In which we gaze long into the feminist abyss. Will she also gaze into us?
Table of Contents
- Girl Power
- The Enduring Unpopularity of Feminism
- Traditional Marriage
- Against Suffrage
- Sailer’s Law: An introduction to feminist journalism. Includes:
- The Fantasy of Equality (to be continued)
- The Myth of Choice (to be continued)
- Slow-Cooked Radish
- Recommended Reading
- Letters to the Editor
Flashing a “Slut Walk?” The ghost of Mencken smiles on you.
My experience of the world has taught me that the average wine-bibber is a far better fellow than the average prohibitionist, and that the average rogue is better company than the average poor drudge, and that the worst white-slave trader of my acquaintance is a decenter man than the best vice crusader. In the same way I am convinced that the average woman, whatever her deficiencies, is greatly superior to the average man. The very ease with which she defies and swindles him in several capital situations of life is the clearest of proofs of her general superiority. She did not obtain her present high immunities as a gift from the gods, but only after a long and often bitter fight, and in that fight she exhibited forensic and tactical talents of a truly admirable order. There was no weakness of man that she did not penetrate and take advantage of. There was no trick that she did not put to effective use. There was no device so bold and inordinate that it daunted her.
— H.L. Mencken, In Defense of Women (1922)
We may divide the Anglo-American feminist movement into three periods: a first wave of suffragettes, who achieved political equality with men by forcing on women a “right” they never wanted, instead of sensibly depriving men of a “right” they’d never put to good use; a second wave of sexual revolution, convincing women that “liberation” is achieved through easy sex, and “empowerment” through weekly cheques — a neat trick; and a third wave of inglorious miscellanea: “grrl power,” fake statistics (“Five out of four raped! Seventeen cents on the dollar!”), and a cottage industry of sexual harassment lawsuits.
Feminism today is quite as inseparable from the broader progressive movement as irritation is from a yeast infection (Harvard Political Review, 2011):
In its struggle to remain relevant, modern feminism can be described as a paranoid schizophrenic: paranoid from constantly seeing what Sommers called the invisible patriarchy, schizophrenic from the innumerable and unrelated causes it espouses. The National Organization for Women’s website features 24 separate “feminist” issues, including immigration, welfare, racism, and disability rights.
They’re now up to 26 “key issues,” including social security and “working for peace.” Plus, “promoting diversity/ending racism” has been promoted to a “top priority.” And so it is that the same people screaming themselves hoarse over a mythical sex crime epidemic on college campuses are also the people calling me a racist white racist for noticing the Muslim rape gangs of Europe (Radish 3.2).
The Reverend R.L. Dabney
Fix up the contradictions, if you like; separate the feminist curds from the “anti-racist” whey, skim off the “disability rights” and call whatever’s left fourth-wave — or not; as far as I’m concerned, the lanes have merged into one great progressive superhighway to hell, with “conservatism,” supposed roadblock, still just the shadow that follows it towards perdition. So wrote the Reverend Robert Lewis Dabney — on the subject of women’s rights, as it happens (Discussions, Vol. IV, 1897; p. 496):
It may be inferred again that the present movement for women’s rights will certainly prevail from the history of its only opponent, Northern conservatism. This is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is to-day one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will to-morrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution, to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. No doubt, after a few years, when women’s suffrage shall have become an accomplished fact, conservatism will tacitly admit it into its creed, and thenceforward plume itself upon its wise firmness in opposing with similar weapons the extreme of baby suffrage; and when that too shall have been won, it will be heard declaring that the integrity of the American Constitution requires at least the refusal of suffrage to asses. There it will assume, with great dignity, its final position.
Baby suffrage or no baby suffrage, the great Confederate theologian was unquestionably right about one thing: feminism prevailed, and continues to prevail, despite the overwhelming opposition of both men and women (below). I wonder how that works…
But to the feminist, who as I say is now indistinguishable from the all-purpose progressive, these victories are always on the verge of crumbling under relentless patriarchal assault, and women live in constant fear of mass disenfranchisement, sexual enslavement (not in a good way), and forcible conversion to Roman Catholicism. Accordingly, each election season, courageous Democrats unearth the latest Republican plot: to ban abortion, except for gay or black babies; to legalize rape if she’s wearing lipstick; to marry teenage girls to old men, and chop off their heads if they stay out past eleven — oh wait, Republicans oppose Islamic law, which is another point against them (the racists). Anyway, past performance notwithstanding, their dastardly scheme is sure to succeed this time — that is, unless all you liberated, empowered, thirty-year-old childless white women get out and rock the vote in exactly the same way. Which of course you do, because feminism is so important, because it lets you think for yourself. (“Texas only gives you five months to flush your baby! And the clinic has to be clean! Vote for Wendy Davis and her pink running shoes!” So brave.)
Thoughts on the modern Republican Party, Reverend Dabney? Level with us.
The only practical purpose which it now subserves in American politics is to give enough exercise to Radicalism to keep it “in wind,” and to prevent its becoming pursy and lazy, from having nothing to whip.
But enough of this. We understand conservatism now: conservatives exist to be beaten (and not in a good way). What of feminism? What is it? “A meaning it must have, or it would not be here.”
Feminism is all about equality and choices — according to feminists, which tells us… nothing. Nothing at all. Feminism, like Marxism and libertarianism (Radish 3.6), is a branch of political progressivism; obviously it’s going to invoke Liberty and Equality. (Even pedophiles are fighting “oppression” these days.) Throw in a little Diversity, and you’ve got the Holy Trinity of the Religion of Humanity (Radish 1.3).
Well, the Carlyle Club does not believe it. Join us, my empowered friends: in this issue of Radish, we will be exploring the true nature of feminism, with the great Henry Mencken, “Sage of Baltimore,” as our guide.
The present public prosperity of the ex-suffragettes is chiefly due to the fact that the old-time male politicians, being naturally very stupid, mistake them for spokesmen for the whole body of women, and so show them politeness. But soon or late — and probably disconcertingly soon — the great mass of sensible and agnostic women will turn upon them and depose them, and thereafter the woman vote will be no longer at the disposal of bogus Great Thinkers and messiahs. If the suffragettes continue to fill the newspapers with nonsense, once that change has been effected, it will be only as a minority sect of tolerated idiots, like the Swedenborgians, Christian Scientists, Seventh Day Adventists and other such fanatics of today.
— H.L. Mencken, In Defense of Women
According to a recent survey by the Huffington Post (2013), “just 20 percent of Americans — including 23 percent of women and 16 percent of men — consider themselves feminists.” On the other hand, 82 percent “believe that men and women should be social, political and economic equals.” Polling Director Emily Swanson is puzzled:
Only one-fifth of Americans identify as feminists… But the vast majority fit the basic definition of the word. …
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines feminism as “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.”
The gulf between the percentage of people who identify as feminists and the percentage who believe in the equality of the sexes may be partly due to a branding problem for the word “feminism.” Thirty-seven percent said they consider “feminist” to be a negative term, compared to only 26 percent who consider it a positive term.
Another recent poll (The Washington Times, 2013) found that “people are twice as likely to consider calling someone a feminist to be an insult (23 percent) rather than a compliment (12 percent),” but “when given a neutral dictionary definition of feminism, as ‘someone who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes,’ 57 percent of Americans proudly proclaim themselves feminists.” 57 percent!
Actually, Merriam-Webster Dictionary offers two “neutral” definitions of feminism, and the other one is even more confusing: “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.” How can 77 percent of women be opposed to their own interests?
Well, if we define National Socialism to mean “organized activity on behalf of the German people,” a neutral enough definition, we may deduce from the outcome of World War II that Hitler was no true Nazi. Confusing indeed. “The gulf between the percentage of people who identify as Nazis and the percentage who believe in rights for the German people may be partly due to a branding problem for the word ‘Nazism.’” You don’t say.
We’re going to avoid this confusion by subjecting feminism to exactly three types of analysis: morphological (“What are the feminists up to?”), cladistic (“Where did feminism come from?”), and adaptive (“How is feminism so successful?”). What we’re not going to do, because it’s stupid, is have someone else tell us what feminism is. (We are particularly suspicious of “neutral” definitions.)
Katie Baker, Chloe Angyal, and Caitlin Moran believe in choices for women, unless they choose the wrong thing.
