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Who Stole Feminism?

Christina Hoff Sommers' 1994 book, Who Stole Feminism?, prompted the following
discussion on WMST-L in August/September 1994.  The last two messages, 
dated Oct. 10 and Oct. 17, refer readers to published critiques of Sommers, 
including Laura Flanders' The 'Stolen Feminism' Hoax, now on the Web.  
For additional WMST-L files available on the Web, see the WMST-L File List.
Date: Thu, 18 Aug 1994 19:43:41 -0400
From: "Heather Munro Prescott, Department of History"
Subject: Who Stole Feminism (again)?
Sorry to bring this subject up again, but I have only now gotten ahold of this
book (didn't want to pay for it, and has only recently become available at the
library).  My main question involves the reaction of my male colleagues to the
book -- I've seen several of them reading it, and since I am the women's history
specialist in my department, I am sure they are bound to ask me what I think of
it.  I should add that my department went through a heated battle over
affirmative action last year, with many of the opponents now eagerly reading
this book and others that criticize women's studies and multiculturalism in
general.  Does anyone have any snappy comebacks to suggest, particularly in
regards to the challenges Sommers makes of the facts regarding battering,
anorexia nervosa, etc?  This book bothers me in many ways, but am not sure how
to respond to people who eat it up as the gospel truth.
Thanks for any suggestions.
Heather Munro Prescott
Central Connecticut State University
prescott  @  csusys.ctstateu.edu
Date: Thu, 18 Aug 1994 19:54:15 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Who Stole Feminism (again)?
Well, you could ask them if they've read Faludi's *Backlash*--she should carry
some weight since she was a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.  And then
you could remind them that the devil quotes scripture to suit his purposes.
Rosa Maria Pegueros
Dept. of History
University of Rhode Island
Date: Thu, 18 Aug 1994 19:50:12 -0600 (CST)
From: Laurie Perkins <C34870LP @ WUVMD.BITNET>
Subject: Who stole feminism?
Have those men (or anyone else) who are reading Sommer's as gospel read any
other feminist theory/viewpoint?  In other words, are they familiar with
the issues?
I haven't read Sommer's book so I don't have details.  But in general, I don't
think people are justified in saying one side has a better argument than
another if they haven't read both sides.  Perhaps a way to combat this, if you
even want to try, is to ask which of Sommer's arguments they like particularly
and what do they think of the argument of the person Sommer's is arguing
I don't like talking to feminist baiters,
C34870LP  @  WUVMD
Date: Thu, 18 Aug 1994 23:56:16 -0700
From: Susan Ervin-Tripp <ervin-tr @ COGSCI.BERKELEY.EDU>
Subject: why statistics in replying to Sommer
 There are many reasons why it is very hard to get firm facts about
 frequencies in the domain of these hard-to-define and harder yet to report
 events like battering, incest, and so on.  What I think we should address
is why it makes a difference whether there are 100,000 cases or 10,000 cases.
When we did surveys here about the status of women students and found
who could not go see their advisors because of fear of harrassment (this was
early seventies) it became very clear to me the numbers are not important, what
is important is that it is a real and major issue for the people it happens to.
It is like being concerned about whether there are 10% or 3% gays. It seems to
me it doesn't matter with respect to legal rights.
The only people who might legitimately be concerned with statistics are
social planners who have to come up with therapies, clinics, or something
 like that.
  Susan Ervin-Tripp
   UC Berkeley
Date: Fri, 19 Aug 1994 10:43:48 -0500
From: Joan Korenman <KORENMAN @ UMBC2.UMBC.EDU>
Subject: Who Stole Feminism (again)?
        I'd like to echo Heather Munro Prescott's concern over
Christina Hoff Sommers' book _Who Stole Feminism?_  The book is being
widely and gleefully read by many who neither understand nor support
feminism.  Sommers offers them what often appears to be convincing
evidence that many feminist claims are at best wildly exaggerated, at
worst wholly unfounded.  And she gives the impression of having done
some fairly extensive investigation.
        Frankly, I found parts of the book surprisingly persuasive.
Then again, the parts I found persuasive tended to be the parts I knew
least about.  When she deals with aspect of Women's Studies with which
I'm more familiar, such as curriculum transformation, she seems not
merely unpersuasive but willfully blind, missing the point over and
over again.  She complains repeatedly about efforts to revise the
canon, but in the very next breath, she admits:
        Many scholars have begun to take pains to give women
    the recognition that was often denied them in past accounts.
    Women scholars of anthropology, psychology, and sociology
    have discovered that much previous research, which tended to
    concentrate on men, generalized to conclusions that did not
    necessarily apply to women.  For the past ten or fifteen
    years social scientists have been working to correct this
    neglect.  Feminist literary scholars have discovered and
    rescued many gifted women writers from undeserved oblivion.
    Textbook publishers now take pains to see that women are duly
    represented and that they are not demeaningly stereotyped.
