Quotulatiousness

February 22, 2018

The worst episode of The Avengers? “How to Succeed … at Murder”

Filed under: Britain, Media — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

In a column ostensibly devoted to the British Labour party’s ongoing ructions over their “all women shortlist” problems, David Cole recaps what he calls the worst episode of the brilliant 1960s British TV show The Avengers:

(Image via Aveleyman.com)

When I think of The Avengers, what comes to mind is not the bloated comic-book franchise in which overpaid actors cavort in front of a greenscreen for the masturbatory pleasure of nerds. No, to me, there is and will always be only one Avengers, and that’s the 1960s British crime and espionage TV series. As a kid, it was my favorite show, and I have fond memories of rushing home from elementary school every day to catch Emma Peel (my favorite of John Steed’s female partners) in action.

Among Avengers superfans, there is one episode that is generally considered the worst. Indeed, the episode is outright despised, because in a series lauded (and properly so) for being a trailblazer when it came to presenting strong, intelligent, and independent action heroines, the episode “How to Succeed…at Murder” is seen as a giant chauvinistic step backward. It’s known as the “anti-feminist” episode, the one that took the show’s message of female empowerment and stood it on its head. “How to Succeed…at Murder” was first broadcast in March 1966. The setup is typical Avengers-style mystery. Prominent businessmen are being murdered by unknown assailants, and it’s up to Steed and Peel to get to the bottom of it. It turns out, a group of sexy female ballet students have created a secret society dedicated to the destruction of powerful men. They use their feminine charms to get hired as secretaries, only to quickly begin taking control of the business to the point that when they murder the boss, ownership falls to them. The society’s motto is “Ruination to all men.”

Mrs. Peel infiltrates the group and learns that the girls take their orders from a female marionette, which seems to speak and move on its own. In a voice somewhat resembling that of a drag queen, the marionette explains the group’s mission: “To take woman out of the secretary’s chair and put her behind the executive desk. To bring men to heel and put women at the pinnacle of power.”

The marionette’s “helper” is Henry, the clumsy, doughy owner of the ballet school where the secret society meets.

Emma is soon exposed as an infiltrator, and it’s up to Steed to confront the evil ballerinas on their home turf. “No man will dominate us again,” the girls crow as they hold Steed at gunpoint. However, the unflappable Steed quickly deduces that the marionette is actually being controlled remotely by…Henry. Yep, these women had a male boss all along! Revealed as the mastermind, Henry tearfully explains that following the loss of his late wife’s ballet company at the hands of greedy investors, he vowed vengeance against powerful businessmen (it’s also revealed that the marionette is crafted in his wife’s image, and Henry, his mind bent by grief, actually believes he’s his dead wife when he gives the puppet voice). To achieve his revenge against the business world, Henry took advantage of the anti-male sentiments of his students. “No man will ever dominate you?” Steed mockingly asks the girls. “You’ve been taking orders from a man all this time!” As the murderous dancers stand crestfallen, their mouths agape, their boastfulness sapped, Emma disarms the lead girl and beats the living crap out of each and every one of them.

You cannot read a review of this episode on any Avengers fansite without encountering the words “sexist,” “reactionary,” or “misogynistic.” The vitriol stems from the fact that the man-hating feminists turn out to be gullible morons. In their fanatical crusade against male domination, they inadvertently allowed a weak, delusional man-who-believes-he’s-a-woman to dominate and control them.

February 10, 2018

Protecting (some) women from their own decisions

Filed under: Business, Liberty, Politics — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Kirio Birks on the Formula One “grid girls”:

Objectification, we are told, is degrading. Why? Because any job that requires employees to be sexually attractive and gazed upon for that reason necessarily dehumanises them. It encourages others to treat them as pretty ‘things’ rather than as autonomous people with their own lives, passions, thoughts, and desires. Or so the thinking goes. ‘Grid Girls’ – models employed by Formula One for promotional purposes – have just discovered that their role is to be discontinued. As Formula One’s managing director of commercial operations explained: “While the practice of employing grid girls has been a staple of Formula 1 Grands Prix for decades, we feel this custom does not resonate with our brand values and clearly is at odds with modern day societal norms.”

