Posted on | August 20, 2014 | 84 Comments
Amy Austin (@amymarieaustin) is a British university student, a lovely blonde soprano, who wrote a blog post about “gender roles” that became something of a viral sensation among feminists. We’ll get to that in a minute, but first let’s acknowledge that Amy Austin has suffered serious misfortune. Her father committed suicide in December. She describes slipping into severe depression after his death:
I went home for a while and the funeral took place. We nearly didn’t make it in time. My sister was hysterical and didn’t want to leave the house, we got stuck in traffic and everything was awful and rushed. I chocked back the tears and I held my sister’s hand because I knew I had to stay strong for her and I didn’t want my family to see my weaknesses. Ridiculous in hindsight I know. Surely it’s more embarrassing not to cry at your own father’s funeral after he was found dead in his flat the day after you sent him a text telling him to get a grip, contact you, asking him, rather rudely, to realize that he was your dad and telling him, rather selfishly, that he needed to be there for you more.
What happened to her father? I don’t know. She speaks of “his flat” as if he lived alone, so I’m guessing her parents were divorced. But searching her blog yielded no information about her parents’ marriage or her childhood home life, so it is impossible to contextualize Ms. Austin’s attitude toward her father, which was rude and selfish by her own admission. Ms. Austin continues:
Back to Bristol, post funeral and after several unsuccessful attempts at waiting it out, I found it increasingly more difficult to cope with everyday life. Getting out of bed for cups of tea was about all I could manage, I looked horrendous, my skin was awful, and university became a thing of the past. If I managed to submit assignments, they were half arsed and not caring became a coping mechanism. This is when I went back to the doctor. I still wasn’t anywhere near the top of the waiting list for therapy so she decided to put me on an SSRI called Sertraline. I happily accepted in the hope that it would be the miracle cure I was waiting for. I couldn’t have been more wrong. After a few days of taking the medication I started to feel disconnected from reality, almost as if my mind and body were entirely separated. I began to watch myself existing as if I was watching from another’s perspective. After a week I wasn’t in control of myself at all. My flat mates watched horrified as I sunk from one low to another, completely incomprehensible to them. I was merely a zombie. Terrified but strangely calm, I had accepted my fate. I spoke to my mum, who told me she would drive up to me to bring me home. I couldn’t think of anything worse. I began pushing my family away and constantly wanted to be alone, but I agreed to get on a train the next day. As I stood waiting for the Northern Line at Kings Cross, I imagined myself falling off the platform. In a split second I snapped back to reality but the overwhelming (albeit fleeting) moment of helplessness was enough for me to scare myself. I called my doctor who told me that these unwanted thoughts and feelings, hallucinations, vivid dreams and blurred reality were awful but normal side effects of the drug, and I was told to carry on taking the medication, at a slightly reduced dosage, for a few more weeks.
Then came the unwanted compulsions. . . . I was self-destructing, and my behavioural patterns entered a vicious circle: the behaviour occurred, then the guilt followed, then the guilt made the behaviour occur once again, and so it went on. . . .
I eventually came off the sertraline slowly after I had a massive breakdown in front of a tutor and a good university friend. They convinced me to do something about it, and they saved my life. I am now on mirtazapine (an NaSSA) and it is amazing. Whilst it’s made me put on weight, I’m enjoying food again, and am enjoying the company of my friends and family.
First — and yes, feminists will deride this as “mansplaining,” which is their way of saying that no man knows anything about anything — get off those medications, Ms. Austin. I’m not saying to stop taking your meds immediately, without consulting your doctor, but I am telling you that (a) psychiatric medication is unnecessary for sane people, and (b) you’re not that crazy, are you? You’ve obviously experienced serious problems coping with stress in the wake of your father’s death, but this doesn’t mean your brain is abnormal.
Second, I’ve been there. When I was 16, my mother died suddenly. I was the one who found her. It would serve no good purpose for me to imitate the sad habit of modern memoir-writers whose goal in telling their stories is to portray themselves as victims of their dysfunctional upbringing, and who therefore publicly trash their own parents and siblings. My parents were good hard-working people, wonderful in many ways. They sacrificed to provide a good life for their three sons and it would be the height of ingratitude and disrespect for me to criticize them for their faults or failures. Nobody’s perfect, and everybody suffers misfortune and disappointment in life.
Rather than complain about whatever problems my parents had, what I will do is to tell you briefly the problems I had: About three years after my mother’s death, when I was 19 years old and on the verge of flunking out of college, one day I was getting high with a dope buddy who had made some psilocybin mushroom tea.
