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Feminists Slurping at the Public Trough
Wendy McElroy, ifeminists.com
19 July 2003
recent report funded by the Canadian government recommends the monitoring
of "hate mongering" websites such as that of the Promise Keepers. As a piece of research, the report is a farce.
The feminist report
"School Success by Gender: A Catalyst for the Masculinist Discourse," sponsored
by Canadian taxpayers, recommends the monitoring of masculinist Web sites
for possible prosecution under hate speech laws.
An appended list
of "hate mongering" sites includes American ones such as Promise Keepers.
One of the report's authors, Pierrette Bouchard, has publicly responded to
the backlash against her recommendations: She blames the critics who took
Bouchard provides a valuable window into the tactics used by PC feminists to sidestep criticism:
Sleight of hand. In the French-Canadian periodical Sisyphe, Bouchard states
the crux of her defense: Namely, the list of masculinist sites is unimportant,
"an appendix, for purely descriptive and informational purposes."
But the appendix follows the report's "Recommendations"
in which the authors advocate expanding Canada's hate speech laws to explicitly
"protect" women. Moreover, the report pointedly discusses the relevance of
these laws in the section "The Typology of Masculinist Groups." Given that
Canadian law allows the imprisonment of "hate criminals" based solely on
their words, this recommendation is a direct threat against the sites listed.
If this is not the intention, then a retraction and an apology should be
Strenuously denying the obvious. Bouchard claims journalists
have mistaken a report on "the media treatment of school achievement gaps
between boys and girls" to be a "denunciation of some masculinist groups
that use the Internet as a hate-mongering tool aimed at feminists."
The alleged misinterpretation derives not only from the report's content
but also from its title: "School Success by Gender: A Catalyst for the Masculinist
Discourse," which announces the link between "the media treatment" and masculinism.
Even the interview meant to dispel this "misinterpretation" states that the
report "unmasks an ideology that 'claims gender groups [women] are symmetrically
Assigning guilt through association. Bouchard explains how sites
came to be listed in the appendix, "None of the groups state on their Web
pages that they do not wish to be associated or confused with any specific
group of the same type."
Translation: If you are a father's rights site and you do not post a blacklist
of objectionable "same type" sites, then you are deemed to be associated
with them, including those with which you may be unfamiliar. I know of no
site that posts a blacklist of same type sites -- including Status of Women
Canada, which sponsored the report. This is worse than guilt by association.
It is guilt by non-disassociation.
Ad hominem accusations. The narrative leading into Bouchard's
interview opines, "One can only wonder whether media pundits and the Official
Opposition have read the work they are lambasting." Having the honor of being
the only lambasting journalist mentioned by name, I should assure Sisyphe and Ms. Bouchard that I had the dubious pleasure of reading every word of the report.
Creating hysteria. Bouchard's definition of hate mongering is
so broad as to include any site that uses phrases like "ideological feminists"
or "feminihilists." The report reprints one site's image of a swastika altered
to incorporate the "F" of feminism. Underneath are the words: "We are all
tired of feminazism. So stop it, okay?" The report concludes that the message
"is a barely veiled threat by the authors of the site."
This interpretation is puzzling until you read the fast-following sections
entitled "Prohibited Acts Under Section 264 of the Criminal Code of Canada"
and "Legislation Related to Hate Propaganda." Only by misinterpreting a clumsy
insult as a threat can the offending site fall under criminal law.
The use of obscuring jargon. Bouchard explains that the report
required "a number of socio-historical and political factors ... to converge."
Those factors included, "the publication of gendered data that from now on
provided a basis for comparison using indicators" and "the intergenerational
mobilization in modest and middle-income families to promote their girls
The report manages to describe masculinists in clear terms, however, as "groups
[that] are largely composed of white, heterosexual, middle-class men who
have not been successful in coping with the challenge to masculinity posed
by feminism." Lamenting Internet freedom of speech, the report states: "This
accessible and virtually universal medium gives them [masculinists] the opportunity
to say and post almost anything. It is no accident that this medium is being
used by those on the extreme right, pedophiles and pornographers." Thus,
we return to guilt by the loosest of associations.
Using double-thinking double-speak. Bouchard states: "Our recommendations
include no blame for journalists. However, in the report we do criticize
certain processes, such as distorsions [sic] and generalizations ..." The
non-critical criticism is offered to encourage journalists and readers to
"accurately focus on the issue." The report itself seems concerned that naive
journalists are being "fed information" by masculinists. Thus, another recommendation
is to establish a centralized government source of information, presumably
to feed journalists the "accurate focus."
As a piece of research, the report is a farce. As a glimpse into the mindset
of PC feminists, it is fascinating. And, with the Canadian House of Commons
debating whether "a project that is a poorly disguised attack on men and
the family unit" should have received $75,000, no wonder Bouchard is miffed.
Feminism's days of slurping at the public trough may be ending.
Wendy McElroy is the editor of ifeminists.com and a research
fellow for The Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif. She is the author
and editor of many books and articles, including the new book, Liberty for
Women: Freedom and Feminism in the 21st Century (Ivan R. Dee/Independent
Institute, 2002). She lives with her husband in Canada. Reprinted with permission of ifeminists.com.
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