Foundations for a Pro-Male Ethics

[Thanks to the good folks over at New Male Studies for originally publishing this work. Apologies for not getting around to breaking this down into manageable chunks of easily read blog posts. You’ll simply have to put on your scholar cap and read it.]

 

Foundations for a Pro-Male Ethics

Jason Gregory

The ethics of care, or care ethics, aims to restore a concrete context to morality through the recognition that we are embodied selves. This paper analyzes care ethics and how they have been appropriated by prominent feminist philosophers and used to spread invective notions about men. There are many reasons why men should embrace care ethics and incorporate such ethics into a larger pro-male ethics. There are very good moral reason for men to find a balance between an embodied self and an abstract self. Care ethics, incorporated into a pro-male ethics, can help restore a more profound sense of personhood to men, but before this can happen, care ethics need disconnected from those who have misappropriated them for use as an ideological tool to spread misandry.

 

Keywords: care ethics, rationalist masculine ethics, pro-male ethics, feminist ethics, misandry, feminist-philosophers, alienation, equality, abstract self, embodied self, hierarchy, hypergamy, patriarchy.

 

The terror and tyranny of equality is something every man faces, where no man has a responsibility to care, only the agreement to not interfere. In this sort of rational ethic, every man confronts the egalitarian self—a disembedded and disembodied self—nameless, indistinguishable, faceless. There is no possibility of being face-to-face with each other for there are no others. Everybody is nobody—the same. Every man confronts the facelessness of equality, of being-as-nobody. Darkness covers us all under this egalitarian veil of ignorance.1 Such is the terror and tyranny of equality.

Simple egalitarian ethics are not sufficient for humanity because there simply isn’t enough humanity in them. The moral domain is too small. The self is decontextualized. The self is relatively meaningless as it becomes indistinguishable from others. The self, under the tyranny of egalitarianism, suffers a crisis of epistemic impoverishment. So, don’t call me an egalitarian. I’m not one and neither are you, for you are more than an indistinguishable and faceless self.

If you consider yourself pro-male, then it’s time to consider a more comprehensive ethics. It’s time to expand your moral domain to include more than the so-called masculine ethics of rationalist abstract principles of non-interference. It’s time to include, within your moral domain, concrete moral principles that restore context and meaning to the self and to others—giving us face-to-face experiences with each other, rather than faceless experiences of everybody-as-nobody. Without such concrete principles, there can be no restorative justice for men and boys and there will never be any genuine voice for men. Consider an ethics that restores to men and women the responsibility to actively care for and about each other.

In contrast to a care ethics, the so-called masculine ethics of rationalism that infests and manifests itself in various forms of egalitarianism are forms of violence against men that silences the male voice. They alienate men from experiencing an authentic self and from profound experiences with others.2 These so-called masculine ethics promote an atomized individualism that has a logical end of aloneness, cut off from the interrelatedness-of-being. They promote a callous indifference that mangles, strangles, and mutilates an emergent self. They are systems that distort the personhood of men. As such, men are not the primary beneficiaries of these systems. In fact, men are the primary sufferers of them.

It’s time for men to reclaim care ethics. Consider the principles embodied in a care ethics as an expansion of the moral domain that envelopes not only a notion of justice as fairness regarding principles of non-interference, but also includes principles of universal responsibility to care.

 Care ethics have been misappropriated and used to spread the invective notion that men have been and continue to be a privileged class of oppressors. It is time to reclaim care ethics from those who would misappropriate them as a tool to spread hatred of men and boys.

 

A Brief History of Care Ethics

Though an Ethics of Care is sometimes called a feminine or feminist ethics, it has philosophical roots in Aristotelian virtue-ethics, Hume’s sentimentalism, American Pragmatism, and Levinasian ethics.3 So, it’s not entirely accurate to categorize an Ethics of Care as feminine or feminist ethics. In fact, it has been criticized for perpetuating the stereotype that women are naturally better caregivers and inherently better at nurturing/mothering. That critique tends to highlight the distinction between humanist-feminism and gynocentric-feminism as laid out by feminist-philosophers like Iris M. Young.4 It has also been criticized as a form of Nietzschian slave morality and there are plenty of other critiques on the topic, if one is inclined to further research it.5

Further research on care ethics leads inevitably to the feminist, psychologist, and professor at NYU—Carol Gilligan. She has been and continues to be a most prominent purveyor of care ethics.6 Her 1970s and 1980s research on gender differences and morality is often credited for sparking life back into an Ethics of Care.7 Much of her research was primarily a reactionary response to work done by Lawrence Kohlberg on the development of moral reasoning and judgment.8

Kohlberg postulated six sequential stages of moral development, the highest stage being primarily concerned with abstract notions of justice based on universal principles. See Rawls’ A Theory of Justice and Kantian ethics for a better understanding of these rationalist ways in which to derive ethical systems.9 Kohlberg’s initial conclusions showed (arguably) that women typically only develop their moral reasoning to about stage three of this three level, six stage psychological theory.

Gilligan simply could not accept this conclusion and set out to prove Kohlberg’s conclusion wrong. Gilligan essentially tried to demonstrate that Kohlberg’s tests were biased in favor of the so-called masculine ethics. Specifically, Kohlberg often used the Heinz dilemma as a tool to assess moral development.10 In response to this test, boys, more often than not, would reason the primacy of life over property to find a solution to the dilemma. Girls tended to be unsure and evasive in their answers to this dilemma and Kohlberg interpreted these responses as an indicator of their being morally underdeveloped.

Gilligan interpreted the girl’s responses as an indicator of their being as morally developed, if not more so than the boys. Gilligan saw that the Heinz dilemma decontextualized morality. The dilemma was not concrete enough and so it was seen, by Gilligan, as a form of violence itself because it removed from moral reasoning the particularities of a concrete context.

Gilligan wrote that “women’s judgments pointed toward an identification of the violence inherent in the dilemma itself which was seen to compromise the justice of any of its possible resolutions. This construction of the dilemma led the women to recast the moral judgment from a consideration of the good to a choice between evils.”11

Clearly, a dilemma is a choice between two equally bad options, but for Gilligan, the dilemma, severed from context, was a violence to the possibility of justice. Gilligan interpreted the seeming timidity and evasiveness of the girl’s responses reflected this level of awareness. As such, Gilligan concludes that their responses represented a much higher level of moral development than Kohlberg’s initial assessment.

This was Gilligan’s epiphany, as she calls it, giving her notoriety and an academic career that spans more than thirty years. During that time, there have been some who called into question her research methodology. A public dispute between Gilligan and Christina Hoff Sommers over the topic of the research data played out over a decade ago.12 Regardless of Gilligan’s research credibility and methodology, her idea has lent itself to philosophy.13

Any good introductory ethics or political philosophy course now contains at least a chapter or two on Ethics of Care.

 

The Misappropriation of Care Ethics as Misandry in Political Philosophy

The feminist political philosopher—Seyla Benhabib, uses care ethics in her work, The Generalized and the Concrete Other, to make a sharp critique of the so-called rationalist masculine ethics from Hobbes to Rawls.14 However, Benhabib’s paper is a prime example of how care ethics have been used to promote misandry and disguise it as academic philosophy. Though her critique of rationalist ethics is brilliant, the blatant, rampant, and profound misandry in her critique diminishes its overall quality, poisoning everything.15

She even violates one of the ethical principles that she promotes, failing to give voice and context to the particular men associated with her critique, lumping men, from Hobbes to Rawls, into the general category of The Patriarchy™, describing the male creators of these rationalist systems of ethics as nothing but men motivated by the unchecked narcissism of their male egos.

For example, Benhabib makes reference to a passage from Hobbes’ work, suggesting that we should consider men to be like mushrooms that suddenly spring forth from the earth, “without all kind of engagement to each other.”16 Benhabib goes from this passage to the conclusion that this vision of men is an “ultimate picture of autonomy… [that]…frees the male ego from the most natural and basic bond of dependence,” one’s bond to mother.17 As such, Benhabib suggests that Hobbes tried to replace one of the most intimate bonds of connection and interrelatedness, the bond of child to mother, with a bond of man to nature—relegating mother to the domain of nature and segregating her away from the narcissistic male ego and its desire for ultimate autonomy.

So, it is clear. Benhabib knows that this severing of connection is harmful to men. Man, disconnected from one of the most intimate bonds of interpersonal connection, contributes to the creation of a narcissist who “sees the world in his own image; who has no awareness of the limits of his own desires and passions; and who cannot see himself through the eyes of another.” She goes on to say that the “narcissism of this sovereign self is destroyed by the presence of the other.”18

Benhabib then channels Hegel, saying that the “story of the autonomous male ego is the saga of this initial sense of loss in confrontation with the other, and the gradual recovery from this original narcissistic wound through the sobering experience of war, fear, domination, anxiety, and death. The last installment in this drama is the social contract: the establishment of the law to govern all. Having been thrust out of their narcissistic universe into a world of insecurity by their sibling brothers, these individuals have to reestablish the authority of the father in the image of the law.”19

Again, it is clear. Benhabib sees the creation of this man as a creation of a man severed from one of the most intimate bonds of connection—the facticity of his connection to mother, but Benhabib completely fails to attribute this state of affairs to anything other than the narcissism of male ego and The Patriarchy™.

Benhabib fails to provide a satisfactory account of why this happens, falling back on the tired narrative of The Patriarchy™. It must be The Patriarchy™. It must be the devaluation of women, mothers and all things feminine or natural that produces (or at least coincides with) the narcissistic male ego. Benhabib doesn’t explore other options or theories. Instead, she simply resorts to scapegoating men in-general as an explanation for why these particular men contributed to the development of rationalist ethics.

Flipping the tables, one could as easily (and wrongheadedly misogynistic or not) say that these men developed their rational masculine ethics in response to experiences with the unchecked narcissistic female egos of their mothers and women who ruthlessly severed them from the metaphorical umbilical cord of the private sphere and home, throwing them into the world, alienated, alone, disconnected. One could as easily blame the mother’s narcissistic desire for “ultimate autonomy.” Perhaps the mother, when her narcissistic ego was forced into a confrontation with the other—her children, severed connections in order to preserve her narcissistic world of self-absorption and self-indulgence. Perhaps the development of these rationalist masculine ethics were nothing but a response by men to accommodate the narcissistic female ego?

Benhabib isn’t going to flip the table in this way. That would require giving some sort of contextual heritage to these men. No, for Benhabib to critique these men, she needs them stripped of such relevancies. She needs them to exist as nothing but narcissistic male ego. For her, not even The Patriarchy™ can exist without it. Which, in turn, props itself up with the patriarchal structures of law—the social contract, which “only forces them to become less destructive” because men in-general are nothing but the purely destructive mania of narcissistic male ego.20 And all these structures, in turn, according to Benhabib, prop up the narcissistic male ego in a circular fashion that removes the contextual relevance and influence of mothers and women.