It might be inaccurate to describe my life after my mother’s death as a “downward spiral,” but I was reckless and out of control, and the miracle is that I survived at all — especially after I drank about a quart of that psilocybin tea, and also snorted up some Bolivian flake cocaine for good measure. I’d done lots of drugs before, but I’d never done either psilocybin or cocaine. The coke gave me an awesome euphoria, but I didn’t recognize the effects of psilocybin when that finally kicked in.
After about a week or 10 days of total craziness, my brother came to get me and I was admitted for psychiatric treatment. Recovering from a drug-induced psychotic episode is not easy, and it was a year before I was able to return to college. I made dean’s list my first semester back at school, but my behavior was still erratic, and getting back to “normal” was a slow process. People who think I’m crazy now have no idea how crazy I once was.
Prayer is essential, Ms. Austin. You can laugh if you want, but I’m telling you from personal experience that your problems are a matter of spiritual warfare. Not only must you yourself study the Bible and pray for God’s aid in your struggle, but you must solicit the intercessory prayers of other Christians on your behalf.
It was a blessing to me, in the darkness of the valley of death, that there were good people praying for my deliverance, and guess what? I married a praying woman. As a matter of fact, my wife is an answer to prayer. Our romance was not without its difficulties. I’ll spare you the details, but I prayed to God that my wife would marry me.
Twenty-five years, six children and one grandchild later, I regret that I have not always been as grateful as I should for this miracle. Sometimes my wife gets angry at me, for good reason, and the ferocity of her wrath reminds me of an ancient verse:
“Terrible as an army with banners,” indeed!
But the regular readers didn’t come here for a testimonial sermon, Ms. Austin, they came to see me spank a feminist, and as always I must be diligent in my business, because whatever my hand finds to do, I do it with all my might. Selah. Prophetic authority has foretold of these evil times, Ms. Austin, but let’s just go ahead and quote your highly praised feminist screed, shall we?
Characterised by unequal power relations between men and women, patriarchy systematically oppresses those who are, through no fault of their own, born female. Ironically even the male reproductive cell triumphs here. If patriarchy wasn’t bad enough, biologically speaking men fundamentally control sex, albeit unintentionally, making it difficult for society (although I say society very loosely, clearly there are many who do so) to refute the ideology that men are biologically ‘superior’. Described as a Social System in which men are at the forefront of social organisation, patriarchy, although historically epitomised through political authority (what’s changed?), is very much in the present. Society tends to have an uneasy relationship with power and power relations tend to be socially constructed. More often than not we are offered a socially formulated interpretation of power based on pre-constructed patriarchal ideals, stemming from hundreds of years of parliamentary history, male rulers and inequality.
On second thought, Ms. Austin, maybe you should stay on the mirtazapine, because this lunatic gibberish of yours very much resembles the symptomatic “word salad” of schizophrenics. Can you step back from your subjective feelings far enough to behold the objective fact? Your father committed suicide, and here you are ranting about “patriarchy”? Hello? Can you say “acting out”?
There are layers and layers of painful irony in your situation, and your regurgitation of feminist jargon — “power relations . . . socially constructed” — is a poor substitute for therapy. But that’s the problem: You go to the doctor, who is paid to give you pills, so you take the pills, but you never get any help understanding the real sources of pain that have caused your spiritual crisis. More:
Social constructions of gender, like power, stem from patriarchal ideologies- how often have we heard the phrases “man up!” (because you’re acting “like a girl” and femininity equates to feebleness of course) or “you hit/fight/run/throw (you can pretty much substitute this with anything) like a girl!” Meant as an insult because of course, running “like a girl” means that you’re not running “like a man”, and of course not running “like a man”means that you aren’t running properly. Socialisation, whilst imperative in terms of forming independent personal identities, brings with it an air of ‘dirtiness’. The term talks of a process whereby an individual “acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behaviour, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.” (Dictionary.com) The word”appropriate” troubles me somewhat. Who are we to define what is or is not “appropriate”, or what does or does not constitute as gender? What does it mean to be male? Why should masculinity define superiority and in turn heroicness?
Anyone can read the rest of that. Suffice it to say that Ms. Austin is lost in the tangled underbrush of postmodern “gender theory,” and one almost wishes it were possible to have an “intervention” for her, like they do for drug addicts. Her rhetoric is a bad imitation of Judith Butler or Janice Raymond or some other eminent lesbian feminist whose books or essays she’s been assigned in school.
