The Feminist Mission to Undermine Heterosexuality

Well, it’s official: the worst aspects of feminism are winning: not the let’s all play nice kind that actually wanted equal, not special, rights and opportunities for everyone, but the crazed we’ve-got-to-destroy-men kind; the kind that saw feminism as a zero-sum game and composed fantasies of worlds without men, or with only enough men to keep the species going until even that problem was resolved; the kind that forgot how awful junior high school girls can be to one another (and grown women too, now that I think of it), and pretended only boys cause suffering and problems. Like other noxious concepts arising out of politics run amok, “toxic masculinity” has finally become not a slur but a mere description.

Still, who could have imagined that an entire profession would sign on to the extremist view set forth by some feminists? The level of success achieved by feminists awash in misandry can be gauged by the American Psychological Association’s first-ever Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men.

Claiming to be based on decades of research, these guidelines rest on the notion of “patriarchy” and fulfill the feminist extremist vision by designating traditional masculinity as harmful, period. Stoicism, aggression, competitiveness, risk-taking—all these become one-dimensional negative traits in dire need of being rooted out. Suddenly, the well-known data of higher male suicide rates, shorter lifespans, higher accident rates—which never kept feminists from revisiting the dogma of male privilege and female disadvantage– are to be remedied by an attack on the very idea of masculinity.

Of course, the APA has only about 118,000 members, so why worry about them? It is possible, however, that they might have an inordinate influence on what goes on in schools, clinics, and private practice—especially since about 75% of all PhDs in psychology now go to women (a trend that began in the late 1980s).

[Lashing Out at Psychologists for Messing With Men]

Since 2009, women have outnumbered men overall in doctoral degrees earned, and the gender imbalance in psychology is particularly marked. Moreover, in fields such as developmental and child psychology, women Ph.D. recipients outnumber men by more than five to one. According to the APA’s own documents, this has for years caused concern about the “feminization” of the field of psychology.

In a 2011 report, the APA affirmed that gender diversity is important, as is a diversity of viewpoints. But if the APA just redefines what desirable human characteristics are, perhaps they won’t have to bother with this problem or the fact that women are the vast majority of therapists in practice. The profession of psychology seems happy to impose its shifting ideology on its clients, and today that includes a critique of power and privilege generally. Like education, therapy will become more doctrinaire, curing people of their bad ideas and habits, and pretending they’re all the result of patriarchal social conditioning.

It’s true that signs of the coming victory have been around us for decades now – in sexual harassment policies that treat even innocuous words or gestures as sexual assault, in language policing, in non-stop ridicule of men in sitcoms and commercials, in denial of all of men’s contributions to getting us past just survival to the comfortable middle-class life people everywhere aspire to, and in the perpetual blame they bear for all the ills of the world.

But there is hope: Biologist and DNA forensic expert Greg Hampikian in 2012 wrote an op-ed in The New York Times called, “Men, Who Needs Them?” arguing that humans certainly didn’t. Sperm banks, Hampikian pointed out, have an enormous supply of frozen sperm, so men would not be missed. But even without them, male-free reproduction has been a serious research project for well over a hundred years.

[The Toxic Mission to Reengineer Men]

Artificial parthenogenesis has been more than fantasy since the late 19th century when Jacques Loeb figured out how to induce cell division in sea urchin eggs. And in our time cloning will in all likelihood make men superfluous before long. More important for understanding the present climate, however, is that Hampikian, in his tongue-in-cheek tone, was merely echoing what some feminists have been seriously writing and dreaming of for generations.

There is a rich literature of anti-male diatribes—often in the form of utopian (or dystopian) fantasies, or bizarre tracts such as Valerie Solanas’s 1968 SCUM Manifesto (SCUM = The Society for Cutting Up Men), or the writings of Mary Daly, Sally Miller Gearhart, Marilyn Frye, Andrea Dworkin, Catharine MacKinnon, and numerous others whom I labeled heterophobes in the mid-1990s.. Specifically, heterosexuality was renamed heteronormativity, to separate it from its biological basis, and set it firmly in the realm of socially constructed artifices in much the same way that the term cisgender is now being used.

Such views quickly gained traction in the new field of Women’s Studies that developed in the 1970s. Still, fierce conflicts occurred between different kinds of feminists in the early years: anti-pornography vs. free speech, pro-sex vs. anti-sex, and so on, but rarely was there a direct challenge to the growing anti-heterosexual bias in Women’s Studies. An attitude of appeasement (perhaps born from guilt) on the part of heterosexual feminists was a component from the beginning. The idea that rape is about power, not sex, was readily accepted and soon became an unquestioned orthodoxy—unhelpful in understanding or preventing rape–and the definition of rape and sexual assault continuously broadened.

