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

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Toxic Femininity - Vixens, Harridans, And Succubae

Much has been made these days about toxic masculinity and how men are congenitally predatory, abusive, and dismissive of women - ogres, troglodytes, prognathous throwbacks to grunting Neanderthals.  Combined with whiteness, toxic masculinity becomes a poisonous potion, a virulent viral plague.  Feminism is too weak to counter such ape-like grossness.  Betty Friedan and Simone de Beauvoir only hinted at the ugly nature of men; and it took another generation to fully expose their innate, foul brutality.  Men were now the enemy. 

Of course this misandry is understandable given the permissiveness or the times, the focus on victimhood and oppression, and the sense of sexual entitlement.  Women look back on their time in the kitchen, the bedroom, and the nursery - prisoners of their sex, no more than chattel slaves to men - and turn hateful and vindictive.  Their turn has finally come. 

Of course these latter day neo-feminists overlook the strong women of the past, illustrated and championed in Shakespeare, Ibsen, and Strindberg.  The men in Othello, Coriolanus, Cymbeline, and The Winter's Tale among other plays are misogynous boors - distrustful of women but unable to control them.  There are the evil ones, Goneril, Regan, Dionyza, Volumnia, and Tamora who want nothing more to reign without men and to dismiss, marginalize, or kill them; the cunning ones, Isabela and Imogen who used trickery and guile to set their men straight; the strong ones like Margaret, wife of Henry VI who fights his battles for him, Margaret of Anjou, kingmaker; and the cutely canny ones like Rosalind and Portia.  Shakespeare's plays are sexual battlegrounds with women more often than not besting men. 

More restrained but equally powerful women such as Margaret of Anjou and Katherine of Aragon and Cleopatra were able to maneuver and manipulate the men around them to further their own political and social ambitions.  They gave nary a thought to the confining and supposedly abusive male dominions in which they lived.  Fighting, obstructing, and confronting the established order made no sense, especially when men were not so strong as they themselves assumed.  Shakespeare’s other heroines like Rosalind, Viola, Kate, Imogen, and Portia played with, laughed at, and bested the men in their lives.  They may not have had the same impact on history as their Tragic sisters, but they showed men for the less-than-able characters they knew they were.

Image result for images margaret of anjou

The women of Ibsen and Strindberg are as devious and purposeful in their dismissive attitudes towards men.  Rebekka West, Hilde Wangel, and Hedda Gabler are all willful, amoral women who rise above the limits of their sex to dominate men.  Laura in Strindberg's The Father will settle for nothing less than commitment of her husband to a mental institution. 

Shakespeare, Ibsen, and Strindberg knew what women were capable of, understood the depths of their resentment of men, and their compelling need to destroy them.  Their works are both indictments of women for their vengeful, murderous natures and heroic tales of their  victories. 

Image result for images hedda gabler

Martha in Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf is drama's harridan - a brutal, man-hating, vixen - and his George is a weak, sorry victim of her fury.  There is some hope at the end of the story - they have so flayed each other to the marrow that perhaps there can be a new beginning.  Tennessee Williams created Maggie the Cat, a duplicitous, treacherous woman  who wants only money, reputation, and dominance but he can't hold back his admiration of this beautiful, stunning example of feminine will. 

So, if one is to take these dramatists at their word - describing in theatrical terms what women are really like - then the war between the sexes will continue ad infinitum, with the pendulum swinging between male and female superiority.   Given history, and the ample examples of literature, women are certain the toxic ones, for they, given social circumstances, can survive only through treachery and deceit. 

Image result for images goneril and regan

The characterization of women in the past has been harsh indeed; but why have women been so insistent on taking their pound of flesh, hectoring the disappointing  men they have married?  Why have they stayed married despite all signs that point to dissolution and preferred to nag, irritate, and badger instead?

The image of the hag, the badgering, incessantly critical, unhappily married, resentful, unpleasant woman should have been long ago relegated to the archives.  Successful modern day women have either acquired enough financial capital to leave a bad marriage; or have, like Shakespeare’s heroines, figured out how to get the best out of their husbands and their marriages to satisfy their needs; but the unsuccessful women, the majority, still have not sorted out their independence nor learned from the Strindberg playbook.  Only women know whose child they are carrying, and there is no more poisoned arrow in their quiver.

Instead, women go toxic with their bickering, bitching innuendoes and never confront men on the battlefield, equal in strength, open and martial in their intentions, courageous and honest.  They are still confused, caught between their patriarchal upbringing and modern 'Be All You Can Be' propaganda. 

A confounding factor in all this is feminism itself.  On the one hand feminist jihadists are asserting their absolute strength, authority, ability, and independence; but on the other are demanding safe spaces, neutered men, congenial and protective institutional environments, limited free speech and civil rights.  What is a woman to do?  Which is she?  Strong, competent, and independent; able to negotiate the world of men easily and quickly? Or dependent, still needing shelter and accommodation?

In addition women are taught as part of the ‘male toxicity’ canon that men’s natural, biological, sexual drives – aggressive, demanding, persistent, simple, and undeniable – are wrong, retrograde, and destructive.   There is something wrong and suspicious about male pursuit.  Yet millennia of human history demonstrate just the opposite.  Human evolution has depended on male aggression, competitiveness, and pursuit.  While there is no doubt that such masculinity can have its excesses – the bell curve describes all human activity and ability – there is no reason to deny its reality or its legitimate place in modern society.

Therefore most women are caught betwixt and between.  They settle for bad marriages, bad jobs, and bad children and instead of doing something, complain, rage, nag, and harp and become as toxic in their own way as their wandering, dismissive, wandering husbands.  In being taught that the system itself is the enemy and that only by destroying it and remaking it in women’s image can women ever find reward, women have been sold a bill of goods.  Women need no institutional support, no self-interested twisting of legal codes, and no patrons.  True equality can only be achieved by asserting one’s moral authority, intelligence, and individual will.  In being taught that evolutionary biology is wrong, women have been further deceived.  Rather than dealing with biological difference – as Shakespeare’s daunting heroines did – women are instructed to deny it.  Certainly no good can come of that.

The honesty of Shakespeare and his successors is absent in today's culture of identity, diversity, and inclusivity. One cannot call a spade a spade - women in this apogee of women's place can do no wrong, deserve every advantage over men, and must be respected as society's true generals - or saints.   The only spade called is male toxicity, that spreading, infectious, viral swarm of bad intention, ugliness, and hormone-fueled ignorance. 

The war between the sexes, as hot as it has ever been, will cool down for sure.  Its anger, suspicion, and hostility is more a product of today’s identity politics, the politics of grievance and victimhood than it is any fundamental issue.  This era of over-sensitivity, inclusivity, and group identity will eventually wither and die.  Who knows what will come next, but one hopes at least some return to sexual reality, confidence, will, and individuality.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.