Jonah Goldberg
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In fact, there are whole branches of feminism that are based upon the assumption that women are sufficiently different that "diversity" - the topmost good in the left's pyramid of virtue - cannot be served unless women are in the room. A recent spat between Michael Kinsley, the editor of the Los Angeles Times op-ed page, and the feminist legal activist Susan Estrich is a case in point. Ms. Estrich argued - in a hysterical manner befitting such an argument - that Mr. Kinsley must run more editorials from women because women provide a unique perspective men cannot. I ask you to compare this essentialism with the sentiments that got Summers in Dutch with the ladies.

I think this gets to the heart of what's really going on here. Few women, feminist or not, truly believe there is no objective difference between men and women, though there's obviously a lot of room to disagree on the nature of those differences. But some women - and fellow-traveling males - are perfectly happy to use the charge of sexism or "insensitivity" to get what they want. The great thing about insensitivity is that it's basically defined as whatever hurts the feelings of women who claim to have their feelings hurt. This allows them to turn on and off their moral outrage depending upon their agenda. So, if getting a case of the vapors over what Larry Summers says shakes the money tree, great. If conservative men can be gelded and conservative women bullied as "gender traitors" by a little feminist weepiness, wahoo!

Conversely, even if it means suggesting women are less than fully informed, rational beings, feminists are perfectly willing to get upset if their agenda is derailed. Just this week the Department of Education announced that colleges and universities can ask female students if they want their school to launch a new women's sport. If the female students say they're not interested, the school doesn't have to launch a new athletic program. Feminists think this is outrageous because Clinton-era rules mandated that the only way a school could absolutely prove it was in compliance with "Title IX" was to implement a rigid gender quota system for collegiate athletics, even if few women wanted to participate. Feminists say that surveying women's attitudes is unfair because women aren't capable of understanding their own interests. A more inconvenient reality is that, in general, women tend to be less interested in participating in varsity sports than men.

But now I'm just being insensitive.

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Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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