"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Monday, October 8, 2018

MeToo, You Too, And Hell No!– Revolt Against Movements, Marches, And Collective Idealism

Betsy Cartwright had been brought up properly – good manners, politeness, respect for her elders, civility, and reason. To be sure she was born and raised in a far simpler era, one in which fundamental values of morality, right, and fairness were unquestioned.  Although her time was two hundred years removed from Hamilton, Jefferson, and Adams, their rectitude and sentiments of equality and justice had been passed on through generations of patrician Americans and still resided in her family.  She was a  legatee of the Founding Fathers and no less committed to their principles than their immediate political descendants.

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It was hard for Betsy, therefore, to make any sense of the political hysteria of the second decade of the Twenty-First century; a decade as antithetical to the sentiments of her forbears as any.  Even the days of Robber Baron, laissez-faire capitalism were more representative of early American philosophy – competition, survival of the fittest, human ingenuity, consolidation of power and the willingness to use it  - than her era of fractious politics, questionable allegations, and assumptions of right.  At least Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Mellon were up front and proud of their proto-capitalist enterprise; an expression of religious conviction, historical imperative, and downright common sense.  There would always be weak and strong in any society, the ruling and the ruled, the advantaged and the disadvantaged.  The way forward was countervailing force – let those who object to raw market forces propose alternatives, other ways to tap individual enterprise within the context of community and civil rights.

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Jessica Nadel was a spokesperson for the Me/Too movement, a popular initiative to encourage women who have been ‘abused’ to come forward and tell their tales.  The movement was not only a way to provide shelter and support for those aggrieved women, but a collective 'consciousness raising' effort focusing on men in general whose maleness, in their opinion, was ipso facto predatory, dangerous, and evolutionarily backward.  God may have had his reasons for creating two sexes, but the story need not end there.  God’s word, like all his words in the Bible, is subject to interpretation; and no member of the New Generation could possibly take the fiction of the Garden of Eden nor the endless family quarrels of Deuteronomy and Kings to heart.  One need only look to history for a confirmation that God’s original intent is not what earlier Biblical critics have asserted. Neither God nor his Son ever intended a legacy of male dominion in perpetuity.

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Those who take a more originalist view of Creation, the Bible, and the course of history think nothing of the sort. God’s will has indeed been demonstrated over and over.  He created Man and Woman not necessarily to get along but to procreate and survive.  The rest is up to Adam and Eve’s descendants.  Shakespeare, Ibsen, Strindberg, Albee, and Lawrence; and philosophers Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, and Kierkegaard understood this dialectic perfectly.  Only through a recognition and acceptance of the essential centrality of sexual will – the inevitable and necessary struggle between men and women – can any individual moral or spiritual evolution happen.   The relationships between Hamlet and Ophelia, Othello and Desdemona, George and Martha, and the weak men and strong women of Scandinavian drama are necessary, predictable, and survivalist.

Betsy, a young woman in her early forties, had come of age in the high tide of neo-feminist sentiment.  Her mother had been an early feminist, a woman who refused to accept male privilege, but who had never hated men nor judged them in a priori terms.  Men were attractive, sexually alluring, and irresistible although some of them lagged behind in updated sexual understanding.   It was never difficult to see a boor coming, a frat house grosserie in the making, an unwanted solicitation brewing, or some ignorant, sexually immature approach happening. 

Betsy’s mother was not of a super-race of women, justice warriors who saw the battle lines drawn between male and female, defended the battlements of feminine integrity and attacked the misogynist invader; but of a generation of sexual realists.  Boys would always be boys and men would always be men; and to survive and prosper, a woman had to determine when male behavior was unacceptable, when it was accepted but ignored, when it was resisted, and when it was used to advantage.

Betsy’s mother took her inspiration from the heroines of Shakespeare, women who were intelligent, canny, and strong; and above all knew that in a patriarchal, male dominated world, direct conflict was counterproductive; and that only deviousness, manipulation, and strategic compromise would yield results.

So Betsy, on the inspiration of her mother, on an appreciation of sexual history, and out of a reservoir of conservative independence and will, dismissed the organizational efforts of MeToo, BLM, Occupy Wall Street, or any of the other progressive collectives.

She was an ideal recruit – daughter of a well-known 70s feminist, advanced degrees in history and human ecology, author of recognized articles on civil disobedience and American exceptionalism – but her recruiters failed to look beneath the surface.  Yes, she had presumably valuable credentials for progressive movements; but no one had the patience or initiative to look further.  Had they read Betsy’s work carefully, they would have quickly seen the author’s impatience with and summary dismissal of mass movements of social solidarity and sexual union, movements which in Betsy’s view were antithetical so social progress, the equality of women, and the bridging of the political divide.

‘Hysterical victimhood’, as Betsy called it, would be the most corrosive factor in the current trend to equalize the sexes, races, and ethnicities.  History had amply shown that inequality was the rule, that male aggression was the norm, that female solicitude and complaisance were far from over, and that individualism and the expression of individual will were as central to male-female relationships as they ever had been.  D.H.Lawrence was as right as rain when he placed sexuality at the core of human relationships; and when he stated that the battle of sexual wills was inherent and necessary to establish social equilibrium.  Sexual equilibrium, he said, was the sine qua non of social equilibrium.

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The street manifestations of sisterhood, feminist solidarity, anti-male patriarchy and privilege were nothing but self-serving, idealistic, and misguided interpretations of fundamental Lawrencian sexual dynamics.  Women marching on the Mall were ignorant of Ibsen, Strindberg, Shakespeare, and especially Nietzsche.  While their protests were designed to threaten, intimidate, and neuter male aggression, they would do nothing of the kind unless women reflected on their own limitless sexuality.

Women in Love, Lawrence’s most important book in his tetralogy (Sons and Lovers, The Rainbow, Women in Love, Lady Chatterley’s Lover) expressed these sentiments perfectly.  Society itself, wrote Lawrence, depended on the resolution of sexual conflict, the most powerful and consequential conflict within human nature and society.   Birkin, Ursula, Gerald, and Gudrun were locked in this essential struggle; and understood that they took precedence over any other resolution – war, peace, globalism, nationalism, or social unrest.

Mass protests today, thought Betsy, unlike those of the Sixties which had a clear purpose and objectives (passage of a Civil Rights Act, dismantling Jim Crow, and ending the war in Vietnam) , were vague and emotional.  It might feel good to march with a million other women who hate the very thought of male privilege, but little is likely to come of it.  It may feel good to express one’s outrage at male ‘abusers’, but such outrage does little to address the fundamental, underlying, ineluctable reason – innate male assertiveness.  Such outrage erodes the basic principle of equal justice under the law, presumption of innocence, and fairness.  The end result of ragged, insistent, and theatrical outcries of ‘abuse, and unwanted attention’ can only result in a further political division – an equally virulent and hysterical reaction against women, against progressivism, and against the principle of equal justice.

So Betsy dismissed the importunity of those women who insisted on recruiting her for The Cause.  It was not that she did not sympathize with those women actually assaulted despite their caution, wariness, and self-defense; it was that she saw a dilution of political enterprise when spilled into mass protests – protests which were simplistic, emotional, idealistic, and inopportune.

Betsy's natural affinity was with Tamora, Volumnia, Dionyza, Goneril, Regan, Lady Macbeth, Laura, and Hedda Gabler”, the most demanding, insistent, willful, and powerful heroines of literature.  They belonged to no group, followed no leader, espoused no universal hatred; but never, ever, were victims and always masters of their own fate.  They all understood, like Lawrence and Nietzsche, the fundamental independent nature of the individual.

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