This piece is a public response to Leigh Washburn’s response to “A rebuttal to a response: Leigh Washburn and WMW Cedar City have the facts wrong.” and Greta Hyland’s anatomical “The Women’s March: You know what they say about opinions.”
I respectfully submit not only that Washburn still has the facts wrong but that she largely came to the table this time equipped with few facts at all and that while Hyland’s piece is largely agreeable she makes a few assumptions in at least the first paragraph that are sexist in nature.
Hyland’s asserts that “The dismissive mockery used to put down this movement is how the term ‘mansplain’ came about.” I like her piece, but I find this term “mansplain” to be sexist, because I maintain that to assert that a member of one sex explaining something to another sex is inherently sexist — and to create a gender-based term to describe that dialogue — is itself inherently sexist.
If we are to participate in enlightened society, we can only agree that mere explaining is but mere explaining.
We would all be appalled if I were to refer to the act of a woman explaining something I simply didn’t understand as “womensplaining” as sexist; we would presumably agree that to do so would be to sink to the lowest and most pedantic depths bigotry can reach. Are we now to await “blacksplaining,” “brownsplaining,” and “yellowsplaining?” “Oldsplaining?” “Youngsplaining?” Sweet Zeus, don’t tell me that something as horrid as “niggersplaining” is on the horizon. Yet by this litmus, I can only expect as such. Don’t forget that there are now up to 64 alleged genders. Can there be two-spirit-splaining? Where do the lines of identity politics end? At Apache AH-64-splaining? I shudder in anticipation.
I feel this is identity politics at its worst. Ideas should be evaluated by their own merit, not via a bias related to gender or race. I resent the attempted restriction from commenting on the state of feminism by nature of my gender by Hyland — or by anyone else. With all respect, that seems to me to be a blatantly sexist position. If I have a bias — and perhaps I do — it is towards justice distributed evenly for all people, regardless of demographic variation.
However, I still maintain that her assertion that women have cause to be angry about sexist crimes is valid — just not due to “muh patriarchy.”
I shall now move on to Washburn’s grievances.
She wrote that her “career depended upon research- and fact-based writing,” yet she appears to hold Snopes and Politifact in higher regard than the Bureau of Justice. She does not appear to be aware of the three waves of feminism, incorrectly referring to the current movement as the “third level.” She seems to have missed that the hardly apolitical Salt Lake Tribune, which was giving Mormons a deservedly hard time since when she was a child, won a Pulitzer. She calls Islam — a religion that advocates the stoning of women for the offense of adultery or extramarital pregnancy; executes people for apostasy or drawing the wrong pictures; punishes blasphemy with flogging, amputation, hanging, or beheading; general permission of domestic violence; and advocates throwing homosexuals off of rooftops — a “religion of peace.” She doubts that an AAUW report that I demonstrated with evidence to be fraudulent is anything but that. There’s so much more to talk about, but there’s a quick overview.
I will quote Washburn directly so that nothing is misconstrued through paraphrase.
Washburn wrote that “[C]ommenting on a local news outlet’s factual errors really didn’t take much courage on my part.”
This is undoubtedly true as I saw not a single actual refutation.
Washburn wrote that “I’ve been a feminist for the better part of half a century.”
This places her among the brave women I commended in my response to her previous letter. If her grandmother was a feminist as well, they both likely participated in feminism’s second wave, helping to win the civil liberties and gender equality that women in America now enjoy.
Washburn wrote that “I promise you that what you describe doesn’t apply to those with whom I wrote our article, so DO NOT paint us all with the same brush.”
I would challenge the reader to find an instance of me painting Washburn or her group with any brush. I made it as plain as I could that not only was it not my intention to define feminism, I am utterly incapable of doing so. I can only observe behavior.
Washburn wrote that “Some fringe groups (what you call the “third level”) have given us a bad name.”
This comment betrays an ignorance of the history of feminism. I called nothing “the third level”; I referred to the third wave, which is not a term I invented. In fact, some argue that there is a fourth wave that started in 2012. If so, it is undoubtedly a scrofulous extension of the third wave, which started in the ‘90s and unfortunately not a fringe group at all, although I do understand why first- and second-wave feminists would be unhappy about being associated with the third wave (which was one of my points). The term “third wave” is attributed to Rebecca Walker’s response in Ms. Magazine to the appointment of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. I admit that I am somewhat taken aback that a 70-year-old feminist activist whose career depends upon “research- and fact-based writing” isn’t already aware of this.
Washburn wrote that “I said that your comment about how few women considered themselves feminists was misleading because the polls and reports are conflicting. I cited one by a reputable group, so I think it deserves to be taken seriously.”
Fair enough. I noted CNN’s coverage of the 2016 election when its polls consistently showed Hillary Clinton winning by an enormous margin. Is CNN a “reputable group”? Who decides who is reputable? Reputable to whom? And does reputation equal infallibility? My interest is and was on focusing on demonstrable facts so far as they can be ascertained. To claim that because a source is reputable what it says is true is the appeal to authority fallacy. I would say that perhaps I am guilty of this as well except that the Bureau of Justice is the gold standard for statistical information.
Again, nothing Washburn said debunked anything I said in regards to polls that show that the majority of women do not identify as feminists. She cited only one poll to back her claim. I cited multiple polls, and there are many more readily available online. Between them, it’s still evident that thanks to the antics of the third wave, women are hardly unanimously self-identifying as feminists, which was my point.
