That men and women may also have much in common — opposable thumbs come to mind — I take for granted. I like to contrast both male and female humans with other sexually-paired primates, though this is another distinction that is becoming controversial. God made them male and female, in my frankly religious understanding, but this does not mean He did not do the same for other species. It instead points to a deeper profundity: Yin and Yang created He them.
Let us not be distracted by pettifog in this matter. Those who oppose, or even propose to persecute “sexists,” themselves frequently maintain a distinction between the sexes, but it is glibly statistical, when not incomprehensible. Consider for instance an argument I heard recently, amounting to a complaint, that the ratio of male to female saxophone players is too high. Why would this be so? “Because we have a male-dominant culture, and saxes are traditionally associated with macho.”
Both statements are lies, the first in a boring, but the second in an interesting way. Adolphe Sax invented the instrument (around 1840) to fill a hole between the feminine woodwind and the masculine brass sections in an orchestra. It was only after the fact that this gender-neutral horn itself selected for male players. And even feminists — who are seldom quite as obtuse as they pretend — can see that a woman playing a sax is making a “statement” in which she is paradoxically accentuating her “female sexuality.” The suggestion that this should be cancelled by sex quotas is thus demonstrably batty.
We could extend this by considering different aspects of masculine identity embodied in the voices of soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones, and then broadening to draw comparisons across the wind range, through the historical development of the heteroglottal reed, but that would make our discussion too lascivious.
As “diversity” is much prized today, let me mention that I am a sexist myself. Or, if I’m not, nobody is. I share the unreconstructed view of my diverse parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and other ancestors, back to Eve and Adam, on the existence of, and distinction between, the two sexes. Only one of them can have babies. Only the other can impregnate. But let me add that this is not the only distinction, and moreover, a large field of distinctions would anyway follow if only from that elephantine biological fact.
David Warren, “Sexes & saxes”, Essays In Idleness, 2014-12-03.
January 27, 2016
January 22, 2016
Yeah, I know it’s a bit late in the year to still be publishing lame “top ten” roundups, but these are pretty funny:
1. Sex partner must say ‘yes’ every 10 minutes or it’s rape, 10th graders taught in California
2. Princeton student say he’s victim of microaggression over way he says ‘Cool Whip’
3. Study urges people to accept those who ‘identify as real vampires’
4. Professor: Harry Potter Helped Obama Get Elected
5. All-You-Can-Eat Taco Bars Deemed Offensive, Face Campus Extinction
6. Harvard Students Celebrate ‘Incest-Fest’ (tied with: Harvard University workshop to teach students how to have anal sex
7. Professors: Motorists more likely to run over black people than white people
8. Professor’s Book Hails ‘Apostle Barack,’ Compares Him to Jesus
9. University axes homecoming ‘king’ and ‘queen,’ replaces it with gender-neutral ‘royals’
10. Sexuality courses: Black dildos are proof of racism against African Americans
Update: Oh, wait. Sorry. These aren’t actually headlines from the satirical website The Onion. They’re all real headlines. My mistake.
October 16, 2015
Nicole Russell says that Jennifer Lawrence was quite justified in her complaint about being paid less than her male co-workers, and that the problem is industry-wide:
The equal pay gap is the issue du jour this week. It was a hot topic at the Democratic debate Tuesday night, and in Hollywood, actress Jennifer Lawrence recently discovered she made less on a blockbuster hit than did her male peers.
Unfortunately, equal pay has gotten a bad reputation on the Right, due to misinformation the Left likes to peddle. The record is easy to set straight, and the good news is that Hollywood isn’t the real world and the real world isn’t Hollywood.
Turns out, Lawrence realized what statistics have shown about Hollywood for decades: That place is a sexist desert. Being a woman in Hollywood, whether as an actress, screenwriter, producer, or the like is akin to wearing a cloak of invisibility.
After the Oscar nominees were announced this past year, the Women’s Media Center found “149 men are nominated versus 35 women” across 19 non-acting categories. There were seven Oscar categories with no women nominated, and “since 2012, only 19% of all non-acting Oscar nominations have been for women.”
Actress Charlize Theron discovered from the same Sony e-mails that her co-star Chris Hemsworth made $10 million more than she did on a film. As The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway reported earlier this year, a study by The Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film found only 9 percent of the top 250 domestic-grossing films of 2012 were directed by women. According to researcher Susana Orozco, who went through every single spec script sale from 1991 and 2012, women wrote only 14 percent of spec scripts sold between 1991 and 2000.
