I’m putting this up because I came across a short piece in ‘The Nation’ that actually follows up on the Hannah Rosin article on which I put up a longish Post recently (‘Hannah Rosin Ends Men’, June 19).
This will be a shorter Post but I am putting it up because the ‘Nation’ writer – Katha Pollitt, sort of the official (radical-) Feminist for the magazine – tries in her one-page piece to make Rosin’s piece seem like a Good Idea, simultaneously trying to spin its weak points without also committing gender-treason by exposing the shortcomings in the thought of another cadre (and of the radical feminist project and agenda themselves).
You can also follow the interesting thread of Comments on Pollitt’s piece if you follow the above link to the article and then click further from that page to view the comments.
Pollitt – sassy and in-the-know – entitles her one-page piece “Women on Top?”, and you can do with that what you please.
Rosin isn’t really talking about “the end of men” says Pollitt. Really, “it’s about men’s declining economic ability to dominate women and various sociocultural consequences of that face”.
Ah – where on earth did anybody get the idea, after reading Rosin’s piece, that it wasn’t all about economics? That it wasn’t sorta anti-man but instead was just a sober and careful bit of wide-angle reportage about economics and the relevant consequences?
I note however that Pollitt oh-so-Correctly presumes that the entire history of the United States and of all of the world’s civilizations (or at least, those civilizations that had ‘men’ in them), is in essence nothing more or less than an effort (which would have to be deliberate and conscious) to “dominate women”.
THAT, according to the dogma of the radical-feminists’ Revolution, is and was all there ever is and was to the fundamental core of thousands upon thousands of years of human (male and female, in other words) efforts to make sense out of existence in this ‘world’ and to organize themselves to survive and perhaps even prosper in it and make it a survivable and even worthwhile place for their own kids and succeeding generations of humans. Which they all saw had something to do with a dimension Beyond this world as well.
I see in Pollitt’s approach radical-feminism’s too-easy adoption of Marx’s reduction of ALL human activity to the Economic (and This-Worldly). And also in the past 40-plus years of Lenin’s belief that ‘the masses’ (Lincoln’s equivalent term here would be “The People”) were just too dumb and stubborn and stolid to really be trusted with the magical mystery tour that is the Revolution’s guiding vision and so couldn’t be trusted to ‘do the right thing’ nor to be willing to ‘do whatever it takes’ to make the Revolution the ‘new normal’.
The ‘right’ thing of course is defined as the Correct thing, the Revolution’s thing – because all such Virtues as Truth and Loyalty and Commitment and Justice must be defined according to the Revolution’s world-view. (‘Charity’ and ‘Love’ and ‘Maturity’ and ‘Character’ didn’t even entire into Lenin’s or Mao’s dictionary for any practical purposes.)
Thus, for example, in the days of Communism ‘socialist realism’ was realism-as-socialist-thought understands it – anything else was not, for Revolutionary purposes, ‘real’ at all. But then Reality caught up with ‘socialist realism’ back there in 1991and the whole scam collapsed like a Ponzi scheme (or a Housing Bubble and Mortgage Bubble, come to think of it).
“Women are surging forward educationally, entering the professions and the burgeoning service field in great numbers, having children on their own, putting up with less crap from boyfriends and husbands – we all know that”, brays Pollitt.
Factoidally, she’s accurate.
Although you have to make a couple-three subtractions.
First, given that the universities have pretty much put their thumbs on the scales through assorted forms of quota-imposition, although under the rubrics of some form of ‘affirmative action’ and ‘diversity’ and even constitutional ‘rights’ (see my series on this site about Martha Nussbaum’s attempts at codifying all this as ‘cutting-edge legal theory’) and have to far too great an extent watered-down their academic programs and grading (the ‘self esteem’ stuff), then you can’t really be sure how much genuine ‘achievement’ is being achieved. And that’s before you factor in the visceral anti-male stuff that’s infected the campuses like the plague.
Frankly, I put no more easy trust in Revolutionary Advocacy ‘figures’ (let alone any conclusions drawn from them) than I did in the Five O’ Clock Follies of Westmoreland’s daily Vietnam briefings, or – for that matter – any of the Pentagoon ‘figures’ coming out of Vietnamistan and the Greater Southwest Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere as to numbers of baddies eliminated or numbers of American casualties incurred (might be as high as half a million, if you count everything). Naturally, the number of ‘natives’ killed, maimed, or who have had their lives ruined is simply left out.
