Dads Against the Divorce Industry

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Ms. Magazine - Hateful (of men) Feminism

by Cathy Young

Ms. magazine has turned 25 years old. Its rather turbulent life includes a death in 1989 and an ad-free rebirth in 1990, with a present-day subscription base of about 200,000. To the extent that the feminist movement has an official voice, Ms. is it.

    Over the years, Ms. has explored many important issues and published articles about many fascinating women of the past and present. But the magazine also confirms - particularly in its post-1990 incarnation - a lot of stereotypes about feminism.

    Take the notion that feminism is an intolerant orthodoxy. A 1993 cover of Ms. proclaimed, "No, Feminists Don't All Think Alike." If only the cover story - a conversation among Gloria Steinem, Naomi Wolf, Bell Hooks and Urvashi Vaid - had matched the headline.

    True, there was some disagreement about tactics (e.g., is it OK to use the "capitalist" media to reach mainstream audiences). And Wolf suggested that many women were alienated from feminism by fear that they would be harshly judged for their heterosexual habits. But all seemed to agree that American women live under "sexist oppression" and need a "left, revolutionary movement." Wolf heatedly denied being a centrist. No one questioned Hooks' praise for communist Angela Davis as a heroine for "revolutionary feminism."

    Two years later, Ms. attacked feminists who really don't think alike - who, for example, question the ever-expanding definition of rape - as "pod feminists," as in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

    Or take the charge that feminism is dominated by the lunatic fringe. All-sex-is-rape feminist Andrea Dworkin - and they don't get much loonier or more fringe than that - can usually count on a platform in Ms. But Ms. forays into weirdness certainly don't end there. In 1995, the magazine ran a glowing profile of writer and self-proclaimed witch Zsuszanna Budapest, whose books recommend using hexes, herbs and magical symbols at work to "manage an unruly computer," get a raise or punish a sexual harasser.

    Ms. also embraces the notion that many children, especially girls, are victimized by ritual sexual abuse in Satanic cults. While investigations have failed to uncover any evidence of such cults, this did not stop Ms. from publishing a 1993 cover story by an anonymous "survivor" claiming that she was abused in a cult while her baby sister, delivered in secret (somehow, no one noticed her mother was pregnant), was sacrificed and eaten.

    Finally, take the charge that feminists are anti-male. In a 1990 article titled "Delusions of Safety," Marcia Ann Gillespie, now the editor of Ms., reminds women that "your husband, lover, son or brother may be a terrorist in waiting." A 1991 article asserts that "interaction with men is hazardous for women" because all men have internalized oppressive, misogynist values to one degree or another. The "nice men" are by far the most dangerous, warns author Kay Leigh Hagan, because they "allow us to slip into denial." Denial is exhibited by any woman who believes that "my father/husband/dentist is not 'that way.'"

   Since 1991, virtually every article I've been able to find in Ms. about fatherhood deals with physically or sexually abusive fathers.

   By the way, Ms. also has published articles wondering why many young women are wary of identifying themselves as feminists. Any clues?

Cathy Young is vice-president of the Women's Freedom Network. Her column is published on Tuesday. You may write her at The Detroit News, Editorial Page, 615 W. Lafayette, Detroit, Mich. 48226. Her e-mail address is

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