Discussions on fascist misogyny, race and identity politics





…and right on cue, I didn’t notice this nonsense until now:

That’s because the pernicious social dynamics of these online spaces hammer home the idea that anyone who disagrees with you on any controversial subject, even a little bit, is incorrigibly dumb or evil or suspect. On a wide and expanding range of issues, there’s no such thing as good-faith disagreement.


"In September, the Heterodox Academy was formed. Its stated mission is to promote “viewpoint diversity” in academe as a way to encourage objectivity, free speech, and better research. In a much-discussed article published in Brain and Behavioral Sciences, six members of Heterodox Academy argued that a “liberal progress narrative” dominates academe. They describe it as the belief that traditional societies suffered from unjust inequality, such as exclusion of women from higher education, but were then overcome by modern, liberal democratic-welfare societies. According to this narrative, the dominance of leftist ideology results in a left-wing “moral matrix,” which creates an “environment of intolerance for diversity of ideas and dissent.”

Haidt, a founder of the Heterodox Academy, describes “left-leaning” institutions as “cut off” from the moral vocabulary required to defend freedom of speech, and led by social-justice concerns that chill free speech. John McWhorter, a linguist at Columbia University and Heterodox Academy member, gives anti-racism as an example, arguing that “antiracism is now a religion…. Certain questions are not to be asked, or if asked, only politely.” The goal of the Heterodox Academy is to persuade universities to hire scholars who question this narrative, thereby restoring free speech.

What, exactly, is the tension between antiracism and free speech? If I tell you that you shouldn’t say racist things, am I really denying you the right to say those things? I told my mother the other day that she shouldn’t tell me that I am overweight. Was I challenging her freedom of speech? I tell students in my mathematical logic class they shouldn’t make certain errors. Is my class a hotbed of illiberalism? Is free speech really imperiled when activists argue that a football team shouldn’t be called “the Redskins”?

The political diversity at issue in the writings of Heterodox Academy members is the narrow spectrum between liberals and conservatives. These categories are occasionally used as if they naturally corresponded to “Democrat” and “Republican.” This bizarrely narrow view of political diversity conveniently fits into an argument to hire conservatives, but not Marxists or critical race theorists. “Liberal” and “leftist” are used interchangeably throughout their writings, as if there isn’t a feminist critique of liberalism. "

It’s also worth noting that Steven Pinker is a Member of Heterodox.

"Heterodox Academy members trumpet their narrow notion of political diversity as a boon to objectivity and better research. In 2006 Steven Pinker, a Heterodox Academy member and Harvard psychologist, lamented the lack of investigation into certain “dangerous ideas.” An example he gives: “Would damage from terrorism be reduced if the police could torture suspects in special circumstances?” But what about the absent questions he doesn’t mourn?

I did misspeak about the warnings, that was Gudeman. However, Google cites his repeated distribution of his memo, which even you agree was poorly put together and incorrect. Flooding the entire workplace with it is what got him fired, not simply having an opinion.

He went way beyond “feedback” and you know this.

It was, and they are.


worth noting because it’s more evidence that they’re not a conservative organisation? doesn’t that disprove your point?

He went way beyond “feedback” and you know this.

nope, that’s just how you’re spinning it. it’s only because the ideas in the memo are considered verboten by a privileged class of intellectuals that you can do this.

It was

nope again, his ideas do not represent prejudice, or discrimination, there is possibly a mild amount of stereotyping there (with some empirical basis), but stereotyping by itself isn’t enough, it only becomes bigoted/racist/sexist if it’s used as a means to discriminate.


Pinker, at worst, is doing some high-falutin’ theoretical JAQing off, which I’m sure fit in cozily with what you describe as Heterodox Academy’s ideological approach.

However, I highly doubt based on what I’ve read of him that he supports torture or (for that matter) the alt-right or the excesses of late-stage capitalism, however much right-wingers and extreme “free” market advocates might wish it were so and would try to sell it to as such to fools via social media and video sites.


Pinker is against feminism in education, and I know you know this as well.

I’ve addressed this and I’m not going to respond to it again. The only person spinning here is you.

Uh no. Ideas can certainly be sexist, stereotyping is one example of that. His memo was sexist.