She seems not to recognize that what she is describing is
canon revision and curriculum transformation, and that some of it
has come about precisely because of slightly earlier revisions and
        If the rest of the book were as ineptly argued as the
discussion of curriculum transformation, few people would be reading
it, and Women's Studies would have nothing to worry about.  But it's
not.  Or, rather, the rest of the book MAY be just as shoddily argued,
but I need people who know the literature better than I do to show me
where she's wrong, if she is, when she refutes the widely quoted
figures about annual deaths from anorexia (which may be not the
150,000 women cited by Steinem, Wolf, Brumberg, and others, but more
like 100), or when she tears apart the AAUW self-esteem study, or the
Sadkers' study of gender bias in the schools, or various statistics
concerning domestic violence (e.g., the Super Bowl Sunday story), rape
statistics, etc.  I suspect that many of us in Women's Studies will be
called upon to respond to Sommers' accusations; I'd like to be in a
better position to do so than I am now.
        By the way, I do NOT assume that Sommers' book has no merit.
Some of her criticisms seem to me well founded.  I've at times felt
frustrated at the intolerance I've witnessed at some Women's Studies
gatherings.  And I can certainly believe that some statistics many of
us cite as gospel may be erroneous.  My problem with Sommers is that
she seems so intent on scoring debate points and so irrationally
opposed to "curriculum transformation," canon revision, and most
Women's Studies programs that she's unlikely to offer fair and honest
criticism.  She at times abridges quotations, and one senses that she
may be shaping them to fit her point rather than to represent the
truth.  The danger, of course, is that people (including university
administrators, legislators, funding agencies, journalists, students)
may accept her seemingly rigorous accounts as an accurate
representation of feminism, Women's Studies, and the state of women's
lives.  That's why I think that we need as much information as
possible about ways in which she may be misrepresenting what she
        Joan Korenman        Internet: korenman  @  umbc2.umbc.edu
                             Bitnet:   korenman  @  umbc
P. S.  I might point out that at one point Christina Hoff Sommers
subscribed to WMST-L, and almost every chapter of her book
contains references to messages and discussions that took place here.
As far as I know, she is no longer a subscriber, but certainly you
should assume that anything you say on this or other email lists may
be used by others.  "Netiquette" says you should ask before
reproducing someone's messages, but as far as I know netiquette does
not have any legal force.
Date: Fri, 19 Aug 1994 10:56:23 -0400 (EDT)
From: Katherine Side <KLSIDE @ VM1.YORKU.CA>
Subject: -Who Stole Feminism?-
I admit to having only read half the book so far, but I guess that
my biggest problem is with the assumptions, (I would say they are
purposeful gaps, rather than mere absences(, that are made by
Hoff Sommers.  For example, I am frustrated by her division of ALL
feminists into two general types/dichotomies:  "equity feminits"
(read good and well-meaning), and "gender feminists", (read bad
and hurtful for ALL women).  I find these categories and the
assumptions implicit in them, extremely problematic.  This
dichotomy is also present in her references to "Old Feminism"
and "New Feminism".
As someone who has studied and taught, in an introductory course,
women's history, I am alos frustrated by her presumption that
what students really should be learning is political history
and not social history.  She in not able to satisfactorily justify,
at least to me, why one is MORE important that the other.
I am also interested in what the reaction to this book will be,
both within Women's Studies and outside of it.  I came across it
in a way that might surprise some:  A colleage of mine is a teaching
assistant for a second year Women's Studies course, and one of the
women she is teaching with made constant reference to it, as
evidence of the way that feminist communities work in exclusionary
ways, and she seemed quite taken by Hoff Sommer's arguments.
(I wonder how this might reflect in what she teaches her students.)
I would be most interested in hearing any comments on it that
others have, and will try to plough through it more quickly that I have been do
Katherine Side
klside  @  vm1.yorku.ca
Date: Fri, 19 Aug 1994 08:31:43 -0700
From: Alison Leigh Brown <ALB @ NAUVAX.UCC.NAU.EDU>
Subject: Who stole feminism?
        Deirdre English has an excellent review in a recent issue
of the New York Review of Books.  She acknowledges the palces
where Sommers is right and then goes on calmly to point out
where she has used bad facts of her own.  Hope this helps.
Alison Brpwm
Alison Brown
alb  @  nauvax
Date: Fri, 19 Aug 1994 12:41:52 -0400 (EDT)
From: Ramona Morris <REMORRIS @ VM1.YORKU.CA>
Subject: Sommers on statistic
A reply from Earl Babbie to the CHS article:
>    *******************************
>    Professor Sommers teaches philosophy at Clark University. This
>    article is adapted from her book Who Stole Feminism? Copyright 1994
>    by Christina Hoff Sommers.
>    *******************************
        I thought the lengthy Sommers articles provided some useful
examples of misused statistics.  It prompts a couple of comments.
