The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Nostalgia Is Not a Policy Agenda

Posted on | May 12, 2019 | 1 Comment

Dalrock points out that some conservatives, in criticizing 21st-century feminism, are merely expressing nostalgia for the feminism of the past. This is an error I’ve never made; having researched the origins of modern feminism in the radical New Left of the 1960s, I realized that the idea of “Women’s Liberation” conveyed by popular culture is starkly at odds with historical reality. Going back even further, to the 19th century, one can read R.L. Dabney’s critique of “Women’s Rights Women” and see that there was never a time when the movement we now call feminism was actually a good thing led by good women. At all times, feminist leaders have been angry, alienated women whose goals were essentially destructive, inspired by selfish and vindictive motives.

Why are conservatives so often tempted to the error of using past feminism — which they wish us to remember as “good” feminism — to indict present-day feminism? In part, it’s because we have reached such a low point of societal decadence that everything in the past seems better in comparison with our current situation. Rock music that adults condemned as savage or subversive in 1969 is considered “classic” by contrast to the meaningless noise preferred by teenagers now. More importantly, however, the success of feminism in terms of acquiring social and political power compels the conservative to make some concession toward “equality” lest he be accused of being a crude bigot, a stereotypical sexist pig. Therefore, the conservative praises a reasonable or “moderate” feminism of the past that exists only in his imperfect memory, since it is unlikely he ever had much interaction with Shulamith Firestone, Mary Daly, Marilyn Frye, Joyce Trebilcot, et al. What he remembers as the “good” feminism of the past is, perhaps, not actually feminism at all, but rather the sort of hedonism celebrated as “liberation” by Helen Gurley Brown (Having It All, 1982). If what you think of as feminism is the Reagan-era “Cosmo girl,” your nostalgia involves a commercialized myth that has very little to do with actual feminism.

Feminism is, and always has been, an anti-male hate movement. Insofar as it ever appears to be anything else, this can be attributed to the movement’s origins within, and continued alliance with, the radical Left. The anti-capitalist/anti-American agenda of feminism is expressed as “intersectionality,” which is why you see feminists supporting, e.g., Rep. Ilhan Omar (ignoring the profound misogyny of Islamic culture) and remaining silent about violence against women when the perpetrators of that violence are illegal aliens. Because their ideology identifies certain males — white, heterosexual, “privileged” — as uniquely complicit in the oppression of women, feminists share the anti-white biases of the Left, and are also anti-capitalist because they identify capitalism as a source of “male privilege.” These aspects of feminist ideology have been evident for many decades, and it is a mystery why a conservative would defend any previous iteration of feminism except, perhaps, because of misguided nostalgia. I mean, yeah, what aging Boomer wouldn’t have fond memories of “feminism” as embodied by Adrienne Barbeau in 1972? If the word “feminism” signifies in your mind some feisty, free-spirited woman from your youth, this positive mental association is understandable, but your pleasant memories have nothing to do with the ideology of the actual feminist movement. If the media marketing machinery sold you a brand of “feminism” that was somehow compatible with your conservative beliefs, well, caveat emptor.

Meanwhile, from the comments at Dalrock, we find a link to an article by a Ph.D. feminist that includes this remarkable passage:

Part of the reason it’s so hard for us to talk about the ways patriarchy harms men is the fact that there are already people claiming that the current social order is bad for men, and they’re called men’s rights activists. Like feminists who’ve become conscious of the shortcomings of a patriarchal structure, these groups of “red-pilled” men resist the idea that they should be required to be strong-jawed, stoic providers who work for their wives’ comfort. But unlike those feminists, they blame women for their problems.

You can read the rest of that nonsense, but let me make a point that should be obvious: To criticize the influence of feminism in society is not to “blame women.” Most women are not feminists and, while we’re at it, where is this “patriarchal structure” of which she speaks? American society in 2019 is not remotely patriarchal, so whatever harms suffered by men in “the current social order,” it is wrong to use the word “patriarchy” to describe this situation. Also, we are not living in a “social order.” This is more like anarchy, with heroin addicts crapping on the sidewalks of major cities, and our southern border being overrun by a horde of criminal scum from Central America. Adios, amigos.