But in their hurry to spare Grid Girls the indignity of the male gaze, nobody making this argument seems to have stopped to wonder whether Grid Girls might have an interest in defending what they do. Instead, a collective of ostensibly progressive voices leapt to their defence without bothering to ask the girls themselves if they needed defending at all. In response, Formula One abandoned its Grid Girls so that it can be seen to be moving with the times and hip to contemporary mores. In doing so, Formula One’s executives have implicitly conceded that they have spent too long objectifying women instead of empowering them. They would like it to known that they’d rather see women driving the cars, or as members of the engineering teams, or just about anywhere other than track-side holding a driver’s name-board and looking beautiful.

What baffles me is that a move supposed to empower women came at the expense of other women, and only because a minority of outsiders found Grid Girls inappropriate, problematic, and otherwise an offence against good taste. But even if Grid Girls are being objectified, then – contra the explanation offered above – it’s not at all clear that objectification is wrong in and of itself. It is acceptable to use people as a means to an end – that’s called employment. Grid Girls obviously know that they will be objectified and they make an autonomous, informed decision to take the job anyway. They are not harmed, they are paid for their time and their work, and many of them have come forward to say, with understandable indignation, that they enjoy what they do. Needless to say, this has not impressed those feminists who applauded their redundancies. But surely a woman has a right to be the object of somebody else’s desire if she wants and surely it doesn’t matter if she is being paid for it?

Opponents may suggest that Grid Girls have internalised their own oppression in a society shaped by patriarchal values, but not without making two claims: (1) that Grid Girls are unable to adequately think for themselves because of the society they live in and (2) that thinking for yourself is only evidenced by acknowledging the existence of a patriarchal status quo and resisting it.

February 6, 2018

Katie Roiphe on the new whisper network

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

She’s already taken a lot of heat from other women over this essay:

For years, women confined their complaints about sexual harassment to whisper networks for fear of reprisal from men. This is an ugly truth about our recent past that we are just now beginning to grapple with. But amid this welcome reckoning, it seems that many women still fear varieties of retribution (Twitter rage, damage to their reputations, professional repercussions, and vitriol from friends) for speaking out — this time, from other women. They are, in other words, inadvertently creating a new whisper network. Can this possibly be a good thing?

Most of the new whisperers feel as I do, exhilarated by the moment, by the long-overdue possibility of holding corrupt and bullying men such as Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, and Matt Lauer to account for their actions. They strongly share some of its broader goals: making it possible for women to work unbothered and unharassed even outside the bubble of Hollywood and the media, breaking down the structures that have historically protected powerful men. Yet they are also slightly uneasy at the weird energy behind this movement, a weird energy it is sometimes hard to pin down.

Here are some things these professional women said to me on the condition that their names be withheld:

    I think “believe all women” is silly. Women are unreliable narrators also. I understand how hard it is to come forward, but I just don’t buy it. It’s a sentimental view of women … I think there is more regretted consent than anyone is willing to say out loud.

    If someone had sent me the Media Men list ten years ago, when I was twenty-five, I would have called a harmlessly enamored guy a stalker and a sloppy drunken encounter sexual assault. I’d hate myself now for wrecking two lives.

    One thing people don’t say is that power is an aphrodisiac … To pretend otherwise is dishonest.

    What seems truly dangerous to me is the complete disregard the movement shows for a sacred principle of the American criminal justice system: the presumption of innocence. I come from Mexico, whose judicial system relied, until 2016, on the presumption of guilt, which translated into people spending decades, sometimes lifetimes, in jail before even seeing a judge.

    I have never felt sexually harassed. I said this to someone the other day, and she said, “I am sure you are wrong.”

    Al Franken asked for an investigation and he should have been allowed to have it; the facts are still ambiguous, the sources were sketchy.