In this way, Benhabib is guilty of doing exactly what she accuses these men of doing—stripping individuals of their concrete particularities, making the other generalizable, undifferentiated, indistinguishable, substitutable. In this way, Benhabib also is guilty of relegating women and mothers to the realm of feminine or natural.

When she removes the contextual relevance and influence of women, mothers, and sisters from her perfectly circular world of narcissistic male ego and The Patriarchy™, she diminishes the role and power of women—their influence on the creation of these particular men and of men in-general. She minimizes the ways in which the private and public spheres overlap. She minimizes the power that women and mothers have within the realm of closely binding kinship ties and familial interrelatedness.

As she accuses these men of trying to minimize these private spheres of influence, so Benhabib also tries to minimize them. She fails to articulate the power wielded by women and mothers in these private spheres, failing to acknowledge how the private and public spheres overlap and influence these men in-particular and men in-general. She fails to articulate and clarify how these private spheres of influence and connectedness are sustained by men operating in the public spheres of economics and politics.

In her zeal to condemn men in-general and these men in-particular, from Hobbes to Rawls, she fails to see that these private spheres of influence are propped up and enabled by the men who have enough economic status to afford them.

As such, Benhabib never bothers to question the price. She never bothers to ask about the cost to men. She never bothers to consider women as the primary beneficiaries of male economic sacrifice and care. She never bothers to consider the women who charge a price that costs men their context and particularities of self. The price charged to men for admission to the periphery of these private spheres is the cost of the disembedded and disembodied self, as Benhabib writes.21

In order for men to acquire the status and economic power needed to enable these private spheres of influence, men typically have to “sell their souls to the company store.”22 Men have to climb over other men and up corporate ladders, clawing, scratching, and biting at each other’s throats, competing with each other to make themselves distinct enough economically in a system that, from the start, strips them of their individuality—making every man the same, equal, indistinguishable, substitutable, disconnected, impartial, and alienated.

As such, status hierarchies, for men, represent the hope of achieving a more profound experience of personhood through access to those private spheres. Access is something bestowed upon men, if deemed worthy, by gatekeepers of the private sphere. Thus, gatekeepers have an immense power to determine whether or not a man has accumulated enough status to be worthy of experiencing a more profound sense of personhood through the interrelatedness-of-being, the kind of personhood only experienced via the private sphere.

His motivation, contrary to Benhabib’s misandric contention, is not the unchecked narcissism of male ego, but the search for access into the private sphere of connectedness and interrelatedness-of-being. It is a search for a self that he cannot find anywhere else, for everywhere else is permeated with the egalitarian undifferentiated self that exists only in relation to other undifferentiated selves—the faceless others. It is a search for a self that only exists within that private sphere and only in relation to those particular others who also exist within that private sphere.

From this perspective, it is possible to view the project of rationalist masculine ethics as an attempt, in part, to create a public sphere that allows for the acquisition of hierarchical status in an egalitarian system that is supposedly just and fair. It’s the seemingly impossible attempt to accommodate, within the public sphere, both equality and hierarchy.

Hierarchical status, within an egalitarian public sphere that is supposedly just and fair, are the means by which distinctions are made among those who are without distinction, those selves who are all the same—all for the hope of gaining access to those private spheres of context and care. As such, the rationalist masculine ethics can be viewed as an attempt to gain access to the care supposedly inherent in and excluded to the private sphere.

Contrary to Benhabib’s misandric contentions about the unchecked narcissism of male ego, the rationalist male ethics seem more like an attempt to placate and acquiesce to the narcissistic female ego of the private sphere which demands a tithe be paid in exchange for admission to her private realm—her sphere of influence and care. As a gatekeeper to her private realm, she requires the provision and protection of men operating in the public sphere to enable her private sphere. As such, the security and livelihood of her private sphere is directly linked to status hierarchies existing and constructed in conjunction with the rational masculine ethics existing in the public sphere.

 

The Misappropriation of Care Ethics as Misandry in Existentialist Philosophy

 

This brings us face-to-face with some important existentialist questions. Which came first—the private sphere or the public sphere? Does existence precede essence or does essence precede existence?

One prominent feminist-philosopher seems to know the answers. Virginia Held, says, “Without care-givers, no infants would ever grow up to be Hobbesian men or rational calculators.”23 However, without Hobbesian men to care for the care-givers, there would be no care-givers either. In her zeal to paint men in-general as The Patriarchy™, she fails to comprehend the simultaneous occurrence and interdependence of rational calculators and care-givers. Even with all her talk about the interrelatedness-of-being, she fails to articulate comprehension of the coincidental occurrence and interdependence of the two, preferring to cast a misandric shadow, privileging the importance of mothering in the private sphere over the importance of governing in the public sphere.

In Held’s paper, Feminism and Moral Theory, she puts into play the importance of mothering as more than a basic biological function.24 According to Held, the essence of mothering in the private sphere precedes existence of an essence in the public sphere.

In her own words:

“The most central and fundamental social relationship seems to be that between mother or mothering person and child. It is this relationship that creates and recreates society. It is the activity of mothering which transforms biological entities into human social beings. Mothers and mothering persons produce children and empower them with language and symbolic representations. Mothers and mothering persons thus produce and create human culture.”25

And in only a few lines down, her zeal to paint men as rational calculators of The Patriarchy™ manifests itself. She downplays and denigrates the importance of governing in the public sphere—likening it to base biological functions of ants, beavers, fish, and packs of predatory animals.

In her own words:

“In comparison, government can be thought to resemble the governing of ant colonies, industrial production to be similar to the building of beaver dams, a market exchange to be like the relation between a large fish that protects a small fish that grooms, and the conquest by force of arms that characterizes so much of human history to be like the aggression of packs of animals.”26

So, in her misappropriation of care ethics, she has reduced the public sphere accomplishments of men to that of base biological endeavors. Here she applies her misandry, spreading the invective notion that these accomplishments and sacrifices were made by men who happen to be nothing but worker drone insects, mindless fish, and aggressive predatory animals.

Before the immensity of this misandry soaks in, there’s more. In only a few paragraphs prior, Held wrote this:

“In the development of moral theory, men ought to have no privileged position to have their experience count for more. If anything, their privileged position in society should make their experience more suspect rather than more worthy of being counted.”27

So, Held tries to claim the primacy of private sphere mothering over public sphere governing, reducing the latter to nothing but the manifestations of men who are nothing but biological labor machines—insects, fish, and predatory animals. All the while, she maintains that men, as these biological labor machines, occupy a “privileged position in society” and should therefore have their lived-experiences be made more “suspect” and perhaps count for less in the tally of moral development theory.

Held also wants her cake and eat it too. She wants mothering to be given primacy status for its role and influence in the creation of human culture, but at the same time, she wants mothers to have little to no culpability when it comes to assessing anything that has ever gone wrong with human culture, preferring to blame those privileged men—those biological labor machines, insects, mindless fish, and predatory animals.

As with Benhabib in the previous section, Held fails to reckon the overlapping and coinciding influences between the private and public spheres. She fails to recognize the simultaneous occurrence and interplay of both spheres. Instead, Held tries to give the private sphere primacy and say that this sphere bestows essence and value upon the public sphere.

In fact, she holds the public sphere accomplishments of men and their lived-experiences as suspect and perhaps to be not as worthy as the experiences of care-givers in the private sphere. Held completely devalues the care given to care-givers by the men (the rational calculators of The Patriarchy™) who sacrifice their lives in the public sphere—for the benefit of care-givers who exist within the private sphere. Rather than viewing these sacrifices made by men in the public sphere as forms of care, she denigrates their sacrifice and labor, likening these men—their sacrifices and labors, to insect drones, mindless fish, and packs of predatory animals.

 

The Misappropriation of Care Ethics as Misandry in Democracy

 

In the previous two sections, we saw two prominent feminist-philosophers, Benhabib and Held, calling the accomplishments, sacrifices, labors, and caring of men in the public sphere the unchecked narcissism of male ego and the mindlessness of insect drones, fish, and predatory animals. All the while, these feminist-philosophers are promoting the care ethics inspired by Carol Gilligan…and she is flabbergasted at the idea that feminism might be seen as being anti-male.

Here is what she said:

“That sort of view that feminism is against men…it just doesn’t, but from the beginning, it never made sense to me. And so, I was asked recently by a group of young women, at a young women leadership conference-program at Harvard, ‘do I think of myself as a feminist?’ So, I said yes. Would you like to know how I define feminism? So, I said I thought feminism is one of the great liberation movements in human history. And it is the movement to free democracy from patriarchy… [and that]…is a hierarchy…that divides fathers, some men from other men, the men from the boys, like African American men were called boys, not real men. And it divides all men from women. And it places fathers over mothers and children. And, in fact, in making those separations, it divides everyone from parts of themselves. So, psychologically, patriarchy is always unstable… [and is]…contradictory to democracy, like slavery and imperialism.”28

So, Gilligan wants to free democracy from hierarchy. That is some clever rhetoric, conflating feminism with democracy and painting them both as a libertine struggle against hierarchy—The Patriarchy™. However, stripped of her clever rhetoric, Gilligan is basically repeating the same old tired story–feminism is an egalitarian movement. Feminism is about egalitarian principles. Never mind the fact that the impartiality of egalitarian principles are often contrary to the partiality of Gilligan’s care ethic principles. Also, never mind the fact that egalitarian principles are largely the product of rationalist masculine ethics.

Also notice that in contrast to Benhabib and Held, we can see in the video Gilligan’s ostensible resistance and hesitance about naming men as a privileged class of oppressors who have women under their boot-heel. This hesitation reflects the sentiment of feminist-philosopher, Iris M. Young, when she makes this statement in Humanism, Gynocentrism, and Feminist Politics:

“If we claim that masculinity distorts men more than it contributes to their self-development and capacities, again, the claim that women are the victims of injustice loses considerable force.”29

This sort of sentiment begs the question, as Young articulated it, “of what does male privilege consist?”30

Just because men tend to be stratified on various forms of status hierarchies, what ground do we have to say that this makes them privileged? If we view these status hierarchies as forms of oppression that divides fathers, brothers, men, and races, why do we tether the word privilege to males-in-general? If we are promoting a care ethic, why would we minimize the experiences of these men as suspect, like Held suggests, and accuse them of being privileged? If we are practicing a care ethic that seeks to liberate men from hierarchy, why are we not listening to their voices? Why are we minimizing their experiences as privileged?

