there is no possibility of an anti-feminist left
June 21, 2015 § 1 Comment
The following comment was removed from this article which appeared on Bill Moyers & Co.
The irony is that its removal proves the point of the comment.
It’s a nightmare. We hear over and over again how “feminism helps men too,” and certainly there is no debate on gender which is socially acceptable unless it’s within the terms feminists dictate and yet nobody wants to talk about what it means that so many men are stuck living with parents in post “mancession” America where unskilled and increasingly precarious labor no longer pays enough to live on, education costs half as much as a mortgage, and the cost of renting an apartment in most markets has never in recent memory dwarfed the average income to the degree to which it current does.
We can pretend that somehow this is just as horrible for women, but we all know there isn’t nearly as much social stigma attached to it. Living at home is not going to significantly impact their ability to find a mate, enjoy a basic level of dignity, have reasonable social lives, and be able to meet basic social, emotional, and psychological needs that everyone has.
Most women can have a reasonable expectation of still being able to date. They are not shut out of the most important aspects of social life entirely and rendered socially and sexually invisible because of their professional and financial situation. Many can even expect to be rescued from it by somebody who has the financial means to support them, and even if they can’t, they aren’t necessarily reduced to a laughingstock for having fallen into their predicament.
This is not the case for men. Men can’t expect some woman to throw them a life preserver, nor are they ever allowed to point this out without being attacked for it. Men aren’t even allowed their own feelings on the matter – y’know, the feelings that feminists promise we’ll be allowed to have if they get their way – without being ridiculed or accused. They either perform economically like mules or else they don’t exist because women tie men’s value as human beings to their ability to provide and achieve social status. Men do not tie women’s value as human beings to these things.
The growing number of men who can’t perform economically are never supposed to consider the systemic or cultural context in which they experience the social ostracization that economic and professional failure earns them. Like the garden variety working class reactionary workhorse and apologist for capitalism who finds himself without a job, they are supposed to be ashamed of it, to blame themselves, and never question the origin of their condition or speak of it in any public forum. The left can easily recognize how this atomization-through-shame hobbles our ability to respond to the problem of a failing economic system because such a recognition leads inexorably to a criticism of capitalism, but it can never recognize the gender component of it, because such a recognition would lead inexorably to a criticism of women.
It’s pathetic. Such a society is in fact hideous and worthy of contempt.
We can’t even discuss the gender dimension of poverty as it applies to men because it would mean actually having to hold women responsible for their expectations of the opposite sex. God forbid we ever even recognize that those expectations would have any impact on our culture or men’s lives. That would require us to stop thinking of women as if they are children and start recognizing that they are fully responsible moral and civic agents who represent fully half the culture and have just as much, if not more, say-so in what socially acceptable forms of masculinity look like. That is to say that they have just as much responsibility for our given arrangement, to say nothing of how it developed historically.
Indeed, to even raise these questions opens one up to the suspicion that he has adopted a socially unacceptable form of masculinity and this is why everybody will go on pretending and not talking about it, so keen are they to avoid being accused of being a loser or a woman hater.
The reality is that not being able to live on your own is devastating for men because women expect them to be able to do this for the same reason they expect men to defer to women’s supposed weakness, oppression, and victimhood and forever play the hero who proves he’s not the bad guy by demonstrating his commitment to protect the damsels from the patriarchal oppressors, the rapists and misogynists, the supposed male villains. Heros rarely live with mommy and daddy, and our strong independent women apparently are still expecting men to play hero, at least when it’s convenient for women.
There is, of course, no reciprocal expectation of women. Once you realize this, you suddenly realize that men and women aren’t in this together. The class struggle, such as it is, is far different for men and women since women, apparently, have a radically different relationship to capitalism and to the power structure if they are still expecting men to succeed professionally and financially without the reciprocal social pressure placed upon them from men. One could even argue that women’s expectations are an important – if not the most important – mechanism of social control that the power structure and the ruling class has at its disposal.
After all, are we so sure that there is any other convincing set of incentives and disincentives which would compel men’s engagement with institutions like school, work, and commerce other than the promise of social integration and being able to start and support families? What other carrot does the ruling class have in order to convince men to green light their wars, work in their offices and factories, and pay fealty to their political and economic system by participating in it? What other stick would be powerful enough to compel men to form gangs, engage in criminality, or risk death and injury in the military or through attempts at revolution other than the failure to “be a man” and affect the independence and self reliance that women expect?
The privileged oppressors whose lives are “like a video game set to easy” are three times as likely to be homeless as women. Let’s all pretend this isn’t a gender issue or avoid women’s contribution to the outcome.
It should be obvious that what men expect of women is typically within women’s control while the same cannot be said of women’s expectations of men. Men expect women to take care of themselves physically, which is something that any woman is fully capable of doing, but women expect men to have social status, earn income, achieve professional status and so on. She can go on a diet, but what does he do in the worst economy since the 1930s? Overthrow the government?
Something so basic to human well being is for women tethered to and predicated upon nothing more than simple and straightforward male preferences which she can actually adhere to if she is so inclined, but for men it is tethered to and predicated upon macro-aggregate historical and economic forces that he may have very little control over. Therefore, we can conclude that the intra-female competition to meet male expectations will not have an economic and political consequence in the way that the intra-male competition to meet female expectations will. There is no political or economic consequence to men’s preferences, but that cannot be said of women’s preferences.
If we recognize this fact, then we have to start asking what contribution women’s expectations make to any given economic and political arrangement, since it’s not as if successfully qualifying for women’s intimacy is a side issue in men’s lives. Clearly it’s front and center. Its the basic mechanism through which the whole social fabric is woven.
But we can’t ask these questions about women’s expectations or beliefs about the opposite sex, now can we? Feminism promises us that we’ll be able to “express our feelings” in a post-patriarchal gender egalitarian utopia, but I can be pretty certain we won’t be allowed to express *these* feelings, now will we? The truth is that men are not allowed their own experience of gender if it should produce “feelings” which women do not identify with, understand, and approve of.
As ever, in gender egalitarian land, men are expected to defer to women, I guess.
Sooner or later, we’re going to have to have this conversation. The fact that we haven’t had it yet, even after forty years of feminist scholarship and advocacy should lend credence to the view that feminism has nothing to do with equality.
The right wing is insane, but I have to be honest, I’m starting to drift away from the left because it doesn’t seem like they can grapple with these issues. I highly doubt I’m alone in this.
*There’s no possibility of even discussing these issues because of feminist gender bigotry.*
And that’s what it is: Bigotry. It’s reached the point that I don’t even see much difference between them and the social and religious conservative right. Two sides to the same worthless coin. It’s hopeless.