I may never read THE FEMINISTS (art uncredited, all rights to cover image remain with current holder) as used copies are quite pricey (I’m guessing this book was not popular enough to merit a large print run). But reviews on Infinity Plus and Schlock Value make it clear the cover copy is spot on. Feminists brutally rule the US, het sex is criminalized, but a band of rebels fighting for sexual equality brings down the government (I have a suspicion Cooper’s concept of equality might not be mine). While I can’t review a book I haven’t read, it does bring to mind two Undead Sexist Cliches.
Feminism = dystopia. Of course it’s a staple of right-wing thought since second-wave feminists started pushing for equality that feminists want anything but equality. They criticize stuff guys do, ergo they hate men (another staple assumption) so if they’re in charge it will be a nightmare for men.
Of course simply reversing the sexual roles could create a plausible dystopia: guys are sexually harassed, get passed over for promotion, get ignored when they speak. Few feminist dystopias settle for that (probably because that would require thinking uncomfortable thoughts about the way the real world works). Instead, men are completely downtrodden: brainwashed or drugged to kill their aggression because women don’t approve of healthy virile maleness; told they’re inferior; outright enslaved. And the message invariably turns out to be “women in charge is bad” rather than “equality is better” (if Corley really is preaching equality, points to him).
I should add that second-wave feminism itself isn’t the issue. Edgar Rice Burroughs portrayed female-run societies as a Bad Thing years earlier. In the otherwise excellent Tarzan and the Ant Men, there’s a B plot involving an Amazonian society. Things are eventually fixed when the men rise up and beat up on the women, who immediately fall in love with their manly masculinity.
Feminists hate sex, but they’re also insatiable. Feminists have pulled off the neat trick of being condemned for both extremes — they want hot slutty sex but they also hate sex, or at least they hate sex with men. Not that the same people on the right believe both things, but it is interesting both stereotypes exist.
The sex-hater USC comes about because feminists do actually criticize what used to be taken for granted: spousal rape, date rape, sexual harassment. As Rush Limbaugh put it, if there’s no consent, feminists first response is to call in the rape police (he meant this as a bad thing). So obviously they hate sex and don’t realize boys will be boys and women love it when boys are boys, damn those feminazis. National Review, which usually holds itself out as a bastion of traditional morality, had hissy fits when one feminist group suggested it was unsafe for women to get trashed at frat parties (this was after one batch of campus rape cases) — my god, don’t they realize getting drunk and having a drunken hookup is an American tradition? It fits with the feminists are anti-fun and humorless meme that’s been popular for decades.
At the same time, feminists support the right of women to use birth control, to get inoculated against the HPV virus, and not to be slut-shamed. Ergo, they want women to be slutty and give up their virtue which is the treasured possession of all real women. After all none of this would be a problem if women would just say no, just like sexual harassment and rape wouldn’t be problems if girls behaved properly.
So feminists are both sluts and prudes. Go figure
(Clementine Ford, I should note, makes the same point but funnier).
10 responses to “Undead sexist cliches: Feminists are slutty dystopian prudes”
Interesting that this book seems to be yet another of the many creative works (books, movies, video games etc) that predicted horrible things happening in the 1990s. What a dystopian decade *that* was going to be, in the eyes of so many writers, directors and the like! In retrospect, it all ended up being rather anticlimactic…
Like you, I haven’t read “The Feminists”, but I share your suspicion that the “heroes” of that novel aren’t really interested in “true equality”. I suspect that like the real-life “men’s rights activists” for which the aforementioned concept is a favourite rallying cry, their agenda is really more along the lines of “a return to traditional gender roles”[*], if not something even more sinister.
I’ve probably encountered a few feminist dystopias myself over the years, in the books I’ve read and other media I’ve consumed. At least one of the books in the (otherwise excellent) Stainless Steel Rat series by Harry Harrison, for example, featured one (along with the accompanying cliche, which you mentioned yourself, of the women in that society swooning over the first man who acts in a stereotypically masculine fashion). I also remember seeing a rather silly example on the old British comedy series, The Two Ronnies. Portrayed in a multi-episode series called “The Worm That Turned”, it depicted a Britain that had been turned into a matriarchy, and featured another contradiction that often appears in these sorts of works: despite being the “superior” sex, the women oppress and humiliate their male subjects by forcing them to dress in female attire and otherwise “feminizing” them. If the women in these societies really are men’s betters, why would being made to imitate them be seen as so degrading?
*And isn’t it funny how so many conservatives seem to see *that* as the panacea for all of society’s ills?
“*And isn’t it funny how so many conservatives seem to see *that* as the panacea for all of society’s ills?” Isn’t it though.
As you say, I don’t think MRAs really want that–traditional gender roles would still put more of an obligation on them to respect women than they want. Something closer to the Handmaid’s Tale would suit them nicely.
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