If men overwhelmingly suffer the psychological trauma of being a disembedded and disembodied self, as Gilligan and feminist-philosophers like Benhabib would say, in order to occupy positions on these various forms of public sphere status hierarchies, privileged should not be a fitting descriptor of them.31 If the occupancy of these positions requires men to sell their souls, become alienated, alone, faceless, to be cut off from deep meaningful connections with others—if men have to become the disembedded and disembodied self, then it would be important to flip Young’s question and ask…of what does female privilege consist?

If practicing a care ethic while simultaneously articulating the psychological trauma and oppression of men, as described by Gilligan, it’s important to consider and question who may be the primary beneficiaries of this psychological trauma and oppression of men.

Do not the mothers and women operating in the private sphere of care and influence benefit from the psychological trauma and oppression of these men? Do not these mothers and women reap the economic benefits of male sacrifice? Is it not primarily the private sphere of women that is propped up economically and in parallel with these economic hierarchies? And is it not true that the primary beneficiaries of male economic sacrifice are the women and mothers who spend that wealth? Of what good is care in the private sphere of the home, if there is no home—one that was paid for and built by those men operating in the public sphere and suffering from the psychological trauma described by Gilligan?

Without a house in the first place, there is nothing to be made into a home of the private sphere in which the important care of mothering can take place.

If Held is correct regarding the importance of mothering and mothering persons, then the private sphere in which mothering takes place likely cannot stand without the sacrifices made by men in the public sphere. As such, it is women, mothers, and mothering persons, as Held writes, who rely on this psychological trauma done to men. It is the private sphere that relies on the oppression of men. It is women, operating in this private sphere, who prefer the soulless, alienated, disembedded, and disembodied self of men who have acquired a relatively high status on various sorts of public sphere hierarchies as psychologically traumatized objects-of-utility.

If Held is correct, then it is these so-called caring women who, through their high regard for the well-being of their private spheres, prefer men of relatively high status, rather than men of low status. As such, there is no good way to untether these women from their share of culpability in the creation of these male status hierarchies, for these status hierarchies are simply the flipside of their hypergamy.

If Gilligan wants to liberate democracy from hierarchy, she needs to recognize that democracy would also need a simultaneous liberation from hypergamy. The two coincide with each other. In fact, hypergamy is rather unintelligible without hierarchy and neither would the hierarchical status of men make much sense without women’s preference for relatively higher status men.

To believe that hierarchy precedes hypergamy, one would have to hold misandric beliefs such that men are nothing but the unchecked narcissism of their male egos working in combination with the mindlessness of their base biological functions as insect-like worker-drones—labor machines.

One would also need to minimize the choices and influence that women have in their mate selection processes and that means minimizing their reproductive choices. Before birth-control and abortion, one of the most powerful tools of reproductive choice was female mate selection. So, of course women would have a preference for higher status men and that preference is part of a reproductive choice and strategy.

As such, feminist-philosophers should not minimize the importance of female preference for and influence on the creation of these hierarchies via hypergamy. Gilligan and feminist-philosophers should not be averse to talking about the preferences of females in their mate selections, for these choices are forms of reproductive choice.

Specifically, they should discuss why the psychologically traumatized men—the Don Drapers of Mad Men, who occupy relatively high positions on status hierarchies have so much appeal to women.32 If the stereotypically male gender-role of provider and protector actually contributes to the psychological trauma of these men, as Gilligan suggests, then it’s important to address how the stereotypical female gender-role of mothering benefits from this oppression of men.

This dynamic—the psychological trauma suffered by men, the female preference for these men based on their status within hierarchy, and the stereotypical female gender-role of mothering—all rolls together as a power dynamic that is marked by its great disparity.

As Held writes in Feminism and Moral Theory:

“Furthermore, for one person to be in a position of caretaker means that that person has the power to withhold care, to leave the other without it. The person cared for is usually in a position of vulnerability.”33

There is a power dynamic here. It puts the caregiver in the position of power over the person who receives the care. The psychologically traumatized men are in a vulnerable situation. Their identity within the public sphere of business and economic production alienates them from an identity as anything other than a faceless sort of labor machine. As such, these men are vulnerable to the caregivers who bestow upon them their care, restoring to them a meaningful existence that is entirely connected to and built upon a relationship with their caregiver—a relationship with an enormous power disparity.

In this way, the caregiver has the power to manipulate his vulnerability, threatening to withhold care, and by extension, threatening his identity as a unique person. In this way, there is always the looming shadow within his relation to her, the threat that he will be severed from connection with her private sphere of care—relegated back to the egalitarian status of the public sphere as another faceless other, distinguished only by his economic accomplishments. And if the caregiver, through divorce courts, takes all of his economic accomplishments, then he is returned to the public sphere as completely indistinguishable, faceless, alone, the same—equally nobody.

This perspective presents a plausible explanation of the much higher suicide rate for men going through divorce or major split in relationship. Whereas she benefits from the power of being a caregiver who withholds care, he suffers further alienation and suicide may seem like a much better alternative to him.

In this way, it is possible to see the power-to-care as also the power-to-exploit. In this way, it is possible to view the psychologically traumatized man as one who experiences the trauma of disconnectedness all over again and through the experience of divorce. Here we recognize that the power-to-care becomes the power-to-destroy.

Going back to Young’s inverted question…of what does female privilege consist?

The answers seem clear. Their role as caregiver is their privilege. It is the power-to-care manifested as a power-to-exploit the psychologically traumatized man. As Held described, it is the power to withhold care and threaten these men with a repeated experience of the suffered trauma—the threat of again being severed from connection to the private sphere, the threat of again being thrown into an egalitarian nightmare of facelessness, aloneness, and isolation.

Female privilege, from this perspective, consists in their dominion over the private sphere and their exploitation of the psychologically traumatized men who are arbitrarily chosen to be included in or excluded from this private sphere based on their hierarchical status. As such, hierarchy and power-to-care are essential to female privilege.

Given that female privilege is tethered to hierarchy and the power disparity inherent in the power-to-care dynamic, it is not surprising to find a fascist face to feminism, as the genteel 3rd wave feminist, Naomi Wolf, describes in this fascinating article called Fascism with a Feminist Face.

Here is what she wrote:

“Western feminism has made some memorable theoretical mistakes; a major one is the frequent assumption that, if women held the decision-making power in society, they would be ‘kinder and gentler’ (a phrase devised for George H.W. Busch in 1988 to appeal to the female vote). Indeed, so-called ‘second-wave’ feminist theory abounds in assertions that war, racism, love of hierarchy, and general repressiveness belong to ‘patriarchy’; women’s leadership, by contrast, would naturally create a more inclusive, collaborative world.”34

Wolf goes on to speculate about the rise of extreme right-wing parties, their women leaders, and the appeal of fascistic hierarchical structures to women.

“And, for all of these women, as for any subordinate group anywhere, fascism appealed to what social scientists call “last-place aversion”: the desire to outrank other groups. Add, finally, the gendered appeal of the strong authority figure and rigid hierarchy, which attracts some women as much as some men, if in different psychodynamic ways. As Sylvia Plath, the daughter of a German father, put it in her poem “Daddy”: “Every woman adores a Fascist/The boot in the face, the brute/Brute heart of a brute like you.”35

Wolf references Plath’s line in conjunction with a reference to the different “psychodynamic ways” in which hierarchy may appeal to women. Clearly, Wolf is trying to paint the picture here of these women being victims of bootlicking fascistic hierarchies…because a brute is like daddy. The implication here is that these women find fascistic hierarchy appealing because daddy was a brute.

Disregarding Wolf’s implication, we can see another possibility. Perhaps the brute appeals to these women because the brute suffers from psychological trauma, as described by Gilligan. If this is the case, then the fascistic brute is in a vulnerable position to the caregiver. As such, the brute may appeal to these women because his psychological trauma places her in a position of power over him. Again, the disparity of the power dynamic is at play. Again, the power-to-care becomes the power-to-exploit.

There’s also the possibility that Wolf, as well as many other feminists who have a soft spot for women driven mad by The Patriarchy™, interpreted Plath’s poem all wrong.36 Perhaps “Daddy” was actually about Plath’s mother, a manipulative, abusive, and fascistic matriarch. If this latter interpretation is correct, then we could also apply it to understand possibly why psychologically traumatized men may be attracted to fascistic brutes like Plath’s mother.

If Plath’s mother was the real brute, and if this brute’s care is given out sparingly and only to particular men occupying relatively high status in hierarchy, then her care, however stingily doled out, becomes more valuable to him. Her particular care, bestowed upon him by a brute like Plath’s mother, is more meaningful to him. If care is given freely to all, then it is more akin to an egalitarian care of the public sphere. It lacks the particularity of a concrete context and is too impartial. The damage caused by the impartiality of the public sphere is something that the psychologically traumatized man is trying to escape. If he is searching for a particular care found in the private sphere, he may find it in the cold and stingy eyes of a brute like her. Again, this puts her in a position of power over him. Again, this is the power disparity arising from the power-to-care manifested as a power-to-exploit.

If one considers the above constituents of so-called female privilege, then the claim that “women are the victims of injustice loses considerable force,” as Young states. Instead, the word oppressor as a descriptor of women in-general becomes more fitting. Gilligan’s claim that the gender binary oppresses us all becomes suspect. It seems that hierarchy and gender binary produces a power dynamic that overwhelmingly empowers women with the power-to-care, the power-to-exploit, and the power-to-destroy.

Indeed, Gilligan’s claim that the hierarchy of gender binary hurts us all seems to act more like a cover that conceals us under a veil of ignorance, preventing us from seeing this lopsided power dynamic. Gilligan’s claim functions as a form of egalitarianism in its appeal to the rational male ethic, essentially promoting the idea that suffering is spread relatively equally through gender binary roles. It isn’t.

Even the claim that women may suffer from a lack of economic independence within the gender binary becomes suspect. If economic independence is tethered to the psychological trauma suffered in the public sphere, then again, we see that this lack of economic independence could be interpreted as beneficial to the stereotypical female gender-role because it allows her to escape the psychological trauma of the public sphere. She gains the possibility of remaining a special snowflake in her private sphere, something that would be contrary to her egalitarian status as a unit of labor production in the business world of the public sphere.

Though we may say that she is economically dependent, saying that she is necessarily oppressed by this dependence is a stretch. Would we say that a slave-master is oppressed by her exploitation of slaves because she is economically dependent upon them? No, but this is what Gilligan might have us believe when she promotes the idea that the gender-binary hierarchy hurts us all.

