Christina Hoff Sommers

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Christina Hoff Sommers
Christina Hoff Sommers on Louder with Crowder.jpg
Christina Hoff Sommers on Louder with Crowder in 2016.
Born Christina Marie Hoff
(1950-09-28) September 28, 1950 (age 66)
Petaluma, California, U.S.
Occupation Author, university professor, scholar at The American Enterprise Institute
Alma mater New York University
Brandeis University
Notable works Who Stole Feminism?, The War Against Boys,Vice and Virtue in Everyday Life
Spouse Frederic Tamler Sommers (widowed)

Christina Marie Hoff Sommers (born September 28, 1950) is an American author, former philosophy professor, and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a conservative think tank. Sommers is known for her critique of contemporary feminism.[1][2][3] Her work includes the books Who Stole Feminism? (1994) and The War Against Boys (2000), and her writing has been featured in a variety of different media outlets, including The New York Times, Time, and The Atlantic. She also hosts a video blog called The Factual Feminist.

Sommers' positions and writing have been characterized by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy as equity feminism, a classical-liberal or libertarian feminist perspective which suggests that the main political role of feminism is to ensure the right against coercive interference is not infringed.[4] Sommers has contrasted equity feminism with victim feminism[5] and gender feminism,[5][6] arguing that modern feminist thought often contains an "irrational hostility to men" and possesses an "inability to take seriously the possibility that the sexes are equal but different".[5]

Early life and career[edit]

Sommers was born in Petaluma, California,[7] to Dolores and Kenneth Hoff.[8] She is Jewish.[9] She earned a BA at New York University in 1971, and a PhD in philosophy from Brandeis University in 1979.[8] From 1978 to 1980, Sommers was an instructor at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. In 1980, she became an assistant professor of philosophy at Clark University, and was promoted to associate professor in 1986. Sommers remained at Clark until 1997, when she became the W.H Brady fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.[8]

Sommers married the Harry A. Wolfson Chair in Philosophy at Brandeis University, Fred Sommers, in 1981,[8][10] and was widowed in 2014.[11] She has two sons.[8][12]

Sommers is a member of the Board of Advisors of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.[13] She has appeared on numerous television programs including Nightline, 60 Minutes, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and Comedy Central's The Daily Show, and has lectured and taken part in debates on more than 100 college campuses.[5] and served on the national advisory board of the Independent Women's Forum[14] and the Center of the American Experiment.[15] Sommers has written articles for Time,[16] The Huffington Post,[17] The Atlantic,[18] Slate,[19] and The New York Times.[20] At the AEI she currently makes the weekly "Factual Feminist" video blog.[21][22]

Ideas and views[edit]

Sommers describes equity feminism as the struggle based upon Enlightenment principles of individual justice[23] for equal legal and civil rights and many of the original goals of the early feminists, as in the first wave of the women's movement. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy categorizes equity feminism as libertarian or classically liberal.[4] She characterizes gender feminism as having transcended the liberalism of early feminists so that instead of focusing on rights for all, gender feminists view society through the sex/gender prism and focus on recruiting women to join the struggle against patriarchy.[24] Reason reviewed Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women and characterized gender feminism as the action of accenting the differences of genders in order to create what Sommers believes is privilege for women in academia, government, industry, or the advancement of personal agendas.[25][26]

Sommers is a longtime critic of Women's Studies departments, and of university curricula in general.[citation needed] In an interview with freelance journalist Scott London, Sommers said, "The perspective now, from my point of view, is that the better things get for women, the angrier the women's studies professors seem to be, the more depressed Gloria Steinem seems to get."[27] While some authors have called her works and positions anti-feminist,[28][29][30] Sommers rejects such claims.[31]

According to The Nation, Sommers explains to her students that statistically challenged feminists in women's studies departments engage in "bad scholarship to advance their liberal agenda" and are peddling a skewed and incendiary message: "Women are from Venus, men are from Hell."[32]

Sommers has written about Title IX and the shortage of women in STEM fields. She opposes recent efforts to apply Title IX to the sciences[33] because "Science is not a sport. In science, men and women play on the same teams. ... There are many brilliant women in the top ranks of every field of science and technology, and no one doubts their ability to compete on equal terms."[34] Sommers writes that Title IX programs in the sciences could stigmatize women and cheapen their hard-earned achievements. She adds that personal preference, not sexist discrimination, plays a role in women's career choices.[35] Sommers believes that not only do women favor fields like biology, psychology, and veterinary medicine over physics and mathematics, but they also seek out more family-friendly careers. She has written that "the real problem most women scientists confront is the challenge of combining motherhood with a high-powered science career."[34]

