December 6, 2017

In the Wake of the #MeToo Movement

Marc Esadrian

No matter where one may reside on the sociopolitical spectrum, I believe everyone can agree that the Harvey Weinstein exposé had beneficial effects. It was a watershed event, uncovering the hypocrisy living right under the noses of the typically left-leaning Hollywood elite, where sexual predation upon ambitious actresses turned out to be one of their biggest “open secrets.” Weinstein apparently paid off sexual harassment accusers for decades while continuing to run his media giant, the Weinstein Company, but social comeuppance eventually caught up. It’s satisfying to see a rich, powerful hypocrite brought down a notch over his lecherous buffoonery. Predation enjoying impunity due to its power, status, or political hypocrisy is something most sensible people can find common ground to stand against.

But as reports of sexual misconduct accusations rippling and ricocheting across Hollywood and Washington become an almost daily event, it seems the rhetoric of the Me Too movement has gotten a bit out of hand, infecting the political and corporate world with a strange brand of witch hunting neo-puritanism that colors men as predators and women as victims in need of swift protection. At this moment in time, the increasing lynch mob that is Me Too sees the slightest gesture of sexual or romantic interest in the workplace as grounds for intervention, if not inquisition. For most reasonable human beings, this should be a concerning spectacle, as most humans have accrued at least a few skeletons in their closets during their lifetimes. The climate today now has many men and women alike wondering if their sexual improprieties will crawl out of the woodwork and lead to the loss of their careers and jobs. It seems that minor sexual inferences—even ambiguous transgressions—are now fertile ground for indignation and harsh corporate review, no matter how long ago they’re purported to have happened. And far too many now accept the rightness of it all as a foregone conclusion.

Whether the reported acts or events are given mature objectivity, much less anything resembling due process, seems entirely irrelevant for the movement at hand: if a woman points a finger, there is a moral imperative now to believe her, or else we’re conspiring agents of what Natasha Lennard might robotically regurgitate as the “system of domination and patriarchal hierarchy.” To believe a rape or misconduct allegation is now synonymous with “believing women” as a whole. You’re either all in with the absolute victimhood of women or out of touch. How did we get here?

A much earlier “Me Too” movement was started over a decade ago by feminist Tarana Burke, with the intent to empower black women who were sexual assault survivors. Today, celebrities like Alyssa Milano and Rose McGowan (an alleged Weinstein victim) have given the Me Too movement greater visibility with perhaps a well-meaning push, resulting in the now popular #MeToo Twitter tag. Time Magazine just named all the “silence breakers” of the movement the #1 Person(s) of the Year, in fact. So, like it or not, the politics of painting women as victims has been given yet another new lease. True, occasional men are mentioned as so-called silence breakers as well, but the real driving force behind the movement seems quite obvious: to unseat powerful men from positions of influence and respect in media, journalism, state leadership, and the corporate sector under the pretense of showing the world how many hidden victims there are of male sexual abuse, despite complex matters of consent and complicity in so-called victims, or the misinterpretations of honest mistakes of judgment.

What the hell is happening? We now live in a country where people lose their jobs when accused of something without proof or trial or in some cases with anonymous accusers? —Kristy Alley

The idea that women are always innocent and need special protection in the workplace from sexual innuendos and ribald humor isn’t new; it far predates Me Too, but with this movement, the polarizing rhetoric, especially in a neurotic culture of microaggressions and victimhood, has increased tenfold. Take, for instance, the incendiary declaration that anyone who questions the validity of misconduct allegations is a “victim shamer.” No one wants to catch that bullet in our politically correct climate today, especially businesses and high-profile individuals. But not every celebrity with a vagina is on board with the witch hunt. Actress Kristy Alley irreverently asserted that it’s madness for people to lose their jobs over anonymous allegations. “What the hell is happening? We now live in a country where people lose their jobs when accused of something without proof or trial or in some cases with anonymous accusers?” the actress tweeted.

During a Q&A prior to the 20th-anniversary screening of the film Wag the Dog, comedian and political commentator John Oliver pestered Dustin Hoffman on stage in front of a live audience over recent allegations levied against the actor. Hoffman was beside himself over having to defend against Oliver’s surprise attack indictments. “The so-called alleged comments that are made are truth now,” Hoffman angrily stated while managing to keep his composure, “and if you try to defend it, you’re guilty.” Oliver remained visibly unsympathetic, sucking the air out of the room for more than thirty minutes as the other guest speakers and audience members remained awkwardly silent, until eventually someone shouted at Oliver to move on. (He didn’t.)

In a discussion over the subject on Twitter, a starry-eyed fan commended Mr. Oliver for his bravery in confronting the actor. I found her take on Oliver’s abusive badgering tone deaf, as bullying someone while riding on the wave of politically correct outrage over the sex scandal du jour is hardly something I’d consider noble, much less brave. Many religious tribunals, medieval rabble rousers, and inquisitors have come before him. What Oliver was really doing falls easily under the category of grandstanding to court controversy by putting due process on the chopping block in favor of politically motivated delirium over women, sex, and propriety.

These are, by no means, new subjects. At a time when a tidal wave of righteous anger is riding high, it’s easy to go along with the crowd and kick smeared male CEOs, actors, and politicians in the proverbial balls, even if the accusers are anonymous and facts immaterial. Indeed, the heads of the accused are rolling in the court of public opinion. People are losing their jobs and being defamed, in some cases over allegations made by faceless sources. Decades of activism have lead us to this moment of vindication for feminists who have long insisted upon and decried the ubiquity of “rape culture.” But rest assured there will likely be a reckoning for the hysteria of framing an aggressive flirtation or unwanted touch with grotesque lechery, wanton abuse of power, or even rape.

Were I a feminist, I’d feel a little uneasy right about now. Politically supported scandals born of whisper campaigns and anonymous accusers that destroy careers and leave reputations in tatters can result in counter-strokes we can’t anticipate, one emerging example being the new standard of evidence legitimized en masse of late: accusation sans evidence commuted to trial and execution by social media. It’s validating for them now, but might not feel so good when the shoe is on the other foot. Nonetheless, the precedent has been set, and what’s good for the goose may be good for the gander, later on down the road in some shape or form. It also remains to be seen how far we’re willing to take the disease of political correctness and to what depths certain groups wish to harness it as a tool of control and discord will sink to. Finally, after the party is over, how many of these accusations will turn out to be rubbish? What retaliations will emerge against this new culture of shaming and vilifying men? How will this change the structure of the workplace? Might #MeToo backfire and result in less women being hired in sensitive positions? That all waits in the wings for those currently celebrating this viral spectacle of revenge politics.

Me Too has realized feminism’s dream of causing real harm to men under the religion of helping victims—real or imagined. Due process is clearly an afterthought and not on the agenda.

I can’t help but wonder what will arrive next in the wake of this crusade, though in all honestly I needn’t to wonder too long. It strikes me as no coincidence that the desired targets of Me Too have been the usual suspects: powerful males. This turmoil all too cozily serves the agenda of extreme feminist politics mewing about the evils of patriarchy’s imaginary power and dominance. We know that what modern feminism wants is the destruction of this sacred MacGuffin in its increasingly metastasizing conspiracy theories. More clearly, it conspires to injure maleness and make that injury fashionable, desirable, and now morally necessary. Already, feminist icons are suggesting a shift in the sexes for better leadership, so as to avoid things like this from happening. Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg has gone on record for describing her solution to the male problem. “Ultimately, the thing that will bring the most change to our culture is the one I’ve been writing and talking about for a long time: having more women with more power,” she posted.

Sandberg’s claim is hopelessly blinkered. She seems to assume that giving more women power is the cure-all, that it will steer our culture from scandal, corruption, and harassment. In between the lines, this claim asserts that the abuse of power is a male problem, but in reality, it’s a human problem. Though I realize it’s sacrilegious to imagine a female engaging in workplace harassment, it does happen. If you don’t believe me, click here and here. And here’s something that reflects well upon men, but is seldom (if ever) spoken about: the reported percentage of women engaging in “misconduct” is actually much higher, as males who encounter female aggression, sexual or psychological, are generally less apt to complain about it. But Sandberg’s comments don’t seem to want to recognize women as anything but victims in need of the same old formula: empowerment, ad nauseam. Viva la revolucion.