The article doesn’t claim that, and that wasn’t my intent in including the quote. I included it as an example of the JAQing you describe, and a citation of his membership.


Thanks. I just felt it was important to clarify in service of your main point. Things can get a little muddy around Pinker. For example, it’s somewhat accurate to say

insofar as he apparently calls himself an “equity feminist.” This seems to be a rather naive Libertarian brand of feminism (Paglia is also a subscriber) that doesn’t sound particularly feminist in its seeming handwaving away of the concept of institutional sexism and the need to combat it with regulation and social policy and (bringing it back to your point) education. I’m certain we can expect another conservative social media or YouTube video using his position as a basis to proclaim “Pinker is a proud sexist, just like us!”


Yes, that’s why I didn’t say against feminism.

Edit: Even though I have my own opinions on “equity feminism”, but that’s another topic.


Related but off-topic, this piece might be of interest to you. I’m hoping that #metoo movement (and changing generational demographics) starts placing Third-Wave feminism in the forefront where it belongs.


I doubt very much that he is, unless, like I said before, your definition of feminism is highly proscriptive, and contrary to that your definition of ‘conservative’ is highly permissive. It seems that you think that anyone who doesn’t accept whole-cloth the work of academic feminist theorists are anti-feminists, and anyone who falls under that definition then magically becomes a conservative?.. despite the fact that feminism is just the belief women should have equal rights to men, a view to which Pinker certainly holds.

Pinker is significantly to the left of American politics. He’s basically a Scandinavian-style social democrat.

I’ve addressed this and I’m not going to respond to it again.

You’ve not addressed it, you’ve just tried to repeatedly exaggerate his interactions to make it seem like he’s been badgering people when all he did was send a few emails, and discuss things on a discussion forum.

Uh no. Ideas can certainly be sexist, stereotyping is one example of that. His memo was sexist.

Stereotyping is often based in fact, facts can’t be sexist or racist, it’s how you use them.


"The gender/equity construct was created by Christina Hoff Sommers in her seminal anti-feminist trope, Who Stole Feminism? Sommers claims that she herself is an equity feminist; that is, she believes in equal rights and equal opportunity for women under the law. But she does not believe in addressing or changing gender roles; that falls under the rubric of gender feminism.

In the standard dichotomy as developed by Sommers, gender feminists are seeking to undermine women’s innate goals. While an equity feminist might believe that women should have the equal right to work as men, equity feminists believe that it’s okay if outcomes are different, because women and men are just plain different. Women like staying home, men like working, and that’s just the way it is, some things will never change.

The mean ol’ gender feminists, meanwhile, try to claim that women and men aren’t “just different,” but that many of the differences we attribute to “the way things are” turn out to be societal constructs. They spend their time trying to eliminate those differences, which is, according to the equity feminists, a very bad thing.

Is it?


Well, why not?

Because there is a difference between equality under the law and actual equality. Take race, for a contrasting example. While one can argue about certain points of law and the way the law is enforced, from a strictly statutory standpoint the law is pretty color-blind, especially when contrasted with how it was written in, say, 1957.

But only a benighted fool or Will Saletan (but I repeat myself) would claim that therefore, racism has been eliminated, and those working to change society’s opinions on race are doing something wrong. Indeed, it’s well-understood that society still functions in an unequal manner, and that we all need to do more work to eliminate racism. Even when conservatives try to argue that racism has been eliminated, one can tell that their hearts aren’t in it; it’s too obviously false.

So it is with gender. While the laws are certainly far more gender-balanced now than they were a half-century ago, only someone willfully blind would say that sexism no longer exists in our society, or that we’ve reached a point where reverse sexism is targeting men. Women have made many strides, but one only has to take a look at the average state legislature or Fortune 500 company board of directors to see just how much work society has to do before we reach true equity.

So are you “gender feminists” saying men and women are exactly the same?

No. But we are saying that many of the differences we see are pushed on us, literally, from the day we’re born. My daughter has two strongly feminist parents, and she still has come home from pre-school to ask if it’s okay for girls to play with dinosaurs. When three-year-olds are being pushed to adopt their correct gender roles, it’s impossible to argue that those gender roles are constant as the northern star.

So you don’t like “gender feminist” and “equity feminist.” What are better terms?

