Last year, I found myself listening to an episode of NPR’s “Tell Me More,” where an assembled group of activists and writers discussed whether the Internet was ruining feminism. The discussion was occasioned by an article in The Nation, “Feminism’s Toxic Twitter Wars,” by Michelle Goldberg. Goldberg’s credentials as a left-leaning feminist weren’t previously in dispute, so the article’s thesis was genuinely shocking: With easy anonymity and the near instantaneous ability to whip up social media mobs, the Internet was pushing feminists to insufferable levels of stridency and infighting. When The Nation, a magazine that for most of its storied history has regarded Communism an unalloyed force for good, denigrates the current state of feminism as “Maoist hazing,” we are truly through the looking glass.This should serve as a warning to all equalitarians. Insist on believing that 2+2=5, and it won't be long before you start rolling your eyes and shrieking about how anyone who denies that the correct answer to 37 divided by 126 is purple and is guilty of microaggressive rape.
As a measure of how insane things have gotten, the NPR panel discussed one of the article’s more telling anecdotes. Actress Martha Plimpton, star of the Fox sitcom “Raising Hope,” fancies herself such a serious feminist, insofar as serious feminist means incorporating a performance of Lennon and Oko’s “Woman is the N–ger of the World” into her one-woman show at the Lincoln Center. Plimpton is also co-founder of an abortion-rights charity, “A Is For,” which had the misfortune of titling a recent fundraiser “A Night of a Thousand Vaginas.”
Forget for a moment the dumbfounding irony of casting aspersions on a ‘reproductive justice’ fundraiser because it’s ‘exclusionary and harmful’ to deny anyone the womanly joys of terminating the life of an unborn child.
For this thoughtcrime, Plimpton immediately came under attack online and boycotts were threatened because the event wasn’t inclusive enough because of “constant genital policing” that offends transsexual men.
You may not see how it does anyone any harm to pretend that everyone is equal when you know they're not, but that's just the first step to madness. And sometimes, all it takes is a single step to go off the deep end and into the depths.
Bonus points: see if you can identify the socio-sexual rank of the author, on the basis of this quote:
"Look, maybe this is me waving my male privilege all over the place, but there’s only one word for a woman who can simultaneously defend feminine virtue, upset the patriarchy, and clean out the Augean stables of third-wave feminism with a single d–k joke: Hawt. (Don’t worry, Flanagan need not worry about my intentions. It turns out I’m already married to a very attractive female journalist with balls bigger than mine. I guess I have a type?)"