    Why didn’t I get hit on? What’s wrong with me? #WhyNotMeToo

    I think #MeToo is a potentially valuable tool that is degraded when women appropriate it to encompass things like “creepy DMs” or “weird lunch ‘dates.’” And I do not think touching a woman’s back justifies a front page in the New York Times and the total annihilation of someone’s career.

I have a long history with this feeling of not being able to speak. In the early Nineties, death threats were phoned into Shakespeare and Company, an Upper West Side bookstore where I was scheduled to give a reading from my book The Morning After. That night, in front of a jittery crowd and a sprinkling of police, I read a passage comparing the language in the date-rape pamphlets given out on college campuses to Victorian guides to conduct for young ladies. When I read at universities, students who considered themselves feminists shouted me down. It was an early lesson in the chilling effect of feminist orthodoxy.

But social media has enabled a more elaborate intolerance of feminist dissenters, as I just personally experienced. Twitter, especially, has energized the angry extremes of feminism in the same way it has energized Trump and his supporters: the loudest, angriest, most simplifying voices are elevated and rendered normal or mainstream.

February 4, 2018

QotD: Modern feminism

Filed under: Liberty, Politics, Quotations — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Feminism now regularly calls for women to be treated as eggshells instead of equals. And through this, it does something pernicious to the women it claims to advocate for: Feminism has become a movement for female disempowerment, or what I call “encouraged helplessness” (from psychologist Martin Seligman’s “learned helplessness”—the feeling that there’s nothing you can do to escape your fate).

In fact, feminism, bizarrely, has morphed into paternalism — instructing women that they are fragile, passive, powerless victims who need authority figures to advocate for them.

That’s a movement I want no part of. Or, as I like to put it — because I’m neither a feminist nor much of a lady: Count me the fuck out.

If you’re a woman, I encourage you to join me — count yourself the fuck out of what feminism has become.

This doesn’t require you to be fearless. You just need to shove your fears aside and do what needs to be done — say, getting up on your hind legs and telling some co-worker, “Stop saying that thing to me” or “…treating me this way.”

Now, if they persist after you’ve told them to stop a few times, that’s harassment and you can seek support to get them to stop. But consider that it’s less likely to get to that point if you simply act like men’s equal—act as if you’re powerful — instead of acting like you’re a feminist.

Amy Alkon, “Are Women Really Victims? Four Women Weigh In”, Quillette, 2017-11-22.

November 28, 2017

QotD: Women and “providers”

Filed under: Health, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

…Women evolved to feel compelled to seek men who are “providers.”

This hasn’t changed, not even for powerful women making a lot of money. Research by evolutionary psychologist David Buss and others has shown that even when women are high-flying big earners, they seem to want men who are higher-flying bigger earners.

This is even true of women who consider themselves feminists. Another evolutionary psychologist, Bruce J. Ellis, wrote in The Adapted Mind of fifteen feminist leaders’ descriptions of their ideal man — descriptions that included the repeated use of terms connoting high status, like “very rich,” “brilliant,” and “genius.”

Amy Alkon, Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck , 2014.

November 8, 2017

Nancy Friday, RIP

Filed under: Books, Health, Media — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

In the 1970s, one of the most controversial books was Nancy Friday’s My Secret Garden, drawn from interviews with a large number of women about their sexual fantasies:

My Secret Garden exploded on to bestseller lists around the globe in 1973. The work was shocking, deeply sexy in parts and proved that women had erotic imaginations just as men did, and that they, too, masturbated just as men did. It heralded the innocent dawning of what later became known as the sex-positive feminist movement. My Secret Garden came at the beginning of a wave of overtly sexual content written by women. Also in 1973, Betty Dodson penned what was to become the world’s bestseller on masturbation, Sex for One. My Secret Garden didn’t have the gravitas and respectability of say, Shulamith Firestone, but as author Susie Bright, the original “Sexpert” in the 1980s and 90s, says, “it sold millions and millions of copies and was a big wake-up for America’s puritanical, sheltered girls and young women”.

Of course, Friday was attacked by many. Like Dodson, her work was dismissed for being not scientific enough or for being too personal, or too much like soft porn. But an even bigger issue was that she wasn’t, Bright recalls with glee, “the tiniest bit politically correct”.

