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Bronze-level article

Christina Hoff Sommers

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Conservative Christina Hoff Sommers. Taken during a radio interview with Steven Crowder (2016).
Voice of the voiceful
Men's rights
Icon antifeminism test2.svg
Lest women catch up
Bros before hoes

Dr. Christina Marie "Based Mom" Hoff Sommers (born September 28, 1950) is a self-described "equity" or "factual feminist" (a phrase she coined in 1994, and one which ranks right up there with race realist)[1][2][3][4][5][6][7] who writes for the American Enterprise Institute alongside such other feminist luminaries as Dinesh D'Souza and Jonah Goldberg. The fact that David Frum, a senior editor of The Atlantic and regular CNN contributor, is giving her glowing reviews should really tell you something.

Christina Sommers earned her B.A. from New York University and her Ph.D. in Philosophy from Brandeis University, and identifies as a classical liberal who votes Democrat. Despite her insistence to the contrary, it's very clear that she's a conservative anti-feminist, given she's the one who practically created (alongside Warren FarrellWikipedia's W.svg) the modern anti-feminist cause as well as working for a Republican-aligned think tank that basically provides pseudo-academic justifications for the right's policies. The fact this is ignored by her MRA fanbase is very telling.

If ever there was an example of brilliant propaganda, her entire career since publishing "Who Stole Feminism?" is that example. The fact that well-meaning rightists think she's actually a bonafide feminist rather than a poser engaging in embrace, extend, extinguish speaks volumes to the success of American conservatism at delegitimizing American feminism.

Let me tell you a story to chill the bones[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Concern troll

According to Sommers, she was a "60s flower child" but made an abrupt U-turn to focus on gender equality. She characterizes the third-wave feminists as imposters[8] and members of a "movement that has abandoned equality in order to recruit for the struggle against the 'patriarchy'."[9]

C.H. spearheaded the anti-feminist movement in her 2000 book The War Against Boys, soon to be followed by Camille Paglia's It's a Man's World, and Always Will Be in 2003 and Kate O'Beirne's Women Who Make the World Worse in 2005.[No, not The Onion] The hypothesis of War Against Boys is that girls do well in school only because liberals have enacted social-engineering polices to make boys fall behind.[10][11] She has accused best-selling Leninist pamphlets such as Redbook, Mademoiselle, Good Housekeeping, and Parenting of advancing a "big-government message" which "gives Democrats a clear advantage."[12] Is denying the existence of sexism all "Factual Feminists" do with their time?

Who Stole Feminism and War Against Boys each claim that modern feminism has abandoned gender equality for a nebulously defined "justice" which has produced a generation of vilified males. Sommers' case does not hold up. She persistently misrepresents scholarly debate, ignores evidence that contradicts her assertions, and directs intense scrutiny at studies she opposes while giving a free critical ride to research she supports.[13]

As evidence of this supposed classroom prejudice against boys, Sommers told the audience that schools are replacing boys’ favorite game, “tag,” with a more female-friendly alternative called “circle of friends.” Sommers has been winding people up with this story for more than a decade: It shows up in The War Against Boys; in her 2005 book One Nation Under Therapy; in an interview that year on The Daily Show; and in a Q&A last week with NRO. So what schools, exactly, have outlawed tag? When Jon Stewart asked her, Sommers awkwardly backtracked: “Well, this is recommended in a book called Quit It, which is an anti-bullying curriculum.” In other words: “circle of friends” might be a real thing somewhere; it might not. Tag is not under threat. And neither, contrary to Sommers's claims, are American men.[14]

Backers[edit]

She is also a board member of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and a member of the conservative think tank AEI. The National Women's Political Caucus, an organization that seeks to promote women in the political sphere, awarded her the "2013 Exceptional Merit in Media Award", for an article she wrote for the New York Times, "The Boys at the Back".[15] She is also affiliated with PragerU, a neocon creationist online think tank founded by Dennis Prager.

The fine art of Factual Feminism[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Cherrypicking

You hear constantly of C.H. using up trumped-up and seemingly lazy statistics to support her point of view. Sommers was exposed for this practice as early as 1994,[16] but for a concrete example, see her video on rape stats.[17] She happened to refer to statistics from the year with the fewest rapes in the last decade. Not to mention that the stat she references is the annual number of rapes, which she compares without explanation to a lifetime rape figure.

