Category Archives: Gender and Sexuality

Against Second-Wave Feminism (and What to Expect under Trump): Letter to a Friend

Prologue: To the General Reader
 
“…she was, or claimed to be, violently allegeric to the ordinary laundry detergents that are used on most people’s clothing, the scent or poisonous vapors from which she believed persisted on that clothing essentially indefinitely or at least for as long as a normal person would wear it without subjecting it to the indelible residues of the toxic detergent yet again.
 

A female friend of mine whom I had known since not long after 9/11, whom I encountered again at a place I thought unlikely to, a film theater in Manhattan, told me a story involving the effect of my person as normally attired upon hers that point by point reiterated the above, which is a quotation from a story on my blog about an encounter with a radical feminist in Berkeley many years ago. This friend I had forgotten has long said she is asthmatic, so perhaps her claim is credible, but I did wonder at the uncanniness of hearing this from her for the first time ever. In fact, upon seeing her a second, and third time, in New York at the same theater, some months after our first encounter following my return, she spoke out a series of halting objections to formal and stylistic aspects of my manner of speaking. When we corresponded briefly in following days, she made further complaints about form and style of my communicating.  I was initially put off by the fact that almost immediately after declaring her materialistic phobia we both left the museum, because she showed clear discomfort at the sudden appearance behind her of a policeman, at a moment when I had just said something personal about an experience unrelated to her or her ideology (see below), and the next thing that happened was she started screaming at some man who apparently had pushed against her as she was trying to exit through the revolving door.  I did not see it, and merely watched as she chewed him out and he replied nonchalantly by saying someone had pushed him.  Had she considered this matter better, being like me a long-time New Yorker, she might have realized that in crowded subways and other situations things like that can happen through no one’s fault.  But why, I wondered, the almost immediate conjunction between her claim about laundry detergents poisoning the air she breathes like Communists putting fluoride in our drinking water (as in Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove”) and the iteration of her grand bête noir of hated male aggressively?  What the fuck was up here?  I probably should have treated this as an unwelcome sign that functionally is like provocation if not harassment (very appropriate in the age of Trump, as discussed below).  Her allergy could be real for all I know, but her subsequent objections to all manner of my speaking and writing suggested to me that something here either does not add up or adds up in a decisively inauspicious way.  The story, which I began to recount to her, though she may well have read this also on my blog, of my own encounters upon my return to New York with a certain few people in my previous acquaintance whose behavior was so odd and unaccountable that I could only wonder (it is in most such cases, I think, impossible to know; perhaps as in Popper’s philosophy of science, there are strategies to get information that will seem to disprove such hypotheses, but verification of them may not easily proceed further than uncertain conjuncture, and of course talking about it, as a lawyer warned me, can lead to people knee-jerkingly saying that you are being paranoid.  And they want people to be paranoid as well as afraid, even if the price of this timidity is some anger, which they can also use against you).

I write about this because I think we can expect that in the new age of Trump there will be lots more of this, and anyone who has ever expressed a dissent thought politically in any context could be put on a suspect list (one million Americans have been), and then you might be surprised who and what comes out of the woodwork, what kinds of curveballs people you would least expect this of will throw at you — and obviously you must know how to handle them rightly or you will be made to regret it).  If someone introduces or re-introduces themself to you and they seem to be very cool, you may at any moment find that something is amiss and it looks like they are playing a game.  It could well be that the explanation is not intentional (on the part of an agentive force operating behind the scenes; that is, that the person is a police informant perhaps employed largely to harass, provoke, frustrated, or entrap you; most often social action is effectively coordinated by what Foucault called “strategies without strategists”; and this explanation can be called functional or ideological.  Many Americans do similar things that can only ultimately be explained by wrong beliefs inculcate by institutions like schools and universities, or media and the entertainment industry, and so by their socialization.  The common elements, however, of intentional and coordinated versus unintended, ideologically-driven, and functional actions like this is that you will experience it as puzzling and somehow aversive and on examination it will be very difficult to come up with a plausible explanation for the odd behavior that is favorable to the assumption that the person is a true friend.  America is the land where people make friends easily and can become astonishingly intolerant sooner if not later.  The rule should be that if your friend’s behavior appears to evince only motives that you cannot find on any likely interpretation consonant with your own, then he or she is not a friend.

 
Letter
 
Dear N.,
 
The following remarks may seem pointed; they are not meant to annoy. My flattery and words of more mere kindness and gentleness will come later if you continue to read this email, and I do not consider you under any obligation to do so. This statement is true not without qualification, and that will be made clear below.
 
I always assume even in personal correspondence that reader and writer have distinct jobs. The writer’s responsibility is for what he says. That does not mean that he necessarily must adapt his style or what he says to the normative expectations of the audience. He may choose to anticipate them, but if so can still decide as any artist does whether to merely accommodate them (risking servility and boringness: If the sender’s message only meets the receiver’s expectations, it does not say anything novel and so is not information, not a statement, not even a message. The reader alone and not the writer are responsible for how the reader understands and interprets what he reads, and for the fact that he reads it, or continues to do so. So if you are already annoyed and may reproach me at the end for having said too much or written to you on the wrong topic, than please cut right now your moral losses since the resentment you must already bear towards what you have reluctantly but with morbid curiosity already read renders you guilty already before the God of writers and readers, and friends who are or should be both (you do know I presume of the literary letter? My only condition for it is that writing is used to express thought. Even when it is personal. Few people do this; it is not the general norm, which is to say, the normative expectation of the silent and semi-literate majority. Tant pis pour eux! I hereby pray to this God to absolve your sin now when the accumulated capital of it is still relatively small.
On being offended, I call to mind a teacher of mine in my youth who was something of a mentor and knew me well. One day I called and left a message with his wife. Both were therapists also by profession. I said, “Please tell Aaron that I called. And please also ask him not to call me back at my present home address, because it is my father’s house, and my father does not like him.” She said, “Is that what you wanted to tell me?” This was a statement in the guise of a question, an insult in the guise of the false observation that she was victim of mine. I was shocked and horrified and in subsequent years I have, I admit, sometimes wrongly thought that this is a very womanish thing to say and do, because so many American women are so easily offended, and they take everything personally. It was funny to me because all I could have said was, No, Mrs. Heilman, all I meant is that I would like (and then repeating my statement). I meant what I said. It wasn’t a coded message. Not everything is personal, even if the liberals used feminism in fact along with the therapeutic ideology to make the political only personal so that there is no political. Not every approach to a woman by a man is sexual, not every question is personal, etc. Later I realized that many, perhaps even most, American men are this way too. The only difference being that they may hurt you physically if they decide to or find that they feel insulted. (But on this, did you get my question – I don’t know – about Greek women? Is it there still only men who gather for the pleasure of argument, allow their passions to get heated, etc.? I observed a cafe job interview today with two young American women, the applicant clearly a talented and appropriately self-confident artist, and I realized immediately with some interest and admiration that they were using a style of communication (verbal mannerisms, tone, gesture – she was very expressive, though I thought I noticed numerous discursive strategies of reassurance within what clearly was a very well-cultivated personal style of self-presentation by a young woman artist), and that the conversation would have been very different if ether participant had been an American men – we are equally expressive, or can be, but with different mannerisms – for instance, American men with each other, like Italian men and probably most men unless maybe they are absurdly middle class and protestant, will often sprinkle their talk with profanities, and women even today rarely do. More importantly, men in conversation tend to overtly or subtly challenge either while women tend to reassure each other and share intimate if often fairly anodyne self-revelations. And there’s other differences, it’s fascinating; I kind of wish we could all narrow this gap.
 
As you know, I came to New York partly to escape this (my mentor’s wife and people like her), and I returned to New York from France only to realize that I had failed to escape it, and that was painful and it still hurts.
 
So I don’t know how you will react to this email, but its length is a function of what I wanted to say, including not more nor less, and all of what you might consider anger here is fully sublimated into thoughts about what is true or just, as I think is proper. I take full responsibility here for what I have explicitly said and that alone. Please, if you are going to claim that a set of words such as those in my speech or writing seem to you merely angry or assaultative or violent, as words cannot be unless they are threats, and I will never do anything violent to you (which I of course feel the need to say for only one reason, and that is the context of your militant feminism and things you have said, like you would never share an apartment with another men or even allow one as a guest.
 
That implies I think that you hold the common and horribly wrong second wave feminist view that all men are potential rapists, which is merely a version of the common liberal view, which really dates from Hobbes, that all persons are potentially violent (and so need to be surveilled and controlled by the police and policing of various kinds). The error here is simple: It is true in one sense but not in another, and it is the second sense that is decisive here. We are animals but also have reason, and an adult citizen is normatively self-determining and autonomous through the rational determination of the will (there is no such thing as a non-rational will, although there are of course bad reasons and motives, but as I think Arendt thought, such evil and badness of character come from insufficient clear and rigorous thought).
 
Here it is simple. Any person can commit a murder, in the sense that the kinds of acts that can constitute that crime if effective in realizing a certain consequence, viz., the death of the other, are acts that any embodied intelligent subject such as human persons are “can” perform; in one sense of “can” anyway, the sense that is not equivalent to will or desire (which is not the same as inclination though it can include it; Kant showed it need not and perhaps should not) and is. In another sense, only those persons are “capable of” or rather, “might,” become murderers who tacitly will themselves as such in willing such an action.
 
