It’s been a while since I’ve done a good solid metacommentary piece, and I’ve been meaning to get back into it here. So even though this isn’t local, and plenty of liberal blogs made fun of this days ago, I’m going to give this crap a try.
What are women for?
Go fuck yourself. Jesus, I’m not even past the title and I’m just saying, “go fuck yourself.” This could be a long one.
In a simpler time Sigmund Freud struggled to understand what women want. Today the significant battle is over what women are for. None of our culture warriors are anywhere close to settling the matter. The prevailing answer is the non-answer, a Newt-worthy challenge to the premise that insists the real purpose of women is nothing in particular.
Maybe because it’s only a question a jackass would ask. Maybe, and I know this will sound silly, the billions of women are individual, autonomous humans and not “for” anyone or anything.
Also, did Freud live in a simpler time? Didn’t he live through the first World War? Oh, hey there’s a good chance you’ll have children who die before adolescence. Everyone is on cocaine. Simpler, simpler times!
Such an answer may or may not be a landmark in the progress of the human race, but it is anathema to most conservatives of any political party, and for that reason conservative folkways, prejudices, and ideals are once again on trial.
Are those even words? I feel like each of those words are words, but together, I don’t think any of them are, strictly speaking.
Rick Santorum may be easing up on the rhetorical throttle as his fortunes seem on the upswing, but everyone else feels their civilization is in peril, and the bile rises accordingly. On birth control, the Catholic Church is portrayed as the extremist fringe of its own faithful. On abortion, activists labor to extort Komen for the Cure.
Rick Santorum is still as much a jackass as ever, the Catholic hierarchy is out of step with its membership. And the Komen debacle was only about abortion insofar as they decided to make Planned Parenthood’s cancer screenings about abortion. If that’s the sign of civilization in peril, well good news, civilization isn’t in peril.
As MSNBC’s Chris Hayes observes, Republicans are being excoriated for voting against the Violence Against Women Act, for pushing transvaginal ultrasounds, and for holding an all-male hearing on birth control. Conservatives are even being reviled for “slut-shaming” sexy CPAC attendees. “Is there no one in the upper echelon of the GOP establishment,” Hayes wonders, “who can explain to them how all this looks when strung together?”
And, they’re all quite bad on their own. They wouldn’t get excoriated if they acted like women deserve respect and should be allowed to make their own choices. This isn’t a perception problem, it’s a human decency problem.
Alas, Carly Fiorina is not quite upper echelon. But before liberals ritually invoke the glass ceiling, they might want to conduct an agonizing reappraisal of their own. If the conservative movement’s nominal unity is actually belied by a stunning range of right-wing views on the status and purpose of women (and believe me, it is), the left’s alleged philosophical uniformity on the woman question is a complete fabrication — despite the fanatical discipline and norm-enforcement of much of the liberal cultural establishment.
Is the rest of this going to be an honest, thoughtful look at sexism in the Democratic party? If so, Meg Whitman might have been the better choice there. A writer who appreciates crafting a piece might then circle back to the time that she was called a whore. As a Hillary Clinton supporter in 2008, and someone who has tried to call out sexism in my own party, I would actually appreciate that effort. And while the Daily Caller isn’t really the best place to write that, it’s still a legit story. Or I’m wrong about all that and more nonsense:
The purpose of lifting the left’s Potemkin skirts is not to score tits for tats. Anyone serious about thinking through the role of women in today’s civilization is doing worthless work unless they take the controversies on the right hand in hand with the unsuccessfully suppressed tensions on the opposite side of the spectrum, where disagreements far more volatile in their profundity roil respectable liberalism.
OK, well that paragraph certainly feels like it’s only there to push up the word count. But is that a reference to Potemkin villages? The implication that nobody in the Democratic party actually is a woman? That they’re just fake women? Whaaaat?
Left opinion is no longer defined by the comfortably careworn liberal consensus that Sandra Day O’Connor conveyed in the abortive plurality decision of Planned Parenthood v. Casey. There, the metaphysical trouble kicked up by the elective killing of fetuses was relegated to the realm of life’s cosmic mysteries — a place liberals contemptuously deride as beneath human dignity when referenced in terms of the suffering of the crucified Christ. No judge, O’Connor and company concluded, could judge what it so much as meant to end fetal life.
