Thursday, August 10, 2017

The “Feelings” Blob

     I could've been a man's coach. Backfield coach, Oregon State: I had the job, I had the job, I actually had the job. You understand? I had the job. Ah, well. Coach of the year. I was coach of the year last year. You know what that means when you're a women’s coach? Jack shit. I mean I could have coached football. Do you actually think that Chuck Knoll has to worry that Franco Harris is gonna cry ‘cause Terry Bradshaw won't talk to him? - Hmm? - Jack Lambert can't play because Mel Blount hurt his feelings, that Lynn Swann is pregnant, that Rocky Bleier forgot his Tampax? Ah, fuck! – Scott Glenn as Terry Tingloff, U.S. Olympic women’s track coach, in Personal Best

     It’s an old movie...but so is the “movie” about women being incapacitated by their emotions. Of course, that comes in several varieties. Today it’s often about “feeling unsafe.”

     I’m fully aware that the “feeling unsafe” gambit is a Leftist tactic. However, it wouldn’t work if women weren’t highly susceptible to it. It’s just about the easiest thing in the world to persuade a woman to feel unsafe, if that’s your objective.

     Of course, the tactic has a point: to make men unsafe. In particular, it’s used to put men at risk of their livelihoods, or their educations, or their homes and access to their children.

     As regards the use of this tactic, whether politically or in any other context, for maximum irony bear in mind that among a Western man’s strongest drives is the desire to make his woman actually, objectively safe...and to get her to feel that way.

     There isn’t much that hasn’t been said about the now-famous James Damore ten-page memo that precipitated his dismissal from Google. If you’ve been sentient for at least a week, you’re aware of the essentials about this contretemps. However, the full horror of the thing is only just becoming plain to many: that Google’s upper management, which exercises a great deal of control over a substantial fraction of the World Wide Web and considerable influence (via its search engine) over the rest, is minded to punish sentiments it disapproves.

     Why? What imaginable gain could there be to Google in retarding or limiting the expression of others’ sentiments? Why would a corporation whose fortunes are founded on facilitating free expression ever do such a thing?

     The bald explanation is that like so many other corporations, Google has been infiltrated and subverted by the Left, which cannot win in the arena of ideas. This is indeed the case...but how did it come about? The Left’s fascistic hostility to dissent is antithetical to Google’s ostensible aims. How did left-liberal fascism gain power there?

     My Gentle Readers are aware of the intense federal scrutiny that falls on the personnel policies of large organizations, supposedly to combat “discrimination.” Similarly, you’re aware that the relevant federal agencies are themselves heavily colonized by Leftist intolerance. The heavy hand Washington has laid upon the hiring practices of large companies is unconcealed. What follows from that – the second-order effects of federal scrutiny of corporate hiring patterns – include the sort of speech policing that cost James Damore his job. For just as Google, to remain in the Labor Department’s good graces, must hire a certain number of women, Negroes, homosexuals, et cetera, it must also keep those persons from complaining about “discriminatory” working conditions...and nothing is more likely to get the Labor Department’s attention than a woman’s claim that some male colleague has made her “feel unsafe.”

     A bit of fiction:

