The Wall Street Journal reports that the new Hollywood trend is women involved in physical conflict — sometimes against each other. Christine Rosen of the Ethics and Public Policy Center argues in “Female Fight Club” that this trend can be traced to the influence of the academic elite and ideological feminism. This notion–that women’s essential differences from men translate into distinct (but not inferior) capabilities–has become known as “difference” feminism. Though it gained popularity among second-wave feminists in the 1980s, the underlying idea was always a feature of the cultural landscape. Whatever the merits of difference feminism in contemporary political discourse, in another arena it has all but disappeared: the movies. Here the classic trope of female vulnerability and male strength has been upended and replaced with the childish and somewhat delusional notion that women can surpass men in every area of competition.
After listing a series of Hollywood films featuring female aggression, Rosen explains: Today “do-me feminism” has morphed into “pummel-me feminism,” and it is not a surprise given our collective cultural insistence, despite the evidence, that women have equal physical potential–whether on the basketball court or in the bedroom. In her book “The Frailty Myth” (2000), for example, Colette Dowling described the “final stage of women’s liberation.” She argued that “by making themselves physically equal, women can at last make themselves free. The cover of her book featured the vein-bulging bicep of Ms. Dowling’s mythical creature: the woman who had finally “closed the strength gap” with men and embraced “physical self-esteem.” Anyone who argues with her analysis is itching for a fight.