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Libertarian women’s history month: Cathy Young

30 Mar

Cathy Young (February 10, 1963- ) is an American journalist who was born in Russia. Young is known for her writing on the topics of rape and feminism. She has written articles critical of campus anti-rape activism.  Young is the author of two books, a frequent contributor to the libertarian monthly reason, and a regular columnist for and Time.

Born in Moscow, the capital of what was then the Soviet Union, Ekaterina Jung was 17 when her family emigrated to the United States in 1980. She became a naturalized citizen in 1987 as Catherine Alicia Young and graduated from Rutgers University in 1988. At Rutgers she wrote a column for The Daily Targum student newspaper and worked as a student writer for The Detroit News. She also completed her autobiography, Growing Up in Moscow: Memories of a Soviet Girlhood, published in 1989.
Continuing her association with The Detroit News, Young was a regular columnist for the newspaper from 1993 to 2000 and worked as a freelance journalist for a variety of publications including The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe Philadelphia InquirerNewsdayThe New RepublicThe Wall Street JournalThe American SpectatorNational ReviewSalon.comThe Weekly Standard, and Reason.
From 2000 to 2007, Young wrote a weekly op-ed column for The Boston Globe. In 2008, she began to write a regular column for In 2012, she became a weekly columnist for Newsday. Over the years, Young has had a close association with Reason, where she is a contributing editor and was a monthly columnist from 2001 to 2007. Since 2014, she has regularly contributed to Time.
Young is a research associate at the Washington, D.C.-based libertarian think tank Cato Institute, for which she co-authored a 1996 policy analysis paper, “Feminist Jurisprudence: Equal Rights or Neo-Paternalism?”. Her writing covers a variety of topics in politics and culture, with particular focus on gender issues and feminism, reflecting an individualist feminist perspective (c.f. Wendy McElroy), frequently agreeing with men’s rights activists, while calling them to task for emulating the identity politics associated with some forms of feminism. In addition to appearing on a number of radio and television shows, she has spoken on college campuses and, during 2001 and 2002, taught a 3-week gender issues course at Colorado College.
In her second book, Ceasefire!: Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality, published in 1999, Young criticized both feminism andtraditionalism from what she described as a “pro-equality point of view”, a philosophy which she says may be called “feminism or something else”. Young has been described by Steven Pinker as an “equity feminist” or alternately by New York Magazine as a “contrarian feminist”.
The Washington Post reported that Young has written numerous articles critical of campus anti-rape advocacy. Salon described Young as “having a history of writing to discredit [rape] victims” and as a “thorn in the side of the anti-rape movement“. Emma Sulkowicz, creator of Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight), described Young as an “anti-feminist” saying Young published Facebook conversations between her and her alleged rapist to “shame” her. Heather Wilhelm wrote in RealClearPolitics that Young’s article about Sulkowicz “sets aside the hype and soberly assesses the facts.” Commentary magazine stated that Young re-investigates “atrocious coverage of campus sexual assault myths” in the “hopes of setting the record straight and minimizing some of the incredible damage the accusations have done”. Steven Pinker described Young in his book The Blank Slate as an “iconoclastic columnist” who has argued against rape-related “dogma”, while Amanda Marcotte, writing for The Raw Story called Young a “professional female misogynist”. This criticism was in response to Young’s opposition to legislation proposed by Senator Kevin De Leon to address the issue of campus sexual assault by establishing an “affirmative consent” standard, also known as “yes means yes”.

Describing the Gamergate controversy in relation to feminism, Young has stated that she believes Gamergate is “a backlash against feminism, but it’s a backlash against a particular kind of feminism, one that has a tendency to look obsessively for offences, read ideology into everything, and demonize male sexuality under the pretext of stamping out ‘the objectification of women’.”
Young has defended the social media campaign Women Against Feminism