Washburn wrote that “I have a very intelligent, very staunch conservative friend who’s an attorney (and, inexplicably, a Trump supporter) who almost always runs her information by Snopes.”
Washburn has already solved the puzzle. She can’t understand how a presumably rational person would support Donald Trump. The implication seems to be that somehow supporting Donald Trump is irrational. It’s also a classic leftist assertion that anyone who is not a leftist is irrational (or hateful or cruel, etc.), which itself is an irrational stance since one can only determine rationality by examining the merit of one’s assertions. So a person who has just been painted as irrational enough to support Donald Trump is now being cited as validation of Snopes’ undeserved position of authority. That’s weak tea, and I already provided evidence outlining how Snopes is far from unbiased or credible.
Washburn wrote that “With regard to Muslim immigrants, yes, there have been problems in Europe and I’m well aware of what happened in Germany.”
Well, to say that there have been “problems” in Europe due to being flooded by immigrants is to demonstrate a talent for understatement. The Washington Post reported in June that Italy, who had received 82,000 immigrants at the time of writing, was about to slam the door on immigration. The Huffington Post reported that Switzerland considered similar actions in addition to deportation. And foreignpolicy.com outlines the deleterious effect the presence of so many Muslim immigrants has had on European societies. These are just three pieces that popped up on the first page of a StartPage search. I hardly even had to look. We have an Internet full of these grievances.
The most common victims of Islam are women, who are deprived of the civil liberties, “their ability to demand respect, equality, equal opportunity, freedom to run for and get elected to public office, freedom from exploitation, and, most of all, to be taken seriously” that Washburn says she fought so fiercely for — and I believe that she did. But to turn around and claim that Islam is a religion of peace when it deprives women of the most fundamental rights they now enjoy in America is the rhetorical desecration of a life’s work for female empowerment. And as usual, she throws Donald Trump into the mix, as if he has anything to do with the conversation at all. He doesn’t, and I made it clear that I am not a Trump supporter.
However, Washburn did have the sense to throw Christianity under the bus as well, and I have to agree with her that the blood on that religion’s hands drips into a millennia-old ocean of crimes against humanity. I am glad that we agree on that much.
Washburn wrote that “I doubt that the AAUW report is fraudulent. That is an extreme and very serious accusation that requires more than your opinion to confirm.”
Again, if any female parent believes the propagandistic assertion that one of five women on university campuses are sexually assaulted yet have sent their own daughters off to be rape fodder regardless, it shows a remarkable lack of concern for the safety of one’s own offspring and strikes me as an immense moral failure. I can’t imagine endangering my own daughter in such a way.
Doubting the AAUW simply because it’s the AAUW is the appeal to authority fallacy making a second appearance. What someone remains doubtful in the face of evidence but provides none to the contrary, how can one be concerned? Hitchens’ Razor states that that which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. As I have shown evidence to support the readily apparent position that there is no wage gap and Washburn showed nothing to the contrary, I feel that the default position is to agree with Bureau of Justice statistics and conclude that there is indeed no wage gap.
Again, this is due to the heroic sacrifices made by feminists such as Washburn herself decades ago. We should all be grateful to her and her peers for their supererogatory efforts. I know that I am, and my own daughter has a brighter future because of it.
Washburn wrote that “[A]ccording to the dictionary and source of the term, ‘Caucasian’ should also be capitalized.”
True. As identity politics were a theme of the discussion, I kept it in lowercase to illustrate its inessentiality, much as I am not inclined to capitalize “god.”
Washburn wrote that “I know you take issue with the name ‘women’s’ march, but that’s a trivial point and not really worth arguing about.”
If I am not allowed to define feminism — and I agreed that I’m most certainly not — I don’t think Washburn is allowed to determine for the rest of us what is trivial and what is not, nor what is worth arguing about and what is not. My original premise in the piece that prompted this discussion was that there is nothing trivial about co-opting an entire sex in an effort to promote a political agenda: As I wrote, “Not all women are liberal, and co-opting an entire race or gender by naming a political movement after them is everything that’s wrong with identity politics. Real feminism recognizes that women are individuals with varying beliefs, abilities, and opinions, and the Women’s March is a slap in the face for each and every one of them.” I wonder how the Washington County Republican Women feel about having their sex co-opted by a political organization to whose agenda I would imagine they object strongly.
She follows with “The ‘march for some women who agree on a particular set of principles’ would have sounded pretty silly.” Why? The “Liberal Women’s March” or “The Feminist Women’s March” fits the bill nicely. I provided several more interesting but less palatable alternatives, but the assertion that one can’t name a special-interest activist movement about its actual interests rather than an entire sex — literally over half the human species — well, I struggle with accusations of having painted someone with too broad a brush if this is no problem.
Feminism matters. It altered the course not only of American history but of human history. Facts matter. Without them, the first two waves of feminism would not have succeeded as wildly as they did. Thanks to them, America is the safest place for women to live and thrive in the course of recorded human history.
I will end this statement the same way I ended my last one: Anyone who truly wants to help women and to advance the causes of women in America will focus on the real facts and the real issues rather than inventing strawmen to attack, which is a waste of time and energy and does nothing to advance the causes of women.
The viewpoints expressed above do not necessarily reflect those of The Independent.
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