September 20, 2015
Dr. Helen Smith may have figured out the key motivation for Bruce Jenner’s decision to become Caitlyn:
Really, Kris is now happy for Caitlyn and didn’t want to talk to her when she was angry? Why wasn’t she that considerate when Caitlyn was Bruce? Even Caitlyn mentions what crap she was treated like in their marriage when he (she) was just Bruce for years. If you doubt me, take a look at the past episodes of Keeping Up with the Kardashians where Bruce’s opinions were ignored; he pretty much lived in the garage and anger was thrown his way with abandon by the family and Kris in particular. Sound familiar? This is the way many men are treated by families every day, and no one gives a crap. After all, they’re just men and probably have no feelings.
Now that Bruce has come out as a woman, his feelings are treated with care, and everyone, including Kris, is walking on eggshells. Why? It is socially unacceptable to trash talk women, particularly transgender women. Kris must feel angry inside, but can’t really express it. She has to pretend to be happy for Cait. To profess otherwise makes her into the bad guy. Now, if Cait were a man, she could talk with abandon and her anger would be justified. But she has been one-upped by Caitlyn. Maybe more men should transition to women as an act of self-defense as misandry spreads. Bruce joined the winning team and really, who can blame him?
I don’t know how much water this theory holds, but I have to admit that I had to Google search the phrase “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”, so perhaps it’s not something I really need to have an opinion on…
September 19, 2015
Katharine Timpf explains why we all face potentially insurmountable problems with our pronouns:
Scripps College, a private all-women’s college in Southern California, is giving students ten pronoun options to choose from in their student portal accounts — including “hu, hum, hus, himself,” “Just My Name Please,” and “None”
It’s not clear what the hell students who choose “None” are supposed to be called, especially since “Name Only” is another option. Are they (oops! I said “they!”) asking to not be spoken to at all? Because that sounds like a microaggression.
The other eight options are “E/Ey, Em, Eir/Eirs, Eirself/Emse,” “Per, Per, Per/Pers, Perself,” “Zi, Hir/Hirs Hirself,” “Ze, Zir, Zir/Zirs, Zirself,” “They, Them, Their/Theirs, Themse” (used as a singular pronoun) and — yes — the archaic “He, Him, His, Himself” or “Her, She, Hers, Herself.”
There is, however, an obvious problem with this system: What about the gender-fluid students who may change genders and pronouns throughout the year, or even perhaps throughout the day? I can’t imagine how traumatic (dangerous?) being pressured to choose just one might be.
September 14, 2015
At Ace of Spades H.Q. last week, Ace explained what might eventually be the kryptonite that allows someone to defeat “el Donaldo” in the Republican race:
There is a notion of Middle Class Respectability. This notion is important to most members of my (your?) class. It can be put aside by highly-committed partisans who are intensely in favor of Trump (and who therefore don’t sweat negative information about him), but not by most people.
I have said before, in a line that I quite like, that Donald Trump is gloriously unburdened by respectability. Respectability is both a blessing and a curse.
Respectability, obviously, grants you some respect; you behave properly, according to the code of the class, and therefore are considered a member in good standing of that class.
But it is also very limiting. Many people will point out that GOP/RINO “pussies” will buckle and apologize at the first dirty look from a member of the liberal establishment.
That is the downside of respectability — people are afraid to lose it, and will quickly apologize when The Mob threatens to withdraw respectability from them.
And in America 2015, public respectability is granted by — controlled by — the college-educated upper-middle-class Media Class which controls most everything related to morals and manners.
The fact that Trump is gloriously unburdened by respectability makes him willing/able to say things that no Respectability-Craving politician ever could, like that yes, we need a border wall, and yes, we are permitted to, and should, be outraged by foreign criminals murdering Americans who are permitted to be here by Democratic mayors and presidents.
But the downside of his contempt for respectability is that he will obliviously trample things that are very important to the people whose support he will ultimately need, if he wants to do more than blow hot air.
Whether or not Trump thinks that upper middle class suburban Republicans are silly or not, whether or not he thinks they’re “losers” or not for owning only two cars, he will need that one third of the party that is currently dead-set against him.
And while Trump seems to either have a problem with women (how long did he spend attacking Megyn Kelly, versus how long did he spend attacking Chris Wallace?) or is simply unburdened by the Middle Class Respectability code of gallantry towards women, It is making a very large and influential block of people absolutely disgusted by him, repelled by him not a political level (which could always later be finessed or papered over) but on a personal level (which can never be repaired).