Sommers supports legally recognizing same-sex marriages.[36]

Sommers tweeted that she is a registered Democrat with libertarian leanings.[37]

Early works[edit]

During the mid-1980s, Sommers edited two philosophy textbooks on the subject of ethics:Vice & Virtue in Everyday Life: Introductory Readings in Ethics (1984) and Right and Wrong: Basic Readings in Ethics (1986). Reviewing Vice and Virtue for Teaching Philosophy in 1990, Nicholas Dixon wrote that the book was "extremely well edited" and "particularly strong on the motivation for studying virtue and ethics in the first place, and on theoretical discussions of virtue and vice in general."[38]

Beginning in the late 1980s, Sommers published a series of articles in which she strongly criticized feminist philosophers and American feminism in general[39][40] In a 1988 Public Affairs Quarterly article titled "Should the Academy Support Academic Feminism," Sommers wrote that "the intellectual and moral credentials of academic feminism badly want scrutiny," and asserted that "the tactics used by academic feminists have all been employed at one time or another to further other forms of academic imperialism."[41] In articles titled "The Feminist Revelation" and "Philosophers against the Family," which she published during the early 1990s, Sommers argued that many academic feminists were "radical philosophers" who sought dramatic social and cultural change - such as the abolition of the nuclear family - and thus revealed their contempt for the actual wishes of the "average woman."[42][43][44] These articles would form the basis for Who Stole Feminism.[44]

Who Stole Feminism[edit]

Main article: Who Stole Feminism?

In Who Stole Feminism, Sommers outlines her distinction between "gender feminism", which she regards as being the dominant contemporary approach to feminism, and "equity feminism", which she presents as more akin to first-wave feminism. She uses the work to argue that contemporary feminism is too radical and disconnected from the lives of typical American women, presenting her equity feminism alternative as a better match for their needs.[45] In criticizing contemporary feminism, Sommers writes that an often-mentioned March of Dimes study which says that "domestic violence is the leading cause of birth defects", does not exist, and that violence against women does not peak during the Super Bowl, which she describes as an urban legend, arguing that such statements about domestic violence helped shape the Violence Against Women Act, which initially allocated $1.6 billion a year in federal funds for ending domestic violence against women. Similarly, she argues[46] that feminists assert that approximately 150,000 women die each year from anorexia, an apparent distortion of the American Anorexia and Bulimia Association's figure that 150,000 females have some degree of anorexia.[47][48]

Melanie Kirkpatrick of the Hudson Institute, writing in The Wall Street Journal, praised the book for its "lack of a political agenda. ... Ms. Sommers simply lines up her facts and shoots one bullseye after another."[49] In contrast, Laura Flanders of the progressive Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), panned Sommers's book as being "filled with the same kind of errors, unsubstantiated charges and citations of 'advocacy research' that she claims to find in the work of the feminists she takes to task ..."[47] Sommers responded to FAIR's criticisms in a letter to the editor of FAIR's monthly magazine, EXTRA!.[50]

The War Against Boys[edit]

In 2000, Sommers published The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men. In the book, Sommers challenged what she called the "myth of shortchanged girls" and the "new and equally corrosive fiction" that "boys as a group are disturbed."[51] Criticizing programs which had been set up in the 1980s to encourage girls and young women - largely in response to studies which had suggested that girls "suffering through neglect in the classroom and the indifference of male-dominated society"[52] - Sommers argued in The War Against Boys that such programs were based on flawed research, arguing that it was just the other way around: boys were a year and a half behind girls in reading and writing and less likely to go to college.

She blamed Carol Gilligan as well as organizations such as the National Organization for Women (NOW)[52] for creating a situation in which "boys are resented, both as the unfairly privileged sex and as obstacles on the path to gender justice for girls." According to Sommers, "a review of the facts shows boys, not girls, on the weak side of an education gender gap."[8][53]

Sommers asks society not to pathologize boys but to understand them, asserting:

We are turning against boys and forgetting a simple truth: that the energy, competitiveness, and corporal daring of normal, decent males is responsible for much of what is right in the world.[54]

