Thursday, December 18, 2003

Rara Avis, Part I

It's people like Wendy McElroy that makes human-watching a rewarding hobby. If identification guides were available for this pursuit as they are for bird-watching, she'd need a whole volume just for herself. What is she exactly?

She is the mother of the modern ifeminism, though she argues that her ideas have many worthy precedents. Ifeminism has its own website, and I have just spent hours there studying and researching the habitat of this odd human. Here's the authoritative definition of ifeminism for those of you who still think it might have something to do with the internet:

Individualist feminism, or ifeminism, advocates the equal treatment of men and women as individuals under just law. The core principle of individualist feminism is that all human beings have a moral and legal claim to their own persons and property. It is sometimes called libertarian feminism.

Clear enough. So McElroy is a feminist with a libertarian slant. Just to double-check on this tentative identification I searched the ifeminist site for more direct evidence, and found it in the FAQ pages of the site:

Why call yourself a 'feminist?' Why not just call yourself an individualist?

Being a feminist is a form of specialization. In fighting for individual rights, some people focus upon injustice to women just as others focus upon injustice to gays or children.

As McElroy calls herself an ifeminist, her focus must be upon injustice to women. At this point I felt very confident about how to classify her: she is a feminist, though one with some unusual views, such as on the proper solution for sexual violence (...Abhorrent as it is, however, it has become evident that the solution to such problems is not more government intervention...), or for domestic violence (...ifeminism recognizes that governments offer little in the way of solutions to domestic violence...) or what to do instead of more government intervention to combat violence (...Firearms have been widely referred to as "the great equalizer" because they give individuals who would otherwise make attractive targets the ability to defend themselves against more powerful attackers....).

There's no logical reason to assume that the government would be any more successful in combating other types of crimes, or firearms any less useful in that chore. It seems, then, that McElroy advocates a return to the mythical Wild West, albeit with a feminist slant.

Deeper investigations into her behavior and principles taught me that she dislikes political correctness and actively hates PC feminism, which she believes is a mainstream view. She must wade in different streams from the rest of humanity...

She is also a weekly commentator for Fox News. Given their wide exposure, her columns seem a perfect source material for finding out what the ifeminists regard as the major problems facing women. I read through roughly six months worth of her columns (from June 10 to December 16 2003), a total of 28 stories, and classified them into the following scientific categories by numbers:

1. Essays advocating improved treatment of men 8 (29%)
2. Essays attacking PC feminism 5 (18%)
3. Essays that aim at both of these goals 3 (10%)
4. Essays attacking political correctness, affirmative action, 11 (40%)
government intervention, gender-based foreign policy, speech
codes and questionable legal practises
5. Essay welcoming the introduction of Christian feminism 1 ( 3%)

My tentative conclusion is that McElroy finds the most serious problem facing women to be the unfair treatment of men. (Though category 4. is more frequent in her writings, it is really a ragbag collection of many unrelated topics, none of which surfaces with the same urgency as the question of men's rights.) Another serious problem for women appears to be the politically correct mainstream feminism that McElroy believes to exist.

These concerns are also reflected in her choice of titles for her columns. For example, the June 10 column is titled The Anti-Male New York Times (Yep. Notice the absence of men in the front page news...), and the July 15 Feminists Slurping at Public Trough (Does this remind anyone of pigs?).

By now I was thoroughly confused, and had to remind myself of the definition of an ifeminist:

Why call yourself a 'feminist?' Why not just call yourself an individualist?

Being a feminist is a form of specialization. In fighting for individual rights, some people focus upon injustice to women just as others focus upon injustice to gays or children
(bolds mine)

What kind of a human is McElroy? Is she a feminist or is she not? Some further digging in her column archives unearthed this gem from the May 13, 2003 essay titled Cut Men - Do not they Bleed?

Judging by the backlash, masculinists are having an impact. I know this personally because my Web site, which advances equal rights for men, has experienced a dramatic increase in harassment and hate mail from gender feminists in recent months. Every blast centers on men's rights.

The tension will only heighten. Men who claim the right to be an active part of their children's lives will not back down. Women who recognize the justice of those claims are not intimidated.
On May 24, the Independent Women's Forum (IWF) published an open "" which spoke of "countless bright young women frustrated by rigid feminist propaganda of male hatred ..." With their funding doubled, IWF announced, "We're issuing fair warning: extreme feminists, get to your foxholes because IWF is on the attack."

The gender war has shifted toward direct confrontation. Men should take heart from that fact. As Gandhi once explained: "First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win."
(bolds mine)

This quotation is not a gem because McElroy uses 'gender war', 'direct confrontation' and Gandhi in the same paragraph, but because it allows my final identification of this rara avis:

Wendy McElroy is an imasculinist.

But why doesn't she call herself that then? I give up. Can someone send me the McElroy volume of the human-identification guide, please?