Boyd critical of Big Sister

July 08, 2004, vol. 30, no. 6
By Howard Fluxgold

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Criminology professor Neil Boyd's concern about the radical wing of the feminist movement has prompted him to write a controversial new book called Big Sister: How extreme feminism has betrayed the fight for sexual equality.

“The point of this book,” Boyd writes, “is not to slam feminism or gender equality, but to consider the influence of the typically self-described radical feminist.”

In an interview, Boyd says he wouldn't have written the book “if I thought it was in any way anti-feminist. I consider myself a feminist. But I have been concerned for some time about an extreme element in feminism that does not advance the interests of women, or men.”

In the book, Boyd identifies Big Sister as “the cadre of radical extremists who are spouting bogus science and silencing their critics with a combination of illogical mantras and vicious tirades.”

For Boyd, Big Sister is characterized by “a fundamentalist zeal. “The radical feminist movement, he writes, “caters to a narrow-minded culture of victimization, marketing its ideas to women (and men) who want explanations for their own unhappy lives.”

One of the changes he suggests is “a retooling of women's studies departments. They could be called gender studies departments and staffed with both male and female professors,” he says.

Boyd was ready for harsh criticism after the book was published, but so far has generally received considerable support.

“People who know me and who read the book, will know that I am not anti-feminist,” he explains. “Many people who define themselves as feminists agree with my arguments, but are reluctant to speak out, either because they don't like the nastiness of the extremists, or because they believe that any criticism of feminism undermines the movement itself.

“My view is that the ideas of radical feminists like Andrea Dworkin, Catharine MacKinnon, Lenore Walker, Ellen Bass and Laura Davis are bad ideas that undermine gender equality.” Boyd says he is prepared to debate his ideas in a public forum but is not sure that there will be many takers. “The extremists tend to be interested in preaching to the converted - the true believers.”

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