There is something quite secret about My Secret Garden. All Friday’s interviewees, who talk about fantasies ranging from being sex workers to being urinated on, talk anonymously. One interviewee explains how, when she has sex with her husband, her fantasy is imagining “the bed practically torn apart and us ending up on the floor wet and sticky and happy”. The reality though is that, “All he’s really doing is lying on top of me and thrusting away.

In 1996, Friday told Salon: “I would no more go to a consciousness-raising group and talk about my intimate life with my husband than fly to the moon.” In that same year, while discussing sexual harassment in the office on Bill Maher’s Comedy Central talk show Politically Incorrect, she claimed that men suffered from harassment as much as women.

H/T to Kathy Shaidle, who commented:

This was a very important book, although some will scoff at the idea. I was always struck by the fact that the only two male fantasy “objects” who were named (possibly for overly cautious “legal” reasons; one is clearly Leonard Cohen but not called that) were Mr. Spock and Sherlock Holmes…

The wide-spread (and I believe disingenuous) surprise that greeted the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey was no surprise at all to me. Friday was denounced as “no feminist” for revealing women’s rape fantasies, and she was decidedly non-p.c. in other respects. Whenever anyone dismisses this or that “evidence” as “simply anecdotal,” I think of this book in which anecdote is all, and more revealing and true than any “experiment” or “survey.”

September 6, 2017

A feminist retelling of Lord of the Flies

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Benedict Spence on the reported new movie retelling the story of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies from a female point of view:

It’s not always beneficial to know what an author thinks of his or her own work (J.K. Rowling demonstrates how infuriating this can be on a daily basis). But before his death, Golding specifically said that the characters in Lord of the Flies were supposed to be all boys, because: ‘I didn’t want this book to be about sex.’ ‘It’s too trivial a thing to get into a book like this, which was about the problem of evil’, he said.

You would have thought that Golding’s reasoning would make sense to feminists, who often argue that maleness (especially white maleness) is evil. So, if a matriarchal society would be more pacifist and just, how could an island of little girls descend into the same chaos as happens to the boys in Lord of the Flies?

None of this is to say that remakes are always destined for mediocrity. But when remakes set out to make a political point, as is clearly the case here, the result is often cringe-inducing and lacking in artistic merit. Worse still, in this case the remake entails ripping out a core part of the story for the sake of mere virtue-signalling. There’s nothing interesting or daring about that.

I don’t know why people are freaking out about this … clearly just changing one element of the original story (swapping out all the boys for girls) is going to change the outcome: that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?

As we all know, a society composed only of males will naturally collapse into barbarism due to a massive overdose of toxic masculinity. On the other hand, a society composed only of females will have zero conflict (because women are naturally co-operative), and all issues will be dealt with democratically and fairly, with equal sharing of burdens and outcomes. I’m not sure where they’re going to find any kind of conflict to build the storyline around, as by definition there can’t be any conflict in the absence of a toxic male influence and systemic patriarchal violence, so the movie may just be three hours of heartwarming sympathy and tolerance, sharing and caring, mutual respect and egalitarian problem-solving. Where’s the drama going to come from?

Of course, not everyone agrees. Here’s Heather Wilhelm to ruin everyone’s egalitarian dream:

Women Are Never Evil, You Sick Chauvinist Pigs

“An all women remake of Lord of the Flies makes no sense because…the plot of the book wouldn’t happen with all women,” New York Times columnist Roxane Gay declared on Twitter, making me wonder if she’s ever been to a sixth-grade slumber party. (If you haven’t been to one, know this: They almost always degenerate into a pillow-strewn wasteland of popcorn, treachery, and copious weeping.)

Other writers joked that a female Lord of the Flies would obviously and inevitably morph into a peaceful island paradise — you know, like the very real place where Wonder Woman grew up. By my personal scientific assessment, there is a 99 percent probability that anyone who makes this point has never spent significant time in a sorority house, where there is often unlimited cereal, a frozen yogurt machine, and occasional tales of terror that would make your hair stand on end.

