We do it all the time, but as the philosophers tell us, psychologizing* is a sloppy way to formulate an argument. People who engage in this practice usually try to impute motives to their interlocutor or adversary without actually checking the truth of their own assertions.
Apparently the New York branch of the National Organization for Women (NOW) saw the Kennedy family's endorsement of the bepenised Barack Obama as a betrayal of feminism, or some such nonsense. This article quotes part of the angry NY-NOW statement. You can almost hear the sound of millions of furious labia minora and majora smacking threateningly, breathing puffs of yeasty flame:
"We are repaid with his [Kennedy's] abandonment!" the statement said. "He's picked the new guy over us. He's joined the list of progressive white men who can't or won't handle the prospect of a woman president who is Hillary Clinton."
Readers of this blog know that I worship at the altar of Camille Paglia, which doesn't exactly burnish my feminist credentials but does make me a better feminist, I think, than the puckered-sphincter masses who blindly follow the paleofeminist bloviations of Gloria Steinem and her frigid ilk. I mention this to drive home the point that, while I might not know what "real" feminism is, I can safely say that the above-quoted statement is an example of what feminism shouldn't be. Shrill (got that exclamation point!?), irrational (did they confirm that Kennedy's motives are indeed as sinister as they claim?), and stinking of victimization (Ted Kennedy has joined an evil fraternity of misogynistic white men!)-- the statement is exactly the sort of text that confirms the worst suspicions of male chauvinists: women can't put their thoughts in print because, as we can see here, they are unable to formulate even simple arguments without being brain-locked by their own ovaries.
Is that really the message the NY-NOW wants to broadcast? Too late-- the damage is done. The above-linked article goes on to note that NOW headquarters, which is manned (cough) by cooler heads, has essentially disavowed the NY-NOW statement:
Shortly after the local chapter reacted to Kennedy's endorsement, the national office of NOW in Washington, D.C., which has endorsed Clinton, released its own statement.
"The National Organization for Women has enormous respect and admiration for Senator Edward Kennedy," NOW President Kim Gandy wrote. "For decades Senator Kennedy has been a friend of NOW, and a leader and fighter for women's civil and reproductive rights, and his record shows that."
Gandy said her group respects Kennedy's decision to back Obama.
"We continue to encourage women everywhere to express their opinions and exercise their right to vote," she said.
Look, I'm never going to argue that men are a superior life form. As Michael Caine observed long ago, a naked woman is a work of art while a naked man is just silly (or something like that). I think women possess their own special, ancient wisdom, not to mention a form of rationality that actually runs deeper than the often more apodictic and linear (you clitty in!) male rationality. The male founders of the great religious traditions achieved greatness by tapping into that feminine wisdom, I think. Sophia is as vital as Logos; no yang can be tugged without a yin doing the tugging.
All of this is to make clear that I don't subscribe to the male chauvinist's stereotype, but that I think the New York chapter of NOW does.
*From Dictionary.com: to make psychological investigations or speculations, esp. those that are naive or uninformed.
psychologize. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/psychologize (accessed: January 30, 2008).