Susan Estrich, the University of Southern California professor whose chief claim to fame is her failed management of an American presidential campaign – she was able to help Michael Dukakis turn a 17-point lead into a historic election debacle – last week offered the world ironic proof of Charlotte Allen’s thesis that feminism destroys female intellects.
In a remarkably vicious hissy fit, Estrich argued that Los Angeles Times editor Michael Kinsley’s disinclination to print her criticism of Allen’s article was due to the decline of his brain, his judgment and his ability to do his job because of his Parkinson’s disease. She also announced in a Feb. 18 article that both Kinsley’s and Harvard President Larry Summers’ days “were numbered” because both had provoked her by insulting women.
Her dedication to freedom of speech and diversity of opinion is remarkable, isn’t it? And while her shrewish pettiness does bring a great thinker to mind, it is only because one finds oneself lamenting the fact that Shakespeare did not have Estrich to serve as a model, for she would have no doubt inspired the playwright to heights of insight that would have made Katherine Baptista’s shrewish barbs look downright simpatici in comparison.
It should come as no surprise that I strongly support Allen’s contention, for as I wrote in a 2003 column titled, “Gynomythology“:
But the most damning argument against this myth [of male oppression] is the appalling behavior of the leading female pseudo-intellectuals over the past 30 years. Instead of taking advantage of their intellectual freedom and unprecedented access to education, the feminist vanguard has embraced an anti-intellectual dogmatism that imprisons the current generation of young women in the academic convent of Women’s Studies, robbing them of both foundational knowledge and the capacity for rational linear thought, thus ensuring that this generation, like its foremothers, will also fail to accomplish anything worthy of historical regard.
Estrich clearly subscribes to this gynomyth herself – she explicitly blames the three men who run the editorial page of the Los Angeles Times for lack of intellectual regard in which she and her 50 co-signers are held by the world. The fact that she has a third-rate mind and a reputation for failure so total that it borders on proverbial apparently doesn’t factor into the equation as far as she’s concerned.
As everyone who’s ever attended an elite university knows, a shocking number of women there are academically cauterized into intellectual brain death. While men are listening to professors lecture on history, economics and engineering, far too many women are yammering on and on about their feelings in Women’s Study classes. The less academically rigorous a subject, the more women you’ll find in it – there were 20 times as many women in my political geography class (40) as my computer science engineering class (2). But on the bright side, at least they know where the Soviet Union was …
The mental pollution of feminism extends well beyond the question of great thinkers. Women do not write hard science fiction today because so few can hack the physics, so they either write romance novels in space about strong, beautiful, independent and intelligent but lonely women who finally fall in love with rugged men who love them just as they are, or stick to fantasy where they can make things up without getting hammered by critics holding triple Ph.D.s in molecular engineering, astrophysics and Chaucer.
And in the world of female political non-fiction, the situation is arguably worse. Only Ann Coulter even tries to write serious books, as the rest are ghostwritten autobiographies (which is to say literally more talking about feelings); a collection of complaints about Daddy (the Left sees the nation’s president as a father figure, so all those anti-Bush books are best understood as the Daddy Dearest genre); complaints that there is no one to date them; and vapid ex post facto attempts to justify Granddaddy’s hatred for those dirty Japs who raped Manila.
There is only one way to receive intellectual respect, and that is to earn it. A degree doesn’t mean anything, as there are too many maleducated morons running around with them to impress anyone. Nor does a resume. Because no matter what sex you are, if you can’t defend your assertions, if you can’t fight on an equal playing field and if you won’t engage in open intellectual battle with anyone who challenges your opinion, then you deserve the contempt in which you will be held.