Last week, the events organisation This is 42 brought together self-described American “bad feminist” Roxane Gay and “factual feminist” Christina Hoff Sommers for a series of conversations about – you guessed it – feminism in Sydney and Melbourne.
The tour was advertised as ‘a meeting of the minds’ but according to some audience members, it was an event that demonised and alienated Christina Hoff Sommers, en masse.
First, a bit of background. Roxane Gay is a Haitian-American professor currently at Yale University, author and columnist. She is also widely revered for her vast body of work critiquing modern culture including a book entitled, yes, Bad Feminist.
Here’s where it gets interesting: Prior to this Australian tour Gay publicly confessed she had only agreed to the events because she was unaware of who Hoff Sommers actually was. But she figured out enough about Sommers to label her a ‘white supremacist adjacent” for appearing alongside Milo Yiannopoulos at the University of Massachusetts back in 2016.
Now, Christina Hoff Sommers is hardly an alt-right figure. Instead, she is a Jewish American philosopher, author and self-described Liberal Democrat (in the American, not Australian sense of the term) who identifies as a “factual feminist”. But her refusal to jump on the feminist bandwagon on issues such as the gender pay gap and the alleged university rape crisis has made her a controversial figure who is often on the receiving end of mob-hate.
Gay, on the other hand, belongs to that breed of feminism that champions intersectionality and identitarian activism – fashionable concepts that champion the idea that what you are in terms of the colour of your skin and your sexuality is more important than who you are as an individual.
And, according to numerous accounts of their conversations, Sommers was beaten down from the moment she opened her mouth.
As one Twitter user reported, “First they started out by giggling at her. Then it turned into full blown laughter. Then boos. Then heckles. Then stamping their feet to down her out. I was absolutely mortified. Christina Hoff Sommers identifies as a feminist. The fact she chooses to define her own moral boundaries however makes her an outcast. I’m struggling to process that a civil discussion WITH ONE OF OUR OWN was impossible.”
And thus the problem with this sort of intersectional feminism, which has become the norm across our universities and, increasingly, holds sway in much of the media.
Instead of empowering women, intersectional feminism encourages them to be victims. It is an endless marathon to find out who is the most hard done by. And it forces women to do and say the politically correct thing, in order to keep the sisterhood happy. This goes doubly so for women like Sommers, given the racial politics of identity that sees white women constantly forced to apologise for being the oppressor due to our privilege, race and skin colour.
And if we are not on board with forfeiting our individual experience and spruiking an endorsed narrative – – then we are the problem. As Sommers found out, as she tried to debate before a braying mob.
Clearly she didn’t’ realise that our “disobedience” in failing to follow the party line must obviously mean that we don’t get it and that we hate our own gender. Our disobedience must mean that we hate women of colour and are closet white supremacists. To strive for gender equality in unison isn’t enough anymore. Women who don’t follow the narrative must be made the scapegoat.
At the Gay/Sommers event an array of controversial topics were reportedly discussed including Islamic misogyny and its oppression of women. Gay reportedly stated it was not a Westerner’s place to speak on behalf of other cultures whilst Sommers affirmed it was our responsibility to address international oppression and misogyny.
As I finished writing this column, I see a new tweet appear on Sommers’ Twitter feed, reading, “It seems displeased audience members from the Australian tour have launched a petition on Change.org seeking a refund from the event organisers because apparently they didn’t ‘pay’ to listen to sexist, misogynistic and anti-women rhetoric.” The petition goes on to say, “CH Sommers is a white supremacist who sympathises with male violence perpetrators.”
What I take out of all this is too many people are unprepared to hear opposing views or the exchange of ideas. Political correctness, radical feminism and the Left have turned many, particularly the youth of today, soft. They have been mollycoddled and their brains short circuit when they come across anything unknown or foreign on their paths. People are not obligated to adopt one ideology but the push to make this so – – is dangerous and absolutely terrifying.
I myself was once a hardcore left-wing feminist who lived for the cause. That was until I put a foot out of place and discovered “my sisters” actually eat their own.
Western left-wing feminism doesn’t appreciate those who don’t toe the line. But here’s the thing that keeps me hopeful: In the long run, outliers may continue to be punished, but they will never be silenced.