Good for Camille Paglia, who is apparently allowed to say what everybody knows without losing her job:
… There’s a directness and a robustness about working-class men–a vitality and authenticity that is not coming across in these feminist books. The more women succeed and rise up into positions of power, the more remote they become from actual masculine energy. …
… Women are being told “you are future leaders.” Meanwhile, we are more than our jobs. One reason Sex and the City was such an enormous hit is that it expressed something that feminism won’t admit: we don’t know what we want. … I want young women when they’re 14 to start thinking about what they want over the course of their lives. I think it’s criminal—child abuse—that they’re not told to do this …What’s been imposed on women is a male model of professional study and achievement.
And on the ridiculous, fabricated myth of a ‘rape culture’ in the West:
… This obsession with rape [in North America] is neurotic. … To see the world in terms of rape is absurd.
But this is the key point where she rejects the very Rousseauian basis of Liberalism. Welcome to the neoreaction Camille!
Can we teach men not to rape, as some argue?
You can try to teach people to make ethical judgments. Telling a rapist not to rape? [Laughs] A liberal ideology is out there that people are basically good. It’s a bourgeois version of reality—this idea that the whole world should be like a bourgeois living room and anyone who doesn’t belong, you can retrain. No you can’t! I was raised in the Italian working-class way, which is “watch out!” The world is a dangerous place. It’s up to you to protect yourself, not just from rape, but from anything.
The lack of imagination for criminality amazes me. There are people who are evil. The problem here is the inability of women to project themselves into the minds of men. Feminists say [proper, mocking tone] “women have the right to do whatever they want.” Of course we have the right to do whatever we want–to be jogging with earphones on with our breasts going like this [simulates breasts bouncing]. Yes you have the right to but it’s also stupid! I see with the eyes of the criminal. I must have a criminal mind.
You don’t have to ‘have a criminal mind’ to know what a criminal is likely to do, but it helps to believe in the idea that criminals are not ‘just like you’ and will not act the same way you do in the same circumstances. You hear a lot about empathy and sympathy these days, but in fact, people are encouraged to project their own psychologies into everyone else as much as possible (wouldn’t want to be judgmental now, would we?)
Robert Gordon once said that ‘Life is an IQ test.” Which is true enough, but when dealing with other people, especially competitors or those that might try to take advantage of your vulnerability, life is more like a Chess match. You have to try to wargame, predict, and anticipate what your social counterparties will do in reaction to your moves. If you don’t understand what makes them tick, you’re likely to feel entitled to do some pretty provocative and reckless things and not be criticized for a lack of prudent precaution. As Foseti has put it:
Men are forced to act like gentlemen, so women can be relieved of the consequences of acting like whores.
But it’s not reasonable to expect people with very different psychologies to figure each other out on their own. In the past, we could make up for such a natural lack of instinctive counter-party brain simulation with something called, ‘culture’. Here’s how it worked.
People aren’t all unique snowflakes with normally distributed and highly disperse behavioral tendencies. Their interactions, even rare ones, are hardly ‘random’ (the official press’ favorite crime adjective). If you pay attention and observe closely, you’ll notice distinct patterns, groupings, correlations.
You’ll be able to ‘update your Bayesian priors’, construct a rough mental model of how your world works, and make reasonably good predictions. People do this individually and collectively, and it eventually becomes deeply and embedded into the broad social framework as people tell their daughters, “You’re not going out like that! Don’t be stupid! Watch out!” They also prefer to raise those daughters in a social and media environment that reinforces these wise transmissions of messages of cultural capital. As opposed to contradicting and undermining them at every turn.
Alas, all three of these things are now badly broken. You’re definitely not supposed to notice social patterns. Forget about encouraging precaution and prudence; you’re just ‘blaming the victim’ (if she even is a victim, men may want to take the latest in sex text advice to protect themselves against the accusation). And if you want to find a culture these days which helps you in your efforts to raise your kids with modesty, discretion, restraint, and – gasp – maybe even a reasonably tiny bit of chastity, then you better be willing to get to your job raising barns on a horse buggy.
I think you’ll recognize what Paglia’s talking about here:
Feminism is dead. The movement is absolutely dead. The women’s movement tried to suppress dissident voices for way too long. There’s no room for dissent. It’s just like Mean Girls. If they had listened to me they could have gotten the ship steered in the right direction. My wing of feminism—the pro-sex wing—was silenced. I was practically lynched for endorsing The Rolling Stones. Susan Faludi is still saying I’m not a feminist. Who made her pope? Feminist ideology is like a new religion for a lot of neurotic women. You can’t talk to them about anything.