Gilligan fails to articulate this connection between hierarchy and the stereotypical gender role of women. She fails to describe the dynamics of this power disparity between men and women. She fails to mention how this power disparity empowers women. She does not talk about how the power-to-care has the potential to become a power-to-exploit and a power-to-destroy.

She fails to make clear how women in the private sphere are the primary beneficiaries of hierarchical structures of the public sphere. She fails, in her different voice, to clarify how the psychological trauma done to men in the public sphere primarily benefits women in the private sphere.

Instead, like Benhabib and Held, Gilligan falls back on her crutch—the tired narrative of The Patriarchy™. She blames The Patriarchy™ for the psychological trauma and fails to distribute a shared culpability to women in-general as an underlying factor in the creation of hierarchical structures that produce the psychological traumas. Rather than articulate the historical influence of women through their hypergamous reproductive choices and strategies, their power exercised within the private sphere, and their power-to-care as power-to-exploit, Gilligan simplistically names The Patriarchy™ for the psychological trauma.

In this way, psychological trauma, for Gilligan, props up The Patriarchy™ and, in turn, The Patriarchy™ props up the psychological trauma in a circular fashion. This circularity is much like Benhabib’s misandric contention—the narcissistic male ego props up The Patriarchy™ and that, in turn, props up the narcissistic male ego. Both explanations are too simplistic and fail to articulate a more profound understanding of gender and power dynamics that overlap and interplay between the private and public spheres.

If Gilligan wants to liberate democracy from The Patriarchy™ by creating a larger area of overlap between the private and public spheres and in conjunction with an expansion of care ethics, she will have to develop a richer understanding of gender and power dynamics. She will have to name the hypergamous reproductive strategies and choices of women as an underlying factor in the creation of status hierarchies that she wants to dismantle. Gilligan will also have to identify and articulate clearly ways in which to prevent a power-to-care from being abused as a power-to-exploit.

Lastly, Gilligan will have to distance herself from the blatant misandry of feminist-philosophers like Benhabib and Held. It’s not enough for Gilligan to simply express reluctance and hesitation about classifying men in-general as a class of oppressors. It’s not enough for her to appear flabbergasted at the idea that feminism might be anti-male—labeling the idea as nothing but a backlash.

If Gilligan is serious about liberating democracy from hierarchy, then she needs to actively disassociate herself and care ethics from misandrists like Benhabib and Held. Rather than giving lectures with and in support of them, Gilligan will have to denounce and name them for their misappropriation of care ethics as a tool to spread the invective and misandric notions that men in-general are a privileged class of oppressors, owing their privilege to the unchecked narcissism of male ego and base biological functions as mindless drone-like labor machines.

 

Conclusion

As the old phrase goes, “love won’t pay the bills.” Care is costly. So, in order for a woman to experience the interconnectedness-of-being and power-to-care that is derived from the private sphere, she must procure for herself a means of affording that sphere. Historically, she has needed a man, a husband, an alienated self to sacrifice for her—to pay for her private sphere, propping it up, affording her the privileged experiences of mothering and the interconnectedness-of-being got only from that private sphere.

All the while, he, as a psychologically traumatized object-of-utility, remains a sort of interloper on the periphery of her private sphere. There really isn’t much connection to be had with a person who isn’t really a person—a disembedded and disembodied self, a man alienated from the interconnectedness-of-being, faceless, individuated primarily by his status on some economic hierarchy in the public sphere. One that is supposedly egalitarian, just, and fair.

The feminist-philosopher, Annette Baier, describes these men in The Need for More than Justice:

“They may well be lonely, driven to suicide, apathetic about their work and about participation in political processes, find their lives meaningless and have no wish to leave offspring to face the same meaningless existence. Their rights and respect for rights, are quite compatible with very great misery, and misery whose causes are not just individual misfortunes and psychic sickness, but social and moral impoverishment…”37

As so well described by Baier, these men suffer the misery of alienation. However, in just a few lines down, she describes these men as a privileged class of oppressors who, through their development of and adherence to rationalist masculine ethics, exploit women and mothers. Baier goes on to juxtapose women and mothers with slaves and the private sphere with slavery.38

As another old phrase goes, “this is why we can’t have nice things.” This is why care ethics needs detangled from the misandry of those who have misappropriated it. Baier goes on to write about how the best ethics need to be a cooperative product between men and women and about how there is need for a harmony between justice and care, but completely fails to articulate how she would propose to make harmony out of the discord with a supposedly privileged oppressor class of men.

Surely, there needs to be an expanded moral domain that incorporates justice and care. If you approach the idea of ethics from a pro-male perspective, then there is little doubt about the need for a harmony between them. Indeed, there is need for men to embrace an ethics that restores context and totality to the personhood of men.

Clearly, the abstract notions of self, derived from rationalist masculine ethics, are not sufficient representations and descriptions of men. A voice of men must also be grounded within a concrete body that puts us in touch with the context of our lived-experiences. A man, detached from relational experiences grounded in the body and also disconnected from relational experiences grounded in the private sphere, is a mutilated person who also experiences a deficit of care.

 It is not women who experience deficits of care like men, for women are not the ones overwhelmingly experiencing life as the disembedded and disembodied self. It is not women who are maligned as being a privileged class of oppressors who operate simultaneously as mindless insect-like worker drones and as the unchecked narcissism of male ego.

Indeed, rationalist masculine ethics can create abstract principles that decontextualize the self and, as Gilligan brilliantly pointed out, are sometimes a form of violence to the possibility of justice. These rationalist masculine ethics are also a form of violence against the possibility of male personhood, for they are a violence against the lived-experiences of men as an embedded and embodied self.

As the philosopher Richard Rorty stated in Philosophy and Social Hope:

“Everything that can serve as a term of relation can be dissolved into another set of relations, and so on forever. There are, so to speak, relations all the way down, all the way up, and all the way out in every direction; you never reach something which is not just one more nexus of relations.”39

If rationalist masculine ethics focus primarily on the relation of men to abstract and decontextualized selves, if men are viewed only as disembedded and disembodied, then we have severed connection and relation to our lived-experiences as an embodied person. That is a great violence against the personhood of men.

It is time to change. Expand our moral domain to include full personhood to men through a harmonious coexistence with an embodied and abstract self. It is time for men to awaken from the nightmarish discord of an egalitarian masculine ethics. We are more than an egalitarian self—a disembedded and disembodied self—nameless, indistinguishable, faceless.

We have a responsibility to actively care. And that means that we care about the totality of men as embodied persons, rather than only as some abstract self who agrees to principles of non-interference that have a logical end of callous indifference to the real suffering and misery of men—both as an embodied person and as an alienated thing of abstraction.

 

Annotations

  1. Rawls, John. A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, Sixth Printing, 2003), 118.
  2. Flynn, Thomas, “Jean-Paul Sartre.”The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy(Fall 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/sartre/#Eth.

3.1 Kraut, Richard, “Aristotle’s Ethics”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), forthcoming URL = http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2014/entries/aristotle-ethics/.

3.2 Cohon, Rachel, “Hume’s Moral Philosophy”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2010 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2010/entries/hume-moral/.

3.3 Hookway, Christopher, “Pragmatism”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2013/entries/pragmatism/.

3.4 Bergo, Bettina, “Emmanuel Levinas”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2014/entries/levinas/.

  1. Gregory, Jason, “The Patriarchy™ and Marble Cake”, A Voice for Men (August 15, 2013) URL = http://www.avoiceformen.com/feminism/the-patriarchy-and-marble-cake/.

5.1 Leiter, Brian, “Nietzsche’s Moral and Political Philosophy”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2013/entries/nietzsche-moral-political/.

5.2 Sander-Staudt, Maureen, “Care Ethics”, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (May 5, 2014) URL = http://www.iep.utm.edu/care-eth/#H3.

  1. Ethics of Care.Org (June 21, 2011) URL = http://ethicsofcare.org/interviews/carol-gilligan/.
  2. Ethics of Care.Org (May 5, 2014) URL = http://ethicsofcare.org/about-us-ethics-of-care/.
  3. Slote, Michael, “Justice as a Virtue”,The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy(Fall 2010 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/justice-virtue/#3.
  4. Johnson, Robert. “Kant’s Moral Philosophy”,The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy(Spring 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2014/entries/kant-moral/.
  5. Popova, Maria, “The Heinz Dilemma: An Interactive Video to Test Moral Development”, The Atlantic (April 2, 2012) URL = http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/04/the-heinz-dilemma-an-interactive-video-to-test-moral-development/255263/.
  6. Gilligan, Carol. “In a Different Voice: Women’s Conceptions of Self and of Morality”, Reprinted from The Future of Difference (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1985), 31, URL = http://sfonline.barnard.edu/sfxxx/documents/gilligan.pdf.
  7. Mandel, Andrew K and Mider, Zachary R, “Gilligan’s Answers to Atlantic Attack Leave Critics Guessing”, The Harvard Crimson (May 26, 2000), URL = http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2000/5/26/gilligans-answers-to-atlantic-attack-leave/.
  8. Graham, Ruth, “Carol Gilligan’s Persistent “Voice”, The Boston Globe (June 24, 2012), URL = http://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2012/06/23/carol-gilligan/toGqkSSmZQC3v4KhFyQ5bK/story.html.

14.1 Yale Philosophy Department. http://philosophy.yale.edu/benhabib.

14.2 Benhabib, Seyla, “The Generalized and the Concrete Other: The Kohlberg-Gilligan Controvers and Feminist Theory,” PRAXIS International Issue 4 (1985) URL = http://scholar.google.com/scholar_url?hl=en&q=http://www.ceeol.com/aspx/getdocument.aspx%3Flogid%3D5%26id%3D134e44f4c64c438a98184f914ece24f4&sa=X&scisig=AAGBfm0d0YUu3tfbujoE4uyUnV56JZD1ww&oi=scholarr.

14.3 Lloyd, Sharon A. and Sreedhar, Susanne, “Hobbes’s Moral and Political Philosophy”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2014/entries/hobbes-moral/.