For now, it’s enough to note that whatever this ideology is, wherever it came from, and however it’s been winning, feminism is unpopular among both men and women. Including some very successful women, as Katie Baker points out (Jezebel, 2012):
… although [Marissa] Mayer, who was Google’s first female engineer, is only the 20th female CEO of a Fortune 500 company, she doesn’t think the feminist movement contributed to her rise to the top of the tech world. In fact, she doesn’t even consider herself a feminist. As she told the PBS-AOL series “Makers:”
I don’t think that I would consider myself a feminist. I think that I certainly believe in equal rights, I believe that women are just as capable, if not more so in a lot of different dimensions, but I don’t, I think have, sort of, the militant drive and the sort of, the chip on the shoulder that sometimes comes with that. And I think it’s too bad, but I do think that feminism has become in many ways a more negative word. You know, there are amazing opportunities all over the world for women, and I think that there is more good that comes out of positive energy around that than comes out of negative energy.
Fortunately, feminism is about choices, according to every feminist ever. Wait, which form of analysis was that?
Many writers who do consider themselves feminists are understandably disappointed and angry that Mayer could be so ignorant about the movement unarguably responsible for her success. “In a world where a hiring decision like this one is momentous, groundbreaking, trailblazing news, being a feminist is not having a chip on your shoulder. It is simply an awareness of reality,” wrote Feministing’s Chloe Angyal. “Marissa, it is too bad that feminism has become a negative word. You know what’s also too bad? Your failure to acknowledge that without feminism, you could never have become the CEO of Yahoo.”
Basically: dumb bitch doesn’t know what’s good for her.
At first I felt like Mayer’s dismissal of feminism was disappointing but not the biggest deal; after all, 71% of American women don’t identify as feminist, a statistic Caitlin Moran touches upon in How To Be a Woman, her UK bestseller which just came out in the US. “What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you?” she asks. “Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? ‘Vogue’ by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that good shit GET ON YOUR NERVES? Or were you just DRUNK AT THE TIME OF THE SURVEY?”
No chip on her shoulder.
Hysterical though she may be, Ms. Moran has done us a service by this list of feminist triumphs. Pop music and fashion are beneath us (though tellingly they make up half the list), and the following section covers voting rights, leaving just one triumph: “the right not to be owned by the man you marry.” Is that right?
Thank God the feminists saved us from the horrors of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Victorian Era.
Despite popular cultural notions, which tend to hold that today’s women’s rights are a product of culminating progress, women of the middle ages actually enjoyed rights comparable, though not directly correspondent, to those enjoyed by women in western culture today. …
Æðelbert’s laws were clear that a woman had the right to abandon a marriage that she found displeasing. The Law of Cnut stated: “neither a widow nor a maiden is to be forced to marry a man whom she herself dislikes, nor to be given for money, unless he chooses to give anything of his own free will.” Most marriage contracts were clear that it was the woman accepting the marriage offer herself…
Seventh-century Kentish laws detail the much older custom of… a gift, often a substantial amount of land and money for the class and wealth of a man, given by the husband/groom to his new wife. The gift was considered entirely the property of the wife (whereas the husband’s property once they were married was considered to be owned jointly by the husband and wife) and she was permitted to sell, give away, or keep it as she pleased. … it would seem to promote a woman’s ability to return to her kin and therefore prevent forcing women to remain in unhappy marriages for dependence purposes.
But women had no power, right?
In addition to being protected by laws, Anglo-Saxon women often held positions of power. Many large estate holders were women; Fell claims that owners/masters of estates were “just as likely to have been female as male.” … The abundance of references to land “sold by women, given away by women, inherited by women or in some other way under their control make it clear that they moved in the world of landed property with as much assurance and as full rights as the men of their family.”
But they were always getting raped, right?
Laws protected women in other ways as well: rape was treated as one of the most serious offenses to the law, and, with the exception of the rape of slaves it was considered to be an offence against the woman raped instead of an offense to her father or husband (in the case of slaves it was considered an offense to the woman or man who owned of the slave). Depending on the circumstances, the penalties ranged from sixty shillings paid to the offended to castration. … Clearly, the Anglo-Saxons respected the right of a free woman, if not all women, to have sex with only whom she chose.
And so on — but what would Keri Elizabeth Sanburn know? She isn’t the bestselling author of anything, let alone a feminist instruction manual like How To Be a Woman. Can she really be expected to understand that any woman who fails to support whatever early 21st century American political progressives think the word ‘feminism’ means must have been “DRUNK AT THE TIME OF THE SURVEY?”
Æðelbert, King of Kent; Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians; a page from Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People
Any reader too drunk or stubborn to admit that “feminism” invented and enforces “the right not to be owned by the man you marry” can learn about English marriage customs, from the late Middle Ages, through the Renaissance and beyond, in A.D.J. Macfarlane’s Mating patterns: an historical perspective (1988):
Throughout the period [from at least the fourteenth to nineteenth centuries], for the vast majority of the population (the top few hundred families are often an exception) marriage was ultimately a private contract between individuals. The parents had some say, but ultimately a marriage could occur without their consent or even knowledge. On the other hand, marriage could not occur without the consent of the partners. These were very old rules, from before 1300, and lasting through to the present. They emphasised that the central feature of marriage was the conjugal relationship, the depth of feeling and shared interests of the couple. Marriage was not a bridge artificially constructed as a form of alliance with another group, in which the partners and children became the planks upon which political relations were built. It was a partnership between two independent adults who formed a new and separate unit, cemented by friendship, sex and a carefully defined sharing of resources.
“Though she would come under greater submission after the Norman invasion,” writes M.G. Miles, “the Anglo woman remained freer than most of her sisters around the world. Her dominant spirit was mocked often in Western literature;” for example, in J. Ross Browne’s 1867 Land of Thor:
We [Americans] pay such absurd devotion to the weakness of woman that they rule us with a despotism unknown in any other country. Their smiles are threats, and their tears are despotic manifestoes, against which the bravest of us dare not rebel. It is absolutely horrible to think of the condition of servitude in which we are placed by the extraordinary powers vested in, and so relentlessly exercised by, the women of America. … Something must be done, or we shall be compelled sooner or later to adopt a clause in the Constitution prohibiting from admission the State of Matrimony. What would the ladies do then? I think that would bring them to their senses.
[Woman:] “Well, our trouble in America is that we’re being school-marmed to death. You can see it in any paper you pick up. What were those men talking about just now?”
“Food-adulteration, police-reform, and beautifying waste-lots in towns,” I replied.
She threw up her hands. “I knew it!” she cried. “Our great National Policy of co-educational housekeeping! Ham-frills and pillow-shams. Did you ever know a man get a woman’s respect by parading around creation with a dish-clout pinned to his coat-tails?”
“But if his woman ord— told him to do it?” I suggested.
“Then she’d despise him the more for doing it. You needn’t laugh. You’re coming to the same sort of thing in England.”
I returned to the little gathering. A woman was talking to them as one accustomed to talk from birth. They listened with the rigid attention of men early trained to listen to, but not to talk with, women. She was, to put it mildly, the mother of she-bores, but when she moved on, no man ventured to say as much.
“That’s what I mean by being school-marmed to death,” said my acquaintance wickedly. “Why, she bored ’em stiff; but they are so well brought up, they didn’t even know they were bored. Some day the American Man is going to revolt.”
“And what’ll the American Woman do?”
“She’ll sit and cry — and it’ll do her good.”
Anti-suffrage cartoons (late 19th and early 20th centuries)
So what can it mean, this “right,” granted by feminism, “not to be owned by the man you marry?” To chalk it up to mere historical ignorance gives the feminist entirely too much credit. Enlighten us, Mr. Mencken, with wisdom from 1922:
Today, by the laws of most American states — laws proposed, in most cases, by maudlin and often notoriously extravagant agitators, and passerby sentimental orgy — all of the old rights of the husband have been converted into obligations. He no longer has any control over his wife’s property; she may devote its income to the family or she may squander that income upon idle follies, and he can do nothing. She has equal authority in regulating and disposing of the children, and in the case of infants, more than he. There is no law compelling her to do her share of the family labour: she may spend her whole time in cinema theatres or gadding about the shops an she will. She cannot be forced to perpetuate the family name if she does not want to. She cannot be attacked with masculine weapons, e.g., fists and firearms, when she makes an assault with feminine weapons, e.g., snuffling, invective and sabotage. Finally, no lawful penalty can be visited upon her if she fails absolutely, either deliberately or through mere incapacity, to keep the family habitat clean, the children in order, and the victuals eatable.
