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Posted by on Sep 13, 2012 in Drama, Feminism, Freethought Blogs, Philosophy, Progressive Politics, Science, Skepticism | 50 comments

Do You See A Misogynist In Your Toast?

Wikipedia, along with the sources cited therein, broadly defines feminist theory as the philosophical extension of feminism, encompassing two key principles: “(1) [that feminist] research should focus on the condition of women in society, and (2) [that feminist] research must be grounded in the assumption [] that women generally experience subordination.” Post-modern feminism goes even further, and rejects the claim that only rational abstract thought and scientific methodology can lead to valid knowledge. In other words, feminist theory, in at least some of its iterations, explicitly rejects science and rational thought. This is why I am mystified when certain science advocates view feminism and postmodern and/or Marxist feminist theory as the only logical conclusion of rationalism and science. Confused? You should be.

I’m guessing that most of the people reading this already know that homeopathy is ineffective at worst and a placebo at best. But what if we were to conduct research on homeopathy in the same manner that feminists conduct research on feminist theory? First we’d have to assume that homeopathy is, indeed, effective. Then as evidence, we would need to view every positive effect experienced by anyone taking homeopathic remedies as irrefutable proof of our assumption. Thus, homeopathy would be considered an effective remedy despite the countless times it has no effect at all. Is this logical? I think not. This does, however, seem to explain why certain feminists see misogyny wherever they look. Since they’ve accepted the subordination of women as a basic premise, any manifestation of conduct that could even remotely be construed as misogynistic only serves to further support the assumption. What’s worse is that since it’s already presumed that women are subordinated, any attempt to advocate for equality is immediately seen as misogyny. After all, treating unequals equally can often be unjust. Thus, at its most extreme, merely questioning the presumptions inherent in feminist theory becomes a moral sin.

Personal experiences are valid to the people who experience them. As fellow human beings we should take the personal experiences of others into account even when they differ from our own. Learning how to relate to and empathize with others is the hallmark of healthy social interaction. But this doesn’t change the fact that personal experience, without more, is mere anecdote and must be treated as such in scientific endeavors.  And it doesn’t mean that when someone cries “Misogyny!” it’s necessarily there.