Me Too has realized feminism’s dream of causing real harm to men under the religion of helping victims—real or imagined. Due process is clearly an afterthought and not on the agenda. This isn’t anything new for feminism, as a whole, for it has always carefully harnessed victimhood for the sake of aggrandizing its agendas. In a response to the power it perceives as the root cause of evil, it too has created its own powers, attacking males and maleness by fighting perceived structural darkness with its own counter-structural darkness under the distorted assumption that a “bold, scandalous feminism” is more effective at obtaining the standard of justice it seeks—even if that standard is impossible to attain. But such unrealism is not unusual for a religion. Religion, as a rule, sets impossible goals for its followers, and feminism increasingly feels like a religion based upon a struggle against a mythical organization of boogeymen, not a rational response to matters of corruption and power in human societies. Feminism and its adherents nonetheless aggressively cut through the irreducible complexities of human nature with a blunt, rusty razor they imagine is Occam’s, but this is a brand of idealistic and destructive naivety that is now causing serious material harm.  Absent a Neo-Marxist totalitarian regime that socializes the male sex into second-class citizenry (and don’t dare doubt that many would absolutely go for that), feminism’s dream of an ideal world where all women are perfectly protected by a maternal government will never be realized. Human nature is an animal nature. It’s messy, complex, and couldn’t care less about the screaming indignation of self-righteous political movements based upon idealistic fantasies. Humans, both male and female, will use power to their advantage. Being sexual creatures, humans, both male and female, have the natural capacity to exploit the intersections of sex and power, and will. Short of Orwellian thought control that stunts our drives and desires, our species will countlessly commit these brazen, daring, and sometimes outright aggressive acts. Swapping men out with women won’t change these facts, or the reality that romantic/sexual interests can’t be safely walled off from the workplace. Our real goal should be to create mechanisms in the workplace that prevent gross abuse of power, not wage an open, opportunistic war against the male sex.

12-07-17: Updated to add that Senator Al Franken, a man I admire greatly for his stance on net neutrality and mandatory binding arbitration, has been pressured to resign from his seat due to (you guessed it) unproven allegations directed toward him. I invite you to watch this video and find reason to believe he’s not a good advocate for women. Nonetheless, he has been pressured to step down, despite zero evidence of any real wrongdoing.

12-08-17: Updated to add that signs of the backlash mentioned in this article have already begun. Click here to read more.

November 11, 2017

Are Universities Necessary Anymore?

Marc Esadrian

The premise of the title above sounds absurd, and certainly is at face value. Most will agree that the halls of higher education are vital to a healthy society. On the subject of education, Benjamin Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” It’s rather foolish to argue against the wisdom of this statement. Education is, after all, a key to a happy, interesting, more meaningful, and more productive life in our society. Education helps to equip us for the future. It provides pathways to necessary skills and expands our minds. It sharpens our intellects and widens our understanding of ourselves and of the world. It teaches us critical thinking and guards us against thought-killing political propaganda and religious ignorance.

The question this editorial raises, more accurately, is whether universities are effectively teaching these skills and ideas to a significant degree any longer. In the social science faculty at Lund University in Sweden, Erik Ringmar cites a rule of thumb used by the staff that at least 40% of the articles on the reading list of a course should be written by women. According to them, this is necessary to give female academics a more prominent voice. After having barely passed the scrutiny of a university-appointed committee in order to teach a course on the rise of right-wing ideas and their ties to fascism, Ringmar was interrupted and bullied by a couple of students in his class who wanted to understand the roles of women during the period of history he was referencing, even though the focus of his lecture had nothing whatsoever to do with gender roles. Nonetheless, his course on old reactionaries was policed and scrutinized because it did not accommodate the quota for the affirmative action of female authors.

“My course passed the course committee but it was a close call. The student representative on the committee was very critical of my ‘lack of focus on gender issues,’ and a number of other committee members agreed. After an extensive discussion, the course was approved — as long as I promised to include Judith Butler, a well-known contemporary post-structuralist feminist, among the nineteenth-century male reactionaries.” —Erik Ringmar

Elsewhere, a proposed Associated Students of the University of California Riverside (ASUCR) Gender Studies requirement unanimously passed in 2014, supporting the implementation of gender studies requirement courses at ASUCR.  This year, they continued to affirm a resolution in support of gender studies requirements, which, if approved by the university’s academic senate, would make such courses mandatory for all incoming students. Not everyone finds this such a great idea. “Such an inherently liberal-leaning class is likely to be perceived as a form of propaganda or indoctrination on behalf of the liberal-leaning administration that would be charged with approving this requirement,” cautiously writes the editorial board of The Highlander. Their solution? “One [alternative] possibility would be turning this requirement into a series of modules that teach various aspects of gender studies.” It’s here we realize how steeped in the game of political correctness even dissenters are in universities, when the suggested alternative is not outright dismissal of such ludicrous thought policing, but of teaching social engineering agendas in sneakier, less invasive “modules.” Nonetheless, the editorial board adds that “there would need to be strict enforcement of this module (e.g. a hold on quarterly registration for anyone who has not completed it), so that students cannot simply ignore it.” So, an instrument of thought control it remains, only in another form. In attempting quasi-dissent against mandatory gender studies, the editors at The Highlander only accomplish demonstrating how hopelessly attached they are to the foregone conclusions of left-leaning thought control.

Meanwhile, a strange reality of compelled speech has formed through the Canadian Bill C-16 and the Law Society of Upper Canada’s new Statement of Principles. Bill C-16, a well-meaning anti-discrimination bill, adds prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the Canadian Human Rights Act, amends the criminal code to protect people against hate speech, and allows judges to make arbitrary calls on whether crimes are motivated by hate and bigotry or something more innocent. In tandem, the Law Society of Upper Canada’s updated Statement of Principles contains an oath all lawyers must undertake in their practices: to support strategies in the legal workplace (and beyond it, where appropriate) that prioritize diversity and inclusion. A strong, independent bar is commonly considered a check and balance against regulatory oppression, but now a condition of your ability to practice law in Ontario is to promise you will make the rule of diversity and inclusion a priority—or else.

Combined, these legal conspiracies invoke chilling effects on college campuses for professors like Jordan Peterson, clinical psychologist and tenured professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, who are increasingly compelled to alter their language to appease the persistent creep of ethics committees in Canadian universities. At the senate hearing of Bill C-16, Peterson was moved to explain why he would refuse to undergo “anti unconscious bias training,” citing, among other things, a lack of credible science behind it. “The science surrounding this so-called charge of implicit bias that’s associated with perception is by no means settled…and is being used absolutely inappropriately,” he stated before the hearing. The fact that a man of his stature must appear before a hearing and articulate why he will not comply with the arrival of nakedly Orwelian regulations seems obscene and laughable, if only it were some form of elaborate satire. But it’s not, and should strike us as a rather concerning mark of left-leaning authoritarianism and its incremental advance toward arresting free speech.

From the day-to-day culture on university grounds, Peterson is seeing a consuming obsession with politically correct speech, emboldened by the new law, especially in the realm of gender-neutral pronouns pushed by the transgender movement. He’s beset on all sides by mobs of narcissistic, non-binary quasi-marxists who are beside themselves as to why he refuses to say their words. “Many disciplines [in universities] have turned into ideological factories,” he explains to Joe Rogan in a discussion about the gender identity controversy, and why he feels that universities do more harm than good now.  “The repository of human wisdom and the attempt to expand that may have already moved outside the universities.” I find that to be an incredibly interesting idea. Universities have accreditation mechanisms that justify their existence, of course, but as Mr. Peterson quips, “they’re doing everything as fast as possible to make their accreditation valueless, anyway.” If universities like Evergreen are any example, he may very well be right about that.

When I think of higher learning teachers, I idealize them as men and women who possess deep and well-rounded knowledge in a particular field they study/practice (Mr. Peterson is exemplary in this respect). While subject to accepted principles of professional responsibility, professors have the natural right to teach, sans interference of some higher authority telling them what to say and how to say it. As a matter of obvious intellectual integrity, they should not be forced to instruct against their conscience, against what they know to be correct for the courses they teach, or forced to include material in their curricula that is irrelevant and/or superfluous, other than to serve a political agenda. But stories we’re hearing out of university culture seem to alarmingly contradict this simple and straightforward premise.

Meanwhile, students who attend universities are navigating the winding roads of life, eager to light the way toward fulfillment and prosperity. They want to equip themselves with the tools needed to succeed in the years to come. They want to expand their minds, not narrow them. They want knowledge, not propaganda. But is this what young minds are being taught today by universities? Or are these places of higher learning, as Peterson so aptly described, little more than ideological factories generating waves of indoctrinated “social justice warriors” agitating for change—change against the patriarchy, change against white maleness, change against the “gender binary,” change against the invisible tyranny of implicit bias? Can we honestly say this is really about education anymore and not designed discord with the intent to intimidate others into thought conformity?

