Posted on | September 6, 2014 | 118 Comments
“I’m a big lesbian who looks like a man. I’m not Anchor Babe and I’m never going to be. … I one hundred per cent believe that the reason I have not gone further in television is not only because I’m gay but because of what I look like.”
— Rachel Maddow, 2007
“A lot of society’s discomfort with homosexuality is a discomfort about the upending of the traditional patriarchal model of dominant man/submissive woman pairs with children in tiny box houses.”
— Marie Lynn “Riese” Bernard, 2013
Everybody remembers in 2010 when BuzzFeed found Rachel Maddow’s 1991 senior picture from Castro Valley (Calif.) High School. That incident inspired a rant at the lesbian blog Autostraddle:
BuzzFeed’s “Rachel Maddow Yearbook Picture” post, which has gone completely uncontrollably viral, is subtitled “Three words I never thought I could say about Rachel Maddow: I’d tap that!”
Hahahah! That’s so funny! You know, ’cause in this photo she has long blonde hair and is so PRETTY like a WOMAN and now she’s this scary butch lesbian with short hair and glasses and Opinions and who the hell would ever want to tap THAT? I mean, besides everyone and all of us here. But isn’t it so super-special that once upon a time, Rachel Maddow was still you know attractive by heteronormative patriarchal standards of beauty? I’d tap that! Hahaha!
That 2010 post showed up while I was searching for the word “heteronormative,” which is, like “patriarchy” and “gender roles,” a linguistic dye-marker of radical feminist thinking.
Anybody can be merely gay, but you need a theory — an ideology, a political philosophy — in order to have this kind of jargon that interprets your gayness in the context of oppression and social justice.
Wednesday’s citation of two lesbian feminist texts, one from 1973 and another from 1993, demonstrates how this radical theory of women as oppressed by the gender roles of heteronormative patriarchy (or “heteropatriarchy,” as feminist psychologists Celia Kitzinger and Rachel Perkins call it) originated in the Women’s Liberation movement of the late 1960s and early ’70s, and has been institutionalized by the faculty and curricula of Women’s Studies programs.
One of the rhetorical tricks of radicalism, a tactic at least as old as Karl Marx’s claim to have developed a scientific doctrine of socialism, is (a) to produce an elaborate theoretical explanation of whatever phenomenon they wish to criticize, (b) to denounce as a self-serving “myth” whatever common-sense justification is offered by defenders of the status quo, and (c) to claim that the inability of the status quo’s defenders to refute the radical challenge is proof that the “system” is illegitimate and must be destroyed. (It is certainly no accident that nearly all feminist theorists cite Friedrich Engels’s The Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State in expounding their own critiques of “male supremacy.”) Defenders of any traditional way of life are always at a disadvantage in debate with radical intellectuals who, having built or borrowed some theoretical argument for revolution, scornfully dismiss the defense of tradition as mere sentimental prejudice in favor of the status quo. Hurling accusations of bigotry and ignorance at their antagonists, radicals insist that progress beckons us toward an enlightened future, if only we can overcome the irrational opposition of The Forces of Darkness who wish to keep society enslaved to the benighted past.
If you have read Thomas Sowell’s The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy, you recognize such “arguments” as the dishonest sophistry they really are. And if you have also read Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, you understand how radicalism appeals to certain personality types. Understanding these things, the defender of tradition realizes that what actually requires explantation is not how “the system” works in theory, but rather why certain people are so implacably hostile to a system that works in practice. If the system does not work perfectly, we can consider how best to improve it, but mild reform projects are not what radicals have in mind, and feminism has always been inherently radical. This has been my longstanding disagreement with Christina Hoff Sommers’s 1995 book Who Stole Feminism?
As the title implies, Sommers postulates that there was (and still should be) a “mainstream” feminism of which she approves, but that this benign democratic reform movement has been hijacked by radicals of whom Sommers does not approve. My contention, which I have spent years endeavoring to demonstrate, is that this is a complete misunderstanding of what feminism is and has always been since the rise of the Women’s Liberation movement in the 1960s. Having traced the history of this movement to its origins in the New Left — specifically, the radical Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) — I am obligated by my commitment to historical truth to call bullshit on anyone who tries to tell me that radicals stole feminism. It was their rightful property all along; radicals created feminism, they theorized and promoted feminism, and if anyone joined the feminist movement because they bought into its mainstream facade, their folly in doing so is not my problem.
Radicals didn’t “hijack” feminism. Radicals own the feminist plane. Anyone woman who buys a ticket on Feminist Airlines should not be surprised when she arrives at her lesbian destination.
There are lesbians who are not feminists, just as there are feminists who are not lesbians, but if you attend the annual conference of the National Women’s Studies Association, you’ll find that the NWSA’s Lesbian Caucus is large and influential.
At any rate, if you spend much time researching feminist history and feminist theory, you quickly discover that its Founding Sisters were profoundly irritated by the Freudian theories about sex that had been in vogue among the intelligentsia for the previous 40 years. Being a conservative/libertarian critic of Freudianism myself, I sympathize with anyone who rejects the Viennese humbug’s bogus theories about Oedipal conflicts and “penis envy” as forming the basis of human personality. What Freud has to say about women is insulting, and one is not surprised that Shulamith Firestone devoted 36 pages of The Dialectic of Sex to a chapter entitled, “Freudianism: The Misguided Feminism.”
