Weird, awkward, and annoying behavior? Sure. But sexual harassment? In some other zeitgeist, no. But in our current moment, many people would say yes, it qualifies.
After the women posted their accounts in 2013, an unfortunate number of those trained in careful, evidence-based thinking — science writers who knew Zivkovic — credulously and without compassion accepted that he was guilty of sexual harassment.
He was pushed out at Scientific American and ostracized by the science-blogging community he loved and helped build. In Zivkovic’s terms, he lost everything.
Of course, he’s just one of many men recently deemed guilty without legal or even social due process. What his accusers have in common — and they’re not the only women today to demonstrate this quality — is a festering passivity that can turn poisonous.
Such behavior did not emerge in a vacuum. In fact, it’s a product of twenty-first-century feminism. Feminists have gone from fighting for equal rights to demanding that women be treated like eggshells. Feminism is now a movement that disables women, ruins men’s lives, and destroys professional and romantic relationships between the sexes.
Understanding this is the single-best way for a man to avoid social and professional disaster.
AMERICAN women had some seriously legit grievances back in the nineteenth century and first part of the twentieth. They were denied voting rights, and once married, they had all the legal and financial autonomy of their husband’s hat or his goat.
Pioneering feminists rose up in the mid-1800s and began a battle that led to women getting the vote in 1920 and gaining greater legal recognition of their personhood.
Second-wave feminism — aka the women’s liberation movement — took off in the sixties and carried onward until the late eighties. But women no longer had a single unifying goal, like getting the vote, and feminism eventually splintered into factions.
There was a well-to-do white-lady feminism, famously embodied by Betty Friedan’s 1963 best-seller The Feminine Mystique, a socio-ballad of frustration capturing the existence of the cocktails-and-tranquilizers set: middle-class and wealthy housewives, bored and dissatisfied by traditional marriage, homemaking, and child-rearing.
Black women — already busy being ignored for leadership positions in the civil rights movement — were not happy that Friedan claimed to speak for a sweeping feminism yet excluded their experiences and interests. This led them to form their own feminist faction in the sixties and seventies. Latin women and other female minority groups did the same.
The 1960s also saw that mass uncrossing of women’s legs — the sexual revolution — and before long, up popped some female authoritarians with their sex-panic feminism. The most prominent? Radical feminist Andrea Dworkin, a man-hating neo-prude who insisted that the male sex lived to oppress, degrade, and dehumanize women.
Dworkin saw heterosexual sex as an act of violent aggression perpetrated by a man on a woman. (“Penetration is Violation,” a classic Dworkin-inspired slogan goes.) The purpose of pornography, Dworkin argued, was not to get off but to make women “inferior, subhuman.” (How porn for gay men might do that she never got around to explaining.)
Dworkin characterized women who didn’t share her views as dumb bunnies — basically idiots “colluding in their own oppression.” The argument involved a broad-brush diminishing of women, foreshadowing the infantilization of women by today’s feminists.
The nineties launched a third-wave feminism, a movement still with us. Once again there was factional splintering. However, the most powerful third-wave strand — still extremely influential today — is what I call “women as weaklings feminism.”