My favorite Paglia anti-politicized-art quote, “cant kills creativity.” What she says lines up well with some other recent work on the subject. The Guardian:
Feminism and the fight for sex equality are seen by the public as outmoded concepts which are failing to address the strains of modern lives, according to research published on the 75th anniversary of women winning equal voting rights.
A study commissioned by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) and published today found that feminism is regarded virtually unanimously in negative terms, ranging from old-fashioned to “ball breaking”.
Those questioned felt women were more equal than ever before and believed that issues such as women’s greater domestic role or concentration in lower-paid jobs are the result of individual choice and natural differences between the sexes which had to be addressed by individuals rather than, as the women’s movement argued, society as a whole.
I’m not going to support the study’s ‘indicative’ methodology, but the message is consistent with what I’ve been hearing from young and old, male and female alike. There’s also Salon:
Why don’t people behave in more environmentally friendly ways? New research presents one uncomfortable answer: They don’t want to be associated with environmentalists.
That’s the conclusion of troubling new research from Canada, which similarly finds support for feminist goals is hampered by a dislike of feminists.
Again, some pretty sketchy methodology yielding, I think, a shaky explanation. But keep in mind that a lot of this research was done on young people such as undergraduates, and it makes one wonder whether a sea change is afoot. In the coming years, once the death of feminism is finally universally acknowledged by all reasonable people, there will be plenty of efforts to write the post-mortem, “What happened to feminism?” And, judging by the Canadian research, that explanation will be totally wrong, “It was the messenger, not the message”.
No. It was the message. A message which suited the interests and ambitions of only the tiniest, but most influential, slice of women who called themselves ‘feminists’, who were speaking for themselves, but pretending to speak for all women. The message was that – except for ‘mere body composition’ – women are exactly the same as men, would be equally represented at all levels in all fields of endeavor if they tried, and that they ought to try to follow the traditionally male path to career success and ought not to choose (or ‘be forced into’) the path of mind-numbing housewife imprisonment, chained to a dullness.
And that this choice, to choose career and a chain of exciting boyfriends over as many years as possible, with marriage, family, and children a kind of slightly-negative after-thought you put off as long as possible – that is to say, choosing a vision of a man’s life – would make them happy.
I’m sure it made a certain elite slice of women happy. It made the movement leaders and writers happy. There were the ones who first entered previously closed professions and made it to the top of their organizations’ ladders, some certainly on the basis of talent and hard work, though some because of “Diversity!” (and a few sexual discrimination lawsuits). But what about the other 90% of women? Did it make them happier?
One theory advanced by the authors… is that the women’s liberation movement “raised women’s expectations” (sold them a bill of goods), making them feel inadequate when they fail to have it all. A second theory is that the demands on women who are both mothers and jobholders in the labor force are overwhelming.
I’m neither an economist nor a psychologist, but I’ll join the conversation with my own armchair analysis. Another theory could be that the feminist movement taught women to see themselves as victims of an oppressive patriarchy in which their true worth will never be recognized and any success is beyond their reach.
I’ve got to highlight this piece of poetic insight:
Grievances are like flowers — if you water them, they will grow, and self-imposed victimhood is not a recipe for happiness.
She goes on:
Betty Friedan started the feminist movement in the late 1960s with her book “The Feminine Mystique,” which created the myth that suburban housewives were suffering from “a sense of dissatisfaction” with their alleged-to-be-boring lives. To liberate women from the home that Friedan labeled “a comfortable concentration camp,” the feminist movement worked tirelessly to make the role of fulltime homemaker socially disdained.
Victory! Mission Accomplished!
A job in the labor force was upheld as so much more fulfilling than tending babies and preparing dinner for a hard-working husband.
Women’s studies courses require students to accept as an article of faith the silly notion that gender differences are not natural or biological but are social constructs created by the patriarchy and ancient stereotypes. This leads feminists to seek legislative corrections for problems that don’t exist.
It’s a running theme over at Lion’s place how people take their cues for how they are supposed to think and live from what they see repeatedly portrayed in a favorably light on television. And you haven’t seen a happy, religious, traditional housewife with lots of kids in decades. Well, it would be a challenge to add a few gay characters to such a show. He says that this has contributed to the disdaining campaign described above, along with a dramatic lowering of birth rates. I think he makes a good point.
Now, it is true that a lot of feminists are old, neurotic, abrasive, and obnoxious. Welcome to ‘advocacy activism’. But, like I said, the real reason Feminism Is Dead is because it’s not making women happy, and women themselves are beginning to realize that. It’s a false happiness model, a kind of false-consciousness of one’s youth.
