When it comes to criticism, very few people are capable of accepting it graciously. In some instances, the criticism is harsh, unfair and little more than a personal attack. However, in many instances, the criticism is fair, even if the presentation of that criticism leaves one wanting.
This can not be more true than when it comes to criticizing feminism. While some critics do so maliciously, many articulate their positions no differently than feminists do, which is to say that they play to their audience. However, the most annoying kind of feminist critic appears to be those who can state their position without resorting to profanity or personal attacks.
At least this is what Anne-Marije Rook from the University of Idaho suggests:
I like to think we live in a society where everyone agrees women and men deserve the same political, social, sexual, intellectual and economic equality. On a college campus where male and female students have equal opportunities to pursue their degrees, it seems blissfully equal. But a large part of our society does not think that way. It’s hard to watch the news or surf the Web without coming across anti-women, anti-feminist news stories, articles, statements and hate mail. The opponents, the anti-feminists — those who keep feminism alive — are out there and in the middle of the public eye.
Some anti-feminism arguments are flat-out stupid and highly amusing — others are scary.
While hate mail filled with c-words and b-words, unfound arguments and “feminazi” comments has little weight and is best ignored, it is the well-educated commentators who draw large audiences that worry me.
It would help Rook’s argument if she did not misrepresent the positions of the people you quoted. Specifically, the portion of Thiel’s comment that she quoted does not suggest in part, in full or through implication that granting women the right to vote is the reason why the current economic and political situation is a mess. At best, he suggested that our social and federal willingness to play to certain special interest groups on a massive scale, which includes women’s groups, might be part of the reason for our current situation.
Chapin and Limbaugh’s words are what they are. As it is, I think Chapin makes valid points, but lacks a certain amount of tact. Limbaugh, on the other hand, simply embarrasses himself every time he speaks. He suffers from the same kind of footinthemouth disease that Jeanne Garofalo caught so many years ago and that seems to have Sarah Palin and Joe Biden in its tight grip. That said, regardless of whether one agrees with or is offended by what these people say, one should learn why they say it and why other people agree with them. That cannot happen, however, if one resorts to name-calling and labeling.
Secondly, no political movement is beyond criticism, and that includes feminism. One can visit Feministing, Feministe, Pandagon and a host of other popular feminist blogs and find feminist arguments about men, society and other political groups that are flat-out stupid and highly amusing, others that are scary, and many that are openly and blatantly misandrist, homophobic, transpobic, racist, elitist or other not too impressive bigotries. As Chapin has noted in many of his articles, a lot of this appears on college campuses in so-called gender studies classes. These views are taught to young women who, by virtue of being a part of Gen Y (like myself), have been raised to simply accept politically-correct indoctrination without question.
Likewise, there are plenty of examples of misandrist jokes and men-blaming that feminists engage in, usually without any condemnation. That is quite surprising for a group of people who consider themselves “fighting for gender equality.” While feminism and feminists are not the root of all evil (although they are content to suggest that males and masculinity are), like capitalism, conservatism, liberalism and of host of other -isms, they certainly are not addressing, let alone solving, the problem, only exacerbating it in order to make it work in their favor.
Perhaps feminists like Rook should take a step back and examine their own political rhetoric and propaganda. It may help them come to understand why there is so much “anti-feminism” around.