Now view the situation of the husband. The instant he submits to marriage, his wife obtains a large and inalienable share in his property, including all he may acquire in future; in most American states the minimum is one-third, and, failing children, one-half. He cannot dispose of his real estate without her consent; he cannot even deprive her of it by will. She may bring up his children carelessly and idiotically, cursing them with abominable manners and poisoning their nascent minds against him, and he has no redress. She may neglect her home, gossip and lounge about all day, put impossible food upon his table, steal his small change, pry into his private papers, hand over his home to the Periplaneta americana, accuse him falsely of preposterous adulteries, affront his friends, and lie about him to the neighbours — and he can do nothing. She may compromise his honour by indecent dressing, write letters to moving-picture actors, and expose him to ridicule by going into politics — and he is helpless.
Let him undertake the slightest rebellion, over and beyond mere rhetorical protest, and the whole force of the state comes down upon him. If he corrects her with the bastinado or locks her up, he is good for six months in jail. If he cuts off her revenues, he is incarcerated until he makes them good. And if he seeks surcease in flight, taking the children with him, he is pursued by the gendarmerie, brought back to his duties, and depicted in the public press as a scoundrelly kidnapper, fit only for the knout. In brief, she is under no legal necessity whatsoever to carry out her part of the compact at the altar of God, whereas he faces instant disgrace and punishment for the slightest failure to observe its last letter. For a few grave crimes of commission, true enough, she may be proceeded against. Open adultery is a recreation that is denied to her. She cannot poison her husband. She must not assault him with edged tools, or leave him altogether, or strip off her few remaining garments and go naked. But for the vastly more various and numerous crimes of omission — and in sum they are more exasperating and intolerable than even overt felony — she cannot be brought to book at all.
The scene I depict is American, but it will soon extend its horrors to all Protestant countries. The newly-enfranchised women of every one of them cherish long programs of what they call social improvement, and practically the whole of that improvement is based upon devices for augmenting their own relative autonomy and power. The English wife of tradition, so thoroughly a femme covert, is being displaced by a gadabout, truculent, irresponsible creature, full of strange new ideas about her rights, and strongly disinclined to submit to her husband’s authority, or to devote herself honestly to the upkeep of his house, or to bear him a biological sufficiency of heirs. And the German Hausfrau, once so innocently consecrated to Kirche, Küche und Kinder, is going the same way.
Marianne Stokes’ 1912 tapestry Ehret die Frauen (“Honor the Women”), based on a line from a 1796 poem, Wurde der Frauen (“Woman’s Worth”). Caption: “Honor the women, they braid and weave heavenly roses into earthly life.” The five women represent protection, nurturing, love, wisdom, and fidelity. (Voting is somehow missing.)
I believe that the majority of women, for reasons that I shall presently expose, were not eager for the extension [of the suffrage], and regard it as of small value today. They know that they can get what they want without going to the actual polls for it; moreover, they are out of sympathy with most of the brummagem reforms advocated by the professional suffragists, male and female. The mere statement of the current suffragist platform, with its long list of quack sure-cures for all the sorrows of the world, is enough to make them smile sadly. In particular, they are sceptical of all reforms that depend upon the mass action of immense numbers of voters, large sections of whom are wholly devoid of sense. A normal woman, indeed, no more believes in democracy in the nation than she believes in democracy at her own fireside; she knows that there must be a class to order and a class to obey, and that the two can never coalesce. Nor is she susceptible to the stock sentimentalities upon which the whole democratic process is based. …
Once the women of Christendom become at ease in the use of the ballot, and get rid of the preposterous harridans who got it for them and who now seek to tell them what to do with it, they will proceed to a scotching of many of the sentimentalities which currently corrupt politics. For one thing, I believe that they will initiate measures against democracy — the worst evil of the present-day world.
— H.L. Mencken, In Defense of Women
The unpopularity of feminism among women is, as I say, enduring. Women, in general, never support feminism in its own time — no, not even their own right to vote.
Josephine Dodge, Mary Augusta Ward, and Gertrude Bell (the latter at an archaeological excavation in Iraq)
“Numerous opinion polls throughout the suffrage campaign continued to find the majority of women not wanting a vote” (TheSuffragettes.org). State anti-suffrage organizations in America were “staffed and run by women,” their memberships “overwhelmingly female,” and the role of men “marginal” (NebraskaStudies.org). The leading national anti-suffrage organizations, — the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage (NAOWS) in the US and the Women’s National Anti-Suffrage League in Britain, — were founded and run by accomplished women like Josephine Dodge, Mary Augusta Ward and Gertrude Bell.
Not to mention Queen Victoria (1870):
I am most anxious to enlist everyone who can speak or write to join in checking this mad, wicked folly of “Women’s Rights,” with all its attendant horrors, on which her poor feeble sex is bent, forgetting every sense of womanly feelings and propriety. Feminists ought to get a good whipping. Were woman to “unsex” themselves by claiming equality with men, they would become the most hateful, heathen and disgusting of beings and would surely perish without male protection.
What were these women thinking? Few people know, because of course these women lost, and down the memory hole they went (Radish 1.10). “The suffrage movement has been routinely and consistently ignored,” hallucinates Robert Cooney, director of the Woman Suffrage Media Project, before reducing the entire anti-suffrage movement to “misplaced fears,” “prejudices” and “foolish, reactionary attitudes.” Basically: dumb bitch still doesn’t know what’s good for her.
It’s difficult to argue that men should have the vote, but not women. This does not concern us, because we don’t think anyone should have the vote (Radish 3.4). Demotism is a just plain bad idea. By the time you find yourself asking which vast segment of society should have its opinions averaged and made into law, it is clear that something has already gone dreadfully wrong with your thinking.
The anti-suffragists weren’t explicitly opposed to democracy, Mencken’s “worst evil of the present-day world,” but they were quite skeptical of the benefits of expanding it. From an NAOWS pamphlet, ‘Some Reasons Why We Oppose Votes for Women’ (1894):
- Because the basis of government is force — its stability rests upon its physical power to enforce its laws; therefore it is inexpedient to give the vote to women. Immunity from service in executing the law would make most women irresponsible voters.
- Because the suffrage is not a question of right or of justice, but of policy and expediency; and if there is no question of right or of justice, there is no case for woman suffrage.
- BECAUSE IT IS THE DEMAND OF A MINORITY OF WOMEN, AND THE MAJORITY OF WOMEN PROTEST AGAINST IT.
- Because it means simply doubling the vote, and especially the undesirable and corrupt vote of our large cities.
This leads us into a bit of democratic skepticism, as well as a rare treat: an organization of women opposing political equality in the name of social inequality.
- Because the great advance of women in the last century — moral, intellectual and economic — has been made without the vote; which goes to prove that it is not needed for their further advancement along the same lines.
- Because women now stand outside of politics, and therefore are free to appeal to any party in matters of education, charity and reform.
- Because the ballot has not proved a cure-all for existing evils with men, and we find no reason to assume that it would be more effectual with women.
- Because the woman suffrage movement is a backward step in the progress of civilization, in that it seeks to efface natural differentiation of function, and to produce identity, instead of division of labor.
- Because in Colorado after a test of seventeen years the results show no gain in public and political morals over male suffrage States, and the necessary increase in the cost of elections which is already a huge burden upon the taxpayer, is unjustified.
- Because our present duties fill up the whole measure of our time and ability, and are such as none but ourselves can perform. Our appreciation of their importance requires us to protest against all efforts to infringe upon our rights by imposing upon us those obligations which cannot be separated from suffrage, but which, as we think, cannot be performed by us without the sacrifice of the highest interests of our families and of society.
- Because it is our fathers, brothers, husbands and sons who represent us at the ballot-box. Our fathers and our brothers love us; our husbands are our choice, and one with us; our sons are what WE MAKE THEM. We are content that they represent US in the corn-field, on the battle-field, and at the ballot-box, and we THEM in the school-room, at the fireside, and at the cradle, believing our representation even at the ballot-box to be thus more full and impartial than it would be were the views of the few who wish suffrage adopted, contrary to the judgment of the many.
We do, therefore, respectfully protest against the proposed Amendment to establish “woman suffrage” in our State. We believe that political equality will deprive us of special privileges hitherto accorded to us by law.
Mencken had a similar idea:
Now that women have the political power to obtain their just rights, they will begin to lose their old power to obtain special privileges by sentimental appeals. Men, facing them squarely, will consider them anew, not as romantic political and social invalids, to be coddled and caressed, but as free competitors in a harsh world. When that reconsideration gets under way there will be a general overhauling of the relations between the sexes, and some of the fair ones, I suspect, will begin to wonder why they didn’t let well enough alone.
