that in some fields unfair discrimination persists--in fact, I am sure there is some-- but there is also another powerful and compelling explanation for the differences that persist.

As an equity feminist, I accept the fact that men and women may well be different in their psychological and cognitive make-up. While environment and socialization do play a significant role, a growing body of research in neuroscience, endocrinology, and psychology over the past 30 years suggests there is a biological basis for many sex differences in aptitudes and preferences. What are these biologically based differences? Males, on average, have better spatial and mechanical skills, females better verbal skills. In 1998 University of Missouri psychologist David Geary published a summary of the literature on sex differences under the auspices of the American Psychological association entitled Male and Female. It has nearly 50 pages with footnotes to peer-reviewed scholarly articles that suggest innate difference.14 These studies are not the final word; but they certainly cannot be dismissed or ignored.

Witness the uproar after Larry Summers raised sex differences as a hypothesis to explain hiring practices. To this day, feminists protest Summers giving speeches on unrelated topics, resulting in universities like UC Davis rescinding invitations.

Nothing could be more against the spirit of scientific inquiry. The difference hypothesis has genuine empirical support from peer-reviewed studies. If these studies are even moderately reliable, they could explain why women are far more likely that men to want to take care of children and to be attracted to fields like teaching, social work, nursing, and pediatrics--and why men are vastly over-represented in fields like helicopter mechanics, hydraulic engineering, and soldiering. Mother Nature may not play by the rules of political correctness.

There is still a vast scope for equity feminism in a society that acknowledges difference. After all, there will always be large numbers of women who defy the stereotypes and they should not be held back. As equity feminists, we want to see more female CEOs, Nobel Laureates, and race car drivers. Equity feminism is vigilant about protecting the principle of equal opportunity for all. But, unlike gender feminists, we do not insist on equality of results. On the contrary, equality of results—-in the face of genuine differences in preferences—-would lead to a different kind of discrimination.

Today, there is a powerful movement, supported by many women's activists, national women's organizations, as well as members of Congress, to use the equity law Title IX to advance women in math and science -– just as it advanced them in soccer and basketball. The assumption behind the movement is that sexism and discrimination are the primary reasons why there are fewer women than men in the high echelons of math, physics, computer science and engineering. This movement is, at best, premature -- and at worst, a disaster that will force leading departments to hire under-qualified applicants that will adversely affect the quality of our American research and our innovative edge.15

To sum up so far: Contemporary feminism can be faulted for its irrational hostility to men, its recklessness with facts and statistics, and its inability to take seriously the possibility that the sexes are equal –- but different.


I am sometimes asked, "Isn't there anything you like about contemporary feminists?" At a recent debate at the Yale Political Union, a member of the audience said, "You accuse gender feminists of being very negative about men, about our society--but you are just as negative and faultfinding where the gender feminists are concerned." Well, first of all, there is nothing wrong with being negative and fault-finding if your criticisms are on point. However, I am happy to say that there are things about contemporary feminists I like very much.

Let's consider Eve Ensler once again. There is a lot more to her than her male-averse play and her extravagant pronouncements. Over the years, she has been personally active in promoting women's rights in forsaken places such as Rwanda, Haiti and the Congo. In 2000, at enormous risk to herself, she traveled to Afghanistan and documented the horrors practiced by the Taliban. More recently, in the fall of 2007, she spent a month in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where thousands of women have been brutally raped and tortured by marauding gangs of soldiers. One frustrated former United Nations official was dismayed by the "appalling and grotesque indifference by the world community" to the fate of the Congolese women. But Enlser is not indifferent. She is now waging a major campaign to raise world awareness and bring support to these women.16 Her perspective on the United States may be distorted but her efforts in the Congo are nothing less than heroic.

Or consider the legal scholar Catharine McKinnon. She can be exasperating when she says things like, "in this culture [i.e. the U.S.] sexual desire in women is socially constructed as that by which we come to want our own self annihilation." 17 But like Ensler, in certain settings her vehemence is commendable -– even inspiring. In 2000 MacKinnon and an associate won damages of $745 million (under the US Alien Tort Statute) for a group of Bosnian women who had survived Serbian genocidal rape camps.18 MacKinnon is now the co-director of the Legal Project for an international women's rights organization called Equality Now. That group is aggressively targeting human rights violations such as the sexual trafficking of women and children in India, female genital mutilation in Mali, and the stoning of women in Iran. This is admirable and necessary work and one must salute her for it.