        First, I assume that the article was initially posted by Professor
Sommers.  Leo says he picked it up from another list, and hopefully it
traces back to the author.  I'm nervous about the possibility of it tracing
back ultimately to someone who read the article and thought it was so neat
they typed it onto the net in violation of copyrights, etc.  As far as I
know, the issue of copyright vs public domain for materials initially put
on the net is unclear.  I always ask for permission to quote in some other
medium (e.g., textbook) but I may be overly cautious in this regard.
Copying and recopying around the net seems universally acceptable and,
IMNSHO, a good thing--though it opens up the possibility for the kind of
communication chains Sommers detailed in her article.
        Second, on the issue of gender and income, perhaps the Sommers
article will prompt someone to point me toward something I've been
searching for to no avail.  I think Sommers is correct in pointing out that
people often overstate the male/female difference by using gross
comparisons that ignore several *legitimate* variables: part-time vs
full-time, lengthy of seniority, etc.
        However, those who point out this fallacy tend to make the opposite
error of saying, "If you took all those variables into account, there'd be
no gender difference, hence no discrimination."  No one has ever shown me
data to support that assertion.  In fact, the best study I know of found
just the opposite.
        Years ago, I began citing a 1971 University of Michigan study of gender
differences in income: Teresa Levitin, Robert Quinn, and Graham Staines,
"Sex Discrimination Against the American Working Woman."  I've found the
methodology communicates well with students and others.
        Using a massive national survey of the labor force, the researchers
separated the men into two groups at random.  In one group, they developed
a complex multiple regression equation for predicting income on the basis
of some 20 to 30 variables we would all regard as "legitimate" bases for
differences in pay.
        When the equation was applied to the other group of men, it
successfully predicted their incomes within an average of $30 a year.  When
the same equation was applied to the women in the sample, it OVERestimated
the women's income by an average of $3,000 a year.  This design captures
the common sense notion of "all else being equal," and it indicated that
just being a woman cost $3,000 a year in the labor force.
        My problem is that the study is now older than most of my students
and I have never found a subsequent study using this methodology.  Michigan
has evidently never replicated it, nor can I find anyone else having done
        Does anyone know of such a study?
| Earl Babbie  ][  BABBIE  @  NEXUS.CHAPMAN.EDU  ][  CIS:76424,156  |
| Chapman University, Orange CA  92666  ][ Voice: 714-997-6565  |
Date: Fri, 19 Aug 1994 10:28:16 -0800 (PST)
From: Andy Kelly <KELLY @ HUMNET.UCLA.EDU>
Subject: Who Stole Feminism (again)?
Good reply on the Sommers book.  She should be treated like any
other author:  applauded when right, disagreed with when mistaken or
    According to my research, she is right in saying that the
expression "rule of thumb" did not originate in the context of
wife-beating, but she is wrong to repeat Philip Hiscock's assertion
(really an unsubstantiated guess) that it comes from the practice of
wood workers or construction workers.  The OED under "thumb" notes
that the breadth (NOT the length of the first joint) was taken for
an inch, and examples are given from the cloth trade.  But this does
not mean that the expression originated in the cloth trade.  The sad
truth is that we don't know where it comes from.
    As far as I have seen, "rule of thumb" was first associated with
wife-beating by Del Martin in 1976, but she was being whimsical (a
point that Sommers fails to make).  It was seriously associated with
wife-beating by Terry Davidson in 1977, completely without
historical foundatio; and authors who cited Davidson jumped to the
conclusion that the alleged common law of rule of thumb gave rise to
the expression  (N.B.  I would be grateful if anyone can find
earlier associations of "rule of thumb" with wife-beating).
    Sommers is partially right on Blackstone, and partially mistaken,
both in her book and in her reply to Linda Hirshman's critique (the
critique appeared in the Los Angeles Times, 31 July 1994, M5, and
the reply on 13 August '94, B1).  She reads Blackstone as saying
that the old law [before 1660] allowed moderate chastisement but
prohibited violence.  Not so: Hirshman is right in saying that
Blackstone qualified it as excessive violence (he does this by
quoting a Latin writ).  Sommers is wrong in her reply to say that
the sense of the Latin was included in her citation, but right in
finding Hirshman mistaken for suggesting that this was current law
or Blackstone's own opinion of current law.
    Sommers is also mistaken (in her book) in citing Blackstone to say
that the courts still permitted husbands of lower rank to restrain
wives of their liberty, or that the prohibitions against violence
went largely unenforced, especially among the lower rank.  What
Blackstone says is that moderate violence used to be allowed, but
not after the time of Charles II, though the lower rank of people
still claimed it as a right; but the courts did still allow husbands
(of all ranks) to restrain their wives in cases of gross
    I document all this in an article, "Rule of Thumb and the Folklaw
of the Husband's Stick," to appear in the September issue of the
Journal of Legal Education.  I unpack all of Blackstone's sources,
including Roman civil law, and analyze the American cases in which
thumb-measurements or other criteria for the husband's stick are
mentioned, and I also deal with an English judge of the king's
bench, Sir Francis Buller, who in 1782 was lampooned for his view
that husbands could use a smaller-than-thumb stick.
