HuffPost Personal recently posted an opinion piece titled “I Took My 15-Year-Old Son To See ‘Barbie’ Because I’m Worried He Could Become Ken,” which at first I understandably took to be satire. But no, progressivism is often simply a parody of itself, and that is the case with this HuffPost piece. Beyond its unintentional entertainment value, however, it’s a revealing look into the mindset of feminists who wrestle with the misfortune of having borne one or more male children instead of daughters with whom they can bond over their shared oppression under the boot heel of – ugh – men.
The author is Wendy Besel Hahn (pronouns she/her), a writer and editor and the 51-year-old mother of a 15-year-old son. Her HuffPost article is full of virtue-signaling about her compassionate activism, Trump-hating moral superiority, and determination to raise a feminist son, but it also betrays an underlying, misandrist panic that her son’s very nature is toxic and must be exorcised out of him.
“I’m painfully aware that my son is merely six years away from having more rights in America than I do,” she says, referring to the “privilege” of “bodily autonomy” she “lost” when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
So Hahn was “thrilled” that the smash summer movie Barbie, which has drawn widespread criticism among many conservatives for its heavy-handed feminist messaging, gave her the opportunity to educate her son about “the patriarchal American society we live in today.” As a former English teacher, she wishes “all teachers would assign their students to watch ‘Barbie’ in place of summer reading selections like ‘The Grapes of Wrath.’” She need not worry about that –there are plenty of activist educators who would eagerly swap out great literature from our cultural heritage for feminist propaganda. Hahn unwittingly makes a great case for homeschooling.
This isn’t the first time Hahn has worked on shaping a neo-Marxist worldview for her son. Happily embracing accusations of “woke” and “indoctrination,” Hahn states that she’s “been inoculating my son against hate for years.” As far back as the 2016 election victory of Donald Trump, which left her “sobbing on our family room couch in a suburb outside Washington, D.C.,” she “implored him to use his privilege to help” fight hate. He was eight years old.
But their fight is an uphill battle, because “we live in a country where white nationalism is on the rise, as are antisemitic incidents and anti-LGBTQ legislation,” she asserts. “We live in a country where women do not control our own bodies.” In the face of this medieval oppression, she adds defiantly that she is “fighting to raise a son who doesn’t become the next Kyle Rittenhouse, Brock Turner or Elon Musk.”
What an odd trio to hold up as examples of toxic patriarchy. The teenage Rittenhouse shot three (white) Black Lives Matter rioters, killing two of them in self-defense as they assaulted him and tried to take his weapon, with which they very possibly might have then killed him (the attackers were all men, by the way, but apparently Hahn considers left-wing rioting to be acceptable male behavior and self-defense to be toxic). Turner was a Stanford student convicted in 2016 of sexual assault, whose six-month sentence with three years’ probation and the lifetime label of “sex offender” sparked outrage. Billionaire Musk, of course, has essentially become Dr. Evil in the Left’s eyes after taking over Twitter and making it moderately less suppressive of conservative voices. These three don’t seem to have anything in common except that they are white males, but that’s damning enough in Hahn’s racist, misandrist perspective.
Anyway, so she took her son to see Barbie. “Sitting in a theater with my son and watching Ken ask Stereotypical Barbie (played by Margot Robbie) if she wants to have a sleepover offered me the opportunity to point out that consent is important and needs to be honored,” Hahn writes. She sounds like a fun movie companion. It’s a wonder her son didn’t slip away from her and into an adjoining theater where he could enjoy the latest testosterone-fueled entry in the Mission: Impossible franchise without the social justice hectoring from his embarrassing mom.
Hahn goes on to write,
We discussed how the frustration Ken feels at being left out of fun in Barbieland mirrors how women and other minorities feel in America today. Together, we laughed about Barbie and Ken’s trip to the “real world” and the Mattel corporate headquarters, where only men sit in the boardroom. I assured my son that it’s OK to feel slighted and want to be in charge. It’s understandable that after his return, Ken leads a revolt and tries to rewrite the Constitution to put Kens in power. I get it: I’m pretty mad there are only four female Supreme Court justices and a female vice president.