14.4 Wenar, Leif, “John Rawls”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2013/entries/rawls/.

  1. Thunderf00t. “Why Feminism Poisons EVERYTHING.” Online video clip. YouTube (November 10, 2013). URL = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWxAljFlb-c.
  2. Benhabib, Seyla, “The Generalized and the Concrete Other: The Kohlberg-Gilligan Controvers and Feminist Theory,” PRAXIS International Issue 4 (1985): 408 URL = http://scholar.google.com/scholar_url?hl=en&q=http://www.ceeol.com/aspx/getdocument.aspx%3Flogid%3D5%26id%3D134e44f4c64c438a98184f914ece24f4&sa=X&scisig=AAGBfm0d0YUu3tfbujoE4uyUnV56JZD1ww&oi=scholarr.
  3. Benhabib, Seyla, “The Generalized and the Concrete Other: The Kohlberg-Gilligan Controvers and Feminist Theory,” PRAXIS International Issue 4 (1985): 408 URL = http://scholar.google.com/scholar_url?hl=en&q=http://www.ceeol.com/aspx/getdocument.aspx%3Flogid%3D5%26id%3D134e44f4c64c438a98184f914ece24f4&sa=X&scisig=AAGBfm0d0YUu3tfbujoE4uyUnV56JZD1ww&oi=scholarr.
  4. Benhabib, Seyla, “The Generalized and the Concrete Other: The Kohlberg-Gilligan Controvers and Feminist Theory,” PRAXIS International Issue 4 (1985): 408 URL = http://scholar.google.com/scholar_url?hl=en&q=http://www.ceeol.com/aspx/getdocument.aspx%3Flogid%3D5%26id%3D134e44f4c64c438a98184f914ece24f4&sa=X&scisig=AAGBfm0d0YUu3tfbujoE4uyUnV56JZD1ww&oi=scholarr.

19.1 Redding, Paul, “Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2014/entries/hegel/.

19.2 Benhabib, Seyla, “The Generalized and the Concrete Other: The Kohlberg-Gilligan Controvers and Feminist Theory,” PRAXIS International Issue 4 (1985): 409 URL = http://scholar.google.com/scholar_url?hl=en&q=http://www.ceeol.com/aspx/getdocument.aspx%3Flogid%3D5%26id%3D134e44f4c64c438a98184f914ece24f4&sa=X&scisig=AAGBfm0d0YUu3tfbujoE4uyUnV56JZD1ww&oi=scholarr.

  1. Benhabib, Seyla, “The Generalized and the Concrete Other: The Kohlberg-Gilligan Controvers and Feminist Theory,” PRAXIS International Issue 4 (1985): 409 URL = http://scholar.google.com/scholar_url?hl=en&q=http://www.ceeol.com/aspx/getdocument.aspx%3Flogid%3D5%26id%3D134e44f4c64c438a98184f914ece24f4&sa=X&scisig=AAGBfm0d0YUu3tfbujoE4uyUnV56JZD1ww&oi=scholarr.
  2. Benhabib, Seyla, “The Generalized and the Concrete Other: The Kohlberg-Gilligan Controvers and Feminist Theory,” PRAXIS International Issue 4 (1985): 409 URL = http://scholar.google.com/scholar_url?hl=en&q=http://www.ceeol.com/aspx/getdocument.aspx%3Flogid%3D5%26id%3D134e44f4c64c438a98184f914ece24f4&sa=X&scisig=AAGBfm0d0YUu3tfbujoE4uyUnV56JZD1ww&oi=scholarr.
  3. Cash, Johnny. Sixteen Tons. Music Video. YouTube. JohnnyCashVEVO (November 1, 2009) URL = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfp2O9ADwGk.
  4. Held, Virginia. Difference and the Contribution of Feminist Care Ethics. Video of Mellon Sawyer Seminar Series, Democratic Citizenship and the Recognition of Cultural Differences, February 28, 2013. YouTube. GC Mellon Sawyer. March 8. 2013. Time Mark: 01:21:00 URL = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRv4AY82kU0.
  5. MacKinnon, Barbara. Ethics: Theory and Contemporary Issues 2nd ed. (US: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1998), 100-112.
  6. MacKinnon, Barbara. Ethics: Theory and Contemporary Issues 2nd ed. (US: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1998), 103.
  7. MacKinnon, Barbara. Ethics: Theory and Contemporary Issues 2nd ed. (US: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1998), 103.
  8. MacKinnon, Barbara. Ethics: Theory and Contemporary Issues 2nd ed. (US: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1998), 102.
  9. Gilligan, Carol. Dr. Carol Gilligan Defines Feminism and Patriarchy. The Glendon Association Interview Video. YouTube. PsychAlive. (April 5, 2013). URL = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yUwwmeBvKA.
  10. Hackett, Elizabeth and Sally Haslanger, eds. Theorizing Feminisms. Oxford University Press, 2006, 185. URL = http://agfemjapan.wikispaces.com/file/view/Young,+Humanism-Gynocentrism.pdf.
  11. Hackett, Elizabeth and Sally Haslanger, eds. Theorizing Feminisms. Oxford University Press, 2006, 185. URL = http://agfemjapan.wikispaces.com/file/view/Young,+Humanism-Gynocentrism.pdf.
  12. Held, Virginia. Difference and the Contribution of Feminist Care Ethics. Video of Mellon Sawyer Seminar Series, Democratic Citizenship and the Recognition of Cultural Differences, February 28, 2013. YouTube. GC Mellon Sawyer. March 8. 2013. Time Mark: 00:08:00 URL = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRv4AY82kU0.
  13. Lewis, Jordan Gaines, “A Mad Man, Indeed: The Psychology of Don Draper,” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, LLC. (April 11, 2014). URL = http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/brain-babble/201404/mad-man-indeed-the-psychology-don-draper.
  14. MacKinnon, Barbara. Ethics: Theory and Contemporary Issues 2nd ed. (US: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1998), 106.
  15. Wolf, Naomi, “Fascism with a Feminist Face,” Project Syndicate: The World’s Opinion Page. (March 31, 2014) URL = http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/naomi-wolf-examines-the-rise-of-women-to-leadership-positions-in-major-far-right-european-political-parties.
  16. Wolf, Naomi, “Fascism with a Feminist Face,” Project Syndicate: The World’s Opinion Page. (March 31, 2014) URL = http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/naomi-wolf-examines-the-rise-of-women-to-leadership-positions-in-major-far-right-european-political-parties.
  17. Roiphe, Katie, “Daddy Is Mommy: Is Sylvia Plath’s famous poem really about her mother?” Slate (February 11, 2013) URL = http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/roiphe/2013/02/sylvia_plath_s_poem_daddy_is_about_her_mother.html.
  18. MacKinnon, Barbara. Ethics: Theory and Contemporary Issues 2nd ed. (US: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1998), 115.
  19. MacKinnon, Barbara. Ethics: Theory and Contemporary Issues 2nd ed. (US: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1998), 115.
  20. Rorty, Richard. Philosophy and Social Hope. (London: Penguin Books, 1999), 53, 54.

 

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Cash, Johnny. Sixteen Tons. Music Video. YouTube. JohnnyCashVEVO (November 1, 2009) URL = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfp2O9ADwGk.

 

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Thunderf00t. “Why Feminism Poisons EVERYTHING.” Online video clip. YouTube (November 10, 2013). URL = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWxAljFlb-c.

 

Wenar, Leif, “John Rawls”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2013/entries/rawls/.

 

Wolf, Naomi, “Fascism with a Feminist Face,” Project Syndicate: The World’s Opinion Page. (March 31, 2014) URL = http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/naomi-wolf-examines-the-rise-of-women-to-leadership-positions-in-major-far-right-european-political-parties.

The Guilty Pleasures Of “Feminist Philosophers”

vagina pendant

[Here is a trigger warning for immense selfishness, hypocrisy, stupidity, and moral retardation cloaked as philosophy.]

Those of you who read my blog know that I have a guilty pleasure—“feminist philosophers.” This guilty pleasure is better than chocolate. They are usually a bit more challenging than typical feminists in that they at least try to obscure some of their misandry, dog-shit ideas, and immense stupidity within the container of philosophy. They are usually a bit more cunning.

However, over at “feministphilosophers,” I found this article disguised as “Some Thoughts On Epistemic Responsibility.” I’m not going to bore the reader with a discussion on epistemic responsibility. I am, however, going to show the immense selfishness, hypocrisy, and stupidity of this “feminist philosopher,” one who calls herself “themistokleia,” the teacher of Pythagorus—“the father of philosophy.”

In her own words:

epistemic responsibility 2

This woman “ran to a man” for protection. She specifically and deliberately brought danger and the threat of harm to this man. He voluntarily allowed himself to remain in harm’s way for two hours to protect her. He was willing to offer up his male body as a sacrifice to this damsel in distress.

damsel in distress

As such and according to this “feminist philosopher,” this man’s sacrifice was more “traumatizing” than assault and attempted rape. The two hours of his risking bodily harm to protect this damsel was not sufficient. He should have done more. He should have risked more for her, “but that was all he did…”

Such is the mentality of many men, women, feminists, and even feminist philosophers—those who should know better. Such is a total lack of other-awareness—total gynocentric selfishness. She was not aware of the sacrifice that this man made by allowing his male body to endure the risk of violence for two hours—all to protect her. What if he had an anxiety disorder? What if he had PTSD and was suffering from previous experiences of violence against his body? What if he was a survivor of rape or assault and running to him for protection forced him to relive all those feelings of powerlessness, helplessness, and suffering? Selfish people like Ms. Themistokleia do not consider these other possibilities. Doing so would require other-awareness and empathy—something contrary to their total gynocentric selfishness.

If she wasn’t so selfish, she’d have realized that this man could have been assaulted, maimed, mutilated, stabbed, shot, or otherwise also be made into a victim of violence that she brought to him—making him responsible not only for her safety, but his as well. She was not aware of the danger that she put him in to protect her. She does not value his body at all or even care that she put this man’s body in harm’s way by deliberately running to him for protection. She does not at all acknowledge his sacrifice or the sacrifices made by men who have been cultured to perpetuate violence against men in defense of women like her.

Such are the expectations placed on men in our culture—to “be a man,” be brave, and make your body an object-of-utility for women and for society in-general. She used this man as an object-of-utility, as a protector—putting his body in harm’s way before her own, only to berate and shame him later for not doing enough to protect her. Women like this “feminist philosopher” demand it and say that if a man doesn’t sacrifice enough, then he is even more traumatizing than assault and attempted rape. This is another way in which the male body is made the most culturally acceptable locus of violence—through the gynocentric selfishness of women like “themistokleia.” As she writes her “thoughts” on the morality of epistemic responsibility, she neglects to fix her own moral retardation and hypocrisy.

I don’t know for a fact that Ms. Themistokleia supports Anita Sarkeesian’s critique of the video games industry, but I think it’s a fair assumption that she does, as do most feminists. If Ms. Themistokleia does support such a critique, then she is profoundly hypocritical. As a philosopher, one would think that she’d have the clarity of thought needed to identify hypocrisy. However, as a “feminist philosopher,” she may lack the clarity needed to realize that she is simultaneously arguing for and against the actions of men who rescue damsels in distress.

