Where Feminism Went Wrong

Author's note:  In the two years after I wrote this post, some excellent female readers, and some others who are friends I know away from the internet, have convinced me to value the perspective of feminism as a mode of inquiry.  I retain the objection to false consciousness, however, without reservation:  it is a violation of the principle of plurality, which is to say that it is a failure to respect a person's right to disagree.  It is one thing to say that someone is wrong, and fight for what you believe; it is another thing to deny that they have the standing to fight for what they believe.  In the duel, a gentleman fights only with equals.  In striving for the right, we are all equals.  Each of us possesses a freehold, a part of the world of time and space that is ours alone:  a place that stretches from birth to death.  We are thus equally dignified.  Everyone has the right, and the duty, to fight for the true and the beautiful.

Since I have so often learned from our friend Cassandra, I eventually tend to follow her continued interests even when I am initially not disposed to do so.

My sense about the video is that the lady's most devout wish is that it had never existed. Therefore, I remain determined to act as if it did not. Not to pretend that it does not, which would be a lie: but to act as if it does not, which is a decision.

Nevertheless, when I finally got around to reading up on the business this morning -- following her continued interest, as I said -- I learned that there is a thing called "Rule 5," which lies at the root of this. The author seems to have correctly understood the rules of internet traffic, and although I don't normally read him, I recognize him as someone cited regularly by Dad29, which means he must be a decent man. (So say we all.)

Rule 5 is a rule for generating internet traffic, not a moral rule. One of its precepts is this:
Feminism sucks -- You can never go wrong in the blogosphere by having a laugh at the expense of feminists. All sane people hate feminism, and no one hates feminism more than smart, successful, independent women who've made it on their own without all that idiotic "Sisterhood Is Powerful" groupthink crap. And if you are one of those fanatical weirdos who takes that Women's Studies stuff so seriously that you're offended by Stephen Green's sexist objectification of Christina Hendricks and her mighty bosom -- well, sweetheart, to paraphrase Rhett Butler: "You should be offended, and often, and by someone who knows how."
There is a part of feminism that does suck. You cannot correct it, though, merely by offending it. You must understand just where it is wrong. The moral has to interact with the pleasant.

The reason feminism sucks isn't its desire to create a society in which women and their interests are important. The reason is not that it insists on female voices being taken seriously; nor even that it wants men to change in ways that make women happier or more comfortable.

The older I get, the more I believe that chivalry, and especially its concept of the service of women by loving men, is the thing that defines the West. Other societies have had everything else: philosophy, science, even Christianity, which has been practiced in Egypt and China without ever learning how the brave may serve, and liberate through love:

Don't stop there. Look at these. See the thousands of paintings men have called "The Lady of the Lake."

The reason 'feminism sucks' is the concept called "false consciousness." This is originally a Marxist concept.  It is the style of argumentation that goes: "This is what I believe. Those who disagree are wicked, sick, or insane."  Most commonly the insanity attributed is being too oppressed to know better:  but the only way you can prove that you are no so oppressed is to adopt the correct opinions.  You are thus trapped:  if you assert as you believe, you are too oppressed to be taken seriously.  If you assert as they believe, you are obviously a free and equal mind -- but in fact you are now oppressed, because you cannot believe as your heart leads you.

There is a parallel in psychology, which is an equally dangerous field.  Dr. Helen was talking today about the DSM-V, which shares this basic trait. Anything that differs from what is perceived as "normal" by those tasked with writing the thing seems to be constructed as a pathology of some sort, an illness. She asks what pathology might really be, for example, in the area of sex. One of her commenters notes: "A basic criteria for any mental disorder are the following: 1) Distress, 2)Dysfunction, and 3)Deviance."

The first two have potential -- who wants to see anyone in distress? -- but the last one is foolish. "Deviance" merely means that what you are doing is unusual. Just recently we mentioned St. Francis of Assisi giving up all his goods to live in the forest, and serve the poor. God knows that is an unusual thing to do -- or 'deviant behavior,' to use the terms of the era. God knows also whether it is wrong, sick, or wicked. Insofar as men have dared to judge, we have declared him a saint.

A man may be wholly alone in seeing the right, and still be right. So may a woman. That is first the problem of feminism: it refuses to let even women follow their own heart.

Just as bad is the second problem: it licenses wrongdoing as long as it is common.

This also exists outside of the Feminist movement. There are those men who admit, 'What I am doing is horrible,' and then assert that it is a statement of fidelity to 'heterosexual men'. Bound by common wickedness, are we?

Well, I have often done horrible things. Pride and Wrath rather than Lust seem to me my paramount sins, but I do not fail to understand.

"When God put man in a garden
He girt him with a sword,
And sent him forth a free knight
That might betray his lord;

"He brake Him and betrayed Him,
And fast and far he fell,
Till you and I may stretch our necks
and burn our beards in hell."

So we may. And maybe we should: perhaps it is why we were let to come so far from home, to learn things about ourselves. But don't forget where you are, or in what peril.

It is not deviance you should fear, but dishonor. Neither can the fact that a behavior is common save you. If it is common to be wrong, deviance is a bath to wash and a balm to heal.

We follow our hearts, and hope. Honi soit qui mal y pense.

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