It seems that accreditation is one of the few things left that non-technical universities have going for them. But how long will that conspiracy last? How long will it be before the monetary and psychic vice of so-called higher education is considered too much? How long can students be ground up through the system and expected to pay off the indentured servitude of college loan debt? Maybe the task of education in this increasingly connected age is indeed falling upon the individual and less upon top-heavy institutions. Perhaps sending our children to these bloated, costly, inefficient, and self-aggrandizing echo chambers of activist inanity is not the answer. Maybe the revolution of human knowledge is indeed right at our fingertips, as Peterson suggests. We need only reach out, listen, and learn to think for ourselves, detached from the machinations of politically correct social engineering. Universities are still a reality young minds must contend with, and certainly their value can’t be completely discounted, but I think it’s time we stopped teaching a near religious awe of these institutions and mindless conformity to them. Mark Twain’s words seem more apropos than ever before when we consider intellectual integrity in the modern age: “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

January 27, 2016

Is There a Masculinity Crisis in European Culture?

Marc Esadrian

On January 16th, a parade of Dutch men, reacting to Syrian immigrant sexual assaults upon women in Cologne Germany on New Years Eve, demonstrated solidarity with women against the rapes and muggings perpetrated upon them. How did they descend upon the Dutch capital so their voices would be heard? By dressing up in miniskirts. Of course.

So this tends to make one naturally wonder: did this brave march turn an otherwise urgent public discourse in the aftermath of these attacks in which women were openly assaulted with nary a man to help them into an embarrassing feminist white knight exhibition? Female journalist Iben Thranholm, in an op-ed on entitled Europe’s tragedy: Too Much Angela Merkel, Too Little Masculinity, seems to think so, having this to say about the ineffectual if not concerning spectacle of questionable manhood on the streets of Europe:

“Instead of a single-minded focus on imposing liberal feminist values on Muslim males, it might well be much more beneficial for Europeans to consider if the feminist war on masculinity might be the underlying cause of the weakness of European culture—feeble and defenseless as it is—against the culture of immigrants and refugees. The irony is that the vacuum feminism has created means that women become victims of an aggressive male culture.”

In a follow-up interview on In The Now, Ms. Thranholm further went on to make a point about the importance of masculinity in society:

“Many men today in society are insecure about their own masculinity. And [this] means that society is going to be unbalanced… there is a certain order in this world. And it’s based on the kind of [complements] between masculine and feminine—and if one part is lost, there will be consequences.”

Of course, this goes against everything we are told to discuss and hold sacred in polite company today, but a question niggles in the backs of our minds: is it possible the erosive coercion of mothering, multicultural politics in Europe has resulted in a less secure civilization there, overall?

“They [the attackers] felt like they were in power and that they could do anything with the women who were out in the street partying. They touched us everywhere. It was truly terrible.”

Has the polished trap of political correctness paralyzed its leaders and citizenry from questioning the brutally foolish things that are happening before their very eyes? My answer to both questions—not surprisingly, I’m sure—is yes. When we confiscate arms from men in general society, emasculate them with feminist indoctrination from the cradle, and encourage them to parade around in feminized solidarity with women in reaction to aggressive males from other cultures, how well does this bode for the health—or longevity—of that society in general? When the barbarians are at the gates, so to speak, who will be there to answer with adequate opposing force? Enfeebled men showing solidarity with women in skirts? I think not.

Ms. Thranholm, in my view, is absolutely correct in regard to the true culprits behind this problem and the pathway to address it, but her opinions, as educated as they are from her experiences in traveling the world, are simply not the accepted wisdom today. Atrophied by extreme left-wing politics, we have reached somewhat of a Tolkienish moment where the ring of the feminist world view that has been so seductively slipped upon the collective finger is now rather difficult to remove. How do we begin to recover the lost code of masculinity in the wake of feminism’s emasculating influence? How do we even begin to suggest going about doing so?

Indeed, feminist apologists have only been galvanized by the sexual assaults from the Syrian Muslim refugees. In a masochistic example of maternal European tolerance caught up in the faith of its own unrealistic beliefs, they seek to impose their ideas upon the flood of immigration entering their borders rather than examine the very faults of those ideas, which stand not a single chance against the inherent aggression of desperate religio-fascist outsiders. And the faults of such ideas are evident to those who pay close attention rather than obediently regurgitate tired, politically correct platitudes of far-left ideologies.

“Men of Germany, these people are killing your children, they are killing your women. We need your protection.”

When men are seen as enemies to women, when maleness is cumulatively demonized by feminist intellectualism and men and boys are made to feel guilty for being male, when men are conditioned to bend to the whims of modern women and made to believe the very word masculinity is a lie—a grand conspiracy of a bygone age—how can they regain their strength in the face of real and present danger to their society? When the time comes for male warriors rather than marching milquetoasts in skirts, who will have the courage to take up the spear, much less possess the stamina to wield one in the first place? Who, for instance, took up the task of protecting these women that night? One female victim stated: “They [the attackers] felt like they were in power and that they could do anything with the women who were out in the street partying. They touched us everywhere. It was truly terrible.” Other comments from victims go on to reveal that there wasn’t much help to be had that night. A sixteen year-old German female pleads to the men in her country directly in a self-made video: “Men of Germany, these people are killing your children, they are killing your women. We need your protection.” Indeed, one naturally wonders where all the good men showing solidarity were that night.

Now, add insult to injury in the form of the Dutch march. Indeed, the embarrassing and laughable pageant of men in miniskirts demonstrating their public commitment to women is irksome for a number of reasons. Not only is it about as ineffectual as writing inane anti-rape hashtags on Twitter, but the idea that men need to show “solidarity” with women in the first place is a political shell game from the very start. Males in any social system naturally show unity with and concern for their females. This makes up the protective fabric of a society, town, or tribe. It is feminism that sows division between the sexes by vilifying males in the first place, becoming that which, conversely, exposes women to more danger in an overly polite, hyper-inclusive, and excessively bureaucratic society. As one Internet user expressed to feminists in frustration, “defend yourselves. Aren’t you ‘strong and independent’? Fish and bicycles? Zero fucks given.”

Perhaps if it wasn’t for these divisive, paralyzing politics (and politicians) in the first place, the men of Cologne would have acted with far less restraint to the organized attack of a thousand drunk immigrants bent on rape and assault of its citizenry. Thankfully for women in Germany, it seems there are still men left willing to show real masculine solidarity with women, but they aren’t wearing skirts, I assure you.

June 15, 2015

Against Men or Reason?

Marc Esadrian

An article mentioned recently in our community discussion was quite timely. It allowed me to comment on some thoughts I’ve had after having engaged in a debate (loosely termed) with a self-described radical feminist who unequivocally agreed with Taylor Swift’s recent smugly produced pot stir—in a lad magazine no less—that “misogyny is ingrained in people from birth.” The gratuitous count of young, blinkered heads bobbing in agreement over that pearl of wisdom is by no means a surprise to me, but it’s always far more curious to engage the dealers of extreme rhetoric rather than its buyers, and so I inevitably ended up turning my attention to someone in the discussion with fiery feminist convictions that went far above and beyond Ms. Swift’s inane social commentary.

This person, who identified as a feminist, painted a pretty terrible foregone conclusion of men, if not a conspiratorial depiction of reality, to boot. Along with much of her angry and condescending argument, she brought out the laws protect rapists canard, too (which she could never quite adequately defend, of course). Weighing her ripostes after I cited failing marriages and declining male attendance in college, I saw vindictive, if not apathetic dismissal of men—a sort of callous, mean-spirited pleasure in hearing accounts of their disenfranchisement. I inevitably concluded, based upon this person’s willful bias and absolute contempt for anything male, that no, she wasn’t a liberal at all. Liberalism is supposed to consider the viewpoints and criticisms of all with rationality and compassion, not just favor a particular group. In the sickly light of her gross caricatures and hateful rants, I realized that I, the malevolent founder of Humbled Females, was more liberal in theory and practice than she could ever possibly be.

