While radical feminism in the 1960s called for challenging existing gender roles and abolishing what the feminists saw as the pervasive patriarchy that permeated social institutions, churches, politics, and schools, today’s radical feminists call for the elimination of men.
In an offshoot of the #MeToo movement, the #YesAllMen campaign rejects the goodness of all men. Sociologist, Suzanna Danuta Walters, a lesbian gender studies professor at Northeastern University, published an op-ed in the Washington Post last month titled: “Why Can’t We Hate Men?” Walters advised men to “Step away from the power…Pledge to vote for feminist women only. Don’t run for office. Don’t be in charge of anything…And please know that your crocodile tears won’t be wiped away by us anymore. We have every right to hate you.”
Walters believes that gender is a social construct—one that privileges men unfairly. To remedy this, she suggests that gender be simply eliminated. In an interview published in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Walters said that “the world would be a better place for men and for women if we did away with gender altogether—gender nouns, gender binaries, and so on. And God knows men would be happier and better people if we did away with that.” Believing that we can “break apart the binary oppositions” to create more “fluidity,” Walters concludes that “gender demeans, constructs, produces power, constrains.”
Rejecting any criticism of her thesis that all men deserve to be marginalized, Walters has attacked those who voiced some concerns about her proposal to eliminate gender—and men. When Atlantic Monthly’s Conor Friedersdorf responded negatively to the Walters op-ed, she mocked him claiming that: “Some guy at The Atlantic is going to mansplain me the principles of feminism? A feminist professor of 30-plus years, who has written four books? I mean, seriously? It’s the ultimate in hubris. I read that, and I cracked up. It is Exhibit A of mansplaining drivel.”
Friedersdorf simply concluded that “It is always illogical to hate an entire group of people for behavior perpetrated by a subset of its members and actively opposed or renounced by literally millions of them.” But, Walters is certainly not the first (or the last) radical feminist on campus to lobby for the elimination of men.
For more than 30 years, the late Boston College feminist theologian Mary Daly refused to allow male students to even enroll in her undergraduate and graduate courses on the Catholic Jesuit campus. Author of The Church and the Second Sex, an analysis of what she viewed as the misogyny of the Catholic Church, Daly claimed that her classroom had to be maintained as a male free “space on the boundary of a patriarchal institution.”
A strong proponent of abortion rights, Daly viewed the continued Catholic prohibition of abortion as part of the sexual “caste system” and warned of a situation in which open war is declared between feminism… and official Roman Catholicism.” Her later books claimed to long for the day when “men are eliminated from the planet. If life is to survive on this planet, there must be a decontamination of the Earth. I think this will be accompanied by an evolutionary process that will result in a drastic reduction of the population of males.”
Resisting reprimands in 1974, and again in 1989 from Boston College administrators concerned about her women-only stance, the self-described “radical feminist, lesbian and post-Christian scholar” finally met her match in 1999 when a male student initiated a lawsuit after he was locked out of Daly’s courses. Daly finally retired and died a few years later.
Whether Daly and Walters have actually defined the “outer limits” of radical feminist theology remains to be seen. In a rational world, Daly and Walters would be censured. But, so many of us are unable to see beyond the surface issues to the real issues that are driving the male animus on campus. As Austin Ruse recalled in a recent essay on the moral panic surrounding #MeToo, David Horowitz, the former leftist writer, once said that “the issue is never the issue…The issue is always the revolution.
The Issue is Always the Revolution.
Tearing down the patriarchy and the institutions of the West has always been the real goal of the progressive left. The animus toward men inherent in #MeToo is just one more effective way to gain ground in the long march. Radical feminists know that tearing down the loving relationships that can exist between men and women is what is necessary for the real revolution to succeed. Walters and her comrades know that destroying marriage and the family is the real goal. In fact, before Walters published her hateful op-ed in the Washington Post, she was denigrating the institution of marriage itself in her 2014 book, The Tolerance Trap: How God, Genes and Good Intentions are Sabotaging Gay Equality. Calling same-sex marriage “the Trojan Horse for the tolerance trap,” Walters understands better than most the need to destroy the institution of marriage itself.
Walters has indeed come to democratic socialism deeply. Claiming that “love is not more legitimate or good or valuable if the state makes it official,” Walters decries the fact that people now see a division between the “good marrying gays who deserve tolerance and those recalcitrant gays who are pushed even further outside the field of respectability.”
Walters is just one of many radical feminist academics denigrating the institution of marriage itself. But, even the destruction of marriage is not really the end goal—the goal is empowering the state to regulate all relationships. In 2017, Clare Chambers, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Cambridge, published Against Marriage: An Egalitarian Defense of the Marriage Free State—a book that is increasingly being used in college classrooms here and abroad. Chambers argues that in the “marriage free state, marriage would have no legal significance. The state would not regulate the term, nor would it provide laws that dealt with the creation and dissolution of marriages.”
Still, as expected when the surface issue is just the starting point, Chambers sees an important—and expanded—role for the state to regulate relationships to achieve equality. She states clearly that “The marriage-free state would not recognize or endorse marriages, nor would it leave relationships and families unregulated.” Chambers writes that “the marriage free state starts by working out what would be the just way to regulate relationships between unmarried people and then applies that regulation to everyone.” She concludes that “society is deeply gendered in a way that harms women…marriage is an institution that has been both the cause and the result of profound inequality: a mechanism for entrenching structures of privilege and exclusion, power and oppression, hierarchies of gender and race and heteronormativity.”
For Chambers, Walters, and a growing number of radical feminists in academia, #MeToo, and #YesAllMen may be important issues, but the real threat they pose is that they provide momentum toward empowering the state to regulate every aspect of our lives—including our most intimate loving relationships.
As Grove City Professor Paul Kengor points out in his book, Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left Has Sabotaged Family and Marriage, Lenin and the Bolsheviks immediately went after marriage and the family, as well as religion, and all private property. They radically liberalized all divorce and abortion laws: “You weren’t free in Bolshevik Russia to have freedom of religion, press, assembly, speech or property, but if you wanted a divorce or an abortion, you were the freest person on the planet.”
Kengor understands better than most the totalitarian end game—a game that radical feminists and their allies have been working toward for decades. Destroying men and marriage—and our loving relationships with each other—are just the first steps.