Thus, it is very well possible that a person who is asked, say by a policing health care worker, “Do you think you might harm someone,” will say, “No, I will not.” And if they reply, “Well, that’s good that you don’t wish to right now, but of course you might — later, perhaps, maybe if you are not “stable” under our care.” And the only proper reply then is, “No, it is not possible that I will do that, not at all, because I know who I am and what I will and will not do, and under condition whatever will I ever do that.” “But you are capable of it? Surely you admit that? I am! See, I have all kinds of criminal tendencies, we all do, and that is why we all must obey our bosses, as I obey mine, and comply with the instructions of those whose job is to take care of us so that we do not do anything we might regret, given that we always might.” “I am sorry for you that you do not know who you are, especially given that persons in your profession regularly do people they have great power over a great deal of harm, and most seem to think nothing of it, precisely because they think that good is obedience to the authorities who claim to represent the law (or the national health or purity or good governance or the nature or necessity of things, or…), and so they do harm to people by obeying their bosses and blame their victims for not obeying when often the sole just act is one of refusal to obey, or comply as your profession prefers to term this.” And of course, that is precisely what one cannot say. They don’t want you to be a morally independent autonomous adult; they may ever find that threatening or pretend to. The welfare state in capitalist societies is always an instrument of infantilization, in ours particularly so. The welfare state is the cold war against the power. The police are always ready, though, to step in if and when they are called for. The position I take on this is Arendt’s position which is based on Kant’s, and it is quite applicable today because of what Trump is the name.  They are skeptics who mistrust everyone, and this is the measure of how Anglophone liberalism (free markets and laissez-faire plus personal liberties and rights that accrue from limitations on the powers of state and corporate or private actors) is still Hobbesian; the liberty ideology based on property right and limits to powers is always a tacit apology for the Leviathan state.  Their skepticism calls for an epistemology of empiricism, and since they doubt your motives (you are a suspected criminal for them qua criminal type, by virtue not of actions or statements but imputed dispositions, imputed just as in the liberal’s “microagressions,” discernible only by the expert interpreter armed with an ideology), you are supposed to adopt the same skeptical and a posteriori standpoint towards yourself.  But with one’s own self and thinking, and desire and will or intention, one can only be Cartesian and Kantian.   
 
(Badiou has a book, “Of what is Sarkozy the name?” Maybe I want to write, “Of what is Trump the name?” He is the name of something that started long ago and was mostly quite firmly in place already when he was elected; his opponent in the general election is equally a partisan (and architect) of it, but with a very different discursive style and with claims to “liberal” ideologies rather than authoritarian and nationalist/populist ones.)
 
My only reason for making this point is that second wave feminism makes exactly the same mistake in the case of sexual violence. It is true that rape can only be performed by a man and a woman would have to either use a prosthetic device, which is certainly rare and would be relatively distancing on subjectively (the actor) though not objectively (the person acted upon), or ring for a man to come who will take care of the insolent suitor, something that as you know I think is done all the time.
 
That is one reason I do not think women are better than men (necessarily); the two genders still tend to differ but this only gives them each different characteristic virtues or vices or forms thereof. The other men who threatened to rape me 35 years ago did not do so because they were men, nor because they were prisoners, nor because they were angry, nor because they thought I was “gay,” but because they were rapists. The necessary and sufficient condition of someone being capable of committing that crime is that they have the will to do so. Otherwise, if all men are naturally disposed to violent crime because they have pricks (or because men are more aggressive and militant), then why would anyone who thinks that want to have any association at all with any man at all?
 
If you are not certain on the matter either on a priori grounds (a theory about all men), then you are in error on a very important
philosophical point that almost certainly renders any continued association between us impossible for me, while if you are doubtful of it on a posteriori grounds that in your thinking have anything to do with me in particular, than you indeed either should give me a suitable explanation to which I have the opportunity to respond in a discussion that shall, ideally, continue until the matter is resolved to mutual satisfaction, or else similarly, or at the very least, I must be extremely careful around you, mainly to be sure I am never alone with you not in public, because women like that will cry wolf. I call these Women-Children; they are as dangerous as men-children. Both are naifs, most are liberals, those who merely appear this way are fool mongers and all of these cannot be friends of mine. You are no child. If I had thought you a confused woman child I would never have spent more than one exchange of repliques with you. You are not like that, but I think you are a second wave feminist, because the third wave and punk feminists that I respect and like are not like that at all. This country has moved beyond it, though it may have needed Hilary’s defeat at the steep price of Trump’s victory to make this a solid declaration now very widely understood.
The thing is, left-liberals motivated by justified outrage at social injustices, experienced, remembered, or imagined, must move beyond the position of mere reaction and towards something more constructional and thoughtful, which requires the intermediate step of a firm prise de conscience that confers a certain confidence even in the midst of the contingency awareness of which can intimidated and make cowards of us all. (Which is what Hamlet meant by “conscience”: forbidding reflections on what might happen if one does what he considers he ought to do; here he wrongly thinks that morality and courage are matters of representational knowledge, when they are matters of critical thought).
It is fine in principle, dear friend, if you have strong opinions about some (in fact) controversial topic like “men” (whatever that means – to you) or your second wave feminism (which I absolutely and passionately despise as you know) but are, as you have been continually, each and every time you mention this gigantic bugbear of yours, absolutely and vehemently (you have shouted me down in an instance on silencing my response to your deliberately vague but angry provocations) refuse to discuss it. NFW! Say something to me and I can respond; you may not as far as I am concerned shout me down; of course, all I can do then is raise my own shouting further, which is stupid, and thus the thing to do is say f.o. and walk off.
 
Please therefore do not again refer in my audition refer to or hint strongly at any complaint based on your (apparently either extremist or militantly liberal (tacitly rightist, I suspect, which is true if you are a second waver, as they are carceral feminists, angry at men in general and suspicious of all) gender politics. (“My identity is so offended and angered at your identity, and the propositional claims I find through my hermeneutic expertise latent in your behavior though unknown to you. So stop being you here now, when I am here now.”)
 
Your saying these things to me is out of place when I have done nor said absolutely nothing to warrant this. And that is certainly the case. You never said otherwise.
 
No friend of mine who spends any time with me will be much appreciated alluding constantly to hatreds that obviously implicate me by virtue of no fact other than my gender (when in fact neither my gender nor yours is really one of the most important facts about either of us, and never appeared to me to be at all; there are circumstances with some persons that can of course change that,
but in philosophical arguments that is normally not what is on one’s mind).
 
The other obnoxious thing you have been doing recently is all of your endless complaints about me in terms of how I present or express myself, in speech or writing. My accent, my rhetoric, my clothing, my writing with more than a few short sentences, the things I say that you believe I should not have (though it apparently is fine if I go in thinking; then I suppose we can dissemble together)… Are you, then, a friend or some kind of virtual one-woman police force? The very idea that there are things people believe and quite firmly but ought not to say.
 
On the other hand, I am very appreciative of the 2-3 very nice and to me interesting suggestions of places and events that you rightly guessed I might like. Thank you! It was as if, and almost uncannily, as if these suggestions were carefully tailored to please me and perhaps even seem like invitations to some renewed or deepened friendship, which in principle I might like, and did have some vague but pleasant thoughts along those lines. This alone made me think you unusually charming these recent occasions of encountering you, as too did our multi-train conversation after that last film we both saw.
 
I think you will have noted already that I am much more of a gentle man in person, but I have an acerbic literary style, I do not shun but enjoy arguments, and my letters (and emails) are more literary than they are “communicative” (these are two purposes exclusive of one another as usually understand). (I comfort myself in the face of accusers of the crime of verbosity that the philosopher Leszek Kolakowski, author of an authoritative intellectual history of Marxism, once wrote (and published, but I assume also sent) a 60-page letter to English Marxist historian E.P. Thompson). Every philosopher I know in Europe has rejected the idea of a communicative ethics; writing is in essence expression of thought (or feeling articulated through and as thought, since writing involves concepts and statements), and the letter that is thoughtful rather than a mere sign that the two are still friends, as in most Christmas cards, is a hybrid in this regard but I would say that the addressed character of the personal letter is more like the envelope of the content that is what is said. To give someone what they expected exactly is the same as returning a gift, and this is always an insult.
“Communication” may well follow an almost infinitely denumerable set of social norms that participants must observe or be thought gauche, impolite, or even — why not??? – crazy. “Yes, indeed, I’m a crazy New Yorker,” he said; now how much do I owe you? Here; is this right?”
 
You may not mean it this way, I’m sure you don’t, but much of your recent behavior seems to me like a form of subtle harassment of the
type I think American liberals are pretty good at. I don’t like this or them.
 
To my way of thinking, it seems to me there is something wrong in our encounters. Was I a shmuck with you ever in the past? You
always did what I describe above. This time seeing you recently you were very friendly when not into this but when you were you laid it on especially thick. How many rules are there for proper behavior of friends and fellow citizens in our idea of the republic?
 
As I said, I don’t like hippies; I was into punk. That means not shunning conversation or needing always to be cool. It has nothing to do with gender except when some people say it does. Most college educated Americans are member of the professional class trained to be managers and leaders, and that is why they have police society minds.
 
I am pleased — not or not only flattered personally but also my thinking, which matters to me more than my personal ego, is flattered in the sense of feeling appreciation for a line of thinking or a possible line of thinking. I will have more to say, hopefully in some pieces I can try to publish, about how I think our nation’s ultra-liberalism /neoliberalism / therapeutic spirituality society has led directly into an authoritarian capitalism blatantly quasi-fascist police state, of which Trump is merely the name and a name which is a concept that indicates legitimation of this style, which is also
and perhaps primarily a certain way of using language.
 
I cannot agree that you ought not to explain to me your ideas about “men” or “types of men.” Do or do I not, in your mind, fit within this category?  I am strong enough of spirit or mind not to be intimidated by any female friend’s unrelenting references to some kind of presumably schmuckish behavior no the part of some kinds of men, not to mention by your taking care over time to make it clear that this really is your one great political passion, though it is one of ressentiment. Do you or do you not place me in that category? Might you or might you not? Obviously, if some men might be, then any men will be if he meets the criteria or fits the pattern. Then what is the pattern or criteria? I am not asking for
 
a confessionnal narrative of your past, because that is personal enough that I would only expect any friend to tell me personal things
if he or she is motivated to do so by a level of trust that people only as well acquainted as you and I presently are and presumably shall remain generally do not feel comfortable sharing. No problem. But why not discuss the general ideas or figurations thereof, rough notions of a type given by fictional characters, film or literary analogies, or what have you? Yes, I think that you owe me an explanation, for this and for some other aspects of your recent behavior. You lived in Berkeley as I did, you came of age around the high point of the 60s, decade that I missed, and of adulthood in the 70s, decade that I remember so well. I knew neohippies and punks. I was a punk. We didn’t like the hippies, and I hated Berkeley apart from the Pacific Film Archive and a few brilliant professors. I do not like liberals. I have become more hard core since returning to New York because of almost unbelievable shit that happened to me, and that is one reason I say that Trump is just the name for some set of things that had already happened. I do not like them. As I do know that you do not.
 