So yes, there is much that is valuable, responsible and even heroic in contemporary feminism. But if the movement as a whole is to remain relevant and effective in fighting sexist cruelty and injustice, it is going to have to change. It will have to tone down the rhetoric against men, be meticulous about truth and accuracy. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it must become inclusive: moderate and conservative women have to be offered a place at the table.

In her 1995 book Two Paths to Women's Equality, the Brandeis University scholar Janet Zollinger Giele, explains how American women won suffrage only when progressive groups (led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony) formed a coalition with conservative women (led by Frances Willard, president of the Women's Christian Temperance Union.) Says Giele, "History records defeat where one branch failed to recognize the valid arguments of the other."19 She also noted dazzling successes when the two branches cooperated.20

Small groups of leftwing feminists are not going to be able to defeat sexual trafficking, female genital mutilation, rape camps, or stonings. History will record their defeat. But what if Ensler and MacKinnon and their allies in Equality Now followed the example of Stanton and Anthony and formed an alliance with moderate and conservative women –- including even traditionally religious women?

Contemporary establishment feminism tends to take a dim view of faith-based, family-centered women.21 But, historically, such women were critically important to liberation movements--from abolitionism to suffrage. They may hold the key to success in promoting an effective international women's movement today. For one thing, they are numerous. There are ten million Evangelical women in the United States. Many of them could be galvanized around the righteous and humane causes of Equality Now. Once they are mobilized and allied with progressive forces, and once they are connected to women's groups throughout the world, history suggests they could prevail.

The 16th century Scottish clergyman John Knox was horrified by the specter of female political power, which he called "a monstrous regiment." He dreaded it, and so will the male supremacists of the world should a coalition of radical, moderate, and evangelical women start marching in their direction.

To conclude, then, an oppressive patriarchy does truly exist in such places as Iran, Somalia, Haiti, Mali, Uganda, Saudi Arabia and the Congo. Millions of women are suffering, and I can think of few nobler causes in this world than finding ways to help them.

In the past, this talk was entitled "Reject Contemporary Feminism:" But I have changed the title. I don't think we should reject contemporary feminism. We should reform it, correct its excesses, insist that moderate and conservative feminists be given a voice, and then set about helping to write the next great chapter in the history of women's quest for freedom.

Thank you.

*Christina Hoff Sommers is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Before joining AEI she was a professor of philosophy at Clark University where she specialized in moral theory. Her academic articles have appeared in publications such as The Journal of Philosophy and The New England Journal of Medicine, and those on social and political subjects in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, The Weekly Standard, The Atlantic and The American.

Sommers is the editor of Vice and Virtue in Everyday Life, a leading college ethics textbook, and the author of Who Stole Feminism? and The War Against Boys—the latter was a New York Times "Notable Book of the Year" for 2000. Her most recent book, co-authored with her AEI colleague Sally Satel, is One Nation Under Therapy.

Sommers has appeared on numerous television programs including Nightline, Sixty Minutes , the Oprah Winfrey Show – and twice on Comedy Central's The Daily Show. She has lectured and taken part in debates on more than one hundred college campuses.


1 When I refer to the contemporary women's movement I have in mind women's studies departments and women's centers on our campuses as well as flagship feminist organizations such as the National Organization for Women, the Ms. Foundation, the American Association of University Women and the National Council for Research on Women.