It’s convincing women to think they want something enough to pursue it in their younger years, only to discover (more frequently than not), that they wasted them on something that wasn’t actually fulfilling or satisfying at all. And women aren’t nearly as able to bounce back after wasting their youth on a mistake the way men can. No ideology can ever change that.
But besides being a clearly false happiness model, feminism died for another good reason. It was wrong in its prescription for a fulfilling life, but that error derives from a more fundamental one, which was that feminism was wrong about what women are. And what they are is different from men.
It’s one thing to not know what you want. Lots of young people don’t know what they want, or what they will want – what will make them happy – when they’re older. Maybe somebody else knows; someone older, wise, experienced, and who’s been there. Someone who can mentor and coach; counsel and guide, but most especially help one to avoid the most likely dangerous mistakes.
But it’s another thing to be told what you should want now, and what you will want in the future, and it’s all wrong, just a bunch of fabricated ideological nonsense. Whoops, our bad, sorry about your social norms. How hard can those be to reestablish, really? Where do I go to get my culture back?
What is happening is that we now have a few generations of women born and raised on feminist nostrums and bunkum and the ‘dangerous mistakes’ and other regret stories are beginning to accumulate and become common knowledge. In the 60’s it was pretty rare to have a few elderly female relatives who were career successes but ended up lonely and bitter and disappointed. Nowadays, who doesn’t know one of those? That is a tragic way to regenerate Chesterton’s fences, but we fools wont learn any other way.
What is also happening is that, in parallel with a few brave scholars, entire communities have spring up consisting of intelligent and determined men who have decided to dedicate their lives to reverse-engineering the intricacies of what women want with regards to sexual attraction and relationships through endless trial-and-error experimentation.
That knowledge is also gradually penetrating in the common consciousness. In phase-1, it is mostly helpful for men trying to pick up girls, enhance their masculinity, and keep relationships loyal and passionate. But in phase-2 it spreads to the girls too, who gradually stop denying it, and instead start denying the unreal equality feminism and start embracing the distinction of their real femininity.
And in phase-3, just maybe, when we all understand women as well as Paglia understands criminals, we’ll find a new equilibrium of social norms cognizant of patterns of temptation, and evolved to minimize the incidence of regretful, dangerous mistakes. Judging what successful people do (as opposed to what they say) I’m guessing it looks an awful lot like the old equilibrium.
UPDATE: See this by Douthat, and go read Waldman’s “The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.” People, neoreactionary truths are starting to percolate into the open consciousness (and don’t forget Heartiste’s comment of the week)
“Contrary to what these women seemed to think,” Waldman writes of Nathaniel P.’s flings and semi-steady girlfriends, “he was not indifferent to their unhappiness. And yet he seemed, in spite of himself, to provoke it.”
He provokes it by taking advantage of a social landscape in which sex has been decoupled from marriage but biology hasn’t been abolished, which means women still operate on a shorter time horizon for crucial life choices — marriage, kids — than do men. In this landscape, what Nate wants — sex, and the validation that comes with being wanted — he reliably gets. But what his lovers want, increasingly, as their cohort grows older — a more permanent commitment — he can afford to persistently withhold, feeling guilty but not that guilty about doing so.
Waldman’s portrait of Nate’s romantic life is sympathetic enough to have earned her fan mail from young men. But it’s precisely because Nate is sympathetic rather than toxic that the “Nathaniel P.” phenomenon — or what Rebecca Traister has dubbed “the scourge of indecisive men” — is a hard problem to escape. Indeed, it seems like one of the hidden taproots of well-educated women’s work-life-balance angst, and one of the plausible explanations for declining female happiness in a world of expanded female opportunity.
And lurking in Waldman’s novel, as in many portraits of the dating scene (ahem, Lena Dunham, ahem), is a kind of moral traditionalism that dare not speak its name — or that can be spoken of only in half-jest, as when the novelist Benjamin Kunkel told Traister that the solution was “some sort of a sexual strike against just such men.”
Because Kunkel is right: One obvious solution to the Nathaniel P. problem is a romantic culture in which more is required of young men before the women in their lives will sleep with them.
The moral traditionalism that was so ground down by Feminism that it ‘dare not speak its name’ is ready rise again, this time armed with the ammunition of a few generations of experience of what was once a theoretical question: what happens when you abandon past wisdom? Like with Communism, we ran that experiment; it didn’t work out as well as they said it would.
Camille Paglia again, “It’s a Man’s World, And It Always Will Be“