On the one hand, she is arguing that a man didn’t do enough to rescue her. On the other hand, she would be arguing that men who rescue damsels in distress are perpetuating the soft-sexism of benevolence—a form of white-knighting, where men rush in to rescue the poor and weak women who are believed to be incapable of defending their own stupid positions or rescuing themselves from their own stupidity.

white-knight (Mobile)

I’m not going to rescue you from your own stupidity, Ms. Themistokleia. I’m going to point at it, laugh, and enjoy it for all its guilty pleasure. Such things are better than chocolate. If you’re too stupid to see your selfishness and hypocrisy, you have no business in any philosophy department. You have no business doing any philosophy at all. The only academia for you is some gynocentric women’s studies department where you are free to escape any and all rigorous or critical thought. Only there will you be free to perpetuate a culture of violence against men. There you will have the freedom to be callously indifferent to male suffering and sacrifices that are made for you by men who don’t even know you—free to be as selfish, hypocritical, and stupid as you like.

As you wrote, “I don’t ever want to be the man on that bench to someone else,” and so should nobody ever want to be as selfish, hypocritical, and stupid as you. At least the man on the bench had empathy, compassion, and enough morality to recognize that you were in danger…and that’s a lot more morality than you have—completely failing to recognize the danger you put on him and the sacrifice made by him to protect you. Fuck off with your moral retardation, Ms. Themistokleia. Also, drop the mockery you are making of Pythagoras’ teacher. You’re not worthy of the name.

Real Rape Culture

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The son extends her power; he is her security and her gallant champion; he is her ‘little man.’ She wants her young son to behave like a little man and strut a bit. She is amused by shows of precocious virility and can tease him cruelly…The mother builds up the son’s male ego and then cuts it down, ridiculing it contradictorily for both its crude power and its inadequacy…Such women can protest a chief’s action by treating him like a child They rely on ridicule and shame to get their way. No man can completely forget his former total dependence on a woman…men can never quite free themselves from the subliminal fear that they may yet slip back unawares into a childlike state and become once more women’s appendages and playthings. As women’s irresistible wiles seem endlessly varied, so are the forms of male subservience. –Yi-Fu Tuan, “Dominance & Affection: The Making of Pets”

Much of masculinity hinges on this sort of coercion. Our culture has an impoverished view of freedom in regards to freedom exercised as male power. In reality, “male power” is not an expression of domination, but of submission to these sorts of coercions. In this sense, all women who use this coercion are rapists and all coerced men are victims of rape. In this sense, there is rape culture. In this sense, the locus of culturally acceptable violence and rape is the male body.

As Obama and other politicians tug at our heartstrings about the women and children victims of violence in Syria and in other places around the world, they simultaneously coerce men into exercising their “male power” by submitting to the committing of violence against other men and to violence against their own bodies. Like dogs who know the consequences of disobedience, so are men. The making of a man has typically been the making of a pet.

It’s time to rethink the nature of power, dominance, and submission. “Above all, a living thing wants to discharge its strength–life itself is will to power–self-preservation is only one of the indirect and most frequent consequences of this…” (Nietzsche, BG&E). It’s time to rethink feminist narratives about so-called “male power.” Power is always at play, especially in gender dynamics. If you buy Nietzsche, it is an underlying fact of existence and human experience. Whether power be expressed as dominance or submission, through coercion or under coercion, nobody escapes it. Men who express this “will-to-power” by submitting to these sorts of coercions–they are not dominating. It is not our privilege. It is yours.

Economics, Coherence, & Gold Diggin’ Whores

gold digger

The comedian, Bill Burr, has a funny bit called an Epidemic of Gold Diggin’ Whores. It’s an instant classic of comedy. It also echoes the sentiments of men who have dealt with these sorts of women. To men in the manosphere, gold digging is simply another phrase to describe female hypergamy–the tendency of women to “marry-up” and/or use men as objects-of-utility and to dehumanize men as nothing but tools to be used by women to accumulate various sorts of wealth.

Readers of my blog should know by now what I think; it is morally retarded to treat men as objects-of-utility and that it is also wrong to treat women as objects-of-sexuality. I don’t think there should be anything too controversial about treating people with respect and kindness, compassion and empathy. There shouldn’t be anything too controversial about a morality that precludes folks from treating each other as means to an end. (See the Golden Rule and Kantian morality-lite.)

This is where I’m prepared to take some flack. One thing noticed within the “manosphere” is a lot of noise and complaining about hypergamy and the gold-digging-whore. The complaints are justified as people should speak out against their being treated as objects-of-utility. However, more often than not, the men complaining about it are Randian Objectivists, American libertarians, and other sorts of free-market fundamentalists. I don’t want to get into a critique of various economic systems. That is a discussion for another blog, another paper, and another time…and, frankly, such discussions usually degrade into a boring circle-jerk of mildly autistic utilitarians arguing about the best way in which to quantify qualitative things.

Boring Circle-Jerk

What I do want to point out is that the men who often make so much noise about hypergamy are also the men who make a lot of noise in favor of economic systems that are inherently hierarchical. As Chomsky rightly points out, these economic systems permit “a very high level of authority and domination but in the hands of private power: so private power should be unleashed to do whatever it likes. The assumption is that by some kind of magic, concentrated private power will lead to a more free and just society.” The assumption is rubbish.

The simple reality is the direct correlation between money and freedom. The more money one has, the more freedom one has. There is nothing too profound about that, but it is a simple reality that gets overlooked by Randians, American libertarians, and other sorts of free-market fundamentalists.

These economic systems of wealth distribution typically have tremendous economic disparities. As such, they are systems of tremendous concentrations of power—systems of economic domination and authority. They are economic systems based on an impoverished understanding of human freedom. They are systems of wealth distribution that are inherently hierarchical.

If you want to defend such systems, go ahead. Do it. However, you have absolutely zero moral ground on which to stand for complaining about hypergamy or gold-digging-whores. Female hypergamy is simply the flipside of male hierarchies of dominance. If you’re going to defend such economic systems of dominance, you have no room to complain about hypergamy.

Consider these little questions. Does wealth curb hypergamy? If all humanity had a middle-class standard of living and a good education, would hypergamy and the gold-digging-whore wither away? I say yes. Hypergamy exploits these economic stratifications of male dominance and submission. Without such socio-economic strata, men wouldn’t be exploited via hypergamy…and neither would hypergamy exist in its current forms. As such, if you’re going to argue against hypergamy and the gold-digging-whore, and if you’re going to be coherent, you must also argue against socio-economic disparities and stratifications that are the flipside of female hypergamy. If there’s no gold to dig, where will the gold-digging-whores go? Just sayin’…if you complain about hypergamy, and at the same time, argue in favor of economic systems of wealth distribution that are inherently hierarchical, you’re full of incoherent gibberish. It’s time for you to rethink your life and economics. You guys can rant all you like about the vile nature of female hypergamy and how it makes men into objects-of-utility, but nothing will change so long as there are drastic socio-economic disparities.

Before any of you start calling me a commie pinko, realize that capitalism and socialism are two different mechanisms of wealth distribution. Neither of those systems “create” wealth; they simply distribute wealth in different ways.

Technology has always been the key. From the Stone Age to the industrial revolution, machinations and manifestations of tech drives the changes in efficiencies that “create” the quantitative surpluses of capital and other forms of wealth that often translate into qualitative improvements in life.

If you take the perspective that capitalism and socialism are simply different mechanisms of wealth distribution, you can perhaps see that these mechanisms are forms of technology (a sort of social technology, think marriage as tech). Perhaps both are obsolete pieces of technology.

They are obsolete because we have the surplus wealth to ensure that nobody starves or freezes to death on this planet, but people do so every day. We have 19 million empty homes here in the US, yet we have millions of homeless men. Obviously wealth didn’t get distributed, even though there is plenty—a surplus of homes and other sorts of wealth. We have the surplus wealth to ensure a quality education and relatively high-quality living standards for everybody, yet millions of folks live in relative squalor and can barely even read, if they can read at all. Folks everyday live lives as dullards and have miserable existences with no real freedom because they were born into a cycle of poverty with shitty parents who had shitty parents and so on. If you want to defend capitalism or socialism, or some sort of hybrid of the two, you’re going to have a difficult time of it with me. We have the surplus, but neither system seems sufficient to ensure that the wealth gets distributed to those who need it the most. As such, perhaps both are broken pieces of tech. Perhaps we need entirely new economic systems of wealth distribution—an entirely new way in which to look at economics, a new sort of social tech. Whatever your perspective on the matter, there is no way to be a free-market fundamentalist, coherent, and a complainer about gold-digging-whores. Get a clue, fuckwits. If you support a system of socio-economic stratification with gobs of economic disparity, you also support gold-digging-whores.

[Note: As women climb up the economic strata, there will be a rise in the number male gold-digging-whores. So, stop with your accusations of misogyny. A gold-digging-whore is not necessarily a woman, but they usually are women.]

The Patriarchy™ Fetish and Marble Cake

Marble Cake

I admit it. I have a guilty pleasure—feminist-philosophers. No, feminist-philosophers are not necessarily oxymoronic, though some of them are morons. Take, for example, Iris M. Young.

Young studied philosophy and earned a doctorate in philosophy from Pennsylvania State University. She became a professor of political science and was well known for her work in “theories of justice, democratic theory and feminist theory.” Sadly, Young lost a battle with cancer in 2006 and the world was deprived of “one of the most important feminist thinkers in the world…one of the most important political philosophers of the past quarter century.”

While researching this much respected philosopher, I discovered one of her papers, “Humanism, Gynocentrism, and Feminist Politics.” It is a brilliant and fascinating paper. It is a must read for anybody interested in The Patriarchy™, gender politics, and philosophy.

In this paper, Young presents two remarkably different versions of feminism—humanist-feminism and gynocentric-feminism. Young admits that these two types of feminisms are often contrary to and sometimes contradictory with each other. She also admits that both feminisms share the common narrative thread of male-as-antagonist. The overarching antagonist to both narratives is the male dominated culture that oppresses women—The Patriarchy™.

snidely_whiplashThis antagonist represents weak and lazy writing. It’s a tired, uninspiring, and one-dimensional villain. This antagonist no longer has a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith. The Patriarchy™ is the Snidely Whiplash of feminist narratives—a cartoonish caricature of evil, the archenemy of all women, humanity, and civilization. It is not an artifact of “poetic faith.”