The book received mixed reviews. In conservative publications such as the National Review and Commentary, The War Against Boys was praised as "an indispensable book," which exposed "the ballyhooed 'crisis of young girls' as the creation of feminists armed with dubious studies and savvy PR skills,"[8][55] and "identified a problem in urgent need of redress."[56] Writing in The New York Times, opinion columnist Richard Bernstein called it a "thoughtful, provocative book," and suggested that Sommers had made her arguments "persuasively and unflinchingly, and with plenty of data to support them."[57] Publishers Weekly suggested that Sommers' conclusions were "compelling" and "deserve an unbiased hearing," while also noting that Sommers "descends into pettiness when she indulges in mudslinging at her opponents."[51] Similarly, a review in Booklist suggested that while Sommers "argues cogently that boys are having major problems in school," the book was unlikely to convince all readers "that these problems are caused by the American Association of University Women, Carol Gilligan, Mary Pipher, and William S. Pollack," all of whom were strongly criticized in the book. Ultimately, the review suggested, "Sommers is as much of a crisismonger as those she critiques."[58]

In a review of The War Against Boys for The New York Times, child psychiatrist Robert Coles wrote that Sommers "speaks of our children, yet hasn't sought them out; instead she attends those who have, in fact, worked with boys and girls--and in so doing is quick to look askance at Carol Gilligan's ideas about girls, [William] Pollack's about boys." Much of the book, according to Coles, "comes across as Sommers's strongly felt war against those two prominent psychologists, who have spent years trying to learn how young men and women grow to adulthood in the United States."[8][59] Reviewing the book for The New Yorker, Nicholas Lemann wrote that Sommers "sets the research bar considerably higher for the people she is attacking than she does for herself," using an "odd, ambushing style of refutation, in which she demands that data be provided to her and questions answered, and then, when the flummoxed person on the other end of the line stammers helplessly, triumphantly reports that she got 'em." Lemann faulted Sommers for accusing Gilligan of using anecdotal argument when her own book "rests on an anecdotal base," and for making numerous assertions that were not supported by the footnotes in her book.[60]

Writing in The Washington Post, E. Anthony Rotundo stated that "in the end, Sommers ... does not show that there is a 'war against boys.' All she can show is that feminists are attacking her 'boys-will-be-boys' concept of boyhood, just as she attacks their more flexible notion." Sommers's title, according to Rotundo, "is not just wrong but inexcusably misleading... a work of neither dispassionate social science nor reflective scholarship; it is a conservative polemic."[61]


The National Women's Political Caucus (NWPC) awarded Sommers with one of its twelve 2013 Exceptional Merit in Media Awards[62] for her New York Times article, "The Boys at the Back".[63] In their description of the winners, NWPC states, "Author Christina Sommers asks whether we should allow girls to reap the advantages of a new knowledge based service economy and take the mantle from boys, or should we acknowledge the roots of feminism and strive for equal education for all?"[62]

See also[edit]

Selected works[edit]



  • 1988, "Should the Academy Support Academic Feminism?" Public Affairs Quarterly 2 (1988): 97-120.
  • 1990, "The Feminist Revelation" Social Philosophy and Policy 8, no. 1 (1990): 152-57.
  • 1990, "Do These feminists Like Women?," Journal of Social Philosophy 21, 2 (Fall 1990): 66-74

Edited Works[edit]

  • 1984, Vice & Virtue in Everyday Life: Introductory Readings in Ethics. Co-edited with Robert J. Fogelin for the 2nd and 3rd editions, and with Fred Sommers for the 4th and subsequent editions. ISBN 0155948903.
  • 1986, Right and Wrong: Basic Readings in Ethics. Co-edited with Robert J. Fogelin. ISBN 0-15-577110-8.