The Gospel of Saint Sigmund
The only people who hated Freud more than feminists were homosexuals, whose unusual sexual interests were presented by Herr Doktor as a psychological disease in need of treatment. Personally, I view Freudian theory as a dishonest attempt to assert a “scientific” authority in such matters, so as to establish a new secular High Priesthood, displacing the moral and ethical authority of religion. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss,” as The Who famously sang. Speaking only for myself, I prefer the authority of God to the authority of man and, whatever my own immoral appetites might be, I’d rather be treated as a “sinner in the hands of an angry God” than to be told I must humiliate myself by seeking “therapy” from someone whose authority is constituted by his possession of certain elite credentials.
Bullshit. You’re not smarter than me, Professor. It’s not as if I couldn’t have gotten a Ph.D. in psychology if (a) I had been interested in a career of counseling kooks, and (b) my Daddy had been willing and able to foot the bill for me to stay in college until I was 30 years old.
While I will stop short of saying that the entire field of psychology is an outright scam, it is not always easy to tell the difference between psychology and a three-card monte hustle. Perhaps a couple of weeks of therapeutic sessions could help me overcome my resentment of pretentious snobs and Ivy League assholes, except that my resentment of them is entirely rational. These snobs and assholes are determined to destroy everything good and decent in American life, and every honest and intelligent citizen ought to be fighting to stop them, while there is still anything in this country worth fighting to save. But I digress . . .
“To be roused by a man means acknowledging oneself as conquered.”
— Wilhelm Stickel, 1936
Disciples of the Freudian cult went forth into the world, proclaiming the Gospel of Saint Sigmund and, by the early 1960s, only a few heretics dared question the psychoanalytical dogma. It was immediately after this Freudian heyday that first the Women’s Liberation movement and then gay-rights activists formed an organized political insurgency against the theories of credentialed experts who had for decades claimed to know everything about men, women and sex.
The insurgents rapidly overthrew the Freudian establishment, so that by the 1980s, old psychoanalytic nonsense about “repression” and “complexes” had been replaced by a lot of new nonsense about “finding your true self” and “getting in touch with your inner child.” And in the 15 years or so that it took to accomplish this revolution, what we knew about men and women and sex ceased to be anything that we understood through psychology. Now, sex was all about politics, as interpreted through the ideology of power and expressed in the language of rights.
Somewhere in all this — the 20th-century Sexual Revolution and its aftermath — our intelligentsia ceased to care what was true about men, women and sex, and became concerned exclusively with saying what was politically correct about men, women and sex. Avoiding accusations of sexism and homophobia required that only certain theories could be advanced in intellectual discourse.
“I can only assume these people are ignorant or crazy. Perhaps both. Mammalian reproductive strategy is not a social construct, and they don’t seem to understand it.”
— Allen, commenting on radical feminism
Important truths about sex that your great-grandparents understood as a matter of common sense or religious faith did not merely become unfashionable among the intelligentsia. First, common sense became unscientific. Then, common sense about sex was reinterpreted as a form of political oppression. Thus, to locate any common-sense truth about men, women and sex, we must excavate like archaeologists, clearing away layers of intellectual debris accumulated during decades of modern error, to uncover the facts of human nature that have been buried for more than a century. Consider this simple idea:
Male / Female
Boy / Girl
Man / Woman
Husband / Wife
Father / Mother
Son / Daughter
This is the simplest possible understanding of normal sex roles from a developmental standpoint. The boy and girl grow up to be man and woman. The man seeks a woman as his mate, so that they then assume the roles of husband and wife. Expressing these roles in the most basic way, through sexual intercourse, the wife becomes pregnant with her husband’s child, so that they now take on the roles of father and mother. They then raise their sons and daughters with the reasonable hope and expectation that their children will follow the same developmental path toward normal adulthood.
According to feminism, these gender roles of heteronormative patriarchy are the oppression of women under male supremacy.
If you don’t believe that, you need to read a Women’s Studies textbook, which can it explain it to you. The latest edition of Feminist Frontiers has excised some early radical feminist classics (e.g., Adrienne Rich’s “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence”) in favor of more recent avant-garde gender theory and “intersectionality” stuff. Still, an overt hostility to men, marriage and motherhood pervades this popular Women’s Studies anthology. If selection #17 looks familar, for example, it’s because I’ve written at length about it: “Feminists Worry That Disney Movies Are Making Girls Heterosexual.” The lesbian editors (Verna Taylor, Leila Rupp, Nancy Whittier) of Feminist Frontiers also include two Middlebury College professors criticizing same-sex marriage from a radical perspective (#27 “What if Marriage Is Bad for Us?”), as well as #18 “Pretty Baby,” in which feminist mother Catherine Newman celebrates her son’s effeminacy (she wrote a 2012 New York Times column about this). We may summarize the philosophy of Feminist Frontiers as “Any Sexuality Is OK, Except Normal.”
Feminism’s war on human nature requires that young people, especially girls and young women, be bombarded with this kind of anti-male/anti-heterosexual propaganda, lest they grow up to live what normal people would consider happy, successful lives. Women’s Studies professors are not normal people, and if your children grow up to be miserable failures, well, so what? Professor Glenn Reynolds remarks:
I’m beginning to think that most lefty movements are just about broken people trying to manipulate the rest of us so they can feel good about their broken selves.