As such, The Patriarchy™ is not a real thing. It is only an imagined thing—a fetishized object of imagination that exists in the minds of feminists and other morons. It exists to perpetuate a shallow and one-dimensional narrative that presents women as objects-of-victimization. It is the sort of thing that feminists love to hate. It is loved because it can be blamed for everything. It is hated because it is the villain. Without The Patriarchy™, there would be no feminist narratives. Without Snidely Whiplash, there would be no Dudley Do-Right. The Patriarchy™ is one half of a shallow and one-dimensional dichotomy of good vs. evil that exists in feminist narratives. It’s not any real thing of lived-experience. It is only an imaginary thing of imagined-experience.

To better understand this shallow dichotomy and the silliness of feminist narratives, let’s look at two of the most significant and influential feminist narratives as presented by Iris M. Young. Both narratives present women as victims of The Patriarchy™. Both narratives present The Patriarchy™ as an antagonist, a villain like Snidely Whiplash who twiddles his moustache and has no human depth beyond a sadistic lust for the devaluing and disempowerment of women.

Humanist-feminism

Humanist-feminism, according to Young, is best described in the works of Simone de Beauvoir. Young refers to this sort of feminist thinking as “Beauvoirian.” At its core is a revolt against being imprisoned in femininity. For these Beauvoirians, The Patriarchy™ “has ascribed to women a distinct feminine nature by which it has justified the exclusion of women from most of the important and creative activity of society—science, politics, invention, industry, commerce, the arts.” The Patriarchy™ forces femininity upon women. As such, humanist-feminism was a revolt against femininity and, by extension, a revolt against The Patriarchy™.

What makes this Beauvoirian revolt so fascinating is the fact that it is founded theoretically on the philosophical distinction between immanence and transcendence. Immanence roughly designates being an object. Transcendence roughly designates being a free-subject that defines its own nature and “makes projects that bring new entities into the world.”

It is argued by humanist-feminists that The Patriarchy™ does not allow women to become such transcendent and free-subjects. Instead, women are relegated to being objects of domestic and sexual service to men and for the benefit of men. As such, the full humanity of women is restricted by The Patriarchy™. This is, according to humanist-feminists, a brutalization of the personhood of half the human race for benefit to the other half. The Patriarchy™ mutilates and deforms women into objects—the non-human Other. Young writes that this “distinction between transcendence and immanence ensnares Beauvoir in the very definition of woman as a non-human Other…”

By defining humanity as transcendence, as a free-subjectivity above mere life and the processes of nature that repeat in endless cycles, women can only exist as victims—“maimed, mutilated, dependent, confined to a life of immanence and forced to be an object.” In short, humanity transcends, but women are imprisoned to a life of immanence. Humanist-feminism was a revolt against this sort of immanence, reproductive biology, domestic concerns, and motherhood—the things Beauvoir found most oppressive to women.

As such, Beauvoirians devalue women…just like The Patriarchy™ devalues women. The humanist-feminist revolt against The Patriarchy™ is patriarchal. As such, humanist-feminism is The Patriarchy™. They smash The Patriarchy™ by being it.

Gynocentric-feminism

According to Young, “gynocentric feminism defines the oppression of women very differently from humanist feminism. Women’s oppression consists not of being prevented from participating in full humanity, but of the denial and devaluation of specifically feminine virtues and activities by an overly instrumentalized and authoritarian masculinist culture.” Gynocentric-feminism is not a revolt against femininity. It is a revolt against the devaluation of femininity. It is a revolt against The Patriarchy™ by embracing what The Patriarchy™ always “ascribed” to women. As such, gynocentric-feminism is The Patriarchy™.

For gynocentric-feminists, femininity is “not the problem, not the source of women’s oppression, but indeed within traditional femininity lie the values that we should promote for a better society. Women’s oppression consists of the devaluation and repression of women’s nature and female activity by the patriarchal culture.” Again, The Patriarchy™ is still to blame because it “threaten[s] the survival of the planet and the human race. [Patriarchal] values exalt death, violence, competition, selfishness, a repression of the body, sexuality, and affectivity.”

According to Young, The Patriarchy™ produces “phallogocentric categorization,” a moral rationality and language of sharp distinctions, of abstract rights and justice. However, the feminine is supposed to produce loose categories, a flowing of language that envelops and folds in on itself, reflects itself in a continuous and particularistic ethics of care—a continuous menstrual flowing of garbled gibberish. The feminine virtue is supposed to place the particular over the abstract and universal, all the while denying the “nature/culture dichotomy held by humanists… [asserting] the connection of women and nature,” rooting the feminine in the body-experience, rather than in some sort of abstract transcendence.

Gynocentric-feminism places a high value on the woman’s reproductive processes. It is supposed that these processes give women a “living continuity with their offspring that it does not give men. Women thus have a temporal consciousness that is continuous, whereas male temporal consciousness is discontinuous.” As such, males are said to be more alienated from their children, but more connected to their work and other endeavors of artifact creation. In this way, being woman is not being an object. Bringing forth life into this world is one of the most important endeavors-of-creation…and only women can do that.

Gynocentric-feminism inverts humanist-feminism—completely upending prior notions of women’s oppression. Yet, smashing The Patriarchy™ remains a goal of gynocentric-feminism. They smash The Patriarchy™ by embracing it.

Implications

Where humanist-feminism destroyed the value of the feminine, gynocentric-feminism restores it. There is dignity for women within their bodies and within their uniquely female body-experiences. Gynocentric-feminism shows that this connection with the body produces uniquely feminine virtues, language, and experiences of which men are not privy. In fact, men are not privileged at all in this way. Men are alienated from these experiences, from a “living continuity” with their children, and relegated to such experiences by proxy—through intellectual creations, hierarchal competition, and through functioning as an object-of-utility for a woman, for women, and for society-in-general.

This reality requires a reassessment of what male privilege means. Young writes, “If we claim that masculinity distorts men more than it contributes to their self-development and capacities, again, the claim that women are the victims of injustice loses considerable force.” She eventually questions, “what warrants the claim that women need liberating…of what does male privilege consist?” She has difficulty swallowing that bitter red pill. She has difficulty being straight and saying that we’ve been wrong about The Patriarchy™ and male privilege.

Although, she never disavows patriarchy theory, she does put forth a clever analogy as a way to try and change the subject, to escape responsibility, yet still fetishize and blame The Patriarchy™. In regards to gender, Young states that “we need a conception of difference that is less like the icing bordering the layers of cake and more like a marble cake, in which the flavors remain recognizably different but thoroughly insinuated in one another. [And this]… social change requires changing the subject, which in turn means developing new ways of speaking, writing, and imagining.”

Translation

Young wants her cake and eat it too. She wants to change the subject and direct attention away from the wrongheaded notions about male privilege and female oppression. She wants to create a narrative in which female oppression and privilege simultaneously exist in one menstrual flowing of garbled gibberish—a marble cake. She does not come forward to clearly say, “Oops, we were wrong about male privilege and The Patriarchy™.” She does not apologize for the decades of bashing and shaming men about their so-called privilege. She makes no apologies for the centuries of oppression men have endured as objects-of-utility for women and for society-in-general. She does not make any apologies for wanting her cake and eating it too.

Young is playing a game, essentially saying “it’s the fault of The Patriarchy™ that we were wrong…even though we weren’t really wrong. The Patriarchy™ forced feminists to make distinct icing and borders on their narrative-cake. It’s the fault of The Patriarchy™ that feminists didn’t create a marble-cake-narrative in which women could be simultaneously oppressed and liberated, thoroughly insinuated in one another. It’s the fault of The Patriarchy™ that The Patriarchy™ was allowed to be the primary antagonist of any feminist narrative.” This is Young’s elaborate game of victim-blaming.

Why did you men allow us to blame you? It’s your fault that we falsely accused you. Had you men simply valued us women, we would never have falsely accused you men of oppressing us. Never mind the countless bodies of men who sacrificed their lives for women and for society-in-general; that’s oppression of women too. Valuing us is not-valuing us. Oppressing us is not-oppressing us. No matter what men do, it’s the fault of men that women are simultaneously liberated and oppressed, valued and not-valued, empowered and not-empowered. Men and by extension, The Patriarchy™, are to blame for everything.

Conclusion

Young, like most feminists, clings to her fetish—her imagined-experience of The Patriarchy™. She refuses to develop a more comprehensive narrative. She refuses to create a narrative that gives depth to the lived-experiences of men. She refuses to relinquish her hatred of men. She prefers blaming men for everything. This is her love, her hatred, and her fetish. She clung to these until death.

Sadly, this is what makes Young’s paper so brilliant and fascinating.  It illustrates the grasp of this fetish—The Patriarchy™. A philosopher as clever as Young fails to relinquish her fetish. Even after clearly making the case that prior notions of The Patriarchy™ and male privilege were wrong, she maintains that men are still to blame. Even when she knows that it’s not the fault of men, she still blames men—The Patriarchy™.

By painting men as The Patriarchy™, men can be made a cartoonish caricature of evil. Men become as shallow and one-dimensional as Snidely Whiplash—the archenemy of women, humanity, civilization, and all things good. Men become The Patriarchy™, the non-human Other.

This is the narrative of feminisms. This is the common thread that binds together feminist narratives. This is the dehumanization of men as the antagonist. It is the fetishizing of men as The Patriarchy™–an imagined thing, a fetishized object of imagination, a villain.

This villain no longer inspires the “willing suspension of disbelief.” This villain is not an artifact of “poetic faith.” This villain represents weak and lazy writing. The Patriarchy™ is bad literature…and so are feminist narratives.

The way forward may be some sort of “marble cake,” as Young describes, where gender differences are distinct, yet thoroughly insinuated within each other. However, before that can happen, a narrative granting multi-dimensionality and depth to men is needed. A narrative consisting of compassion and consideration for the lived-experiences of men and boys is needed. That will never happen as a feminist narrative. So long as men are written as the antagonist, as The Patriarchy™, men will always be the Other–the icing on the outside, apart from the cake, apart from humanity.

Ms. Marcotte’s Sandy Vagina

Sandy Vagina

The overall picture she offers, however, portrays woman only as victim—maimed, mutilated, dependent, confined to a life of immanence and forced to be an object…[Beauvoir]…expresses outrage at the selfishness, blindness, and ruthlessness of the men who benefit from the mutilation of the personhood of half the human race. –Iris M. Young, Humanism, Gynocentrism, and Feminist Politics

In a gynocentric world, mentioning an example of misandry is misogyny. Expressing dissatisfaction about men being used as objects-of-utility—that is radiated hatred of women. A man concerned that a woman might be more interested in his credit score, rather than his philosophy degree, obviously hates women. A man who challenges the gynocentric ideas about male privilege is a misogynist prick.  In a gynocentric world, men are human-doings; they are not humans-being. Men are maimed, mutilated, dependent, confined to a life of immanence and forced to be an object-of-utility for a woman, for women, and for society-in-general…and if a man expresses outrage at the selfishness, blindness, and ruthlessness of the women who benefit from the mutilation of the personhood of half the human race, the man can be expected to be further dehumanized with insults—troll, worthless tool, loser, dead-beat, whiner, and some form of a non-human Other.