What Sommers and her ilk rail against is the idea that women should be able to define for themselves what “conforming to gender” means. (And, for that matter, that men should be able to define it for themselves.) But self-determination – the ability to live one’s life as one pleases, without having to bow and scrape before society’s arbitrary definitions of gender – is at the core of modern feminism.

The patriarchy is all about placing people in boxes that define who they are. Soi disant equity feminists think that’s okay, as long as the boxes are all the same size. It doesn’t matter if one box holds slide rules while the other holds baby dolls – those things are just natural. Soi disant gender feminists think that you yourself are the best person to pick out your own box, and fill it with your own stuff; indeed, they think it’s okay to choose no box at all.

In short, there’s no such thing as gender feminism; those people who think that society and government must both strive to support equality and self-determination are feminists. And there’s no such thing as equity feminism, because one can’t reach true equity without changing society as well as government. Because “equity feminists” are against actually achieving feminist goals, they are anti-feminists."


Nope, in fact this is exactly what they argue for. The only distinction is that they think it’s ok for women to also choose to conform to more traditional gender roles as well, if they want (and that these roles are not inherently damaging in and of themselves); while a social constructivist feminist would think that there is no free choice to be had in the first place, due to the evil patriarchy and internalised misogyny and whatnot.


I have to say that (as the author asks on our behalf at the end of the article) that is a bit harsh, although after 2008 I don’t expect non-harsh from Shakesville. It’s fairer to say that equity feminists – like Libertarians in general – are naive and make the misguided assumption (usually from a place of class privilege) that everyone is a supremely rational actor in a supposedly free marketplace of choices, therefore no regulation or education or other institutional changes are needed to achieve what they genuinely believe to be feminist goals. It’s the same foolish viewpoint that brought us the “post-racial society” premature triumphalism from the neoliberal establishment (and the more disingenuous version from right-wingers) after Obama’s election.

Non-naive feminists understand that institutional sexism and the patriarchy are still very real things and that a laissez-faire market-based approach won’t solve their malaises any more than it will solve the problems of institutional racism or growing inequality – if anything it exacerbates those problems by allowing bad actors to run wild.

There are all too many anti-feminists out there, of course, but I wouldn’t put privilege-blind naifs like Pinker or Paglia or Sommers in the brain-dead company of MRAs, PUAs, religious fundies and the other assorted sexist cheerleaders of the patriarchy.


Laurie Penny to the resuce again.

I discriminate against people who are rightwing and conservative. I’m entirely happy to say so. I don’t view it as hypocrisy to judge people by their personal qualities, rather than their background and appearance. If people are bigots and bullies, I will judge them for that. And for those who think it’s hypocrisy to refuse to tolerate intolerance, perhaps they should read the philosopher Karl Popper, who got there decades before me when he wrote of the paradox of tolerance: “If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.”


I’d like to clarify, here whether you meant to suggest that if someone with autism thinks Damore is a misogynist idiot then they might not really have autism.


Denying the existence of institutional racism and sexism does nothing to fix either social issue, instead they maintain the status quo. Racism and sexism persist largely due to the privileged attitudes you describe.

I haven’t. An anti-feminist is not the same as a misogynist, but both are invested in maintaining the status quo.


@caze I’m going to let this woman do my talking:


Right, but in terms of intent it’s not deliberate anti-feminism – it’s an opposition to a kind of intersectional Third Wave feminism that people like Katie Roiphe, Daphne Merkin and Catherine Millet have fallen out of touch with (assuming they were ever in touch) due to age and career success.

I don’t think those women and Pinker are anti-feminist, I think they’re just privilege-blind and clueless. That’s why I think the slightly less harsh descriptor of “naive feminist” is more accurate for them than that of “anti-feminist”, which is better applied to those who actively oppose feminism in all its forms.

If we’re discussing outcomes rather than intent, though, I agree that “anti-feminist” is a good blanket term. I’ll also add that there are some anti-feminists who try to hide behind naive feminists to achieve those bad outcomes, which is why you see right-wingers holding up Pinker as their champions when it’s convenient.


You are certainly free to describe them in any terms you choose, and I’ll do the same.

Naive intent doesn’t get a pass for those who inadvertantley promote racism and it doesn’t get a pass here.