Why No One Cares About Feminist Theory

Why No One Cares About Feminist Theory, by James Lindsay.

Let’s be real about something important: nobody actually cares what feminist scholars think or why they think it. Truth be told, this isn’t surprising. Feminist scholarship is a peculiar academic backwater that nobody should pay any attention to — and it’s probable that nobody would if it weren’t becoming so painfully influential.

That outsized influence is also unsurprising. People care very much about gender equality and about women’s rights — in both the US and the UK, gender equality enjoys the support of roughly four out of five people. …

… I’m even more compelled by “shrill” feminist popularizer Lindy West’s recent tirade against men in the the New York Times. Even more worrying, this screed echoes feminist scholar Lisa Wade’s weeks-earlier definitely-not-man-hating assertion that “the problem is not toxic masculinity; it’s that masculinity is toxic,” and that “we need to call masculinity out as a hazardous ideology and denounce anyone who chooses to identify with it.” For those who don’t realize, “toxic masculinity” is a technical term originating from within feminist theorizing, not some cute turn of phrase invented by edgy writers with an axe to grind.

At this point, we must really pause to ask ourselves how feminist theory is leaking into popular culture, and the reason is that it’s activism-driven scholarship. It has an agenda: this agenda, to remake society in its own image. …

Like … the explanation of a really trippy dream someone else had and insists on telling you about … , feminist theory bears almost every hallmark characteristic of the un-care-about-able: …

  • It sounds like conspiracy theories (because it utilizes several, such as “patriarchy,” “hegemonic masculinity,” “rape culture,” and “hegemonic femininity”).
  • It gets presented in obscurantist technical jargon (like that you only disagree because of your “privilege-preserving epistemic pushback”) and its own specialized colloquial language that excludes the uninitiated.
  • It goes almost completely unread, not only by everyone outside the field, but also by almost everyone inside the field too (more than 80% of its papers do not receive a single citation). …

It isn’t merely that feminist theorizing isn’t interesting or intelligible to outsiders, it’s that it evolved in a way that sequesters itself away from the majority of other rational thought. …

It has set up a self-protective system (as do nearly all conspiracy theories) in which criticism of feminist theory is understood to validate feminist theory. … Under feminist theory, which is deeply dependent upon postmodern thought, knowledge is believed to be constructed by “dominant discourses,” and feminism, particularly intersectional feminism, is taken to be the true defender of marginalized voices, including those allegedly of women.

Worse than this, because of its beliefs about these structures of power, to criticize feminist theory is to violate a moral taboo against gender equality. Critics of feminist theory, even in purely scholarly terms, are easily derided as being complicit in sexism …

Scholarship that refuses to be criticized isn’t scholarship; it’s an age-old mimic known as sophistry — the kind of philosophical-looking poppycock that assumes its conclusions and writes endlessly in circles trying to hide that fact.

As is pretty obvious to anyone rational who has encountered feminist theory.