I would venture to say he can’t stop — I would venture to say that in Trump’s world of yes-men and eternal entitlement, calling a woman ugly is just sort of something he casually does, and, like a high school super-jock who’s always been protected from the consequences of his actions, he just has never had reason to internalize that dismissing a woman as Sexually Not Up to My High Standards as an opening gambit in conversation is socially disfavored.
September 2, 2015
July 31, 2015
In 2012, Gloria Steinem complained that the Have It All question was a “bullshit” question because no one ever asked that question of men. It’s true. Society doesn’t often ask that question of men, but not because of sexism.
Women ask about having it all because they were told they could have it all…by women like Steinem. The old glossy women’s magazines are full of have-it-all glamour, declaring that women could easily have it all without men. Steinem did not actually coin the “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” quip, but she got the credit for it because it succinctly represented her preaching and the mood of the time. Women didn’t need anything but the old rules and the old men to get out of their way. Each woman was an island unto herself, a self-contained unit of success. Eventually, all of those things we told women back in the 60s to boost their confidence and get them out in the world became the standard by which we now demand singular performance from women.
Check the commentary in many of the lauded feminist pop culture franchises, most recently “Divergent,” “Frozen,” “Maleficent,” etc. Characters get the feminist seal of approval when they are separated from any sort of partnership with men. Having it all doesn’t count unless we are doing it without men.
Men, on the other hand, didn’t have some masculinist movement telling them that they could have it all, much less that they had to do it all on their own. Nor would they have been as receptive if they had. Unlike girls who tend to engage in pretend play in which they are the princess, then the chef, then the teacher or the pupil, all in the space of an afternoon, boys tend to also play games with rules, even if they’ve made them up by consensus. The boy who isn’t fast learns to hit the ball harder or to catch. They train each other in tradeoffs. The rules don’t bend. The boys adapt to the world the way it is. (I host large parties and play dates often. This plays out in my yard, every time.)
Asking women if they can have it all isn’t sexism. It is an aspiration that women who should know better foist upon women who don’t.
Leslie Loftis, “Irony, Thy Name Is Feminism”, The Federalist, 2014-07-28.
July 21, 2015
As entertaining as these little vignettes may be, they’re also indicative of a more dispiriting and concerning philosophy that has overtaken a great many young people, both men and women, at the beginning of the 21st century. The early Western feminist movements generally possessed a nobility and righteousness that rendered the ideology both powerful and admirable. It is no small feat, after all, to reverse several millennia’s worth of systematic oppression and discrimination, and the women’s rights campaigns of the 19th and 20th centuries are some of the crown jewels of Western civilization. Emmeline Pankhurst may have been a bit radical here and there, but at least she was right. Nowadays among the ranks of feminism you’re less likely to find a principled zealot like Pankhurst and more likely to find a repellant, theory-drenched curmudgeon like Andrea Dworkin.
There is a word that embodies the kind of single-minded fanaticism of modern feminism: a cult. […]
It’s fashionable these days for feminists to try and convince others of their own latent feminism; “You’re a feminist,” they claim, “if you believe in equality between the sexes.” Political and social equality between the sexes is one of the most worthwhile and noble goals to which a society can aspire, but as we’ve seen, modern feminism is about so much more than that: it’s a neurotic, insular, self-aggrandizing, and paranoid ideology that aims to spread fear, small-mindedness and agonistic self-criticism and self-doubt over even an uncomplicated and enjoyable idea such as the bouquet toss. Is it any surprise that many prominent young women are rejecting the label altogether?
Daniel Payne, “The Many Fabricated Enemies of Feminists”, The Federalist, 2014-07-22.
July 12, 2015
Jay Currie rounds up the current issues for your university faculty:
Notes Re Coming Academic Year
From: Dean of Arts
I hope you are enjoying your well earned summer vacation. I know I am. However, a number of issues have arisen which I feel I must bring to your attention.
1. Marking: Many of you are still clinging to the outmoded idea that marks are designed to measure absolute progress in a subject. You are insisting upon received grammar and spelling in essays. You are setting exams and papers which, in themselves, are triggering events causing significant anxiety. Worse, you are not taking into account the often heart rending oppression narratives which many of your students bring to class. Stop it.