So it was with some considerable pleasure that I read Brendan O’Neil’s commentary entitled Feminism and the Turn Against Enlightenment, for I saw it concluded something similar, among its many points: feminism today, though it stands beside and interweaves itself throughout liberal politics like a pernicious weed, isn’t so liberal in theory or practice. I know that I have, time and time again, encountered incredibly close-minded people engaging in feminist apologia who insist that they are liberal, but it was not until recently that I realized this glaring contradiction. I’m sure the irony of that observation has dawned on others long before either O’Neil or myself, but it is a bit of a moment when, after having kept your mind open to hear out the views of the other side, you realize the crumby hypocrisy of it all.

But here is where O’Neil and I part ways a little: he claims that feminism isn’t really anti-male so much as a depart from reason. He goes on quite impressively to explain this point of view, and while I often do see feminism as anti-intellectual for all its verbose logical pretzelism and political correctness, I’m not certain how one making a critical commentary of modern feminism could not acknowledge its inherent anti-maleness. Its rhetorically negative slant on men, in fact, is one of the larger reasons why I don’t think feminism is often of the liberal mind, though it may window dress as such. Despite the best of intentions that some of its constituents have, feminism so often feels like an over-glorified hate group advocating for women, and I do feel it should be called out as such. This is not to say that what O’Neil says about feminism being anti-intellectual and thus effectively misanthropic is incorrect, but it is to put a finger on observations he himself makes about how the institutions of education are attacking maleness with plenty of straw:

“The new feminism is strikingly concerned with exposing what it—and the political and cultural elites more broadly—views as the folly of ‘male ideas.’”

If we recognize how feminism is shading something to be attacked because it involves male ownership, even something so unassailable as the sound arts of reason and the disciplines of the sciences, it’s really just one step removed from the premise of demonizing men in general, all the while conveniently tearing down the very ways in which we can call it out on its folly. While feminism railing against the supposed evils of structuralism is accurately described by O’Neil, the vehicle by which this attack on reason is justified cannot and should not, ever, be ignored. Attacking what is perceived to be male (whether it really is or not) is already a foregone conclusion as being good in the halls of higher education. How is this not a misandrous accomplishment of feminism, which claims to stand for the dignity and compassion of both sexes?

Demonizing men has gone beyond propaganda in education, however: it is a practice notably employed by feminist advocacy research, like the preposterous “1 in 5” rape myth produced by a poorly constructed telephone survey with overly broad definitions of rape by the CDC (which was later used, by the way, to justify federal funding for colleges in their fight against “rape culture,” a term RAINN itself denounced). The gender pay gap myth is another often reinforced and repeated lie, as O’Neil also points out, long after it has been pointed out that any perceived gap is a result of lifestyle and career choices between men and women. As I mentioned earlier, we just had one of the most popular female pop singers in the world declare that society is steeped in misogyny, despite the fact that it’s increasingly quite the opposite in developed nations.

And that is the crux of what I see as terribly subversive and erosive about feminism today. In debating feminists and their paranoid views about patriarchy and the ever-evaporating unicorn that is “male entitlement,” it seems, increasingly, that it doesn’t even matter if you bring good countering facts to the table, or a reasoned argument, for that matter. They will skip past the facts and instead of debating, engage in indignant deflection, ad hominem, or many, many political speeches. Speak about subjects like rape, equal pay, or the supposed scourge of the objectification of women with people randomly on the streets, in the neighborhood, or in your own family, and you’ll likely hear feminist myths regurgitated unthinkingly, to much head nodding of agreement. It’s for this reason that modern feminism is more akin to a belief movement (or a psychological disorder) that, as O’Neil points out, views all of humanity through a lens of distrust and a motherly need to control it. We shouldn’t discount how much of that mistrust has been directed at men, however, as well as feminist apologists attributing anything to males as corrupt and evil by default. If we can recognize the effigy that is “all things male” in feminist theory, we can certainly see how misandry is being spread, particularly when under the insidious rhetoric that it’s all “for a good cause.”

I understand that avoiding the fall into the typical anti-male argument is a reasonable attempt to move critical commentary of feminism away from its association with the train wreck that is the men’s rights movement. That men’s rights activists have lost their brand and have often become caricatures unto themselves does not mean they also don’t have some good points about feminism’s double-standards, biases, and outright lies. Of course, most who identify as feminists are not hardened lesbians who wake up each morning with intense conscious hatred of men first thing on their minds. Many well-meaning feminists, young and old and male and female alike, will recite the mantra that they are advocating for the rights of men as well as women, but in reality, the larger gestalt of the politics they support does, in fact, perpetuate an ongoing anti-male bias, to lesser or greater degrees, no matter how much the political machine that is feminism attempts to rebrand itself away from the ugliness of it’s deeper, albeit “hidden” extremism. For those who actually believe feminism stands for equal consideration of the sexes, I would offer a simple thought exercise. Outside of pointing to examples of how both sexes are clearly not equally honored or advocated for by feminism, I’d ask anyone to consider how, if the genders were swapped out in the “ism,” it wouldn’t sound quite right. If masculinism doesn’t feel like it would be entirely sympathetic to women and girls, you’d probably be right. Why is it we can’t see this with feminism in the modern age, where men and women are, without a doubt, equal in their rights?

There is a movement unhappy with many of the current dispensations and inequities throughout the world today—a movement that desires equality not just for women, but for men, too, and for people of all colors and creeds. It’s not a deeply entrenched and divisive sociopolitical movement that manifests itself through biased research and corrupt philosophy, hiding behind a shield of political correctness. It’s not engaged in antagonistic information and media warfare, or angry polemics against crumbling vestiges of classical patriarchy. This force is as open-source as it gets and as humanitarian as any personal modus operandi could possibly be, though it’s not something up for lazy grabs by lazy minds that would rather regurgitate tired if not politically expedient platitudes. You could call it egalitarianism. You could call it secular humanism. You could simply label it the equal rights movement. I prefer to call it something else, and the sum of its goodness proves feminism has no exclusive rights to ideas like compassion and humanism, or modern thought on the sexes. That thing is, simply, reason.

February 26, 2015

Speaking Up

By Katie B.

Last week I was having a conversation with my sister over tea when she asked if I’d seen _______’s new YouTube video. At 25 my sister is eight years younger than I am and, while I do a decent job of keeping up with what’s relevant, she’s usually one step ahead of me when it comes to pop culture. I explained that I had no idea who _______ was. I assumed that she was another teenage girl singing songs about her broken heart. My sister had a good chuckle at my expense before explaining that this person is a young YouTube video blogger, public sex educator, and feminist. She then expressed her surprise at my never having heard of her because she is exactly the type of speaker that my sister assumed I would love.

Wait, what?

My sister proceeded to show me the video she’d referenced, sure that I would love it and that I would be so excited to have this public figure’s material to use with the young women I volunteer with in a local youth program. With some confusion I watched _______’s video entitled, “Why I’m A Feminist….” By the end of her stereotypical rant I was bewildered. How was it possible that in all of the years of our adulthood I had somehow managed to give my sister the impression that these were the sorts of ideas and politics I supported? As my true sentiments fall so far in the opposite direction of _______, I knew I had never said anything about these topics in conversation that should have led her to believe that the thoughts and opinions in that video in any way echoed my own.

That’s when realization set in to the tune of a growing and uncomfortable hum in my head. It was true, I’d never given my sister a specific reason to believe that my opinions were in line with this speaker or any number of other popular feminists, but I’d also never given her any reason not to believe that they were, either. A few moments of silence passed between the end of the video and me awkwardly mumbling, “But… I’m not a feminist.” My sister’s response was to once again chuckle at me for being out of touch and leave the room.

I wondered if silence could be misconstrued as acceptance. If so, was it really the virtue I’d built it up in my mind to be?

Way to go, me. I didn’t know what was actually a poorer reflection of my strong feelings and opinions about feminism, sexuality, and male advocacy: _______’s chirpy rhetoric or my barely audible denial.

The hum in the back of my head grew louder. It gave me a sense that I was somehow missing the boat and that there was something more that I should be doing or saying. I’d always felt comfortable with the idea that I didn’t need to get on a soapbox about what I believe in. In fact, I felt confident that it wasn’t appropriate and that, as a submissive female, I was suited to social silence. But there was an undeniable feeling inside me warning me that perhaps, somehow, I was wrong. I wondered if silence could be misconstrued as acceptance. If so, was it really the virtue I’d built it up in my mind to be?

