Change always inspires reactionary backlash. Indirectly, the increasingly crude, loud, shouty open misogyny is evidence that feminism is winning. Actually dominant social views don’t need to resort to such open methods: Their very omnipresence makes them subtle and hard to focus on, like the air. What we’re seeing is the flailing, spastic death throes of dying attitudes, lashing out in desperate hope of fighting off the forces of change that are killing them — but it’s ineffective thrashing, and it’s only deepening the wounds. As Penny argues, their antics aren’t winning them friends and influence, but rather the opposite.
The open racism of the Tea Party — which is ultimately indistinguishable from the Republican “base” that the Southern Strategy worked on for years, even in the North — has much the same character. Racist attitudes are also mortally afflicted by cultural change and brute demographic facts, but by Gawd they’re going to go down screaming and flailing for all they’re worth!
In the end, though, I suspect that reactionary sexist and racist backlash is mostly sound and fury, signifying much less than it may appear. It’s an inevitable response to real change, but it doesn’t have any real potency to STOP the change. If anything, exposing its poisonous ugliness to the light of day only accelerates the pace of change.
Or at least, that’s what I think on my more optimistic days.