2. Subject matter: It is not enough to include writers and topics from outside the tragically exclusionary Western Cannon. The fact is that even a reference to Shakespeare will trigger feelings of anxiety, worthlessness, racial othering, religious persecution and, of course, sexual confusion. Just stop it. The same with references to the Bible, Plato, Milton, any so called Saint, Mark Twain or that Moby D*** fellow with the harpoon obsession. Each of these references will only serve to underscore the possible ignorance of your students which, rather obviously, will make them feel anxious, disrespected and unsafe. Best not to mention any of it.
6. Race: Pretty much the live hand grenade of the Arts Faculty. Say anything and it explodes with unknowable consequences. Even a supportive statement such as “slavery is wrong” can lead to disastrous conversations about Black African complicity in the trade and the continuing Islamic acceptance of slavery. Plus, and this is an acute problem, Chinese and South Asian students, dealing with our university’s current admission policies, may take strong exception to remarks vis a vis affirmative action or diversity. Just don’t go there.
7. Logic/Argument/Reason: Mansplaining at its heteronormative worst. It is pretty clear that argument, both verbal and written privileges middle class, usually white, usually male, left brain dominant, testosterone charged, individuals. By prioritizing thinking over feeling, requiring reason means an instructor risks making women, minorities and queer students feel unsafe with the feelings they often use in discourse rather than accepting the oppressor’s terms of exchange. Stay away.
June 28, 2015
At sp!ked, Ella Whelan talks about Canadian reporter Lauren Southern’s public dissent from one of the main talking points of the feminist movement:
Southern had previously sparked debate by posting a picture online of her holding up a sign that explained why she didn’t ‘need feminism’ – a response to a popular feminist selfie campaign. Following this up a year later with a video entitled ‘Why I am not a feminist’, she called out feminism as a ‘faux form of equality under a gender-biased word’. In Southern’s report on the Vancouver SlutWalk, she explained that she had attended the rally to ‘challenge the fearmongering feminist narrative about men, women and violence’. It is this ‘rape culture’ narrative, she tells me, which is really trivialising rape. ‘Women are going to equate things that aren’t rape with rape because they interpret guys whistling at them as rape culture’, she says. ‘The misuse of the word [rape] is very dangerous because it allows for false accusations.’
Southern sees feminists’ obsession with ‘rape culture’ as a languishing in female weakness. ‘I’ve always thought that the main feminist issue was empowering women, in real terms; telling women to go out there, get the job, do what you want, not run around screaming “trigger warning” and crying.’ Her assessment of contemporary feminism is astute. Following her visit to the rally in Vancouver, Southern received a barrage of messages from self-proclaimed radical feminists who told her ‘they were vomiting all night because they were so triggered’ by what she had done. That’s right, these women felt physically sick just because someone disagreed with them.
This bizarre prizing of weakness on the part of contemporary feminists is, Southern explains, down to their refusal to engage in debate on a regular basis. ‘It’s not hard what they do. They go on to a street where everyone agrees with them, wearing their underwear, and get to show off for a day… They don’t surround themselves with people who disagree with them.’ This refusal to engage in debate was evident at the protest itself, with Southern having to climb up on to a plinth to avoid her sign being covered up by angry protesters.
So where does this desire to portray weakness as a strength come from? Southern puts it down to an institutionalised victim culture in Western universities: ‘Academia is obsessed with feminism. You’ve got a protective narrative which screams “rape culture” at the slightest thing and students just eat it up. Whether that’s because they want good grades or not, this stuff doesn’t get challenged.’ As a result, she says, sexism becomes a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’. ‘If you’re told that you’re a victim as you grow up, you’re going to have a confirmation bias when you’re not hired for a job but a man is. You’ll hear sexism in your head’, she says.
May 29, 2015
In The Observer, Amy Alkon suggests that following the “lean in” advice may lead to unanticipated problems for a lot of women:
Remember junior high? Well, the reality is, if you’re a woman, you never really get to leave.
This rather depressing truth about adult mean girls isn’t one you’ll read in Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s best-selling book, Lean In.
Unfortunately, according to a near mountain of research on sex differences, the “You go, career girl!” advice Ms. Sandberg does give is unrealistic and may even backfire on women who take it.
The problem starts with her book’s title, unreservedly advising women to “lean in” — to boldly assert themselves at the office — without detailing the science that lays out the problems inherent in that.
Ms. Sandberg goes clueless on science throughout her book; for example, never delving into what anthropological research suggests about why women are not more supportive of one another and why it may not be reasonable for a woman to expect other women in her workplace to be supportive of her in the way men are of other men and even women.