Which brings us to Rachel Maddow and her untappable butchness, the defense of which sent Autostraddle editor Marie Lynn “Riese” Bernard into a shuddering paroxysm of lesbian feminist rage:
Rachel Maddow probably really couldn’t care less what you think of her physical appearance. She likely does not give a flying f*ck, but perhaps she, like us, might be more preoccupied with what this means on a macro level.
To queers, Rachel Maddow’s photo might inspire a knowing smile or empathetic LOL. But amongst a certain kind of Conservative Human, it’s inspired something else altogether: another chance to demonstrate their fundamental unease surrounding female masculinity by praising how “hot” Rachel could be if only she returned to pearls & a blowout. . . .
The panic over a potential shift in our present gender paradigm underlies most homophobia these days, ’cause lawd knows what hell will break loose if women ever stop caring whether or not men could find them tappable.
You can read the whole thing, in which Ms. Bernard expresses the standard Women’s Studies critique of “our present gender paradigm.” Hers is an anti-male/anti-heterosexual worldview that is being taught daily to tens of thousands of young women at our colleges and universities. However, I’ve never spent much time wondering about whether Rachel Maddow (or Riese Bernard) is or once was “tappable,” for the simple reason that hate is not sexy.
Al-Qaeda doesn’t hate America more than Rachel Maddow hates America. Once you understand the basic anti-patriotic agenda of the American Left, you understand why this “big lesbian who looks like a man” — as she describes herself — is so adored by her MSNBC audience. She shares their hostility to everything these “broken people” typically hate, including capitalism, Christianity and the normal family. Naturally, Ms. Maddow is a cheerleader for the Party of Treason, Perversion and Poverty (otherwise known as Democrats) and if this involves a certain haphazard attitude toward the truth, we are not surprised. (Baltic, Balkans — to-may-to, to-mah-to.)
The Love That Dare Not Make Up Its Mind
Partisanship and geographical ignorance aside, who has a “fundamental unease surrounding female masculinity” as embodied by Ms. Maddow? Is it us or is it Marie Lynn Bernard? If men reject women who are not “attractive by heteronormative patriarchal standards of beauty,” as Ms. Bernard says, isn’t it possible that there is something personal (not merely political) in her raving paean to Ms. Maddow’s iconic status as The Butch Who Can’t Be Tapped? Notice how Ms. Bernard offers the psychoanalytic diagnosis that this untappable butchness “scares the living shit out of you, patriarchy, because if more women break free of the tight, predictable boxes and define success on their own terms, regardless of your assessment of their gender presentation, something really crazy might happen!”
Does Ms. Bernard forget that when you’re staring into the patriarchal abyss, the abyss is always staring back at you? Does she forget that in her late 20s, she advertised herself as “bisexual”?
Gosh, I wonder what the devotees of “game” (as the young pick-up artists call their craft) would say about an English major from Michigan who moves to Brooklyn and makes a point of advertising her bisexuality? “Hedging her bets,” perhaps? And then there was that hysterical meltdown when your girlfriend broke up with you. Yeah, I’m sure the “game” boys know the type — emotionally unstable, insecure and clingy, saying she’s “bisexual” is easier than admitting she never could keep a man around for very long. But I digress . . .
Male / Female
Boy / Girl
Man / Woman
Husband / Wife
Father / Mother
Son / Daughter
This simple understanding of what used to be called “sex roles” (before Foucault and Butler gave us gender theory) is a handy way of understanding sex problems from a developmental perspective. The normal trajectory is obvious enough, so if someone’s development is abnormal (another one of those old-fashioned common sense words we’re not supposed to say anymore), the question is, at what point did they go off-course? Many young people fear the responsibilities necessary to the full meaning of adult sex roles. For example, it is possible a boy fears that he might be inadequate — a failure — in all the many qualities and behaviors necessary to be esteemed and accepted as a man, a husband, a father. The approach of adulthood inspires in such a boy an existential crisis, which can manifest itself in any number of abnormal sexual patterns. He could just as easily become an irresponsible womanizer as to become a homosexual. Oftentimes, this type of male immaturity (young adults who avoid responsibility are, by definition, immature) results in a retreat from social life to private fantasy life, including porn addiction. You saw an extreme manifestation of this type of immaturity in the Santa Barbara killer Elliott Rodger.
Our culture actively promotes immaturity and irresponsibility, glamorizing the carefree single life, producing movies and TV shows that celebrate high school as the ultimate dating scene, as if neither education nor romance pointed toward any adult role. This is why you see so many people who seem perpetually stuck in adolescence. They’re in their 30s, still identifying themselves by what variety of pop music they’re “into,” still trapped in the high school boyfriend/girlfriend mode of sexual immaturity, unable to commit to marriage and terrified of parenthood. Why do you think “safe sex” has become so fetishized?
“I don’t want a baby. . . . Nothing will make me want a baby. . . .
“I like not having a giant growth protruding out of my stomach. I hate hospitals and like not having stretch marks. . . .
“This is why, if my birth control fails, I am totally having an abortion.”
— Amanda Marcotte, March 14
God forbid, you see, that Amanda Marcotte should every become that ultimate victim of patriarchal oppression, The Mother. Willful sterility has become such a fashionable trend that there are books and websites extolling the “child-free” lifestyle, psychologically representing the Hysterical Fear of Adult Responsibility.