Second, the Beltway has let the country and its employers know that you will hire a certain number of ‘women’ or else, both in civilian occupations and even to a great extent in the military (where you will also promote them to ranks of high stature while politely ignoring matters of competence and responsibility).
And you’d think that Pollitt would not want to choose a word like ‘surge’, given Our recent and on-going unhappy military experiences with the concept; but so much of radical-feminism’s ‘success’ can be ascribed to using trendy words to spin stuff that she probably did it out of force of revolutionary habit.
Third, that “burgeoning service field” holds a huge crater in its not-at-all-smooth surface: it takes a whole lotta government cash to pay for the ‘service-providers’ and so forth, and that cash comes from one of three places.
It may come from monies the government collects on the taxes levied on trade and manufacturing.
OR it may come from borrowing so that it only LOOKS LIKE you’re rich: you’ve got a lot of ready cash but now you’re in hock up to your ears, saddled with both principal and interest. But since Reagan first started down this path it’s been run into the ground.
OR it may come from the unique postwar position of the US government as administrator of the world’s reserve currency, the ‘almighty Dollar’. BUT if the world decides now that the Dollar is no longer ‘almighty’ (did the Revolution think it was only Deconstructing ‘God’?) then the US government can’t simply print more ‘dollars’ at the mint and therefore have lots more money and cash.
The Revolution was built on an unexamined presumption that the Dollar would remain the world’s reserve currency, and that therefore the Beltway that the cadres had gotten a death-grip on could keep cash flowing to fund the otherwise hugely dubious assumption that there would always be Dollars to fund its otherwise unsupportable visions of a ‘service economy’ and a ‘knowledge economy’ that otherwise would have no visible means of financial support.
The Nanny State’s Mommy, that Boss of the national Breakfast Table, ladling out whatever she thought best for the unruly kiddies, was presumed – like some Leninist version of Auntie Mame – to be eternally rich and cash-loaded.
Ummmmmm – it’s 2010 and – ummmmmmmm – nope. That ‘unique’ Moment in world and American history was – surprise! – temporary. Who knew?
And that Moment is also at this point – ummmmm – over and gone, never to return.
Fourth, that cute little “having children on their own” means single-parent, and most frequently single-mom, parenting (I’m not going to use the term ‘family’ – see below). With the exception of a very thin slice of women who can afford immigrant nannies or have their own mothers – now grannies and great-grannies – to take care of the kids, most women thus ‘liberated’ are living in near-poverty conditions and their kids, female as well as male, are growing up (or already now grown up) with far too little adult competence to conduct individual or social lives productively.
And while you’re thinking about all that, think about this: for the radical-feminist vision to work, Family in any substantive sense – in any sense in which it is a commitment between a male and a female to postpone their own gratification in order to provide a future for their children – has to GO. For that matter, any ‘authoritative relationship’ scheme – meaning any scheme between any two individuals that has a pre-existing right to require either of the ‘partners’ to forego personal ‘choice’ if that ‘choice’ interferes with the raising of the children … any such scheme is equally incommensurable with the radical-feminist vision.
(You can see here why the Catholic Church – with its insistence upon Marriage as a sacramental union – has to be undermined by whatever means necessary. Of course then, that Church’s insistence upon Just War theory and social justice also adds the Right to its list of enemies.)
And fifth, that even more kewt zinger about “putting up with less crap from boyfriends and husbands” reveals with stunning panache the profound immaturity at the heart of the radical-feminist ‘vision’ (and I have commented in prior Posts on the equally disturbing queasy ‘lesbian’ undertone to the whole thing): sustaining a relationship in this world and among members of this never-perfected human species pretty much guarantees your having to accept a hefty dollop of ‘putting up with crap’ from other humans (as they, by the by, have to put up with your crap … welcome to Earth.)
Further, ‘women’ – as the Revolution envisions that concept – have to exercise a great deal of discrimination in judgment in choosing a partner. It goes with the human territory the same way as the tides or gravity do: just something that’s built into the planet and you have to work with it. You can’t just ‘hook up’ and figure the hard work is done.