I don’t think constantly about gender. Of course there are types of women I do not like. Berkeley has them in spades, or it did. I have written about this, as I think you know. Why, dearest friend, if I lay my cards on the table (and they are because I am a writer and have already said a lot about various aspects of some of these subjects(, will you not, when you have done and said much that does concern me, and that I found myself compelled to question in the first place just out puzzlement and so wonder and curiosity, in part because I insist with myself on questioning or allowing to be questioned my prejudices or predispositions of belief.
 
If you had a body double who was a police informant, it would not matter, because they at the very least are of course tributary to the NSA which reads all our emails at least with computerized algorithms that are as effective at pinpointing dissident ideas and disaffected persons as Google’s are at ranking websites for searches. Why, if I have my cards on the table, would you refuse to show yours in at least the manner appropriate to answering my questions which are highly relevant and certainly to any prospect of our continued friendship in any meaningful way? What are you not saying and why? Or am I supposed to just infer it from he signals and signs?
 
People who communicate in signals and signs are not friends; it can very easily seem like harassment. Often it is manipulation; the Trojan Horse was not a statement but a sign. Signs must be decoded and can easily mislead, and so are often used with the intention to do so. The only possible alibi in most such cases is just that the person is a naif. And therefore a fool. Being a fool in dark times like ours is dangerous. If you doubt this, and I am certain you do not, ask me or read my writings. I don’t expect them to interest anyone. But I find your recent behavior as incomprehensible as you appear to find mine. And I don’t see that mine is. After all, I am, if not generally verbose, and I apologize if I have said too much for your taste, which I can only qualify by pointing out that a reader who is not in bad faith will stop reading when bored or annoyed and not complain after doing so that you forced her or him to read it, because no reader in the history or writing has ever been forced by an author writing from an elsewhere and read in a later time to read what is written, even if addressed to them personally and sent to them as a letter.
 
For one last time, in the years I have known you (since 2003), you have probably referenced or hinted at your profound anger at men of some kind or your angry feminist convictions of some kind without ever making at all clear what any of this is about and what if anything it has to do with me. All I know is that you also each time have adamantly refused discussion by or with me of what you bring up. Incessantly.
 
So, again, dearest and esteemed friend, fellow sometime lover of radical philosophies, who does care about justice and the good,
enough even to be bothered by its palpable lack, as is so evident in at least the last 6 weeks in this country, — che cosa? (Why) is that too much to ask? You could of course answer it in any way you like. I do not like it when people make half-statements to me, or statements that to me make no good sense. I do indeed reiterate my claim about media norms of discourse and things like Twitter, or the sound byte, in reference to common notions about propriety in length or form of discourse in letters.
 
You also strike me as a funny feminist if you have not read all the most important feminist theorists. I grant that most American intellectual types are dilletantes, but I think that an unflattering thing to be too much of. One then risks becoming like Sartre’s “Self-Taught Man,” who wants to know everything because he cares in particular for nothing and so has no itch to scratch and no real curiosity. Sometimes I have thought (because I have observed) that women are much more likely than men to be that way, but as you know I refuse all normative ideas of gender. (Descriptive observations of statistical patterns or prevailing social norms are sociological and not normative notions and so cannot be called sexist, which is a kind of moralist critique of a moralism, here absent. On the descriptive point, I just don’t know, and it doesn’t matter all that much since we all can try to surround ourselves with those whom we like most for whatever reason.
 
You and I are clearly too people who can enjoy each other’s company at least in some respects (I have quite enjoyed yours recently on those 2, or was it 3? seems like it! occasion), and who both have strong needs in terms of what the people close to us must at least avoid doing if not also for what we must positively do. I have a vague sense of yours but it’s difficult to really see clearly because I don’t see the principle that explains your defensive behavior. Defensiveness is fine, without it we would die rapidly from inability to cope with bombardments of excess stimuli (as we know from Freud). And I have mine. We presume, or want to, that those of our friends are rational. They can seem not to be, and then, at least for a person like me, an explanation or interpretation is needed. The former is better because it then becomes an interpretation that is shared or at least recognized by both persons. In my case, I have my own triggers. I think by now you know what at least some of them are, because I have told you, and you have read some of my writings. I have written a lot in the last few years, some of it is on my blogsite, and that is a lot, some pieces are long. I know you have read some of them. And there too you told me not to discuss it, even though you, i am sure, already know exactly what I think.
 
So you are an avoidant liberal, and that is because you are a bit of a Bay Area 1970s neohippie, which could just mean that you have read not enough things that would cause anyone to if not question that at least know why “we” do not like it. It is the avoidant behavior. That is why I asked if you are a trauma survivor. I told you that I am, and I also told you that among my traumatic memories is a sexual assault (which almost killed me; another one happened recently, and it was a race-baiting Black liberal art school graduate New England BASP (Black anglo-protestant) (if I were really pissed off at you, and I am not, all my anger is about more general things and you cannot possibly do anything that would make you object of it in any way except participate in it, and then, in part because I know that you are not my problem, and in greater part for obviously larger reasons that we might simply call moral, all you will ever get from me that will seem in any way unpleasant is a verbal shit storm. You may think this letter is that, and I am sorry if you do, because shit the defining qualities that it is offensive merely and not interesting, meaning nothing is said. The American liberal tendency among so many women of the professional class in particular to do something that thank God I have never seen you do: reduce what someone has said to a mere expression of disaffected emotion and thus material for a therapy or “spirituality” machine of correctional treatment rather than as material for thought. Language properly used is always thought. I reserve the right to do that, on the rare occasions that call for it, and when I do all of my “aggression” is in my use of words. Further, I will not do anything that is other than a mere speech act that you have asked me not to do, although I will certainly not appreciate it (and will then need to and will talk about it, in writing, and probably not to you – at all, anymore) if you then claim that my persistent tap on the shoulder or whatever is some kind of grand scheme (imaginary) sexual assault. If you do that, well, please don’t. I assume not but a good friend of mine whom I am still friends with in fact and is a feminist anthropology professor did something like that with me and I turned pale with a disgust that was simply beyond words. I let her know in a brief message that she was persona non grata in my world because this is stupid and horrible, it smacks of what I have never hesitated to call Nazi feminism. And she is a liberal, thinks she is a leftist, and that’s fine, she is sincere. I later relented and even saw her again. She probably forgot it; she being from a Catholic country probably even forgave me in the interiority of her own conscience. If she brought it up, I would say, no, it is you who were wrong, let’s look at why. She did not; I doubtless will not either since I already told her how I feel and why I think she was dead wrong (and in fact I consider that kind of reaction a blatant threat to invoke state violence against me — she and I are surely equally vulnerable if in different ways). So that’s me. A firestorm of words in your face is the worst thing I have ever done or wanted to do to any woman or man. If you believe otherwise about me, please either tell me and tell me exactly how and why or stop believing that or don’t talk to me or take your own risk of la noia, being annoyed or offended, if you do.
 
If you do not respond to this email and this conversation does not continue – or get started, because this letter is an attempt on my part to begin a conversation we have never had and that I feel almost as if I need – I shall not be at all surprised, just very disappointed.  Because you are better than that. I don’t know anyone as smart as you who would behave that way unless someone whose interests would necessarily be contrary to mine is paying them. That would surprise me, and disappoint me also. I don’t think anything like that is possible in your instance, of course; someone who did that would make fewer mistakes and probably be getting paid well enough to live much more comfortably than I suspect you do.
 
Again, if I offend you here and should not have, please also keep in mind that I write usually in a somewhat piquant and acerbic
style. That is my style. Styles do not have rules! (Kant argued this also). I think the best friends understand even what may seem like an accusation; a foe will exaggerate his pique at this and claim offense to the high heavens with many exclamation points, but then of course, one like me would just see that as more of the same.

Do Hilary and Steinem reveal the anodyne character of feminism today?

Hilary’s “feminism” may be real enough, but it doesn’t mean much today, except a rear-guard struggle against those who want to return to the days before its rather through and decisive triumph. Being a feminist today is like being a Zionist: It is endorsing a cause that already won and so no longer exists as a cause, though its name can be invoked for a very different purpose. Or it is like being a republican in France and being against monarchism or a state church. She is trying to call on solidarity with her genetic type to get votes. I find it absolutely appalling that the likes of Gloria Steinem would lend their voices to this strategy, with the cynicism of all idealists of this kind.

Testament of a manarchist; dialogue with a feminist bureaucrat

Is American feminism a form of Nazifascism, yes or no?
I propose a scenario and I want to ask my FB friends and interlocutors if they think it will work:
 
The situation is that I, a man, find myself in some bureaucratic agency providing some social service or wherein I must do some business, somewhere in the United States today. The persons I must deal with there are all female.
 
And, simply, I ask for something to which I think I am entitled. They do not say no but imply it while making a very different kind of claim: That I have spoken or behaved in some inappropriate manner, which obviously cannot be tolerated.
 
They declare this as fact, and it is clear that they will not tolerate any discussion about it. It is also clear that they are outraged. They may claim that I have treated them disrespectfully. Or they make a claim that, upon reflection, can be seen to clearly amount to an accusation that I have acted aggressively and that they are threatened by my behavior.
 
