The MRAs have a new list! A list of evil, man-hating quotations, that is. This list, put together by A Voice for Male Students, has a rather pretentious title: “The language of misandry in academia: a collection of quotes by faculty members, students, and administrators.”
And it comes with a rather high-minded introduction by list-collator Jonathan Taylor, declaring that
misandry in academia is not merely a collection of infrequent and disassociated anomalies arising from individuals uninfluenced by supportive or acquiescent peer groups. On the contrary, it is culturally pervasive in academia in a way that cannot be reasonably characterized as incidental or coincidental.
Indeed, Taylor hopes that his list will be
a useful resource for those new to men’s issues in academia. It should also be useful to advocates as a “go-to” resource for identifying and referring others the kind of hostile learning environment that has become pervasive in certain academic circles.
Given all this, you might expect his list of quotes to be a little more carefully vetted than the typical cut-and-pasted lists of Terrible Feminist Quotes that are passed around on the internet by antifeminists. You may recall that when I and a few others fact-checked one of these lists a while back we discovered that many of the quotes were either taken out of context in a misleading way, or made up, or taken from fictional works. Or were from people no one had ever heard of an who might not have been feminists at all.
Even a quick glance at Taylor’s list reveals that it has a lot in common with these lists: alongside a number of quotations from well-known radical feminists like Catharine MacKinnon and Mary Daly, he includes quotes from little-known academics and an assortment of random student activists, one of them identified only as “Ginny.” How typical are any of these views in academia? Taylor makes no attempt to find out.
The list doesn’t confine itself to feminists, quoting from one “traditionalist women’s college group” and even from Margaret Thatcher.
And many of the quotes are scanty — simple one liners — which leads me to wonder if there is anything in the context that makes these sometimes shocking quotations a bit less shocking.
Still others aren’t actually “misandrist” at all.
I don’t have the time or the energy to fact-check all of these quotes — nor do I have access to the academic journals many of them came from.
But several of them grabbed my attention, and I was able to track down the original quotes in context — only to discover that Taylor’s abridged quotes completely distort their original meanings.
Let’s start with this truncated quote from Marilyn French:
“As long as some men use physical force to subjugate females, all men need not. The knowledge that some men do suffices to threaten all women. He can beat or kill the woman he claims to love; he can rape women…he can sexually molest his daughters… THE VAST MAJORITY OF MEN IN THE WORLD DO ONE OR MORE OF THE ABOVE.”
– Dr. Marilyn French, The War Against Women, p. 182, her emphasis.
This seems shocking: Is French really suggesting that the vast majority of men either beat, rape, or kill women and/or molest their own daughters?
Actually, no. Those little ellipses in the quote are a clue that there’s more to the story here. When you look at what French actually wrote, you can see that her claims are not actually shocking at all. Here’s the original quote, which you can find for yourself by looking up the book on Amazon and going to page 182 of the preview available on the site.
As you can see, French’s argument is completely different from what the truncated quote would suggest. But quoting a feminist suggesting that the majority of men might “treat women disrespectfully” isn’t very exciting, is it? Let’s pretend she said something hair-raising instead!
It’s clear that Taylor didn’t get the quote from French’s book directly; when I searched for the quote online, I found the exact same truncated version, with the same ellipses and the same CAPITAL LETTERS on an assortment of right-wing and antifeminist sites, in one case attributed to the wrong book by French. Clearly he got the quote from one of these sites — Conservapedia, perhaps? — and didn’t bother to spend five minutes trying to fact-check it as I did. It’s also pretty clear that whoever edited the original quote down did so in a deliberate attempt to misrepresent what French said.
The next bit of fact-checking was a bit more straightforward, because this time Taylor provided a clickable link to the source on Google Books. Here’s the quote:
“Politically, I call it rape whenever a woman has sex and feels violated.”
– Dr. Catharine MacKinnon, Feminism Unmodified, p. 82.
Curious about the context, I clicked on the link and saw that she was defining rape in this way as a sort of thought experiment rather than as a legal category:
While this is not quite as dramatic a misrepresentation as the chopped-up French quote, the context here changes the meaning of the quote quite dramatically.
One more quote in the list caught my eye:
Consent as ideology cannot be distinguished from habitual acquiescence, assent, silent dissent, submission, or even enforced submission. Unless refusal or consent or withdrawal of consent are real possibilities, we can no longer speak of ‘consent’ in any genuine sense.
– Dr. Carol Pateman, “Women and Consent,” Political Theory, vol. 8, p. 149.
I’m not going to bother to fact-check this one, because, well, this argument is completely reasonable: if a person cannot say “no,” or cannot withdraw consent, then we really aren’t talking about genuine consent at all, are we?
Taylor claims to be fighting “misandry” in the academy. It looks to me — in these examples, at least — like he’s fighting against straw feminists and a meaningful notion of consent.