The truth was that the thought of the alternative made me nervous, so I set it aside and settled back into my comfort zone. However, fate conspired once again to give me occasion to rethink how or if I should use my voice. Several days after the conversation with my sister I received a text from a friend asking for my opinion of a popular female blogger. My friend said she had a feeling that I would be familiar with the blogger in question and have an opinion—and she wasn’t wrong. As it turned out the blogger in question is a person I’ve run into a lot in various blogging circles. She also happens to be a passionate advocate for new wave feminism and extremely vocal about perceived “male privilege.” To say that our viewpoints butt heads would be quite an understatement, but considering that those viewpoints weren’t something I had ever discussed with my friend, I found myself hesitating before answering.

Once again I had to acknowledge that silence had put me in somewhat of an awkward position. I had no idea what my friend’s expectations were when it came to my answer because I knew she had no basis for understanding where my views were rooted. Bolstered by the fact that (to my knowledge, at least) she hadn’t already made an assumption about my position, I decided to try my hand at a more firm response than the one I’d muttered to my sister.

“I think she’s a good writer, but I find that her aggressive stance on feminism and male privilege to be so much in contrast with my own views that I have trouble justifying what good I may otherwise find in her writing.” And then I pushed send.

Sure, it wasn’t quite a declaration, but it was enough in that moment to open a window. What happened next hit me at an even deeper level than realizing that some of my deepest convictions were hidden from even my own sister. My friend’s response first expressed her disappointment in the blogger’s politics. Then she asked to know more about my own beliefs on the issues mentioned. What resulted was a long and honest conversation in which my friend not only thanked me for being willing to share what some might consider to be controversial opinions in our current culture but also expressed how much more confident she felt about her own beliefs. She admitted to often not trusting her gut when it came to issues like feminism because the voices on the other side were so many, but she also asserted that having just one conversation was already making her feel less intimidated and more willing to stand up for what she believed.

At that point I understood what it was that felt so wrong in what I had been doing. If my family and close friends, who don’t necessarily share all of my views on female submission (but who otherwise know me very well) have no idea what ideology I support, is it possible that the submissive females I interact with could be making the same assumptions? And how many women are left confused or deceived as they search for truth while so many of us stand in the shadows, clinging to ideas about submission, such as our own definitions of propriety, what constitutes grace or poise, and self-imposed silence?

All of the reasons I had for remaining silent and for politely refusing to engage in the cultural conversation about gender roles, sexuality, and men’s and women’s issues were starting to look a lot more like excuses to stay safe than commitment to deep female submission. I had to face within myself the question of who was possibly being hurt or misguided due to my silence and, even more devastating, was it really as honoring to the man I serve as I thought my silence was? What would he say if I asked him? Certainly, I could not presume to know his mind so well that I didn’t need to ask him?

If we submissive females don’t step into the fray around the issues that concern us, not only will no one ever know that we exist, but we will actively assist—through our passivity—in inflicting harm on women like ourselves or men who enjoy us.

These were (and are) hard questions to ask and they come with uncomfortable answers. Many of us who identify as submissive have a natural tendency towards timidity and would be happy to fade into obscurity if we were given permission to. I am right there with many of you in wanting to avoid conflict and the harsh criticism of the opposition as much as possible. I’m no stranger to the fear that makes silence seem so appealing. For some of us, it’s this yielding part of our nature that makes us capable of embracing submission to a man; that makes it feel so natural. That said, I believe it’s important for us to avoid the mistake of yielding to the idea of submission, rather than yielding to our men. In some situations, a submissive woman’s ideals and perhaps incorrect conceptions about what submission is may act in direct opposition to what actually pleases her man.

I know that no one wants to fall prey to that insidious kind of self-focus, however, it can creep in so quietly. Submissive women must come to terms with the reality that showing devotion to the men we serve means expressing active devotion to their causes. The largest social cause of all for us as women should be making certain that men remain in authority over us. We cannot do that by being silent. The social attack on men that exists in our culture doesn’t rest, it doesn’t back down, and it’s a force that never tires of throwing everything it’s got at men from every angle imaginable. To oppose these hateful ideas we have to speak up. Sometimes that will mean getting our hands dirty, sometimes it may mean looking ugly and indecorous. Sometimes it might mean sticking our necks out and inviting ridicule.

If we submissive females don’t step into the fray around the issues that concern us, not only will no one ever know that we exist, but we will actively assist—through our passivity—in inflicting harm on women like ourselves or men who enjoy us. Passivity can have extremely negative consequences in our culture and communities. Martin Luther King Jr. rallied people around the Civil Rights movement with the words, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” There is good work being done by men’s rights activists to champion the freedoms of men and boys. These activists are risking ridicule and unpopularity, to say the least, in order to protect masculinity. Meanwhile, the passivity of women who wholeheartedly believe in the cause to protect male members of society has played a key role in creating a culture in which other men are defecting to feminism. The number of men taking on the identity of a “white knight”—conceding to their supposedly undue “privilege” and worshiping women as goddesses—is terribly distressing. This, however, is what society tells men they must do in order to gain the favor of the women around them. By not speaking against this message we do just what is described in Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote: we cooperate with the evil that is being done to the men in our communities.

The problem is that it’s scary stepping onto the battlefield alone. Being the first to speak up is often absolutely terrifying. But the good news, if we can call it that, is that this isn’t a problem that is specific only to submissive women: it’s a much bigger human problem.

In 1968 the concept of what is known as the Bystander Effect was popularized by social psychologists John Darely and Bibb Latane. The Bystander Effect occurs when the presence of others hinders an individual from intervening in an emergency situation. Darely and Latane launched a series of experiments in their laboratory inspired by the infamous and tragic 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese in which Miss Genovese was stabbed to death outside of her New York City apartment in plain view of 38 of her neighbors who stood by and did nothing. In a typical experiment, the participant is either alone or in a group when a staged emergency occurs and “researchers measured how long it took the participant to intervene, if they intervened.” These experiments found that the larger the number of participants in the group, the less likely it was for any single participant to intervene in the emergency.

Psychologists called this process of social influence “diffusion of responsibility.” In a large group, most people will be guided and influenced by the behavior of the majority rather than act out on their own, even in cases of extreme emergency or at the risk of their own safety. Most people would reason that somewhere in the group was someone smarter, wiser, or braver than themselves and that the responsibility to intervene fell to that individual. If that person, whoever they might be, wasn’t taking any measure to intervene, then the general assumption was that no action was really needed. In the few cases where an individual would respond and intervene, the majority followed. All it took was one brave person to move the entire group to act, but without that person’s choice to act, a whole group of perfectly sane and intelligent human beings would stand by and watch another suffer, be robbed, or even scream for help and do absolutely nothing about it.

It’s terrifying to me to think that I could find myself in a dangerous situation while an audience of observers stood by and did nothing to help. I think we’d all like to believe that we wouldn’t be one of those people waiting for someone else to do something, and yet it happens all of the time. ABC’s show Primetime: What Would You Do? is predicated upon and tests the bystander effect by way of social experiments not so unlike the ones conducted by Darley and Latane. In one particular episode an actress plays the role of an abusive nanny to a small child (also an actress). Staged outside of a cafe in New York City, people witness the nanny call the child names, throw things at her, and make threats of physical abuse. In most cases, even when it’s clear that the witnesses are affected by the situation, people walk by the scene without saying a word. Looks of disapproval and concern are exchanged by passersby, yet, because no one is willing to make the first move, they opt not to act and leave the child defenseless. As submissive females, we contribute to a similar effect when we keep silent and hope that someone else will do the dirty work of passionately and sometimes forcefully standing up against the views that oppose our own or that of the men we serve. I call this scientific understanding “good news” because it means that this behavior isn’t intrinsic to submissive personalities. It’s a socially influenced behavior that is learned and that means it can be overcome.

Along with a commitment to humility, I think it’s important for us to be committed to seeking truth. Seeking truth isn’t about winning the debate. It’s more about having openness toward learning as well as a desire to share one’s thoughts.

Speaking up isn’t necessarily an easy road to take and there are perils and pitfalls to avoid. We live in a culture that is, at least at the moment, in love with the female voice. Women are being given a platform from which to speak their minds and are encouraged that everything that comes out of their mouths is of an almost divine value. With that kind of exaltation, it can be easy for females to slip into the belief that they can do (or say) no wrong. As a result, The Voice of Women, especially online, becomes shrill and sarcastic, attacking others just because it can. Submissive females aren’t by any means immune to the poison that can spread when a girl enjoys the sound of her own voice too much and when, sadly, there are men who call themselves dominants or masters who support this kind of behavior in their women.

