Saturday, 15 January 2011
An interesting new blog called Gynotheory has recently opened offering a number of interesting perspectives on feminism, men's rights and the impact of culture on gender relations. Gynotheory discusses these issues from a post-modern vantage, refusing to inhere to any one analytical paradigm. I approve of this approach, partly because of its intellectual integrity but mainly because it remains acutely alert to culture - a hugely significant dynamic, in my view, one central to the Anglobitch Thesis.
The men's movement is dividing into old-style and new-style theorists. The old-style masculinists broadly want to return to 'conservative' values and extol 'traditional' gender relations, citing evolutionary psychology or Judeo-Christianity to justify these beliefs. The new-style masculinists - and I am one of these, as is the Gynotheory writer - derive our perspective from cultural analysis and consider both left and right to be equally misandrist in the Anglo-American context. Further, we are wary of invoking biological arguments such as sociobiology, since these can be twisted against men to justify anti-male discrimination, even woman-worship (a grave potential danger of Male Studies, in our view).
The distinction is rather like the distinction between Generals Robert E. Lee and U.S. Grant - Lee was the last of the great old-style commanders, while Grant represented the first of the great new-style commanders. In time, I believe more and more MRAs will follow our new-style masculinism out of sheer necessity. Moreover, the old-style project is daily refuted by the simple fact that Anglo-American 'conservatives' are as anti-male as Anglo-American leftists - if not more so. As we know, this is because Anglo culture - being puritanical - is inherently misandrist, reflexively vilifying men as sexualized beings. Consequently, Anglo-American 'conservatism' merely restates the age-old 'gynocentrism' implicit in Anglo culture.
Let us consider the problems of old-style masculinism at length:
While Angry Harry is a brilliant writer and activist, his reflexive conflation of feminism with left-Marxism troubles me. Yes, many feminists profess a strong affiliation to the left but then, a good many of these adopt a rightist affiliation and revert to gender-traditionalism where it suits them - criminal sentencing and lifeboat priorities, for instance. Besides, there is little evidence that 'conservative' governments are 'friends to men' - just consider the British Conservative party, who promote misandrist legislation at every turn and cave in to feminist demands 'at the drop of a (top) hat'. American readers will of course be aware that the Republican party has no better record, tacitly viewing all men as abusive via VAWA while unthinkingly setting all women atop pedestals, whatever their conduct. The Conservative Anglo-American media - Fox News, The Daily Mail, The Sun - all are explicitly misandrist yet all profess a 'conservative' orientation. In short, the old-style MRA obsession with 'conservatism' is absurd, since Anglo-American conservatives are just as anti-male as leftists.
Culture, not politics, best explains the misandrist nature of Anglo feminism. Both the left and the right exist within that cultural context, and it is notable that both Anglo conservatives and leftists remain stoutly puritanical and misandrist. Both the left and the right view men as rapist louts who must be suppressed, while all women are victims who must be exalted. And this misandry has a long pedigree in the Anglosphere, as might be expected - it did not erupt in the 1960s. Gynotheory implicitly accepts this, focussing on the 'traditional' devaluation of males in disasters like the Titanic.
My issue with gynotheory's historical analysis is that it conflates all empires as gynocentric, which was actually not the case. In Rome, for instance, even aristocratic women had very few rights and the Empire's expansion was motivated by a masculine desire for wealth and self-aggrandisement, not any desire to protect women. By contrast, the Anglo-Saxon empires - first the British and now the American - fit his analysis perfectly, misandrist empires where men are expendable fodder to shield the rights of hyper-privileged Entitlement Princesses. The difference? Puritanism - the Anglo-Americans have it, the Romans did not.
Evolutionary psychology is a powerful modern paradigm, especially in tandem with the more rigorous science of genetics. However, it is fraught with danger for masculinists to extol evolutionary psychology as their only working paradigm, partly because it precludes socio/cultural dynamics but also because it can be used to legitimate female advantage.