  1. ^ Kester-Shelton, Pamela; Shelton, Ashley A.; Mazurkiewicz, Margaret, eds. (17 September 1996). "Christina Hoff Sommers". Feminist Writers. Detroit: St. James Press. pp. 444–446. Philosopher and educator Christina Hoff Sommers's principal work, Who Stole Feminism?, is an edgy invective against contemporary feminism as the author perceives it. 
  2. ^ "Biography in Context". Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale. 2005. (subscription required (help)). Christina Hoff Sommers attracted wide attention for her controversial 1994 book, Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women, an indictment of the contemporary feminist movement. 
  3. ^ Taylor Malmsheimer (June 27, 2014). "Independent Women's Forum Challenges One In Five Statistic - New Republic". New Republic. ...Christina Hoff Sommers, a former philosophy professor best known for her critiques of late-twentieth-century feminism. 
  4. ^ a b "Liberal Feminism". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 
  5. ^ a b c d Christina Hoff Sommers. "What's Wrong and What's Right with Contemporary Feminism?" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on January 17, 2009. Retrieved 16 November 2014. The dominant philosophy of today’s women’s movement is not equity feminism--but “victim feminism.”  Hamilton College speech, 19 November 2008.
  6. ^ Marshal, Barbara L. "35: Feminism and Constructionism (in Part VI: Continuing Challenges)". In Holstein, James A.; Gubrium, Jaber F. Handbook of Construtionist Research. p. 693. Christina Hoff Sommers (1994) coined the term gender feminism in opposition to equity feminism. 
  7. ^ "Christina Marie Hoff was born on September 28, 1950 in Sonoma County, California". California Birth Index. Retrieved July 6, 2016. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h "Christina Hoff Sommers." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2005. Biography in Context. Web. 29 Feb. 2016.
  9. ^ Christina Hoff Sommers (4 October 2016). Christina Hoff Sommers @ CSULA (Video). Los Angeles: YAFTV. Retrieved 5 October 2016. I am a white Jewish, cisgendered, hetero-normative, age-enhanced, middle-class female. 
  10. ^ Kester-Shelton, Pamela; Shelton, Ashley A.; Mazurkiewicz, Margaret, eds. (17 September 1996). "Christina Hoff Sommers". Feminist Writers. Detroit: St. James Press. pp. 444–446. 
  11. ^ Andreas Teuber, Fred Sommers — A Tribute, October 23rd 2014.
  12. ^ "77 North Washington Street". The Atlantic. May 1, 2000. 
  13. ^ "Advisors". Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Archived from the original on February 1, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2009. 
  14. ^ Schreiber, Ronnee (2008). Righting Feminism. Oxford University Press. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-19-533181-3. 
  15. ^ "Christina Hoff Sommers." The Writers Directory. Detroit: St. James Press, 2015. Biography in Context. Web. Accessed 3 Mar. 2016.
  16. ^ Christina Hoff Sommers profile,; accessed August 30, 2015.
  17. ^ Christina Hoff Sommers profile,; accessed August 30, 2015.
  18. ^ Christina Hoff Sommers profile,; accessed August 30, 2015.
  19. ^ Christina Hoff Sommers profile,; accessed August 30, 2015.
  20. ^ Christina Hoff Sommers profile,; accessed August 30, 2015.
  21. ^ "Factual Feminist". AEI. 
  22. ^ "Factual Feminist". YouTube. 
  23. ^ Who Stole Feminism?, p. 22.
  24. ^ Who Stole Feminism?, p. 23.
  25. ^ Tama Starr, "Reactionary Feminism", Review of Christina Hoff Sommers' Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women, Reason magazine, October 1994.
  26. ^ Mary Lefkowitz, "Review of Christina Hoff Sommers Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women", National Review, July 11, 1994.
  27. ^ "The Future of Feminism: An Interview with Christina Hoff Sommers". 
  28. ^ Vint, Sherryl (March 1, 2010). "6: Joanna Russ's The Two of Them in an Age of Third-wave Feminism". In Mendlesohn, Farah. on Joanna Russ. Wesleyan University Press. pp. 142–. ISBN 9780819569684. Retrieved June 1, 2015. some third-wave concerns can be translated into a distinctly antifeminist agenda such as that put forward by Roiphe or by Hoff Sommers 
  29. ^ Projansky, Sarah (1 August 2001). "2: The Postfeminist Context: Popular Redefinitions of Feminism, 1980-Present". Watching Rape: Film and Television in Postfeminist Culture. NYU Press. pp. 71–. ISBN 9780814766903. Retrieved June 1, 2015. antifeminist (self-defined) feminists such as Shahrazad Ali, Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Wendy Kaminer, Daphne Patai and Noretta Koertge, Katie Roiphe, Christina Hoff Sommers, and Naomi Wolf 
  30. ^ Anderson, Kristin J. (September 23, 2014). "4: The End of Men and the Boy Crisis". Modern Misogyny: Anti-Feminism in a Post-Feminist Era. Oxford University Press. pp. 74–. ISBN 9780199328178. Retrieved June 1, 2015. Anti-feminist boy-crisis trailblazer Christina Hoff Sommers 
