In the fall of 1977, a local college hosted what had been billed as a Fellini film festival, an all-day event featuring three films plus analysis by an expert on Fellini. I signed up for what promised to be a great day for movie fans, never guessing that the price of admission would include lessons in male treachery and female victimhood — interrupted by one moment of utter hilarity.
Our first lesson came before the showing of La Strada, which stars a male predator who traps, then abandons an innocent young woman. Our assignment was to note the similarities in Fellini’s villain and the men in our own lives, and my classmates did not disappoint. During intermission, they gave testimonials about controlling fathers and offish boyfriends while I sat mute, wondering if I was the only woman present who did not see men as the enemy.
My answer came about 30 minutes into the showing of Nights of the Cabiria when suddenly the projector stalled, leaving us fidgeting in the dark while our leader struggled to restart it. A good 10 minutes passed before my fellow skeptic identified herself by belting out, “SOMEBODY GO GETTA MAN!” Laughter erupted, and a guy from tech services was summoned to fix the glitch — and to break the spell that only moments before had cast him as the enemy.
I replayed that scene in my own classes because it was the perfect antidote for a new wave of feminism that cast all men as predators, engaged in what Ti-Grace Atkinson had called the “metaphysical cannibalism” of women. That scene also supported my claim that humor had been the first casualty in feminism’s war on men — and debunked Gloria Steinem’s claim that “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”
Feminism’s mission to enlist young women to swear off men, that is, to overrule human nature, has failed spectacularly, so feminist ideologues put the “patriarchal family” in their crosshairs. Steinem dismissed “family values” as “a right-wing trip,” while Betty Friedan likened housewives to “the millions who walked to their own death in the concentration camp” and “suffered a slow death of mind and spirit.” Mere contempt wasn’t enough for NYU professor Linda Gordon, who decided that “the nuclear family must be destroyed” and that “the break-up of families now is an objectively revolutionary process.”
No sane person thought that a band of would-be revolutionaries could persuade women to forgo the joys and challenges of family life or to redefine “love” as “a pathological condition.” But what feminist militants failed to accomplish by hectoring women, the Biden administration would accomplish with legislation that penalizes marriage and makes single motherhood a profitable enterprise. By creating entitlements for single mothers — if they kick their baby daddies out of the house — and by docking benefits for married couples, Biden’s Build Back Better plan offers a master class in social engineering and, if it passes, a big win for radical feminism.
Biden’s other gift to radical feminism is a fait accompli. Catherine Lhamon’s reinstatement as head of the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights means the revival of Obama era guidelines that deny due process and a presumption of innocence for college men who’re accused of sexual misconduct. When Republicans confronted Lhamon with the high number of guilty verdicts that were handed down, then overturned during her former stint as head of the OCR, Lhamon denied the “need to course-correct” and equated Trump-era policies with permission for young men “to rape and sexually harass with impunity.”
Despite her colleague’s admission that universities will “find against the defendant, the male defendant, no matter what,” Lhamon was reconfirmed by the Senate on Oct. 20, 51-50. Small wonder that young men are deserting our universities in record numbers.
Small wonder that feminist activists discount research that quantifies happier, healthier outcomes for children raised in two-parent homes, while they discount men who don’t fit the definition of “natural predator.” Back in 1977, I did not dare say out loud that I noticed something predatory in a professor who would stage a film festival to recruit young women as allies in her war against men.
Noting the in-roads feminist radicals have gained into a left-leaning Congress, you might be thinking it’s time for donors to withhold funding from universities that rally young women to vilify men. Me too.