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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Our Feminized Society

Many viewers have heard Bill Maher's rant about our feminized society. Fewer have listened to Christina Hoff Sommers, author of Who Stole Feminism? and The War Against Boys, and a critic of modern feminism.

Progressives for years have worried about the war against women, how it has not been won, and how society must cleanse itself once and for all of the scourge of predatory men.  Men are retrograde, illiberal, and irremediable. They are obsessed with guns, violence, and competition; and are social throwbacks.  Only women have evolved to a higher state of being; and are the only bulwark against male social anarchy.  Their caring, compassionate, collaborative, and participatory ethos has saved us all.

As paraphrased by Dana Antiochus, Maher believes that
“The inversion of nature that we have experienced as a culture, and the subversive aspect of flipping traditional roles, with its subsequent destruction of society, serves as a signal that we live in a dying system.  It has led to a pussified, sissy, pathetic, lovey-dovey/touchy-feely country of wimps, who put emotion over logic, feeling over reason, in our nurture-heavy/nature-deprived, culture” (Renegade Tribune)
Sommers is never as funny as Maher, and as a PhD philosopher is much more considered and temperate in her opinions.  Nevertheless, she addresses many of the same issues.  Feminism has gone too far, she concludes, and the ‘progressive’-feminist alliance has done more damage than good:
Sommers contends Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women that feminism has taken a wrong turn in recent years. It has become too self-absorbed, too unrepresentative, and too punitive to dissenters, she says. The conviction that women remain besieged and subject to a relentless male backlash has turned the movement inward. "We hear very little today about how women can join with men on equal terms to contribute to universal human culture," she writes. "Instead, feminist ideology has taken a divisive gynocentric turn, and the emphasis now is on women as a political class whose interests are at odds with the interests of men." (Scott London, scottlondon.com)
Sommers is much more precise and targeted in writing about the feminist hijacking of primary education and thus comes closer to Maher in his allegation that feminism’s reach is extensive and pernicious. Sommers argues that the zero tolerance policy – i.e. stifling any suggestion of male aggression in schools – is a wrongheaded attempt to subjugate boys and deny their natural male exuberance.

Across the country, schools are policing and punishing the distinctive, assertive sociability of boys. Many much-loved games have vanished from school playgrounds. At some schools, tug of war has been replaced with “tug of peace.” Since the 1990s, elimination games like dodge ball, red rover and tag have been under a cloud — too damaging to self-esteem and too violent, say certain experts. Young boys, with few exceptions, love action narratives. These usually involve heroes, bad guys, rescues and shoot-ups. As boys’ play proceeds, plots become more elaborate and the boys more transfixed. When researchers ask boys why they do it, the standard reply is, “Because it’s fun.” (Time Magazine, 9.19.13)
 Image result for images christina hoff sommers

Why is this? First, public education has long been in the hands of the liberal establishment. School boards and teachers’ unions alike have been committed to ‘progressive’ ideas of learning; and they have persistently defeated attempts to modernize the curriculum and the classroom.  ‘Participatory’ or ‘collaborative’ learning is still the rule according to which smarter students are obliged to help those less able, thus slowing their own academic progress. Learning levels have been abolished, and there are no longer different math and reading groups for children of differing abilities. More conservative themes of independence, individuality, competition, and innovation are seldom found.

Second, most primary school teachers are women, and happily buy into any educational program which will make the classroom more feminine and less disruptive.  If teachers were to allow boys more leeway and more opportunity for typically male behavior, their job would be far more difficult.  Better have a more feminine, orderly, and cooperative workplace.

But is Maher right about his more general accusations – that feminists have turned the country into a nation of sissified wimps who value feeling over reason? Yes and no. On the one hand, the laws of Political Correctness have changed men’s discourse; and in public men either shut up or nod approvingly at news reports about glass ceilings, rape, abuse, and discrimination.  In private however, they are not so circumspect.  They know that biology and human nature have not changed.  No matter how feminists may argue about gender equality, women still cry a lot, like to share their feelings, and want strong men as partners.  Men understand the highly competitive nature of women against women, their biological imperatives, and their work-life insecurities. 

The big equalizer has been money.  Women are often higher earners than their husbands, so men have to think twice about leaving.  Their meal ticket may go out the other door.  Men also take women more seriously because they have shown that they are men’s intellectual and professional equals.  Men realize that a partnership with an executive has more benefits than one with a bimbo.  There are still men who pick up mail order brides from the Philippines, but the era of the docile, domesticated housewife is over.

Men certainly do not have the complete free rein that they did before the Age of Feminism; but most have figured out not only how to survive but thrive. A woman who puts in 10-hour days at a highly remunerative job is a boon to savvy men.  Not only can men lighten up a bit in their own careers thanks to our obsessive, workaholic wives, they have more time to step out. Most men are not intimidated in the least by successful women and understand that equality is a two-edged sword.  They know that the nature of women hasn’t changed, only the expression of it. With a few deft moves within the operating theatre of marital engagement, they can have as much freedom as their grandfathers had.

Take one look at Wall Street and you will see that at least this America has not been feminized.  It is still male, dog-eat-dog, winner-take-all capitalism at its most brutal. The women who have managed to rise to top executive ranks are just as cut-throat and savage as their male counterparts.

Bill Maher is really taking aim at ‘progressive’ men – the feminist wannabes  who attend women’s conferences, have made their careers in promoting female agendas, and who find feminism consistent with other liberal beliefs.  Concern about the environment has a feminine cast to it.  After all men like to chop things down, build things, and expand.  Who thinks that Manifest Destiny was Martha Jefferson’s idea? Or that knitting wives were behind the Civil War?  The Pentagon is no different from Wall Street.  Although there may be many women in the armed forces, the top brass are men who kill for a living.

The liberal agenda – health care, civil rights, and the environment – are all feminine issues.  They come from the caring side of society, not the aggressive, competitive, fiercely individualistic side. So it is easy to see that ‘progressive’ men easily accommodate the feminist agenda, for it is consistent with other liberal beliefs.

There is no doubt, however, that this ‘progressive’ feminized agenda has influenced much of American life, but as liberalism fades, so will political correctness.  Collaborative feminine learning will cede the way to credit for high male performance. The hysteria about bullying and male sexual behavior will diminish.  Women now talk disparagingly of men’s ‘testosterone’, caveman hormones, and killing genes; but soon men will have a go at women’s emotional frailty, concern about self-image, nest-building, gossip, niggling, and marital conservatism. Both male and female stereotypes will be back on the table.

Most men are not wimps and most women are not feminist harridans.  Most of us live congenially and go with the flow of changing norms.  Some men have learned how to profit from the feminist surge, playing off feminine nature against feminist ambitions; and some women have become quite expert at exploiting their current political advantage to keep men in line.

Many of us ignore the public school debacle and send our kids to competitive private institutions. Others vote Libertarian and avoid the excesses of the Left.  We are in favor of guns, fracking, and exuberant consumerism. Most value the integrity and value of the individual, and have no problem with social Darwinism.  In other words, there may be a lot of Maher's sissified ‘progressive’ feminist men out there, but there can't be many.


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