She’s angry that only about half the Supreme Court is female, and that a female is “only” vice president? What would it take to satisfy this woman that America is not a Handmaid’s Tale dystopia of crushing misogyny? Like all committed feminists, she is not looking for equality but for a world in which women dominate. She wants a future that is female, to paraphrase Hillary Clinton’s sexist campaign slogan. Is that the future she wants for her son?
Hahn goes on to lament, “To be voiceless or outnumbered is to be vulnerable ― and worse, too often it means being unable to succeed in a world where you don’t have the same rights or access to opportunities as others.”
What insufferable self-pity. Let me be clear, as Barack Obama was fond of saying: social media shadow-banning aside, no one in America is voiceless. Never in history have there been so many affordable opportunities to express oneself freely to the entire world, even if (or perhaps especially if) you belong to the most intersectional of the Left’s numerous victim categories. (The only people who could legitimately be considered voiceless are the poor of any color, whom society ignores because they have no cultural or political power to exploit.) The irony of Hahn complaining, in an opinion piece published at one of the biggest progressive outlets on the worldwide web, that she and her oppressed sisters are silenced and denied opportunities to succeed is completely lost on her, because she is so deeply enmeshed in her own treasured illusion of victimhood.
“I want my son to fully understand the message that ‘Barbie’ has emblazoned in front of us, because the patriarchy is real and too many people are suffering under it. And he can help change that,” she concludes.
Hahn adds that she intends to “keep teaching him about this messy world whenever I can.” The indoctrination does seem to be succeeding. She notes that she was pleasantly surprised one day when he commented “how messed up” the conservative boycott of Bud Light beer was in the wake of the self-inflicted mortal wound of its ad campaign featuring trans performance artist Dylan Mulvaney. His mother was pleased that “he understands his privilege and sees a world that desperately needs diversity.” What ideological blinders she wears, to believe that white males are inherently “privileged” in our current culture and that America lacks diversity.
One question that looms large over this depressing essay is, Where is the son’s father in all this? No mention at all is made of him or any male adult role model in this teenage boy’s life: not a father, a grandfather, an uncle, a trusted teacher or pastor, no one. The boy either has none or his mother has chosen not to include them in the story; either way, it is sadly revealing. For that matter, no sibling of either sex is mentioned, so we must presume he is the only child of a woman, likely a single mother, who clearly frets about her son’s masculinity.
I dissected Wendy Besel Hahn’s story at length not just to mock her but because it is far from unusual for feminist mothers to express their frustration, panic, and sometimes barely-concealed resentment over being saddled with raising a boy. In addition to a plethora of online advice about how to ensure that your son grows up to be a submissive feminist, there are articles like this 2016 Washington Post piece in which the author anguishes over the possibility that her two sons will contribute to “rape culture.” Then there is this one: “Why Am I So Sad About Having a Boy?” And this one: “I Am a Feminist Raising a Boy and I Am Scared,” in which the author states, “I am terrified I will raise a misogynist, contributing another male who is prejudice [sic] against women into our society.”
These progressive mothers (and feminist fathers too) see themselves as burdened or challenged with children whose “toxic” nature terrifies and disgusts them. No one in America is “suffering” under a patriarchy, as Hahn puts it, but too many sons are suffering for being treated by their feminist parents as a potential societal threat. It will take those boys years and maybe decades to liberate themselves from the indoctrination, if they escape it at all, or they will reject it (and their mothers) in a backlash that swings too far. Either way, it’s damaging and tragically emblematic of our feminized culture’s fear and loathing of masculinity.
Emasculating our sons is not the way to create a culture in which men respect and defend women, and in which both men and women function together in society as equally dignified children of God but in complementary fashion. The answer is not for feminist parents to brainwash boys and young men out of what makes them masculine, but to reject the false ideological assumptions of feminism altogether and give them moral and spiritual guidance that will channel that masculinity toward honorable ends. That is how our sons and daughters alike can thrive.
Follow Mark Tapson at Culture Warrior