Joyce Benenson, a psychologist at Emmanuel College in Boston, doesn’t have Sandberg’s high profile, but she’s done the homework (and research) that’s missing from Sandberg’s book, laying it out in a fascinating science-based book on sex differences, Warriors and Worriers: The Survival of the Sexes.
May 26, 2015
It’s not merely the feminist foot soldiers out in the gender fields that are prime examples of the new feminist lockstep. You see it in the theory end of the business, as well, the sincere striving for what Gandhi called “complete harmony of thought and word and deed.” Recently, Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism project, wrote an article for The Guardian in which she asked, “Can a woman who’s fought for equality and respect, against sexism and misogyny, become a bride?” Bates laments that the ritual of marriage “is riddled with patriarchal symbolism;” she notes with approval the wedding of some feminist friends in which, concerning the bridal party, “nobody’s role is dictated by their gender;” she lambasts the “sexist undertones” to be found in the traditional throwing of the bouquet; and sums up “The great name conundrum” by declaring that “changing her name erases [the bride’s] identity as a separate individual.” If you want to make a wedding even more exhausting and harried than it already is, go Full Feminist on it.
Daniel Payne, “The Many Fabricated Enemies of Feminists”, The Federalist, 2014-07-22.
April 19, 2015
I haven’t read comics since I was a young teen, so I really have no idea what the current state of the comic industry might be. I didn’t expect the rise of pedantic didacticism, however:
I would like to expand upon the point that seems to have annoyed her the most: Bitch Planet is really, really dreadful, you guys.
I’ll confess: I only read the first issue. I can’t imagine purchasing another issue, except maybe to see how dumb the series gets. (That might actually be kind of a fun monthly feature, now that I think about it.) Of the recommendations I received at Fantom Comics, this was by far the most disappointing. Unintentionally hilarious, sure. But disappointing nevertheless.
As I noted in the Post, it’s a comic about women who are sent to an intergalactic prison because they’re uppity. One of the women is then murdered while in this prison so her husband can marry a younger, hotter woman. Because patriarchy!
What I didn’t really get into was the essay at the end of the book by Danielle Henderson,* which drives home all of the lessons from the previous 20-or-so pages.
No matter how many examples of misogyny I provided, no matter how many times we talked about gender being a social construct, or how many times I asked them to question what, precisely, was natural about male leadership other than the fact that they said it was natural, one person always held out, one person refused to believe that women were culturally oppressed. … The striking thing about Bitch Planet is that we’re already on it. We don’t have to get thrown on a shuttle to be judged non-compliant—be a little overweight, talk too loud, have an opinion on the Internet.
This is a bit like following up John Galt’s speech in Atlas Shrugged with a chapter-long discourse from a Cato fellow about the evils of government handouts. Or like letting Benny Hinn preach over the credits at the end of Heaven Is for Real. Or like including an essay from Chuck Norris on American exceptionalism in the liner notes of Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red White and Blue.” God we get it.
Frankly, I was being nice by sticking to “pedantic didacticism.” As my friend Jonathan V. Last, a relatively avid collector of comics, said when I emailed him,
Bitch Planet is so obvious and on the nose I was actually angry at myself for spending money on it. The least artful piece of fiction I’ve read in years.
And that’s the rub: there’s just no art to being a pedantic bore. I’m certainly not arguing that art should be devoid of politics. Just that it should be done interestingly.
April 14, 2015
You’ll notice some corporations are quick to climb onboard certain social causes. Because reasons:
My absolute favorite example of corporations using social causes as cover for cost-cutting is in hotels. You have probably seen it — the little cards in the bathroom that say that you can help save the world by reusing your towels. This is freaking brilliant marketing. It looks all environmental and stuff, but in fact they are just asking your permission to save money by not doing laundry.
However, we may have a new contender for my favorite example of this. Via Instapundit, Reddit CEO Ellen Pao is banning salary negotiations to help women, or something:
Men negotiate harder than women do and sometimes women get penalized when they do negotiate,’ she said. ‘So as part of our recruiting process we don’t negotiate with candidates. We come up with an offer that we think is fair. If you want more equity, we’ll let you swap a little bit of your cash salary for equity, but we aren’t going to reward people who are better negotiators with more compensation.’
Like the towels in hotels are not washed to save the world, this is marketed as fairness to women, but note in fact that women don’t actually get anything. What the company gets is an excuse to make their salaries take-it-or-leave-it offers and helps the company draw the line against expensive negotiation that might increase their payroll costs.