In any case, the point is: anti-suffragist women had a number of reasons to oppose suffrage, none of which involved women being “too emotional to make sound decisions.” How do those reasons strike you? Don’t worry, you don’t actually need to scroll up, re-read them, think about it, and come to your own conclusions, as if this were some kind of homework assignment. That’s what teachers and journalists are for: to tell us which ideas it is socially acceptable to call “true,” sparing us the trouble and likely embarrassment of figuring it out on our own. So here’s how they’re supposed to strike you:
“Some of them might seem silly to you, but they made a lot of sense to people at the time,” reads a 2002 textbook. “Anti-suffragette arguments relied heavily on emotional manipulation and downright hateful nastiness,” explains The Week (2013); “bizarre reasons,” according to The Atlantic (2012). Similarly, this 1988 textbook:
There were of course many people who opposed the idea of women’s suffrage. They were known as the ‘Antis.’ Here are some of the reasons they gave:
- Women would be corrupted by politics and chivalry would die out
- If women became involved in politics, they would stop marrying, having children, and the human race would die out
- Women were emotional creatures, and incapable of making a sound political decision.
These reasons may seem ludicrous to us, but at the time were taken seriously by a wide cross-section of women as well as men.
Well, these particular reasons appear to have been chosen to seem ludicrous to us (and it’s not clear that the third one was “taken seriously by a wide cross-section of women”). Are they ludicrous, though? How’s chivalry doing these days?
At least the species isn’t dying out. Ludicrous! Check the fertility rates for 2009. In Afghanistan, for instance, where “women are retreating into public silence to avoid being targeted by extremists:” a robust 7.07. In Guatemala, where “in 2011, some 700 women were murdered, many of whom were also sexually assaulted, their bodies then mutilated and left in public view:” a promising 4.15. In Burkina Faso, where “women and girls continue to be subjected to early marriages and female genital mutilation:” a solid 6.00. In Yemen, where “many young girls” are “pulled out of school to be married for a fee to an older man, often then forced to have sex and endure abuse, both physical and emotional:” an encouraging 5.50. In DR Congo, where “sexual atrocities… extend ‘far beyond rape’ and include sexual slavery, forced incest and cannibalism” (Radish 2.2): a healthy 6.70.
No matter, then, that the fertility rates for Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and other countries like that are below replacement. The species is safe.
Unattractive feminists are eager to redefine beauty and to stop anyone from forming a contrary opinion — all in the name of “choices.”
Years ago I predicted that these suffragettes, tried out by victory, would turn out to be idiots. They are now hard at work proving it. Half of them devote themselves to advocating reforms, chiefly of a sexual character, so utterly preposterous that even male politicians and newspaper editors laugh at them… Parenthetically, I may add that all of the ladies to take to this political immolation seem to me to be frightfully plain. … I am surely no fastidious fellow… but I give you my word that there were not five women at either national convention who could have embraced me in camera without first giving me chloral. Some of the chief stateswomen on show, in fact, were so downright hideous that I felt faint every time I had to look at them.
The reform-monging suffragists seem to be equally devoid of the more caressing gifts. They may be filled with altruistic passion, but they certainly have bad complexions, and not many of them know how to dress their hair. Nine-tenths of them advocate reforms aimed at the alleged lubricity of the male — the single standard, medical certificates for bridegrooms, birth-control, and so on. The motive here, I believe, is mere rage and jealousy. The woman who is not pursued sets up the doctrine that pursuit is offensive to her sex, and wants to make it a felony. No genuinely attractive woman has any such desire. …
The way to put an end to the gaudy crimes that the suffragist alarmists talk about is to shave the heads of all the pretty girls in the world, and pluck out their eyebrows, and pull their teeth, and put them in khaki, and forbid them to wriggle on dance-floors, or to wear scents, or to use lip-sticks, or to roll their eyes. Reform, as usual, mistakes the fish for the fly.
— H.L. Mencken, In Defense of Women
the issue that will tend to most passionately engage non-self-aware female journalists is that society should be turned upside down so that she, personally, would be considered hotter-looking.
We’ll broaden Sailer’s Law a bit, replacing “non-self-aware female journalists” by feminists, which set I think contains the other; and “hotter-looking” by more desirable (whether for sex, marriage, children, or all of the above).
Take Elizabeth Tamny, for instance, writing on the only issue that engages her (Chicago Reader): “The state of what’s usually called the size-acceptance movement in this country hasn’t felt very encouraging to me recently.” But the news isn’t all bad, because “some general changes have taken place in public thinking about body issues: about the fundamental inefficacy of dieting, about the institutionalized reasons why women have been encouraged to dislike their bodies, about the effects of the media, about the extent of prejudice faced by fat people, about the possibility of living a healthy, fun life at a weight not on the insurance charts.”
Who is this woman, who’s so concerned about the institutions and the media that are tricking us into thinking fat people are unattractive and that it’s bad to weigh 300 pounds? She declines to provide a photograph, but according to her personal website, she is a “resourceful, wide-hipped fatty.” Sailer’s Law in action.
I like examples. Let’s look at a few more.
Amanda Marcotte, Sarah Elizabeth Richards, and Naomi Wolf are concerned about dating options for “mature” women.
As she enters her mid 30s, feminist blogger Amanda Marcotte (“notoriously combines self-absorption, lack of self-awareness, vast reserves of hate, and dimness” — Steve Sailer) suddenly notices Hollywood trying to pass off 22-year-old girls as 30-year-old women (Slate):
… I’m proposing a test of my own, to save myself the pain of seeing a movie that’s advertised as being some kind of intelligent indie film but is yet another example of cliched sexist fantasies being passed off as realistic story-telling. Call it the “Marcotte Test:” no more movies or shows where the hero is a decade or more older than his love interest. …
… in reality, most people tend to partner off with those who are close in age to themselves. … But if you only learned about love from Hollywood movies, you’d think that most women needed a man who was nearing or past puberty when she was born, and men are disgusted by women with whom they share generational touchstones with.
I meant it when I said she’d just now noticed this:
This test was developed while I was mindlessly reading the preview for the new Ewan McGregor movie “Beginners” in Entertainment Weekly. …
Once noticed in this movie, it began to bug me across the board…
Here’s why it bothers her:
when it sits on the screen with no acknowledgment or explanation, it leaves the impression we’re supposed to think of the characters as peers, since they’re still just close enough in age you can assume they’re supposed to be the same age. Ryan Gosling is allowed to be and look 30, but are we meant to assume that a woman around that age should look 22?
As Sailer himself wrote: “Okay, now I get it, it’s a double bankshot version of Sailer’s Law. The problem with casting a 28-year-old actress opposite 40-year-old Ewan McGregor is that audiences will assume the beautiful 28-year-old is actually a beautiful 40-year-old, which will make the 33-year-old Marcotte seem less hot in comparison.”
Sarah Elizabeth Richards, author of Motherhood, Rescheduled (2013), became increasingly interested in fertility as she entered her 40s, publishing topical articles in, e.g., June 2005; November 2007; March 2008; March, March, and April 2010; August, October, and November 2011; March, May, and October 2012; and — let’s see — May, May, August, August, August, August, August, September, September, and September so far this year. (She also thinks we live in a “fertility-obsessed society.”)
Do pay close attention to her life story (Wall Street Journal, 2013):
Between the ages of 36 and 38, I spent nearly $50,000 to freeze 70 eggs in the hope that they would help me have a family in my mid-40s, when my natural fertility is gone. … I obliterated my savings and used up the money my parents had set aside for a wedding. It was the best investment I ever made.
Egg freezing stopped the sadness that I was feeling at losing my chance to have the child I had dreamed about my entire life. It soothed my pangs of regret for frittering away my 20s with a man I didn’t want to have children with, and for wasting more years in my 30s with a man who wasn’t sure he even wanted children. It took away the punishing pressure to seek a new mate and helped me find love again at age 42. …
I spent the majority of my 30s alternately panicked about my love life or feeling kicked in the gut every time I saw an adorable child. … it’s a buzz kill on dates when you feel compelled to ask the guy sitting across from you, clutching his craft beer, “So do you think you might want kids someday?” …
… Although I have always known I wanted to be a mother, I will admit that I indulged my ambivalent side at age 34 by falling in love with a man who wasn’t sure he wanted kids. After months of couples therapy and weekly summits… my “maybe” man became a “no” man. With little time to find another partner before my fertility plummeted, I jumped at the opportunity to freeze my eggs. But after writing a check for $13,000 and enduring countless doctor’s visits, blood draws and hormone shots, I could not bear to return to the “no” guy and the sleepy stupor of hoping it would all work out.
I forced myself to break up with a man I loved.
