On giving feminism a bad name:

In her recent reivew  of Susan faludi’s “The Terror Dream,” Michiko Kakutani writes

This, sadly, is the sort of tendentious, self-important, sloppily reasoned book that gives feminism a bad name.

We (Jender) blogged about the Faludi book a while back, and the point here is not whether, as the present review points out, there are counter-examples to Faludi’s generalizations, but rather the opening sentence of the review.

If there were a class in how to write bad reviews, it could start with “Announcing your bias in the first sentence,” and use Kakutani’s sentence as an excellent example.  It implies:

1. Feminisim has a bad name
2. There’s something like a whole genre (“sort”) of tendentious, self-important and sloppy feminist books.

Really? Thanks to the efforts of so many people, the first may be true in some (large?) circles.  But don’t we need some evidence for the second? Dare one suggest that MK is the sort of reviewer who gives journalism a bad name when she writes tendentious, self-important and sloppy comments like this?

“They look like girls, but act and think like boys”

Quote from a scientist, discussing behavior of worms that have been genetically manipulated to be attracted to “the same sex”.  So what it is to act and think like a “boy” is to be attracted to “girls”.  Problematic enough (especially since the claim is that these *worms* act and think like boys, which seems to me pretty insulting to boys).  But it gets more so:

There are no true females and only one in 500 nematodes is male. Most are hermaphrodites, with both male and female organs. Jorgensen and White loosely refer to hermaphrodites as females because they produce offspring.    

What it is to be a “girl” is to produce offspring. So, being “a girl” is a matter of reproductive ability, and acting like “a boy” is a matter of who you’re attracted to. Good to know.Still, the study seems to show that, at least for some worms, sexual orientation is genetically “hard-wired” in the brain. This may be interesting and useful once we free it from the desperate attempt to describe it in terms of ill-defined sex/gender categories.