By Rod Van Mechelen
1989 Bellevue, Wash. - After reading excerpts from a speech by Barbara Dority titled Feminist Moralism, Pornography, and Censorship in the June, 1991, issue of Seattle M.E.N., I realized there was a need to distinguish between "fundamental" feminists and the widely publicized feminists who promote "equal" rights for women and all the responsibilities for men. The "pop-" prefix seems reasonable
because it is already used to denote similar differences in other classes, such as "pop-psychology," and because these feminists are popularly accepted as representing all schools of feminist thought. (Sex in History, Reay Tannahill, p 419)
Pop-feminism, then, exists within the ideological interstice between feminism and the Feminine Mystique. The "Feminine Mistake," it combines both the feminist desire for social maturity and women's fear of autonomy. They seem to come in three kinds: those who blame men for every problem of women, those who demand rights for women and responsibilities for men, and a combination of both. In all cases, they, "like so many of their predecessors and successors in public debate, (know) that loud and frequent repetition (is) the most convincing argument
of all." (Sex in History, Reay Tannahill, p 290) Hence, they rely on the psychology of the "big lie" to persuade legislators, judges, and authorities of every kind to condemn everything of men and elevate everything of women.
Freedom of choice
The original goal of the feminist movement was to increase women's choices. The only real change feminists required from men was for them to get out of their way. Millions did. But soon it became evident that most women didn't want to change. They were willing to go through the motions of becoming more than mere sex objects, but ultimately, the old and familiar was more comfortable than the uncharted territory of the feminist ideal. So women continued to seek the options provided by objectifying themselves as sex objects. Pop-feminists saw this, and realized it would be easier to employ hate and anger than reason and self-esteem to elevate women. Thus, they became the "Darth Vaders" of the women's movement, relying on the "dark side" of human nature to dominate men.
There are male pop-feminists, too. Such men Betty Friedan described as, "Beaten, desperate or self-denigrating 'inadequate' men, playing into woman's pent-up hunger for power in the world ... " (The Second Stage: With a New Introduction, Betty Friedan, p 133)
A new "macho"
Many men discovered that, for their willingness to vilify their own gender and toe the pop-feminist line, women might reward them with attention. This is irresistible to many men: "To declare enthusiasm for feminist ideals is almost a new mode of macho, a way to flaunt an invulnerable virility." (Men and Marriage, George Gilder, p 44) Greedily, pop-feminists accept this support without acknowledging it.
This is because they belong to the "Taking Class." According to Tara Roth Madden, these are the women who "grab what they want as though they owned the place." And when they're not at work, they transform into members of the martyrly and tyrannical "Giving Class":
Members of the Taking Class can be transformed into the Giving Class after the corporate or home work day is over. After hours, the Taking Class is in the business of pursuing what is best for all women, but they often force their values on other women in the name of a greater good. -- Women Vs. Women: The Uncivil Business War, Tara Roth Madden, p 134
"In the name of a greater good," the banner under which they claim their power. A time-worn banner used often and overmuch by tyrants throughout human history.
"In the name of a greater good." A greater good that transcends ordinary understanding. Characteristic of the pop-feminist is his or her assertion of an almost mythical understanding that defies and transcends analysis: "(T)he shifting relation between passion and duty is clear to no man who is capable of apprehending it." (In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development, Carol Gilligan, p 130)
In other words, "for those who understand, no explanation is necessary; for those who do not, none is possible." This is the smug and arrogant defense of the religious fanatic. In this hateful creed, there is no such thing as a man victimized by a woman, nor any man innocent of victimizing women. In a word, it is Victorian feminism.
With the passage of time
2012 Olympia, Wash. - Now, of course, we know that Betty Friedan lied about the prevalence of clinical depression among housewives in suburban America. Although following publication of her book and the pervasive attacks on the nuclear family, coupled today with the great recession and possibly incipient global depression, clinical depression is on the rise, or so it would seem given the insane amount of antidepressants now prescribed to American women.
I do not feel now as I did 20 years ago that what I called feminism, then, ever played much of a role. What I called "pop-feminism" has long dominated the dialogue. Those who would simply empower women have served as a distraction, a reasonable facade behind which the hatemonger's hide. We could say they have more in common with the men's rights movement than they do with the feminist movement but for their symbiotic relationship with the hatemongers, whose extremism they dismiss despite the millions of families destroyed by it.
Feminism is a blight that will ultimately serve only to spawn another hate movement, one aimed at women.
Rod Van Mechelen