And so on and so forth for pages and pages. (As Mencken put it: “The woman who has not had a child remains incomplete, ill at ease, and more than a little ridiculous. She is in the position of a man who has never stood in battle; she has missed the most colossal experience of her sex.”) Skipping ahead to Ms. Richards’ vision:
In the future, a woman who registers for law or medical school — and knows ahead of time that she will spend her prime baby-making years in the trenches — would ask for loans for tuition and egg freezing at the same time. Or she might ask a boyfriend who wants to wait a few years to start a family to pony up for the procedure. In either scenario, she would assume control of her fertility from the outset, rather than freeze her eggs as a frenzied reaction to her life’s not having unfolded the way she imagined.
We are witnessing an unprecedented time in history. Women have enjoyed more opportunity in nearly every area of their lives, except the ability to have children. We undoubtedly will be trying to navigate this mismatch for generations to come, but if technology can temporarily compensate by adding another layer of choice, that is a reprieve indeed.
As usual, when a feminist says “choice,” she means control — not of her own life (that’s choice), because we know that wasn’t enough: “frittering away my 20s with a man I didn’t want to have children with,” etc. Sarah Richards needs control over everyone else, and for that, you need the government — to confiscate the money for those federally funded egg-freezing loans, for one thing.
In particular, she needs control over men, the great unknown quantity: “wasting more years in my 30s with a man who wasn’t sure he even wanted children,” etc., etc. With divorce already in the bag, how much more control does she really need? As usual, however much the government can bring to bear. Here she is in The New York Times (2013):
The end of a marriage is always sad, but divorce can be particularly devastating for a woman who still wants children but whose fertility is on the decline. Her ex may have many years left to start a new family of his own, but by the time she meets a new partner, it may be too late. …
That’s the hope of a 38-year-old woman… Mr. Lieberman [a family law attorney] is asking his client’s soon-to-be-former husband of eight years to pay $20,000 to cover her egg-freezing procedure, medication costs and several years of egg storage. “When they got married, the expectation was they would start a family,” he told me. “Now she might not have the chance much longer.” …
And yet it makes sense. Legal experts like Kevin Noble Maillard of Syracuse University speculate that a woman’s missed opportunities to have a baby during a marriage could be viewed as a form of “sacrifice” for which she should be compensated… And it helps rectify one of life’s greatest biological injustices: that men but not women can typically start a family well into middle age and beyond.
I see now what it means to “ask a boyfriend to pony up for the procedure.” In the name of biological justice, baby-crazy Sarah Richards, after “frittering away” her 20s and “wasting” her 30s, wants to hold all men legally accountable for creating an “expectation” of children in any woman over the age of 30. Chuck Ross put it simply: “It will soon be a crime to waste her time.”
Which brings us to the grimly amusing case of Naomi Wolf, who at age 29 disgorged The Beauty Myth (1991), a third-wave feminist classic. At 49, Ms. Wolf excreted a mercifully short sequel (The Washington Post, 2011):
Recently, I was at a party, and a man who, like myself, was in his late 40s, arrived with a woman 20 years younger. It took only a few moments of conversation before the rest of the group realized that the two had very little in common. And yet I did not feel the frisson of envy among the men present, nor did I see a bristle of jealousy from any of the stylish, accomplished women in their 40s. In fact, the mood of both genders was tender, almost pitying. The man may have imagined that he was showing off the youth of his date the way he might show off a new Maserati; but parading her around like an acquisition seemed only to make his friends feel sorry for him.
I had thought that getting older would be harder. The common cultural script tells us that women lose value as they age and that men will trade in their counterparts for younger versions (because, of course, that would be trading up). Middle-aged women are supposed to face the loss of their youthful selves with grief and anguish.
I look around at the magnetic and dynamic women my own age, I look at my own life, and instead that script seems more like a convenient fiction — designed, as so many aspects of “the beauty myth” are, to make women feel less powerful; in this case, just when their power, magnetism and sexuality are at their height.
I’m sure you’ve noticed how women achieve peak sexual magnetism in middle age.
When I am at a social occasion, the showstoppers are no longer the young beauties in their 20s. Rather, those who draw all the light in the room are the women of great accomplishment and personal charisma — and these are usually women in midlife. (Indeed, at events I have attended recently, cadres of conventionally beautiful young women seem now to be treated almost like wallpaper or like the catering staff.)
The change in social norms around the issue of women’s aging is immense. There is now an influential and growing demographic of educated, well-off women whose status, sense of self-esteem and sexual cachet rise rather than fall as they head toward midlife. I do not see younger women looking at accomplished women in their 40s with pity or derision: I see them looking ahead with admiration and even envy.
I can’t wait to stop being conventionally beautiful!
Certainly some men my age still date or marry younger, as our friend at the party sought to do; but in my own circles, at least, it is considered more macho for a man to have an accomplished woman his own age on his arm. His ego, it is understood, can take it. When I asked my single male peers why they were dating or having relationships with women their own ages rather than younger women, I heard variants of this: “Today, someone isn’t less cool as she gets older. She is just as cool or cooler. And, if a woman is taking care of herself, there isn’t really a difference sexually between a younger and an older woman — except that the older woman is more comfortable with herself and more sure of herself.” As one eligible man in his mid-40s put it, laughing, when he described why he was only attracted to women his own age, “I get a brain and a body!”
I think Roosh V covers this admirably and succinctly: “Naomi Wolf is a delusional old hag.”
According to Rebecca Watson, Amanda Marcotte, Lindy West and Sharon Begley, it’s unnatural for men to enjoy “young, beautiful women.”
At a 2012 conference for ‘skeptics’ (of religion, that is, except of course the Religion of Humanity), feminist ‘skeptic’ Rebecca Watson (Radish 3.5) delivered an anti-evolutionary diatribe entitled ‘How Girls Evolved to Shop and Other Ways to Insult Women with “Science,”’ committing more than a few ‘skeptical’ faux pas in the process. A tiny sample: “dumb-ass pronouncements about sex… women’s natural place is in the home… pretend that women’s place is in the home… then they look for reasons to ‘scientifically’ support that,” etc.
… evolutionary psychology is simply a matter of preferring one human behavior over another, declaring that this is what Nature Intended, making up a just so story about how it evolved, ignoring countervailing evidence or theories, and telling people that because we evolved in a way that you just made up, we are required to act in the way you demand. …
More often than not, it’s used to bully people who reject the old social hierarchies or refuse to conform to some social expectation, and creates excuses for continuing inequality. A lot of people who perpetuate it clearly have nefarious intentions, whether it’s a matter of trying to bully women into lowering their standards for a mate or, in some really ugly cases, making apologies for sexual violence.
Lindy West offers the characteristically nuanced opinion of a fat feminist, revolving largely around foods and dudes (Jezebel):
I don’t want to hate evolutionary psychology, but I do. I hate it. It’s a field of study that could be legitimately interesting, if it weren’t constantly being twisted into a justification for backward (and, frankly, un-evolved) anti-feminist bullshit. Like, sure, maybe a part of me does want a dude who could kick a rogue triceratops to death, because that would be pretty hot (plus, hella triceratops meat!). But a waaaaay bigger part of me wants a dude who laughs at my jokes and cooks the best chicken wings (so good it’s fucked up!!!) and will listen to Game of Thrones audiobooks with me in the car on the way to see Ginuwine perform at a local casino.
(How much bigger is the part of her that wants the chicken wings?)
No, feminists, as a rule, are not fans of evolutionary psychology (or sociobiology, as it used to be known). Anne Campbell summarizes the dispute (Missing the Revolution, 2006):
For many feminists in the social sciences, evolutionary psychologists are still seen as the enemy. The disagreement is not about the desirability of social change, but about where the causes of gender differences can be found. Unlike social constructionists, evolutionary psychologists accept that beliefs reside in the mind and not just in discourse and language. Traditional empirical method may not be perfect but it has the advantage of being a self-correcting system. Liberal feminists identify causes that are proximate and external but ultimately incompatible with a mass of empirical research.
That’s one way to put it. The great advantage of social constructionism to progressives, including feminists, is of course that if it were true, which it is not, then charmers like Amanda Marcotte, who control the discourse (ask Larry Summers and Pax Dickinson), could turn it against those dreadfully disadvantageous “social expectations” like youth and beauty, and women would no longer be “bullied” into “lowering their standards.” Feminists do not, however, control evolution. So the choice is clear.
