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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Frat Boy Blues

I’ve been laying off the serious-sauce recently, because frankly, I don’t really care that much about politics and so on any more. It just reaches a certain point, and you say to yourself, ‘What is it I’m even mad about?’ Besides, between two jobs and trying to get blitzed two nights a week without falling ass-backwards into full blown obesity, I have enough on my mind without the most recent ‘Shocker! President you elected who has never been successful at anything, ever, including running an oil company and a baseball team? Incompetent at something else!’ story to mess with me.

But today, sadly, I want to talk about something a bit more substantial.

Meghan O’Rourke argues that men are wrong (and, on some level, chauvinistic) for presuming to question the supposed windfall female sexual ‘liberation’ had led to. Characteristic of her criticism is this paragraph:
Of course, there remains important stock-taking to do, and Mansfield and Kass assume with good reason that the results of the sexual revolution are imperfect. But if the men who assume they have their pulse on the female experience were really paying attention, they might realize they could entrust some of this work to women themselves. Mansfield is making his gallant argument at a moment when there are plenty of women raising concerns that he might well appreciate, among them Ariel Levy in her recent book Female Chauvinist Pigs. Levy argues that we do live in a culture that celebrates—in its magazines, TV, and movies—an unbridled sexuality that hasn't served women well. And she claims that the proliferation of pornography has posed some intractable problems. But her proposed solutions don't presume that experience follows a tidy script of wanting to get a ring on our finger right away. She takes into account lesbians (who mostly can't get married) and women who aren't looking for long-term commitment. Her willingness to rethink ingrained liberal assumptions—and to make women attentive to the consequences of promiscuous Girls Gone Wild-style behavior—is appealingly unpredictable.

Or, to abusively paraphrase: ‘Mansfield and Kass may be correct in many of their presumptions, if not their conclusions; however they are not female and therefore are not entitled to question anything Ovarian.’

I realize that I am The Oppressor, what being a white male, but isn’t this sort of a dumb argument? For one, many of the advances of feminism rely on changing society – and entails altering the definitions that men attribute to their own sex. Second wave feminism is all well and good, but if it doesn’t change the attitudes of the entrenched Patriarchy, then it’s not really going to have much serious effect. In order for most of the sexual advancements of the last few decades (and probably the next few) to take hold, the requisite cross-gender condemnation had to occur. So if women are able, despite this boundary, to question the definitions and actions of men in their dealings with women, why is a man inherently precluded from examining (academically) the effects of a female behavior on the female population?

Moreover, why is a woman more apt to speak generally about women? Isn’t the point sort of that all women are not the same, easily pigeonholed into wanting marriage and family or otherwise? Because it seems like, if you’re going to treat women as a class of individuals rather than as a determinative group, you sort of have to accept that a woman can’t speak for Womankind any more or less than a man can.

Her methodology aside, the conclusion she criticizes isn’t even all that out there. Society in the present-tense pressures women to be more sexually active and explorative than it’s possible they would ideally be happy with. This is almost considered a foregone conclusion to most people, though within liberal academia it’s considered a huge sin to point it out. The reason being, when you get into issues like this there’s a tacit assumption that you’re trying to control or unliberate women, and reduce them to non-sexually expressive beings.

Meghan O’Rourke is a decent writer, and her thoughts on porn culture (linked at the bottom of the above article) are really interesting. But in this case, she’s just being hypocritical and naïve.

cranked out at 7:25 AM | |

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