(Video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1oqyrflOQFc)
Summary: Christina Hoff Sommers, the infamous right wing "feminist" presents a seemingly convincing video against the cornerstones of western feminist issues, set up very professionally and palateably; however, her arguments are nowhere near as strong as she’d like to believe, and some crucially backfire when used on her own claims and methods. I felt I had to write this rebuttal partly because she is just so worryingly convincing,but also to help people who knew it felt off, but could not put their finger on why. Enjoy!
My first major stand-out criticism of this video, is that it is set up from the start to be misleading. For one thing, Prager University “is not an accredited academic institution and does not offer certifications or diplomas”, but is instead a video subscription website, yet throughout the video, Christina is presented in a dark, gown-like outfit, clearly meant to be remniscent of actual academic authority, and no dislaimer for the fallacious use of the word university is visible the description.
The first major criticism made by Sommers in the video is the pay gap. Does she not even slightly wonder about why it is that “female” specialities are paid less??? The National Organisation for Women even addresses the “pink collar” problem on their site, but this accuracy doesn’t suit Sommer’s cherry-picking approach, and so of course, the site isn’t linked in the video description, and it isn’t mentioned in the video.
Secondly, there is more than internalised oppression/invisible barriers at play in women’s choices…if your husband can’t imagine taking off time for the kids, and your mother has always taught you to be better with childcare than surgery, that’s going to influence your choices in very real ways, which Sommer’s conveniently ignores. No woman is an island, as NOW fully explains on their website in the final point about the pay gap. The fact these are all on the same resource sheet just serves to further illustrate how selective and misleading Summer’s “research” truly is.
Sommers suffers from the illusion that because she is alright, that everyone else is. It’s not patronising to suggest that women are limited if it is true for large numbers of women! It’s not patronising to say you are drowning, not swimming, if you are actually drowning, you’d need the appropriate help, and women (feminists) do say this, that we want this! Of course, these women do not matter to Sommers, because they don’t suit the cherry-picking and isn’t this, in itself, rather patronising?
On another massively flawed point about the wage gap, Sommers continues to ignore the role of unfair promotions and subtle gendering of jobs in allowing gaps to sneak in, plus, ignores the fact that laws are not always enforced, especially around the taboo area of pay/wages, in order to make an incredibly shallow argument in the name of “common sense”; that truly cheap female labour would result in a flood of demand for female labour, hence, cheaper female labour does not exist. This common argument entirely ignores the roots and context of the wage gap: that women have been historically paid less (and still are) because of a perception of women’s work as inferior. This is what drives the differentiated wages, and why companies will pay more for men, because they are seen as superior, not substitutes. Even assuming genders were perfect substitutes, this universal labour market change would not result in any competitive advantage, let alone a “huge” one, though this misleading note makes her surface-level rebuttal sound even more persuasive.
At 4:35 she claims that american college women are “arguably the most fortunate, liberated beings on the planet”, in order to discredit western feminist theory. Obviously, in Sommers world, slut shaming is a complete myth, victim blaming’s not a thing, obviously the pay gap doesn’t exist, and thus, yes, when you ignore all that evidence, yes, women are just as liberated as men already are!
She then goes on to further hypocritically patronise women who hold different views to her, by first implying that no one is a feminist without a degree in “Women’s Studies”, and then discredit courses from accredited esteemed institutions as “propaganda”…because sure, your unofficial faux-university-endorsed video is certainly 100% legit, honest, educational material, right Sommers? Again, women who disagree with Summers, are being ruthlessly patronised and discredited, without a hint of irony or awareness.
She ends by begging us to end the “Women are from Venus, Men are from hell” storylines, but it’s worth asking what kind of person gets this from “The sexes are equal”? If becoming equal to women degrades men, then clearly the viewer held men above women to begin with, which explains why they spend so much time attempting to define all women’s lives through uninformed pseudo-logic, in order to mold them into sharing her own (privileged) perspective.
Of course, Sommers doesn’t investigate this massive incongruity, but continues by ending her video through patronisingly telling all women to reject patronising victim “propaganda”, beautifully finishing her very own polished and perfected propaganda video. Irony is clearly lost on these people.
(Cross posted from personal blog at: http://no-more-mediation.tumblr.com/post/113540454633/feminism-vs-the-truth-christina-hoff-sommers)