"The bogus 'war on women' is really nothing but liberal women acting out against bad fathers" is a sentence Mark Judge wrote and posted to the internet on Monday in response to the new Book of Jezebel based on the feminist web site. There were a number of other sentences before and after the one above, which you can read at the Daily Caller. Or, you could let us summarize them for you. While the women who wrote the Book of Jezebel are capable of "humor and a high level of intelligence," Judge writes, their humor is overshadowed by an "angry" tone, something the reviewer doesn't understand but nonetheless believes is destroying America.
The Book of Jezebel is styled after an encyclopedia, edited by Jezebel founder Anna Holmes. While it touches on a bunch of things, Judge seems to take issue the most with the book's depiction of a handful of groups who advocate for anti-feminist policies. Those entries are so problematic that Judge seems to think they speak for themselves: he quotes entries for "Homosexuality," "Antichoice," and "Antifeminists" with virtually no explanation of what, exactly, he finds to be inaccurate. Those entries satirize the core readership of Judge's Daily Caller audience, so perhaps it's obvious to his readers why Antifeminists are not any of these things: "People who object to feminism’s goals, i.e. people who often (willfully) misunderstand feminism and/or huge assholes." But hey, Judge likes the book's entry on hipsters, so maybe peace in our time after all.
Judge's response to the book hits on two major negative responses to feminism found on, but not limited to, the right: that feminists aren't nice, and that things are great for women at this point, so women must be angry about something other than inequality. Judge posits that the entire feminist movement is a result of daddy issues, which feminists avoid addressing by advocating for "a matriarchal utopia," in order (presumably) to punish men for wronging them. There are many different takes on this idea, of what's really wrong with feminists, and what everyone else should do about it. Earlier this weekend, sociology professor Lisa Wade riffed on an anti-sexism UN ad campaign by documenting what Google's autofill said for a variety of search prompts about feminists, like "Feminists are," "Feminists should," and "Feminists can't." Google's results based on past searches? "Feminists are wrong," "Feminists are crazy," "Feminists are annoying," "Feminists need to die," "Feminists need to shut up," and "Feminists need men."
People who oppose feminism are happy to tell feminists these things to their faces. A transgender journalist at a presentation of Microsoft's XBox one was called "it," "thing," and "this one." Pax Dickinson, a man (formerly) with hiring power for tech jobs at Business Insider, openly talked about excluding women from positions in tech on his public Twitter account. Women are told to "lighten up," or to ignore discriminatory remarks and behavior because the person doing it says he or she has good intentions. Women who act with agency against these and other discriminatory, misogynist words and acts are met with desperate, sometimes successful, attempts to remove that agency. Judge infantilizes feminists by comparing them to unloved children, insinuating that feminists contribute an irrational response to American society that deserves to be ignored. Other responses can be more vicious — death threats, insults, public shaming directed at someone who speaks out of turn. While Judge paints feminists as a threat to American society, Hanover, New Hampshire is debating whether a skit by a bunch of high school football players in which a group of them simulated group sex with a woman after she refused their advances depicts a "gang bang" or a "gang rape," as if one term would make the sketch OK for prime time. And those are just examples from the borders of feminism imposed by Judge's response — those of visible, American discourse and media. Some of these responses can and do prompt anger, both from activists and, one would hope, any human being with a beating heart. Others just prompt exasperation from the repetition of it all.
Despite what Judge may think, feminist acts still require asking, or demanding, space in rooms that have for so long been 100 percent men. This is not a made-up problem, and it is hilariously far from demanding the matriarchal utopia that Judge imagines as the endgame. Maybe that's why the absurdity of Judge's overreach has prompted something akin to amusement, and not the feared feminist rage that apparently keeps him up at night.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.