  31. ^ Christina H. Sommers [CHSommers] (November 26, 2014). "My Wikipedia profile now calls me an "opponent" of feminism. Not so. Strong proponent of equality feminism--always." (Tweet). Archived from the original on December 22, 2014. Retrieved November 30, 2014 – via Twitter. 
  32. ^ Houppert, Karen (November 7, 2002). "Wanted: a Few Good Girls". The Nation. Archived from the original on February 1, 2012. Retrieved February 1, 2012. 
  33. ^ "AAUW Celebrates 38th Anniversary of Title IX With Calls for Grater Enforcement", American Association of University Women, June 2010
  34. ^ a b Christina Hoff Sommers, "The Case against Title-Nining the Sciences", September 2008.
  35. ^ Christina Hoff Sommers, "Is Science Saturated with Sexism?", February 2011.
  36. ^ "Freedom to Marry, Freedom to Dissent: Why We Must Have Both". April 22, 2014. 
  37. ^
  38. ^ Nicholas Dixon, Book Review, Teaching Philosophy 13 No. 1 (March 1990): 47.
  39. ^ Tom Digby, "Political Correctness and the Fear of Feminism." The Humanist 52, no. 2 (March 1992), 7.
    • Digby describes Sommers as "quite notorious among philosophers" as "the author of several articles... attacking feminism generally and certain feminist philosophers in particular."
  40. ^ Marilyn Friedman "The Lived Happily Ever After: Sommers on Women and Marriage." Journal of Social Philosophy 21, Issue 2-3 (September 1990): 57–58.
    • "In a series of papers... Christina Sommers mounts a campaign against feminist philosopher and 'American feminism' in general."
  41. ^ Sommers, Christina. “Should the Academy Support Academic Feminism?”. Public Affairs Quarterly2.3 (1988): 97–120.
  42. ^ Christina Sommers, "The Feminist Revelation," Social Philosophy and Policy, 8, 1 (Autumn 1990): 141-58.
  43. ^ Christina Sommers, "Philosophers against the Family," in Virtue and Vice in Everyday Life, edited by Christina Sommers and Fred Sommers, 3rd ed. (Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace).
  44. ^ a b Dwyer, Susan. "Who's Afraid of Feminism?" Dialogue 35.2 (Spring 1996): 327-342.
  45. ^ Kinahan, Anne-Marie. (2001). "Women Who Run from the Wolves: Feminist Critique as Post-Feminism", Canadian Review of American Studies 32:2. p. 33.
  46. ^ Christina Hoff Sommers (May 1, 1995). Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women. Simon and Schuster. pp. 12–13. ISBN 978-0-684-80156-8. 
  47. ^ a b Flanders, Laura (Autumn 1994). "The 'Stolen Feminism' Hoax: Anti-Feminist Attack Based on Error-Filled Anecdotes". Archived from the original on 5 February 2005. September/October 1994 
    "The 'Stolen Feminism' Hoax". 1 September 1994. Archived from the original on 21 February 2013. Sep 01 1994 
  48. ^ McElroy, Wendy. "Prostitution: Reconsidering Research".  originally printed in SpinTech magazine, reprinted at on 12 November 1999.
  49. ^ Kirkpatrick, Melanie (1 July 1994). Wall Street Journal.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  50. ^ Christina Hoff Sommers (15 March 1995). "Reply to FAIR". Archived from the original on March 5, 2001. Christina Hoff Sommers' reply to charges disseminated by the left wing media watchdog group FAIR  letter to Mr. Jim Naureckas, Editor, EXTRA!, FAIR Editorial Office
  51. ^ a b "The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men." Publishers Weekly, 26 June 2000: 59.
  52. ^ a b Bell-Russel, D. (2000). The war against boys: How misguided feminism is harming our young men. Library Journal, 125(11), 102.
  53. ^ Christina Hoff Sommers (May 2000). "The War Against Boys". TheAtlantic.Com. Archived from the original on August 19, 2012. Retrieved 30 August 2015. How did we come to believe in a picture of American boys and girls that is the opposite of the truth? .. The answer has much to do with one of the American academy's most celebrated women—Carol Gilligan 
  54. ^ Brainy Quote
  55. ^ Richard Lowry, "The Male Eunuch," National Review, July 3, 2000
  56. ^ Finn,Chester E.,,Jr. (2000, 09). Puppy-dogs' tails. Commentary, 110, 68-71.
  57. ^ Richard Bernstein, Books of the Times: Boys, Not Girls, as Society's Victims,, July 31, 2000.
  58. ^ Carroll, Mary. "The War against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men." Booklist 1 May 2000: 1587.
  59. ^ Robert Coles, Boys to Men, Two views of what it's like to be young and male in the United States today, New York Times, June 25, 2000.
  60. ^ Nicholas Lemann, "The Battle Over Boys," The New Yorker Vol 76 Issue 18 (July 10, 2000), 79.
  61. ^ Rotundo, E. Anthony (July 2, 2000). "Review of The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men". 
  62. ^ a b 2013 Exceptional Merit in Media Awards (EMMAs) Winners, National Women's Political Caucus Archived December 4, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.‹The template Wayback is being considered for merging.› 
  63. ^ Christina Hoff Sommers, "The Boys at the Back",, February 2, 2013.

External links[edit]