Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Women who Regress too Much and the Men who Enable Them.

You don't actually think the rules apply to me too, do you?
Recent allegations of sexual misconduct that have arisen against none other than pro feminist Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau highlight the problems at the root of both feminist theory and the male response to it.

The alternative left is not anti feminist. We believe in a classical liberal sort of feminism: equality of right and of basic citizenship more generally. We're not against basic civilizational standards of decency where sexual conduct is concerned. It should be discreet and consensual, and in my personal opinion it doesn't belong in the workplace, though I don't regard myself as having the right to demand that of society as a whole.

But there's a big difference between that on the one hand and radical feminism on the other. Deterministic to the core, radical feminism sees all heterosexual relationships regardless of context as defined by male dominance and power and female victimhood.  In this framework, male heterosexuality is seen as essentially predatory and objectifying, and taken to fundamentalist extremes lends itself to the Dworkinite equation of all heterosex with rape, or at least violation of the woman even if she does consent. While most feminists do not go that far, that conclusion is not inconsistent with the ideological trajectory of feminist theory.

Given this kind of dogmatic reductionism, feminist activists have denounced notions of due process and presumption of innocence in the face of sexual misconduct allegations as themselves mere apologetics for male power. Likewise, they've claimed that they and they alone get to define, entirely as they see fit based on their own personal judgement what is and is not sexual harassment. Even a merely offensive statement is now construed as a measurable harm and act of oppression entitling its victim to remedy. Provided the perpetrator has a "privileged" identity and the victim a "marginalized" identity, of course.

All in complete defiance to centuries of western jurisprudence which requires proof - to some degree or another - of offense and harm done in order to secure a remedy, with higher burdens of proof required for more serious allegations. Again, western legal tradition is denounced as so much male excusing of the mistreatment of women. Women, we are told, never make false allegations, and if they do, then perhaps its only fair that men live in fear of it, for women have to live in fear of male predation. Tit-for-tat, so to speak. Failure to "believe women" - which is to say to treat the mere allegation as itself proof of guilt is to disbelieve and thus hate women. Again, in defiance of legal standards that apply equally to both sexes: prove your allegations if you want to secure a remedy.

What is astounding is that these obviously absurd feminist claims are taken seriously in our agenda setting institutions of cultural and legal power. The male response to feminism's obvious and glaring demonization of him has tended, with too few exceptions, to public and collective submission, so as to make oneself appear "woke" or as the man who "gets it" while in the public eye, while privately and individually trying to find ways around it, ways of gaming the system for his own advantage. He tells himself these absurd rules don't apply to him and that he'll never be the victim of a false or frivolous allegation. Conservative and libertarian men and women might scoff a bit here and there, but outright skepticism and opposition towards feminist claims become marginal, and are more easily dismissed as a result.

The MeToo campaign is the culmination of decades of institutionalized dishonesty on part of both feminist theorists and the men who enable them. As MeToo emerged, progressive Canadian politicians have signalled their enlightenment by adopting a remove from caucus first, ask questions later stance on the matter. But as Quillette Magazine reports in a recent article "Grope-gate’ and #MeToo’s Crisis of Legitimacy", Justin Trudeau has changed his tune since he himself has been the target of a recent allegation:
Of course, boilerplate about “the intersection of sex and gender” is now part of the linguistic ether inhaled daily by modern scholars and activists. But Justin Trudeau isn’t a scholar or activist. He’s the prime minister of a G7 country. And it has been strange to see him govern Canada as if he were the chair of a gender studies department. The sight of him now suddenly backing off from MeToo puritanism just in time to defend his own reputation serves to indict not so much Trudeau’s behaviour way back in 2000 (which, for all we know, was perfectly blameless), but rather the unsustainably doctrinaire nature of the larger ideological movement.
Another Quillette article, "On Toxic Femininity", outlines the underlying problem perfectly:
Intersectionalists have in common with one another a particular rhetorical trick: Any claim made by a member of an historically oppressed group is unquestionably true. Questioning claims is, itself, an act of oppression 
This opens the door for anyone who is willing to lie to obtain power. If you cannot question claims, any claim can be made. 
Thus: Racism is ubiquitous. And all men are toxic. I object—but objection is not allowed. Everyone who understands game theory knows how this game ends: Innocent people being vilified with false claims, and exposed to witch hunts. Sexual assault is real, but that does not mean that all claims of sexual assault are honest.
Justin Trudeau is not the only progressive male to have been outed in this way. Indeed Harvey Weinstein himself was an outspoken progressive during his long career in Hollywood. There have been many since then, with US Senator Al Franken and Young Turks pundit Cenk Uygur's ousting from the Justice Democrats being two more that come to mind. This is a predictable pattern now.

They're less the victims of some unfair witch hunt than the outstanding authors at Quillette and elsewhere would have us believe. The progressive left has sold its soul to feminist standpoint theory when it acquiesced to the notion that they're to have no opinion save unquestioned obedience to feminist claims. Liberal males acquiesced to the ensconcement of feminist theory in academia, and they acquiesced to the equation of scrutinizing and criticizing feminist theory with actual misogyny and patriarchal oppression. Evidence of this is seen daily on twitter. They acquiesced by legislation and judicial rulings that upheld vague, sweeping definitions of sexual harassment that in Soviet fashion, punish the ideologically derived social status of the perpetrator moreso than the actual act itself. They acquiesced by normalizing this acquiescence on an institutional basis throughout our entire society. Now that the devil has come to collect, it's worth reminding the Justin Trudeaus of this world that they have no more right to defend themselves against, deny or downplay the allegations than any other male does.

Progressives did this to themselves.

They've internalized feminism's typically far right demonization of peaceable and legitimate expression of romantic and sexual attraction and desire.  A thing they not so long ago fought against Christian conservatives tooth and nail over. They still do in their opposition to abstinence only sex ed and purity balls. It's hysterical puritanism when the religious right denounces lust, it's empathy and wokeness when feminists do it.

The resulting sexual repression and hysteria has had predictable results on their judgement. They've cast aside all legitimate concerns surrounding due process and the rights of the accused now that the accusers have vaginas. Despite progressives being the first to correctly condemn McCarthyite and Satanic Panic witch hunts and moral panics. Despite progressives being the first to correctly condemn zero tolerance and get tough types of crackdowns on vice, such as the war on drugs and conservative drives to censor porn and white wash entertainment media more generally. The potential for abuse - the potential for harassment allegations to be weaponized against business and political rivals should also be quite obvious.

Expecting modesty out of women is repressive and barbaric, but it's quite okay and rational to demand of men to never notice and react to sexual characteristics in women, even in a peaceable manner. Even a glance is objectification and potentially harassment. Of course these are ridiculous and untenable standards of moral conduct, intended much more to serve as clubs in the hands of women in their relationships with men than to actually protect women from real misconduct. But I'm not so quick to sympathize with men who get caught failing to live up to them.  Progressive men - indeed men as a whole, have acquiesced to and upheld this way of thinking. It's time we stopped. We can and must do better than this. Respect for women and sexual/romantic attraction to women are not mutually exclusive.

Al Franken was correct to resign, and Justin Trudeau would be correct to do likewise. Not because of some or another allegation of sexual misconduct raised against them. But because of their willful abdication of judgement in their embrace of demonstrably illiberal ideas and the abuses those ideas open themselves up to, as well as their apparent belief that the rules they so proudly proclaim to uphold in public do not apply to themselves when the lights are low and they think nobody is looking or will say anything. It is a failure of moral and intellectual leadership that ought to disqualify anyone from public office.

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