A woman writes to Dear Prudence, aka Emily Yoffe. Her problem is simple. She is working in a STEM field, but has not suffered any gender discrimination.
Some might cheer the progress her company has taken in creating sexism-free zones. The letter writer’s feminist friends do not. They find her attitude and her experience to be profoundly offensive and anti-feminist.
Since her experience does not fit the narrative that has captivated their minds, they are accusing her of not being a true-believing member of the sisterhood.
Thus are cults formed and sustained.
Theirs is not a simple disagreement. The woman’s feminist friends become offensive and aggressive when she tells about her work life. At the very least, they do not respect her opinion or her experience.
The letter writer says:
…even quite reasonable and pleasant women get aggressive when I don’t have anything to contribute to their list of crimes committed by the patriarchy. I don’t want to lie, but I’m not sure how to handle inquiries when I can’t give them the story they want.
She is asking a question that belongs properly within the domain of etiquette. How do you deal with zealots who are threatening you for not toeing the party line?
Riding to the rescue, Emily Yoffe offers a perfectly sensible analysis of the situation. Obviously, this caused a significant backlash.
In Yoffe’s words:
There is an unfortunate strain of obsessive grievance-mongering in feminism today. It’s a kind of sport for these self-proclaimed guardians to venomously attack those they feel don’t precisely toe their line. You’re a scientist who lives in the world of facts. You are finding that ideologues aren’t interested in facts, thus they go after you when your reality trumps their ideology. My general advice is that it’s best not to engage with unpleasant people, especially those who seek to lecture you about your own experiences. Feel free to extract yourself and say, “You’ll have to excuse me, but I’ve got to get back to the lab.” But if you feel like it, you can also counterpunch by saying something like, “It’s funny, but the only people who try to bully me are women who aren’t in my profession.”
Yoffe understands well that the letter writer’s feminist friends are bullies. They are threatening to exclude her from their group if she does not change her attitude.
This is called shaming. It is disgraceful and disrespectful.
Of course, the grievance-mongering feminist zealots believe that the paucity of females in certain fields is ipso facto proof of sexism.
Any workplace that does not correspond to the feminist requirement of an equal number of men and women must be rife with sexism.
If you don’t believe me, ask Sheryl Sandberg.
Feminists set up a fictional world and denounce any configuration that does not fulfill the terms of their fiction.
They never consider that there might be other reasons why there are few women in STEM fields and at Facebook. They never consider that women might be exercising their right to choose their career paths and to balance their work with their family responsibilities.
Yoffe offers the correct solution to the letter writer’s problem. It applies to other circumstances when anyone is being bullied or shamed into ideological conformity.
That is: to dismiss such people from one’s circle of intimates.