Posted on | February 18, 2014 | 37 Comments
There are rumors that Australian feminist Clementine Ford has read books, but no one has verified this, and it may be idle gossip.
What Ms. Ford unquestionably has in abundance, however, is the certainty of her own intellectual and moral superiority, so that we — the unenlightened and flawed — are expected to be grateful that she occasionally condescends to share her wisdom with us:
The universal male decency we keep hearing about is largely a myth.
Sure, most men might not be bad. But it takes more than ‘not being bad’ to be ‘actually good’. . . .
Whenever conversation is raised about patriarchy, violence and the lack of equality that still permeates our society, I find myself inundated with messages or comments from men offended by the discussion of male perpetrated violence. Most men, they take ostentatious pains to remind me, are ‘decent’ — so why do I insist on tarring all of them with the same brush? It’s not fair and it’s not true. If I want their ongoing support, I had jolly well better start being nicer to them.
Leaving aside for a moment the arrogance it requires to listen to a conversation about the gendered violence suffered by women and make it about their hurt feelings, let’s define what they mean by ‘decency’.
The minute a woman invokes “patriarchy,” you know where the discourse is heading: Universal female victimhood by universal male oppressors. No man may question these claims except at peril of being labeled a hateful misogynist. Ms. Ford continues:
This is apparently what ‘being decent’ looks like. It’s a conditional expression of privilege that pays lip service to equality but doesn’t actually go out of its way to defend it, and whose benevolent support ends the moment it asks us to actually do something. Worse, it balks at this request for demonstration, as if it is enough for our decency to remain an impotent figurehead, and an insult worse than all the discriminations put together to challenge its legitimacy. If I had a dollar for every time I heard a man tell me that if I want his support to continue, I had better start being nicer to him…well, then I wouldn’t have to worry quite so much about the wage gap.
Edmund Burke once wrote, “In order for evil to flourish, all that is required is for good men to do nothing.”
Except that Edmund Burke never actually wrote that, of course. The quote usually attributed to Burke is, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing,” but this is evidently apocryphal, and the nearest thing to it that Burke actually wrote is, “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.” The quote’s nearest approximation by any famous writer is John Stuart Mill: “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”
So other than getting wrong the one (attempted) direct quote in her column, what else has Clementine Ford accomplished? Glancing over her archives at Australia’s Daily Life, I see nothing but column after column of feminist cant. She is one of these women, like Amanda Marcotte and Jessica Valenti, whose only qualification as a “journalist” is a fanatical devotion to feminist ideology, and who are occasionally invited onto TV and radio shows to give The Woman’s Point of View (because, of course, feminists arrogate to themselves the authority to speak for all women). There is a sort of Gilded Ghetto of such Professional Feminists, where a certain number of columnists, authors and Women’s Studies professors are reasonably well-paid for their services to the advancement of this ideology. Below the top tier of visible Celebrity Feminists, toiling away in obscurity and comparative poverty, are the wannabes and drones, mostly grad students and women who staff non-profit activist organizations of various kinds.
It’s a racket, really, but once a woman decides to major in Women’s Studies, she is unlikely ever again to question the Critical Theory framework of historical oppression, no matter what humiliations and failures await her in the career scramble to obtain recognition as a Professional Feminist. No, to the feminist ideologue, her every disappointment is interpreted as evidence of male oppression, requiring still greater struggle against misogyny. If she spends 15 years in the racket only to find herself permanently struck as a mid-level drone in an NGO — well, blame the patriarchy!
If Clementine Ford wishes to quote Burke, here’s an excellent excerpt:
It is now sixteen or seventeen years since I saw the queen of France, then the dauphiness, at Versailles, and surely never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision. . . . I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult. But the age of chivalry is gone. . . .
Never, never more shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom. The unbought grace of life, the cheap defense of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise, is gone!
Never did ten thousand swords defend Clementine Ford against insult, and why should they? She scorns the “unbought grace of life,” and rejects “that subordination of heart” necessary to chivalry, so that she is left with nothing but bitter whining about equality, impugning all men for the lack of “decency” she alleges.