Andy Kelly (aka Henry Ansgar Kelly, English Department, UCLA)
Date: Fri, 19 Aug 1994 10:18:29 -0400
From: "Patricia Christian @ Sociology & Anthropology"
Subject: who stole feminism (again)
The electronic discussion group for teachers of research methods has a
thread going on "bad statistics" -- people post examples or sources that we
can share with our students to illustrate what can be done with numbers.
Well, last week someone posted a LONG section from Who Stole Feminism --
sections debunking the 150,000 anorexic deaths, wife battering during the
Superbowl, birth defects caused by battering of pregnant women, and the
wage gap.  The poster said he had gotten it from another list; I imagine
this section going around in cyberspace, being read and quoted by people
who now "know" that "gender feminists" (Sommers term for us radicals) have
it all wrong.  What I objected to in this section is NOT her numbers per se
(hey, I teach research methods -- I loath sloppy stats and poor research
design) -- but her interpretation of feminism's use of these figures.  She
argues that "gender feminists" want to portray women as victims and so look
for statistics that show us that way, instead of as the strong, liberated
women we have all become (because college educated women now earn something
like 80% of what college educated men earn...).  To counter someone who
asks what we think of the book we might be better off arguing against her
interpretation of feminism.  She has set up a "straw woman" that is easy to
take potshots at, but certainly doesn't represent the feminists I know.
Pat Christian
christia  @  canisius.bitnet
Date: Fri, 19 Aug 1994 16:36:00 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Jayne.Schuiteman" <WRC03 @ MSU.EDU>
Subject: open dialogue on controversial subjects
Several people on the list have now discussed Sommer's book and the fact
that she may indeed still be reading commentary that is going across the
list regarding her ideas and writings.  Apparently that realization is
bringing any real debate and discussion to a screeching halt for many
subscribers.  However, I believe that Joan has a very important point that
is also strongly articulated by Naomi Wolf in her book "fire with fire" -
not that her book hasn't had its share of strong debate in and among various
feminist circles.  The point is this:  We must be very careful to guard
against one true doctrine of feminist thought.  Rather, we must be willing
to openly agree and disagree with one another.  Such open dialogues will
not weaken the movement, as so many seem to fear, rather it will strengthen
the various tenets that different feminists embrace.  There may be aspects
of Sommer's thinking that should be strongly considered and may encourage us
to better articulate counter positions.  In reading Wolf's book, there were
many of her ideas that I disagreed with, however, there were also some that
really made me sit up and think - which was exactly the intent of her
writing.  Additionally, when I found ideas that I strongly disagreed with,
I was forced to think through more carefully why I disagreed and articulate
more clearly what my own thoughts were on the subject.  Such open dialogue
allows everyone to grow further in their thinking.
Jayne Schuiteman, Women's Studies Program
Michigan State University
wrc03  @  msu.edu
Date: Fri, 19 Aug 1994 16:16:51 -0500 (CDT)
From: Mary Todd <U24930 @ UICVM.BITNET>
Subject: open dialogue on controversial subjects
Jayne Schuiteman and Joan Korenman raise important points about how
willing we are to listen to other viewpoints within the community.
I believe we need to listen to what is being said by Sommers and others
so we will be able to respond when challenged.  My concern is the posturing
that Sommers has taken by assigning us all into two camps: gender feminists
and equity feminsts.  That ends up being nothing more than us and them
thinking, and she said as much with reference to this list while being
interviewed on a local radio program.  What bothered me most was her tone
when a caller questioned how she knew so much about women's studies:
 "I read their mail!" she said.  Just think about how that sounds.
Mary Todd
Women's Studies, The University of Illinois at Chicago
u24930  @  uicvm.uic.edu
Date: Fri, 19 Aug 1994 18:04:04 -0400
From: Miriam Pollock <mpollock @ FREENET.COLUMBUS.OH.US>
Subject: open dialogue on controversial subjects
On Fri, 19 Aug 1994, Mary Todd wrote:
> Jayne Schuiteman and Joan Korenman raise important points about how
> willing we are to listen to other viewpoints within the community.
>  "I read their mail!" she said.  Just think about how that sounds.
Just wanted to point out that when we talk about dissenting opinion in the
women's studies community, we first have to acknowledge the different ways
we define inclusion and exclusion from that community.  For instance, "I
read their mail" suggests that Christina Hoff-Sommers does not see herself
as part of the "them" whose mail she reads.  When responding to people's
favorable comments regarding writers such as Hoff-Sommers and Camille
Paglia, I often feel like prefacing my comments with the questions: What
makes you think she is a feminist?  Is she critiquing feminism from the
inside or the outside?  Particularly troubling to me is the notion that
women's studies or feminism stifles debate.  Is it wrong, then, to say
that something is not feminist if it does not meet certain criteria?  I
was particularly interested in what I read about the Usenet groups
Alt-Feminism vs. Soc-Feminism and the break between the two groups of
My question is, does anyone have any idea how to address this issue of who
is a feminist.  I plan to get my Masters in English and teach Women's
Studies and don't know how to respond to the question of community and the
supposed rigid thinking in academic women's studies.
mpollock  @  freenet.columbus.oh.us
Date: Fri, 19 Aug 1994 23:42:58 +0000
From: Judy Evans <jae2 @ UNIX.YORK.AC.UK>
Subject: Sommers
Sommers is I think shortly to be published here, though the bookshops
can't find any details.  As I think I probably _should_ read her,
could anyone let me know US publication details?
