Paglia in Tablet

This is a fairly compelling interview at times. This part sounds to me a lot like some of Tex's regular points:
The Industrial Revolution, a capitalist phenomenon, created low-level jobs for women that allowed them for the first time to be truly self-supporting, freed from economic dependence upon father or husband. Over the past century, women have gained access to higher-status jobs, many with real power and authority over men. But the main issue is that men and women are working side by side in the workplace in a way they have never done before, except in outdoor field work during the agrarian era. This is something new in human experience, and I believe it is destabilizing sexual relations in ways that we have scarcely observed, much less analyzed.

First of all, too much familiarity may undercut sexual passion. When mystery goes, so does the sizzle. Second, despite a brief fad in the 1970s for the asexual uniform of John Molloy’s “dress for success” look, affluent women professionals today (with their svelte skirts and pricey Louboutin stilettos) are clearly still using their own sexual appeal to gain power in the workplace—while at the same time oddly forbidding male co-workers to notice or, Venus forbid, comment (which would spark an instant kangaroo court). What I have been saying throughout my work is that sexual tension and conflict may be built into human life (by virtue of women’s monopoly over procreation) and that women, in order to be truly free, must stop relying on the bureaucratic regulatory state to manage their relations with men. Men too have an inherent right to be free—to think and express their own views and desires without women’s hectoring oversight and censorship. However, the workplace must remain a neutral zone, where the professional (and not the personal) should rule.
Keeping the workplace 'neutral' may be impossible, though, if she is right about her broader argument. Sexuality is at least partially irrational, arising without will from the subconscious. Control over expression can be rationally determined, at least sometimes and to some degree, but stripping it completely out of any area of life may be a bridge too far.

Especially this is true for the young, I think: past a certain age it is easier to set aside. The young need jobs too: indeed, they need them more, as they lack the stored or inherited wealth of the older. And we need them to have jobs more, too, if we expect them to pay for their elders through various entitlements or public pension programs.

You can tell people in their 20s and early 30s that they have to act completely asexually in the professional environment, but telling them that it is obligatory doesn't make it attainable. At minimum, you need to support them with standards that minimize the temptation to think sexually about those with whom they share a workplace. Yet even the military, considered as a workplace, has failed to do this. How will the civilian workplace manage what military discipline has failed to accomplish, or even in many cases to find the will to attempt?


E Hines said...

Some random thoughts.

Control over expression can be rationally determined, at least sometimes and to some degree....

Sometimes and to some degree easily encompasses the work place during the work period, at least in my nearly universal experience in a broad range of work place types. That includes straight up hard-nosed professionalism in some places and a measure of flirting in others. Reading the audience to see whether flirting is light fun, merely tolerated, or objectionable has not been beyond the capability of the yout's of my generation. Much (most?) of today's objection objection to light flirting is, I think, a combination of learned objection, forced objection by modern pseudo-feminist pressure, and virtue signaling.

[W]e need them to have jobs more, too, if we expect them to pay for their elders through various entitlements or public pension programs.

I don't expect any such thing. The young need jobs more in their own right: for their moral health, their sense of accomplishment, their own futures. I don't expect the young to pay for the elders' care, especially that of strangers on the other side of country, and more especially at the expense of their own futures and that of their own family elders. Pinning Social Security and Medicare outlays for other current retirees' expenses on the backs of current young seemed like a good idea at the time, but it turns out to have been a bad mistake. Since we're mandating the money in the form of taxes, much better to mandate that money be put into accounts for the benefit of the taxpayer, owned and managed by that taxpayer, to be used for that taxpayer's future retirement or for his own parents' current retirement needs, at the taxpayer's sole discretion.

Yet even the military, considered as a workplace, has failed to do this.

Well, there's your problem. The military, contrary to the views of SJWs, is not a workplace. It's an environment that exists to solely to kill our enemies, drive their women before them, and enjoy the lamentation of their children. And to risk dying, and actually dying, in the effort.