Thus Sailer’s Law bubbles to the surface in Sharon Begley’s feminist attack on evolutionary psychology (Newsweek, 2009): “scientifically unsound,” she declares, “flaw after fatal flaw in key studies,” “no evidence,” etc., etc. One claim seems to be particularly objectionable:
Men attracted to young, curvaceous babes were fitter [evolutionary psychologists argued] because such women were the most fertile; mating with dumpy, barren hags is not a good way to grow a big family tree. …
One evo-psych claim that captured the public’s imagination… is that men have a mental module that causes them to prefer women with a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.7 (a 36-25-36 figure, for instance). … The studies, however, failed to rule out the possibility that the preference was not innate — human nature — but, rather, the product of exposure to mass culture and the messages it sends about what’s beautiful. …
… Different environment, different behaviors — and different human “natures.” That’s why men prefer Ms. 36-25-36 in some cultures (where women are, to exaggerate only a bit, decorative objects) but not others (where women bring home salaries or food they’ve gathered in the jungle).
And it’s why the evo psych tenet that men have an inherited mental module that causes them to prefer young, beautiful women while women have one that causes them to prefer older, wealthy men also falls apart. … (Yes, growing sexual equality in the economic realm means that women, too, are free to choose partners based on how hot they are, as the cougar phenomenon suggests.) …
… evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller of the University of New Mexico reasserts the party line, arguing that “males have much more to gain from many acts of intercourse with multiple partners than do females,” and there is a “universal sex difference in human mate choice criteria, with men favoring younger, fertile women, and women favoring older, higher-status, richer men.”
On that point, the evidence instead suggests that both sexes prefer mates around their own age, adjusted for the fact that men mature later than women.
Just keep repeating the lie (Radish 1.10). Maybe some day you’ll have the power to force us to believe it.
DeNeen, Catherine, Evelyn, and Teresa oppose “prejudice against dark-skinned women in the so-called marriage market.”
This one is just too easy.
DeNeen L. Brown, a dark-skinned black woman, identifies the latest form of racial hatred: “colorism, that sub-category of racism and prejudice based on skin color, staring us right in the face” (The Washington Post).
“He [Michael Jackson] is an over-the-top manifestation of that undercurrent in the black community,” says Alice M. Thomas, associate professor of law at Howard University. “If you are light, you are all right. If you are brown, you can stick around. If you are black, get back.” …
The attitudes toward dark skin have progressed as a result of discussion and the civil rights movement. But those attitudes have not been completely corrected. They linger in the recesses of human culture. …
The Internet is on fire with discussions about the color of Michelle Obama, who “is dark-skinned and provides a new model, a type that has not historically been pictured, been a beloved wife, a beloved mother and daughter,” Williams says. “She models all those things, as well as being elegant and beautiful and simultaneously dark-skinned. That is something in the popular media we don’t see enough of.”
On the other hand, Catherine Saint Louis, a light-skinned black woman, warns dark-skinned women not to try and lighten their skin. It’s very dangerous (The New York Times):
Dermatologists nationwide are seeing women of Hispanic and African descent, among others, with severe side effects… from the misuse of skin-lightening creams, many with prescription-strength ingredients, which are sold in beauty shops and bodegas and online.
She directs us to Evelyn Nakano Glenn, professor of some fake subject (“gender and women’s studies”) at UC Berkeley, who does her best to explain to us troglodytes that non-white women (e.g., her) are exactly as desirable as white women, except racism. More precisely: “advertisements connect happiness and success and romance with being lighter skinned.”
Moreover, it is not as if dark-skinned women are imagining a bias, said Dr. Glenn, who is president of the American Sociological Association [!]. “Sociological studies have shown among African-Americans and also Latinos, there’s a clear connection between skin color and socioeconomic status. It’s not some fantasy. There is prejudice against dark-skinned people, especially women in the so-called marriage market.”
Finally, Steve Sailer cites Teresa Wiltz as an example of his Law, so here’s the senior culture writer for The Root:
… the message too many little black girls get: Your hair is ugly; therefore you are ugly, too. To be beautiful, to “be somebody,” you need to have your hair smoothed into submission. There’s no room for spirited hair — or spirited little girls.
“Technically,” Sailer writes, “it might seem highly possible that somebody named ‘Teresa Wiltz’ has naturally straight hair and is just writing out of a disinterested interest in the topic. But, decades of reading female journalism at its most passionate suggested to me that Ms. Wiltz’s own looks would turn out to highly germane.”
Okay, mercy rule.
Maureen Tkacik, Jessica Pressler and Tracie Egan: “cynical, damaged, repellent” — good role models?
Susan Walsh of Hooking Up Smart uncovered a bizarre case of Sailer’s Law when a reader directed her to the comments section of Jezebel for a feminist take on sexually transmitted diseases:
[Reader:] And you’ll see tons of threads where the message is the “herpes isn’t the problem, it’s the stigma associated with [it].” And if anyone admits to not wanting [to] have to deal with such a disease, or any of the other complications of other STD’s, you’ll get thrashed for “slut shaming” or “everyone has it anyway, so shut up!”
[Walsh:] I hadn’t ever heard this, and my first instinct was to respond:
The women at Jezebel who have it want you to shut up because it is in their best interests if the infection rate in the population is 100%. They are actually working to promote the spread of herpes. Which is unconscionable.
Immediately I felt guilty — I mean, let’s face it, that’s quite an accusation! Before deleting my comment, though, I decided to look around and see what I could find out, only to learn that my statement didn’t go far enough.
The women who write about sex for Jezebel are cynical, damaged, repellent. And they want you to be the same way.
Possibly, my skeptical or inattentive friends, you still regard such a statement as controversial, instead of self-evident. You require evidence. Therefore I refer you to Maureen “Moe” Tkacik (Jezebel):
… a lot of controversial stuff has been said about the increasingly popular practice of condomless sex by some of us on this blog, but here is the irrefutable: it feels awesome. Maybe that is because I have only really engaged in bareback sex with the types of dudes who don’t fear HPV and whose diseases I don’t particularly fear, because the worst thing I can think of about most of them is the ensuing lifetime of awkward conversations, and the worst thing about that is that awkward conversations summon memories, and summoning bad memories every time you’re about to fuck a new person is no way to live, but, if you can smile and say (hypothetically!) “Hey, just so you know, I have (insert STD here), but I got them from this really hilarious guy who is still one of my best friends, so it was kind of worth it,” before you do it with a new person, it’s almost nice. Like: oh yeah, that was a good time.
JezebelMoe: I think New Yorkers don’t use condoms because they all already have STDs and know they’re not that big a deal.
JPRESS: It’s true. Herpes, specifically. And also HPV. Everyone I know has HPV. And people who say they don’t totally have it, they just don’t know it yet. They have it worse than anyone. …
JezebelMoe: Another thing is that withdrawal is actually an equally effective method of birth control (seriously, it says so in small print on the package), and New Yorkers are early adopters.
So we polled all our friends about how much they use the pullout method and immediately felt like self-destructive skanks until Slut Machine, the only other Catholic schoolgirl on our buddy list, came online and confessed she uses withdrawal “all the time.” And if it’s good enough for Slut Machine…
I invite the reader to finish her sentence.
To Susan Walsh, I offer this in praise: that she would make an abysmal feminist (Hooking Up Smart).
Women like this are anathema to me. Jezebel has a huge readership, and I view writers like Moe Tkacik as toxic. (She has since left the mag.) They have every right to speak their minds, but when women graphically depict their sexual experiences, the question of motivation is unavoidable. Why do women like Moe and Tracie want you to know all about their promiscuity?
Because they want to convert you to Slut Machines.
Because they don’t want to be sluts alone.
Because they are miserable and riddled with disease.
How do you know?
It can easily be gleaned from their writings.
So what are you saying? What do they want?
They want for you to have an STD too. They want all the young women in NY, and eventually the whole country to have STDs, because then they won’t be slut shamed anymore. If sluts ruled the world, then they could shame virgins instead (they’re already trying). If every woman has genital herpes, whoo hoo! Sisterhood! If every woman has HPV and compromised fertility, YES! Everyone can sing the “no baby blues” together at 40! Women can keep each other company in oncology offices as they await treatment for their cervical cancer.
Nick Land, Lothrop Stoddard, and Thomas Carlyle
The truth is that neither sex, without some fertilization by the complementary characters of the other, is capable of the highest reaches of human endeavour. Man, without a saving touch of woman in him, is too doltish, too naive and romantic, too easily deluded and lulled to sleep by his imagination to be anything above a cavalryman, a theologian or a bank director. And woman, without some trace of that divine innocence which is masculine, is too harshly the realist for those vast projections of the fancy which lie at the heart of what we call genius. Here, as elsewhere in the universe, the best effects are obtained by a mingling of elements. The wholly manly man lacks the wit necessary to give objective form to his soaring and secret dreams, and the wholly womanly woman is apt to be too cynical a creature to dream at all.