But antagonism toward men (in particular, white men) hadn’t yet spread throughout the university. It did so over the years via expansive and poorly defined campus sexual harassment rules, which routinely denied the accused due process, along with policies aimed at impeding personal relations wherever there existed “power differentials,” which in fact characterize virtually all relationships since human beings are rarely identical in their positions, skills, and attributes, and “power” resides in numerous forms. The demand for “verbal consent” at every stage of sexual intimacy, which began as an oddity in a few progressive schools, is now taken as normal and desirable by many people.

In other words, it wasn’t just rape that was “really” about power; everything was.

[Why Men Are Falling Behind in Schools]

Institutions took a while to catch up with feminist ideas, to buy into the view of women as routinely and constantly victimized by men and needing protection—to be provided not by individual men, which would merely reinforce the patriarchy, but by governments and institutions, which somehow were granted credence in this arena if in few others.

Why did feminism take such a turn – against men? Some of the reasons are obvious. Legitimate grievances existed against women’s past restricted legal rights and opportunities, and tendentious “biological” arguments were indeed used to keep women in their place.

More crucial is that political movements must have antagonists, for alliances are often forged and maintained by sharing intense negative feelings. This is a major reason why there persists such exaggerated rhetoric today of women’s vulnerability at the hands of men and the patriarchy, scare statistics about a “rape culture” on campus, and a tireless search for microaggressions. These are all necessary to rally the troops.

But some reasons are less obvious, or at least often overlooked in today’s sex wars. The vast majority of women are biologically female (not a category arbitrarily “assigned at birth,” as current dogma has it, despite the existence of some infants born with sexual anomalies). Equally inconveniently, the vast majority are heterosexual, even after decades of propaganda to convince us otherwise. If one does not believe this is “compulsory heterosexuality,” as famed American poet Adrienne Rich called it long ago, if one grants that there are biological drives at work in us, as in most species, resulting from the reality of sexual dimorphism, then feminist cohesion is always likely to be threatened by women’s attraction to men.

Hence an elaborate ideology and intense group pressure have been—and still are–applied to keep women from consorting with the enemy. Early on, heterosexual feminists acquiesced, shamed into not flaunting their (politically suspect) heterosexuality. Yet the rampant misandry seen today doesn’t seem to have succeeded in eliminating heterosexual attraction, any more than social pressure in the past managed to eliminate same-sex attraction.

Perhaps, however, heterosexuality can be driven underground. Will we soon be at the stage where women will secretly seek out masculine men (are some already quietly doing so?), where the gulf between ideology and reality will result in covert heterosexuality? Where consciousness-raising groups will form so that women can disclose their shame and guilt over their irrepressible sexual attraction to men, their inability to bring desire into line with politics?

What we see today is not a pursuit of equality. The obsessive use of the word privilege as a devastating indictment can’t conceal that what is occurring is a reversal of privilege, with women ascending and men declining. Katharine Burdekin, a feminist writer of speculative fiction, more than 85 years ago envisioned such a situation, in her 1934 novel Proud Man (first published under the pseudonym Murray Constantine). Adopting the perspective of some future being that is truly “human,” Burdekin’s narrator surveys the sorry scene of 20th century England and says:

If women retain their biological importance, and become pleased with themselves from birth, and learn to associate power with the womb instead of with the phallus, a dominance of females over males is not only possible but likely. Their self-confidence, which would be rooted as deep as the old male jealousy, would cause in them a tremendous release of psychic power with which the males would be unable to cope. Naturally, a female dominance would make the race no happier, nor bring it a whit nearer to humanity. The privilege would merely be reversed, and possibly it would be more oppressive and more cruel.

Daphne Patai

Daphne Patai

Daphne Patai is professor emeritus in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is the author of, "What Price Utopia? Essays on Ideological Policing, Feminism, and Academic Affairs," among other books,

10 thoughts on “The Feminist Mission to Undermine Heterosexuality

  1. Daphne, do not underestimate the power of the APA nor forget what the Soviets were able to accomplish with their concept of Sluggishly Progressing Schizophrenia.

    The APA gets to define who is sane and who should be locked up because they are a “threat to self or others.” I don’t know if you were intending to draw a reference to Orwell’s 1984 in your reference to “underground heterosexuality” but I can’t help but think of the forbidden relationship in that book, and how it was prohibited by the state.

    We already have secret star-chamber committees which are largely influenced by the “rampant misandry” of which you speak, and this pestilence is already starting to leach out of academia and into the larger society. Heterosexual males, at least those with traditional masculine attributes, may wind up going “underground” out of necessity, the way that gay men once were.

