Part Three: Utopian and Parochial
Why Western Feminism Won’t Do
A commenter on Belmont Club, Michael McCanles, says:
…feminists have destroyed the willingness of males in the chattering classes to talk seriously about the military as anything other than a manifestation of the fact that all males are bloodthirsty rapists, and if women had their way there would be no more wars.
Mr. McCanles is sadly correct. The feminist world-view, which includes an over-the-top hatred of men and of all things male, is malignantly deviant from reality. In what has become the commonplace Alice-in-the-Looking-Glass metaphysic of American feminism, “masculine” does not mean assertive or strong, or capable. In their lexicon, masculine equals evil. And not just bad, either; men are also stupid, inept, and lost without a woman to somehow alchemize their base nature. Further, with women leading the way to utopia there would be an end to war because women are essentially peaceful and choose to work cooperatively rather than arrange themselves in a patriarchal hierarchy. Those who believe that women aren’t as aggressive as men obviously haven’t spent time in an all-female workplace. A totally feminine environment is rife with in-fighting, betrayals and vying for power , made all the more vicious for the lack of men to leaven the mix.
The men of the chattering classes (one way to recognize this group is the fact that, no matter how old they are, they still know their SAT scores) have scuttled their integrity in order to belong to the “in” group. Currently, the In Group is composed of those who consider victimology life’s highest calling. The driving force behind their work is enshrinement of the victims of whichever demonized Oppressor is being dunked in tar at the moment. Take your pick of the victim roles which allow you to rail against the unfairness of men: Native American? Good. Differently-abled? Very good. Female? Yes! Native American female and handicapped? Ah, the summum bonum! Notice that this highest good has nothing to do with achievement and everything to do with railing against life’s inherent unfairness.
It has become a waste of time to ask how we got here. Using the analogy of rescue work — say digging victims out of the rubble left behind by the tsunami — what has become critical to fixing this cultural mess is saving those we can and mourning those we can’t. Even in metaphysics there is triage.
The awful irony and failure of American feminism lies in its parochial and utopian nature. Women all over the world suffer grievously at the hands of the more powerful. Just how important is the notion of glass ceilings or hiring quotas or sexual “harassment” when your fellow women are sold into slavery, endure clitoridectomies, rape, and finally merciful death, thus being spared the mourning they would be forced to do, having witnessed the brutal death of their children? And while this is going on, we teach our girls how to be aggrieved.
This elitist version of what it means to be female has done our culture great harm, both here in our institutional life and abroad. Here our boys are pilloried for being proto-men, our girls are given vapid, trivial and cruel aphorisms to which they are supposed to aspire. “Girls rule” is not a message to live by.
Meanwhile, in the opposite and equal reaction coming to your screen via Al-Jazeera, girls die. Other cultures see our ever-increasingly dissatisfied women and, politely or brutally, decline to go there.
To some significant degree, the fate of men today is shaped by the nuclear age. MAD inevitably entails a decline in traditions of male, fundamentally martial, dignity, at at time when war is often reduced to surgical strikes by computer-guided missiles. The loss (if not total) of dignified combat will, I imagine, hold true in the long term whatever the welcome post 9-11 re-appraisal of men in uniform and the need to free the women of the world from their real oppressors. Terrorism and the mess in the ME will keep us on our toes for some time, still, most men will have to make their way in daily confrontation with consumer society, e.g. buying SUVs to make them feel that they are rugged producers on the well-paved drive into the office cubicle.
In this situation, men are left to compete in the market, but even here the hand of monopolizing corporations and undignified office politics holds many back, leaving us desperately trying to work some manly entrepreneurship as alternative (hey come buy my dotcom stock; no, we don’t turn a profit yet, but that’s not relevant any more as long as valuations of the team go up). I sometimes think that the blogosphere is a reflection of our desperate cries to speak truth and live again with honour (and here we must insist on the long vowel in the second syllable, no dropping u’s to American efficiciency).
So, agreeing with your distaste for the regnant esthetic of feminism, my question is can you imagine men and women interacting in future in ways that will not further reduce men to undignified shrews. How can the phallic be self-sacrificing in productive ways, and not be reduced to participation in some PC blackmail in order to get, well, laid, or otherwise reproductively used?
