Leftist campus activists tried to fact-check the Factual Feminist, and it didn't end well.
Ahead of Christina Hoff Sommers' upcoming speech at Sewanee: The University of the South, several of the school's feminist-oriented organizations have teamed up to preemptively rebut her lecture.
The Women's Center compiled a strange two-page document titled "The Modern Feminist Fact Sheet" that attempts to correct and contextualize what its authors perceive as Sommers' perspectives on feminism. Of the eight points on the "fact" sheet, only twice is Sommers quoted or cited directly. The first point is perhaps the most telling, as activists in the Women's Center explicitly exclude Sommers' preferred brand of feminism, "equity feminism," from the broader movement.
"Feminism is NOT equity feminism because Equity feminists believe in the biological and evolutionary origins of sexual difference, not that gender has been socially constructed," the document claims.
It's somewhat ironic to see a sentence deriding people who "believe in the biological and evolutionary origins of sexual difference" — otherwise known as "science" — on a so-called "fact sheet." Never mind that they're excluding this more moderate (and fact-based) branch of feminism from the movement altogether as well.
The Women's Center is also working with the school's Women and Gender Studies department, the Sewanee Young Democratic Socialists, and Queer & Allies House to host a panel titled "Alternative ‘Factual Feminist'" immediately following Sommers' lecture next week. According to the panel's Facebook event page, participants will focus on "the importance of intersectionality, inclusivity, and safety."
That's right, after disseminating a document that actively excludes Sommers from the feminist movement, event organizers plan to speak with authority on the importance of inclusion.
To be fair, hosting a panel discussion after Sommers' lecture rather than attempting to shut the event down is a fair way for these activists to share their ideas. But that Sewanee's Women and Gender Studies department feels the need to rebut Sommers at all is unfortunate to begin with. As a complement to the radical theorists who dominate the field, her eminently fair-minded and respected work should be required reading by professors who wish to provide students of gender with balanced learning experiences.
But that would be asking too much.
For her part, Sommers, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, hopes to attend the panel and "have a friendly discussion" with her detractors. Though they may not want to let her into their club, letting Sommers into their panel would be in everyone's best interest.
A former philosophy professor whose classes were cross-listed in the women's studies department, Sommers always engages students in lively but fair conversations, often revealing their criticisms are based on misconceptions about her work.
Sommers' lecture at Sewanee, slated for Oct. 2, is being hosted by the school's Young Americans for Freedom chapter and the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute.
Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.