Given how many toxic ways this problem plays out among “straight” people, it seems rather unfair to analyze homosexuality as a typical manifestation of the flight from adult sex roles. If the avoidance of pregnancy is of central importance to your worldview, then gay men and lesbians are pursuing a strategy more reliable (and perhaps less crazy-making) than Amanda Marcotte’s fanatical devotion to killing whatever life might accidentally be conceived in her womb. But if Marie Lyn Bernard insists on interpreting jokes about Rachel Maddow’s butchness (or her teenage tappability) as expressing the fearful insecurity of patriarchy, as I say: The abyss stares back at you.
Was Rachel Maddow “born that way”? The radical lesbian theorists I’ve been reading as research for the “Sex Trouble” project explicitly reject that construction. Their sexuality, they insist, is as political as it is personal. Perhaps they dislike the imputation that they “can’t get a man,” or that their lesbianism represents some dysfunction in their erotic response patterns. Many lesbian feminists are what can only be described as “failed heterosexuals”; for whatever reason, they were unable to establish mutually satisfactory relationships with men. Often in such instances, the formerly heterosexual woman revises her own history, insisting that her relationships with men never felt “right,” that she was engaged in an inauthentic imitation of normalcy. After “discovering” her lesbian identity, she claims she was probably “born that way” and had just deceived herself earlier.
Whatever gets you through the night, it’s all right. I’ve got better things to do than to analyze these hindsight rationalizations, which remind me of a certain pundit who was raised Southern Baptist, decided as an adult that he needed to be Roman Catholic, but then had a further revelation and converted to Russian Orthodox. If he next becomes a Zen Buddhist or a Rastafarian, I won’t be surprised, and if he ends up in a UFO cult compound — well, sure, why not?
People trying to “find themselves” this way simply lack a core identity, and I am amused rather than intimidated when I encounter a formerly “bisexual” woman ranting in defense of butchness. Unlike Ms. Bernard, at least Rachel Maddow isn’t one of these silly fickle sexual pilgrims, who change their identity to fit the latest fashion.
Ronnie Van Zant’s mama told him, “Be a simple kind of man,” and that’s good advice — even if you’re not a man. Complicated, unstable and ambiguous are not qualities that inspire respect.
If Biff Loman Had a Younger Sister
Therefore, we must give Rachel Maddow credit for picking an identity and sticking with it. Yet if we’re going all psychoanalytical here, we might as well ask, “Why?” Not that we need any theory of Maddow’s orientation/identity, but feminists seem to have no shortage of theories to explain everything (damn those heteronormative Disney movies!) so let’s take a swing at this Freudian piñata.
Did you know Rachel Maddow has an older brother named David? I didn’t, until I read a 1997 interview with Robert Maddow, their father. Robert Maddow graduated from Stanford University in 1964, got a law degree in 1967, then served for five years as an Air Force officer. Here he is talking about his son:
I have a son, David, who’s twenty-seven. David is a Bishop O’Dowd High School graduate. Went to UC San Diego, graduated in biology. Didn’t know what he wanted to do, still doesn’t know what he wants to do. Works in a law firm as the assistant office manager, where he does everything from soup to nuts, including everything from paralegal work to bookkeeping to grunt work and office management. He lives in San Francisco. He’s a wonderful kid, and just great fun. He’s still in search of the perfect party, I tell him.
Can you say “underachiever,” boys and girls? Your Dad is a lawyer who went to Stanford, your folks sent you to a Catholic prep school, and you can’t get admitted to Stanford? At 27 — at which age your father was an Air Force officer — you’re doing “grunt work” as an assistant officer manager and still don’t know what you want to do?
Two words: Biff Loman.
And then we have a daughter, Rachel, who is twenty-three.
[Interviewer]: And is at Oxford right now, but she must have done something before — she went to Stanford?
Maddow: She did. She didn’t go to Bishop O’Dowd; she went to Castro Valley High, and then went to Stanford, and just lit it up. . . . Rachel when she was young was very athletic, and actually was offered the ability to go play volleyball a couple of places and that sort of thing. And actually, when she was applying to Stanford, they had to write this essay, and one of the things she put in her essay was that “I have a tape of some of the highlights of my volleyball career to show to Coach Shaw if he’s interested in allowing me to try and walk on.” Well, in the spring of her senior year in high school, she tore up her shoulder, and she can’t do anything any more. But all the energy she’d put into athletics have gone into her academics and her other types of things.
Rachel, when she was in her senior year in high school, began to work as a volunteer at the AIDS Center in Oakland, which in those days was headed by a nun in her sixties whose name I’ve forgotten. But Rachel got very interested in AIDS, and ran the AIDS education program at Stanford, and became very involved in sort of health care issues through that. And worked a couple of summers, one at the Leonard Davis Health Economics Institute, which is part of the University of Pennsylvania, and one summer she worked in Washington for a national coalition on AIDS policy, I’ve forgotten [the name]. But it was a wonderful opportunity to learn about the economics of health care delivery on the one hand, the politics of it on another hand, and then all the things that she’d learned through all of her other work.
