Let me just say up front this column contains a riot of conflicts of interest. My friend and colleague Kate O'Beirne has written a new book. It's called, with no undue subtlety, "Women Who Make the World Worse: and How Their Radical Feminist Assault Is Ruining Our Schools, Families, Military, and Sports." I think it's a great book, and I truly would not say so if I thought otherwise. Also, Kate praises my lovely wife as a woman who makes the world better, an opinion I could hardly quibble with save to say it's a grotesque understatement as far as I'm concerned.
And since we're in full disclosure mode, let me upend the bucket completely.
I went to an all-women's college. Mine was the first "integrated" class at Goucher College, a fine, historically single-sex liberal arts college in Baltimore. As you might imagine, many of the young women there, some egged on by very ideological feminist professors, had opposed the decision to admit men. The fact that my freshman year was also the year Robert Bork was nominated to the Supreme Court and Glenn Close boiled a bunny in "Fatal Attraction" might give you a sense of the larger cultural climate as well.
While my undergraduate experience was not exactly the late-night Cinemax adventure some imagine when they hear that there was a roughly 30-to-1 female-to-male student ratio, I did find the experience rewarding on several fronts. One of them was that I learned quite a bit about feminism and feminists (I was certainly exposed to more feminist theory than I was to, say, the U.S. Constitution or the American founding).
I discovered that there were many different kinds of feminism. For some, feminism is a heartfelt dedication to women's equality, variously defined. For others, it is a shabby form of identity politics that serves as a crutch to compensate for low self-esteem and lazy thinking. And some brands of feminism aren't really about women at all. They're about using the "feminist perspective" to smash the "socially constructed reality" or the "patriarchy" or "bourgeois capitalism" in order to sneak into the mainstream debate various Marxist and postmodern nostrums that would never survive without the aid of victim-politics guilt trips. After all, the attack on "dead white males" wasn't an explicitly feminist enterprise so much as a broader left-wing assault on a whole bunch of things.