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In Car Crash Interview, Author Naomi Wolf Learns On Air that the Thesis for the Book She Is Promoting Is Horribly Wrong

By Dustin Rowles | Books | May 24, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | Books | May 24, 2019 |


Naomi Wolf was a leading figure in the third-wave feminist movement. She consulted on Bill Clinton’s Presidential campaigns in an effort to help him woo female voters, as well as Al Gore’s unsuccessful Presidential campaign. Over the course of her career, she has had some valid points, and not so valid points. I am not, for instance, a fan of Wolf’s belief that abortion is “homicide” but that women have the right to murder their babies, because I do not believe that abortion is homicide, and to believe so plays right into pro-life arguments (her quote, via Wikipedia, that passionate feminists “might well hold candlelight vigils at abortion clinics, standing shoulder to shoulder with the doctors who work there, commemorating and saying goodbye to the dead,” kind of makes me want to jump out of my skin in anger, but it’s not my lane, so … )

What does seem to be evident, at least according to The Atlantic and others, is that Noami Wolf is sloppy in her research. “In her various books, articles, and public speeches, Wolf has demonstrated recurring disregard for the historical record and consistently mutilated the truth with selective and ultimately deceptive use of her sources.”

That sloppiness is evident here, in a radio interview in which Naomi Wolf realizes that the underlying thesis to a book she is promoting is completely, horribly, embarrassingly wrong. It’s excruciating to listen to, and if you can’t handle that level of second-hand embarrassment this early in the morning, I understand. The gist of it is this: The historical record shows that the last person executed for sodomy in Britain was 1835. Naomi Wolf claims in her book that dozens of men were executed after that year. She bases this claim on the term “death recorded” found in historical criminal records. Wolf believes that “death recorded” means that these men were hanged. The interviewer, however, informs Wolf that that’s not what the term means at all. “Death recorded” is a status that allowed judges to abstain from handing down execution sentences, and thus all of the executions Wolf cites as evidence of her thesis didn’t actually happen.

“Well, uh, that’s a really important thing to investigate,” Wolf responds. Uh, you think?

Here is her misunderstanding in the context of her book, Outrages: Sex, Censorship, & the Criminalization of Love, which illustrates her misunderstanding of the term “death recorded.”

I almost feel bad for Wolf, but for the fact that this is not the first time that she’s played fast and loose with the facts.

I think this person says it best:

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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