What men, in their egoism, constantly mistake for a deficiency of intelligence in woman is merely an incapacity for mastering that mass of small intellectual tricks, that complex of petty knowledges, that collection of cerebral rubber stamps, which constitutes the chief mental equipment of the average male. A man thinks that he is more intelligent than his wife because he can add up a column of figures more accurately, and because he understands the imbecile jargon of the stock market, and because he is able to distinguish between the ideas of rival politicians, and because he is privy to the minutiae of some sordid and degrading business or profession, say soap-selling or the law. But these empty talents, of course, are not really signs of a profound intelligence; they are, in fact, merely superficial accomplishments, and their acquirement puts little more strain on the mental powers than a chimpanzee suffers in learning how to catch a penny or scratch a match.
— H.L. Mencken, In Defense of Women
Enough recon. We’ve got feminism in our sights; I’m taking the bitch down.
Once again, feminism, like Marxism and libertarianism (Radish 3.6), is a branch of political progressivism. Accordingly, it builds up power democratically; i.e., by stirring up the unthinking mob with a bunch of murderous insurrectionary war cries from the late 18th century. You’ve heard them before; the Revolution’s greatest hits: Liberty. Equality. Human Rights. Democracy. World Peace.
Oh, they sound nice. They’re meant to. But the claws come out eventually. Watch the abolitionist James Redpath (Radish 1.3) seize the moral high ground “with the torch and the rifle” in The Roving Editor (1859), which he dedicated to the murderous insurrectionary John Brown:
I am a Democrat — and nothing more. I believe in humanity and human rights. I recognize nothing as so sacred on earth. Rather than consent to the infringement of the most insignificant or seemingly unimportant of human rights, let races be swept from the face of the earth — let nations be dismembered — let dynasties be dethroned — let laws and governments, religions and reputations be cast out and trodden under feet of men!
“I believe in humanity and human rights.” “Let races be swept from the face of the earth.”
I find that a little historical perspective (what I meant by ‘cladistic analysis’) is helpful when one is forced to grapple with that “group of words, phrases, maxims, and general propositions” identified by Henry Sumner Maine, “which have their root in political theories, not indeed far removed from us by distance of time, but as much forgotten by the mass of mankind as if they had belonged to the remotest antiquity” (Radish 3.4). “Forgotten?” The same theories had the original ‘left wing’ making books and clothes from the skins of men they decapitated, and wigs from the severed heads of women (Carlyle, 1837). This should be one of the first things that spring to mind when someone starts talking about ‘human rights.’ They sounded nice at the time…
The following section covers feminist-flavored Liberty, — better known in this context as “choices,” — which, according to the feminist narrative or ‘metapolitical dictionary’ (Radish 1.2), involves telling women what to do, telling men what to think, and not letting anyone else tell either of them differently. I’m sure you’re looking forward to those mental contortions. In the meantime, we’ll be dismantling the more straightforwardly preposterous lie of feminist-flavored Equality.
“Equality” means equality under the law, according to every feminist ever. Wait, which form of analysis was that? Right, the stupid one. That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the spectacle of feminists trying to make themselves right by definition, like a communist — say, the founder of the ACLU — defining his brand of progressivism to mean “working class liberties.” Speaking of communists, according to the feminist communists at Red Letter Press, “British suffragist and journalist Rebecca West famously said, ‘Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.’ In other words, feminism is a commitment to achieving the equality of the sexes.” So not only are they using the words “feminism,” “radical,” and “equality” incorrectly, they don’t seem to know what “in other words” means.
Katie Mcdonough, another dreary feminist drone, agrees that it was feminist science that discovered women were human after all (Salon): “Feminism! Yeeeeuuuuuuuuch, am I right? Women’s suffrage? The worst. Birth control? Just no. The basic premise that women are human? Don’t even get me started!” Notice that feminists are too stupid to formulate arguments, hence too stupid to understand why they are wrong. Debate of any kind would be futile.
The typically humorless feminists responsible for AreYouAFeminist.com would have us believe that you are a feminist if and only if you believe two things: that “all human beings are equal,” and that “women are human beings.” If you dispute the first, obviously false statement, you’re sent to the world government’s “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” which reads: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” To look for meaning in these nursery rhymes is beneath us.
To be continued… but you can start with this:
You know how you can tell that black people are still oppressed? Because black people are still oppressed. If you claim that you are not a racist person (or, at least, that you’re committed to working your ass off not to be one—which is really the best that any of us can promise), then you must believe that people are fundamentally born equal. So if that’s true, then in a vacuum, factors like skin color should have no effect on anyone’s success. Right? And therefore, if you really believe that all people are created equal, then when you see that drastic racial inequalities exist in the real world, the only thing that you could possibly conclude is that some external force is holding certain people back. Like… racism. Right? So congratulations! You believe in racism! Unless you don’t actually think that people are born equal. And if you don’t believe that people are born equal, then you’re a fucking racist.
Nick Land tries not to slip on the resulting trail of mucus in his seminal series on The Dark Enlightenment:
Does anyone “really believe that people are born equal,” in the way it is understood here? Believe, that is, not only that a formal expectation of equal treatment is a prerequisite for civilized interaction, but that any revealed deviation from substantial equality of outcome is an obvious, unambiguous indication of oppression? That’s “the only thing you could possibly conclude?”
At the very least, Jezebel should be congratulated for expressing the progressive faith in its purest form, entirely uncontaminated by sensitivity to evidence or uncertainty of any kind, casually contemptuous of any relevant research — whether existent or merely conceivable — and supremely confident about its own moral invincibility. If the facts are morally wrong, so much worse for the facts — that’s the only position that could possibly be adopted, even if it’s based upon a mixture of wishful thinking, deliberate ignorance, and insultingly childish lies.
To call the belief in substantial human equality a superstition is to insult superstition. It might be unwarranted to believe in leprechauns, but at least the person who holds to such a belief isn’t watching them not exist, for every waking hour of the day. Human inequality, in contrast, and in all of its abundant multiplicity, is constantly on display, as people exhibit their variations in gender, ethnicity, physical attractiveness, size and shape, strength, health, agility, charm, humor, wit, industriousness, and sociability, among countless other features, traits, abilities, and aspects of their personality, some immediately and conspicuously, some only slowly, over time. To absorb even the slightest fraction of all this and to conclude, in the only way possible, that it is either nothing at all, or a ‘social construct’ and index of oppression, is sheer Gnostic delirium: a commitment beyond all evidence to the existence of a true and good world veiled by appearances. People are not equal, they do not develop equally, their goals and achievements are not equal, and nothing can make them equal. Substantial equality has no relation to reality, except as its systematic negation. Violence on a genocidal scale is required to even approximate to a practical egalitarian program, and if anything less ambitious is attempted, people get around it (some more competently than others).
To take only the most obvious example, anybody with more than one child knows that nobody is born equal (monozygotic twins and clones perhaps excepted). In fact, everybody is born different, in innumerable ways. Even when — as is normally the case — the implications of these differences for life outcomes are difficult to confidently predict, their existence is undeniable, or at least: sincerely undeniable. Of course sincerity, or even minimal cognitive coherence, is not remotely the issue here. Jezebel’s position, whilst impeccable in its political correctness, is not only factually dubious, but rather laughably absurd, and actually — strictly speaking — insane. It dogmatizes a denial of reality so extreme that nobody could genuinely maintain, or even entertain it, let alone plausibly explain or defend it. It is a tenet of faith that cannot be understood, but only asserted, or submitted to, as madness made law, or authoritarian religion.
As Thomas Carlyle wrote in Shooting Niagara (1867):
It is indeed strange how prepossessions and delusions seize upon whole communities of men; no basis in the notion they have formed, yet everybody adopting it, everybody finding the whole world agree with him in it, and accept it as an axiom of Euclid; and, in the universal repetition and reverberation, taking all contradiction of it as insult, and a sign of malicious insanity, hardly to be borne with patience. “For who can change the opinion of these people?” as our Divus Imperator says. No wisest of mortals. This people cannot be convinced out of its “axiom of Euclid” by any reasoning whatsoever; on the contrary, all the world assenting, and continually repeating and reverberating, there soon comes that singular phenomenon, which the Germans call Schwärmerey (‘enthusiasm’ is our poor Greek equivalent), which simply means ‘Swarmery,’ or the ‘Gathering of Men in Swarms,’ and what prodigies they are in the habit of doing and believing, when thrown into that miraculous condition. … Singular, in the case of human swarms, with what perfection of unanimity and quasi-religious conviction the stupidest absurdities can be received as axioms of Euclid, nay as articles of faith, which you are not only to believe, unless malignantly insane, but are (if you have any honour or morality) to push into practice, and without delay see done, if your soul would live! Divine commandment to vote (“Manhood Suffrage,” — Horsehood, Doghood ditto not yet treated of); universal “Glorious Liberty” (to Sons of the Devil in overwhelming majority, as would appear); count of Heads the God-appointed way in this Universe, all other ways Devil-appointed; in one brief word, which includes whatever of palpable incredibility and delirious absurdity, universally believed, can be uttered or imagined on these points, “the equality of man,” any man equal to any other; Quashee Nigger to Socrates or Shakspeare; Judas Iscariot to Jesus Christ; — and Bedlam and Gehenna equal to the New Jerusalem, shall we say?