So do ‘men’, for that matter, but if they were not sufficiently and reliably mature before the Revolution, they sure as hell aren’t now. The slacker-guy (vividly epitomized in Judd Apatow’s type of films), unmotivated, rudderless, ‘slack’ – is no more a genuine male than the wife-beating, drunken cartoon that is the staple of the Lifetime-Channel worldview.
But I note in both Pollitt and Rosin that, having helped undermine the genuine formation of males by simultaneously condemning them as violent, rationalist, and oppressive, and imposing upon several generations of male children now the Correct self-image as being weak along the entire spectrum of human maturational development, they are now making fun of the ‘slacker’ and stymied males that are showing up in ever-increasing numbers.
And – if you know your government itself has rigged the game against you in every respect – just what ‘spirit’ and motivation would any man-child consider worthwhile as a life-plan – if, that is, such a man-child, growing up in the multi-spectrum poverty of a single-parent, female-headed ‘living unit’, even had a chance to imagine a genuine masculinity in the first place?
The ‘men’, opines Pollitt echoing Rosin (and they both reflect, I bet, the Correct thinking of all the Beltway and cadres’ conventional wisdom on the subject), are suffering from “the decline of manufacturing”. And as I have said in prior Posts, THIS little by-the-by is actually one of the key national realities, and a lethally dangerous and treacherous one.
Because a non-manufacturing economy isn’t going to be able to support itself or a ‘society’. While the Revolution was happily helping along the ‘outsourcing’ of American manufacturing in order to further their clear and deliberate objective of de-masculinizing American society, they also helped greatly to undermine the national economy itself.
Oy! Talk about the Mother of All Bad Consequences: Busily ripping out the hull planks in order to get rid of the infestation of ‘males’, the cadres and their Beltway enablers destroyed the watertight integrity of the hull itself.
And was that wise?
And do you expect this voyage to last much longer?
“It may even be, as Rosin claims, that women are particularly well-suited to the postindustrial economy”.
LET ME PROPOSE THIS THOUGHT: a ‘postindustrial economy’ is not an economy at all. It’s a husk, a shell, a corpse, although in Our case still kept alive merely by the oh-so-temporary fact that the Beltway can still print money because the Dollar is the world’s reserve currency and every government in the world has to honor it.
Thus the ‘service’ economy and the ‘knowledge’ economy are not viable and self-sustaining economies at all, but merely a Germany-in-1944 propaganda construct to convince the population that the Thousand Year Reich is still going strong and that nothing much has gone wrong recently.
Meanwhile, just as the Soviets were coming into the homeland of the Reich itself, and the Americans and Brits approaching the Rhine itself after their arrival over the beaches of Normandy, so too now Reality is approaching the Revolution’s own little ‘reich’.
But they’re still making fun of ‘men’ (pronounced in the sneering accents of Untermensch), even as the whole thing gets ready to implode. And they say History doesn’t repeat itself.
And, picking up the new Correct line that Rosin has already expressed, Pollitt characterizes the New American Woman as possessed of the “brains, self-discipline, the ability to work well with others and verbal skills” while characterizing ‘men’ as having “little more than brawn and testosterone-fueled thrill seeking”.
This is a CARTOON, and this is a stunning example of CARTOONISH THINKING.
So World War 2 was won DESPITE being waged by nothing more than a huge herd of brainless, undisciplined lumpen-oafs who couldn’t “work well with others” and couldn’t communicate with each other because they “had no verbal skills”? And that the genuinely amazing military efforts and production efforts were nothing more than the (accidental?) outcome of “brawn” and “testosterone-fueled thrill seeking”?*
AND ditto the entire American history of productivity since 1620?
AND what about the prior millennia (dominated, according to Correct dogma) by such ‘males’ since the beginning of recorded human history?
I say that what you can see here is the profoundly CARTOONISH ‘thinking’ and ‘vision’ that underlies and has always underlain the radical-feminist vision and Revolution. And the Beltway signed a blank check for the whole thing this past 40 Biblical years.
Pollitt doesn’t notice any of that though, and instead pooh-poohs objections to Rosin’s article (there were apparently a whole lot) by sneering that the country is a long way from being a “matriarchy”.