     Stephen Sumner was about to head to the cafeteria for lunch when the intercom light on his desk phone lit. He sighed, sat back down, and lifted the handset.
     “Steve, it’s Anders. Come to my office for a minute, please?”
     “Right there.” Sumner returned the handset to its hook, grabbed a pen and a legal pad, and trotted down the hall to the office of Anders Forslund. He found the door open.
     “What’s up, Anders?”
     The founder and CEO of Onteora Aviation grimaced and muttered “Shut the door.” Sumner did so and seated himself in one of the two leather guest chairs before Forslund’s desk.
     He looks anxious.
     “Have you gotten to know Irv Grutstein?” Forslund said.
     “The HR director?” Sumner shook his head. “I don’t think we’ve even exchanged hellos.”
     Forslund nodded. “I’m not surprised. He’s not much for socializing, at least not outside his department. I’ve tried to stay well away from it.” He smirked ruefully. “Sometimes I wish I’d never created it in the first place.”
     “I don’t think we’d be able to contract with the Pentagon without one,” Sumner said. “With all the rules the Labor Department has about equal opportunity hiring—”
     “And a lot of other things.” Forslund opened a manila folder, paged briefly through its contents, and closed it. “As you don’t know him,” he said, “it falls to me to inform you. Grutstein loves rules. The vaguer and broader, the better. All empire builders do.” He slid the folder across the desk to Sumner.
     Sumner opened the folder, glanced at the first page, and felt all the strength leave his body. He looked up at Forslund, hoping that his boss would assure him that it was all in fun, some sort of interdepartmental joke. Forslund shook his head.
     “It’s no gag, Steve. It’s an official intracompany complaint by a software engineer named Violet Hochberg, alleging sexual harassment and sexual discrimination—”
     “By Louis Redmond,” Sumner breathed.
     “Exactly. Grutstein brought it and the complainant to me about an hour ago.” Forslund sat back in his chair, looking exhausted.
     “Anders,” Sumner said, “there is no one in this company with better morals or ethics than Louis. You can’t—”
     “Believe it? Not for an instant,” Forslund said. “However, OA’s HR director does. At least he’s pretending that he does. Shall I tell you what he said to me when he presented it?”
     Sumner braced himself. “Go ahead.”
     “He said,” Forslund measured out the words, “that if Louis would agree to resign without contesting the charges, he’d refrain from instituting a criminal case against him. Oh, and that he’d have no objection to my recommending Louis for a job with one of our competitors.” An incredulous laugh. “As if I wouldn’t slit both wrists to prevent that very thing.”
     “With a rusty bottle opener,” Sumner murmured.
     “Nothing, nothing.” Sumner delicately set the folder at the outer edge of Forslund’s desk. “I assume Louis hasn’t yet been notified?”
     “He hasn’t. Would you please do so?”
     Sumner nodded. “Of course. Anything else?”
     Forslund’s eyes hardened. “Two things. First, find out if there’s even the thinnest shred of truth to this woman’s allegations, and notify me at once if there is. Second, if there isn’t, which we already know is the case, I want you to prepare Louis and yourself to defend him against this Violet Hochberg, against our own HR department, and should the worse come to the worst, against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of the Department of Labor of the federal government of the United States.”
     Sumner rose. “With pleasure.” He leveled a look at his CEO. “No holds barred, I assume?”
     Forslund bared his teeth. “No holds barred. Grutstein’s people will go straight for the throat. Spare them nothing.”
     Sumner mirrored the bloodthirsty grin. “Count on it.”
     “They’ve scheduled Louis’s show trial for Wednesday after next, at nine AM,” Forslund said. “You’d better get started.”

     [From Statesman]

     A fair number of my fiction readers are female. I knew as I wrote the above passage, which introduces a conflict in which a woman's excessive ambition unjustly entangles and imperils a blameless young man, that some of them would be offended. I didn’t let it stop me...because the narrated incident actually occurred. I merely cast fictional characters into the leading roles and placed them in a fictional setting. To anyone who wrote to upbraid me about “belittling” or “invalidating” women’s “legitimate concerns,” I replied, “This is today’s corporate reality – the reality you helped to create. Get used to it.”

     I didn’t receive a single rejoinder.

     The late Steve McQueen, an accomplished actor with several well known triumphs to his credit, first appeared on the silver screen in The Blob, a movie which today is regarded as the cheesiest sort of horror flick. In point of fact, at the time it was made and distributed, it was well received and popular. More to the point, the “Kill it before it spreads!” tag line that the movie made famous is directly germane to the progress of the “feelings blob” the Left has unleashed. Unless and until its progress is halted –the heroes in the movie froze their ever-spreading menace by dousing it with fire extinguishers – the “feelings blob” will conquer ever more organizations and circumscribe free expression ever more narrowly.

     This is strongly related to the “Apologetics” series I’ve just concluded:

     The inducement to apology is nearly always that “You’ve hurt my feelings.” There is nothing more urgent, in our quotidian human relations, than the nullification of our near-to-reflexive tendency to apologize, to be replaced by a sneer and the pronouncement that “That’s your problem.”

     There will be some coarsening of our relations, to be sure. (Some men will go home alone on Friday and Saturday nights.) But the social, commercial, and political needs of the moment more than justify the cost. At any rate, aren’t you tired of always self-censoring, always feeling vaguely guilty about something you can’t quite name...always apologizing?


Bob T. said...

The key quote, paraphrasing slightly: (with a sneer) "That's your problem."

I've *always* felt this way, particularly where there is no conscious intent on my part to offend. In spite of being taught "the burden of communications is on the communicaTOR", one cannot control the emotional reaction on the part of the communicaTEE.

I observe that avoiding the urge to self-censor / apologize reflexively becomes easier with advancing age. Here's to more cranky old men and women, and may they develop their crankitude earlier in life, i.e., when it's not so easy for the perpetually-offended to dismiss them.

Joseph said...

A conspiracy theory I haven't seen anywhere yet:

Since Google has not actually been promoting that many women, it doesn't look like it is a real feminist-run organization. What if the purpose of coming down on James Damore in such a heavy-handed manner is to provoke such a lawsuit? They might be able to get a court order that they can wave in the faces of the feminists.

If the lawsuit goes the other way, of course, they now have a legal precedent that can be used to fire feminists suing them.