With such a poor example being set and encouraged, how do females with good intentions express opinions on controversial issues that are important to them without becoming shrill, snarky, or enraged by others’ disagreement? I think it begins with having a clear vision of what one’s intentions really are. If you’re a woman who is in service to a man, your intentions should, naturally, be to uphold the specific ideals that are important to him and that support his freedom as a man. Even if you’re not in a relationship, supporting causes that look out for men’s rights can be an important motivator for a woman who respects men, as is holding on to the intention to protect others from harm rather than just wanting to be right.

A desire to be right, in and of itself, isn’t a bad thing in so far as you want to be in harmony with what is true, most natural, and rational. Finding that sense of rightness in the way we live our lives is, I think, a very important part of understanding dominance and submission and making it a reality. However, there’s a point where the scale can tip and being right becomes a title that a person wants to hold and show off. Many females are vulnerable to that tipping point: they have a weakness for the euphoric frenzy that being right can cause. The more comfortable a female becomes as she uses her voice, the stronger the temptation grows in her to believe she is better, wiser, smarter, or more understanding than everyone else around her, sometimes including the man she serves. To avoid that temptation I believe it’s extremely important to focus on what is at stake when it’s time to speak. If a submissive woman speaks out of a desire to protect the rights of men or the minds of other women who may be impressionable or vulnerable, she casts the attention that speaking up brings away from herself and taps into a more humble urge to shine light into a dark area rather than step into the spotlight herself.

It’s also important to realize that arguing a point simply based on the fact that you believe yourself to be right may not be reliable. It’s a bit like Christians arguing a point based on what the Bible says. To someone whose faith or worldview doesn’t include or consider biblical teaching, it makes reasonable discussion impossible: there’s no real way to make any progress on either side of the point. You may win the argument if you talk the loudest or are the most insistent, but is there any victory in that? To argue a point fairly, we females need to come to the discussion with humility: with an open mind willing to carefully consider others’ points of view and even change if it becomes apparent we are wrong, with a clear understanding of what we are arguing for, with a rational frame of mind that uses logic and information to make points, and with a heart that truly wants to see balance restored and others’ feelings, including one’s opponent’s, protected.

Not every opportunity a woman has to speak is an opportunity she should take. Initially, speaking up is a bit like introducing yourself at a party and joining the conversation around you. You’re supporting a specific idea or maybe opposing it. Whichever it is, in that beginning stage, you’re adding volume to one of the views or issues being discussed and that’s important and good for that stage. Beyond your initial statement or post, however, is when the responsibility to know whether or not you should speak comes into play. A good part of the time controversial topics get beat into the ground and the information being presented turns into a battle to find the most ways to say the same thing over and over and over again. This type of discussion doesn’t help the causes or views that are being represented very well. It may even confuse people reading or watching, if not frustrate them and push them away. No one wants to see points hammered at relentlessly; many would prefer to have their own understanding expanded as well as their own views acknowledged, particularly by a thoughtful leader.

It can be helpful to ask yourself, “Does what I’m about to say simply add to the conversation, or does it advance the conversation?” A comment that adds to the conversation might be well written, it might be thoughtfully presented, but if the information in it only supplements the points that already stand, you’re not really doing much more than stepping onto a soapbox.

There are also times when we, as women, need to choose our battles or, rather, know exactly when not to go to war at all. Some people don’t start conversations with any interest in actually hearing the opinions of others; they are simply spoiling for a fight. A legitimate conversation is started with openness and authenticity. Even when the subject matter is controversial, there’s a noticeable desire for deeper understanding in the statements being made or the questions being asked. This is quite a contrast to someone who is simply making inflammatory statements to incite a reaction. Participating in a conversation which involves the latter is to fight a losing battle. You cannot “win” with a person whose goal is to waste your time and take sadistic satisfaction in having gotten people’s dander up. These sorts of characters and the dramas they create are not only unproductive, they are also damaging to the message you’re trying to represent.

One example of the type of disruptive and distracting interactions I’m talking about can be found in the comment sections of Women Against Feminism’s Tumblr and Facebook accounts. Posts are made by women expressing why they don’t believe they need feminism. Not all of the posts are articulated as well as they could be, but many make valid points worth considering. There are always comments in these threads by individuals who are clearly only seeking to cause a commotion. Without fail these inflammatory comments are the ones that get the greatest response and before long no one is paying any attention to what was said in the original post. The ultimate result is that productive discussion never takes place and it becomes very difficult to take the group seriously in spite of their male-positive message. Such comments—open insults, language that is accusatory or hostile, even questions that might seem innocent at first but when looked at more closely have a divisive flavor to them—are meant to distract, bait, and ensnare people, making them appear unstable and effectively undermining the presentation of their beliefs.

Tempting as it may be, learning to ignore the bait offered by someone who is clearly a troll is wise. It can be difficult to watch such an individual stir up trouble and attack that which is dear to us, but the type of person who regularly does this will not listen to reason. Trying to have a conversation with this sort of person is often an utter waste of time (unless you are one of those rare, deeply skilled debaters who knows the tricky business of using a troll to promote and further one’s own agenda—and that means understanding when it can and when it cannot be done). Worst of all, in a small way it validates the troll’s position to those watching, reading, or listening. It is wise for most people to treat this sort of drama as the trivial and low bid for attention that it is, if not to spare ourselves the stress of struggling through a conversation that is doomed from the beginning, than to spare others from having to further consider the ridiculous points being made by the other side. If we don’t endorse the troll by opposing him, we indicate that his or her issue is of little or no concern to us and, who knows, maybe others will follow our example. There are times when not drawing attention to the words of someone whose only intent is to cause harm is more important than presenting any form of alternate perspective.

When it is time to speak, the way we come to an issue can make a huge impact on those listening and reading. It’s important to approach an issue from a realization that one does not know everything there is to know about the subject and that there may be some important things to learn from those we are most opposed to. Starting from this position of humility might seem obvious to a submissive soul, but debate often stirs very deep emotions for women and these emotions can eclipse even a desire as deeply rooted as humble obedience to the spirit of female submission. Sometimes the most obvious things can cause the greatest errors. If a submissive woman relies too heavily on a trait like humility to be instinctive, rather than a constant and conscious choice, it’s possible for her to slip without ever knowing it. For this reason, before saying a word, it’s a good idea for a woman to check in with that core understanding of who she is and remember that she is not infallible and that her opinion is subject to correction. This isn’t to say that she shouldn’t speak with passion and that there isn’t a place for emotion in a debate, just that those things must be balanced by humility or at very least open-mindedness in order to avoid an undercurrent of ego and combativeness tainting everything she says.

Along with a commitment to humility, I think it’s important for us to be committed to seeking truth. Seeking truth isn’t about winning the debate. It’s more about having openness toward learning as well as a desire to share one’s thoughts. By learning, I do not mean that the information exchanged necessarily influences her, but there’s often something in these types of discussions to be learned about other people and taking an attitude that is willing to hear and respond rather than simply expressing your own opinion goes a long way towards making a conversation productive and useful. Also, people like it when you listen to them. Sometimes all they want is to know that they’ve been heard.

Use clear and simple language. Those following along shouldn’t have to be put through linguistic gymnastics in order to understand your point. If a woman cannot make a clear and simple argument, it is very possible that there’s been some mistake in her thinking. To quote William Penn, “Speak properly, and in as few words as you can, but always plainly; for the end of speech is not ostentation, but to be understood.”

Even when taking great care to approach controversial issues respectfully and tactfully, voicing an opinion often means running the risk of a counterattack. There are always those who are determined to fight rather than to discuss. These sort of personalities can be exhausting to interact with and a major time sink. It seems wise to be selective when it comes to which confrontations are worth taking on. There are issues of such great importance that the fear of being attacked or snubbed should absolutely not deter a submissive woman from speaking up, and there are also issues which are trivial and not worth the effort. A good starting place for those already in service to a man is to ask him what issues matter most to him. Naturally, and if it is his wish, a submissive female will be willing to face conflict and attack in order to support the interests of her man. In general, however, I believe it is most useful for submissive women to choose issues which speak to what they are for rather than what they are against. There will be times when it’s necessary for a woman to express what she’s against, but by and large, I think her opinions have greater impact when she positively expresses what she promotes and it’s an area where (though it still needs to be kept in check) her emotion can be worked to her advantage. A good example of this is speaking up when it comes to issues regarding men’s rights, or the education of boys—things that are greatly suffering in today’s cultural climate—versus speaking against feminism.

There’s a time and a place where speaking against a particular issue, like feminism, is important and worth facing the attack that will inevitably ensue.