I consider this to be a vicious lie. The truth of the matter is that there was a simple disagreement which in a more civilized and tolerant society would not meet with this inexplicable outrage.
 
I have learned that there is no way of arguing with these women and nothing therefore that can be done. I can only keep silent as I stew inwardly with rage.
 
Have they in fact detected some anger, that seems inappropriate to the situation and is perhaps being displaced onto them? Sure. But it is subtle and slight, and moreover: It is only the “anger” that amounts to nothing more than the belief that there is a wrong or injustice that accompanies every meaningful disagreement. Hello? This is New York, baby.
 
Sometimes I think their nasty behavior is designed to provoke me into real rage, and thus prove their point, and given them an excuse to call security or the police — and threaten me with real violence. And, let’s be clear: I think it is clear enough from the level of outrage I typically get that in the background is the irrational paranoid fear of rape. I am no rapist and no friend of the idea. I can understand rage and even momentary hate, but not those kinds of acts of cruel. No one has done that to me, but it has been threatened perhaps twice, and I know enough about the world, and the society, I live in to know how horrible, cruel, and wrong that is. It is horrible and wrong to threaten it. And, consider: I have not threatened these women with anything, let alone bodily violence, which I abhor. But they threaten me with it. In fact. It only takes a bit of thought to realize this. Imagine: A woman calls a police officer and tells him, while acting meek, timid, and nervous, that a man has threatened her. She says he “raised his voice,” which denotationally means the volume of his speech was louder than what she considers normal. But connotational it means she is accusing him of imaginary or imminent violence, and I have learned enough from feminism to know that the only explanation for why women make these claims much more often than men is the displaced and exaggerated fear of rape. Now you say, but it cannot be exaggerated, given how common it is. Yes, I know that; I also know what many people do not: in the United States, as many men as women are raped. The men who are are often raped repeatedly over an extended period of time in places where they are involuntary confined in the company of other men who do this to terrify and punish. To punish deviants, the weak, or anyone who serves as a scapegoat in fighting back against the violence wielded against them by the system and its employees. Now, that woman tells the officer that I raised my voice and she is afraid. Therefore, it is to be concluded that I have threatened her. What the threat is of will be said not to matter; the truth is only that it is left unsaid but understood. It doubtless does not help that the United States is an essentially irrational and violent society and many people are habituated to equate disagreement with assault and aggression with violence. (They are not the same).
 
So here is my thought experiment:
She: You are extremely angry right now.
He: I am only angry about your refusal to consider what I have said.
She: I cannot consider what an angry person like you says.
He: Why is that? I am perfectly rational. If you doubt it, try me.
She: It is not a question of rationality, but aggression.
He: You mean the rhetorical force or tone with which I express in your face my opposition?
She: Yes.  It’s violent.
He: What violence? Whose violence? What are you talking about?
She: What I mean is, I am feeling very uncomfortable here with you right now.
He: And I am supposed to take the blame for that?
She: Well, you are clearly very upset and agitated.
He: And what if I were? What does that even mean?
She: You tell me. I don’t know what is your problem.
He: Yes, you do. I told you. I am sorry if you don’t like outside agitators and believe me to be one. Notice, I have not made any attempt toward the violent overthrow of the government of your little enterprise.
She: Indeed, you clearly are a malcontent. What have I to do with it?
He: I have in this instance a specific lack of contentment whose cause is your refusal to consider my claim. All of these defensive maneuvers on your part are an attempt to psychologize the disagreement so as to both blame me for the supposed crime of disagreeing with you, demanding justice, and challenging your authority.
She: You cannot demand justice by being challenging. As a woman, I feel threatened if you challenge my authority, as you put it. Why do you object to my authority? Sue me or call your congressperson if you disagree. You have a right to your opinion, just don’t harass me with it.  It makes me feel very comfortable, and I have a right not to be bothered.
He: You mean that either what I say, which is disagreement, or how I say it, makes you unhappy?
She: Yes.  You’re harassing me.
He: I am only demanding a fair hearing of my request.  That summarily denied without the least consideration, I am reproaching you for being unreasonable.
She: You have no right to decide what is “reasonable.”  All that means is what you want.
He: I did not try to stop you from presenting a coherent rational argument.
She: You are harassing me.  I wish you would leave me alone, and so leave.
He: If you refuse to speak to me, why don’t you run off?  I cannot keep you here and will not chase you.
She: I work here.
He: Oh!  “Worker’s rights.”  Workers may or may not have the right to disobey, but they have every right to make others obey them when it is part of doing their job.
She: I am only doing my job.
He: I doubt that, but if it is true, why should that claim carry any weight?
She: You’re interfering with the conduct of business in which I am doing my job.
He: You are interfering with the conduct of a civil society in which we are both equal citizens.
She: Ok, have it your way; we’re citizens.  You are denying my equality.
He: Am I? Why do you pretend to be personally attacked when it is only your abuse of your authority that I am calling into question? I am attacking a matter of concern that you ought to be concerned with, not you as a person. Whatever gave you that idea anyway?
She: Your tone and manner.
He: Oh, you police personalities now, is that it?
She: You are not respecting my feelings. And that is violence.
He: Balderdash. Why are your feelings my business or mine yours?
She: Your speech is assaultative, and I feel threatened.
He: Your feelings cannot constitute in themselves any justifiable reproach against me.
She: Why not? They reveal to me the truth of what is happening here.
He: Which is what?
She: That I feel that I am being threatened by you.
He: Well, I feel that you just said to me something about what you feel, and you deduce from that feeling some truth about my behavior and its meaning. Except that I do not feel that you said that, I believe that you did, and I believe my belief to be correct and thus to be knowledge. But you can only think that something is the case, you can’t feel that it is. What would that mean?
She: I feel threatened in my gut. How can you deny what I feel in my gut?
He: If you have a pain in your gut, see a doctor.
She: But I feel this way because of you.
He: A woman I am dating said that the other day, though she seemed to mean a different kind of feeling.
She: There you see; her feelings tell her that she loves you, and feels that you love her. Mine tell me that —
He: That you don’t like me.
She: That you don’t like women in authority.
He: That may be, but if that could be proven, it would not be because you testified to the depth of your feeling.
She: What then?
He: Maybe that you believe that your doing so proves anything, or means anything publicly, that is, in language.  
She: Look, I appreciate that you are very smart, but I’ve told you how it is, and I’m not going to argue with you.
He: I only wish your appreciation for smart people was genuine enough that you wanted badly enough to be a smart person yourself to actually care about thinking rather than representing your feelings to me as having the authority of some phallic totem that you wield so deftly.  I think such devices for all the pleasure they can yield serve people badly as arguments.
She: You’re very cute in what you say.  I am sure it gives you pride.  But I have told you how it is, and that’s that.
He: Why should I respect your telling me how it is, as if the way things are had any authority, when it is precisely the way things are, or seem to be as represented by you, that I am contesting?  When it comes to declarations of how it is, I always say, I don’t believe in “It.”
She: It is you who are the phallocrat with your insinuations.
He: It is you who are the phallocratess with your innuendoes.
She: Is that an insinuation?  You are referring to the joke about the Italian contraceptive?
He: I do mean it, but only figuratively.
She: You are insulting me corporeally as a woman.  This is such an outrage!
He: You are refusing the very possibility of rational discourse among citizens and standing on your gender politics to defend your bureaucratism.  This is such an outrage!
She: Ok, let’s return to what you insisted earlier was the subject, a mere matter of a practical problem that you say I refuse to discuss.  But I have heard your claim and given you my response.  What more do you want?
He: You replied authoritatively but we did not discuss it.  You merely replied authoritatively.  You refused further discussion.
She: But where could that lead?  It’s obvious that we could go around in circles forever.  
He: I see. You are right because you are in authority, and so there is nothing to discuss. Why didn’t you say that at the beginning?
She: I tried to, but you didn’t seem to want to listen to what I had to tell you.
He: Oh?
She: Yes. I said No, and you persisted. I did not put my foot down right away because —
He: Because you are a lady and want to be nice, and have a hard time saying no when you mean no. But if you say one thing and mean another, then I am supposed to have the intuition and sensitivity to your “feelings” to pick up on this immediately, through your body language perhaps. And otherwise, I am violating you in some way.
She: Yes.
He: But if the political is really personal, why don’t you go back to raising a family where you belong?
She: I will not have any sexist talk like that.
He: I was being ironical. What I mean is, if any disagreement that I raise with you is imaginary rape because your no to my meta-demand that you either grant my original request or give me a good enough reason that I have the opportunity to contest here and now with you, that my refusing to accept your position on this is tantamount to refusing your no in a romantic context. Though I can assure you I have no romantic feelings towards you, Madam, whatever.
She: No, you merely have a desire to violate —
He: It isn’t personal. Or rather, it is only you who want it to be.
She: Look, mister, you can file a formal complaint if you want. But otherwise, you have to behave in a polite and respectable manner, or we’ll have you thrown out and prosecuted for creating a disturbance.
He: It is not possible for you to be disturbed, and the evidence is how vociferously you protest that you have been, and you will punish the messenger.
She: (With great coldness and hostility). Look, you are entitled to your opinion. I have told you how it is. I have given you my answer. It is not up for discussion. Please leave now or else I will call the police.
 

Of course, the conversation never gets anywhere. I not only do not get what I wanted, but I get threatened with arrest or something equivalent. In other words, this woman on the basis of a prejudice that supposes that a man cannot disagree with a woman in a position of authority, because if he does, he is a rapist, since all men are rapists, or because all aggressive demeanor is violence. And the woman gets to decide what is what. Her feelings, which are God, decide.