Another example of this would include her video on women's representation in STEM.[18] Almost all of her argument reeks of boilerplate conservative bullshit (including the arrogant video title "The REAL Reason There Aren't More Female Scientists"), ranging from the insinuation that women choose certain STEM disciplines less because of biological differences (this at least is something Steven Pinker espouses, though not to the same degree) to the assumption that, because certain STEM fields have a large representation in women, other STEM fields that aren't cannot possibly discriminate against women. The tech industry is little over 10% female.[19] This inherent assumption that discrimination based on gender is completely out of the question is typical of the American right, as acknowledging this will mean having to severely revise their worldview.

It is becoming quite clear to anyone outside the reactionary anti-feminist echo chamber that anyone who claims to have been a feminist and to have taught gender studies who engages in this kind of odious lie by omission (which, given her experience teaching philosophy, she knows is false (gender structuralism anyone?)) is engaging in political manipulation. However you slice it, it's starting to look less like carelessness or lack of experience, and more like a deliberate act of intentional sophistry to help push an agenda.

"Rape hysteria"[edit]

Sommers' 2014 article begins with the mismanagement of a sexual assault case, leading into a list of men who have filed lawsuits against their schools. Keep in mind that while Sommers' first story is substantiated by evidence, these other cases are not, but she's happy enough to lump them together. Plus, even if all of these cases were mismanaged, it wouldn't justify her claim that "Presumed guilty is the new legal principle where sex is concerned". Sommers then goes on to present examples of supposed rape hysteria, her first example being Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines", and an attempt to ban him from singing it at (of all places) Boston University. Robin Thicke is not under arrest. No one is falsely accusing him of rape. And no one is stopping him from releasing his music.

The next section of the article is about child abduction hysteria, which is fine so long as it links back to campus rape hysteria, but of course it doesn't. It gets a little more complicated here, because she links to another Time article by Cathy Young[20] (which in turn links off to its own sources) to prove that rape surveys are biased. Young can't prove it, so she instead zeroes in on one study: 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Study by Christoper Krebs et al.[21] Young makes the criticism that his survey got a low response rate, although "low" in this case does mean a few thousand students for whatever that's worth. She does, however, criticize the study for lumping together rapes performed on intoxicated individuals and rapes performed on "incapacitated" individuals. Suddenly it becomes not-rape when a rapist is lucky enough not to traumatize the victim during the act.

Young references, at this point, WaPo's Glenn Kessler,[22] who posited that campus rape actually happens at a rate closer to 1 in 20 or 1 in 30 women. He starts off with the crime statistics from a lone university. Weirdly, Kessler himself refers to the 12% figure as an "assumption" but uses it as a mathematical tool anyway. It's also interesting that Young, and by proxy Sommers, would base their figures on Kessler who only uses the crime statistics of one university. She criticized the Christopher Krebs study for surveying only two universities.

Sommers moves onto another study:

A much-cited CDC study, for example, first tells respondents: “Please remember that even if someone uses alcohol or drugs, what happens to them is not their fault.” Then it asks: “When you were drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent, how many people ever had vaginal sex with you.” [...] The CDC counted all such sexual encounters as rapes.

Sommers is vilifying the CDC for telling rape victims that they shouldn't blame themselves. (Fool, it means that the victims are more likely to answer openly and honestly.)

So what's Sommers’ idea of a reputable study? She points to the DOJ's "Violent Victimization of College Students" paper.[23] This data is 22 years out of date. Also, the data is all pulled from the National Crime Victimization Survey. The CDC have criticized the survey,[24] but Sommers concludes from it that 1 in 40 women on college campuses are the victims of rape. She can massage the figures all she wants, but C.H. is basically saying the government should stand idly by and do nothing when 1 in 40 young women in higher education are the victims of violent crime.

Sommers closes with some meaningless conjecture. Anybody who says that campus rapes are higher than she does is a "conspiracy feminist". She then pulls the "Boys will be Boys" “Believe the Children" card, comparing it to the child abuse "experts" during the preschool scare.Wikipedia's W.svg Whew.[25]

It's also very ironic that she finishes by saying that rape victims will be helped by good research, even though she just spent the last five minutes doing sloppy research and doing everything she could to stall progress on the issue.

