How belief in the blank slate plus residual gender double standards create "cancel culture," and the difficulties of fighting back
Great essay! It's funny that there actually has been some pushback to tears in public discourse, and it came from the woke left themselves. They frame it as "white women's tears" because appending "white" to "women" is a loophole that makes them a valid target.
Oh boy, I'm a chick and couldn't agree with this fascinating essay more. Look at the crazy and obscure corners of the 'female-dominated' world - yarn & hand knitting, children's literature, etc. They've all become woke and if you do not abide by their orthodoxy you are mobbed into non-existence. Moreover, as a New Yorker of 35 years, I've been ghosted by most left-leaning pals in the name of whatever I don't know. And although I was born and raised a Massachusetts Democrat, at this point I am much more comfortable on the right, where folks just seem more fair, even-handed and just plain sane. Studies have shown that women tend to be 'neurotic' more than men and if this period doesn't display that in its full glory no other time will. We are experiencing 'Victorian-Woke-Vapors'. I used to be very open about making friends with whomever I met, but now I find myself not so open and I absolutely do not want to befriend Jewish women in New York who are the worst - very intolerant and even psychologically abusive (disclosure: my husband is Jewish and I raised my daughters Jewish - I have discussed this intent with them). I just won't deal anymore.
An aside about 'crying': A male friend, an admitting physician at a local hospital, recalled that during the height of the Covid pandemic, female personnel were so over-wrought with the carnage that a room had to be set aside for them to cry in. Some were even capacitated to the point where they couldn't calm down enough to work. He's been on the hospital floor for decades and was rather appalled by what he considered a lack of professionalism. However, when I discussed this with other female friends, some politically conservative, they thought this was okay under the circumstances. I am not so sure. Both of my grandmothers were nurses and they were professional and no-nonsense. There seemed to be an understanding back then, that you had to keep your shit together and just get on with the job, male or female.
My daughter was assigned to read the book "Masculine Toxicity' at graduate school (Columbia U). So, I asked her if she'd be reading about 'Feminine Toxicity'. She looked at me as if there could ever be such a thing. Women are not in a good place and need to rethink what 'being female' is all about at this juncture.
QOTD: "Crying during a political debate should be just as stigmatized as throwing a punch, as both make open discourse impossible." This should literally be a rule. People chairing meetings should announce it in advance. "Anyone crying or becoming overly emotional while speaking at this meeting yields their right to speak and the chair will recognize another speaker. Emotional demonstrations do not lead to productive use of time or coherent deliberations and will not be tolerated by the chair."
If you think "gulag" is an exaggeration: you haven't lost a job, housing, enrollment at school, custody rights, been unable to report an assault, been prosecuted for hate speech, or had a criminal charge "enhanced" by the addition of "alleged hate beliefs". If you've experienced any of these, the comparison isn't an "insult to people living under totalitarianism" -- it's a collision warning.
Joking about gulags was saying the quiet part out-loud ten years ago, but leftoids unironically call for gulags today, and Western governments have built the legal, ideological, and physical framework for actual gulags. Leftoids want the government to make it impossible for people they don't like to live, not just be silenced or "de-platformed". Governments, banks, and academia want this too. All that's left is filling actual prisons with those who won't get jabbed, or participate in various other rituals of fealty to state ideology.
Totalitarianism isn't a discrete category: it exists to various degrees. It's progressive, it advances over time. To paraphrase Michael Burry, we may be early saying "gulag", but we aren't wrong.
My favorite double standard is the endless "studies" which show women make better CEOs, board members, national leaders, etc. which would obviously never be published if the finding was the opposite.
I really enjoyed this, but I have one issue.
Notions of equality are (or at least should be) notions of political equality, not evaluations of literal sameness. The classically liberal sense in which people are equal just means that they should be held to the same legal standards. It is conceivable (and I think likely) that people will be different across many different dimensions, but political equality should still hold.
I'll also point out that the heart of the case against racism has traditionally been that whatever across-group differences there may be between two groups, we should still endeavor to judge people as individuals. If we instead evaluate people based on what group they belong to (race, gender, sex, etc.) we ignore the person.
One great example of the latter - even if on average, black people may not be as educated as white people, you would never want to discard a resume from a black person based on these average differences. If you did, it could lock black people into a cycle of poverty wherein it would never make sense to get a college education, knowing you'd be treated not as a college graduate, but instead an average non-college-educated black person. This would obviously lead to no black people getting college degrees, reinforcing the stereotype.
As a woman I am sick to death of the crying or nasty bitch controlling everything. Cancel culture can shrivel up and die. I feel that way about the gay/lesbian community using their sexual preferences to get away with jerk behavior in the workplace too. GROW UP PEOPLE. All for civility in the workplace, equal pay for equal work in that industry but thats it. I want the firefighter strong enough to carry me out of danger even if they are trans-Martian. You want to play with the big dogs in the military than meet the physical & mental requirements. Carry your own backpack. And all you pig boys out there talk us with sexual overtones when we told you to stop and you will find your fanny & checkbook in court. We have too much fake estrogen in the media and govt. Way too much unreality about physical differences including spatial vision in the military to be safe. Education is so female based it bores boys and men to death. Just do your job and treat others like you want to be treated and the world is a better place. And from the deepest part of my heart all you self absorbed 'Karens' out there SHUT UP
One of the "ballsiest" essays I think I've ever read.
