Every once in a while, I check out what John Bambenek has written for the Daily Illini, and every time I regret it. He writes with this bizarre combination of seething anger, pompous self-righteousness, and Freeper-esque zealotry. His letter published in today's DI is no exception. Today he's blathering on about some very odd concept of feminism, one that seems to bear no resemblance to real feminism.
He begins reasonably enough:
Originally, feminism was about changing attitudes, particularly that women are of equal dignity as men. Women can be just as capable to become doctors, lawyers, CEOs or politicians. Far from being merely sperm receptacles, they are people entitled to the full balance of human dignity. The rallying call of these feminists was "love me for my mind, not just my body."
It's hard to disagree with most of that, though I would suggest the origins of feminism largely originated with the radical request of "Hello, may I vote too, please?" However, though I haven't studied the history of the movement in great detail, I don't think feminism was much about "being loved" so much as the idea that women should be allowed to take part in society just as much as men.
Then we find out that feminism has been hijacked by ... those damn, evil, feminists:
Enter groups such as the Feminist Majority at the University of Illinois. The motto of this group and those like it can be described as "love me for my body ... PLEASE!" The slogans they chose to put on their T-shirts revolve around sex toys and genitalia. In psychology this would be called a "fixation."
No, I think in psychology, this would be called a T-shirt. They usually have short, witty, and often slightly provocative sayings on them. Quickly glancing at some available T-shirts at cafepress.com, I found such slogans as, "I reject your reality and substitute my own," "I'm not a gynecologist ... but I'll take a look," and "You say potato ... I say fuck you." Now, these T-shirt slogans and those wearing them are not actually supporting schizophrenia, medical malpractice, or overdoing it with carbs. They're just trying to be funny. It's not a good idea to attempt to analyze a whole movement based on what's printed clothing handed out on a college campus.
It's not even clear what shirts Bambeneck was referring to. He doesn't say. But I did check out the Feminist Majority at UIUC's webpage, and I couldn't find anything about sex toys or genitalia, much to my inner straight man's disappointment. I did, however, find a mission statement saying that they make their "best efforts to inform the student population about the issues related to women's rights and equality in society." I also found information on women's health issues, and links to other sites, at least two of which are dedicated to stopping domestic violence. Links to the sellers of dildos and vibrators? Not a one. Not even a measly French tickler.
Then the gloves come off and the real derangement begins:
Women traditionally have been looked upon as sexual objects. So what do these neofeminists do? ... They've gone one step further from the prostitution of women to preaching harlotry. The difference between a prostitute and a harlot is that the prostitute at least has enough self respect to demand payment for services rendered.
Wow. I can almost see the flecks of foam at the corners of Bambi's mouth now. On a thou-shalt-not-judge scale of 1 to 10, where Preacher Dan is a 5 and Fred Phelps is a 14, that rates about a 7.
Now he gets to what evil, evil feminism has cost us:
It has lead to the rejection of the biggest trait distinctive of women - motherhood.
For you women readers ... and who the hell taught you to read anyway? A waste of perfectly good time that could have been better used teaching you to cook and sew, if you ask me. Anyway, for you women readers we now see what your options in life are:
You may pick only one. You can be a raving feminist slut that spreads her legs for any man that comes along, or you can be an innocent chaste virgin that thinks babies are left under cabbage leaves who is gently deflowered on her wedding night to the sound of harpsichord music and the fluttering of angels' wings.
Seriously, this apparent inability of Bambi's to visualize a woman as anything other than the Whore of Babylon or an automated progeny cannon seems positively unhealthy.
(And what's up with this being printed as a "letter," anyway? Has his tenure as a DI columnist ended, or does this have something to do with the fact that the DI suspended all staff-written editorials a few weeks ago for an unstated reason?)
UPDATE: Bambenek himself visited and comments:
Argumentum ad hominem. I win.
First of all, Bambenek doesn't get to call women "sluts" and "harlots" and them complain about ad hominem attacks. It's a rule. There's even a word for that. Hippo-something...
Secondly, mine wasn't even an ad hominem argument. That's when someone ridicules the arguer rather than the argument. I was pointing out, in a biting, witty, and sarcastic manner, that Bambenek's argument was one giant false dilemma. Namely, that the only possible options he presented were that women are all raving whores or vestal virgins. That's it. Nothing in between. I didn't even get around to pointing out the false statement about the Guttmacher statistics (they don't even list "sexual convenience" as one of the reasons women have abortions, 25% do so because of concerns for their health or the health of the fetus). Then there's the fact that his whole letter is a straw man argument that feminism (oh, excuse me, "neo-feminism") tells women to hump anything even slightly pointy. He also vaguley quotes "studies" which I can't seem to find. I did a Google Scholar search for "inner-slut mentality" and came up with no hits. I suspect that, even if he did find some sort of study, it doesn't say what he thinks it says.
Need I even mention how he portrays women as the Guardian of the Temple of Chastity, while men are simply slathering, mindless slaves to their urges that bear no moral responsibility of their own? It's a mild form of the same attitude that forces women to wear the burqua in Middle Eastern countries: men are unable to control themselves when it comes to those "feminine wiles," so it's the women who are to be blamed if they have sex.
UPDATE II: Feministing also has a good slap-down of Bambenek's "argument."
UPDATE III: Bambenek also posted this over at Blogcritics.org, where there has been a few interesting comments. The first commenter is skeptical asks John to explain what studies he was talking about that inspired his "devastation from the inner-slut mentality" line. John responds with:
How fundamentally unamerican for you to tell me what I can and cannot say. This is America, you don't tell me what I can and can't say, you don't pre-select who gets to talk about issues, and you don't get to stack the deck.
Um, no. Someone asking you to put your money where your mouth is when you spout off about dubious "facts" isn't censorship.