Like any cult feminism always needs new recruits. Judging from the shrill tone of feminist recruiters one gets the impression that they are not doing very well at it of late.
So, Lindy West has come up with a new solution: conscription. Just like they do in the military; if you are able-minded, well then, feminism wants to draft you, whether you like or or not.
From the evidence of the few comments that I read on the Jezebel site, women are not finding West’s rhetorical ploy very persuasive.
Her argument, such as it is, is really a rhetorical ploy: West is telling young women that if they hold to certain beliefs—more about that later—they are ipso facto feminists. Their only problem is that their consciousness has not been sufficiently raised; they are feminists but they don’t know it.
One is tempted to say: what about choice; what about the freedom to choose. Holding certain beliefs does not make you a card-carrying feminist.
What kinds of beliefs make you a feminist? West explains: “To identify as a feminist is to acknowledge that women are people….”
This is almost too mindless to engage. West seems to believe that anyone who is not a feminist believes that women are not people.
Descending into judgmentalism, West says that any sentient individual who is not a feminist is a bad person. No kidding.
In West’s words:
If you are not a feminist (or something blamelessly ignorant, like a baby or a ferret or a college freshman), then you are a bad person. Those are the only options. You either believe that women are people, or you don't. To help you pick one, here is some information!
Of course, this is rhetorical intimidation, a type of bullying. Sometimes it does work, especially with those who have weak willpower and not very much going on between their ears.
West’s tone suggests, above and beyond all else, that more and more women are turning away from feminism and that this has caused feminists to become desperate.
At the least women can see through the ruse. If all it takes to be a feminist is… believing that women are people, then feminism is being grossly indiscriminate about who it is willing to admit. One might even say that it has become promiscuous.
Of course, this is deceptive. If a woman identifies as a feminist is she saying that there is something wrong with identifying primarily as a woman? Is she saying that women are so completely suppressed and oppressed all over the world that accepting to be a woman means accepting an underprivileged status?
Of course, being a feminist, as opposed to being a woman, involves a commitment to an ideology, to a cause. In principle, committing to a cause is an action, undertaken freely, not because you have been bullied into it.
No one would ever say that if you, for example, believe in God you are perforce a Christian or a Jew, only you do not know it.
In any case when you join a religion or a cult, you cannot just believe, you are obliged to perform certain actions.
In a recent article famed Berkeley sociologist Robert Bellah explains that religion is not just about what you believe; it’s about what you do.
Since a cult is religion on the cheap, Bellah’s opinion is worth noting:
My own problem with definitions of religion, and why I use them only as starting points, is that they too often concern only beliefs. But religion is a thing you do.
The Latin word for faith, fides, means trust, not belief, and I think a religious life is very much a form of practice, a form of relationship. Religious truth is not something you sit in your private room and decide, “oh, does God exist or not?” You will never understand God unless you are involved in some kind of community where that word begins to make sense in the life of that community.
Saying that feminism merely involves a profession of belief begs the larger question: how does a real feminist conduct her life?
For example, must a feminist vote for someone who is on the political left? Does Sarah Palin have a right to call herself a feminist? Must a feminist engage in constant struggle against real and perceived gender inequities? Must a feminist keep her name when she marries? Must a feminist judge a business on the basis of how many women hold what kinds of positions and must she judge art on the way female characters are portrayed? Can a feminist choose to become a full-time wife and mother?
West makes clear that a feminist—i.e. her version of a good person—must believe that she is being oppressed by the patriarchy. This suggests that when bad things happen to women the fault always lies in a vast male conspiracy. It implies that feminists should be in the vanguard of a revolution that is going to overthrow the patriarchy.
Clearly, this is leftist ideology. For feminists to claim otherwise is disingenuous and deceptive.
To the feminist mind when a conservative like Clarence Thomas is accused of sexual harassment he is necessarily guilty of a crime against humanity. To the same feminist mind when a liberal like Bill Clinton is accused of rape and harassment, no problem.
Feminism likes to portray itself as inclusive. In truth, it has been drowning in its own hypocrisy.
There is no doubt that, at many times and places in the course of human history women have been treated horribly. At many times and places in human history men have been treated horribly too.
Today, for example, women in Muslim countries are often treated horrendously. West notes that in some parts of the world female genital mutilation is widely practice. She does not, however, name Egypt as one country where it is extremely prevalent. Nor does she mention that the Muslim Brotherhood, the political leaders of Egypt, supports the practice.
Why have feminists not done more to draw attention to this horror? Are they afraid to speak ill of Islamic culture? Or do they believe that the cost of Sandra Fluke’s birth control pills is as salient an issue as female genital mutilation in Egypt?
If feminists are so strongly opposed to such horrific practices why did they not condemn Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for being the first foreign diplomat to visit the new Islamist Egypt? Why did they not condemn the Obama administration for giving aid and comfort, to say nothing of international credibility to such a fundamentally misogynist regime?
Or, ask yourself this: Do women have more rights in Israel or in Gaza? If the answer is Israel, then one would expect that feminists would be strong supporters of Israel and would fiercely condemn the treatment of women in Gaza.
And yet, the women who have taken the strongest stand against Islamist misogyny, Phyllis Chesler and Pamela Geller are certainly not feminists in good standing.
No one should have any doubt about the deplorable way that women are treated in many parts of the world today. The question is not whether there is a problem, but whether feminism is the solution.
Strangely, West seems to suggest that no real progress has been made. To her mind it is all bad everywhere.
The other question is whether reform can take place without the injection of leftist ideology and the distrust of men that it engenders.
Feminism has also lost favor because it has done great damage to a great number of people. When you are fighting for the revolution, you do not notice such things, but it is nonetheless true that, in recent decades, feminism has produced a wave of divorces and broken homes.
Many children suffered grievously from the disruption and many women found themselves living in greater misery for having followed the siren song of movement feminism.
And let ‘s not forget the feminists who are encouraging young women to get in touch with their inner sluts and the feminists who are insisting that women postpone marriage and childbearing.
Feminism takes credit for the expansion of abortion rights. Does it also take credit for the enormous difficulties that older women have in conceiving? Does it take credit for all the women who have missed out on having children at all?
Women are not turning away from feminism because they have bought into a caricature of feminists.
West describes the caricature:
If you are a person alive in the world, other people, both men and women, have told you that all feminists are hairy, reactionary, undersexed, man-hating bitches who need to quit cryin' ….
Told by whom, exactly? Which other people is she talking about?
The truth is, with the exception of a few lone voices shouting in the wilderness the mainstream media promotes feminism as an article of faith.
The reason more and more young women are turning away from feminism is that they have seen the damage that it has caused, in the lives of their mothers and their sisters, and do not wish to define their lives in terms of an ideological commitment that makes all men, including their fathers, their husbands and their sons, part of a conspiracy to oppress them.
They have noticed that when you inject feminism into a relationship with a man—be it a father, a brother, a husband or a son—you are doing it no good.