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Christina Hoff Sommers on Myths in Feminist Scholarship

Just saw this interesting piece published in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Here's an excerpt:

Lemon's Domestic Violence Law is organized as a conventional law-school casebook — a collection of judicial opinions, statutes, and articles selected, edited, and commented upon by the author. The first selection, written by Cheryl Ward Smith (no institutional affiliation is given), offers students a historical perspective on domestic-violence law. According to Ward:

"The history of women's abuse began over 2,700 years ago in the year 753 BC. It was during the reign of Romulus of Rome that wife abuse was accepted and condoned under the Laws of Chastisement. ... The laws permitted a man to beat his wife with a rod or switch so long as its circumference was no greater than the girth of the base of the man's right thumb. The law became commonly know as 'The Rule of Thumb.' These laws established a tradition which was perpetuated in English Common Law in most of Europe."

Where to begin? How about with the fact that Romulus of Rome never existed. He is a figure in Roman mythology — the son of Mars, nursed by a wolf. Problem 2: The phrase "rule of thumb" did not originate with any law about wife beating, nor has anyone ever been able to locate any such law. It is now widely regarded as a myth, even among feminist professors.

A few pages later, in a selection by Joan Zorza, a domestic-violence expert, students read, "The March of Dimes found that women battered during pregnancy have more than twice the rate of miscarriages and give birth to more babies with more defects than women who may suffer from any immunizable illness or disease." Not true. When I recently read Zorza's assertion to Richard P. Leavitt, director of science information at the March of Dimes, he replied, "That is a total error on the part of the author. There was no such study." The myth started in the early 1990s, he explained, and resurfaces every few years.

Read the whole thing here.

Comments (10)

Chief among them should be:

1) "1 in 5 college-age women have been raped."

2) "Women make 80c on the $1 compared to men."

3) "Deadbeat dads are a serious problem for single women." (In actuality, it's been shown that women are far more likely to disobey court ordered visitation rights for the fathers of their children, than men are to disobey court ordered child support.)

"Myths" and "Feminist Scholarship" is a redundancy.


Like the story above, if it doesn't fit the narrative don't attend to it - keep up the party line. Feign objectivity for as long as it takes to 'win'. They're vandals. Arch hypocrites.

The deepest critique of feminist politics and related issues I've read this year is Stephen Baskerville's essay "The Dangerous Rise of Sexual Politics":


I add that Baskerville shows the extent to which feminism and its myths have been integrated into the welfare bureaucracy and the divorce industry. Not only ideologues but social workers and divorce lawyers have a lot riding on these phony statistics and legends.

I've been a fan of Sommers ever since I read her 1994 book Who Stole Feminism?. She, Baskerville, and the commenters in this thread are spot on about the domestic-violence industry, which is based on the demonization of men in the name of overthrowing "the patriarchy." (DV by women is not even officially acknowledged, even though everybody except the rad-fems knows it is not rare.) And the truths Kevin tells evince that government is mindlessly enforcing the destruction of the family. Recognizing same-sex "marriage" as marriage will continue the process. All that, I am convinced, is the nodal point for the "culture of death" forces combining to bring about the slow suicide of the West, which began with easy contraception, abortion on demand, and no-fault divorce.

I'd bet my life savings that nowhere in this lemon of a compendium of feminist analysis of domestic abuse is there even one accurate mention of the fact that only Islam has in its holy texts the command for men to beat their wives (Koran, 4:34) -- or if there is mention, it is oblique and padded with a complex tissue of obfuscatory justifications.

Mark Richardson at Oz Conservative writes well about feminism, patriarchy theory, and liberal autonomy; I highly recommend his blog. Here is a good sample.

Thanks for the laugh, Gintas[the redundancy comment]. This looks like an exposed attempt to fill a few skulls full of mush a principle to build on--no matter if it's true, it's the ends that are most important to some.

No doubt, "myth" and "feminist scholarship" are redundant, especially considering "feminist scholarship" is an oxymoron to begin with.

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