Feminists eschewviolence evenas they decry it

Virginia Heffernan Contributing columnist

‘The Godfather” ends with a famous scene in which each of the heads of the five most powerful New York mafia families is assassinated. One is exiting a gilded elevator. One is in a white tuxedo. One is on the steps of the Foley Square courthouse. One is on a massage table. One is in bed with a prostitute.

Each is relishing his privileges, in other words. And suddenly he’s gone.

So far, despite the feminist anger that burns brightly from sea to shining sea, no one has been shot point-blank in the eye at the behest of #MeToo. And though hundreds of men, by my estimate — Vox had it at 219 in May — have been questioned or sidelined following credible reports of sexual harassment and abuse, violence is unlikely, right? Among feminists, assassins are few. Female activists don’t tend to riot, either.

Instead, this week, protesters thronged the lobby of the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill for #CancelKavanaugh, a demonstration to show support for psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford, who accuses Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in 1982.

For the past two years, feminists, their numbers swelling, have stuck to the letter of nonviolence doctrine, inherited from the civil rights movement. The Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21, 2017, which kicked off a new highly organized and seemingly dauntless phase of feminist activism, was organized in part at the Gathering for Justice, a nonprofit headquartered in New York and founded by civil rights agitator (and actor and singer) Harry Belafonte. The call for the January march, timed to coincide with President Trump’s inauguration, sparked a record-breaking single-day protest, the largest in American history. For a global protest of that size to be thoroughly peaceful, as the Women’s March was, is almost unheard of.

And without striking physical blows, #MeToo and the latest wave of feminist activism has been almost terrifyingly effective. Feminism now pervades liberalism, and it has become its leading edge, deftly sidestepping the defeatism that nips at the edges of other liberal causes in the Trump era.

One thing making contemporary modern feminism so effective is that it has become common sense, part of the air we breathe. The radical outliers now seem to be the strange affronted creatures who bristle and snap when accused of harassment or abuse, producing weird phonemes about how misunderstood they are.

As #MeToo continues to serve its purpose, innumerable people — of all genders — have added their voices to the chorus of those who have endured and witnessed sexual harassment, assault, rape, abuse, and coerced silence and complicity. Whistleblowers no longer face stone-cold disbelief as everyone from centrists to celebrities to churches declares trust in them. Those whose spidey sense told them for years that something was wrong with some men they encountered — in the workplace, in the locker room, at the frat party — are getting the details.

And justice is being served in a way we cannot fail to appreciate. Stripping male harassers and abusers of their power, their microphones, their hedge fund portfolios — as well as their reputations — seems not so much cruel or unusual but fair and square. Losing your job in broadcast or banking, in fact, seems a mild social sentence for people who have, at the least, created a hostile work environment and, at most, committed violent felonies.

And the work of #MeToo is not letting up. It’s hard to see any outcome of the Ford story except this: If alleged sexual assailant Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed, the process will serve as a catchy recruitment video for a still-more-activated feminist base.

The powers that be can be happy that women don’t riot. Or, not usually. Sure, there have been a few feminist incidents: The revolutionary women in Paris in 1789. British suffragists rose up violently in 1910. Oh, and there were the Aba Women’s Riots in Nigeria in 1929. All bloody affairs, but come on, American women would have to be furious to exchange pussy hats and protest signs for helmets and tactical vests.

Oh, wait.

Virginia Heffernan Contributing columnist
https://www.yourdailyjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_heffernan-2.jpgVirginia Heffernan Contributing columnist

Virginia Heffernan has been a staff writer for The New York Times, as a TV critic, magazine columnist and opinion writer. Tribune News Service distributes her column.

Virginia Heffernan has been a staff writer for The New York Times, as a TV critic, magazine columnist and opinion writer. Tribune News Service distributes her column.