Christina Hoff Sommers: “If ‘bossy’ has to go because it is sexist, then shouldn’t we stop using male-vilifying terms like ‘mansplaining’ & ‘rape culture’?”

I follow a lot of truly terrible people on Twitter — Manosphere bloggers, white supremacists, Fidelbogen — so it took me a moment to realize that this dopey, backwards tweet didn’t come from some obscure reactionary bigot but from none other than antifeminist celebrity academic Christina Hoff Sommers, inventor of “equity feminism” and the author of the bestselling The War Against Boys.


Also, I think she meant to end that with #BanBossy, not @BanBossy.

Interesting that she doesn’t seem to understand hashtags any more than she understands rape culture.

About David Futrelle

I run the blog We Hunted the Mammoth, which tracks (and mocks) online misogyny. My writing has appeared in a wide variety of places, including Salon,, the Washington Post, the New York Times Book Review and Money magazine. I like cats.

Posted on March 12, 2014, in antifeminism, antifeminist women, mansplaining, rape culture, twitter and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 364 Comments.

  1. When one describes a statement as “dopey” and “backwards,” as David did in the OP, that fairly clearly indicates that one does not agree with any part of that statement, and that one’s criticism of that statement goes far beyond a typo.

    I mean, he didn’t just come out an say, “I do not agree with this statement and am critical of it.” But that was pretty strongly implied.

  2. Reading comprehension is apparently not dunbe’s strength.

  3. @dumbe

    His observation about Sommers’ typo was a side comment. If you had paid any attention to this post, you would see that his main problem with Sommers’ ridiculous tweets is her suggestion that “mansplain” and “rape culture” are bigoted against men.

  4. cassandrakitty

    Jenny, could you maybe stop assuming that everything that anyone says in this thread is directed at you? That would help in avoiding things like what just happened with Alex’s comment.

    @ LBT

    A Good Things folder is a great idea. And you can now add “helping to distract people from long, frustrating, utterly pointless argument” to it.

  5. RE: Cassandrakitty

    A Good Things folder is a great idea. And you can now add “helping to distract people from long, frustrating, utterly pointless argument” to it.

    I’m really glad people like this idea. I know it helps me… you know, when I remember to actually LOOK at it. <.< But it's still a relatively recent addition to my arsenal of sunshine and rainbows.

  6. Well, apparently, the linguists agree that “bossy” is used in a gendered way.

    Makes you wonder what other words which appear on the surface to be gender-neutral have become gendered through use and should be avoided or, at the very least, used with care.

  7. But it’s still a relatively recent addition to my arsenal of sunshine and rainbows.

    I like this even better than a “Good Things” folder. *scampers off to create an — no, The Arsenal of Sunshine and Rainbows*

  8. RE: Unimaginative

    GODSPEED YOUNG WARRIOR! You rainbow ’em good!

    (Seriously, if anyone else wants more tricks I do to keep my brain steady, I have a lot of them.)

  9. I missed the nightmare/earthquake conversation, so now I’m going to be socially awkward and put in my two cents.

    I have literal volcano dreams–yes, there have been more than one–that often end with me running away from lava. Often the volcano is identified as Mount St. Helens, but usually doesn’t look much like it.

    In my waking life, I love volcanos and visit and learn about them every chance I get, but in my dreams.

    Also, I don’t think we’ve ever had a troll who had the reading comprehension needed to pass fifth grade, though NWOSlave was probably the worst.

  10. Oh, the days of slavey…I almost miss him. Almost.

  11. It says something about the quality of trolls these days when we almost miss creeptastic characters like Slavey, DKM and so on.

    I certainly don’t miss A-y or A-z or that lot, or the terminally boring B-n or the Boston brat.

  12. It really does. I almost miss trolls like Owl-slave and Pell mainly because of things that resulted from their being here, like The Book o’ Learnin’ and the Pell downfall video. Trolls these days just aren’t good material to work with. I’m not sad our old trolls are gone; I just wish the new ones would dance better.

    Trolls; they don’t make them like they used to.

  13. Yeah, which is why it’s so funny when the new baby trolls are like, “HAHA I’M ANNOYING YOU LOOK HOW GREAT I AM,” and we’re just like, “sure, kid, you did a great job. You really had us there.”

  14. I want to respect this woman, but I am finding it increasingly difficult.

    I am not a fan of the #banbossy campaign. But it arose out of significant research showing that young girls tend to shrink from leadership roles as puberty hits. As some who has taught this age group, I have seen the way boys feel more entitled to express opinions while girls begin speaking with an apology.

    #mansplaining and #rapeculture – although the terms are new – indicate accepted forms of oppression for centuries. The classic example of “mansplaining” is in Rebecca Solnit’s essay “Men Explain Things to Me” that unintentionally gave birth to this term. Solnit had written a book on Eadweard Muybridge. At a party a man approached her and her friend and when Solnit was introduced, her friend mentioned the book she has recently published. The guy insisted on explaining to her – while talking over her – that she must read a very important book on Muybridge he had read a review on. Solnit tried to explain that the book he was referring to was her book, but the man wasn’t listening, and he continued to speak over her. Most women have experienced something like this. It’s the same power dynamic that plays out in street harassment. One gender has a voice, states ownership, the other is silenced. It’s the same thing that happens when men tell me to appreciate a compliment when a guy follows me for two blocks making sucking noises. Rape culture is simply a term to give a framework to the ways the sexual violation of mostly women has become standard and acceptable on college campuses, the ways that rape is glorified in song lyrics.

    The thing is, Sommers regularly makes mistakes like this. “Rape culture” to Sommers is just rape accusation hysteria and MRAs regularly use her position to falsely assume that feminists think every man is a rapist. They conflate her data, but I think Sommers at times is simply irresponsible. She always cites the same case when it comes to false rape accusations. There are false accusations in every crime. She also makes bite-sized watered down generalizations.

    When it comes to education, I also find her views upsetting. There are many different kinds of boys with just as many interests – the idea that all boys respond to one kind of curriculum is simply not true. As a teacher with two degrees in English, I find her views on how literature should be taught in universities upsetting. She really believes that literature classes need to be filled with more books that “boys like” – pulp action/adventure novels with very little meat for literary criticism in the classical sense. She disregards the truth that most college literature curriculums are still deeply entrenched in the “canon” of English Literature – written primarily by men – and that world literature programmes and alternative approaches to curriculum are increasingly losing support by conservative boards invested in tradition. The “PC” curriculums and colleges she vilifies are usually just alternatives, far from the norm.

    I also find her position on therapy somewhat upsetting. She argues that Americans should just “get on with it” and stop wallowing in their self pity (ie should not seek therapy ). This position seems so ignorant given that the MRAs that flock to her use the statistic of male suicide as a justification of male oppression. Why discredit the value of therapy when so many men could benefit from speaking about their feelings to a professional? Or shall we really believe that the suicide rates have everything to do with their oppression by feminists?

    Sorry for the long comment – but where else do I get a chance to say these things?

    There are other academic feminists who are critical of modern feminism – Martha Nussbaum for one. But I hazard a guess she is much to balanced and less provocative for the media in her critique. Also, I doubt she would appeal much to or support MRAs. Besides, she doesn’t have a twitter account and YouTube – the nesting ground for these watered down attacks on feminism.

    Dave thanks so much for having this blog. I don ‘t know how you do it.

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