Weary of Wolf
If escaping the charge of right-deviationism requires that I treat Naomi Wolf as if she’s the Rosa Parks of the unwanted come-on, well then, I’ll pass. Luckily, there are plenty of non-conservatives who see it my way: As Cathy Young summarizes in Reason:
What's more interesting than Wolf's motives, though, is the fact that the reaction to her charges -- from other women -- has been uniformly negative. So far, Wolf has been lambasted by Meghan O'Rourke in Slate, Zoe Williams in The Guardian, Margaret Wente in The Globe and Mail, and Anne Applebaum in The Washington Post. The general consensus is that Wolf is giving feminism a bad name by using a petty charge of sexual harassment for a vendetta and perpetuating an image of women as helpless victims reduced to panic at the first sign of male piggery.
It’s pretty apparent from what she writes that Young inclines toward that view. (Is Reason--which listed Dennis Rodman and Madonna among its 35 heroes of freedom--getting its cultural marching orders from the Right these days?)
Not all women have cut Wolf loose, of course. Andrea Dworkin’s sticking with her. But for Andrea Dworkin, this is pretty tepid--I suspect her heart’s not in this one.
I'm up in the air as to the left-or-right question. There was a time when I was an"opening to the right" guy. Lately I incline toward an"opening to the left." But in any event, the fact that I think Naomi Wolf is--ah, how to put this gently?--overly dramatic and insincere--shouldn't be taken as evidence that I've been assimilated into some sort of right-wing hivemind. It's a conclusion that plenty of other reasonable people, thinking for themselves, have come to as well.
Charles Johnson - 3/5/2004
Cathy Young is not on the political right, exactly. But she -- as well as many of the critics that she cites (Applebaum, Camille Paglia, etc.) -- is something of a professional critic of feminism. Why is it a surprise that they didn't think much of Wolf's article? When have they ever thought much of anything that Naomi Wolf has done?
The curious thing about Young's blanket assertion is that it is obviously false, and that anyone who did a bit of poking around could have found that out; as Healy did. In spite of being very short, the Guardian piece that Healy links, "Who's Crying Wolf?", is a much more accurate picture of the debate. Excluding Wolf and Paglia (since the interviews were about both), two support Wolf (Dworkin and Lynne Seagal), three criticize her (Marcel d'Argy Smith, Jenni Murray, and Elizabeth Wurtzel), and one slams Paglia without much comment on Wolf (Julie Burchill).