“Not every story makes sense to gender-flip,” wrote Yohana Desta at Vanity Fair. “Particularly if that story is William Golding’s classic Lord of the Flies, a vicious tale about a barbaric boy-made society. The concept alone,” she continues, “disregards the point of the book!”

Get it? “The point of the book” is that boys — just boys! — are inherently bad.

June 5, 2017

Camille Paglia on Angela Merkel as “the best model for aspiring women politicians”

Filed under: Books, Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

An interview with Camille Paglia about her latest book, Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, and Feminism, Angela Merkel as a role model for female politicians, and other topics:

DW: In one of your essays for Time magazine, you described Angela Merkel as “the best model for aspiring women politicians.” What did you mean by that?

Camille Paglia: What I have always admired about Angela Merkel is her ability to project confident leadership while also maintaining her naturalness and spontaneity as a real person with a rich personal life. She gardens, she cooks, she loves both sports and opera!

The contrast to Hillary Clinton as a public figure is immense. Hillary lives like a darkly brooding Marie Antoinette, barricaded behind her wealth and security guards. She seems to have no hobbies and few interests, aside from her pursuit of money and power.

Every public appearance is carefully scripted in advance for maximum publicity. She is stiff and guarded, incapable of improvisation, which is why she held virtually no press conferences at all during her presidential campaign.

Everything she does or says is researched and poll-tested by an army of hired sycophants. A recent book, Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign, has revealed that even the top managers of Hillary’s own presidential campaign were often unable to speak to her directly. Everyone had to go through her chic courtier and major-domo, Huma Abedin.

I love the way that Angela Merkel is completely content to look exactly her age. She has a relaxation, a comfort within her own skin, without all the glamorous, artificial interventions of Hillary’s fancy cosmetics, luxury hair styling, and expensive designer clothing. I regard Merkel as an important role model not simply as a politician but as a mature woman of the world.

It must be emphasized that I am not in any way evaluating Angela Merkel’s policy decisions, where there is reason for controversy, notably about immigration. However, in my view, Merkel has achieved the most successful persona yet for a modern woman politician: She is steely and pugnacious in conflict, yet she exudes warmth and humor, an ease with ordinary human life.

[…]

Where do your viewpoints come from?

As an adolescent in the early 1960s, I was directly inspired by first-wave feminism, the 19th-century protest movement that led to American women winning the right to vote in 1920.

I learned about feminism through my obsession with the aviatrix Amelia Earhart, whom I read about in a 1961 newspaper article. For the next three years, I obsessively pursued a research project into Earhart and her era. No one was talking about feminism at the time, but I was drawn to the subject because of my own aggressive, outspoken personality, which did not conform to standard definitions of femininity during that period.

By the time second-wave feminism was born in the late 1960s, I came into fierce conflict with the new feminists over many issues – above all their neurotic hatred of men and their puritanical hostility to sexual images in art history and Hollywood movies.

I was 16 years old and had just read Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex. Valentina Tereshkova, a Soviet cosmonaut, had just become the first woman launched into space. Newsweek published my letter to the editor, along with a photo of Amelia Earhart: I invoked Earhart’s precedent in protesting the exclusion of women from the American space program. I explicitly demanded “equal opportunity” for American women – and that remains my ultimate principle.

May 21, 2017

“The conceptual penis as a social construct”

Filed under: Education, Media, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Getting a paper published is one of the regular measurements of academic life — usually expressed as “publish or perish” — so getting your latest work into print is a high priority for almost all academics. Some fields have rather … lower … standards for publishing than others. Peter Boghossian, Ed.D. (aka Peter Boyle, ED.D.) and James Lindsay, Ph.D. (aka Jamie Lindsay, Ph.D.) submitted a paper written in imitation of post-structuralist discursive gender theory and got it published in a peer-reviewed journal:

    The androcentric scientific and meta-scientific evidence that the penis is the male reproductive organ is considered overwhelming and largely uncontroversial.

That’s how we began. We used this preposterous sentence to open a “paper” consisting of 3,000 words of utter nonsense posing as academic scholarship. Then a peer-reviewed academic journal in the social sciences accepted and published it.