The reason I think publication is likely, soon, is that there was
a hype interview with her in the Sunday Times last weekend.
[Note to UK listmembers: yes I am ashamed of reading it.  And yes the
piece on Millett in Another Paper was really good!]
People not privileged to read this hype - which my mother has
probably thrown away - should know that there were
a couple of statistical rebuttals.  One - income - was a bit
weak.  One - percentage raped - is incapable of proof though a
point that goes with it is not unfair.
However: I learned that Mackinnon had managed to make US
schoolgirls [sorry, but, that is the Brit. translation for what
she said] think America was like a Bosnian concentration
camp {rape}; and I learned her opinions on other major
feminists and they were just about as nasty as that, with
nasty opinions underlying them.
This is not of course verbatim.  It is though pretty near.
So while I in fact think we should use stats with care and
be sensitive to their misuse - anyway: and because it helps
us handle attacks like Sommers' - I think anyone who didn't
know should be aware that this is not just about righting
mistakes.  (However I suppose you will all know that!)
(I'd still like the publishing details, please!)
Judy Evans                  |        jae2  @  unix.york.ac.uk
University of York          |
Department of Politics      |
York YO1 5DD                |
Date: Fri, 19 Aug 1994 20:47:00 -0400 (EDT)
From: Joan Korenman <KORENMAN @ UMBC2.UMBC.EDU>
Subject: Publication info re Sommers and Walsh
        Judy Evans asked about publication information for Christina
Hoff Sommers' book.  The full title is _Who Stole Feminism?: How Women
Have Betrayed Women_.  The U.S. publisher is Simon & Schuster.  The
book was published this year and lists for $23.00 US/$29.50 Canada.
The ISBN is 0-671-79424-8 .
        Mindy Foster recommended Mary Roth Walsh (ed.) _The Psychology
of Women: Ongoing Debates_ for the psychology of gender course.  I
might just add that the book was published in 1987 by Yale University
Press and is available in paperback.
        Joan Korenman        Internet: korenman  @  umbc2.umbc.edu
                             Bitnet:   korenman  @  umbc
Date: Fri, 19 Aug 1994 21:12:56 -0400
From: Linda Wayne <bones @ BOSSHOG.ARTS.UWO.CA>
Subject: Who Stole Feminism (again)?
I can't help but add some info re: Sommers. Just as Dinesh D'Souza is
funded by the Madison Center and the Olin Foundation (which got its funds
from Winchester Guns), Sommers recieves neo-right-wing funding. Irving
Kristol, who helped found the Madison Center captures the agenda of the
noe-right in his statement that "it is much to be doubted that the
United States can continue to play an imperial role without the
endorsement of its intellectual class." Kristol has seen that people like
D'Souza (who works in conjunction with the National Association of
Scholars) are a "permanent brain trust to the political, the military,
the economic authorities." The neo-right is organized and wealthy. It
knows that in order to be persuasive it must learn to speak in the
different languages which circulate within different academic and  social
spheres. D'Souza speaks "Humanities". Sommers speaks "Women's Studies".
I am sure that there are parts of Sommers book which has academic merit.
The question is not, is she playing with a full deck, but, are we playing
the same game at all?
Linda Wayne
Date: Fri, 19 Aug 1994 21:34:45 -0400
From: Linda Wayne <bones @ BOSSHOG.ARTS.UWO.CA>
Subject: Sommers (again?)
I am sorry but I neglected to cite the source of the Irving Kristol
quotations I included in my last message. It is:
"American Intellectuals and Foriegn Policy" in _Foreign Affairs_ (July
1967) reprinted in _On the Democratic Idea in America_ (New York: Harper
and Row, 1972).
- Linda Wayne
<bones  @  bosshog.arts.uwo.ca>
Date: Fri, 19 Aug 1994 21:56:37 LCL
Subject: More on "Who Stole Feminism?"
I think that "Who Stole Feminism?" makes a few good points & many
blunders. But my overall impression is that I am not so worried about
it as an assault on feminism, as I am worried about it as an assault
on academic freedom.
Sommers (rightfully) complains about shoddy scholarship/journalism,
which is something that I think many of us abhor.  But where the book
is dangerous, is when she seems to gloss over the differences between
poor academic scholarship and poor journalism in the popular press.
