“You’re an asshole” and “Promote women not hate” were some of the comments that protesters shouted at the beginning of an event featuring Milo Yiannopoulos and Christina Hoff Sommers.
If these people had the attention span to hear a differing viewpoint, they would have perhaps learned that Sommers and Yiannopoulos were in fact promoting women — not hate and ignorance.
One of Yiannopoulos’s first talking points was the ‘myth’ of the wage gap between women and men. As Yiannopoulos explained it, “There was a difference between life long earnings and the difference in wages.” Simply put, “while women may earn less over time the statistics show that this is due to life and career choices, rather than a difference in wage.”
Essentially, this indicates that the difference in wages is not an act of oppression or lack of opportunity but rather an act of free will.
Yiannopoulos went on to say that, “I think feminism has wandered very far from its original purpose. Feminism and the struggle for women’s rights is the thing that perhaps we can be most proud of, together with the civil rights struggle in the West.”
“Women receiving vote and having equal access and opportunity to educational institutions is perhaps one of the greatest achievements of our society,” he continued, “It is not something that happens everywhere else in the world.”
It was at this point that Yiannopoulos distinguished one of the main separations of the current generation of feminism from previous ones, in that it plainly “doesn’t care much about those other places in the world” and rather focus on “policing against microaggressions and mansplaining.”
Yiannopoulos concluded his speech by stating the main point of the lecture is to calm down and rely more upon the facts and actual data, rather than an “increasing hysteria at ever smaller infractions.”
Christina Hoff Sommers opened her portion by reiterating that no member of the University of Minnesota’s Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies Department had stepped forward to debate Yiannopoulos when invited.
Sommers challenged Yiannopoulos on his views when it came to the nature of feminist radicalism being the result of ‘lesbianic’ influences, stating that some of her closest allies in the fight against radical feminism were in fact lesbians.
Proceeding from this, Sommer’s went into the background of the current feminist movement, which split off in the 1990s from mainstream feminism of the time. This new wave of feminism, based on the teachings of Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon, who preached what Sommers’ argued was ‘fainting couch feminism.’ ‘Fainting couch feminism’ is a form of feminism which does not empower women Sommers argued, but instead allows them to shy away from trivial things which make them uncomfortable.
Sommer’s explained that her feminism was not the one of safe spaces and microaggressions, but one of strength and facts.
Women are equal.
However, modern feminism, “based upon propaganda beyond the rational analysis,” results in the “danger of combining moral fervor with misinformation.”
“These are not the features of an authentic liberation movement,” Sommers said, “But rather an irrational cult.”
It is undermining many of the liberties that the first and second wave feminist in fact fought very hard for.
Throughout the question and answer section the speakers stated their opinions on a variety of issues when it comes to the new wave feminism movement. This included disgust over the lack of reaction to the rape of women in Cologne, Germany and the problems with affirmative consent policies on American college campuses. Yiannopoulos stated that such policies simply stand against the sexual liberation that many women fought for in earlier feminist movements.
The members of the audience who actually came to listen rather than protests found the event not to be one promoting hate speech against women, but rather a rational talk on how best to empower a women’s movement based in reality. No event could better fit with the University of Minnesota’s new slogan, “Driven to Discover.”