This paper should never have been published. Titled, “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct,” our paper “argues” that “The penis vis-à-vis maleness is an incoherent construct. We argue that the conceptual penis is better understood not as an anatomical organ but as a gender-performative, highly fluid social construct.” As if to prove philosopher David Hume’s claim that there is a deep gap between what is and what ought to be, our should-never-have-been-published paper was published in the open-access (meaning that articles are freely accessible and not behind a paywall), peer-reviewed journal Cogent Social Sciences. (In case the PDF is removed, we’ve archived it.)

Assuming the pen names “Jamie Lindsay” and “Peter Boyle,” and writing for the fictitious “Southeast Independent Social Research Group,” we wrote an absurd paper loosely composed in the style of post-structuralist discursive gender theory. The paper was ridiculous by intention, essentially arguing that penises shouldn’t be thought of as male genital organs but as damaging social constructions. We made no attempt to find out what “post-structuralist discursive gender theory” actually means. We assumed that if we were merely clear in our moral implications that maleness is intrinsically bad and that the penis is somehow at the root of it, we could get the paper published in a respectable journal.

This already damning characterization of our hoax understates our paper’s lack of fitness for academic publication by orders of magnitude. We didn’t try to make the paper coherent; instead, we stuffed it full of jargon (like “discursive” and “isomorphism”), nonsense (like arguing that hypermasculine men are both inside and outside of certain discourses at the same time), red-flag phrases (like “pre-post-patriarchal society”), lewd references to slang terms for the penis, insulting phrasing regarding men (including referring to some men who choose not to have children as being “unable to coerce a mate”), and allusions to rape (we stated that “manspreading,” a complaint levied against men for sitting with their legs spread wide, is “akin to raping the empty space around him”). After completing the paper, we read it carefully to ensure it didn’t say anything meaningful, and as neither one of us could determine what it is actually about, we deemed it a success.

H/T to Amy Alkon for the link.

May 11, 2017

Empowering undies

Filed under: Business, Humour — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 03:00

A recent email from Sears Canada promises that your lace underwear should not only provide comfort, but also empowerment:

How will you go back to your ordinary non-empowering bras and panties after wearing those?

May 3, 2017

QotD: “Patrick Macnee was a Serious Feminist”

Filed under: Britain, Media, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Patrick Macnee

  • Refused to model Steed after James Bond because Bond “uses women like battering rams”
  • Embraced the concept of a female partner after being cast opposite a male one for a season
  • Listened when Honor Blackman began telling him about gender inequality
  • Didn’t think that being saved by a woman in any way injured his character’s masculinity
  • Consistently gave the women credit for the success of the show
  • Recognized that the male producers were chauvinists, and blamed himself for not doing more about it
  • Stood up for Linda Thorson when the producers tried to bully her (and was apparently terrifyingly angry about it)
  • Was literally the only person on that show that Diana Rigg never said a bad word about
  • Consistently talked about being raised by women and viewing women as equal to men

Lauren H. Brooks, “Patrick Macnee was a Serious Feminist”, Kinkiness … and Patrick Mcnee, 2017-04-21.

April 21, 2017

QotD: Male sexuality

Filed under: Media, Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

What I’m saying is that male sexuality is extremely complicated, and the formation of male identity is very tentative and sensitive – but feminist rhetoric doesn’t allow for it. This is why women are having so much trouble dealing with men in the feminist era. They don’t understand men, and they demonize men. They accord to men far more power than men actually have in sex. Women control the sexual world in ways that most feminists simply don’t understand.

My explanation is that second-wave feminism dispensed with motherhood. The ideal woman was the career woman – and I do support that. To me, the mission of feminism is to remove all barriers to women’s advancement in the social and political realm – to give women equal opportunities with men. However, what I kept saying in Sexual Personae is that equality in the workplace is not going to solve the problems between men and women which are occurring in the private, emotional realm, where every man is subordinate to women, because he emerged as a tiny helpless thing from a woman’s body. Professional women today don’t want to think about this or deal with it.

