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December 06 , 2008

The Battle and Backlash Rage On


In The Battle and Backlash Rage On: Why feminism cannot be obsolete edited by Stacey Elin Rossi, hot topics include: misogyny, antifeminism and/or bigotry in "men's rights" groups and "feminist" groups (such as ifeminists); critiques of the mainstream view that “feminism is an outdated idea and no longer needed”; contemporary obstacles to overcoming backlash, such as corrupt manipulation of data in antifeminist rhetoric; and the like.

Issues covered include:

• Rhetorical denial that “men” hold the responsibility to end rape •“Me-too-ism” by some men in regard to women's only programs, such as healthcare • Distortion of the image of the father by “men’s rights” groups • Implicit and explicit misogyny and antifeminism among “ifeminists” and “men’s rightists” • Sexism and the patriarchal birthright in divorce and its harm to children manifest in the custodial decisions taking away children from their mothers and leaving them in the hands of the abuser • Prevalence of domestic violence and its impact on the nation’s children • Backlash against an ill-informed view of affirmative action and “political correctness” that allegedly gives privilege, particularly to women

The compendium presents a combination of scholarly and nonscholarly works, a blend that appeals to both academics and nonacademics alike. Its ultimate purpose is to demonstrate that feminism works for the benefit of all humankind and *not*, as claimed, to the detriment of men. These articles and essays will hopefully demystify the issues, give a desperately needed more powerful force in favor of feminism, and serve to controvert rampant antifeminism, which can be, in effect, cleverly masqueraded misogyny. This material is all rather cutting-edge. No volume to date has encompassed these very current developments in the sexual political landscape.

All over the westernized world, the cultural melee surrounding the issue of sex/gender sounds like a cacophony of agitated voices screaming in rage. From “angryharry” blaming global warming on feminists, as well as rape on women, the very victims themselves,1 to MS Magazine bulletin board participants claiming that “men hate women”2, the ideological battle seems to be at a greater intensity than ever before. However, this battle remains relatively confined to the fringes of society and to academe; feminism per se is no longer part of our cultural mainstream. While women all over the world, particularly in developing countries, are increasingly associating themselves with the label “feminist”, women in the United States seem to be abandoning the term in droves. From boardrooms to bedrooms, not the four letter version but the eight letter “F-word” appears verboten. As criticized by some European feminists, American women, particularly those otherwise-would-be feminists, don’t like to offend their men. Standing by their men, they have begun to increasingly eschew feminism and even have begun to join the ranks of the enemy – the men’s rightists.

A search on the internet for articles and essays may produce thousands of “hits” on the obsoleteness of feminism; however, polls and general trends indicate that the vast majority of women, as well as men, believe in gender equity. One might hear a young woman say, contradictorily, “Sure, I believe women should be equal to men, but I’m not a feminist.” According to Geni Hawkins, “Somehow, the term ‘nazi’ has gotten tacked onto the end of the word [feminist], and the prevailing opinion seems to have become that the word connotes a shrill, man-hating, bra-burning (I'm surprised they're not still going off about us bobbing our hair), unfulfilled female.”3 One major unresolved and possibly unresolvable problem is, unsurprisingly, just how to proceed in such a splintered and alienating movement, and one that has been given such a bad reputation.

Like so many other cultural stereotypes, such as the shad

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