For example, it is certainly a fact that men are viewed as more expendable in most western nations. Evolutionary psychology can partly explain this - a small number of survivor males can re-stock a ravaged community, while a similar group with few females will die out. However, the presence of such misandry in modern civilization might be partly the result of social complexity processes embedding archaic mores in modern contexts. Besides, cultural factors also play a part - in the anglosphere, a female must also be white, young, upper middle-class, Anglo and virginal to be fully bewailed by the Anglo media (i.e. Madeleine McCann). None of those things are 'biological' factors as such - all are cultural.
It is also notable that Evolutionary Psychology tends to be an Anglo-Saxon discipline, and thus strongly inflected with puritanical and gynocratic Anglo values. In my two previous posts I posited an alternative interpretation of evolutionary history to explain the inchoate nature of female sexuality - and predictably drew flak from Anglo numb-skulls trying to impose matriarchal values on the slaughterhouse of prehistory. In short, the Darwinian paradigm can be interpreted in many ways, depending on the culture of the interpreter, and not all these interpretations accord with Anglo gynocentrism. To patriarchal Asiatics, for whom the rule of 'strong men' like Tamerlane and Stalin has been the norm, female mate-selection seems a rather more ephemeral force than it does to Anglo-Saxons.
Ultimately, the very fact that Evolutionary Psychology exists as a science shows men can transcend our biological programming - or at least regard it as rational outsiders. Were it not the case, there would be no men's movement the question the manifold injustices men experience. The better Game writers all acknowledge this conceptual self-transcendence, promoting a mocking, post-modern detachment from their own activities. If we just accepted that all men are expendable and all women are angels, why are we bothering to be MRAs? We would just accede to the misandrist propaganda and become manginas like Tommy Fleming and David Futrelle. The fact that we don't proves the limits of evolutionary psychology. Post-feminist women have in any case reneged on their primary biological function (child-bearing), creating an entirely new social compact beyond the scope of Darwinian thought. The New-Style MRA programme is a supra-biological response to supra-biological conditions: we can do no other.
Old-Style MRAs hold a delusional view of feminism. They broadly believe it can and will be 'rolled back' to be replaced by an archaic patriarchy where all men are respected and allowed to reproduce sans Game or sperm banks. All this is juvenile thinking. Societies are complex entities ruled by non-linear processes that are effectively irreversible. Female contraception, careers and 'rights' will never be rescinded and any assumption that they will is naive and adolescent. Given this reality, invoking 'conservatism' and unqualified biological determinism are potentially dangerous, lending support to the 'rights plus privileges' agenda that women already enjoy.
What really impressed me about the Gynotheory blog is the author's implicit acceptance of the new conditions. Most men have no reason to be chivalrous in the modern context; invoking traditional chivalry in an era when most men are third class citizens is a suicidal project. Instead, the author calls for western men to build a new lifestyle that negotiates the whirlpools of misandrist gender-feminism while retaining fidelity to masculine objectivity and independence. As T S Eliot wrote in the wake of the First World War (a specific disaster for western manhood), 'these fragments I have shored against my ruins'. This is surely a commendable approach and one which will bear much fruit in the longer term.
While we are discussing blogs, I really like the turn Scarecrow's Men-Factor blog is taking. Dick Masterson taught the manosphere that humour could be a devastating weapon in the fight against misandrist gender-feminism and Men-Factor has certainly taken that lesson to heart. In the presence of humour a fool understands her stupidity instantly, partly because humour elides exposition while demanding considerable 'deconstructive' prowess on the part of the reader/viewer.
Feminists (and women generally) lack the capacity for sophisticated humour, partly because of the lower female median IQ but also because of their crass inability to think 'outside the box' - a by-product of their miniscule amygdalas. The images on that blog are worthy of Monty Python and have clearly upset the witless Peter Futrelle with their puckish drollery.
And that's got to be good.