This is so good. You do a really good job of analyzing wokeness.
Do you extend this analysis to the COVID response? We weren't allowed to do cost benefit analysis because we weren't allowed to admit we would allow even one person to die. This is classic female emotional thinking. And then of course the whole view of Science as being an "in group" where you pretend to agree to be part of the clique and then you attack people in the outgroup.
I just found this passage from The Corsair, by Lord Byron, which is precisely on point:
Oh! too convincing—dangerously dear—
In woman's eye the unanswerable tear!
That weapon of her weakness she can wield,
To save—subdue—at once her spear and shield—
Avoid it—Virtue ebbs and Wisdom errs,
Too fondly gazing on that grief of hers!
Thanks for this piece - very interesting. Your point about the right side of the culture war wishing it were in a contest with a more male-oriented left is compelling.
More optimistically, I think this asymmetric dynamic of female hysteria routing male-oriented norms of debate will turn out to be self-limiting. While men may be at a loss as to how to respond to this phenomenon, I think that _other women intuitively understand it much more clearly._
Most women would also like to live in a society ordered by male norms. For instance, women by and large don't enjoy all-female workplaces for basically the same reasons as you've described here. Even in a perfectly self-centered model, a woman is better off being the only woman in the room (and therefore excepted from some norms of behavior). If everyone is a woman, no one gets special privileges.
I think that off-camera at Yale, you would see a lot of other young women rolling their eyes at the mob or griping about their motives. But we don't see them because they don't provide grist for the culture war.
I'd like to hear your thoughts on the role that women play in reigning in the excesses of femininity. Those dynamics are just as complex and omnipresent as those that men use to reign in each other.
If we as a society want to learn how to deal with female tears, there is no better teacher than this video of Norman Finkelstein's reaction to a crying woman. Watch and learn, it's a thing of beauty (and put aside what you might dislike about Finkelstein's politics):
It's true that men aren't allowed to get angry at women - but they are allowed to get angry at all, which women aren't. If a woman starts crying in a debate, the man who caused that will be shamed - but she will as well, for being too emotional and incoherent. Women who act angry are "shrill" and "irrational", while Trump and Bernie alike can rant at their respective bogeymen and their respective supporters cheer them on for "speaking truth to power" and "telling it the way it is". It's equally hard to imagine a female Trump and a female Bernie having had the supporters they did. Elizabeth Warren is sort of a female Bernie, but there were big and relevant differences in her supporters' demographics, as well as her tone.
Maybe I notice the difference because I have a different view of rational vs. emotional debate as connected to gender. Yes, women are less likely to be assertive in debate at the expense of feelings, but men go to the opposite extreme more than women: they identify themselves with their positions and consider winning the argument more important than getting at the truth, so as to preserve their dominance of the group. In other words, where some women assign a negative value to hurting people's feelings in an argument, men are more likely to assign a positive value to it - and both come at the expense of actually getting the right answer. Women getting emotional when yelled at is actually a good circuit breaker for this: if people are yelling at each other, it has already happened in that particular argument and everyone needs to stop and cool down for anything useful to be accomplished. Going back to politicians, Trump is a good example: I have literally never heard or seen him admit he was wrong about anything.
This article reinforces the very same fantasy that abets the "female emotionalism" currently infecting public institutions, because its supposedly 'women's nature after all.'
The author refers to "male rules" & "female rules" as if they were insoluble biological givens but then, stupidly, refutes that idea too. Ultimately that renders this article an inconsistent mess of base premises..... leading to a clueless paralysis on how to move forward. Don Quixote to the rescue.
Pro tip: To defeat institutional gynocentrism (the word you are looking for in this article), you need to encourage the coping class to give up the pretentious "male rules" and "female rules" as (false) articles of biological dogma that gave birth to gynocentric culture in the first place. That means stopping the pretense that romantic chivalry is biological (and not an idiosyncratic convention from European Middle Ages), the belief that men are always rational stalwarts, and the belief that those Ladies who dominate public discourse are weeping morons who can only ever participate in public life on the basis of feelz.
Awarding one star to the author for tying himself into ideological knots and not providing any way forward.
"But there’s also a hypocrisy of the right. Actually, it’s more a hypocrisy of centrists, who will present studies showing that, believe it or not, men and women are different, but then argue that we should “treat everyone as an individual.”"
How is this hypocrisy? It's the difference between a population average and an individual. You don't treat a woman who is stronger than you (as a man) as weaker than you just because the average woman is weaker than you.
Ask conservative women, as I often do, if they would sacrifice their vote to return to a more "male" society based on rules, and that values security, family and prosperity. Nearly all say they would. Then repeal 19A, as women's suffrage really is the root of the decline of Western life, liberty and property (and education, fertility, family formation, etc.).