She further comingles these two sins with *all* the feminist analyses
and methods with which she disagrees.
The reason this book is a NYTimes best-seller is because it arouses
public outrage at the fact that *unpopular ideas* are being taught at
universities.  This is *MUCH* more an attack on academic freedom than
it is an attack on feminism.  It promotes the dangerous view that only
ideas which have widespread popular support deserve to be taught at
academic institutions.
Academia has a VERY long history of rejecting this notion, and we
should continue to reject it in the form it takes in "Who Stole
Feminism?" in my opinion.
----------- Ruth Ginzberg (rginzberg  @  eagle.wesleyan.edu) ------------
Date: Sat, 20 Aug 1994 00:08:05 -0400
From: Jane Hannigan <HANNIGAN @ ZODIAC.BITNET>
Subject: Sommers (again?)
It is a sadness to see that Sommers requires so much attention from us but
the key concern I hear from many on this list is how will we answer our
students and assumedly our colleagues who cite her or her textual comments.
Rather than fret about this situation or spend a great deal of of valuable
time might we not deal with this by taking it chapter by chapter and listing
her argument and our responses. If many of us are willing we could divide
the book into bits and prepare position papers for each other. For example,
I have heard the point made by Linda in her message but is that verified
or verifyable? The cite to Kristol is a step but what other research
supports this--I have also heard the counter argument that death
certifcates do not give anorexia as a cause so does that mean that the
statistics are all wrong or that we count differently or what? I think
I am suggesting that one can't dismiss Sommers because she attacks with
no caring but she is believed because she tears down and that pleases
people. If we all joined in this project we could do it quickly and
Joan could warehouse it in the archive. We might also discover what is
questionable or unclear or weak or undocumented. I cannot accept
Sommers but I want to reconsider factual materials and those ideas that
are questionned. Another alternative might be to devote a week to X chapters
and build a response paper that way. Jane
Hannigan  @  Zodiac.rutgers.edu
Date: Sat, 20 Aug 1994 19:47:44 -0400
From: Linda Wayne <bones @ BOSSHOG.ARTS.UWO.CA>
Subject: Sommers (again?)
Hi Jane,
The references are:
D'Souza's Self description in the bio section of IN DEFENCE OF ACADEMIC
FREEDOM AND SCHOLARSHIP, Fraser Forum, Critical Issues Bulletin III, ed.
Michael Walker, 1993.
Michael Berube, "Public Image Limited: Political correctness and the
Media's Big Lie" in THE VILLAGE VOICE (June 18, 1991) pp.31-37.
Sara Diamond, "Endowing the Right-wing Academic Agenda" in COVERT ACTION
(Fall 1991) pp.46-49.
Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1985.
University Conversion Project, STUDY WAR NO MORE: UPC'S GUIDE TO
Interview of Sommers by Eleanor Smeal, July 4, 1994 televised on CNN.
Christa Hoff Summers, WHO STOLE FEMINISM?, Simon and Schuster, 1994, p.8.
In addition, Sommers has published in the Houston Clarion as well as
other right-wing student newspapers within the Collegiate Network, a
grouping of over 70 campus newspapers supported with funding from
Kristol's organization, the Madison Center for Educational Affairs.
What I am talking about here is not a conspiracy theory. It is good
business sense to try to control the ideological climate in which you are
producing and selling corporate products. Feminism has exposed the way
that the traditional role of women in industry and in the family works to
support patriarchal and imperialist goals. In an era of advanced
multinational capitalism these roles have had to shift. Perhaps what we
need here is not so much an analysis of Sommers' book, as it is a more
complete feminist analysis of the corpratization process and women's
place in it.
Linda Wayne
Date: Mon, 22 Aug 1994 09:24:00 -0400 (EDT)
From: Joan Korenman <KORENMAN @ UMBC2.UMBC.EDU>
Subject: Sommers' statistics
        I thought I'd call attention to the fact that this week's
_Time_ magazine (the issue dated August 22) contains two letters that
address Christina Hoff Sommers' use of statistics.  Naomi Wolf writes
that she [Wolf] corrected the bad statistic concerning anorexia deaths
in subsequent editions of her book and in public lectures, and that
she did this more than a year ago.  She adds, "But Sommers' use of a
mortality figure of 100 anorexia deaths a year is indefensible, since
most such deaths are recorded as heart failure, renal failure, or
        Following Wolf's letter is one from Harold Goldstein and
Harry E. Gwirtsman, respectively Clinical Director and Scientific
Director of the Eating Disorders Progam, National Institute of Mental
Health.  They say that "anorexia primarily affects an estimated
210,000 young women" a year, and if we use a research-based mortality
rate of 10%, even spread over 20 years that averages out to more than
1,000 deaths a year.