Eric Hines

Grim said...

Well, there's your problem. The military, contrary to the views of SJWs...

I wasn't talking about them. I was talking about Paglia, who probably would consider it a workplace for the purpose of whether or not men and women should consider it 'neutral ground.'

I'm not sure how you intend your preferred description to affect this problem. The military exists solely to crush the enemy, etc.: granted. Now what does that mean for whether or not it is supposed to be neutral ground? If that is an appropriate goal, how does one obtain it? If not, what does that mean? What should Secretary Mattis, or unit commanders, do to effect the appropriate changes? Dissolve SHARP and EEO, and then what?

E Hines said...

It doesn't do anything other than allow a proper discussion of the matter by putting it into its proper framework.

My view of the neutrality of the ground has been stated often enough: anyone who can work the equipment and send accurate fire downrange has an obligation to do so. Regarding gender, there aren't any particular roles in the matter of killing the enemy, subject to a couple of caveats. I've seen one study, uncorroborated as far as I can tell, that indicates that long-term medical costs are great enough for women relative to men that it may be that certain combat arms might make it suboptimal to include women.

Also--and only anecdotally--it may be that Egyptian soldiers were especially stubborn fighters against Israeli units that the Egyptians knew had women in them; the Egyptians were not going to lose a fight to a girl. That ran up friendly casualties; it may be that, depending on the specific enemy, women in the friendly units might be suboptimal.

It just seems to me unnecessarily difficult to have that discussion if a killing environment is looked at as a work place. Paglia can consider it what he likes; this is America. But if he does, he's locking himself out of coherence and rendering his voice just wind in the trees.

Eric Hines

Grim said...

I've seen one study, uncorroborated as far as I can tell...

Both the Marines and the British had independent studies showing that combat capacity was significantly degraded by integration.

Those studies were dismissed, of course, by the civilian leadership. Secretary Ray Mabus even went so far as to suggest the Marines had picked out poor performers among female Marines to weight the study. That argument was sharply contested by the women involved, as well as a top Marine sergeant.

It may be that getting the leadership to take evidence seriously when it contradicts their longed-for conclusions is an even harder problem than the one we started with.

E Hines said...

Those studies address a different problem than the one I was talking about.

The studies you cite imply that the women involved weren't able to work the equipment and send accurate fire downrange and so, as a group, don't meet my entry criterion. Whether the exceptions are numerous enough to be worth the trouble is another matter; those exceptions would be the ones worth evaluating longitudinally to corroborate or refute the medical questions.

Eric Hines

Grim said...

I think the medical questions and the effectiveness questions are more closely linked than that. In the Marine study, muscular or skeletal injuries affected over forty percent of women, but fewer than a fifth of men. Those injuries make you less effective at working equipment or sending fire -- infantry maneuvers while injured will be slower, and fire less accurate.

You may very well end up admitting women who can send fire downrange perfectly on day one, but around half of whom will be unable to do so on day 90. And a deployment doesn't last 90 days: Marine deployments in Iraq were around 180 (and Army deployments as long as 15 months).

Texan99 said...

I don't advocate eliminating sexual thoughts from the workplace or any other place, or for that matter any kind of thoughts from anywhere else! I do think it's incumbent on us to be in active, adult control of our sexual words and actions not only in the workplace but everywhere, and to choose modes of sexual expression that are appropriate to each place. What is essential in the bedroom has no necessary place in the boardroom, and vice versa.

The kind of control we may be called upon to exercise in public will vary depending on whether both sexes are present, just as it may vary according to all kinds of variables such as a mix of ages, religions, or anything else. Sometimes it's more comfortable not to have to deal with that variety, so we limit our company. That's not a strategy we can always impose on the world around us, so we tailor our behavior according to who's present and how identical they are to us. There are things I can do and say if I'm in a private place with three close female friends who love gospel music and voted for Trump. It doesn't follow that I'm entitled to act that way 100% of the time, especially if it would be practicable only if I could exclude everyone from, say, the workplace (or the grocery store, or the Washington Mall) with the exception of close female friends who like gospel music and voted for Trump.