The erasure of motherhood from feminist rhetoric has led us to this current politicization of sex talk, which doesn’t allow women to recognize their immense power vis-à-vis men. When motherhood was more at the center of culture, you had mothers who understood the fragility of boys and the boy’s need for nurturance and for confidence to overcome his weaknesses. The old-style country women – the Italian matriarchs and Jewish mothers – they all understood the fragility of men. The mothers ruled their own world and didn’t take men that seriously. They understood how to nurture men and encourage them to be strong – whereas current feminism simply doesn’t perceive the power of women vis-a-vis men. But when you talk like this with most men, it really resonates with them, and they say “Yes, yes! That’s it!”

Currently, feminists lack sympathy and compassion for men and for the difficulties that men face in the formation of their identities. I’m not talking in terms of the men’s rights movement, which got infected by p.c. The heterosexual professional woman, emerging with her shiny Ivy League degree, wants to communicate with her husband exactly the way she communicates with her friends – as in Sex and the City. That show really caught the animated way that women actually talk with each other. But that’s not a style that straight men can do! Gay men can do it, sure – but not straight men! Guess what – women are different than men! When will feminism wake up to this basic reality? Women relate differently to each other than they do to men. And straight men do not have the same communication skills or values as women – their brains are different!

Camille Paglia, interviewed by David Daley in “Camille Paglia: How Bill Clinton is like Bill Cosby”, Salon, 2015-07-28.

March 27, 2017

QotD: The nursery school campus

Filed under: Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

I wanted to ask you about that. If Emma Sulkowicz were a student of yours, in an art class you were teaching, how would you grade her work?

[laughs] I’d give her a D! I call it “mattress feminism.” Perpetually lugging around your bad memories – never evolving or moving on! It’s like a parody of the worst aspects of that kind of grievance-oriented feminism. I called my feminism “Amazon feminism” or “street-smart feminism,” where you remain vigilant, learn how to defend yourself, and take responsibility for the choices you make. If something bad happens, you learn from it. You become stronger and move on. But hauling a mattress around on campus? Columbia, one of the great Ivy League schools with a tremendous history of scholarship, utterly disgraced itself in how it handled that case. It enabled this protracted masochistic exercise where a young woman trapped herself in her own bad memories and publicly labeled herself as a victim, which will now be her identity forever. This isn’t feminism – which should empower women, not cripple them.

It’s yet more evidence of the current absence of psychology. To go around exhibiting and foregrounding your wounds is a classic neurotic symptom. But people are so lacking now in basic Freudian consciousness – because Freud got thrown out of mainstream feminism by Kate Millett and Gloria Steinem and company. So no one sees the pathology in all this. And for Columbia to permit this girl to carry her mattress onstage and disrupt the commencement ceremony was absolutely ludicrous. It demonstrates the total degradation of once eminent and admirable educational institutions to caretaking nursery schools. I prophesied this in a piece I wrote in 1992 for the Times Literary Supplement called “The Nursery-School Campus”. At the time, nobody understood what I was saying. But I was arguing that the obsessive focus by American academe with students’ emotional well-being was not what European universities have ever been concerned with. European universities don’t have this consumer-oriented view that they have to make their students enjoy themselves and feel good about themselves, with everything driven by self-esteem. Now we have people emerging with Ivy League degrees who have no idea how little they know about history or literature. Their minds are shockingly untrained. They’ve been treated as fragile emotional beings throughout their schooling. The situation is worsening year by year, as teachers have to watch what they say and give trigger warnings, because God forbid that American students should have to confront the brutal realities of human life.

Meanwhile, while all of this nursery-school enabling is going on, we have the entire world veering towards ISIS – with barbaric decapitations and gay guys being thrown off roofs and stoned to death. All the harsh realities of human history are erupting, and this young generation is going to be utterly unprepared to deal with it. The nation is eventually going to be endangered by the inability of several generations of young people to make political decisions about a real world that they do not understand. The primitive realities of human life are exploding out there!