By speaking for the rights of men and boys, and by openly and passionately supporting ideas and systems that affirm and protect male children in a female-centric society, females can draw attention to subjects that are very important while making conversation about these issues approachable. The act of being for something is immediately positive. When we’re for something it draws out the better part of our emotions—passion that is driven by love, and respect, and an instinctive desire to protect that transcends defensiveness and taps into the very deepest levels of loyalty—and this type of emotion can inspire and rally other people around a cause rather than create an instant divide. The result is conversation that is productive and focused on the most important issues. It’s a powerful way to speak without being intimidating and it welcomes and draws people into discussion, rather than scaring them into silence.

Alternatively, speaking against something like feminism, while it has its place and while there are times when it’s important and necessary to speak against it, can fall into that trivial category. Speaking personally, standing in opposition to feminism is very important. The trouble is that there is rarely ever a time when a debate about feminism ends up being more than a bunch of people on either side of the issue ranting about their feelings. The moments when there is any rational or reasonable conversation happening are so far and few between that it can be difficult to justify drawing additional attention to an issue that already gets more than its fair share. Also, by comparison, being against something draws forth the very worst of female emotion, in my experience. These types of debates tend to be catty, ruthless, sarcastic, and shrill, which is probably a good part of the reason genuinely submissive women disappear into the shadows when a conversation like this starts. Again, there’s a time and a place where speaking against a particular issue, like feminism, is important and worth facing the attack that will inevitably ensue. In fact, your man just may require it of you, at which point you should be ready and willing. But in general, choosing to promote instead of oppose, when it comes to when and where females speak their minds, seems to be more productive.

Though it may feel unnatural and uncomfortable at first, submissive women can learn how to speak up. We can pour our hearts and souls into upholding the ideals and standards that are in the best interest of the men or the causes we serve (which makes these ideals, ultimately, in our best interest as well). As a byproduct, we also gift other submissive females in our midst with the comfort of not being the first to speak out. By assuming the risk and responsibility of being the first in speaking out and by refusing to let our silence be assumed as indifference, acceptance, or approval, we make it easier for others to step up and join us. We have the opportunity to help make others brave by being brave ourselves first. I believe it’s high time even the most shy and timid seize that opportunity and make the most of it (their men permitting, of course!), for the sake of obedience, devotion to the causes of male interest, and our absolute love for them.

February 3, 2015

On the Garish Ubiquity of Girl Power Anthems

By Marc Esadrian

I’m not what one would stereotypically refer to as a sports fan. In fact, I think my time spent at sports events, sports bars, or before games broadcasted live on cable equals less than 1% of my time spent for any given year. It’s not that I don’t find a backyard game of football—back when I used to play such things—fun, or that I’m adverse to physical activity (I run and muscle train on average four days a week), it’s just that, ultimately, I find that what a collection of athletes are doing on a field or court on any given day to be far less consequential than evolving matters of scientific discovery, state policy, or news about what conflicts arise in the world.

But on Super Bowl XLIX Sunday, I sat down and watched. When games matter—when something is on the line—I tend to find these events a little more interesting, especially when the team representing my home region of New England is in that final arena. And I must say, it was quite a game to behold, even if we had to tolerate Katy Perry’s flashy, somewhat incongruent halftime performance bringing all the usual specters of snarling female arrogance atop a leashed lion float (I personally thought the dancing sharks stole that show!).

That sort of thing is par for the course these days, but what really raised an eyebrow, for me, was the saccharine feminist commercial advertisement—featured during an overwhelmingly male-dominated television event, mind you—advocating for the confidence of little girls by none other than Always Tampons. In it, three women, a man, and a boy express all too predictably the stereotypical ways that girls usually run, throw, and fight. When good younger (see feminist idealized and pre-scripted) little girl-bots were asked to run, throw, and fight like girls, they confidently showed what they thought doing these things as girls meant: they ran a little less limply, punched a little less awkwardly, but beamed with confidence, nonetheless. These admittedly cute poster children were, apparently, teaching us the lesson not only to pre-program our children to fight against these deleterious and assuredly ingrained stereotypes that perceive women as weak, but change some of our own apparently baseless sexist attitudes about the weaker sex, in turn. All this, despite the very likely fact that, among boys, being called female will invariably be seen as an insult, for females are and always will be, for the foreseeable evolutionary future of our species, at least, the naturally physically weaker sex. Granted, the powers that be are trying incredibly hard, again and again, to make males and females goose-step to a new order, to equalize them and whitewash their obvious differences, and while this may yield some culturally reinforced results, the natural realities behind male and female difference will inevitably (and disappointingly, to some) prevail, I’m afraid.

Overnight and over the course of the day after, it seems, people on Twitter were all aflutter over the hashtag #likeagirl, though Always, our smarmy child-championing tampon company, probably didn’t anticipate the retaliatory remarks from the viral ripostes of the #likeaboy tag. The conflict is amusing in a light-hearted way, and while I don’t find myself taking the ad or its fallout too seriously, I do wonder what a company that creates intimate female products was doing spending millions of dollars for commercial time on a mostly male-oriented prime time cable event. The answer, I concluded, must have been to reach out to boys, men, and fathers with a blatant emotionally manipulative feminist message (surely, it couldn’t have been about selling tampons). But that’s not the only thing it did, in my mind. It also demonstrated the tremendous intersectionality between consumerism, the entrenched social engineering of feminism, and the smarmy servitude of corporations to its messages—even in the least likeliest of places.

May 30, 2014

On Sex Slavery, Lies, and Palatable Politics

By Marc Esadrian

Road of Lost Innocence, by Somaly Mam.

On the tail end of Newsweek’s recent cover story about sex, slavery, and the slippery truth, anti-sex trafficking activist Somaly Mam—considered among one of Time’s most influential women in the world—has resigned from her own foundation.

Mam claimed to have rescued thousands of women and girls from the clutches of sex trafficking. Not only that, she has repeatedly asserted that her passion to help these women has come from her own abuse at the hands of sex traffickers.

That a former escaped sex slave from Cambodia would later on become the co-founder of AFESIP (Agir Pour Les Femmes en Situation Précaire, otherwise known as Helping Women in Danger) and rise to celebrity status in order to fight the evils of human trafficking rings with a magnetism of poetic justice that is irresistibly seductive—especially for the political climate in the modern West. It was an inspiring story—so inspiring, in fact, that it won over many high profile women, like Hillary Clinton, Meg Ryan, Susan Sarandon, and Shay Mitchel. Mam also attracted the attentions of Brandee Barker, whom the New York Times recently dubbed the most sought after image consultant in the start-up world, along with Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, an avid feminist (Ban Bossy Campaign), and author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.

In Somaly Mam, the world had a pretty face for the fight against the sex trafficking of women and girls. Her ghost-written book, The Road of Lost Innocence, became an international bestseller in 2005. Since then, she has raised millions of dollars across the globe with her astonishing story and courted many influential figures in media, industry, and politics to her cause. She was larger than life, a saint bent on rescuing the exploited. She was a modern “from the trenches” heroine for the fight against the exploitation of women around the world, a figure standing up against untold evils of sex trafficking. And she was a complete lie, as it turns out.

Simon Marks of Newsweek wrote a scathing and rather thorough article alleging that Mam was, indeed, never kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery. Through tracing her roots back to her home village and questioning old relatives or neighbors who remembered her, Marks unraveled what later came to be discovered as a grandiose fabrication on the part of Somaly Mam.

The deception, as Marks went on to point out, doesn’t stop there, either. In 1989 she apparently coached Meas Ratha, another supposed outspoken victim—and subsequently one of AFESIP’s biggest stars—into giving a convincing performance on French television about how she was sold to a brothel and forced to work as a sex slave. Ratha eventually confessed that her story was a complete fabrication—and a carefully rehearsed fabrication, at that. In 2009, Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times wrote about a girl named Long Pross, who had her own dark tale to tell about her sexual slavery and torture, where she was beaten with electric wires and cruelly disfigured. Pross also told this heart wrenching story on Oprah to a moved audience, but as with Somaly Mam herself, Pross’s relatives and neighbors back home had a much different tale to tell, and one that eventually exposed her story as more than just a little misleading.

Following Simon Marks’ article in Newsweek, AFESIP began its own investigation, and shortly thereafter, Somaly Mam stepped down from the very foundation she found and helped to build. Mam’s scandalous fall from grace leaves quite a few high profile figures in a bit of an awkward position, you might say. What struck me about this story was how eager it seems many were to believe these sensational tales for the politically cohesive effect they had. Chief among those with egg on their faces would probably be our beloved feminist capitalist, Sheryl Sandberg, who took on the role of an advisory board member in Somaly Mam’s organization herself.