Then she graduated early; she won all kinds of awards, graduated with distinction, all these kinds of things. Won an Elie Wiesel prize for an essay that she wrote, and won a medal for her thesis, which was on a subject related to AIDS and the delivery of health care to AIDS people. And then won a Gardner fellowship; there are six of those granted every year, three for people from Berkeley, three from Stanford. . . .
And then the real big thrill was that she was chosen to be a Rhodes Scholar, and that’s why she’s in Oxford now. Actually, she won a Marshall and turned it down for the Rhodes . . .
She became interested in the Marshall because when she was a junior at Stanford, she actually spent her fall term at the London School of Economics, and she was kind of thinking she’d like to go back there, and you can t do that with Rhodes, but you could have with the Marshall. But then a number of people, including people whom she really admired, said, “Rachel, you can’t turn down a Rhodes.” For no other reason, you can’t because if you turn down the Rhodes, nobody gets it. If you turn down the Marshall, somebody else will get it, and that was important to her, because one of her roommates was trying to get a Marshall at the time.
Anyway, so she’s in her second year at Oxford. We should know within a couple of weeks whether she ll have another year there, because she’s trying to compete her way into what they call the D.Phil, program to end up with essentially a Ph.D. in politics.
Oh. OK, I see. Your son is an aimless slacker, an immature party boy, and your daughter is a hyper-competitive over-achiever, and there’s no reason at all why this daughter — perhaps overcompensating for her parents’ disappointment in their son — should adopt a masculine gender presentation, to say nothing of her lesbian sexuality. No, really, there’s nothing to see here in terms of developmental psychology, and I don’t know why anyone would find this an interesting case study.
Developmental theories of personality are, of course, hopelessly passé in the world of science, where all the experts now tell us that sociobiology and neurochemistry explain everything.
However, radical feminists insist that heterosexuality is imposed on girls by a patriarchal culture (damn those Disney movies!) and it occurs to me — just throwing this out there, OK? — that social pressure on girls to compete and achieve could result in some psychosexual distortions. That is to say that if feminism tells intelligent young women that they can never trust men, and that they must therefore be entirely self-reliant, these messages have implications for sexuality. Furthermore, once a girl gets on the academic fast track — the “gifted” program in elementary school, advanced honors classes in high school — her investment (to say nothing of her parents’ investment) in competitive scholastic achievement would be jeopardized if she should become pregnant.
Motherhood as Feminist Nemesis
One of the things I noticed in the 1990s was how the rhetoric of anti-teen pregnancy crusaders (particularly Jane Fonda, who led the GCAPP program) depicted motherhood as the antithesis of female achievement. Their message was not aimed at curbing youthful promiscuity, but rather convincing girls that motherhood was the most dreadful burden imaginable. As a husband and father whose wife was enthusiastically devoted to motherhood as an avocation, I found this anti-natalist rhetoric profoundly insulting to my wife (and to mothers in general). As a pro-life Christian, I viewed this teen pregnancy campaign as pro-abortion propaganda. And as a journalist, I recognized this propaganda as false.
Contrary to the rhetoric of Jane Fonda and other anti-natalist crusaders, teen birth rates in the United States have been in steep decline since 1970. As a matter of fact, teen motherhood in America was very common in the 1950s — the Golden Age of “family values” — but it wasn’t regarded as a “crisis” because most of those teen mothers were married. Maggie Gallagher demonstrated this in her study “The Age of Unwed Mothers.” We don’t have a teen pregnancy crisis in America, we have an unwed pregnancy crisis. In fact, the term “teen pregnancy” is inherently misleading. Conjuring up nightmare images of “kids having kids,” the crusaders want us to believe there is “crisis” involving immature girls who become mothers before they’re old enough to get a driver’s license. In fact, as anyone can learn by examining public health statistics, most “teen pregnancy” involves young adult women ages 18-19. High-school graduates, old enough to vote or to serve in the military, these mothers may be young, but they are not “kids having kids.” Women who choose to become mothers in their young adult years are not a public-health crisis. What youthful mothers are doing is, from the standpoint of biological science, entirely normal. The phenomenon of “teen pregnancy” would be of no interest as a matter of policy or political discussion, were it not for three factors:
- The decline of marriage — If an 18- or 19-year-old girl (legally, a woman) is fortunate enough to be married to a responsible young man with a job that enables him to support her and their baby, her pregnancy is no problem. But most young mothers get pregnant out of wedlock, and the males involved in these pregnancies are usually so irresponsible that it seems a distortion of language even to call them either “men” or “fathers.” More properly, these males might be called “semen donors,” although the slang phrase “baby daddy” has come to have the same meaning among the underclass. Children born into this subculture of family dysfunction belong to a category that educators and social workers call “at-risk.”
- The welfare culture — Dependence on government services means that unmarried young women who become pregnant typically represent an permanent drain on taxpayers. From the cost of her prenatal health care to the care and feeding of her child (housing subsidies, WIC and food stamps) to the child’s education at public schools, the welfare system shifts the expense of child-rearing from impoverished parents to the taxpayers. As this culture of dependency takes hold — a sense of entitlement that views reliance on government subsidies as both socially normal and a political “right” — it becomes likely that the pattern will be repeated in future generations, so that the baby girl born to the welfare-dependent mother today will often become a welfare-dependent mother herself.
