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Column: Several fatal flaws mar the feminist movement

Perspectives on Feminism

On the Record

Published: Thursday, March 1, 2012

Updated: Friday, March 2, 2012 16:03

Walter Block

The Maroon

Walter Block On the Record

It seems that everyone and his uncle (Would it be more politically correct to say "aunt" here, instead? Yes. Tough.) are now feminists. This, alone, would constitute good reason if not to reject this stance outright, then at least to be highly suspicious of it. Most people — how shall I say this delicately — have an IQ akin to comfortable room temperature. If they favor something — anything — it is probably immoral, fallacious and wrong-headed. In the case of feminism, this is true in spades.

Let us start off with a minor annoyance foisted upon us by these harridans: their attack on the English language. It is no longer allowed in polite society to refer to a woman as "Miss" or "Mrs." Now, it would appear, we are all required to utilize the horrid word "Ms." But the first two convey important information: marital status. Why should we jettison knowledge about a woman's status in this regard just to satisfy a bunch of loud-mouthed people? And don't even get me started on "he or she," "she and he," "she" alone, or "s/he." Normal people can no longer read the language without constantly having their noses thrust into this sort of imbecility.

Now for some more serious concerns.

Feminists are typically socialists, communists, liberals or, ugh, "progressives." This is pretty downright despicable since these attacks on economic freedom create the very poverty against which they presume to inveigh. Have we learned nothing from the natural experiments of East and West Germany? North and South Korea? Why do these people want to condemn us to lives of penury?

They learn nothing from our history, which bears eloquent testimony to the fact that socialism simply does not work. Socialism ruins whatever it touches, not only abroad, but domestically too, as in the cases of socialized medicine, the welfare system (which breaks up families) and social "security" (which reduces intergenerational ties). Feminists are invincibly ignorant, too, regarding the economic functioning of minimum wage laws, unionism, rent control, tariffs, taxes, central planning, etc.

Feminists oppose arming women. When confronted with the scourge of rape and molestation, feminists respond by holding "Take Back the Night" marches, whining about how horrid these attacks are. Of course they are! But why not encourage young women to avail themselves of their Second Amendment rights to bear arms? The gun is the great equalizer. Face it: unarmed women are at a disadvantage vis-a-vis rapists, who are usually bigger, stronger and heavier than they are. With a pistol in their pocketbooks (sorry, I can't help my stereotyping; I relish it) they confront their attackers on an equal basis.

There is a wealth of empirical evidence, as well as common sense, attesting women known to be well armed are safer. Pistol and rifle target shooting is an Olympic event. Why don't universities have girls' (there I go again) teams in these sports? But wait: there is one benefit to "Take Back the Night" marches, and I do want to be fair: whenever rapists contemplate these events, they keel over in laughter. They are laughing so uproariously that at least during these times they are incapable of raping anyone.

In the view of most feminists, capitalism is to blame for the wage gap of some 25 to 30 percent. They claim that "sexism" is responsible for the fact that men earn more than women on average. Not at all. This is due in large part, instead, to the economic doctrine of alternative costs: whenever you do anything, you do it at the cost of not being able to do something else as well as you otherwise might have been able to do. Women bear a disproportionate share of housework. Stipulating that they are otherwise equally productive to men, this alone would account for a large share of the so-called wage "gap."

Feminists will undoubtedly interpret the foregoing as evidence that I hate women. Nonsense. Some of my best friends are women. I admire many women. I do not at all mean to put down the distaff side; very much the opposite. I wish to rid our better halves of this virus that inflicts them: feminism.

Walter Block is an economics professor. He can be reached at wblock@loyno.edu

On the Record is a weekly column open to any member of Loyola's faculty and staff. Those interested in contributing can contact letter@loyno.edu

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Anonymous
Thu Mar 1 2012 20:02
Dr. Block, every time I start to think of you as a likeable old man who has some interesting things to say about economics, you have to prove once again that the bigger part of what you are is an increasingly irrelevant egotist who cares more about getting a reaction out of people than his students. If you should have rethought this article for no other reason, you should have thought about the students who sit in your classes everyday who have been raped.
Blake, Class of 2006
Thu Mar 1 2012 18:26
Luckily, Erick has responded to several of your most odious "arguments", Mr. Block (strangely enough, the title Mister does not indicate marital status, which, as you've mentioned, is an essential aspect of addressing any particular individual. Maybe we could introduce a new title, such as Mrz., to indicate a married man, and see if the free market of American English speakers embrace our egalitarian vision for properly gendered marital-status-inclusive titles), so I don't feel as though I need to demonstrate how little you understand feminism. I just wanted to see how you felt about

Admittedly, these aren't the most empirical of studies, but considering how little work you put into your article, you should be amazed I bothered to use Google in the first place. In June 2001, a Gallup poll found that only 25% of women and 20% of men identified themselves as feminists, the lowest numbers gathered since the first poll in 1981. In 2010, a study by Globescan found that 59% of Americans either somewhat or strongly agreed with the following statement: "The free market system and free market economy is the best system on which to base the future of the world." The first year of this study, 2002, 80% of Americans agreed with that statement. While that is a significant decline, 59% is a still a pretty strong majority in favor of free market capitalism.

