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Caitlin Flanagan Demolishes Modern Feminism (Really!)

By Taylor Marvin

Via Scott Lemieux, yesterday’s New York Times has an outrageously dumb piece by the irrepressible Caitlin Flanagan:

“Hysteria is the most retrograde and non-womyn-empowering condition. It’s not supposed to happen anymore (we have Title IX!), but it won’t seem to go away. Both history and myth are filled with stories of girls exhibiting bizarre symptoms around the time of puberty — from Cassandra and her raving, to the girls of the Salem witch trials, to the girls whose households were believed to be the site of poltergeist hauntings, to cheerleaders in New York and North Carolina. Pubescent girls, it seems, are manifestly more likely to exhibit extreme and bizarre psychological symptoms than are teenage boys.”

Do you see what Flanagan’s doing here? In her argument, anecdotal evidence of a possible medical disorder that might disproportionately affect pubescent girls challenges the foundations of modern feminism. Not convinced? Flanagan can give you like five completely unrelated data points spanning from the Trojan war to our womyn-empowering post-Title IX modern day!

I’m always astounded by this level of analysis, whether its Flanagan pretending that half a dozen casual anecdotes validate her worldview or Tablet printing the patently insane argument that Iran’s falling fertility rate’s evidence the whole country has a death wish. This kind of writing would get you laughed out of an undergraduate classroom, but somehow there’s a market for famous, well compensated adults to dream up the unique brand of gloriously self-validating op-eds that spring from the authors’ head like Minerva, born fully-formed despite having never come into contact with reality.

Edit: Slightly edited for clarity/snark.

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