2 Joyce Trebilcot, ed., Mothering: Essays in Feminist Theory (Totowa, N.J.: Rowman & Allenheld, 1984), p.vii.

3 See, for example: http://www.uark.edu/ua/der/EWPA/Research/Accountability/Gender_Gap/Gend er_Gap_PDF.pdf. Young black women are twice as likely to go to college as black men, and at some of the prestigious historically black colleges the numbers are truly ominous—Fisk is now 72 percent female; Clark Atlanta, 72 percent; Howard, 65 percent. Meanwhile, the American Council on Education reports that the fastest growing gender gap favoring girls of any group since 1995 has been in white working-class students. See: http://www.acenet.edu/AM/Template.cfm?Section=HENA&TEMPLATE=/CM/Content Display.cfm&CONTENTID=17251

4 Sandra Lee Bartkey, Femininity and Domination (New York: Routledge, 1990), p.51.

5 Eve Enlser, “Vagina Monologues,” (New York: Villard, 2000), p.55

6 See, for example, Christina Hoff Sommers, Who Stole Feminism? (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994); Cathy Young, Ceasefire (New York, Free Press, 1999); Daphne Patai and Noretta Koertge, Professing Feminism: Education and Indoctrination in Women’s Studies (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2003); and Christine Stolba Rosen, Lying in A Room of One’s Own: How Women’s Studies Textbooks Miseducate Young Women (Washington, DC, Independent Women’s Forum, 2002) http://www.iwf.org/files/d8dcafa439b9c20386c05f94834460ac.pdf

7 For an excellent exposé see Henry Ansgar Kelly, “Rule of Thumb and the Folk law of the Husband’s Stick.” Journal of Legal Education, Volume 44, Number 3 (September 1994) pp.341-358.

8 For the full story of the false March of Dimes claim see Who Stole Feminism, Chapter 9 “Noble Lies.” See also Richard Gelles, “Domestic Violence Factoids,” Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse, 1995. Found at: http://www.mincava.umn.edu/documents/factoid/factoid.html; Essential reading: Cathy Young, “Domestic Violence, An In-Depth Analysis,” (Washington, DC, Independent Women’s Forum, September 2005).

9 See U.S. Department of Justice, “Violence Related Injuries Treated in Hospital Emergency Rooms, 1997; and Centers for Disease Control “National Estimate of Nonfatal Injuries Treated in Hospital Emergency Departments, 2001.

10 Joni Seager, The Penguin Atlas of Women in the World, Fourth edition (New York, Penguin, 2008) p.18.

11 See, for example, Christine Stolba Rosen’s Lying in a Room of One’s Own, mentioned above, footnote 5. She examines both errors of fact and errors of interpretation in the five leading women’s studies text. See also Cathy Young, Ceasefire, op. cit.

12 Video of lecture available through the Radcliffe Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

13 See, David G. Myers and Ed Diener, “The Pursuit of Happiness,” Scientific American, May 1996. See also: Gallup Poll, “Most Americans ‘Very Satisfied with Their Lives” December 31, 2007 at http://www.gallup.com/poll/103483/Most-Americans-Very-Satisfied-Their- Personal-Lives.aspx ; also Pew Research Center “Global Gender Gaps: Women Like their Lives Better” October 29, 2003 found at http://people-press.org/commentary/?analysisid=71

14 David Geary, Male, Female: The Evolution of Human Sex Differences (Washington DC, American Psychological Association, 1998.)

15 My views on this matter are developed further in “Why Can’t A Woman Be More Like a Man: Sex, Science and the Economy,” The American, March/April, 2008 http://www.american.com/archive/2008/march-aprilmagazine- contents/why-can2019t-a-woman-be-more-like-a-man

16 See http://newsite.vday.org/drcongo

17 Catharine MacKinnon, "Desire and Power: A Feminist Perspective," in eds. Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg, Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1988), p.110.

18 http://cgi2.www.law.umich.edu/_FacultyBioPage/facultybiopagenew.asp?ID =219

19 Janet Zollinger Giele, Two Paths to Women’s Equality: Temperance, Suffrage and the Origins of Modern Feminism (New York: Twayne, 1995), p.198.

