Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sorta political: When did feminism become the embarassing guest that everyone wishes would just go away?

With every passing year, feminism becomes a little stupider. I was a big fan when I was in high school. By the mid 1980s when I finished university, feminism was already losing its bearings. As John dos Passos once said of American communists, when they should have been taking a strong stand, feminists had muzzled themselves by making disastrous political alliances, and when they should have kept quiet, they rushed to keyboards and microphones.

A good example of the latter is Hanna Rosin's response to the news that Matthew Robert McQuinn, Jonathan Blunk, (who both died) and Alex Teves (who survived) all placed themselves in the path of gunfire to save the women they were with during the Aurora shootings. She sees it as an opportunity to flog her thesis that men are in decline. No, I'm not making that up.

I have nothing against her arguing that view, although I suspect she is wrong. But really, there is a time to make your case and there is a time to be respectfully silent.

BTW: Another item for the long list of stupid things that only very smart people can convince themselves of:
Papers have described what happened in the theater as "chivalry." But it's not really that. Chivalry is a code of conduct connected to social propriety. Throwing your body in front of your girlfriend when people all around you are getting shot is an instinct that's basic, and deeper.
If you really believe that then ask yourself what you think would happen in a similar situation in an Islamic culture. Think of those Saudi schoolgirls who burned to death because the authorities didn't want to risk  that men might be damaged by seeing the girls without their headscarves. Police reportedly beat the women who tried to escape the fire and drove them back to their deaths. How much chance do you think there is that men will develop a "basic instinct" to protect women in a culture like that?

And we might also remember the École Polytechnique massacre in which an entire classroom of men meekly filed out leaving nine women to die? Where was the "basic instinct" that day?

Chivalry may be an inconvenient fact for feminists but it's a very real thing and while there are other societies with admirable ideals for men, the sort of chivalry we saw at Aurora is a western ideal.  

What those three men did was the end product of a whole life training themselves to be men. To paraphrase this month's uncool quote: "One is born male, but being a man is a personal accomplishment."

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