Well, I don’t think the country is ever going to be the perfect radical-feminist matriarchy (run by the likes of Sarah Palin? Janet Reno? Madeleine Albright? Condoleeza Rice?).
Because I don’t think the country is going to last that long.
We’ve hit the berg. Worse, the Beltway command-staff and its radical-feminist crew are still claiming that a) this is the most wonderfullest ship in human history so it can’t sink and that b) therefore we shouldn’t think about the lifeboats being all up near the first-class level because nobody’s going to need them and c) a certain woozy instability in the ship’s movement and the champagne flutes sliding off the tilted tables are just ‘the new normal’. Oh, and d) anybody who is practicing ‘Nearer My God To Thee’ is not being optimistic, is actually being hurtful, and anyway there is no God.
I don’t see this ending well.
Shrewdly, Pollitt then salvages what creds she retains by stating in the tones of Sweet Academic Sobriety that “every fact [Rosin] cites needs about a dozen asterisks after it”. Hmmmm. A ‘theory’ that requires THAT many qualifications is a mighty limited engine of accurate explanation.
And she asks “Must women’s gains be men’s loss?”
Good question. But to anybody of Pollitt’s persuasion, hugely dangerous to raise: IS the radical-feminist revolution a ZERO-SUM game? HAS IT BEEN all along? (And THAT makes you wonder about the legitimacy or treachery of the Beltway for the past 40 Biblical years.)
Certainly, any Revolution along the lines of the French or Leninist or Maoist models is indeed a zero-sum game: anything ‘against’ or ‘outside of’ or ‘above’ the Revolution must not only make way, but must be rooted out and obliterated.
Although this is not so with the American model of 1787. But THAT American Revolution of the 18th century is precisely the one the radical-feminists claim is so patriarchal and oppressive and their every effort (with the Beltway’s help) for these past 40 Biblical years has been to undermine it and its ethos.
Sleazily, Pollitt then coos that “Rosin is no Christina Hoff Sommers”. Sommers is a moderate, as opposed to radical, feminist, whom Pollitt falsely characterizes as being an “opponent” of “feminism”. Pollitt is able to pull this trick because she defines as “feminism” what I would call radical-feminism. The voices of moderate feminists (Sommers, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Mary Ann Glendon, among others) have been outshouted by the agitprop and Beltway and media pandering to the cadres of the Revolution as it has now morphed within the Beltway, and has spread its virulence from there.
Rather, spins Pollitt, Rosin’s enemy is “the impersonal workings of postindustrial capitalism, which have marginalized working-class men”.
Pollitt and Rosin are both trying to rescue the Revolution from its own agenda – which has succeeded far too awfully well.
But now in doing so they must turn on ‘capitalism’, which in its ‘postindustrial’ phase (which the Revolution did so much to help bring about) simply follows Profit around the globe. It is THAT profit-motive that impersonally – she nicely puts it – has robbed working class males of their jobs (though she tries, too shrewdly, to slide by that by simply saying that it has “marginalized” those males).
But radical-feminisim’s Revolution has been ‘marginalizing’ men from the get-go. Indeed, it has been conducting – with the Beltway’s pandering help – an ongoing assault against ‘men’ and a Deconstruction of Maleness and Masculinity.
And not simply against ‘working class’ (she shrewdly avoids saying ‘white’) males, but against ALL males.
In fact, I’d say that while the loss of jobs is lethal, the most profound damage has been done in the area of males’ self-image and self-mastery, and any chance – through such stuff as ‘fathers’ and ‘family’ – of developing a self-mastery of the male gifts and energies at all.
And with Rosin she tries to rescue the Revolution by blaming its victims: it’s the men’s inability to “adapt” to the “changes” that is doing them in (and not the Revolution’s forty frakkulent years of Deconstruction).
She follows Rosin into the treacherous (but inadequately examined) Domestic Violence swamp: since men can’t think of any way to “exercise their authority” within the family except to assert “because I say so” and then to hit people (women and children) then it’s men’s own fault.
This relies upon the treacherously cartoonish Lifetime Channel vision of family life and marriage and of males: a bunch of beer-swilling macho neo-Nazis (don’t forget, the families they supported in the 1950s were – in Betty Friedan’s term “Dachau” and in Alice Miller’s term “Auschwitz” … feh).
