Medievalists and non-medievalists alike have been reacting strongly and with passion to the revelation via social media (Twitter and FB) that a senior scholar whose work is highly regarded maintains a website full of anti-feminist vitriol and appallingly misogynist assertions. You can read the website yourself by following this link (I have used the Do Not Link version, so that it will not increase traffic to the website).
What is written on these webpages is appalling. My initial reaction was this declaration on Twitter, but that was not enough. On Facebook I wrote:
"Let's call it the femfog for short, the sour mix of victimization and privilege that makes up modern feminism and that feminists use to intimidate and exploit men ... I refer to men who are shrouded in this fog as FUMs, fogged up men. I think they are also fucked up, but let’s settle for the more analytical term. These may might not be feminists but as they wander through the mist of politics and polemic about women, they feel like they should be feminists. They think feminism is good for everybody and they want to be nice to women ... My aim in this RP essay is to help you clear the fog of feminist propaganda. Grab your balls (GYB) and be the man you want to be."
Yes, these words come from medievalist Allen J. Frantzen, who now seems to have reinvented himself as an enthusiastic trafficker in misogyny. Maybe it's the femfog I'm shrouded in speaking, but the problem is not feminism (of which we have far too little, rather than too much). The problem is people like Frantzen, who in the guise of reason market hatred. I'm appalled by what he has written.
As to a "the sour mix of victimization and privilege": physician, heal thyself.But that still was not enough. Many people were surprised that Frantzen would say such things, and some asked if he is ill, or told stories of him being nice to them. Others pointed out that such feelings were continuous with behaviors they had observed or been at the receiving end of.
I suppose I can kind of get the surprise. In 1994 Frantzen called out J. R. Hall for having used the description "fem-fog" to dismiss the scholarship of Gillian Overing, and now here he was using the same term to dismiss all women living and dead. Many of us are great admirers of his book Desire for Origins, and it is tough to have rethink that relation now in light of his enthusiastic misogyny.
Even as I write an email arrived telling me that I am being "extremely unprofessional" for condemning this writing. I actually think, though, that it is my obligation to condemn publicly misogyny and other forms forms of hate from any scholar in my field. Here's what I wrote on Facebook, and I share it here because I don't want it only in that small media circle. I believe this. I try to live it.