Ethics in video game journalism[edit]

In September 2014, the American Enterprise Institute YouTube channel uploaded a video in their “Factual Feminist” series titled “Are video games sexist?”, in which host Sommers refutes arguments by feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian. As the video began circulating online, Gamergaters began referring to Sommers as “Based Mom”, a Freudian nightmare we'll have to leave for another time.[26] On October 28th, 2014, Ronan Farrow interviewed Sommers about #gamergate on MSNBC.[27]

Sommers has yet to address the fact that she used a 31-year-old man's sock as her example of a "minority female gamer".[28] It came out later that the "white lesbian" in the story was actually a black guy, months afterwards.[citation needed] Look, do you expect her to keep track of every single detail?

Views on modern feminism[edit]

Sommers doesn't take kindly to feminists of the left persuasion. It's not exactly a trade secret: she either calls them "conspiracy-minded", or proponents of "establishment" feminism. Or just flat-out ignores field researchers like Janet Afary, who actually concern themselves with statistics and women's rights in the Middle East.

On the Middle East[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Fatwa envy

The only times she speaks on women's movements in the Middle East is to say they deserve more attention from western feminists.[29][30] Perhaps channelling "Dear Muslima", she constantly berates SJWs for exaggerating women's issues in their countries while urging them to be more vocal about the plight of "Islamic" women. She doesn't care about the victims so much, it's more about being controversial to promote her own brand.

If you think her affiliation with AEI doesn't dictate her political agenda, then just do a search for "Iran" versus "Saudi" on her Twitter page and see how much copy she devotes to the Saudis. She did praise Phyllis Chesler as "a tireless and eloquent champion of the rights of women for more than four decades who unlike her tongue-tied colleagues in the academy, does not hesitate to speak out against Muslim mistreatment of women".[31] Chesler's support for the subjugated women of the Muslim world includes advocating an official ban of face covering in schools and public offices,[32] which, aside from the symbolic significance, forces Muslims who wear the burqa to stay home and contributes to their disenfranchisement.

On the AAUW[edit]

Sommers harshly criticizes women's organizations like the American Association of University WomenWikipedia's W.svg (AAUW) in her book Who Stole Feminism, in publications like The National Review, and in public forums. She writes of the AAUW:

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) issued two reports in the early Nineties that were harmfully wrong. AAUW researchers claimed to show how "our gender biased" classrooms were damaging the self-esteem of the nation’s girls and holding them back academically. That was simply not true... If the AAUW were serious about improving the climate on campus, it could start by looking for ways to reason with the V-Day enthusiasts to discourage their antics... Campuses need effective policies against genuine harassment. They do not need the divisive gender politics of the AAUW spin sisters. The AAUW’s statistically challenged, chronically mistaken, and relentlessly male-averse "studies" should not be taken seriously.

Sommers' criticisms prompted a response by the AAUW:

Unfortunately, Who Stole Feminism? is not about making positive societal change or changing behavior to create a more equitable society for women and girls. Rather, AAUW perceives the book to be an attack on scholars, women's organizations, and higher education. Contrary to what Sommers contends, there is nothing in any of our research about terms she uses—domination, subjugation, victimization, or oppression... Ours is not a radical agenda despite Sommers' characterization of AAUW. We are about positive societal change... Our research looks for solutions and is based on facts, not anecdotes or soundbites. The important thing to remember is that this debate is not about AAUW; it's about the children in this country. What is important is that our daughters and sons reach their full potential.[33]

On gender noncomformity[edit]

Toy companies aren’t interested in ideology, they want to sell toys. If they would sell a toy that both boys and girls would buy, it doubles profits.
—Sommers[34]

Sommers has made herself a nice side career as a parental watchdog. She argues over and over that men have been brainwashed from birth by feminists—starting with co-ed classes and the prohibiting of roughhousing, and continuing on with "gender-neutral" toy advertisements. Who is behind this dangerous intervention in the toy-marketing business? Why, the scheming Nordic elites.[35]

On affirmative action[edit]

Christina Sommers has a particular dislike of the methods used to promote the percentage values of women in traditionally male-dominated fields. On the contentious application of Title IX in relation to female representation in STEM, she says

Title IX programs in the sciences could stigmatize women and cheapen their hard-earned achievements.
Regarding women's studies departments, which often promote female representation in traditionally male fields, she claims "The professors peddle a skewed and inflammatory message 'Women are from Venus, men are from Hell'".[36] Perhaps if she were more knowledgeable of astronomy she wouldn't be so eager to contrast Venus with Hell.