    Paranoia, perhaps — but 20 years ago, who’d ever heard of “gay marriage”, let alone the option of having the gender of your choice listed on your driver’s license — M, F, or X. Who would ever thought that a lesbian would be speaking on the 7th floor at Heritage — because she had no place else to speak. (NB: Starts at 35:04.)

    And note what she says — she was accused of “violence” for “using male pronouns to talk about a convicted male rapist who identifies as transgender and prefers female pronouns … who sexually assaulted two women in a women’s prison.” Yes, that’s “violence” — and then remember that the Voodoo Scientists have the legal authority to unilaterally define who is a “threat to others” because they are “violent” and you can see how this could all go downhill very fast.

    I hope I am wrong, I sincerely do, but I don’t think this is going to end well….

  2. We are not talking about Academics here. Not Science either. We are not even discussing semi-scholarly perspectives on the social-cultural nature of human sexuality and how it is expressed and repressed in 21st Century America. Not even close.

    What we see; what we hear; what we touch, taste, and feel in this endless, mewling flood of 4th Wave silliness is nothing more than chewed-over, leftist dogma and misandric doctrine. Empty and hollow of even the pretense of meaning, still it is the New Holy Book of Feminist Strawheaded Red Guard Thinking as chanted endlessly by these particular True Believers in every forum imaginable: “1 in 5 women in college are raped! Release the Hounds!”

    “Hatred, ” Eric Hoffer explained almost 70 years ago, “is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents. Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without a belief in a devil.” And the devil for these #metooers…these affirmative consenters is Man. Pure & simple. Man, and the heterosexual connection to same.

    When you can see only Us and Them, a world split violently between Oppressors and the Oppressed…. When you define yourself by the degree to which your Victimhood can be proclaimed intersectional & blessed as multivariate (I am woman; I am Black; I am (name your sexual flavor of the month); I am the endless victim of endlessly unwanted sexual assaults by perpetually predatory males….(who aren’t or so we’re told, very good at heterosexual sex anyway), then you make of yourself only ‘nail’ and of everything else, a villainous, heteronormative ‘hammer’.

    And sure enough all that is a hammer, because you’ve already defined everything as a possible assault (depending, of course, on the state of mind of the ‘Victim’ at any given point in time (our first duty is to believe!)).

    Why would anyone want to become such a worthless cardboard cutout: devoid of volition, incapable of free thought or independent action….not responsible for decisions made if a man can be said to have influenced them — the victim always of the “male gaze”, “male persuasion”, “male psychological pressure”, and the threat of “toxic masculinity”? Why would anyone so self-infantilize?

    Perhaps because it explains away everything.

    It rationalizes every failure, every shortcoming, every bump and bruise that life imposes …every single one is someone else’s fault, not me! Perhaps because such backasswards beliefs get the Believer published….earns them kewpie dolls in the ongoing Progressive Academic Carnival? Perhaps because it helps to justify the craziness that they themselves drive: the pogroms, the pitchforks, the massive vats of bubbling tar & piles of feathers which target anyone who dares to behave in a way they just don’t like! (See SNL, 2005: https://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/tv-funhouse-sexual-harassment-and-you/2751966). Perhaps because this constant hatred & misrepresentation can be used to justify the significant gender imbalance in High School Graduation rates, College Scholarships, Special Mentoring Program Availability, College Graduation Rates, Graduate Program Study Rates, New Hire Pay Rates, Male Suicide Rates, Male Unemployment rates, Male Death rates, and on and on.

    Who really knows why someone would want to paint themselves as helpless victims (needed special help) over and over and over again, despite all facts to the contrary? But they do…and they’re damned proud of it.

    Of course it’s all insane, but when “logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead”, who really cares. The point is, as the Red Queen said: Off with their head….they all offend me!

    1. Great post!
      And thanks for clarifying a Jefferson Airplane line that always mystified me (based on one single misheard word.)
      On a more serious note: The think I have pondered long and hard is the hatred.
      Not even that it exists, so much, no…….but that it has become so powerfully socially, politically, legally, morally and ethically accepted.
      I guess that’s where the legal part comes in.
      I grew up and came of age surrounded by strong women. Their agency was astonishing – back then.
      I find it hard to believe that the royal holy mess we now contend with is a result of that.
      But you’re right: Giving up one’s freedom and ability to be autonomous and socially competent – for whatever one benefits from an eternal existence watered down into helpless girlhood and endlessly pathetic victimhood….
      I knew in my youth a species of womanhood that possessed the courage and determination to fight back, all under their own steam.
      Which of course, had a wonderful byproduct of toughening up the form and fiber in ways that benefitted us all.
      This seems to have disappeared into the ether. The filet mignon comes now upon the plate as nothing more than a Big Mac.