Elsewhere on this site, I have described a real encounter with a feminist anti-rape movement activist that was briefer but of similar substance, and actually did lead to her calling the police.  I told the police officer on the phone that she is a rapist.  She threatened me with arrest, and therefore false prosecution and possible incarceration in a house of rape (does she not know that as many men as women are raped in this country?), merely for disagreeing with her.  Her assistant claimed on the phone that I violated her property right and legitimate authority by not leaving when she told me to.  I only stayed long enough to stay in her office and give her a piece of mind, telling her how and why she was wrong.  I still believe that she is as much a rapist as all the men she hates, which of course is all men. I actually had an acquaintance who worked for her and she told me, “I am so conflicted, because I work in the women’s movement but I actually have a boyfriend.”  (She was conflicted because men as such are the enemy).  The lady called the police to punish me for arguing with her.  My argument consisted of 3 sentences that I spoke to her with some anger but perfect self-control and rationality.  She then claimed that the interview she had given me for the job I had applied for (as her secretary) was one she did not want to grant me, but was afraid to say no, because I had insisted.  So I had imposed my will on her and that was implicit micro-egressive sexual violence.  Even though I could not have known this, as it was entirely in her imagination.  The complete story of this is in another essay on this blogsite.  I changed the names but she was head of a real national organization run out of her home devoted to ending rape in certain kinds of instances.

 
Do you see, my friends, why this fills me with rage? Indeed, misogynistic rage.
 
And yet most Americans will say that the man is in the wrong and the woman in the right in the above dialogue.
 
This to me is a portrait of Nazi feminism. It is also a portrait of life in American bureaucratic agencies, public or private, and the feminine style of authoritarianism.
 
They demand friendliness. Americans not only substitute niceness for justice, like all Christians; they substitute niceness for thinking. Friendly fascism. Patriarchy with a feminist face.
 
Now, they may say, QED. You have just confessed you want to commit a violent crime. But that is nonsense.
 
What is the difference? I am rational. They are not. They are thinking with their feelings. I think this should be outlawed! They will think I am a right-wing neo-patriarchal fascist, while I claim that it is they who are.
 
Hypothesis (or maxim): A man may not get angry at a woman. This is because she will interpret this as immanent violence on his part.
 
Either this is an anthropological universal, and I know some social scientists think that. Or it is particular to societies like ours. I am of the latter opinion. I do not have enough experience yet to know for certain. I do, however, know, that the claim is in fact false. That is, it may be true that every woman by virtue of something biological or otherwise universal believes this. But it is not true. I know it is not true because I have intimate and long-term personal acquaintance with one man of whom this is not true: myself. What this leaves me is angry, and since I want to be prudent, I have chosen to devote myself to writing and to take particular care to minimize situations where particularly an American female has any authority over me. I am a private misogynist as I am not quite willing yet to go to the absurdly impractical extreme of publicly advocating that women not be allowed to assume positions of power over other people. Though I see nothing wrong with preferring equality, democracy, anarchy, or even the rule of reason to the forms of governance that prevail in this country. For, after all, American men are not all that much better.
 
Is there any strategy that might work with these women? I don’t think there is any except consent to their point of view. Never yield.

Against empathy

Feminists and therapists always hated me because I don’t have feminine levels of empathy. Being rational doesn’t work anymore in our culture. That’s one reason why I want to move back to Europe. When I say they hate me, of course I know that that is systematically denied, but it’s true. Hatred with an empathetic human face of superficial Protestant American Christian “niceness,” but hatred all the same, because these people don’t just want to be that way. In fact, I think they care far more about vilifying people who aren’t like that. I think the God of justice must be more of a Kantian than a sentimentalist. What our culture needs more place for is the coldness of geometry. I cannot begin to describe how much intolerance and threats of violence I have been subjected to in this country, usually by officials acting in some kind of social service capacity, and almost always American females or feminized Protestant American men, whom I consider children. They want us all infantilized; society then is no longer a polis or republic but a giant support group. And I am sure that those many who say this are right, if I got more in touch with the feelings in the faces and thus more feminine, I would have a much easier time. In terms of our society being like this, consider that schoolboys who act too much like boys are massively being given drugs so that they will sit quietly and be docile like “good girls.” Of course, normative femininity is as false as normative masculinity. A real feminism would be against all gender norms and include women who are aggressive and not ladylike.

We must destroy the neoliberal therapeutic police state once and for all. Give no quarter to the feminisms and identity politics that go with it. They are lying even to the women whose support they count on.

As for acting on the basis of empathy, I think that is the care ethic. It was first promoted by feminist sociologist Carol Gilligan in the 1980s, and the idea is that ethics is not rational at all and involves no kind of thinking, but only “caring,” that is, feeling. The good society would be where everyone is mothered and mothering. Of course, we now have this. College students demand this in the form of “safe zones”: the community as symbolic uterus. This is universal infantilization. Students want that now because they have been reduced to consumers, who must have whatever they want because they want it or enjoy it. It’s only too bad that that ethic destroys itself and produces unhappy people whose malaise can be channeled into angrily recriminations against anyone who dares to speak to them (speech has the liability of disagreement if it is about anything, rather than mere supportive reassurance).

We need an ethic of reason in place of one of feeling. This will bring with it a reintroduction of the public sphere and a truly political rather than pseudo-political society. Though it is surely true that caring and thinking go together. It’s just that caring without thinking always proves to be a lie.

Read my face: No new screws (on the California “Yes Means Yes” law)

In the therapeutic culture of corporate liberalism, animal sentimentality has triumphed so that properly interpreting nonverbal communication is now the norm, and in the state of California, the law. The new “yes means yes” behavioral code, making by definition all failures of clear contractual agreement the “violence” of “rape” could only mean, as this Washington Post article makes clear, that men are responsible for reading their female partners’ body language with the same acuteness of “emotional intelligence” that women generally are hard-wired (and socialized) to master at a level where few men could follow them. Men are to be punished for their failures to be more like women. Though to be more precise, what a “feminist” (normatively feminine) society like ours does to men is punish them for being too much of a man or not enough of one. For instance, not expressive of emotion but also not denying of the one they in the superior hermeneutic wisdom attributed to them by the university-educated managerial professionals among whom the kind of activists responsible for these impossible new moral codes are generally found. 

In this regime of thinking about sex and relationships, everything must be perfectly clear precisely in domains where almost everything is essentially vague. The ambiguities are handled by culpabilization. This is carceral feminism. In modern societies the ruling class always wields a profound moralism. I am not responsible for correctly reading and interpreting the emotional states of a woman I am with. Women often say “yes” or “maybe” when they mean “no” and then reproach the man afterwards for not having read her mind, or for having done so and therefore having violated her will.

The California “Yes means yes” law treats women like children. This is fitting since liberalism generally treats all people like children. Act like an adult around them, and they will not like it; they will accuse you of “violence,” and insist that aggression is violence, transgression is violence, and this is a society of women and children in which men and adult women have no place.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/bbd303e0-04ba-11e5-a428-c9…

A very short essay on patriarchy and fucking: Heloise and Abelard after Gertrude Stein

Heloise, who loved Abelard, was not patriarchal. Abelard was not a patriarch. He did not rule her. He did fuck her, or, if you prefer, they fucked each other. Heloise’s father, however, was a patriarch. Abelard’s being a man did not make him a patriarch. Maybe his being a priest did, but of a different kind in a different context. He was older, and her tutor; but that does not mean he dominated her, though again, he did fuck her. Heloise’s father in castrating Abelard for fucking Heloise was a patriarch, because the term means rule of fathers, and he was trying to assert his domination over her and Abelard.  I think we can assume that Heloise’s father dominated her and was jealous of Abelard for threatening this domination. To Heloise’s father, Abelard’s fucking with his daughter was rape, which meant taking a cunt from its rightful owner and sullying it without a title deed.  Though she did not see it that way any more than did Abelard.  She wanted not so much to belong to Abelard as be with him as lover, and not so much to be “possessed” by him as fucked by him, fuckingly.  For in love a person is not just owned and fucked, as in patriarchy.  Love places everything in question and that is part of its true way of fucking.  In love, therefore, the lovers fuck each other.  If they are also artists, or writers as they both were, they might even wind up wanting to fuck plenty with the future, or fuck generally with the way things are in the state of things.  Though I do not think either of them were thinking about fucking with Heloise’s father or the Church that they both were part of, whatever Heloise’s father may have thought, and clearly he was a very fucked up asshole, which is why he wanted to fuck with Abelard by taking his balls.  As if he needed some in some good (and happy) sense.  Real men are not bullies.  Heloise’s father’s way of thinking was part of a world that was fucked up, whether it was Luther, the man who said every père de famille is the petty pope enthroned at his dinner table to mansplain to the world, or as I prefer to think, Heloise and her partner pedagogue himself and certain others like maybe this Francis in Assisi whose efforts were needed to assert love’s rights over property (what else was Francis’s teaching?) and fuck with the fucked up world in the way only lovers with the courage of real good fuckers can.  To Heloise’s father, only certain kinds of men could be permitted to fuck with a man’s daughter, and such men become husbands with the blessing of the former owner of the girl who is the father.  Abelard was not Heloise’s father’s daughter’s husband, and so was not such a man.  Heloise’s father thought he was depriving Abelard of manhood and the ability to love a woman, including a young girl like his daughter, but it was not to be thus, and they continued to love each other, albeit in a different way, or using different means, such as the letter.  Tell me if you can, what makes a man a man?  The pen is as mighty as the cock, it was found, if what you want is to love or be loved.  Or the cunt, for Heloise remained a lover also, though they wound up living apart in separate institutions of monastic discipline and religious faith, which did not exclude the discipline of writing each other, nor the faith of loving each other, and loving passionately.  Heloise’s father failed in his success, and Heloise’s lover succeeded in his failure.  He had no literal balls to aid him in getting it up and fucking her, but chutzpah is a better word and it has no gender, though we all rightly prefer to make use of as much potenza as is our potentiality.

So let’s be clear about what is and is not patriarchy. I am not a Christian, but probably, if rightly interpreted, Christianity is the world’s first and most anti-patriarchal religion, at least in a certain way. (At least if we allow the invention of romantic love as part of it).  It made it possible for women to be loved and not just married and/or fucked. For Heloise, as we know, was not only fucked but loved.