On abortion[edit]

Sommers was a strong proponent of abortion rights in the '70s and '80s, but has moderated her support for abortion in more recent times.[37] Her primary concern with abortion is what she perceives to be an all-encompassing "agenda" promoting abortion even when the woman herself, due to religious or personal values, disagrees. Another, tangential reason for her lukewarm support for abortion rights is a perceived notion that third-wave feminists have somehow hijacked the movement, in another move to solidify "privileges" above the median for women.

When the debate turned to abortion rights, Hoff-Sommers cited polling data showing that while 34% of American women believe that abortion is morally acceptable, 51% of American women believe that abortion is morally wrong. “The nation is engaged in a contentious argument over a moral dilemma,” said Hoff Sommers, who identified herself as pro-choice. “I find it appalling that there is such a disregard for what is in fact a majority of our countrymen who view it differently, and some passionately. Rather than attack them as somehow engaged in some kind of dark conspiracy against women’s bodies, we have to understand why they hold these positions… and why it’s not going away as a moral question.”

Her association with American conservatism as well as her status as its de facto anti-feminist outreach officer might be why she takes such a middling stance on abortion. You have to hear out both sides, right?

On sexual harassment[edit]

Moving further, she's recently taken the chance to dump on the #MeToo movement, calling it the possibility for a witch hunt. The "Factual Feminist" spouts shallow platitudes about how we all need to get along and takes the time to attack "Grace," the pseudonym of the woman who relented to Aziz Ansari's advances under fear that she would be attacked by him if she didn't give in by focusing a majority of her attack on correcting the banality of statistics. All the while she ignores that most women will face violence from a husband or intimate acquaintance and even goes so far as to say that being slapped on the butt ala Al Franken and similar actions should be forgiven since stunts like that are just boorishness as opposed to outright being raped.[38][39]

It is becoming increasingly clear that Sommers' entire purpose is to play on libertarians/conservatives' inherent programming to ignore any kind of systemic issue and to viciously downplay any inequity capitalism creates on its own as a means of pandering to conservative men in positions of power that hate the idea of having to give up some power to women.

Blundering into actual feminism[edit]

Sommers was one of a handful who stood up for Michelle Fields, the Breitbart writer who was manhandled by a Trump staffer at a campaign event. The response from the GamerGate community was poor.[40]

Back when Malala Yousafzai was speaking out against the Taliban and their horrendous treatment of women, Sommers was supportive of her.[41]

While these two actions are, on the surface, commendable, given her history of anti-feminist pandering, it's profoundly unlikely that these are being done out of the goodness of her character.

Being a neoconservative talking head, she has an active incentive in opposing Donald Trump and his consciousness raising apparatus as much as possible. Moreover, her relentless concern trolling about how feminists don't care about women in the third world might be why she seems to care about Malala. Furthermore, her proven track record of being absolutely crappy on sexual assault means she could not care less about poor Ms Fields' ordeal, only doing so to take a crap on the Donald.

DINO[edit]

Sommers oftentimes likes to claim that she is a "Registered Democrat". However, her affiliation with the AEI, a decidedly pro-Republican think tank, and her association with dark money conservative organizations, this is complete crap designed to act as a smokescreen.

See also[edit]

  • David Horowitz - Her male counterpart. Once a member of the New Left, now a beloved voice for the fringe right.
  • Paul Elam — Everything she says is baseless and insulting to women, and that's why her writing is catnip to MRAs. Paulie isn't too happy about his audience being stolen.[42]
  • Laci Green – Her millennial counterpart after the latter's recent redpilling.