        Joan Korenman        Internet: korenman  @  umbc2.umbc.edu
                             Bitnet:   korenman  @  umbc
Date: Mon, 22 Aug 1994 13:23:44 -0500 (EST)
From: barbie <BMCGRATH @ SUED.SYR.EDU>
Subject: Rejecting feminism
I am quite interested in the topic of what constitutes feminism,
because many of my students are quite surprised to learn that I
consider myself a feminist, as if there were a certain feminist
'look'. But, one thing that I think is very damaging to feminism is
that Gloria Steinem often is seen in the press as carrying the one
and only banner of feminism. This, I feel is both inaccurate and
dangerous because what I consider feminsim is not mindless following
of her doctrine, which is what it is often portrayed as in the media.
For example, a few months ago I saw a
piece on Camille Paglia on Sixty Minutes. The reporter brought Ms.
Paglia to a meeting where both Naomi Wolf and Gloria Steinem were
speaking. Instead of welcoming the challenge of debate, BOTH Wolf and
Steinem refused to acknowledge Paglia (or her point of view) and had
security throw her out.
In a second example, when Christina Hoff Sommers was interviewed by
Connie Chung recently (2-3 weeks ago) it was mentioned at the end of
the piece that Gloria Steinem was asked to be interviewed for the
show also, but refused. Not only did she refuse to be on the show to
present a counter-point to CHS, but she wrote a letter to the network
trying to keep CBS from broadcasting the interview with CHS at all.
This angers me because it make it look as if feminists are mindlessly
running, scared of any difficult questions or close scrutiny. If CHS
points out that SOME feminists, while doing some research have made
mistakes, we should see this as a sign that we need to be careful
researchers, not on the lookout for the evil powers-that-be that may
be funding CHS's work. At the same time, if CHS has herself done
sloppy scholarship, she should be hammered for it.
Barbara W. Mc Grath                         BMCGRATH  @  SUED.SYR.EDU
Cultural Foundations of Education           (315) 443-4269
Syracuse University
Date: Mon, 22 Aug 1994 14:53:25 -0400 (EDT)
From: Beatrice Kachuck <BEABC @ CUNYVM.BITNET>
Subject: Rejecting feminism
from barb's description, it seems that 60 minutes and connie chung tried set-up
s.  they had two speakers, tried to bring in someone to disrupt, change the
agenda, take over. that's exploiting a situation to give someone's platform to
somebody else.  it's not a debate.  if there's to be a debate, it should be
planned and ground rules planned.  it may be that Steinem, was it, tried to
block someone from publicity on tv. but let's be careful of info and sources.
we know about planted rumors of the 60s and 70s.  beatrice  beabc  @  cunyvm.cuny.
Date: Mon, 22 Aug 1994 15:30:00 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Sommers' statistics
Joan Korneman cites Time magazine artilce from last week--but this weeeks
issue contains a correction. The officials from NIMH did not mean to say that
anorexia strikes 200,000 young women between ages 15 and 20 per year. Ap-
parently that was a typo--What they said is that i"affects an estimated 210,000
young women between 15 and 29. Based on a 10% fatalty assumption--they estimate
1,000 deats per year. But Dr. Charles Murkofsy, Director of the Program for
Disorders in New York City, says that no one has used a 10% mortality figure
in years.  5% is now the accepted figure.deaths.
xxxxxxx. According to Dr. William
Anderson (Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard) the correct figure is closer to 100.
Date: Tue, 23 Aug 1994 14:56:41 -0500 (CDT)
From: Susan Weeks <soc_slw @ SHSU.EDU>
Subject: Who Stole Feminism (again)?
Date: Fri, 26 Aug 1994 15:03:47 -0400
From: Jane Hannigan <HANNIGAN @ ZODIAC.BITNET>
Subject: An Alternative Sommers Suggestion
A week ago I suggested sharing work on Sommers in order to answer the
questions that are raised by her book. It is clear that people are just
too busy for such a cooperative project. So I dreamed another approach
that might be useful in teaching Women's Studies classes. Why not ask
the students to deal with z??a  @  <N?5?{+++d???
to take various sections, and/or chapters. and/or themes in her book and
prepare an amicus brief that provides detailed references and exteneded
footnotes on such. It would certainly get students to read a great deal
of material but also allow them to experience some sound research. There
are no right answers but it would provide a nice data batch that could
be the beginning of something useful. It is clear from many of the messages
on this subject that "FACTS"w6p?:re`r{j3|+++h?? _are not always what they seem.
   It would require some arrangments with
reference staff in library to check the extent of help you want the
students to get. So much for Sommers. Jane
Date: Fri, 26 Aug 1994 17:17:17 -0600
From: "Robert T. Weverka" <weverka @ DRIP.COLORADO.EDU>
Subject: An Alternative Sommers Suggestion
Jane Hannigan <HANNIGAN%ZODIAC.BITNET  @  vaxf.Colorado.EDU> writes:
>A week ago I suggested sharing work on Sommers in order to answer the
>questions that are raised by her book.
Sommers book is, in part, a collection of debunking of myths.
To address this by finding her errors is missing the bigger picture.