- Sexual exploitation — The decline of marriage and the rise of a culture of dependency has exposed girls and young women to shocking abuse and exploitation. While the horrors of child sexual abuse are not limited to any one segment of society, girls are particularly at risk in environments where family disruption, drug abuse and violence are prevalent. I’ve often said (and social science research supports this conclusion) that the most dangerous man in the world is “Mama’s Boyfriend.” The dating lives of unmarried mothers often expose children, especially young girls, to victimization by predatory males. Even if girls avoid the danger of “Mama’s Boyfriend,” they are still at risk of “consensual” exploitation if they grow up in communities where married-family households are rare and peer pressure encourages adolescent promiscuity.
Nearly everyone — whether radical feminists or Christian conservatives or small-government libertarians — agrees that the current situation facing girls growing up in impoverished environments presents an enormous challenge to our society. Yet this consensus breaks down when we begin to debate the causes of the problem and the best approach to ameliorating the plight of “at-risk” girls. Feminists insist that “reproductive health services” (contraception and abortion) and “comprehensive sexuality education” are the best policy responses. Christian conservatives, by contrast, see this problem as involving moral issues, particularly as it relates to the decline of marriage. Yet feminists are and always have been hostile to traditional marriage, so that what Christians see as the solution, feminists see as the problem. And small-government libertarians in many cases are more sympathetic to radical feminists than to Christian conservatives when it comes to such matters.
Our policy debates about one of the most important issues in our society — the safety of America’s children — are hopelessly confused for the very reason that what most people consider the ideal environment for child-rearing (the married-parent nuclear family household) is condemned by feminists as a site of heteronormative patriarchal oppression and, because of political correctness, no one in the intelligentsia dares oppose or criticize feminism for fear of being accused of sexism and homophobia.
What does this have to do with Rachel Maddow? Everything.
Ask yourself this: What kind of women make the best mothers? Do we want America’s children to be born and raised in the homes of mothers who are lazy, helpless and ignorant? Or would we like our nation’s children to have mothers who are intelligent, resourceful and industrious? Certainly, I think the latter is preferable, and I think that a majority of Americans would agree, if they were ever asked to consider this as a subject both personal and political. Yet feminist theory — teaching intelligent young women that marriage and motherhood are oppression under male supremacy, the negation of every worthy (feminist) ambition — has the effect of subtracting smart women from the ranks of motherhood. Traditional marriage and motherhood require men and women to cooperate for the economic and social well-being of themselves and their children. Feminism, however, encourages women to view men not as potential cooperative partners, but as competitors — bitter rivals in the fight for academic honors and career advancement. As this anti-male attitude has taken hold in our culture, males have responded to feminist hostility in ways that actually make life worse for women (see Dr. Helen Smith’s valuable Men on Strike).
The Savage Beast and His Civilized Prey
As we contemplate the arc of Rachel Maddow’s life, from the blonde and overtly “feminine” high school senior in 1991 to the untappable 41-year-old butch of 2014, am I the only one who sees this as tragic? It may be impossible for anyone (least of all Ms. Maddow herself) to imagine an alternative scenario in which she met a man who loved her so passionately and unselfishly that, despite everything, she felt herself overwhelmed with an urge to reciprocate his love. Perhaps no one can look at Rachel Maddow today and imagine her marrying a man and having two or three children, boys and girls who would benefit not only by the inheritance of her genes, but also by the nurture and guidance of a mother so intelligent and resourceful.
Maybe I’m the only human being on the planet who can imagine Rachel Maddow as becoming anything other than a childless butch lesbian, but then again, I’ve always had a very vivid imagination.
“Me Tarzan, you Rachel Maddow.”
No, we can’t imagine that — the virile ape-man swings through the jungle and swoops down to make captive . . . Rachel Maddow?
Such romances happen more often than most people probably imagine. Tarzan is the protagonist in the adventure, but what about Jane? Stranded in the jungle, she appears to us as the classic “damsel in distress,” so that Tarzan is not merely imposing upon her the status of mate (the conquered “sex object” of feminist lore), but is rescuing her from the dangers of an untamed wilderness he has mastered.
However, Jane is not merely an object; she is fully human and therefore also equally the protagonist in her own drama. She is confronted by the savage ape-man who not only has the advantage of superior strength — her consent is moot in the jungle — but who also has the skill and cunning to survive in the African wilderness. What Jane brings to this encounter are the advantages of civilization, including her awareness of the value of her beauty. Transposing this adventure tale to 21st-century slang, Jane knows she has the milk shake that brings all the boys to the yard. A product of Victorian upbringing, Jane has been taught ideals that involve the inherent dignity of women. Sex may have been regarded as animal carnality, surrounded with taboos and shame, but the Victorian woman engaged in the performance of her wifely duties expected her husband to approach the marital bed with an attitude of loving concern for her personal dignity.
And here’s a little secret: Nice Christian girls get horny, too.
We are not supposed to know this, and certainly it is considered inappropriate for a nice Christian girl ever to admit this secret. Still, the Creator who made them male and female did not make them so unequal that the female is without sexual desire. The comparative roles played by nature and nuture in female sexuality have been furiously debated and endlessly researched. Some say that Western civilization, particularly Christianity, has misunderstood women’s sexuality, misrepresented it both in science and in popular culture, and misled women in the attitudes toward sex that they are taught and encouraged to emulate. Be that as it may, however, nature must ultimately triumph, and the creation is a tribute to her Creator, so that her mind and body are attuned to respond — as a matter of autonomic reflex — to her biological destiny. This response is influenced by her upbringing and experiences, by her education and the culture that surrounds her, yet no amount of Victorian prudery could have utterly thwarted Jane’s sexual nature.
