In a brief interview with the New York Times this week, American Enterprise Institute Scholar Christina Hoff Sommers shared wide-ranging thoughts on modern feminism.
Christina Hoff Sommers was first asked to discuss the recent controversy surrounding Betsy DeVos’ decision to kill an Obama-era policy that allowed universities to discipline students who had been accused of sexual misconduct based only upon a preponderance of the evidence, the lowest possible legal standard.
“In the past few years, many of our campuses have descended into a kind of sexual McCarthyism where due process was suspended and the presumption of innocence was replaced by ‘guilty because accused,'” Sommers argued. “An untold number of college students have been subjected to injustices in these campus rape tribunals. The important thing is to establish due process. The standard of guilt is important, but not nearly as important as due process, where both sides are fully informed of the process and allowed to question the legitimacy of the evidence.”
Sommers was asked to explain her “equity feminism” theory.
“Equity feminism is just about gender equity. It wants for women what it wants for everyone — fair treatment, respect, and dignity,” she explained. “On today’s campus, equity feminism has been eclipsed by what I call “fainting couch feminism,” which views women as fragile and easily traumatized. It calls for special protections for women in sexual assault cases because it views women as an oppressed and silenced class.”
Others have marked an important distinction between Sommers’ brand of second-wave feminism and modern feminism. Second-wave feminists are more likely to believe that there are inherent biological differences between the sex that leads to different patterns of behavior, interests, and attitudes.
Sommers often refers to modern feminism as “victim feminism.”
“I think the rape culture theory was just an outgrowth of this infantilized view of women,” she explained. “The fainting couchers enlarged the meaning of sexual assault to include a lot of activities that most of us don’t think of as sexual assault. They collapsed the distinction between regretted sex and rape. An equity feminist does not assume that all sex under the influence is assault, or that men are automatically to blame. That’s not to say that sexual assault isn’t a real problem on campus.”