It is at times difficult for me to see why the feminist movement should be given the slightest sympathy. If being a feminist means that you think women have dignity equal to men and that women are capable of intellectual and moral achievements just as great as those of men, then yes I am a feminist. In other words, if protesting conditions in Saudi Arabia means being a feminist, then sign me up. But as Jordan Peterson has remarked, being a feminist frequently means protesting anything but conditions in Saudi Arabia.
Concerning the odd creature that is the liberal Western feminist, I don’t think I can agree with literally any of their principles. Take one of their most uncontroversial claims: that women were not educated throughout history. Pretty much everyone (except me) would accept that.
However, they’ve failed to historicize the concept of education.
Ideas of what education consists in have changed dramatically over time. MacIntyre treats this in After Virtue, commenting on how once the West lost its commitment to Aristotle’s conception of the virtues a corresponding change occurred in the concept of education and intelligence. Now, with Kant and modernity, you do not have to be smart to be good. For pre-modern people, intelligence was not the exclusive possession of a cult of expertise but something absolutely necessary to be good and that anyone committed to a life of virtue could acquire.
Given their failure to think historically, what feminists are basically saying when they tell us that women have not been educated in the West until modernity is that women throughout Western history have not attended 21st century liberal universities.
And this is hardly a remarkable thesis.
Yes, lots of men throughout history have been absolutely terrible to women. But lots of women have been absolutely terrible to men. And lots of men have been absolutely terrible to other men. And lots of women have been absolutely terrible to other women. To think that we need some new fangled -ism to fight male oppression of women is simply ridiculous
If anything, we need a renewed virism, an examination of how men are treated in the modern world. Modern, secular culture is decidedly against men and masculinity in a way that pre-modern civilization in the West was never against women.
Let me explain…
By secular I take to mean a society that brackets questions of truth and goodness and frames their public discourse around competing claims to rights conducted in a supposedly value neutral public sphere. Criminality is totally divorced from any type of morality and enforced according to abstract principles like consent and self-interest.
Any assertion of public morality or virtue is condemned as the most diabolical patriarchal intolerance in a secular society.
This is a situation in which it is almost impossible to be a criminal as a woman.
For all practical purposes, only men can be criminals in a secular society.
Take the issue of sexuality and sexual assault…
Feminists like to complain that there is no word to describe a male slut. For them, this is a sign that Western culture has only held women to a standard of sexual decency and that men can do whatever they want. Women are forced to behave like disembodied asexual beings without any type of carnal desire. To behave in a perfectly natural way for a embodied person with sexual desires is deemed, according to feminists, as un-ladylike.
THIS COULD NOT BE FARTHER FROM THE TRUTH.
Due to the dramatically different ways that men and women experience their sexuality, there are dramatically different ways to be a sexually degenerate man than to be a sexually degenerate woman.
A sexually degenerate man is someone who pursues women far too aggressively: a rapist.
A sexually degenerate woman is someone who consents far too easily: a slut.
The last time I checked it wasn’t a felony to be a slut.
Mass incarceration of men is a logical consequence of liberalism’s most cherished commitments.
If virtue is to be ignored, questions of morality bracketed and massive legal formalisms instituted in order to guarantee the free exercise of self-interest checked only according to the logic of consent, then what we have is a situation where – admittedly extremely immoral – men are persecuted as the most abominable of criminals at the hands of some of history’s most vile women as they indulge in fantasies of their own liberation.