The civilized niceties of consent, which roil American university campuses today, are irrelevant for Jane of the Jungle, protagonist in her own adventure tale, confronted with the brute animal aggression of that muscular savage: “Me Tarzan, you Jane.”
Jane as sex object is fascinating to the male mind. How I remember being a boy, watching those old black-and-white movies on TV — Tarzan was my hero, the image of muscular masculinity to which every scrawny boy aspired. And the iconic image of Jane as played by Maureen O’Sullivan was a spark that kindled romantic dreams.
Now the question: What about Jane as sex subject?
Her role, as played opposite Johnny Weissmuller’s grunting ape-man, was to tame the beast, to teach him civilized ways. The moral attitudes of the era did not permit us direct access to Jane’s part in the action implied by those four words: “Me Tarzan, you Jane.”
Audiences could only imagine — and, oh, how we imagined! — Jane’s experience as she surrendered to erotic conquest. Attempts to remake the Tarzan saga in more recent films have never quite matched the classic Weissmuller-O’Sullivan version of the Tarzan tales. With all the license that the director of an R-rated Tarzan update might claim, he could never hope that an explicit depiction of that primal scene would match what we imagined when it was merely implied.
“Me Tarzan, you . . . Rachel Maddow?”
If we can’t imagine that scene, it is because our culture has shifted in such a way as to impair our erotic imagination. Decades ago, we believed that nature would take its course, that man and woman were biologically equipped in such a way that sexual intercourse between them should naturally satisfy both male and female desire. Whether we believed that their human natures were a matter of divine creation or the product of Darwinian evolution, there was a time when we believed that human nature — male nature and female nature — were forces so powerful that all the authority of culture and law could barely restrain these urges. Only when civilized restraint was withdrawn during the Sexual Revolution, when religion was mocked, when ancient laws were abolished and ancient customs discredited, were some people persuaded to believe that there was no such thing as “human nature.” Feminists made war against the idea that “the traditional patriarchal model” (married-family households) was in accordance with nature. Gay-rights activists made war against the belief that male/female attraction was natural. Forging an alliance between these two ideological assaults against human nature, radical lesbians declared heterosexuality was oppressive to women.
Advancing that argument, feminist theory claimed that female heterosexuality was in fact a “social construct,” imposed by a sort of brainwashing — a mental illness akin to post-traumatic stress disorder, a response to male violence and “sexual terror,” as lesbian psychologist Dee Graham and her colleagues described it. By 1998, a former Women’s Studies professor named Daphne Patai was able to perceive the emergence in feminism of a phenomenon she called Heterophobia.
Here we are, then, in 2014, and we find Rachel Maddow as the highest-rated host on MSNBC, which isn’t saying much. The liberal network’s prime time Nielsen numbers for Wednesday, Sept. 3:
7 p.m. ET: Chris Matthews ………… 619,000
8 p.m. ET: Chris Hayes ……………… 537,000
9 p.m. ET: Rachel Maddow ………… 813,000
10 p.m. ET: Lawrence O’Donnell …. 646,000
So, Maddow’s audience of about 800,000 viewers is larger than either of the shows that serve as lead-ins to her 9 o’clock broadcast, and when her show goes off the air at 10, so do about 160,000 viewers who watched Maddow but can’t stand to look at Lawrence O’Donnell’s snooty face. (And who can blame them? Despite her Stanford/Oxford elite educational pedigree, the butch lesbian Maddow has a certain down-to-earth quality, whereas O’Donnell acts like every bossy Harvard-educated know-it-all you’ve ever met or imagined.) Maddow is the most popular Bozo in the MSNBC clown car, and any competent network executive confronted with this rating situation would immediately switch Maddow to 8 p.m., followed by O’Donnell at 9 p.m. and Chris Hayes at 10. Of course, if MSNBC were run by competent executives, they’d all be lined up outside Keith Olbermann’s door offering him anything — everything they could possibly offer, including the privileges of droit de signeur with their own wives and daughters — if he would come back and save their network from oblivion. As it is, however, switching Maddow to the 8 p.m. slot is a move so obvious that only stupidity or prejudice could explain why they haven’t done it already.
Maddow is the most popular host at MSNBC, but her network’s audience is much smaller than their hated rival, Fox News:
Fox: Megyn Kelly ………………. 2,252,000 … 65.9%
MSNBC: Rachel Maddow ……… 813,000 … 23.8%
CNN: Anderson Cooper ………… 352,000 … 10.2%
Here we see the 9 p.m. Nielsen numbers for the three major cable news networks for Sept. 3, 2014, which show that Megyn Kelly’s audience is nearly three times larger that Maddow’s audience. Kelly’s audience is, in fact, almost twice as large as the combined viewership of Maddow and CNN’s Anderson Cooper. I wonder why?
Rule 5: “Everybody loves a pretty girl.” Of course, Megyn Kelly is much more than a pretty face. She is a graduate of Syracuse University and Albany Law School who worked nine years for a Chicago-based law firm before switching to a career as a TV reporter in 2004. She is also a mother of three and a conservative.
