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

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Gone With The Wind– Gentility, Heartless Vixens , And Rhett Butler, The Modern Man’s Hero

For years, and before I had seen the movie,  I thought that Rhett Butler’s “I don’t give a damn” referred to his rejection of Southern gentility, his confident foray outside the confines of Cavalier society into the realm of love, so indoctrinated was I with American individualism and anti-establishment courage.  Of course his words had nothing to do with either Southern manners or the independence of the American spirit, but the final, frustrated, and righteous door-slam of a gentleman who had had enough of female duplicity and supposition.  Of course.  The hype and the romantic Hollywood vision of the Old South had nothing to do with reality.  Women have always been succubae, manipulative, and ambitious, and Scarlett O’Hara was a failed hero of her sex.

Image result for images movie gone with the wind poster

Shakespeare was a master at portraying feminine ambition.  Tamora, Dionyza, and Volumnia among other women were indeed vixens who, in the name of honor, children, inheritance, or legacy had little to do with the men in their lives except to exploit them. Of course the society in which they lived necessitated such chicanery.  Women of the Renaissance could only work their wiles behind the scenes, catering to husbands and lovers only to gain traction and a hold on power – as was the case for Victorian Scandinavia. Hedda Gabler, Rebekka West, or Miss Julie were harridans only because of the unfair, patriarchal strictures placed upon them.

In all three cases – the Renaissance, Victorian Scandinavia, and the antebellum South – society was ordered, controlled, and mannered.  From a male perspective it was ideal.  Women were in their place, God was right and in His heaven, and few aberrations to the social contract were even considered.  From a female perspective, the world was upside down.  Women were clearly the more intelligent sex – more insightful, more able, and more determined – and since there was no point in challenging the status quo per se, the avenues to prosperity, while devious, were ordained.

Neither Shakespeare, Ibsen, Strindberg, or Mitchell apologized for their characters’ aggressive pursuit of power, control, and dominance.  All understood that, given women’s equal intelligence, native will, and social ambition, they would best men at every turn.  Shakespeare’s Comedic and Romantic heroes were women – Rosalind, Portia, and their sisters ran rings around the men who courted them.  Who can forget the famous scene in The Merchant of Venice where Portia invites her suitors to guess the contents of the lead, silver, and gold boxes to gain her love? Each and every man is a parody of manhood – arrogantly and ignorantly confident, pompous, and comic. 

Image result for images portia merchant of venice

Shakespeare was harshly realistic in his portrayal of the Queen of the Amazons or the mother of Coriolanus – these women were as acquisitive and hungry as any man – but he was far more realistic in the character of his Comedic heroines.  There was nothing wrong with a little melodramatic trickery in pursuit of an ideal love or practical marriage.

The antebellum South remains – in large part thanks to its romantic interpretation on the Hollywood stage – a more perfect America.  If one can forget about slavery and its sequelae (and most white Americans have indeed done so) and its history of African tribal enterprise, European commerce, and American capitalist hunger, then the gentile, Cavalier, elegant life of the American pre-war South was indeed a period to be admired.  It had grace, elegance, manners, a code of honor and respect, and a way of life that embraced the best of Anglo-European high culture.  Slavery was only one part of the Old South – a significant one, but not the only one; and it would be wrong to dismiss the entire antebellum era because of slavery alone.

Image result for images gone with the wind movie

Yet this is what current progressivism demands – a total, unequivocal, unforgiving rejection of the South, its origins, traditions, and culture.

For the non-committal, fey, or incidental observer of politics and the random currents of history, such universal condemnation is senseless if not ignorant.  Each period of history simply exists without reason, purpose, or value.  The Old South is just as valid a period of history as the Enlightenment, Ancient Greece, or post-revolutionary Jacobinism.

What remains of value in all this transitory history is the unchangeable, ineluctable, permanent opportunistic nature of women.  Gone with the Wind is only the most obvious and  popular version of this, the most age-old characteristic of gender.  For generations, for millennia, women have been forced – obliged - to use cunning, duplicity, and chicanery to get what they consider rightfully theirs.

We live in a more open, tolerant, and inclusive society.  Gender equality has been well-established; and while there are still anomalies in the glass ceiling, women by and large have been granted a free ride to the top.  Why men have agreed to this is another question entirely.  Few regimes, elites, or societies have so willingly ceded power to the enemy as man have to women.  How has the feminist juggernaut so successfully neutered men, marginalized them to exist, barely, in the backwaters?

Some would argue, citing Shakespeare, Ibsen, and Strindberg among others, that women are simply more agile, more intelligent, and more opportunistic than men.  Others blame the aggressiveness of the post-modernist apologists who insist that democracy at its most fundamental cannot exist let alone flourish, without the participation of women.  Still others blame the lassitude of men – the assumption of superiority regardless of fact.

Modern feminists disingenuously insist on the equality of the sexes; but at the same time claim feminine moral, ethical, and intellectual superiority.  Men have lain down, touched the toes and kissed the hands of women in obeisance to this New Age doctrine.  They have willingly and surprisingly given up their claim to dominance, superiority, and social legitimacy.

Jack London was an apologist for maleness and the influences of Darwin and Nietzsche on his ideas and his writing.   Buck is a Nietzschean Superman whose indomitable will, rejection of good and evil and the morality of the Southland enable him to rule the North.  His slaughter of the Yeehats is not just retribution and revenge, but a brutal, willful savagery and the final portal to the wild.  Buck is also a perfect example of Darwinian evolution and the survival of the fittest.  Buck combines both evolutionary superiority and the unique character of animal will.

Image result for images london book call of the wild

There is something even more compelling about the story of Buck – his aggressiveness, and male dominance.  There is a completeness and perfection in the male character of Buck – he has no feminine side – and his will is male, one unmistakably virile, potent, and forceful.  While many men may publicly disavow any such characteristics as primitive evolutionary throwbacks, privately they feel that they have capitulated their maleness, accommodated women far too much, and become neutered.  It is one thing to support women’s equality of opportunity and enterprise, another thing to feel emasculated by their insistent claims of emotional and intellectual superiority.

It seems as though the American male has capitulated – his given his masculinity over to female authority, to her judgment, and to her arbitration.

Not a few men resent and reject this feminization of American society. As paraphrased by Dana Antiochus, Bill Maher , American comedian and progressive apologist  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)

But is Maher right? Have feminists turned the country into a nation of sissified wimps who value feeling over reason? On the one hand, feminism has changed men’s discourse, at least in public where they nod approvingly at news reports about glass ceilings, rape, abuse, and discrimination.  On the other, men in private share none of these sentiments. They know that biology and human nature have not changed since the Paleolithic.  Men raid, kill, and pillage.  Women cry a lot, like to share their feelings, and want strong men as partners.

So Rhett Butler was right in saying that he didn’t give a damn.  Not that he rejected a traditional, highly codified South ; but that he rejected the venal, self-absorbed, selfish, ambitious demands of women.  Rhett Butler is men’s hero.

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