What inevitably comes to mind while contemplating the above is the absence of due diligence and the discipline of responsible scrutiny. Where was this diligence when powerful women, like Sandberg, aligned with the fashionable and politically expedient boost that Somaly Mam represented? Is it any wonder that so many of those who seek to champion feminine goals of “unity” can be so very easily duped into going along with a likely tale they are all too eager to believe in order to forward the goals of their victim politics?

And that question leads to another, far broader one: why do we, as members of the human species, so often enjoy bending truth or not looking for it well enough between the lines in order to rush along a power grab for our own causes? Where the subject of sex slavery is concerned, this raises another important if not uneasy question, too: how large of a problem is human sex trafficking, really? To what degree have we allowed the sensation of certain stories and accounts over subjects that capture our imaginations to warp our perception of what’s truly happening in the world? I’m not certain I can answer that question, as it’s really an unknown quantity and I certainly don’t have enough data to even begin fathoming it. I certainly don’t deny that the evil of forced sex slavery exists throughout the world, but what I do wonder, especially since the Somaly Mam scandal, is to what degree these ideas of sex trafficking have stimulated the West’s imagination and galvanized the politics of feminine protectionism.

If anyone questions that sense of feminine favoritism/protectionism within the forefront of our political consciousness, consider the recent kidnapping of 276 Nigerian girls by Boko Haram. By now, we’ve all heard of this atrocity from nearly every corner of the media and the Internet, but how many of you ever heard of Boko Haram attacking a dormitory and shooting or slitting the throats of 59 boys this past February 25th? If you never did, don’t feel bad: the event was almost completely ignored by Western media. Washington didn’t commit to dispatching American intelligence and military advisers to West Africa to investigate the matter, as they did recently with the news of the missing girls. It should also be added, to further underscore the point, that February 25th did not mark the first date of atrocities committed by Boko Haram—not by a long shot.

So we find ourselves wondering why the press was rallied so fervently when young women were kidnapped and possibly sold into slavery, but ignored the event of young boys being slaughtered. Could it be that anything scandalous or tragic having to do with the oppressions of women is the right reason to get alarmed in the Western media and even government today?  If so, what are the cultural reasons for this attitude? Does the scandal surrounding Somaly Mam and her cynical masquerade to pull at our heartstrings allow us all a moment to look into the mirror and ask ourselves some of these inconvenient questions?

July 1, 2013

Feminism in the Media: Does it Protest Too Much?

By Marc Esadrian

While I’m not the type of person who watches much cable, I have taken a liking to the Starz show channel from time to time. I admit, Spartacus, the half serious, half soft adult porn series was one of my guilty pleasures. What’s not to love about gratuitous sex and violence in the ancient Roman world? These days, I’ve taken a particular liking to Magic City, a smooth and sexy hotel/casino mob story set back in the 1950’s. Between catching up on reruns of that show, however, I was subjected to the repeated teasers of an upcoming series entitled The White Queen, a story that, in its own part cheesey, part historical fictionish sort of way, tells the tale of the “War of the Roses,” a dynastic struggle among rival houses for the throne of England—the facts of which historians still quibble and argue about today.

But I’m not going to go too far into scholarly conflict about actual facts relating to these episodes in history and I’m quite sure, given the reality that cable programming is meant more to entertain than enlighten, The White Queen won’t either. What struck me as particularly eye rolling about the trailer for this series is its service to the usual girl power propaganda. While treated to flashes of hyper-stylized bits and pieces of scenery related to the series, we’re informed in heavy gold letters across the screen that “Men go to battle…Women wage war.”

It’s particularly irksome, how entertainment media today gushes, drools, and fawns over women in a conspiratorial circle-jerk to stroke the increasingly inflating egos of (particularly) young women. I suppose the marketing powers that be know now that if you want to sell anything, you really need to appeal more to notions of female supremacy than just equality. For how much more obvious must the repeated propaganda of female primacy hidden in plain view be, I ask? What particularly amused me about the men go to battle, women wage war line is how banal it insinuates the role of men to be. Men, who have been over thousands of centuries the primary agents of action—the warriors, despots, messiahs, tyrants, prophets, kings, and emperors—are reduced to brainless wooden figures in a medieval game of table hockey between scheming female nobles. The gist is, “men are petty and do the stupid fighting, but women are the real movers and shakers…high five!” What a wonderful thing to insinuate to young male and female minds. And come on, who cares if this marketing line lends to bogus history or overlooks some important details in the least; it makes a great punch line and gets across, for the umpteenth time, that chicks rule and dudes drool (in case you weren’t aware, by now).

This show is but one of many in a long line of movies and cable programs that are increasingly making female characters the polestar powers of the script in a politicized sort of way. In Oz the Great and Powerful, the bumbling buffoon that is Oz is surrounded by three witches, the truly great forces in the story who are in a war for control of their world. In Snow White and the Huntsman, the male characters are fairly incidental to the most powerful characters in the story: the wicked Queen who is evil incarnate (and I must admit, played wonderfully by Charlize Theron) and Snow White, who, we’re told, represents the essence of all life. Of course. For upcoming movies, try the charming title of Girls Against Boys, where “misandrist overtone” is more of an understatement.

Movies aren’t nearly where the silliness ends, however. Cable shows like American Dad, Everybody Loves Raymond, or The Simpsons tend to portray men as generally goofy, stupid, and inept. Much of children’s programming today isn’t free from such meta messages, either. In the very least, they are guilty of inspiring young girls to be as sassy, conceited, and as cutely arrogant as possible. Remembering Hannah Montana, a show that was and still is avidly consumed by the young female cable viewing population, we may find ourselves noting what type of girl the veritable pissant Miley Cyrus, who regularly snarls at the camera in her videos and threatens her father publicly on Twitter, has grown up to be. Some food for thought, perhaps, about the personalities that are raising our kids when we’re not?

This may seem like a petty gripe. In some ways it is, I suppose, but in some ways it’s really not. Our entertainment, as much as we may like to think so, isn’t just a harmless diversion that ends when we turn off the screen or amble out of the theater. Movies, just like music and the arts, help to inspire and influence the sentiments of the masses. The mythology these stories create conspire to tell us what is true and right, as stories throughout the centuries always have. Books, plays, and orations, which were once the primary media for this story telling, have simply stepped aside for the medium of cinema, roughly 40 years of which have been increasingly devoted to dissing men and boys in commercials, talk shows, cable programs, and the silver screen.

I think it’s about time, if you haven’t done so already as a parent, to guard your young minds against this new sexist media onslaught when at all possible. In the very least, I think it’s vital to balance out the increasingly hostile attitude writers and directors show toward the male sex by having conversations with your children and teens about what they are digesting on a daily basis. Teach them how to spot misandry (you’ll likely need to define what that word even means) and dysfunctional feminine glorification in the media today, if only to balance their perceptions.

Yes, I know…this commentary is coming to you from a site entitled “Humbled Females.” Who are we, exactly, to be complaining about sexism, of all things? A casual visit to our about page will reveal, however, that our way of life is consensual and that, societally speaking, we are not advocating revoking women’s rights to have a job or to vote. The message in this entry today doesn’t have to reside only here, but, perhaps in a space like this, what needs to be said can be said without fear of reprisal or rebuke from sponsors or employers, who are ever on the look-out for anything they perceive as anti-feminist—the new Satan, apparently. I say this not to advocate female submission so much as to put a sober sticky note on the forehead of this agenda called “anti-sexism”—an agenda that modern society, so we’re told, is supposed to support and uphold. And I think it’s time we all, male and female, black and white, liberal or conservative, god fearing or not, recognize that feminism today is often not so much about ending sexism as it is about fashionably asserting a new form of sexism. So please join me in saying that the male bashing has to stop. We can have female equality in society without lowering the perceived value of men and boys. I encourage all who are reading this to boycott films and shows that cater to this increasing cultural disease and counteract the effects of its rhetoric in your children, if you have them. Make an effort to raise awareness about misandry in the media and speak out against it when you can.

You may not subscribe to the message and attitude of our site. After all, we do believe women, generally, have a place in loving service to their men—a place of loving submission. We aren’t afraid of articulating our opinions on the female sex, which certainly aren’t always politically correct. This all is beside the point, however, that the future of real harmony and equality between the sexes in society, if you really value that sort of thing, partially depends on rejecting these condescending attitudes and messages about men.