Now, as as self-declared opponent of all that is populist, shouldn't you be interrogating free market capitalism, not the highly stigmatized and loosely defined "feminist" movement? Additionally, unless you are not in favor of air conditioning and therefore have a different definition of room temperature, "most people" have an IQ range between 85-115, since the mean of IQ tests is 100 and the standard deviation is 15. Now, perhaps you didn't mean IQ, because political ideologies and IQ have almost no correlation and certainly no demonstrable causation. No, you probably meant "When considering persons of differing ideologies, the person that is correct is the more intelligent individual. I am correct, therefore those that disagree with me are unintelligent." A truly brilliant thinker we have here at Loyola in Mrz. Walter Block, ladies and gentlemen.

Anonymous
Thu Mar 1 2012 17:18
Dr. Block, some people might say you're a contrarian, but I'm sure you take the opposite view.
Anonymous
Thu Mar 1 2012 16:58
I would first like to point out that I am a former student of Dr. Block and agree with a lot of what he has to say, but this article annoys me on a number of levels-

1. His opening arguement is "most people are feminist therefore it is immoral, wrong-headed, etc" , claiming that just because most people think a certain way it is a fallacy. I would expect this type of thinking from a hipster but not from a college professor.

2. He then points out that the annoyance of not using Mrs. While I agree this is not a serious issue, I do not agree with his arguement. As a woman I'd rather not have my marital status tied to my name. Men don't have to do this, why should we? Who cares if I am married or not?

3. For the rest of the article he ties feminism to socialism. He claims those who participate in "Take Back the Night" are against the right to bear arms. Well, I happen to believe that women have the rights to bear arms and I don't see anything wrong with "Take Back the Night". Its a ceremony for rape victims, not a socialist event.

Bottom line- I think this is a poorly written article with way too many assumptions.

Anonymous
Thu Mar 1 2012 16:48
He acts as if a rapist is going to stand there and kindly approach you from the front, allow you to take your weapon out of your "pocketbook", and use it. Fact is, by the time a rapist attacks you it's highly unlikely you will have time to retrieve your weapon.
Anonymous
Thu Mar 1 2012 16:34
"Feminists will undoubtedly interpret the foregoing as evidence that I hate women. Nonsense. Some of my best friends are women."

This reads the same way as 'I'm not a racist; some of my friends are black.' If you feel the need to make the statement, it probably means that you need to take a good long second look at your thesis, or at least the manner in which you argue it.

Erick Piller
Thu Mar 1 2012 16:24
"Feminists are typically socialists, communists, liberals or, ugh, 'progressives.' This is pretty downright despicable since these attacks on economic freedom create the very poverty against which they presume to inveigh. Have we learned nothing from the natural experiments of East and West Germany? North and South Korea? Why do these people want to condemn us to lives of penury?"

Apart from how casually you group together and brush aside four major theories of economics and governance, don't you think "guilt by association" is kind of a weak way to start an argument against feminism? I say "start" because this is the first of your "more serious concerns." The point of this paragraph is: Feminists are typically leftists of some variety, and leftists are, I think, wrongheaded; therefore, feminism is bad. Dr. Block, I counter that feminists typically use toothpaste; dental health is a good thing; therefore, feminism is a fantastic idea.

I should mention here that there's no single philosophy of feminism. There are many kinds, with vastly different implications. You might consider that issue if you choose to write another column on this subject.

"They learn nothing from our history, which bears eloquent testimony to the fact that socialism simply does not work. Socialism ruins whatever it touches, not only abroad, but domestically too, as in the cases of socialized medicine, the welfare system (which breaks up families) and social 'security' (which reduces intergenerational ties). Feminists are invincibly ignorant, too, regarding the economic functioning of minimum wage laws, unionism, rent control, tariffs, taxes, central planning, etc."

Why didn't you just write a column on socialism? It's obvious that that's what you really want to talk about.

"Feminists oppose arming women."

