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

Thursday, October 28, 2021

The Sexual Indiscretions Of A Social Reformer–How Sexual Congress Foils Feminism At Every Turn

Bobby Phillips was a senior member of an important progressive think tank in Washington and had risen through the ranks thanks to his continued commitment to social change.  He had been in the avant-garde of the civil rights and peace movements.  He had been a loud and defiant activist in favor of the civil rights of blacks, women, and gays. He had been a community organizer, a fundraiser par excellence, and first at the Black Lives Matter barricades.  He rallied with gay crowds in San Francisco, paraded shirtless on floats in the Bay to Breakers parade, walked proudly with his leathered, tethered, and chained transgender colleagues, and became known as a progressive for all seasons – a man with deep personal, moral, and political commitment to The Cause

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He had for the most part maintained a very principled stance when it came to women.  He knew that they had for millennia suffered sexual abuse at the hands of patriarchal, authoritarian men, and were just now coming into their own.  The MeToo Movement was the epicenter of modern feminism, for it abjured any and all salacious, invasive, and devilishly quixotic male behavior.  

Women, the movement’s leaders contended, should call out the most indifferent sexual slight.  Men, if not stopped in their tracks (smiling, opening doors, remarking on appearance) would all go on to more insidious and ultimately violating behavior.  Men, these loud advocates insisted, were all the same; all fired by the same raging male hormones, all deformed by years of unquestioned male authority, and all innately dishonest, deceitful, and predatory.

Bobby signed on happily, and although one of the few males credentialed to gain entry, became the movement’s liaison to the male community.  Bobby, with his air of temperance and good will, his eloquence, and apparent sincerity was exactly the right man to speak to male students at colleges and universities, men’s groups, and corporate sensitivity training sessions.  He did all this with respect and aplomb.  The fact that his female colleagues had excluded him from their restrictive category of ‘all’ men was a tribute to his sincerity and right-mindedness.

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The problem with all this was that Bobby, when alone and reflective, had his doubts about such feminist claims.  How was it that women who claimed their intellectual and moral superiority demanded protection from men – safe houses, abrogation of due process, and a freedom to dress as salaciously as Times Square hookers without censure or admission of sexual responsibility?  How was it that women still needed men emotionally? And that despite their championing of lesbianism and the gender spectrum, their conviction that living alone without a man was Pauline in inspiration, they still married, co-habited, and compromised?

It was ironic, thought Bobby, that this radical feminism set out to neuter the very assertive maleness that women had forever sought.  They might have created men who asked ‘May I’ again and again in sexual embrace, and admired them for their sincerity, but they still considered them dorks and dweebs of no sexual interest whatsoever.  Women still were attracted to bad boys.  There was still something in their shameless masculinity, their confidence, their assertiveness, and their wild independence which shouted ‘Father of my children!’. 

The great world epics – Gilgamesh, the Ramayana, the Iliad, Beowulf, and the Odyssey – were not tales of sensitive, attentive men; but of warrior heroes, gladiators, and powerful sexual ambitions. In ordinary society the most lucrative and perennially popular genre of literature is Romance novels where such male valor and sexual authority are the rule.  

Although hard-bitten feminists dismiss romances as treacly nonsense and their readers as unevolved and ignorant, the genre accounts for more than thirty percent of all fiction, its readers are almost entirely women, and that readership is spread equally through age groups.  The costume favorite of little girls is still the princess, and despite the frilly fantasy, it is the first belief in the enduring myth of Sir Lancelot and the knights of the round table.

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Bobby, although he would never admit it, had had his serial affairs with complaisant, young women.  He, a very typical male was indifferent if not chary of any romantic involvement, while the women he courted were, one after the other, tearfully attached.  These were women from The Movement’s core constituency – young, highly educated, sensitized, aware, and upwardly mobile – and yet they could not resist emotional involvement.  They were still Daddy’s girls, admiring, needy of male affection, and insistent on permanence.

‘Residual affection’, said Bobby's female colleagues.  While there might be some women who still were vulnerable to male charm and fatherly attention; and many more still brought up in the Prince Charming mode of daughterhood; and even more reading sentimental claptrap, this was only indicative of a transitional phase of resistant sexual immaturity. Sooner or later all women would get the picture, would toss the princess costumes in the trash, give up on soppy romances, and get real about their unique man-less destinies.

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Yet Bobby could not get rid of the niggling doubts that these gender-focused women in The Movement had it wrong.  That they were unable to disaggregate progressive causes and became tools rather than instruments.  According to the progressive canon, issues of race, gender, ethnicity, and economics were all part of the same philosophical premise – a determination that a well-defined, utopian future was indeed possible; and that narrow, sectarian, outmoded conservative enterprises would cease to exist.

Such fealty to a universal principle, he reflected, distorted rational judgement.  Tautology was the rule.  Sexual equality is good because equality is good; and there is no more reason to probe the dimensions of sexuality.  No reason to read Lawrence, Flaubert, Stendhal, Henry Miller, or Shakespeare.  Sexuality is a closed book.  Received wisdom. Settled science.

Because of The Movement’s eclectic universality – all social causes valid and all activists welcome in the Big Tent – the obverse was true.  Apostasy in one area would be tantamount to apostasy in all of them; and he would have to lift the tent flap and exit.

Bobby was not one to keep quiet about his concerns; so avoiding the ‘feminist issue’ and investing lost gender enthusiasm in environmental, racial, and economic issues was not workable.  The tightly-woven fabric had been rent; and once it had all he could see was torn cloth.

As logic, experience, and objectivity would have it, the rent in the gender cloak extended like the lines of a broken window to all causes.  Every one of them had been looked at, treated, and promoted with myopic, self-interested, and nakedly political ambition.

So, out of The Movement he went, and although it was hard to pull the Republican lever in November, he did.  It was a liberating moment, like going to confession laden with sin after a long absence.  He was a ‘revert’, a man who had been brought up in a solidly conservative, privileged family of wealth and lineage; but who had gotten distracted by the allure of engagement and ‘making a difference’.  Now, he was back to his roots; and once he had taken the step, all progressive notions of goodness and righteousness were sloughed off like bad skin.  He was his own man again.

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