am fully aware that one of my major faults as a student of history is to be
deeply influenced by the last book I read. That trait might show up more in
this piece than in others; if so, my apologies. However, as Roy Jenkins noted,
Winston Churchill was sometimes prone to the same fault, so I may be in good
matter how urgently Miss Toksvig might feel the need for such a movement, one
might wonder just whether or not it’s necessary in a country that’s already had
a female Prime Minister. Across the bits of the world that do things, women
hold positions of great responsibility in all walks of life.
currently reading Hanna Rosin’s ‘The End of Men’. Its
provocative title notwithstanding, it’s an extremely serious study of how women
are, well, taking over; indeed in many sectors, such as American pharmacy,
already have taken over.
I’ve been working my way through it, a thought has occurred to me that I
thought I’d like to share. As a now thrice-disabled retired professional male,
for many years I’ve been kind of cheesed off with the media’s depictions of
males in general. I may be many things; but I am not the stupid, incompetent, neutered
non-entity best described as Goofball Sitcom Dad, and neither is any man I
know. The lack of respect for males exhibited by many of Ms.
Rosin’s interviewees is alarming. These ladies don’t know me, but they don’t
seem to like me.
thought that occurred to me is that the advance of womankind over the past
sixty years has effectively been achieved not by a process of emancipation, but
by one of conquest instead. The lack of regard that some of Ms. Rosin’s
interviewees show for men is exactly congruent with the contempt that
conquerors usually show for the conquered. The media’s almost universally
negative depictions of lower and middle-class men are exactly congruent with
the scorn with which conquerors treat the conquered.
old and deeply unfunny Irish joke, ‘Sure now, sir, if I was going there I
wouldn’t start from here’ has a basis in truth. It is a universal trait of
conquered people that they will say anything that they think the conqueror/policeman/landlord/rent
collector wants to hear, solely in order to get them off their back. This breeds
dishonesty, and eventually a natural preference for lies over truth. In time,
they also become stubbornly lazy and obstructive, passive resistance usually
their only acceptable weapon.
such societies, the males become deracinated; many take to drink and substance
abuse as a means of coping with the lack of meaningful roles available to them.
In turn, such societies often become matriarchies, with many of the matriarchs later
exhibiting megalomania, usually expressed in the belief that they can do and
say anything in the home without fear of consequences.
this might not have been her aim, Ms. Rosin’s book suggests to me that the
deracination and economic disempowerment of lower and middle-class American men
over the past fifty years has been so comprehensive that the stage of the
megalomaniac matriarch might already have been reached. This analysis might be wholly
incorrect; but every time you see a lower or middle-class American male
depicted in a
movie, television show or advertisement as being stupid, incompetent and, most tellingly, dishonest for no apparent reason other than that he is male, you might just be seeing propaganda of
the very same type that suggested my Irish ancestors were lazy and stupid, fit only to be the butt of jokes, merely because they were Irish; or, in a
different degree, that the Third Reich used to churn out about the Russians and
find this thought disturbing. Sir John Seeley’s aphorism that the British
acquired an empire in a fit of absent-mindedness really ought to be treated for
what it is; an aphorism as ephemeral as it is misleading. The act of conquest
is usually one of the coldest calculation; and when the ladies were out burning
their bras all those years ago, I don’t imagine that the men who cheered them
on thought that some of the incendiaries might resent their fellow-travellers
as much as they did their perceived oppressors.
a good Erasmian liberal humanist, I really don’t have a problem with the idea
of women’s rights per se; someone who’s written as much about civil liberties
as I have is really just interested in human rights, with the chromosomal endowments of the human in question being entirely incidental to the issue at hand. What is seriously
alarming is the idea of one group using the perfectly reasonable demand for
equal treatment as human beings (which in my view does not extend to having the
right to get a bullet in the head on the battlefield) as a means of achieving
dominance over another; and that’s what seems to have happened to what might be
quite large swathes of lower and middle-class American men.
was, of course, no grand conspiracy for this to happen; it just did. As conquests go, it might be unique in not having happened as a result of calculation. Nor did it happen as a result of absent-mindedness, but really by accident. Feminism
is sexual nationalism, meaning that its worst expressions are as bigoted and
hateful as all other forms of nationalism wherever they’re found. There would
no doubt have been some feminists at the start of the feminist era who would
have been happy for all men to be actively subjugated. However, these would
have been a crank fringe of the type that blights all movements. Everyone else
just wanted rights, or perhaps more properly opportunities, that at that time
were beyond their reach. The perpetual corporate desire to suppress wages might
have had something to do with it, as might the desire for votes among
politicians aware that women were becoming more vocal and publicly engaged. Yet
as alarmed as many women might be at the thought of such a conquest having taken place, I find it hard to think that it hasn’t; and it might have unforeseen
this afternoon, I’ve finished Henry Kissinger’s ‘World Order'. It’s as
scholarly and authoritative as you’d expect from Dr. Kissinger. I can’t help
wondering whether, deep down, he really would have preferred to have been on the team that negotiated the Treaty of Westphalia, or been a delegate at the
Congress of Vienna, rather than part of the Nixon White House; but we must all
live in our own times. His non-admission admission that he struggles with
modern technology shows that his diplomatic touch remains adroit in his
nineties, and that he hasn’t lost his sense of humour.
is also extremely candid in his admission of his initial support for the invasion
of Iraq. On the subject of whether he supported arming the Mujahideen against
the Soviets in Afghanistan, he has nothing to say.
Qaeda is, of course, the child of the Mujahideen; the geopolitical equivalent
of what might be described in feminist terms as an unplanned pregnancy caused
by an irresponsible one-night stand with the loser down the street; he looked
good in the bar, but not so good the morning after. The former, hostile
organisation is the unintended consequence of Western support for the latter,
possibility that the lower and middle-class men of America have effectively
been conquered raises disturbing possibilities. One unintended consequence
might be that some men will eventually start to resist. This is what some of the
conquered always do. The man always portrayed as a slacker, glued to the couch
with beer in hand, might in fact be an American Gandhi. However, another consequence, although one so extreme that it might be considered impossible, must also be considered.
lost track of the number of times I’ve read that one of the major reasons
expeditionary wars start is because of a surfeit of young men with few sexual
opportunities and a consequent need to blow off steam. In his book ‘The
Templars’, Piers Paul Read cites this as a reason for both the initial
expansion of Islam and the First Crusade. I’ve seen it written of the
Conquistadors (O happy accident that delivered the Americas to Ferdinand and
Isabella in the year of the Conquest of Granada, meaning they didn’t ever
really have to deal with having an unemployed army on their hands!). In his
very interesting book ‘Terror In The Mind Of God’, Mark Juergensmeyer alludes
to this as having been one of the reasons behind the Second Intifada.
is America going to do with an increasing number of young men living in a world
in which they cannot succeed, don’t rate as potential marriage partners and
perhaps can’t even get a date? With the greatest respect to America and my American readers and friends, I think it's a recipe for a dangerous world.
Labels: The Blogger's Deepest Thoughts