Are you sure? Haven't some feminists pushed for women's right to serve in the military?

"In the view of most feminists, capitalism is to blame for the wage gap of some 25 to 30 percent. They claim that 'sexism' is responsible for the fact that men earn more than women on average. Not at all. This is due in large part, instead, to the economic doctrine of alternative costs: whenever you do anything, you do it at the cost of not being able to do something else as well as you otherwise might have been able to do. Women bear a disproportionate share of housework. Stipulating that they are otherwise equally productive to men, this alone would account for a large share of the so-called wage 'gap.' "

First, why put "sexism" in scare quotes? You don't think it exists? If you've never seen sexism, what world do you live in?

Second, personally I think you're wrong about the glass ceiling, etc.-Jordan Schneider, a Loyola graduate, published an eloquent and substantial argument in The Reader's Response several years ago in which she took issue with this argument of yours. But even if, for the sake of argument, I were to cede this point, isn't it clearly a deep-seated form of sexual inequality that we're talking about when we note that women are expected to do a greater share of the housework and so forth than their male partners?

And again, why the scare quotes around "gap"? Women earn substantially less than their male counterparts on average; every serious study supports this.

"Feminists will undoubtedly interpret the foregoing as evidence that I hate women. Nonsense. Some of my best friends are women. I admire many women. I do not at all mean to put down the distaff side; very much the opposite. I wish to rid our better halves of this virus that inflicts them: feminism."

I'm glad you love women. Me too.

Anonymous
Thu Mar 1 2012 16:22
Who took a Reveille article and put it in the Maroon?
Anonymous
Thu Mar 1 2012 16:16
Dr. Block, you're trolling, but his point about armed women makes a lot of sense
Anonymous
Thu Mar 1 2012 16:08
"Most people - how shall I say this delicately - have an IQ akin to comfortable room temperature. If they favor something - anything - it is probably immoral, fallacious and wrong-headed..."

"Normal people can no longer read the language without constantly having their noses thrust into this sort of imbecility."

Or are normal people not a subset of most people? If normal people are the minority... then isn't that contradictory. So you very literally just called yourself immoral, fallacious, and wrong-headed... probably.

Get it?

Andy
Thu Mar 1 2012 16:04
I'd like to redact my previous statement about shaming the Maroon. I did not realize it was part of a point-counterpoint column. For a well-constructed article on feminism, looks at the article written by Karen Reichard. I still think however that Walter Block needs to make an actual point instead of attacking random topics and groups of people.
JJGarcia
Thu Mar 1 2012 15:52
There is nothing sexist about this. He attacks feminism, not women.

And really? The worst thing you've ever read? I bet you read Twilight...

Andy
Thu Mar 1 2012 15:49
And once again Dr. Walter Block embarrasses himself by writing a thesis on why every American has the right to discriminate against women and brown people.

Shame on The Maroon for even publishing this drivel. Clearly, the only worth is in its entertaining, ridiculous value. I refuse to believe any student or other faculty member subscribes to this man's beliefs. What he teaches in his classes is his own business but to publish it in a public university paper defies logic, especially if it affects the self-esteem and well-being of sexual assault victims.

Dr. Block, how about an actual criticism of feminism instead of a childish comparative degradation of the field? Are you not aware that many of your libertarian and conservative brethren may be feminist from a different point of view? Are you not aware that many of them are women? No, I'm sure you are. After all, some of your best friends are women. That's funny. Some of my best friends are economists.

Andy
Thu Mar 1 2012 15:48
And once again Dr. Walter Block embarrasses himself by writing a thesis on why every American has the right to discriminate against women and brown people.

Shame on The Maroon for even publishing this drivel. Clearly, the only worth is in its entertaining, ridiculous value. I refuse to believe any student or other faculty member subscribes to this man's beliefs. What he teaches in his classes is his own business but to publish it in a public university paper defies logic, especially if it affects the self-esteem and well-being of sexual assault victims.

Dr. Block, how about an actual criticism of feminism instead of a childish comparative degradation of the field? Are you not aware that many of your libertarian and conservative brethren may be feminist from a different point of view? Are you not aware that many of them are women? No, I'm sure you are. After all, some of your best friends are women. That's funny. Some of my best friends are asshole economists.

Anonymous
Thu Mar 1 2012 15:43
This is the worst thing I have ever read, and it almost makes me ashamed to call myself and alumnus of this school. I would say alumna, but Walter Block would scoff at me for that.
Sergio Andres Lobo-Navia
Thu Mar 1 2012 15:39
This column is an awful analysis of feminism but a great argument against tenure.

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