The idea of “Natural Equality” is one of the most pernicious delusions that has ever afflicted mankind. It is a figment of the human imagination. Nature knows no equality. The most cursory examination of natural phenomena reveals the presence of a Law of Inequality as universal and inflexible as the Law of Gravitation. The evolution of life is the most striking instance of this fundamental truth. Evolution is a process of differentiation — of increasing differentiation — from the simple one-celled bit of protoplasm to the infinitely differentiated, complex life forms of the present day.
… Thus, we see that evolution means a process of ever-growing inequality. There is, in fact, no such word as “equality” in nature’s lexicon. With an increasingly uneven hand she distributes health, beauty, vigor, intelligence, genius — all the qualities which confer on their possessors superiority over their fellows.
Now, in the face of all this, how has the delusion of “natural equality” obtained — and retained — so stubborn a hold on mankind? …
Here is obviously something requiring careful analysis. As a matter of fact, the passion for “natural” equality seems to spring primarily from certain impulses of the ego, the self; particularly from the impulses of self-presentation and self-esteem. Every individual is inevitably the centre of his world, and instinctively tends to regard his own existence and well-being as matters of supreme importance. … In his heart of hearts, each individual feels that he is really a person of importance. No matter how low may be his capacities, no matter how egregious his failures, no matter how unfavorable the judgment of his fellows; still his inborn instincts of self-preservation and self-love whisper that he should survive and prosper, that “things are not right,” and that if the world were properly ordered he would be much better placed.
Fear and wounded vanity thus inspire the individual to resent unfavorable status, and this resentment tends to take the form of protest against “injustice.” Injustice of what? Of “fate,” “nature,” “circumstances,” perhaps; yet, more often, injustice of persons — individually or collectively (i.e., “society”). But (argues the discontented ego), since all this is unjust, those better placed persons have no “right” to succeed where he fails. Though more fortunate, they are not really his superiors. He is “as good as they are.” Hence, either he should be up with them — or they should be down with him. “We are all men. We are all equal!”
Such, in a nutshell; is the train of thought — or rather of feeling — underlying the idea of “natural equality.” It is, of course, evident that the idea springs primarily from the emotions, however much it may “rationalize” itself by intellectual arguments. Being basically emotional, it is impervious to reason, and when confronted by hard facts it takes refuge in mystic faith. All levelling doctrines (including, of course, the various brands of modem Socialism) are, in the last analysis, not intellectual concepts, but religious cults. This is strikingly shown by recent events. During the past ten years biology and kindred sciences have refuted practically all the intellectual arguments on which the doctrine of “natural equality” relies. But has this destroyed the doctrine? Not at all. Its devoted followers either ignore biology, or elaborate pseudobiological fallacies (which we will later examine), or, lastly, lose their tempers, show their teeth, and swear to kill their opponents and get their own way somehow — which is just what the extreme “proletarian” ragings mean. Quite useless to point out to such zealots the inequalities of nature. Their answer is that superior endowment is itself a basic injustice (“injustice” of nature!) which it is society’s duty to remedy by equalizing rewards regardless of ability or service. This is exemplified by that stock Socialist formula: Distribution according to “needs.”
Of course, we’ve learned a lot about human nature since the time of Mencken and Stoddard (Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett, ‘The difference myth,’ The Boston Globe, 2007):
Scientists have turned up some intriguing findings of anatomical differences between the sexes.
I have spoken with some disdain of the suffragette. What is the matter with her, fundamentally, is simple: she is a woman who has stupidly carried her envy of certain of the superficial privileges of men to such a point that it takes on the character of an obsession, and makes her blind to their valueless and often chiefly imaginary character. In particular, she centres this frenzy of hers upon one definite privilege, to wit, the alleged privilege of promiscuity in amour, the modern droit du seigneur. Read the books of the chief lady Savonarolas, and you will find running through them an hysterical denunciation of what is called the double standard of morality; there is, indeed, a whole literature devoted exclusively to it. The existence of this double standard seems to drive the poor girls half frantic. They bellow raucously for its abrogation, and demand that the frivolous male be visited with even more idiotic penalties than those which now visit the aberrant female; some even advocate gravely his mutilation by surgery, that he may be forced into rectitude by a physical disability for sin.
All this, of course, is hocus-pocus, and the judicious are not deceived by it for an instant. What these virtuous beldames actually desire in their hearts is not that the male be reduced to chemical purity, but that the franchise of dalliance be extended to themselves. The most elementary acquaintance with Freudian psychology exposes their secret animus. Unable to ensnare males under the present system, or at all events, unable to ensnare males sufficiently appetizing to arouse the envy of other women, they leap to the theory that it would be easier if the rules were less exacting.
— H.L. Mencken, In Defense of Women
To be continued… but you can start with this: Jaclyn Friedman, self-proclaimed “slut,” letting her impressionable readers know that although “sluthood” is technically a “choice,” it’s not “just” a choice: it’s the “liberating,” “healing,” “soul-fulfilling” choice — and don’t listen to anyone who says otherwise! They’re trying to take away your “choice” (Feministe):
I’m telling you this because it’s important for everyone to understand: Sluthood isn’t a disease, or a wrong path, or a trend that’s ruining our youth. It isn’t just for detached, unemotional women who “fuck like men,” (as if that actually meant something), consequences be damned. It isn’t ever inevitable that sluthood should inspire violence or shame. Sluthood isn’t just a choice we should let women make because women should be free to make even “bad” choices. It’s a choice we should all have access to because it has the potential to be liberating. Healing. Soul-fulfilling. I’m telling you this because sluthood saved me, in a small but life-altering way, and I want it to be available to you if you ever think it could save you, too. Or if you want it for any other reason at all. And because even if you don’t ever want sluthood for yourself, you’re going to be called upon to support a slut. I’m telling you this because when that happens, I want you to say yes.
Her piece gleaned over 150 more or less horrifying (positive) comments in one month, including: “Thank you for validating my feelings and fears,” “This article makes me want to BE YOU!,” “I am in your exact state right now…you have inspired me!!!!,” “Perhaps I will try out your path to healing,” “I am on the edge of where this idea germinated for you, and I’m so thankful to be given such a generous and open option to consider for myself,” “I have found this article at precisely the right moment in my life, when I have made the decision to embark upon my own Adventure in Sluthood in order to heal myself,” “Your post is absolutely amazing but I guess it just points to how much I have internalized ‘shame’ that for me this seems so foreign,” “I have slept with now 8 guys, the most recent being a bigger deal because… he has a girlfriend… this has reminded me that i should have no regrets and keep on moving forward,” an obligatory “women’s right to sluttiness should be socially accepted,” and best of all,
I really appreciate having stumbled upon this, as it has really made me wonder about my own life — I am 22 and have been in a serious relationship for two years. He’s amazing, and I think he might be “the One,” but he is the only man I have ever slept with. This bothers me because… I really feel like I may be missing out on something that is important for defining who I am.
Mission accomplished, Ms. Friedman.
(To be continued.)
Want to learn more about the topics covered in this issue of Radish? We recommend the following resources. (We do not, however, necessarily endorse all opinions expressed in them: some are not nearly extreme enough.)
Full of Grace, Seasoned with Salt
“One woman’s view of the fallen world around her as she continues to shed worldly, often damaging philosophies — namely, feminism.” Explore the archives:
She may now be found at Unmasking Feminism:
Classic Roissy in DC
An Assortment of Recent Roissy
- ‘Mainstream Feminist Outlets Try To Bury Their Association With Hugo Schwyzer’
- ‘Are Antidepressants Ruining American Women?’
- ‘The Nuts And Bolts Of Cathedral Indoctrination’
- ‘The Wall, In Fast Forward’
- ‘The Silent Castrati’
- ‘Are Beta Males Responsible For Feminism?’