I’m starting a band called “Abortive Plurality.” Also, is a Reagan appointee who was often the swing vote on the Supreme Court part of “the comfortably careworn liberal consensus” or is she a Potemkin skirt?
Lurking beneath this procedural non-judgmentalism was a stubbornly conspicuous judgmental end. Roe couldn’t be overturned, the plurality argued, because Americans might think the Supreme Court was bending to public pressure. The court’s solution was to bend to the public reality that millions of women had altered what it meant to be a woman — and what status that meaning conferred — by having or supporting abortions. On the bogus theory that all linear change is progress, the plurality embraced the immoderate view that a descent into barbarism is impossible.
I’m pretty sure the point of that argument wasn’t that we should all be barbarians.
Continued on Page 2 >>
Oh fuck, fine. I’ll press on.
Liberals, of course, generally and characteristically deny that abortion is barbaric. But the Casey decision substituted a progressive passivity for that very active moral claim. Today, the left is increasingly torn between old-school modern liberals who think like O’Connor and new-school postmodern liberals who find their cognitive elders in thrall to a haute-bourgeois conventionality that the deep premises of their own thought seem to strip of authority.
I. Well. Huh? You know. Um, use an editor next time.
So postmodern Cynthia Nixon, who used to be straight but now isn’t, tells The New York Times Sunday Magazine exactly what establishment liberals don’t want to hear when it comes to the sexual politics of women — “you don’t get to define my gayness for me.” As Laurie Essig understated it in The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Such talk is heresy among some people in the gay advocacy and the reaction was both immediate and predictable.” Nixon was swiftly accused by the left’s cultural policemen of “aiding and abetting bigots and bashers.”
I’m not sure what makes Cynthia Nixon postmodern, but whatever. She and the gay rights advocates all want the same thing (gay rights), so hell of a rift. She can define her sexuality however she wants, like any adult.
The piece forgot to define what the other side wants for her. Maybe say why it’s heresy instead of just quoting someone who says that it is. Then we can see for ourselves if these disagreements are actual disagreements on the left, and maybe how to resolve them.
Lip service is often paid to the impression that the point of empowering women is to empower them to do whatever they want, but much of the left stops well short of the more radical implications of that easy answer. The left’s culture of celebration is hamstrung by the very assertions of should and shouldn’t that contemporary women have inevitably come to make — as the ongoing debate over the advisability of marriage reveals. Reihan Salam has hinted that typically left-wing implications of academic theories like “erotic capital,” including mainstreaming prostitution, point in directions quite at odds with the dominant but failing framework of liberal sexual politics.
I don’t know what erotic capital means, but how about this: women do what you like. If you want to get married, great! If you want to stay single, great! If you’re for monogamy, great! If you want to still see other people while you’re in a relationship, great! If you want children, great! If you don’t, great! You know, like women are autonomous humans who know what’s best for themselves.
To the growing discomfort of many, that framework hasn’t come anywhere close to answering even the most basic questions about what women are for — despite pretty much universal recognition across the political spectrum that a civilization of men, for men, and by men is no civilization at all, a monstrously barbaric, bloody, and brutal enterprise. A few inherently meaningful implications about what women are for flow naturally from this wise and enduring consensus, but no faction of conservatives or liberals has figured out how to fully grasp, translate, and reconcile them in the context of our political life.
WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU EVEN TALKING ABOUT? Anyway, how about using ironically in a way that’s guaranteed to piss me off and then finish up with nonsense:
Ironically, one of the best places to look for a way out of the impasse is the strain of left feminism that insists an inherently unique female “voice” actually exists. That’s a claim about nature. Much good would come from a broader recognition that women have a privileged relationship with the natural world. That’s a relationship which must receive its social due — if masculinity in its inherent and imitative varieties (including imitation by quasi-feminized males of quasi-masculinized females!) is not to conquer the world.