Of love, feminism, and related matters

What is the name for a “women’s society”? Define this as a society that is ruled in the name and interest of women. Oddly enough, the name of that society is patriarchy. This is because patriarchy partly is a protection racket for women.

It is a rule of fathers (and husbands), who define their role partly through the exchange of women between them (according to the anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss, in all societies, based as they are on the incest taboo, a man must refuse his sister (and mother) and marry someone else’s sister. He marries the daughter of the father of a young girl who will exchange her for a husband he approves of. The girl/woman is protected by a strong man (father or husband). Sons can rebel against fathers (daughters can rebel, as in Antigone, and when they do often do so against fathers, since it is they who rule, but most typically they do not), but sons only win by displacing the father and become a father (and husband) themselves. This means there is rule of fathers. That is what patriarchy is. From “Don’t mess with me, or my husband (or father) will beat you up!” to “Don’t transgress in my space, or I will call the cops!” there is not much passage or difference.

Rape was always defined as a property crime, and it still is; the only difference is that now women are empowered legally and morally to act as protectors of their own property that they have in their bodies.

This means: What a non-patriarchal and non-capitalist idea of what rape is and what its prevention involves is an interesting question and not a simple one. I suspect that its bourgeois and authoritarian character is inevitable, and I take this to be reason enough to refuse to grant it centrality in any feminism calling itself socialist.

What has done the most to change all this is two things: (1) the long history of the rise of romantic love beginning in the medieval Provencal (southern French) poetry and (northern) French narratives that championed it (with Dante and Petrarch popularizing it in the 14th century). Doubtless one reason this was possible was the background of Christianity, which probably was not only a progressive development in European history, but also a feminizing one and not only because of the cult of the Virgin Mary, which began around this time. Romantic love was against marriage. Marriage of course does not exclude sexual concupiscence; what it is excludes is only romantic love. It excludes it because it is only capable of treating it as a basis. You are supposed to promise to love your spouse forever, though you cannot do so if romantic love includes desire and not only solicitude. Consequently, the existence of marriage as involving, and based on, this promise renders the possibility of adultery problematic every time it appears, because if you really love this person you met recently and who is not your wife, there is no solution that is not an unhappy one. Therefore, marriage based on love is a contradiction in the Hegelian sense that means not that it is impossible but that it is a possibility structured by an impossibility that threatens always to undermine it.

What defines romantic love is the combination of desire and care, or love as caritas. The Gospels and the Letters of Paul (most notable, the famous 13th chapter of 1st Corinthians) legislate love of the neighbor as care and solicitude only, and Paul is clear that love desires nothing because it is selfless. It gives only and does not want to take. The Gospels and Paul did not make love a basis of marriage; indeed, Paul downgraded marriage because he thought it only about sexual desire.

In modern philosophy, Kant, the greatest thinker who is Protestant but not Christian (since neither love, Christianity’s central idea, nor grace, which is reception of divine love, play any role in his thought, which never mentions Christ), said that marriage is a contractual agreement for the mutual use of one another’s bodies for one’s (essentially private) sexual pleasure. Perhaps on the Cartesian basis of modern philosophy until Wittgenstein and Heidegger, this is the only consistent position.

This is the destiny we are in danger of today. Marriage was always a legal arrangement designed to legitimate a relationship, which is personal and ideally caring, but in which sex essentially plays only the role of facilitating physical reproduction, just as the married couple is also the basis of the family which is the basic unit of cultural reproduction and socialization.

Love has been a possible basis of love at least since the Biblical Jacob. Maybe too since Helen of Troy, though I think that she and Paris merely desire each other, while Aeneas does love. The Iliad recognizes romantic/erotic desire, like anger, as dangerous, and so it is. Today, more and more people, especially Americans, do not believe in love anymore, and maybe its passing is, as Alain Badiou seems to suggest, a correlate of the passing of the political. As Badiou puts it, we increasingly have administration instead of politics, technology instead of science, culture instead of art, sex instead of love. Romantic love combines desire and care. Sex and marriage respectively are by themselves about desire or care separately.

Marriage is a very old institution that tends to give women and men something they want and need, but can also be thought imprisoning. Patriarchy’s greatest arguments included those for marriage and family. Sexual trysts without love probably favor women even less. They cannot be prohibited, but it must be recognized that sex with marriage is not love, and is not enough.

Romantic love tolerated adultery, and in fact typically was adulterous. It was therefore not a choice of the arranged marriage provided by the suitable daughter of a father who gives her away, having agreed to do so. So it is no longer a men’s club organized as a protection racket for vulnerable girls and women. (The virginity cult was its principle sign). The fact that romantic love opposes patriarchy is obvious enough in the English-speaking world because of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” but was first made obvious in several of the 12the century legends, and in the story of Abelard and Heloise (which was passionate and sexual until Heloise’s angry father castrated Abelard, after which it remained passionate but could only be epistolary, a literary love affair).

Heloise, who loved Abelard, was not patriarchal. Abelard was not a patriarch. He did not rule her. He did fuck her, or, if you prefer, they fucked each other. Heloise’s father, however, was a patriarch. Abelard’s being a man did not make him a patriarch. Maybe his being a priest did, but of a different kind in a different context. He was older, and her tutor; but that does not mean he dominated her, though again, he did fuck her. Heloise’s father in castrating Abelard for fucking Heloise was a patriarch, because the term means rule of fathers, and he was trying to assert his domination over her and Abelard. So let’s be clear about what is and is not patriarchy. I am not a Christian, but probably, if rightly interpreted, Christianity is the world’s first and most anti-patriarchal religion, at least in a certain way. It made it possible for women to be loved and not just married and/or fucked. For Heloise, as we know, was not only fucked but loved.

What is love if it does not need marriage? My belief is that it is a process of interrogation through the relationship of the participants’ form of life, including their relationship. It takes place through a series of encounters, which can be conversations, exchanges of letters (as was the case with Abelard and Heloise and many literary lovers since), or what we now call love-making. In all of these encounters, love is made. There is a “knowing” involved, as we know from Genesis. The love affair is this series of encounters. No promise is required. There is a kind of fidelity, but it does not necessarily or in essence mean the exclusivity of forbearance of loving another. That may end the relationship, but does not betray it unless one also lies and says “I still love you” when one no longer does. The definition I have given is broad enough to include many friendships. The difference is only that in friendship some privacy of the partners is respected, whereas erotic-romantic love permits the transgression of all such barriers. Indeed, one reason why romantic love is the site of an inquiry is that it is problematizing in this good way because it is problematic. It is problematic because the kind of intimacy that is sought and experienced is such that the twin dangers of merger and separation are always implicitly at play, and while the latter leads to resumption of mutual solitudes, or recognition that the love has dissolved into mere friendship, the inquiry into merely toleration, the former presents the danger of romantic suicide as consummation of desire, as in Tristan und Isolde and the Japanese double suicide. (Or desire for this consummation and unwillingness to accept anything less, as in Romeo and Juliet and The Sorrows of Young Werther). My characterization of romantic love as interrogation or inquiry, and, because it places into question nothing more than the existence and character of the “I” and the “you” and the relationship between “us” that is declared with the annunciation of the love affair, the exchanged declarations “I love you” or their equivalent (and of course, it also places into question the existence and character of this love, asking what it is, means, entails as consequence – so marriage might result, but this is opposite of the marriage ceremony, when the consequence is given and reference to the possibilizing condition of love is asserted) – it is consistent with this that identification/merger and difference/separation would be placed in question – all of this is consistent with my understanding of how romantic love was originally sketched out in the writings of certain poets, for romantic love was a literary phenomenon and it is important to grasp this, for at its best in France one can see, in certain literary and cinematic texts, that this is still the case: love is a thinking of a kind because it places me and you and us and what it is to desire or care about anyone or anything, in question.

(2) The second great advance against patriarchy was in fact the French Revolution. It was made in the name of the people who became citizens (citoyens and citoyennes, marking implicit gender equality, because the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen clearly referred by implication if not fact to all human beings, just as Jefferson’s Declaration founding this country did and does) and nominally children of the fatherland (“Allons enfants de la patrie,” the opening words of the revolutionary war anthem adopted as the national anthem as it remains). Patriarchy now has become a metaphor. Lacanians would call this appropriate. Fatherhood is now a function, not a matter of persons. The Revolution ended the rule of persons and replaced it with that of law, as it had done a few years earlier in what then became the United States.

This means: Society belongs to all of us, who as men and women citizens are nonetheless as much sons and daughters (and brothers and sisters: the Revolution also proclaimed Fraternity as one of the principles defining it in its slogan) as fathers or mothers, and those roles are of course optional. The government is an imaginary and/or symbolic father, and it alone as far as public social life (and not the private family) is concerned.

Catholicism held that the roles of father and mother, particularly mother, were mandatory, and still does, which is the real reason for its opposition to abortion, together with its concern to regulate sexuality, which it alone suspects of being capable of undermining love when marriage and the family are the institutions that most threaten that and always did, love being a revolutionary invention that, unlike the incest taboo and some “law of the father” at least as function, was not universal, as most marriages were arranged for economic reasons and it remains a legal institution based on a contract. The Revolution, however, dethroned the Church also.

With it, it dethroned all traditionalisms, and all governance based on personal relationships, as in feudalism. Marx’s “Communist Manifesto” still provides the most lucid and accurate description of all that this, and the rise of capitalism more broadly, involves. And feminists would do well to read it. France is officially a secular republic. Modern feminism, though it had antecedents in Greek antiquity, in the 17th century “precieuses” movement of aristocratic women writers in France, in the rise of a literary genre, the novel, that privileged bourgeois women with leisure as readers and was everywhere open to women authors, and other developments, had its most decisive beginning during the Revolution. After that, for a long time it was associated largely with workers’ and socialist movements, because so many factory workers were women.