Sommers tells a story of academia, the press, and government agencies
all failing to view a politically motivated agenda with a healthy
dose of skepticism.  The particular myths she debunks are merely
anecdotes in making this story.
Every movement has its excesses.  What Sommers did was to point out
some excesses in the feminist movement.  What she failed to do, was
to show that these excesses characterize the movement as a whole.
These are merely anecdotes.
Sommers paints a picture of unbridled zeal leading to total loss of
academic rigor.  Sommers fails when she uses merely anecdotes rather
than the full story.
Hannigan has proposed an inquiry into the accuracy of Sommers work
on a point by point basis.
Would it not be more productive to examine all the premises of one
of the writers who Sommers criticizes, and to find out how much of
that writer's work is properly characterized by Sommers book?
If Steinem errs once in writing on dozens of subjects, is it fair
to condemn her?
Sommers may have erred on some particulars, but I think that one
would have to take on the bigger picture to show her wrong in general.
Date: Fri, 09 Sep 1994 18:10:09 -0500 (EST)
From: Gaea Honeycutt <WEEAPUB @ EDC.ORG>
Subject: FYI: Review of Who Stole Feminism by FAIR
entitled "The 'Stolen Fmeninism' Hoax: Anti-Feminist Attack Based on Error-
Filled Anecdotes" in the Sept./Oct. issue.
Gaea Honeycutt
WEEA Publishing Center
Education Development Center
55 Chapel Street
Newton, MA 02158
800/225-3088 or 617/969-7100
Date: Mon, 10 Oct 1994 18:16:00 -0400 (EDT)
From: Joan Korenman <KORENMAN @ UMBC2.UMBC.EDU>
Subject: Critiques of Who Stole Feminism
        The Fall 1994 issue of _Democratic Culture_, the newsletter of
Teachers for a Democratic Culture, has a 24-page special section dealing
with critiques of Christina Hoff Sommers' book _Who Stole Feminism_.  The
editor of _Democratic Culture_, John Wilson, is willing to send this issue
to those who ask him for it PRIVATELY. [NOTE: This message was posted in
1994.  It is unlikely that the offer still holds, though you may be able
to find back issues of Teachers for a Democratic Culture in some large
libraries or perhaps from the snail mail address below.] 
        Joan Korenman        Internet: korenman  @  umbc2.umbc.edu
                             Bitnet:   korenman  @  umbc
        Teachers for a Democratic Culture would like to announce the
publication of our Fall 1994 issue of the TDC newsletter, Democratic
Culture. The issue includes a 24-page special section on Christina Hoff
Sommers's book Who Stole Feminism? with 15 essays examining it from
scholars such as Linda Hirshman, Celinda Lake,  Myra and David Sadker, Nina
Auerbach, and many more. We'd like to send a copy to anyone who might be
interested in information on rebutting Sommers' charges against feminists.
        TDC was formed in 1991 by a group of liberal scholars to counter
the negative portrayal of feminism, multiculturalism, and other academic
innovations attacked in the media and by conservative groups like the
National Assoc. of Scholars.
        We invite anyone interested in our organization to join us. Our
membership fees are normally $5 for students/low-income and $25 for faculty
and other, but send us whatever you can to: Teachers for a Democratic
Culture, P.O. Box 6405, Evanston, IL 60204--and we'll add you to our
membership list. We plan to continue the debate over Who Stole Feminism? in
the Spring 1995 issue of Democratic Culture, and we welcome responses and
additional comments on the book
        If you would like a copy of our newsletter focusing on Sommers,
please send your mailing address to me via email: jkw3  @  midway.uchicago.edu
(TDC members and subscribers to NAWE's "About Women On Campus" already are
being sent a copy.)[Remember: this message was posted in 1994!]
John Wilson
Editor, Democratic Culture
jkw3  @  midway.uchicago.edu
Date: Mon, 17 Oct 1994 14:10:00 EDT
From: Joan Korenman <KORENMAN @ UMBC.BITNET>
Subject: Critique of Sommers Now Available from WMST-L
        Laura Flanders has sent me a copy of her critique of Christina Hoff
Sommers' book _Who Stole Feminism?_   Flanders' critique appears under the
title "The 'Stolen Feminism' Hoax: Anti-Feminist Attack Based on
Error-Filled Anecdotes" in the September/October 1994 issue of EXTRA!, the
publication of the media watch group FAIR.  I have added the article to the
WMST-L filelist under the title SOMMERS1 CRITIQUE.  To get a copy, send the
LISTSERV  @  UMDD (Bitnet).  If you want to see what other files are available,
add a second line to your message that says INDEX WMST-L .  [NOTE: 
The 'Stolen Feminism' Hoax is now available on the Web.]
        Be sure to send this message to LISTSERV, not to WMST-L.  DO NOT
        Many thanks to Laura Flanders for making this valuable critique

        Joan Korenman        Internet: korenman  @  umbc2.umbc.edu
                             Bitnet:   korenman  @  umbc

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