Camille Paglia, interviewed by David Daley in “Camille Paglia: How Bill Clinton is like Bill Cosby”, Salon, 2015-07-28.

March 26, 2017

“It’s that old self-love double-standard again”

Filed under: Britain, Humour, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Julie Burchill on the recent boom in public applause for female masturbation:

There’s a bit in the Cate Blanchett TV commercial for a scent called Si that never fails to make me snigger smuttily. (Admittedly not difficult.) After we see the Radiant One being life-affirming in the rain (‘Si to life!’) and with a Significant Other (‘Si to us!’) she wanders off alone and, looking particularly glowy, stares into the camera: ‘Si to myself!’ It’s tragic, but what was clearly intended as an oath to empowerment always strikes me as a reference to onanism. I spit out my Malibu every time.

Mind you, I could be forgiven for my immature interpretation. In recent years, female masturbation has gone from being the love that dare not speak its name to the one that can’t stop moaning, gasping and screaming it — and then making pop videos about it.

[…]

We’re encouraged to admire these finger-happy females, but what would our reaction be if male crooners started singing about self-abuse and, even better, filming themselves pretending to do it in order to flog their music? I suspect the reaction might not be a million miles from one long collective ‘Ewww!’ But why is a masturbating man the subject of amusement and/or contempt while a masturbating woman is some sort of heroine? Logically, it doesn’t make sense. A woman can always get sex, whereas men often have to chase it, pay for it or go without it, so they’ve got a lot more reason to be interfering with themselves.

But now it’s the ladies, Lord love ’em, who are paying for the pleasure right through the nose, with the unstoppable rise of sex aids. And yes, that was a snooty judgmental tone you thought you heard there. I refuse to use the approved term ‘sex toys’ because it brings a creepy air of infantilism to this most adult of pastimes (an unnerving number of sex aids are made in the style of children’s playthings). I don’t know what I find more pitiable, two people, presumably equipped with the usual supply of hands, mouths and sex organs, setting about each other with bits of garishly coloured cut-price plastic to reach the realms of ecstasy, or a woman with more money than sex paying £12,000 for a vibrator that the Sunday Times described thus: ‘An 18ct-gold-plated gilded pebble… five vibration patterns with customisable levels of intensity… comes in an artisanal wooden box with gold trimmings.’ Be still my beating heart!

March 22, 2017

QotD: Sharia and women’s rights

Filed under: Liberty, Middle East, Quotations, Religion — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

As a moral and legal code, Sharia law is demeaning and degrading to women. It requires women to be placed under the care of male guardians; it views a woman’s testimony in court as worth half that of a man’s; and it permits a husband to beat his wife. It’s not only women’s legal and sexual freedoms that are curtailed under Sharia but their economic freedoms as well. Women generally inherit half of the amount that men inherit, and their male guardian must consent to their choosing education, work, or travel.

In Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, and parts of Nigeria, where Sharia law underpins the judicial system, women’s rights suffer greatly.

There is a growing trend among some feminists to make excuses for Sharia law and claim it is nothing more than a personal moral guide, and therefore consistent with American constitutional liberties. Yet the rules that such “Sharia-lite feminists” voluntarily choose to follow are also invoked to oppress women — to marry them off, to constrain their economic and human rights, and to limit their freedom of expression — who have not consented to them. The moral conflict between Sharia and universal human rights should not be dismissed as a misunderstanding, but openly discussed.

Many Western feminists struggle to embrace universal women’s rights. Decades ago, Germaine Greer argued that attempts to outlaw female genital mutilation amounted to “an attack on cultural identity.” That type of deference to traditional practices, in the name of cultural sensitivity, hurts vulnerable women. These days, relativism remains strong. Too many feminists in the West are reluctant to condemn cultural practices that clearly harm women — female genital mutilation, polygamy, child marriage, marital rape, and honor violence, particularly in non-Western societies. Women’s rights are universal, and such practices cannot be accepted.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, “On This ‘Day Without a Woman,’ Don’t Leave Women Oppressed by Sharia Law Behind”, The Daily Beast, 2017-03-08.

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