In postwar America, it was a movement of housewives who wanted to enter the professions. This feminism undermined its own latently progressive and revolutionary or even truly liberal character in various ways (which I have written about elsewhere) that ultimately turn upon the contradictions of its class character, and the fact that the phenomenal success of women in entering all the professions under this banner also meant that it would become a set of variant but related ideologies whose real and central function was to promote and legitimate a managerial society, as well as the rise of what might be called the “therapeutic/carceral police state.”

We don’t want a society that will merely liberate and empower women anymore than we want one that does this for gay people. Queer aesthetics has emphasized “querying,” which is a questioning of traditional modes of gender and sexuality by virtue of a delegitimating of traditional gender and sex roles in favor of what supposedly becomes possible by being gay. But our culture is already more advanced than that, because we don’t need to be gay to do that. And because we can question given or traditional roles in lots of ways.

What we need is a society of men and women who love men and women. To do this, you don’t have to be some type of person and it surely helps not to be. In acts of love and politics and science and art, we invent, and call into question all kinds of things. That a revolutionary future could be so prosaic is neither discouraging nor does it trivialize the work of getting there from where we are.

“Reclaim transgressive aggression, down with normative femininity!”: The concealed truth about the feminism that matters

Critics of “patriarchy” typically fail to make a crucial distinction: There is rationality and barbarism. Yes, they may seem to be opposed while actually going together. Nonetheless: There is a kind of authoritarianism that says “Do what I say because I am the boss, and if you don’t I will hurt you.” I call this barbaric authoritarianism. I think that American society, which is much less male-dominated than many (though it must be noted that patriarchy is not male domination let alone predominance; it is “rule of fathers”), has more of this than most.

Traditionally, patriarchies were bureaucratic and relied upon the rational judgment of those in authority. Feminism has done and can do (qua feminism) nothing to change this.

The problem I have with most women in authority is that they draw the line between the two in a way that suggests that they don’t even really know what “violence” is and isn’t. Although we supposedly know that women are not usually capable of it and never predisposed to it, while “male aggressivity” means nothing else.

In fact, I would suggest that anti-male radical feminism can be defined by the mistaken view that aggression is the same as violence. Perhaps because it portends it. Although it may take someone educated properly in radical social theory to identify this possibility in its latency for the evil it presumably is.

Because males are more aggressive, they not only are responsible for most of the violence (or at least for carrying it out), but are also more transgressive, and more effectively so, and so less conformist and obedient. This is the question: Do we want a society that has tacitly adopted a normative femininity, in conjunction with therapeutic spiritual and business management ideologies, with the functional rationale being that it renders the citizenry more docile and complaint (conforming and obedient)? Because that is exactly what happened. And most of liberalism is caught up in this, though its errors do not proceed from a mistaken gender politics so much as they have effectively made use of it. Some of what happened historically may not have had the intentions that would correspond to their functional effects; that this can be the case is a description of what goes by the name of History. And history and historical time are the best counter-argument to a politics of paranoia, which is one of management, Oedipalization, and spatializing panopticism, or simply, a regime of knowledge.

Women are naturally and usually more nurturing and caring. If they weren’t hard-wired for this, a lot of babies would just die.  This does not mean that they cannot make great mathematicians; but it does mean that even those who do will also make better mommies than their male counterparts.  The truth is, a woman can in principle do almost anything a man can do, and is clearly disadvantaged only in certain tasks requiring physical strength; while a man cannot do, quite, everything a woman can.  Though I do believe that the distribution of traits is such that thinking abstractly and going against the crowd are two things most men find easier than most women, while understanding deeply the person one is with and how to communicate with him or her effectively in a way that is partly unconscious is something that by and large women will always do much better.  The problem is this actually makes women typically rather more conservative in exactly one particular way: they are less disposed to transgression and novelty.

What is the name for a “women’s society”?  Define this as a society that is ruled in the name and interest of women.  Oddly enough, the name of that society is patriarchy.  This is because patriarchy partly is a protection racket for women.  It is a rule of fathers (and husbands), who define their role partly through the exchange of women between them (according to the anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss, in all societies, based as they are on the incest taboo, a man must refuse his sister (and mother) and marry someone else’s sister.  He marries the daughter of the father of a young girl who will exchange her for a husband he approves of.  The girl/woman is protected by a strong man (father or husband).  Sons can rebel against fathers (daughters can rebel, as in Antigone, and when they do often do so against fathers, since it is they who rule, but most typically they do not), but sons only win by displacing the father and become a father (and husband) themselves.  This means there is rule of fathers.  That is what patriarchy is.  From “Don’t mess with me, or my husband (or father) will beat you up!” to “Don’t transgress in my space, or I will call the cops!” there is not much passage or difference.  Rape was always defined as a property crime, and it still is; the only difference is that now women are empowered legally and morally to act as protectors of their own property that they have in their bodies.  This means: What a non-patriarchal and non-capitalist idea of what rape is and what its prevention involves is an interesting question and not a simple one.

What has done the most to change all this is two things: (1) the long history of the rise of romantic love beginning in the medieval Provencal (southern French) poetry and (northern) French narratives that championed it (with Dante and Petrarch popularizing it in the 14th century).  Doubtless one reason this was possible was the background of Christianity, which probably was not only a progressive development in European history, but also a feminizing one and not only because of the cult of the Virgin Mary, which began around this time.  Romantic love was against marriage.  It tolerated adultery, and in fact typically was adulterous.  It was therefore not a choice of the arranged marriage provided by the suitable daughter of a father who gives her away, having agreed to do so.  So it is no longer a men’s club organized as a protection racket for vulnerable girls and women.  (The virginity cult was its principle sign).  The fact that romantic love opposes patriarchy is obvious enough in the English-speaking world because of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” but was first made obvious in several of the 12the century legends, and in the story of Abelard and Heloise (which was passionate and sexual until Heloise’s angry father castrated Abelard, after which it remained passionate but could only be epistolary, a literary love affair).  (2) The French Revolution was made in the name of the people who became citizens (citoyens and citoyennes, marking implicit gender equality, because the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen clearly referred by implication if not fact to all human beings, just as Jefferson’s Declaration founding this country did and does) and nominally children of the fatherland (“Allons enfants de la patrie,” the opening words of the revolutionary war anthem adopted as the national anthem as it remains).  Patriarchy now has become a metaphor.  Lacanians would call this appropriate.  Fatherhood is now a function, not a matter of persons.  The Revolution ended the rule of persons and replaced it with that of law, as it had done a few years earlier in what then became the United States.  This means: Society belongs to all of us, who as men and women citizens are nonetheless as much sons and daughters (and brothers and sisters: the Revolution also proclaimed Fraternity as one of the principles defining it in its slogan) as fathers or mothers, and those roles are of course optional.  The government is an imaginary and/or symbolic father, and it alone as far as public social life (and not the private family) is concerned.   Catholicism held that the roles of father and mother, particularly mother, were mandatory, and still does, which is the real reason for its opposition to abortion, together with its concern to regulate sexuality, which it alone suspects of being capable of undermining love when marriage and the family are the institutions that most threaten that and always did, love being a revolutionary invention that, unlike the incest taboo and some “law of the father” at least as function, was not universal, as most marriages were arranged for economic reasons and it remains a legal institution based on a contract.  The Revolution, however, dethroned the Church also.  With it, it dethroned all traditionalisms, and all governance based on personal relationships, as in feudalism.  Marx’s “Communist Manifesto” still provides the most lucid and accurate description of all that this, and the rise of capitalism more broadly, involves.  And feminists would do well to read it.   France is officially a secular republic.  Modern feminism, though it had antecedents in Greek antiquity, in the 17th century “precieuses” movement of aristocratic women writers in France, in the rise of a literary genre, the novel, that privileged bourgeois women with leisure as readers and was everywhere open to women authors, and other developments, had its most decisive beginning during the Revolution.  After that, for a long time it was associated largely with workers’ and socialist movements, because so many factory workers were women.  In postwar America, it was a movement of housewives who wanted to enter the professions.

That movement succeeded.  But it had the wrong ethos.  It wound up facilitating enthusiastic adherence to various managerial ideologies that are designed for the university educated class of managers, professionals, and functionaries.  Its various ideological variants are among those specific to and characteristic of this class.

I have lived for half a century in a post-feminist society where relationships are privileged and intellectual life, outside of the university environment, which I am no longer directly part of, largely disdained or ignored.  I saw many women succeed in that environment as scholars, and I admired and learned from them as much as their male counterparts.  I am sure I did approach my relationships with them a bit differently, and that is less than ideal, for women scholars, but as scholars and writers and lecturers their gender seemed irrelevant.  Outside the world of scholars and artists, which I am still part of, I find that our society does seem to consist largely of intolerant and superficial people, and of men who think too much like women for my tastes, though of course their gregarious behavior amongst themselves and their great disposition to violence are masculine ways of reacting to what we must suppose their feminine or simply childish insecurities.  Women surely find it easier to be functionaries, and beginning when I was at Berkeley in the 80s, most office functionaries were women, and the others often gay or strikingly effeminate men.   My problem with gender was always with female bureaucrats, and I almost always found them horrible.  In fact, they typically wielded what are obviously various gender prejudices, and you can imagine that I, son and grandson of professors, teachers, musicians, and doctors, could not easily appreciate being labelled “violent” just because I am argumentative.  Or being mistreated because I am judged by female managers with their constitutive superior emotional intelligence as “wrongly feeling”: feeling either too much or not enough.  Anger and nervousness are, especially in California, detected with extremely finely tuned meters so that none is tolerated.  Now, if you do feel an emotional state that cannot be tolerated, should you express it or not?  You are guilty and damned either way: either of concealing your emotion or of not recognizing and perhaps checking it.  Further: If, in an encounter between a man and a woman, especially if she wields professional authority and he does not (maybe he is a student or client of the bureaucracy), the man is guilty if he feels a disagreeable emotion, and the man is guilty also if SHE feels a disagreeable emotion.  If there is any unpleasantness or its possibility is sniffed out, and believe you me, they will sniff it out, this is a society of almost zero tolerance, where everyone has a hair trigger, for “prejudice” or any other putative impropriety.  Worse, these female bureaucrats get a training in “communication skills” or something like it, and they think these are the new Halakhah, they are the rules of “how it is” in the world as a whole, as they describe what everyone everywhere is like, the Total Theory of People (and How to Manage Them, which is the hidden agenda of all such psychological theories).  What I advocate is a return to old-fashioned (a) rational discourse and (b) freedom of speech, along with (c) limits to official power.  The “liberal” ideology, which is not liberal, implicitly refuses, because it renders impossible, all of this.