I would never claim not to experience any sexual response to a man in the workplace. I'm not even sure I could make my sexual response entirely invisible to him--but I certainly can be careful not to intrude it on his consciousness beyond a polite "Wow, aren't you a vision today in that snappy suit!" followed by words and actions that make it plain I'm not making any sexual demands on him and he's free to disregard whatever part of my response doesn't interest him, just as he would if we met in a bar or on the street or in church. It's just honestly not that difficult. He's not my intimate partner, he doesn't exist to gratify my sexual needs in the moment, and it's not his duty to console me if he's not interested in meeting them. He should be free to work around me without having to deal with my sexual issues, because they're mine to deal with. I don't have the right to exclude him from the workplace so I won't have to contend with them. Same goes for him and whatever sexual response he can't avoid having to me. It's just plain old boundaries.

As for my ever having used stiletto heels or any other mode of dress or behavior to employ sexual response as a corporate weapon, blogga please!

I did agree with most of the first paragraph, right up to "it is destabilizing," and with the last sentence in the second paragraph.

Grim said...

Those were the parts that most strongly reminded me of our past conversations, Tex.

I think that I'm much better at putting up mental walls to sexuality than I was, say, ten or fifteen years ago. Maybe some of that is practice at doing it, but I wonder if a lot of it isn't just the natural changes in the body that come with age. Maybe by doing it more I've gotten better at it, but maybe I was just going to feel the pressures less, and it would be easier to do in any case.

Like AVI's remarks on crediting genetics vs. hard work, that is, I wonder if the impulse to credit discipline or practice isn't a little out of line. We credit hard work and not genetics because that is how we experience it -- even the genetically-blessed athlete is going to put in a lot of hard work. But there's an underlying biological reality we don't experience directly, but that shapes our experience in ways we don't really control.

Which is not to dismiss control as an important aspect of the problem. It's just to suggest that it may not be as important as we'd like to think; and if that's true, it may be that some institutional or structural support is necessary if young people in the 'heat' of these passionate times of life are to succeed at adhering to these standards.

Texan99 said...

My concern, of course, is what it generally is: that we not solve the problem of how difficult this problem is for passionate men, by imposing some form of purdah on the women who would like to be present in various public spaces.

I would not like to minimize the difficulty men may experience in contending with the presence of women. I just think the solution has to lie within the men themselves. It's a challenge, certainly, but people confront and surmount challenges. They can't always make the challenge go away, especially if the challenge takes the form of other human beings who have a right to be there, too.

Grim said...

What I've been suggesting isn't, I think, a 'purdah' for the women; but only, perhaps, in that it doesn't target women particularly. I think it might be reasonable to extend the ban on fraternization more generally to include an outright bar on every sort of fraternization among the troops, to include sending each other nudes or racy pictures.

I'm thinking in terms of the Terminal Lance speak, Maximilian, who asserts that 'everyone sends nudes in 2017,' and offers as an example that he's sent many pictures of his dick to various women. Maybe this is a standard that needs to change if we're going to maintain some sort of relatively asexual 'neutral ground' in the military. Maybe there needs to be a standard that any sort of sex, dating, etc., is to be practiced only with civilians and not with other members of the service. Professionalism then means, in part, not undermining the asexual environment.

Failing that, I just don't see how you get to a place of 'neutral ground.' I certainly don't see how you get there by flogging the men you catch, but imposing no restrictions on the women; that's only going to increase whatever anti-woman feeling there is among the male Marines. It seems like a general anti-fraternization standard at least applies to everyone equally.

Texan99 said...

