Posted on | January 18, 2012 | 50 Comments
Finding political symbolism in the latest headlines can be a silly game. It may be that the Costa Concordia should teach no lesson other than to remind us why the phrase “Italian navy” never struck terror in anyone’s heart.
Nevertheless, Vox Day ventured the opinion that feminism was somehow implicated in the disaster, an opinion which was linked by Instapundit, which inspired an eruption from Cassandra at Villainous Company. And then Smitty, a man who knows something about matters nautical, weighed in on the fray.
On the one hand, it’s difficult to say that Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, et al., are directly implicated in the cowardice of Capt. Francesco Schettino and his crew. There were cowards before there were feminists, obviously, so to cite such spectacular cowardice as the fruit of a particular ideology may be going too far.
Nevertheless, we can say that an emphasis on rights tends to encourage the neglect of duty, and we live in an age when considerations of duty seldom enter the public discourse. Without duty — where the is no sense of obligation, responsibility, honor, respect — selfishness natural prevails, and one manifestation of that selifshness is the feminist sensibility.
The famous feminist slogan, “the personal is political,” summarizes everything that is wrong with feminism as an ideology and a movement. What the slogan suggests is that the ordinary discontents of women — their unhappiness with romantic relationships or disappointments in their careers — should be elevated to the status of political causes, because . . .
Good luck getting a credible explanation for that, short of the advocacy of an all-powerful government that monitors every private transaction and treats every disagreement or injury as a potential tort. If every rude word in the workplace is a civil-rights violation, and every broken heart is grounds for a lawsuit, well, yes, in such a society ‘the personal is the political,” but it is difficult to say that such a regime actually contributes to women’s well-being or happiness. Yet this is the regime that prevails in a hyper-litigious culture when any recognition of the differences between men and women is prohibited as “discrimination.”
This is what we mean by the word “feminism,” a species of egalitarianism that is as mistaken and as damaging as any other egalitarian philosophy. This make-believe androgyny is armed with the force of law and protected by the intellectual prestige of academia, and seldom does anyone dare to question its philosophical foundations or its implicit premises.
A deference to feminism has taken hold that is almost never noticed: Anyone who writes about feminism except to praise it is presumed to be ill-motivated, and even most critics of feminism feel obligated to soften their crtiticisms by including disavowals of any intent to condone “discrimination.” But if we cannot discriminate between men and women — if we cannot say that male and female are distinct qualities involving differences significant enough to deserve recognition and accommodation — we are forced into maintaining the pretense of a phony “equality” that exists only in the minds of ideological fanatics.
And what no one can ever say is that feminism is an ideology of selfishness, which tells women that their ambitions, their desires and their grievances are more important than those of men. By embracing feminism, a woman becomes entitled (at least in her own mind) to deferential favoritism, with an entire political/legal movement standing ready to unleash hell on any poor bastard who dares dispute her “right” to anything she covets.
Feminism = “What’s in it for me?”
This equation often manifests itself in outrageous claims of victimhood and absurd public festivals of indignation like “Slutwalk,” which began when a Toronto police official — noting that a serial rapist who was still at large seemed partial to women dressed a certain way — suggested as a public safety measure that maybe women should avoid dressing that way. The fact that the officer was merely trying to help women protect themselves against a dangerous criminal was lost in the subsequent rage-fest, which inspired international emulation. A simple fact about crime (i.e., that people can take precautions to reduce their likelihood of becoming victims) had so offended feminist sensibilities that the protests were necessary to silence anyone who might ever again be tempted to state such a fact.
The appropriate answer to this ridiculous ideology is not a counter-ideology; we do not need a “man’s movement.” Rather the appropriate answer is to expose feminism as the dangerous folly it is, and to show courage in doing so. Too many men are afraid to denounce feminism directly and comprehensively, and the scent of fear only incites the feminists to more furious attacks. But let us acquit ourselves as men, and not abandon ship like Capt. Francesco Schettino.