  3. Quote: There is a rich literature of anti-male diatribes—often in the form of utopian (or dystopian) fantasies, or bizarre tracts such as …

    Ah, but surely you know about Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s all-female utopia, Herland, along with its sequel, With Her and Ourland. The former has smug matriarchs deciding which young women will be permitted to have children. In her case, I wouldn’t call it an example of “anti-male diatribes,” although women in Herland tend to treat men like poorly socialized children.
    —-
    One of the important of utopian ideologies, eugenics, is deeply rooted in historic feminism, as I illustrate in my book: Lady Eugenist: Feminist Eugenics in the Speeches and Writings of Victoria Woodhull. I collected in one volume everything that I could find that she published on the topic. For one of them, the only copy listed in WorldCat was at Yale, which kindly loaned it to me

    Some of what Woodhull wrote fits well with your remarks about “bizarre tracts,” including a belief that what a woman sees during pregnancy alters her child. Going into a bar, for instance, might cause a child to be born with a wineglass-shaped birthmark.

    Perhaps influenced by utopian communities such as Oneida, Woodhull spoke around the country on eugenics in the 1870s, long before the term was coined or scientific men took up the cause. Perhaps her last public remark before her death was to praise of Buck v. Bell, the 1927 U.S. Supreme Court decision declaring forced sterilization constitutional.

    Interesting! While writing this I discovered that the Wikipedia article on Woodhull mentions my book, Lady Eugenist, along with my apparent discovery that she supported forced sterilization. Given that she’d been championing eugenics for roughly half a century, it would have been surprising to discover that she was against forced sterilization. Given 1920s technology, how else do you prevent ‘unfit’ and ‘feeble-minded’ women from having children?

    —-
    I find it interesting that what contemporary feminists find wrong with men—stoicism, aggression, competitiveness, risk-taking—are precisely the heavily masculine traits that lead to success in many areas of life. Imagine for a moment a men’s movement that called on women to renounce traits they do best. The high percentage of women in nursing, for instance, would be blamed on a “toxic femininity” that includes empathy and patience with those less capable, roughly the opposite of male stoicism and aggression.

    Those interested in male/female differences might want to read my Embarrass Less. It’s intended as a guide for those in healthcare concerned about embarrassment in a hospital context. Along the way, I note the startling differences between teen boys and girls I cared for on the adolescent unit of a top children’s hospital. It was an excellent setting for doing such an observation since, as a top-tier hospital, we cared only for the seriously ill, thus all our patients were under stress. It’s under stress and with not-yet-fully socialized that those differences are so stark.

    I strongly suspect that trouble results when the in-built response of each fails them. Teen boys (and hence men) have trouble coping with stressful situations where ‘fight or flight’ doesn’t work. That left them ill-adapted for a children’s hospital where they were treated almost like children and expected to do as they were told. Teen girls (and hence women), on the other hand, respond poorly when ‘tend and befriend’ fails them. They turn bitter and hate those they think have wronged them. That’s modern feminism. In my hospital work I did not see the latter since, as their only male caregiver, I treated them well. But I did see their delight (beautiful smiles) when their cooperation with me brought good results.

    Many thanks for your article.

    –Michael W. Perry, Inkling Books

  4. “more oppressive and more cruel” Entirely correct. Men protect women. If socially conditioned to not protect women, women in power and privilege will be cruel to everyone below them.

  5. Thank you, Daphne, for exposing the worst of the Junior Anti-Sex League tendencies within contemporary feminism, and particularly the description of Feminism 4.0 as an undisguised power grab.

    What is truly unnerving is how #MeToo has been expanded to cover a lot more behavior than it did even ten years ago. We have seen lately a stream of articles covering the “sex recession”, attributing it to the likes of availability of porn, etc. but nowhere in those causes is it mentioned that we have, as a matter of public policy, chosen to criminalize any attempt by the vast majority of beta males to get laid. They make no distinction between Harvey Weinstein masturbating into a potted plant and some poor 20-year old college sophomore asking the wrong girl out for coffee.

    I read Heterophobia when it came out, and the passage I remember most was that of the college professor so concerned with PC appearances that she kept referring to her “partner” in classes and dealings with students, when in fact she was happily married to the same man for 25 years and had a couple of kids in the bargain.

    Sooner or later, some Paul Nunngesser will react to his Emma Sulkowicz in a most unpleasant way, concluding that if his life is going to be destroyed on a whim and a lie, he’s going to exact a price for that.

    1. Sooner or later, some Paul Nunngesser will react to his Emma Sulkowicz in a most unpleasant way, concluding that if his life is going to be destroyed on a whim and a lie, he’s going to exact a price for that.”

      That’s already happening in some of the purported “domestic violence” cases — men literally losing everything via a pro-forma restraining order shooting the wife outside the courthouse. Happened in Northampton, MA a while back.

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