20 For a brief history of conservative feminism, see my “Feminism and Freedom.” http://www.aei.org/publications/filter.all,pubID.28410/pub_detail.asp

21 My views on this are explained more fully in “Reconsiderations: Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique.” See http://www.aei.org/publications/filter.all,pubID.28647/pub_detail.asp

Child abuse continues in different guises

The current Family Law (FLAW) regime in Canada will be looked back upon in the same manner as the current Irish examination of the residential schools (orphanage) scandal now occurring. Citizens will ponder "how did we let this go on under our noses." John Waters is a brave journalist for comparing the treatment of parents in 2009 to this former era, What applies in Ireland also applies to Canada. Judges, lawyers and their parasitic acolytes have been involved in one of the most damaging to children social experiments in history.MJM

Fri, May 22, 2009

OPINION: RESERVING TO itself vast resources of power, the State tends towards evil. It cannot really be “good”, and even with eternal watchfulness and openness does well to avoid outright corruption, writes JOHN WATERS

The Ryan report describes a wholesale State-driven system of child abuse. The Catholic Church was up to its dog-collar in it, but with the collusion of the Department of Education, An Garda Síochána and the courts. State-run systems operate on a reflex impulse of denial, at the heart of which is a knot of ideological rationalisation called upon by each component to justify its own role. In the case of the horrors set forth in the Ryan report, the dominant ideological proposition was that troublesome children were a threat to public order, so any means were justifiable in their subjugation. Such children were beyond the human embrace.

Once the State closes ranks around any breaking of the law, the illegality creates a new dispensation, a new constitution that nullifies the old. The wider society knew that decency had been abandoned, but the corruption of State power unleashed a deadly concoction of fear, contrived scepticism, powerlessness and impatience with anyone insisting that something evil was happening. It takes great courage to challenge people with powers to snatch children and incarcerate them in state gulags, and so the popular perspective on these by-no-means-secret obscenities was expressed in lame and guilty jokes.

Some people talk about “the culture of the time”, as though there must have existed some radically less civilised understanding than is available now. But it is not necessary to contort our imagination in an attempt to comprehend the light and shade of an earlier era. There never has been a “culture” when it was possible for a whole society to forget that abusing children is evil.

The past is not over. Similar things happen today, but in different guises, and it will again take a generation before society acquires the distance necessary to acknowledge the wrongs being done now.

This week, I received an e-mail from a man whose children have been taken into care in circumstances defying comprehension or justification. In a system said to allow only for light-touch intervention, the HSE has found a way to trample all over the rights of this man and his children on a pretext that, widely replicated, would result in every child in the country being taken into care.

This case indicates that individual elements within the system can acquire extraordinary powers by virtue of the unwillingness of other elements – judges, for example – to insist that the letter of the Constitution and the law be applied. The vindictive whim of a social worker is sufficient to unleash the most draconian response.

This father has not seen his children for almost three months because they have been moved to new schools and foster homes and the HSE has summarily and illegally terminated his minimal access and refused even to give him his children’s addresses. Why? Because he dared to speculatively telephone a foster mother in an attempt to discover his children’s whereabouts. Unbelievable? So, in the same sense, is the stuff of the Ryan report.

This man, I beg you to believe, is guilty of nothing except that, struggling to cope in extraordinary circumstances, he was naive enough to ask the HSE for help. If the citizens of Ireland were to read a full account of his story, there would be a national outcry. However, I cannot tell you much about it because the rules of secrecy which supposedly exist for the protection of families are being used to conceal forms of brutalisation that would not read out of place in the Ryan report.

Ostensibly, there are legal remedies for such matters, but in practice wherever this man goes he encounters a solid wall of implacability and denial. His lawyers seem utterly helpless. This week, there was a chink of light when a new senior counsel was persuaded to meet him to discuss the possibility of a judicial review. The father went to the meeting in a spirit of hopefulness, but came away in even deeper despair.

The barrister made little of the issue, barely looking at the father and speaking with his eyes closed. It was clear he had not read the brief. He told this distraught father that he should be glad that he was giving him time free of charge because normally people have to pay a lot of money for this privilege. He told him, too, that his only route was to return to the District Court – where he has already spent €30,000 in failed attempts to penetrate the closed system – and apply to have his access restored. In other words, he should get on his knees and beg the State to allow him to spend perhaps an hour a month in the company of his children.

When the father pointed out that the HSE had broken the law, the barrister shrugged and said that no High Court judge would be interested. The father later discovered that this barrister gets a lot of business from the HSE.

Welcome to the “culture of our time”.

© 2009 The Irish Times