And even if it were an accurate description of the vast majority of marriages and families, then all We have now to replace it is a bunch of Judd Apatow ‘slackers’ or the queasily female-dependent, man-pretty clothes-horses of something like ‘Gossip Girl’ … and you aren’t going to keep a polity going with them, that’s for sure.
(And in regard to that ‘Gossip Girl’ reference, note that all of the kiddos are already wealthy by inheritance or relationship and never have a serious cash-flow problem – which echoes, nicely and precisely, the Boomer-era presumption of the radical-feminist Revolution that while they would kill the Goose, the Golden Eggs were here to stay and would never stop coming. And also that there are several cohorts of young people in this country who now think that their economic security is plentifully assured and they have nothing else to worry about except what to wear and what new personal communication device to buy.)
But Pollitt, still trying to salvage Rosin, whines that men can’t “take advantage of the expansion of female-dominated working-class jobs like nursing and food preparation”.
In the first place, take a look at the ‘jobs’ that the Revolution has ‘created’ to replace the industrial-era jobs and careers of the old patriarchy: Nursing is good, but how many nurses can you have, really? Unless the whole population gets sick or at least sees itself as sick.
And how many men can become burger flippers?
I will say this again: the ‘vision’ of the Revolution has assigned ‘men’ the role of helots in some sort of lesbian Amazon dampdream.
And I will not accept that this is just fair-turn since the American family of the 1950s was nothing but a slave-plantation for women. The American Woman in the 1950s had more security and purpose than any females in the history of the planet, including the pampered aristocracies of powerful monarchies and empires ancient or recent.
Nor am I implying that the country should never have ‘changed’, and I urge that the proposals of feminist thinkers such as Elshtain, Glendon, Whitehead, and Sommers be carefully considered, and to be given far more of a public airing than they have received to date. (These thinkers have not been ‘backlashed’ into silence; they have been banished as ‘gender-traitors’ by the cadres of the radical-feminist Revolution.)
“Perhaps boys just haven’t had enough incentive” says Pollitt , putting her maternal thinking-cap on. YA THINK? YA FRAKKING THINK? Their entire gender has been the target of a sustained and government-abetted zero-sum campaign of Deconstruction for forty years.
Alas, decides Pollitt, it’s “society at large” that isn’t helping the poor things. But she neatly neglects to crow – as the cadres usually do – that it’s a radical-feminist tainted society that has evolved (or de-volved) over the past 40 years.
“American males are bathed from birth in pop culture that reveres the most childish, most retrograde, most narcissistic male fantasies”. Well, if she’s trying to indict Gangsta and Rap kultcha, who can deny it? Although it is not Correct to do so, since those cultures are, Multiculturalism assures Us, valid and useful in their own right.
Then again, Valley Girls were not an encouraging ‘culture’, nor their modern successors, the ‘Gossip Girls’. And anybody who can recall ancient history and envision Condoleeza Rice standing by her man during the imperium of Bush the Lesser … oy.
Meanwhile, Pollitt, while indicting boys for not doing their homework and playing video games instead, stands up bravely for grrrrls: “even if they grow up hating their bodies and dressing like prostitutes, they know that if they don’t want to end up waitressing, they’ve got to hit the books and make a plan”.
They do? All the girls? ** While the boys are simply sunk in lumpish stupor?
This is cartoonish dampdreaming erected into a Plan.
But – lethally for the United States – it is a Plan that has received the blessing of government and ‘elite’ academic thought and the kudos of media puffery for 40 years. It’s still 1975 in the Beltway, only with better clothes and lots more ‘money’.
But then, in that fabled Bunker in that final Spring, I bet it was '1938' right up until that last day in April 1945.
And then suddenly it wasn’t.
And the still-dedicated cadres couldn’t think why.
*And, as I have often discussed, imagine a military in which “brawn” and “testosterone-fueled” activity is not held in high-esteem? Just how many battles do you suppose such an entity will win? And, come to think of it ….
** And it remains to be asked: WHY do all these females “grow up hating their bodies”? Where is such a phenomenon coming from? If the female psyche is so profoundly predisposed to such fragility … what’s THAT all about? And what then are the implications for the polity?