The Feminist Religion

An attorney named Roy Den Hollander has caused a stir recently by filing a suit against Columbia University, alleging that by offering courses in women’s studies, the university discriminates against men (NYT report here). Den Hollander describes himself as an anti-feminist, and has tastefully declared himself to be on a “jihad” against feminists. You can read more about his colourful background and campaign here and here.

There’s not much point in wasting time on the substance of his suit, but I was rather taken with his accusation that Columbia uses government money to promote a “religionist belief system called feminism.” I suppose it’s probably just hyperbole; he can’t possibly think that feminism actually is a religion. But it did make me think of the advantages that might accrue if it were established as such. In the UK, we could look forward to charitable status for all feminist organisations; a regular slot on Thought for the Day; and, most excitingly, the chance to run feminist faith schools. Maybe, one day, we could even cement our status as a mature religion with internecine wrangling and eventual schism over the ordination of male clergy. Any suggestions for an appropriate deity?

17 thoughts on “The Feminist Religion

  1. I half wonder if he’s really serious. This is the same guy who sued some nightclub owner(s) for having a weekly `ladies’ night’.

    And evidently he’s not a very good lawyer: His suit accuses Columbia of using government aid to preach a “religionist belief system called feminism.” Columbia University, as a private institution, is pretty much free to promote any religion (or `religionist system’, whatever that is) it wants, whether that’s feminism or fundamentalist theism or social justice-y christianity. He has just as much standing to sue Notre Dame or Georgetown.

  2. Love this post! I’m stumped for a deity idea, though. I like how Melissa at Shakesville invokes “Maude” instead of God.

  3. You want to privilege monotheism?

    I think there might be a big tabby cat in the sky, but she’ll have kittens around her too, at least until they’re old enough to descend.

    I suppose one could argue that she must be her own mother, since otherwise there would be an infinite regress, or something would come from nothing. Given that, I suppose she could easily be mother and father to the kittens.

    Sounds like a deity to me.

  4. Roy, my dear, there’s no separate men’s studies department because it already exists in multitude — everything but women’s studies!

  5. Fantastic idea! But I really think our first schism needs to be over our choice of deity: Catharine MacKinnon? Betty Freidan? bell hooks? Judith Butler? Simone de Beauvoir?

  6. I’m tied between Simone de Beauvoir, Voltairine de Cleyre and Isis. Why Isis? You’ve gotta throw the classics in! In any true religion, you must reference another religion. :D

  7. I’m not convinced such good women would create a world like this. And I don’t want to see a feminist deity who ends up saddled with the problem of evil.

    We’ll just get all these men ‘proving’ she doesn’t exist, which will be intensely irritating.

    So I’m voting for the Tabby Cat, Maude.

  8. Noumena: I completely missed the point about Columbia being private. Makes the whole thing even more absurd.

    JJ: Good point re monotheism, how patriarchal of me.

    LIke all the suggestions; we’re building up a decent pantheon. The best I could come up with was Wollstonecraft…

  9. How about borrowing the Hindu goddess Kali? She runs around with a belt made of the skulls of the men she’s killed….but as I can’t decide between her and Simone de Beauvoir, why not a pantheon?

  10. i like this idea of feminism as a religion. i think it could be defended as such. i suppose wicca is a kind of feminist religion. … i did have a person doing hiring in philosophy say to me explicity that they didn’t want to hire a feminist. nothing could protect me against this kind of discrimination. unfortunately i see discrimination against a particular kind of femnism going on now in ws departments; where radical feminists are not hired or women friendly toward the second wave movement. luckily women can create their own independent education businesses… as i have done

  11. Beth
    I was just thinking about Kali when I saw your post, perfect though next to Maude, Simone de Beauvoir, Maria Lugones, and Rosanne, and Valona from good times, gotta rep us po folk too. can’t only have middle class white women, or maybe that would be extremely appropriate iff you look at most of mainstream feminism

  12. Ooh, I’ll second the vote for Maude the Tabby Cat, if we have to choose just one. :) (Which is not to say I don’t appreciate all the other suggestions, from Kali to Roseanne to bell hooks!)

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