The latest star of the online “Conversations with Bill Kristol” (a growing series of over 30 talks, at conversationswithbillkristol.org) is Christina Hoff Sommers, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute already famous for her Factual Feminist videos. Almost overnight, her interview became a contender for most-viewed of these wide-ranging, in-depth discussions with eminent thinkers.
No doubt this is partly because Sommers is such an engaging speaker. Her good grace and humor never fail her, however tedious the task of puncturing the latest absurdity of academic feminism. In her talk with The Scrapbook’s boss, Sommers recounts how she got into this groove almost 30 years ago, as a professor of philosophy at Clark University.
Asked by her department chair to work up a course on feminist theory—and assuming herself to be a feminist—she ordered the leading textbooks on the subject and started to read. What confronted her was a witch’s brew of conspiracy theories, grievance-mongering, and vilification of men, backed up with phony statistics. What shocked her most was these textbooks’ flagrant violation of what she calls “the sacred commandment of college teaching: Thou shalt present both sides of the argument.”
From there it was but a short step—one paper presented to the American Philosophical Society and one article published in the New Republic—to Christina’s excommunication from a religion she says she hadn’t known existed. In the ensuing years, her books Who Stole Feminism?, The War on Boys, and Freedom Feminism have cemented her place as a sane and attractive voice for women’s liberty and equality rightly understood—not to mention for integrity in scholarship.
But there’s another reason for Sommers’s online success right now: her celebrity status among Internet gamers. Ever since the Factual Feminist defended gamers against the cultural authoritarians who denounce their hobby as misogynist and violent, she has been embraced as the (mostly young and male) gamers’ mascot. They call her BasedMom. What’s more, this heterogeneous, passionate, brainy, and much-disapproved-of virtual community is turning out to be something seldom seen: a group ready to stand its ground and face down the feminist scolds.
About time. The philosophers had their chance. The academy at large looked away. Government surrendered long ago, with the typical mainstream politician in tow. They are all strangely cowed by institutional feminism’s intellectually slapdash studies proving the oppressed status of the freest women in the world.
So, good for the gamers. If it’s their support that is helping give prominence to Christina Hoff Sommers’s call for reality-based thinking about women’s lives and choices, more power to them.