In short, a humanist liberal ideology, feminist and otherwise, has largely taken over our society (this happened in the 1970s, and is largely the result in this country of the protest and counterculture movements of the 1960s).  Trump’s candidacy may be partly a reaction to this, and reactionary refusal of it.  This was also said of Reagan, and some people said it of the punk rock movement that meant so much to me when I was young.  I think that is true but punk tended towards the left, it simply was not “liberal.”  No one believed that punk was liberal, and no punks that I have ever known or heard of were.  It was a cliche then that every punk was “either fascist or communist,” though that is rather simplifying.  For me, punk’s precursors were Brecht, Kafka, and Duchamp, and through Duchamp Warhol (and the Velvet Underground).  The problem with Trump is only this: We need a better way to “just say no” to Hilary and everything her Democratic Party represents, or at least much of it.  What I can say about my experiences at Berkeley outside the classroom (the anti-intellectual pseudo-left “liberals” with their agenda of promoting their ideas through safe spaces and speech codes was still only nascent then) is that those women functionaries in particular seemed to treat me, and make me feel, like a white (rock and roll?) nigger.  Even my interest in Judaism was that of a kind of nigger.  If Jews are not a kind of nigger, than I am prepared to say what the Catholic writer Flannery O’Connor said of the “Eucharist” (communion) “if it’s just a symbol”: “Then to hell with it.”  Make of this what you will, but I do not side, and cannot, it would betray all of my key life experiences, with the men an women in power, who legitimate the characteristic forms of domination of our society in the way that members of the elite of lawyers, doctors, executives, and bankers typically do.  (And that, by the way, is my picture of Reform Judaism, which some long enough history of association with people in it has absolutely confirmed; it represents assimilation to society in terms of its dominant institutions and mores, when the assimilation everyone I admire (including Jews like Walter Benjamin, Susan Sontag, and Lou Reed) aspires to is not to society but to the artistic and intellectual culture that largely is nothing more nor less than a critique of that society.

A politics that appeals to women more than men will be one of a welfare state that is not necessary liberal in the old sense of liberty. There are good things about being nurturing, and good things about a society that has this as one of its goals. But it also needs to be limited, and today’s “liberals” only believe in total management, or big government, and not in limited government at all.

Women are more nurturing and caring, and less aggressive and transgressive. Antigone notwithstanding, this means that they are less political. I am not of course suggesting a private/public, family/society distinction on the basis of gender roles such as Hegel adopts in his political philosophy, other features of which may have some continuing utility; I think he understood the connection between freedom and reason that English and American political thought never grasps.

This is in fact why such phenomena as the movement of women in punk rock, including the “Riot Girls” of a generation ago and of course Pussy Riot, are so important. If our society is tacitly marketing conformism as feminine, then what we need maybe more than anything is some real female transgression. Fuck (with) your gender, play outside the box. A feminism worth the name rejects normative femininity as traditional bullshit and says instead, “Raise Boys and Girls the Same.” I think we should do that not in spite of the fact that they are different but because of it. We need men who cry and are gentle (ALSO) and women who get in your face and argue and disobey (also).

“Radical feminism” fell into a trap of its own unwitting creation, as it became a carceral/moralist anti-male ideology. This means it misidentifies many people who have really no power at all with some imaginary notion of how they (the social managers of minoritarian provenance) are being oppressed. I also think that many Black people do that, and the reason is that there is a broad liberal ideology that markets the nonsense idea that barbarism and domination are not social practices but the result of the Evil Will of the privileged thought to exercise domination by virtue of the kinds of persons they are (or bodies they have). And then you get the spectacle of people in (admittedly mostly low levels of) power pretending, and telling themselves, like Jeanne does at the end of “Last Tango in Paris” when, after shooting and killing Paul, who has just made an ironic joke about how he is not a hero, she ritually recites to herself what she plans to tell the police: that this man who followed her and (in the French sense) “penetrated” her apartment was a man she did not know who tried to rape her.

If you want to use violence, the rule for those in positions of power is always to claim that the victim tried to use violence against you. They may even say something idiotic like that you “raised your voice” (what does that mean? I think it means they have decided they can pretend that your manner of speaking is violence because your very voice, which indicates your ability to speak, and no doubt to say something contrary, is a weapon. Find rape everyday, everywhere: that way lies freedom, yes?

The omnipresence of liberation requires that of oppression. In fact, it requires that oppression and injustice are inevitable.

Trigger warning on misogynistic posts

Consider these prose poems that are meant to articulate a thought understood more as expression of a sentiment than a claim to state something truly.

“You can’t generalize,” says the liberal.  “Not all of the many members of the group are like that.”  But generalizations do not claim that.  They may even be claims about essence.  Do judgments of essence need to be statistical observations?  No reason why they should.  If there are X’s and essential X’s, the latter are true to the essence of all the X’s, the rest of whom manifest it with “minimal appearance” or not at all.  In fact, the essence corresponds to an ideology.  It happens to be one many people believe in, otherwise it would not be ideology.  An ideology is a theory that you can believe.  It’s like religion for Protestantism, which asks only that you believe, and (in some forms) doesn’t care if it is true.

Moreover, Lacan himself said the idea of woman is of the non-all.  Thus, “woman” has no theory; there are only theories of men.  Or, woman has an essence and men “know” what it is while they themselves do not, or refuse it.

There’s a radical slogan: Refuse who you are.  The claim is not epistemological, but ontological.  This should be applied to identities broadly.  For instance, white and black people often really do hate each other, and black people really are more often violent, and other things that white people have every reason not to like.  They should get together more often to refuse not recognition of the other (recognition is still epistemological, and solipsism and modern skepticism about the very existence of the world or other people is epistemological, just as the demand to recognize or respect “the Other” is a moralism that belongs to that paradigm), but to refuse their own identity, refuse to be and become who they are.  Instead of becoming more who or what you are already are, or negating it but only in order to affirm something deeper, as in Hegelianism of a certain kind, refuse your particularity and join the construction of collective subjects on the basis of universality.  As for what people as we encounter them are actually like, I see no reason to shy away from being as disenchanted as one wants.  Those who can refuse themselves do not need to cling to an identity and are not so easily insulted.  Besides, every true feminist knows that their struggle is not for the power (to express, manifest, realize itself) of women and against that of men but agains the current distribution of possible ways of being men and women in favor of some other to be invented.

On this basis, one ought to be able to paint ugly portraits of every type of person in our society, by demographic category.  Why not?  And the portraits must be more ugly than beautiful because it is a different society that we want, and that will be one whose people – us – are different.  People take pause against criticism because this is a competitive and ad hominem society of opportunity and risk and what everyone now really wants is to stand back stage while they compose the makeup of their soul, and only be visible for what they show, while fearing like hell that someone with contrary motives (competitor or factional foe) will catch them out.

 

My latest misogynistic take down of the ugly Americans

“Men are contingent, while women are absolute. That is why men are tragic and women comic. Men are mystical, women magical. Men believe in ideas, women in their own relationships. American culture is ad hominem because it is feminized. If you are argue with a woman, she takes no pleasure in it, but merely argues back in order to authoritatively and decisively put you in your place to punish you for starting it. What she is saying is, this is a woman’s place, how dare you? Wit was invented along with politeness and flattery because women consider outrageous insults, which are really implied threats or imaginary rape, what men if they have any education will regard as interesting remarks. Unless they are Americans, for all American men have the minds of women even if they are aggressive like men in their manner of threatening you for having insulted them. If women ruled, we would still have circular time. I suspect that Christianity invented eternal life because it was feminizing. Women are great fighters, but only against injustice. Every popular army of national liberation should be led by a woman, like Joan of Arc. To get a man to fight, tell him God, king, or country require his services, and he will say to his fellow men, in between passing around pictures of his girl back home, that you just got to do what you just got to do, that’s how it is, it doesn’t really mean anything, which is another way of saying we are all mortal, and the war is there to prove it. To get a woman to fight, kill her sons, and blame it on the enemy; now you have your fighter. What in the end is just another job to the men is to her the cause of causes for the king of kings.”

“Europeans of both genders are less like this, and Americans more so. France is not like this at all, even though women there are just as successful as here in professional life. What is the strange conjuncture here of the ugliness of the typical American personality and that of feminine domination?”

“It is that American culture suffers from the fact that the Americans have never been defeated and invaded. Unfortunately, the occupation of the poorer halves of their cities by out of control military police forces is no substitute, since it can only make them angry. Overconfidence is their principal national character trait. When bothered, they are angry, or else, if spiritual adepts, they go to self-help books and gurus and techniques and try to find a way to overcome the supposedly urgent problem. They don’t have any tragic sense of the inevitability of failure. Consequently, they are not reflective and have little interiority. The intellectuals among them mostly are isolated in rural universities where they only associate with each other, as the rest of society shuns them when not pretending to look up to them, since ‘you’re so smart’ is actually dismissive, the unsaid corollary being, ‘too bad it doesn’t matter, since it isn’t real’. The intolerance of most Americans goes with this, too, and liberals of course are no exception. Nor are Reform Jews, liberal Catholics (who seem to command little public attention, as their own coreligionists who do are assimilable in their politics to the Protestant evangelicals) or atheists; they are just intolerant about different things, sometimes about intolerance itself.”