Forgive a little wandering in introduction of my point. I was intrigued by Megan McArdle's offhand point under 2), recounting how girls in groups pick an out-girl that everyone picks on. This is true? I have heard mothers complain about how cruel girls can be, but I never put it into a pattern or a theory-of-everything. I forwarded the above link to a psychologist friend of about my own age, asking about this girl behavior. She is much more liberal than I, but a bright and open-minded person who often has interesting insights.
Perhaps I should have picked a different female psychologist of my own age-cohort or something. This one was notably defensive in her reply. She expressed some annoyance that feminist had become an unattractive label to women over the last twenty years. She related it to Susan Faludi's book Backlash - society had resented the growth of women's power and had moved to drain and belittle feminism. In contrast, she saw feminism as having always been inclusive and affirming.
My first thought was "What year was that, that feminism was inclusive and affirming?" I was also around for the beginning of that and was a deeply socialist person who wanted to remake society in the direction of feminism. But even then there was scalding anger directed at all males, sympathetic to the cause or not. I chalked it up to it being a new movement, not quite focused and brimming with personal angers, but figured that was normal and unremarkable. The women of my experience who identified most closely with feminism were bright, thoughtful, usually pleasant women. I figured that the rising batch of younger feminists would sort all this out in the next decade or so and develop a broad, fairly coherent political philosophy that I would quite obviously support.
I keep thinking that has happened, but every few months something comes up that shoots this down. It's not just the public feminists, writing books and heading up organizations. I expect them to be a little extreme, a little outrageous. The original essay goes over the top, but not frighteningly so. But read the comments. Not just some of the comments, but long successions of them. Holy crap. Feministe, firedoglake, Bitch, PhD, and most of the women at HuffPo wish real evil on people who disagree with them.
And in person, where people are more polite, it's that swift, scalding anger from otherwise affable women defending them. Most of these have excellent social skills and politeness, so you have to be alert to the burn. To the manner born, and all that.
Does everyone do the same? Are gay people just fine regular folks until you get on gay topics? Are Christians generally fun until you tread on their holy toes? Black people, environmentalists, anti-taxers - are we all mostly pleasant, warm, sociable people until that soft area is poked and we turn mean?
BTW, I really am asking about that all-female societies thing from Ms. McArdle's essay. Was that how camp was, through highschool? Girl's dorms? Female professions? When and how does it go away - or go underground?