Videos[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Anderson, Kristen J., Modern Misogyny: Anti-Feminism in a Post-Feminist Era. Published by Oxford University Press.
  2. Lisa Sowle Cahill, Elaine Wainwright and Diego Irarrázaval, Gender and Theology, published by SCM Press.
  3. Johnson, Barbara, The Feminist Difference: Literature, Psychoanalysis, Race, and Gender. Printed by Harvard University Press.
  4. Mendible, Myra, Race 2008: Critical Reflections on an Historic Campaign Chapter by Françoise Coste. Printed by BrownWalker Press.
  5. Projansky, Sarah, Watching Rape: Film and Television in Postfeminist Culture. Published by New York University Press.
  6. Becky Francis and Christine Skelton, Reassessing Gender and Achievement: Questioning Contemporary Key Debates. Published by Routledge.
  7. Pollit, Katha, Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on Women, Politics, and Culture. Published by MODERN LIBRARY, part of Random House, Inc.
  8. Sommers, C. (1994). Who stole feminism?: How women have betrayed women (p. 22). New York: Simon & Schuster.
  9. Who Stole Feminism? page 23.
  10. Sommers, "The War Against Boys", Atlantic May 2000.
  11. Sommers, "chool Has Become Too Hostile to Boys", TIME 8.19.13.
  12. Sommers, "THE DEMOCRATS' SECRET WOMAN WEAPON", WaPo 1.9.97.
  13. [1] The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men; Reviewed by E. Anthony Rotundo, who is the author of "American Manhood: Transformations in Masculinity from the Revolution to the Modern Era." He also teaches at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. Washington Post; July 2, 2000
  14. National Review Wages a Lonely War on the "War on Women" The New Republic
  15. Christina Hoff Sommers, "The Boys at the Back" New York Times, Feb. 2, 2013
  16. "The ‘Stolen Feminism’ Hoax, Anti-Feminist Attack Based on Error-Filled Anecdotes", Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) 1 September 1994.
  17. "Sexual Assault in America: Do we know the true numbers?"
  18. The real reason there aren't more female scientists. Youtube, 30 June 2014.
  19. The Origins of Diversity Data in Tech. The Atlantic, 3 February 2018.
  20. Young, Cathy, "The CDC's Rape Numbers Are Misleading", 17 September 2014.
  21. Christopher P. Krebs, Christine H. Lindquist, Tara D. Warner, Bonnie S. Fisher, and Sandra L. Martin, "The Campus Sexual Assault (CSA) Study", December 2007.
  22. Kessler, Glenn, "One in five women in college sexually assaulted: the source of this statistic", WaPo 1 May 2014.
  23. Hart, Timothy C., [https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/vvcs00.pdf "National Crime Victimization Survey, 1995-2000: Violent Victimization of College Students"], Department of Justice.
  24. Patricia Tjaden and Nancy Thoennes, "Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women: Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey", CDC November 2000.
  25. Sommers, "Rape Culture is a 'Panic Where Paranoia, Censorship, and False Accusations Flourish'", TIME 15 May 2014.
  26. Futrelle, David, "The Five Creepiest Gamergate Fan Art Tributes to Christina Hoff Somers aka Based Mom (with bonus annoying gif)", We Hunted the Mammoth 11.29.14.
  27. #Gamergate interview with Christina Hoff Somers, MSNBC.
  28. Walchots, Natalie, "Gamergate: The Greatest Trick The Devil Ever Pulled", The Establishment 11.18.15.
  29. 24 May 2014 Tweet, 5:46 AM, @CHSommers.
  30. Sommers, "The Subjection of Islamic Women", Weekly Standard May 21 2014 issue.
  31. Sommers, "The Subjection of Islamic Women", AEI 21 May 2007.
  32. Chesler, Phyllis, "Ban the Burqa? The Argument in Favor", Middle East Forum Fall 2010, pp. 33-45.
  33. American Association of University Women Memorandum March 1995
  34. "Is There a War Against Boys?", Think Tank transcript 7.29.00.
  35. Sommers, "You Can Give a Boy a Doll, but You Can't Make Him Play With It", Atlantic 12.6.12.
  36. Houppert, Karen (November 7, 2002). "Wanted: a Few Good Girls". The Nation. Archived from the original on February 1, 2012. Retrieved 2012-02-01.
  37. http://www.law.nyu.edu/news/ESTLUND_WOMENS_ISSUES_2012_ELECTION She mentions this about halfway through.
  38. 9 February 2018 Tweet 6:21 PM, @CHSommers.
  39. 1992 July Kellerman AL, Marcy JA
  40. Futrelle, David, "Anime Nazis turn on Christina Hoff Sommers after she stands up for assaulted reporter", We Hunted the Mammoth 3.31.16.
  41. 10 Oct 2013 Tweet, 2:42 PM, @CHSommers.
  42. Futrelle, David, "Paul Elam attacks Christina Hoff Sommers as a 'crypto-misandric privilege-seeking gender parasite.'", We Hunted the Mammoth 2.22.15.