As a note on PC feminism, let me say it is interesting what you say about women in groups. This has been said before but rarely. There has always been a code of silence in feminism on the question of how women treat women. If we have become tired of victimary whining against the patriarchy, perhaps we are still in need of a few exposes of the feminist club.
But this raises for me another question. How are we to raise the young girls in our families? Feminism, old and new school, combines to promise them everything, while not necessarily offering the corresponding reality checks, as evidenced by the above-mentioned code of silence. If language and religion began as a male-dominated institution, as I’m sure they did, the initiation into the community’s unquestioned, ritualized norms (unquestioned as the precondition for its internal peace) was always combined by the need for young men to engage the frontier between the language-bound community and the outside world of warring enemies and nature. There was thus a basis to question the usually unquestioned communal norms when this could be shown to strengthen the community vis a vis its outside. There was a built-in reality check, which, as I suggested above, so many of us hope would be more prevalent today (which is why there is some truth in the idea that conservatives “welcome” the terrorist threat, not that it isn’t real). The resentment of the success of market leaders will always be with us, and terrorism has a long way to go yet; still, how many people have to face honestly this reality in an age of pc blather getting off on criticism of real (often amateur or semi-retired) experts and professional soldiers.
But if men have it bad in this respect, arguably women can have it even worse. The feminists may be taking over the humanities in the universities but if you were to send your young women to them, wouldn’t that be like giving them a prolonged initiation into a tribe with no reality checks, self-righteously reproducing the utopian dogma of the sisterhood? So how do we raise our young boys and girls to be worthy of each other in a world in which they are not simply consumers for the nanny state, the healthcare industries, and the “we’ll take care of all your worldly needs” consumer-corporate culture? Sorry, big question, but hoping to provoke discusison.
Great posts as always.
In my own Sid the sloth way(Ice Age),last week I began to offer jumping off points for discussions much along the same lines.
However, after reading both you and truepeers I’ll have to go off and do a few deep kneebends and starjumps and hopefully will be able to come back and punch above my weight long enough to make a comparable contribution.
You’ve asked many questions here; it looks as though you’ve used the post as a jumping-off place for a number of cultural themes you’ve been considering for awhile.
First, I don’t think the specter of MAD ever kept us free of the possibility of miltary skirmishes throughout the years that the nuclear freeze was the over-arching cultural fear. The myth of “surgical strikes” promulgated by those fellas in The Building (the Pentagon) were never more than fairy-tales. The only people who listened to these whoppers were the contractors building the ‘surgical’ weapons (meanwhile, our soldiers face unneccessary danger in half-assed, dumbed-down troop carriers, some of which have been dubbed “exploding coffins”).
For all these years since WWII, real men still have guarded the periphery, though they did it in Germany and South Korea and other outposts scattered world-wide. Those called to the military and to the defense of their country never bought into the disdain the elites exhibited for our Jacksonian forebears. In fact, were the media not such fellow-travelers of the academic manadarins, most of us would never hear about them. With the MSM to trumpet their ever-more-irrelevant ideas, we are reminded of what they stand for and how they endanger the commonweal.
On to women next.
Upon further consideration, in this case ….I think it better to stay silent and be thought a fool…
Oh dear…was it something I said?
No, not at all… its merely that here I can’t be lazy…and therefore I would have to apply a higher level of intellectual rigor.
Do I go play touch football on the quad, or do I go in and defend my dissertation? Hmmm?
Creating a cogent argument and being prepared to both defend and expand any and/or all points that may speak to breadth and depth of both your excellent commentaries is one option.
Alternatively, picking out one or two points from both your commentaries without having contributed in kind seems to me to be what I describe as “drive-by refuting”
Fair game in many a web-site but an attitude I don’t wish to bring to yours.
Do I go play touch football on the quad, or do I go in and defend my dissertation? Hmmm ?
This sounds like scylla and charybdis. Do you stay outside and play football or do you go in to become the football in the gang war known as graduate school?
truepeers — I’ve responded at length in my new post.
Dymphna, i have endured “Sexual Harrassment Training” at work– do you know you recognize sexual harrassment as a grrl in the defense industry? If someone annoys you