As a possessor of the fabled Y chromosome, I am not directly privy -- sometimes regardless of my preferences -- to conversations among women. As I don't aspire to superspy status and lack the equipment required to "bug" such conversations, I, like most American men, only hear about such exchanges second-hand.
That's more than enough.
No, I don't believe everything I hear. But I do believe in the reality of the attitudes conveyed by such reports. They're amply confirmed by personal experience.
First up this morning, an atypical rant from Amelia Hamilton, triggered by angry-ugly-girl reactions to Audi's Super Bowl commercial:
It’s Valentine’s Day and romance is in the air. Am I allowed to say that? It would seem that romance is no longer allowed in American society, and I’ve recently figured out why. It’s not because of men, as women like to think. It’s because women ruin everything for women....
Women complain that the available men today are beta males. We want them to man up, we want them to be bold, but what do we do when they are? We accuse them of all manner of wickedness. We can blame the men all we want, but is it really reasonable to do so? Ladies, would we not be better served to blame the true culprit: feminism?
Please read the entire article; it's quite brief and well focused. The part quoted here serves a purpose of mine, to be disclosed a few hundred words later.
My second citation for today comes from longtime favorite Joan of Argghh:
Ladies, here’s what’s bugging me: why do you thirst for failure from your beloved?
You know it’s true, girlfriend. In your dark little selfish places, you want to prove to yourself that you’re better, that he’s lesser and so gain the upper hand. What the hell is it you seek, a relationship with a mortal being, or another opportunity to step on someone in your stupid quest for self-esteem?
That article is mandatory reading, as it goes directly to one of the central problems of the American family. In her candor, Joan has played a bright light on the unadmitted motivation of millions of women for their cruelty toward their husbands and boyfriends: the desire to assert superiority over them.
Combine Joan's insight with that of Amelia Hamilton above, stir briefly, and ponder the resulting emulsion while I fetch more coffee.
An American man between twenty and seventy years of age is likely to have had some personal exposure to attitudes such as Miss Hamilton delineates and treatment such as Joan describes. Such behavior is everywhere. It's a double standard that's...dare I say it? Oh, hell, why not?...divorced from any connection to actual sexual conduct.
The older notion of a double standard -- that young single men were commended for acquiring sexual experience, while young single women were required under threat of censure to remain chaste -- never had true force. As with many other myths about the decades behind us, it was purveyed by cultural elements that depicted particular exceptions to the norm as if they were representative of American society. Those elements portrayed certain segments of our society in a fashion that made their departures from the prevailing moral standard seem attractive...and eventually, predominant.
In all candor, certain sectors of our nation have always "held themselves above the rules." No doubt it's been true in every society known to Man. Every society, no matter how notionally egalitarian, has its elites. With admission to an elite comes a sense of privilege. Such is human nature that those so deluded will routinely decide that fruit forbidden to lowly others is both available and agreeable to themselves and their peers.
Today's myth of a double standard is much like the older one:
- It bears little relation to reality;
- It rests on a false supposition about the natures of the sexes;
- If accepted and acted upon, its consequences are long-lasting and utterly destructive.
Let's be explicit about the terms of the myth:
- American women are supposedly victims of "patriarchal oppression."
- The condition arose from the innate "war between the sexes."
- It justifies women's unceasing suspicion of men, and belligerence toward men which, were the roles reversed, would be considered grounds for ostracism at the very least, a prison term at the worst.
Not one word of this even approximates reality.
In the era before this set of notions took hold, American women were the most privileged, most pampered creatures in all the world. As I wrote some years ago, "Men treated women with courtesy, respect, and a certain protective affection." Yes, there were exceptions, but for the benefit of the slow of comprehension, exceptions are exceptional: i.e., noteworthy by reason of their infrequency.
The popular entertainment of that era tended to reflect its reality rather better than does that of today.
Allow me a brief, not entirely tangential digression upon the Two Feminisms before I return to my central point.
Equity feminism -- i.e., the thesis that men and women should be equals before the law -- has a long and honorable history. The major figures of the women's suffrage movement were equity feminists. Their labors were instrumental in sweeping away laws that regarded men and women unequally. But equity feminism, today ably promoted by such writers as Christina Hoff Sommers and Wendy McElroy, is a special case of a larger principle: a recognition of our common humanity. Just as the abolition of Jim Crow laws proceeded from the belated admission of the humanity of Negroes, the elimination of laws forbidding women to own real property, or to work in certain trades, proceeded from the admission that women are quite as human as men, and therefore possess the same rights and responsibilities.
The gender-war feminism from which we suffer today is sharply at odds with equity feminism. It views the sexes as innately hostile to one another, each doomed to strive forever for dominance over the other. In such a contest, there are no rules, no forbidden weapons, and no tactics deemed out of bounds. The Catharine MacKinnons, Andrea Dworkins, and Naomi Wolfs who promote it aren't theorists of rights and responsibilities but strategists in a global war. In that war there are no noncombatants and no uncontested soil.
It's pointless for a man to open a conversation with a gender-war feminist, for there is no truth in such. She regards him as the enemy ab initio, whose statements are merely tactical strokes aimed at reducing her to subjugation. Accordingly, she selects her strokes for precisely the reverse effect.
Gender-war feminism isn't popular in its pure form; American women who accept it unedited are probably very few. Men needn't worry about interacting with them, as they have no use for us, restrict themselves to one another's society, and in any event are easily recognized and avoided.
However, a woman needn't subscribe wholly to the "war between the sexes" to be infected by the attitudes that it promulgates: a subconscious conviction of having been "kept down," a continuous suspicion of men's motives, and a certain tendency to react belligerently toward us. Those attitudes are powerfully reinforced by much of contemporary popular culture...and they have evoked a reaction from which women are suffering and will continue to suffer until they admit to and shed all such notions:
- Men have become quite as suspicious of women's motives as women are of men's motives;
- We tend to deny women things they have eternally valued and striven for, because of that suspicion;
- Though women are more likely than men to complain about the consequences, both sexes suffer from them. However, neither can renounce its posture until the other agrees to do so.
Once again: Yes, there are exceptions. However, the trend, best reflected in the swelling male aversion to marriage, the burgeoning numbers of spinsters, and the decline in live births of children to married couples, is unambiguous.
I could go on at length about any number of associated subjects, but I believe the point has been made.
Unfortunately, there is no "last graf." Even a Certified Galactic Intellect can't solve a problem based on mistaken premises. Women who hold such premises must surrender them before healing can occur.
Yes, I said women, not men, must surrender such premises. Men never adopted the notion of a "war between the sexes," nor any of the concomitant attitudes. We have merely reacted to the growth of such attitudes among women, and to the behavior they've engendered. To the extent that there is such a "war," we are playing pure defense. Women's unhappiness about the matter arises from our natural inclination to protect ourselves: our self-concepts, our earnings, and our dignity in a world where dignity is becoming an ever rarer commodity.
The matter, as sad as it is, is just one more special case of a trustworthy old principle:
And flying ordnance,
What's making you unhappy is all but certain to be you.
"'Obvious' means 'overlooked.'" -- Michael Emerling