The advantage Fox News enjoys over its cable rivals is that there are millions of people who are sick and tired of liberal bias in the news, which creates a market demand for an alternative. Speaking of market demand, however, can anybody explain why — according to news reports in 2013 — Rachel Maddow was actually paid more than Megyn Kelly? Maddow was getting $7 million a year, while Kelly was getting $6 million, and maybe Kelly has gotten a raise since then, but what is really mind-boggling is that CNN’s Anderson Cooper is paid more than either Kelly or Maddow. In 2012, it was reported that CNN pays Cooper $11 million a year. Why aren’t the feminists protesting about that?
The Crazy Lives of Broken People
If feminism made sense, there would be no need to argue about it. Feminism doesn’t make sense because it is a movement founded by disgruntled radicals and led by academic intellectuals whose theories are contrary to human nature. Bad causes attract bad people. No one should be surprised that feminism’s war against human nature has attracted to its banner people who are dishonest, people whose poisoned hearts are full of malicious resentment, and people who are simply crazy.
“The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice.”
— G.K. Chesterton, 1910
Nature abhors a vacuum. Those who attempt to live contrary to human nature will find that nature inevitably exacts her revenge, often in ways that are as ironically humorous as they are pathetically tragic. Marie Lynn “Riese” Bernard’s lesbian blog Autostraddle isn’t all about feminism. In fact, the site’s snarky style and its focus on celebrities, lifestyle features and other trivial aspects of “Girl-on-Girl Culture” earned Autostraddle the sobriquet “Cosmo for Queers.” This content is an interesting window into how actual lesbians live the consequences of radical feminism’s anti-male/anti-heterosexual philosophy.
There seems to be a lot of discussion of “butch/femme” roles at Autostraddle. They have debates about this stuff: “Femme Privilege Does Not Exist” gets a rebuttal, “Femme Privilege Does Exist A Little,” and a masculine-looking woman wants to make clear that you can’t judge a lesbian book by its cover, “I’m Neither Butch Nor a Top.” There’s also the “Anonymous Sex Toy Review” column, which praised the 8½-inch long, 2-inch thick “Outlaw” dildo, as well as the RodeOH strap-on harness. And every October 21, Autostraddle celebrates “International Fisting Day.” (Hint: You’ll need lots of lubricant.)
Despite the pep-rally tone — cheerleaders yelling “Go, Lesbians, Go!” — Autostraddle also offers relationship advice, which tends to confirm Professor Reynolds’ observation about “broken people trying to manipulate the rest of us so they can feel good about their broken selves.” Contrary to the pop-culture propaganda of Lesbian Chic, there is loneliness and heartache in lesbian life, which is generally less glamorous and less sexy than Hollywood would have us believe. Many lesbians are broken people whose personal lives resemble neither the soft-focus porn fantasies of Bob Guccione nor the political theories of Charlotte Bunch. At Autostraddle, there’s break-up advice like “How To Let Her Down Easy,” “The Lifespan of a Lesbian Heartbreak” and “Where Does the Good Go?” Alas, there’s “Moving Beyond ‘Lesbian Bed Death’ And Bridging The Libido Gap.” Then there are lesbians seeking advice:
Q. My girlfriend hasn’t had a job for the duration of our 2 year relationship and I’m becoming resentful of the fact that I’m basically expected to pay for everything (and I mean EVERYTHING). Sometimes she becomes depressed about not having a job or money and spends a couple of weeks looking (but I don’t know how hard, or if she edits her cover letters etc.). Then the motivation dies and it’s back to the usual routine. She has some very lazy qualities. That, and my resentment, are really affecting our relationship. Help?
Given what one might gather from such discourse, it was therefore highly amusing to read Riese Bernard’s radical feminist rant about how “everyone and all of us” at Autostraddle would want to “tap” Rachel Maddow, the “scary butch lesbian with short hair and glasses.”
No, Riese: She would tap you. Maybe with the “Outlaw.”
- July 14: Radical Feminism and the Long Shadow of the ‘Lavender Menace’
- July 26: Feminists Worry That Disney Movies Are Making Girls Heterosexual
- July 28: Feminists Against ‘The Unnatural, Yet Universal Roles Patriarchy Has Assigned’
- Aug. 2: How to Become a Lesbian, Step One: Watch Cable TV While Depressed
- Aug. 3: #DearFeministMen Illustrates a Fundamental Problem
- Aug. 6: Hey, Moms: Feminists Think They Know What’s Wrong With Your Children
- Aug. 10: ‘Hi, We’re Lesbian Feminists and We’re Here to Talk to Your Daughter About Sex’
- Aug. 15: ‘Wacky Conservative Hit Piece About Raging Lesbian Feminist Carmen Rios’
- Aug. 19: A Lesbian Feminist Horror Movie
- Aug. 21: The Madness of ‘Gender Theory’
- Aug. 23: Reading Feminist Theory …
- Aug. 25: Feminism, Mental Illness and the Pathetic Daughters of Misfortune
- Aug. 30: Thank You, Professor Kitzinger!
- Sept 1: Kate Millett’s Tedious Madness
- Sept 3: Whose Agenda Is the Feminist Agenda?
- Sept. 5: ‘Our Deepest Feelings’