You'll definitely get no argument from me when it comes to holding women and men to the same standards of avoiding explicitly provocative action, like sending nude pictures to each other. The problem in this area, when there is one, comes when women are deemed to have created a provocation by their mere presence--much the same issue as the "she was asking for it" response to a rape charge. I'm kind of a fanatic on the subject of expecting people to solve this kind of problem by doing the hard work between their own ears instead of controlling the behavior of others. It's the same issue that causes alcoholics to demand that others hide the booze, and dieters to insist that no one else in the house can have ice cream. I don't see that any good ever comes of it.

Grim said...

The thing is, there's a double standard pointing the other way too. If a woman sends a nude photo of herself, that she chose to take and chose to send, she's a victim if the man then shares it with others to shame her. But if a man sends a nude photo of himself, and the woman shares it with others to shame him for sending it, she's a victim for having received the unwanted advance.

It'd be great if people would just not do the bad things, but that brings us back to the original question: is it really attainable, in the case of young men and women, lacking institutional or structural support? If the institution makes a formal bar, then it is supporting the good decision. If it won't, well...

Texan99 said...

Yep, as I say, you won't get any argument from me when it comes to holding women and men to the same standards. Is this an attainable standard? I confess I don't see why not. We certainly won't get any closer to it by insisting that women need to be given special treatment, either better or worse than men get, on any theory we can cook up.

Anonymous said...

RE: "They can't always make the challenge go away, especially if the challenge takes the form of other human beings who have a right to be there, too."

I don't want to come across as a pedant, but no woman has "a right" to be in the military. Nor does any man. Its supposed to be a pure meritocracy, but that has been destroyed since women were allowed to serve but held to a different standard.

If you want to see a duplication of the situation we have in the military right now, start forcing professional sports teams to carry female players regardless of their ability to meet male players' abilities. Run with that a few years, then visit the locker room and see how spiffy the morale is between male and female players. Ask how much the male players "respect" and "admire" their female teammates that can't perform to their level, don't make all the games because they get pregnant, destroy cohesion with sex, yet still make the some money and revel in the reflected glory of the actual performers.

This is not a military problem, its a double standard problem. Get women out of the military, or deal with the reality that maybe ten percent of women can match male physical standards that are acceptable minimums for the combat arms.

- Krag

Texan99 said...

If there is a good case to be made why women are incapable of serving in the military, I have no problem with that case being made. I don't like to see that issue avoided in favor of explaining that women must be excluded because the men have trouble controlling themselves in the presence of women. So by all means establish that women have no right to be there, without reverting to the comfort level of the men.

Anonymous said...

I think the burden needs to be the other way around - make the case that woman make the military better than it always was, and always has been throughout mankind's history.

No one has made that case. Further, every single day in the military the case is made that "women are incapable of serving in the military" by the reality that they are held to a different standard. If they were capable of serving, there would not be male and female physical fitness score tables. There would not be a difference in injury rates, and more severely, recovery rates for injuries when performing the exact same physical activities. Were they capable of serving in the military, we would not have had ships cancel deployments because too many of the female crew got pregnant. We would not have female paratroopers that fill paratrooper billets yet can't jump because they are too light for the latest chutes. We would not have female pilots that are too light for the latest ejection seats in fighters. Yet we have all that.

We have seen nothing but overall degradation of US military capability because of the inclusion of women in the military, and this will become even worse as they enter the combat arms. They offer nothing of value to the military, provide no capability that was not already present, but have introduced severe problems in many aspects of military life. What is the payoff?? What did we get out of this that benefits the US military? Its been nothing but an ongoing trainweck of fiscal, morale, pr, legal, and soon operational crises.

- Krag

Texan99 said...

Either way. As I said, as long as the argument is not put in terms of how difficult men find it to govern themselves in the presence of women, I have no problem with it, without necessarily agreeing that any of it is compelling, or other than a pretext for banishing the discomfort.

I'm no military expert or ever will be. All my experience of where women can excel is in other areas, such as business or the university. I note that the same arguments about men's discomfort historically arose in those contexts, and sometimes crop up even today. Consequently, when I encounter the same arguments in a new area, especially one where I'm not qualified to judge the performance of either men or women, I begin with great skepticism.