Amy Austin’s amateur feminism is like me as a teenager, trying to imitate the sex, drugs and rock-n-roll lifestyle of my guitar heroes. I didn’t have a private jet or a million-dollar recording contract, so there was no “glamour” in tripping out on psilocybin. And whereas eminent professors of Women’s Studies live a rather privileged life — faculty tenure, paid speaking engagements at feminist conferences, book deals, newspaper columns, TV appearances, etc. — the young amateur wannabe feminist receives none of these rewards for online mimicry of her academic feminist idols.
Nor can feminism solve Ms. Austin’s problems. More than 40 years have elapsed since the Women’s Liberation movement erupted in the late 1960s and early 70s, and one thing has remained constant throughout: Unhappy women are still unhappy.
In fact, having witnessed these four decades of history, I do not hesitate to say that women in general are now much less happy than they were when the Women’s Liberation movement began. The heedless pursuit of “equality” and “freedom” — really, what do these slogans mean? — has been accompanied by a plague of misery, loneliness, sexually transmitted diseases and broken minds.
Shulamith Firestone, whose 1970 book The Dialectic of Sex was one of the first works of radical feminism, died alone in 2012, having suffered through decades of schizophrenia. Yet her descent into madness, while generally known among feminists, was a sort of trade secret in the women’s movement, as was the unusual prevalence of lesbianism among feminist activists and intellectuals. Every imaginable kind of kook, freak, and misfit jumped on the bandwagon of Women’s Liberation back in the day, and yet nowadays feminists become indignant when you refer them to polls indicating that most women reject feminism per se:
Meanwhile, the vast majority of women, according to a Huffington Post poll, don’t consider themselves feminists — and only six percent consider themselves “strong feminists.”
The same poll, of course, found that most women say they believe in “equality,” but what does that word mean to most people? Does the woman who tells a pollster she believes in “equality” share the feminist belief that all women are victims of male oppression? Does she sit around brooding about “gender roles” and “compulsory heterosexuality”? Is she reading Sheila Jeffreys and Andrea Dworkin? Is she fighting to overthrow patriarchy? Probably not.
Amy Austin is unhappy, and I do not doubt she has legitimate cause for her unhappiness. What I do doubt is that Amy Austin will find happiness through feminism, unless she’s a lesbian.
As I keep saying, feminism is a journey to lesbianism. If a woman has such an overwhelming resentment of men and such an aversion to normal “gender roles” that she is incapable of finding satisfaction in her relationships with men, she might as well place a “girlfriend wanted” ad online and admit she’s a failure at heterosexuality.
Is there some young fellow out there, perhaps, who would want Amy Austin to become his wife and the mother of his children? If so, he had better make known his love for her quite soon, before she gives up hope on men entirely. She publicly declares she’s “bisexual,” but if she’s like most young women who say they’re bisexual, I figure that’s merely her way of advertising her loneliness.
HETEROSEXUAL CLEARANCE SALE
Badly damaged girl, available at a steep discount to the right male customer. Guys, this is your last chance to cope with her irrational demands, subnormal libido, and occasional bouts of unexplained crying. Hurry now for this unbelievable bargain, before she turns completely queer!
Excuse my caustic sarcasm, Ms. Austin, but my point is very simple: Your problems are your problems, and attempting to externalize blame for your unhappiness — to scapegoat men by ranting about the “patriarchy” — is the opposite of therapeutic. You are quite literally making yourself crazy, and your jargon-crammed feminist screed is a symptom of your illness, not a cure.
Welcome to your own personal Judgment Day, Amy Austin.
These evil times have been foretold by prophetic authority, and souls are being winnowed like wheat on the threshing floor.
Try to clear from your mind the confusion sown by “theory,” and resolve yourself to confront the actual facts. You attend Bristol University, and it took little research to discover that Bristol has a very lively LGBT scene. No one is stopping you from heading down to Frogmore Street and surveying that scene with calm objectivity. Do you see there a future you can envision for yourself?
It is certainly not my prerogative to make your choices for you. I’m merely trying to point out to you what your choices are.
“See, I have set before thee this day life and good,
and death and evil . . . I call heaven and earth to
record this day against you, that I have set
before you life and death, blessing and cursing:
therefore choose life, that both
thou and thy seed may live . . .”
There is no one exempt from that judgment, not me, not Amy Austin, not anyone who reads this. “Therefore choose life.”
P.S.: Pray hard. Then pray harder.
P.P.S.: Avoid psilocybin.