If you think I’m exaggerating, check your privilege and consider what typically happens when a man challenges anything originating from a gynocentric point-of-view. Take, for example, what happened to me and to other men who challenged the notion of male privilege put forth by an entitled princess like Amanda Marcotte. In an article she put out on July 29th, she complained that men are not doing enough with their privilege. Men are not being quality objects-of-utility for her. As such, this irks her, like sand in her vagina, and she took to her keyboard to write an article excoriating men for doing too little and for doing romance all wrong.

Ms. Marcotte complains that she needs a giant douche nozzle to wash all the sand from her inflamed vagina.

What sort of sand seems to be inflaming the vagina of Ms. Marcotte today? Victimhood sand. Yes, the sand of victimhood is irritating the Marcotte vagina today. It seems that when men make public proposals for marriage, men are oppressing women. Yes, the evil patriarchy puts women at a disadvantage in these situations because a woman might feel like an “ungrateful” bitch for saying no.

That’s right. Options are oppression. The privilege of telling a man no isn’t really a privilege. According to Ms. Marcotte, the option of saying no actually disadvantages women. It’s oppression on par with slavery. Men have the “privilege” of making the first move, of putting their necks on the chopping block—risking public rejection and humiliation. Yes, in the twisty-straw world of Ms. Marcotte’s sandy vagina, it’s male patriarchal privilege—being expected to make the first move and take such risks.

It’s also male privilege to proposition women at bars or at night clubs. Making the first move in these settings also disadvantages women. Men who take the initiative and proposition women…those men are imposing on women the choice to say yes, no, or maybe. It’s like a big rapey “Penis O’ Freedom” that busies itself with raping women of their freedom to be free of making choices.

So, being filled with this irritating sand in her vagina, one would think that Ms. Marcotte would put forth a remedy for this oppression. Perhaps something like the importance of changing the social norms such that women are expected to proposition men—spreading out the risk equally between men and women. That way a woman gets the “privilege” of being full-on rejected by men who want nothing whatsoever to do with her.

Nope. Ms. Marcotte’s solution for this sand in her vagina is for men to do more. That’s right. Men who proposition women should do more to prove their worth. She writes.

Hitting on a woman in a public place by telling her she’s got some quality that sets her above other women, without explaining why he should be the natural recipient of all that unique goodness… [that is oppression because it is] …without nary a suggestion as to what he can do for her.

You see, if only men did more for her, then she wouldn’t have to worry about looking like an “ungrateful” bitch for rejecting a poor fool. She simply wouldn’t have any “reason” for rejecting him. If the man proves himself worthy to be up inside her, then there is no reason for her to say no…and this alleviates the oppression, effectively removing her from the slavery of choice—that big rapey “Penis O’ Freedom” that imposes itself on women via propositions.

In the comment thread to Marcotte’s piece of tripe article, I mentioned how this is one big lamentation about the quality of men who proposition Ms. Marcotte.

Big Penetrating Penis O' Freedom

Moments later, a white knight who lives in the twisty-straw world of the Marcotte Vagina rushes to rescue the damsel and to save her honor.

White Knight

Being a black knight, I quickly agreed that panhandling is a lot like propositioning a woman. It’s called “pussy-begging.” Most men are happy to get a few strips of bacon flap, kind of like how a hobo is happy to get a few pennies. My comment didn’t go over too well…and neither did any of my other comments.

When I pointed out the blatant misandry and objectification of men as objects-of-utility, I was quickly excoriated and my comments were heavily down-voted. The problem is that “pointing” is very patriarchal and too much like a penis. Pointing is “mansplaining,” and so I was accused of “radiating hate.” Here is the “hate” that I initially wrote in the comment thread.

Instead of men expressing how they find a woman attractive, how about men simply plop down their credit report and wear a t-shirt imprinted with their credit score?

Essentially, what Marcotte is saying here is “what have you done for me lately?” That’s not very progressive, empowered, or independent, In fact, it’s very traditional in that men have to prove that they can afford her, [kind of] like a herd of sheep. She wants men to “pay” for her with reasons. That actually seems to objectify women and that’s not empowering for women.

Also, Marcotte is claiming that men dehumanize women as objects-of-sexuality that are pressured with an obligation to reciprocate interest, but at the same time, Marcotte insists that men should dehumanize themselves as objects-of-utility for a woman. Prove that you’re a good tool for the women, that there are reasons for her to bother with exploiting the fact that you’re attracted to her.

Nothing about the piece of tripe article empowers women or men. It’s more of the same old crap. Nothing about this article values humanity. It’s all degrading to humanity—to both women and men.

So, I actually argued that people are humans—that men should not be treated like tools and that women should not be treated like sex toys. Nothing controversial about that, right? Well, if you live in the twisty-straw world of the Marcotte Vagina, what I wrote about human dignity is nothing more than raging hate—pure misogyny. Here is Ms. Marcotte’s moral correction of me and my reply to it.

Marcotte ReplyMy 1st Reply Ms. Marcotte never did bother to reply, but some white knight did so on her behalf.

Money for TimeI assume that a contractor who builds my house wants money in exchange for his time and labor. That doesn’t mean I radiate hatred for the contractor. Anyway, that was not my assumption, but it is Ms. Marcotte’s demand and main complaint about men—that they aren’t doing enough for her.

“…without nary a suggestion as to what he can do for her.” In her own words, Ms. Marcotte echoes the selfish and gynocentric idea that men exist for the purpose of doing something for her. Janet Jackson best sings about such things (men) in her song “What Have You Done for Me Lately.”

So, the white knight valiantly attacks the straw man and I simply point out that my assumption has nothing to do with money. My assumption is that these sorts of expectations are traditionalist in that men are still expected to prove their worth to a woman…and nothing about that is progressive. It is still based on the assumption that men must be objects-of-utility for a woman, for women, and for society in-general.

The valiant white knight desperately constructs another straw man to beat.

Circular Argument

Desperate gibberish. I never made any claim that both parties shouldn’t contribute to the relationship. If the valiant white knight had actually bothered to read my words, he’d realize that I’m arguing against the objectification of men as objects-of-utility. White knights have difficulty removing themselves from their gynocentric fog. If the white knight could remove himself from this fog for a moment, he’d realize that Ms. Marcotte doesn’t value men; she values what men can “do for her.” For gynocentric gender supremacists like Ms. Marcotte, men are human-doings, not humans-being. This is traditionalist in that men are tools. There is nothing “circular” about that statement and there is nothing wrong with making the comparison between men being tools and Ms. Marcotte’s demand that men be better tools.

And so…there are other “tools” that I had to deal with in the twisty-straw world of the Marcotte Vagina. Take, for example, this person—“Kesh Meshi.”

Kesh Meshi 1

Right. There are no social expectations on men to be objects of utility. What culture is that? Or, what crazy-straw universe does she live in? I have no idea. It’s “beyond me,” if it’s not the twisty-straw world of the Marcotte Vagina. As is usual when dealing with asshats, the conversation quickly degrades into name-calling.

Keshi Meshi Asshat

Yeah, I know. I stooped to her level. My bad. Apologies to all, but her insult wasn’t the worst. I was called all sorts of meanie names and accused of bad things. All for supporting the radical idea that women and men are humans and should be treated as such.

“LJC” claims that I’m arrogant for being a man who thinks of himself as a person. “How dare that uppity man not present himself as a dog! Bad doggie! No treat for you!”

Full of Himself

And then there is this insult—the one in which I’m cast as being entitled to a woman and that I’m just “upset” because I don’t meet the standard. Apparently, showering every day is the standard…and I don’t meet it. It’s kind of like a grade-school insult—you know, “stinky-head.”

 Zython Standard

There is the one by “Amazing Sandwich.” It’s an attempt to say, in some sort of pseudo-intellectual way, that because I value my humanity and the humanity of others, I “project” dehumanization of myself onto women. Yeah, it’s the twisty-straw world of the Marcotte Vagina. In that world, valuing my humanity is projected dehumanization of women. Go figure.

Amazing SandwichThere is the “Shohanna” insult of even more incoherent gibberish. I’ve read her tripe multiple times and, giving her the benefit of the doubt, I think she is saying that I’m a “waste” (some sort of garbage) and that rejection is the best sort of attention that I will ever get from a woman. I suppose I should accept my lot in life of being thrown away by women…because at least a woman will take the time to bother with throwing me away. I don’t know.

Waste

“Shohanna” later makes some homophobic remarks. Clearly, being trash was too good for me. Being gay is worse than trash, according to her, so she feeds me some of that gay-hate. Again, being in the twisty-straw world of the Marcotte Vagina, it’s fine to hate me and make homophobic slurs and call me a “misogynist prick” because I have the radical idea that men are humans too.

Shohanna HomophobiaIt gets worse, but I’ll spare the reader. I’ve only been on the thread for a couple days and the hatred for me continues to flow. I wrote about human dignity and for that I’m called an asshole, pretentious, a dick, arrogant, accused of radiating hate, accused of hating women, and, for some reason, my sexuality is made into an issue. None of this makes sense, unless you live in the twisty-straw world of the Marcotte Vagina.

Again, in that world, it is male privilege—being rejected. Rejecting men is such a burdensome and oppressive task for women. I do not know how women manage to survive with all that victimhood sand in their vaginas. Take a look at all the oppression of women in this video.

Within only a few moments, 100 women were oppressed. Women were forced by this malicious and privileged man to make decisions about rejecting his proposition. Women were enslaved by the imposing and penetrating “Penis O’ Freedom” and burdened to reject this evil patriarch. As anyone can see by watching the video, women are worried about looking like “ungrateful” bitches.

Women shouldn’t have to worry about such things, as Ms. Marcotte argues in her piece of tripe article. Being burdened with the sand of victimhood buried in her vagina, Ms. Marcotte clearly lays out the solution. Men need to be better tools. Men need to be like a giant douche nozzle that washes away the victimhood sand buried in the vagina of oppressed women. Some little emo clown won’t work.

Emo Fag 3Nope. Ms. Marcotte needs to invite a big veined throbbing cock nozzle deep inside her—one that fills the hole in her soul and reaches every last grain of victimhood sand within her, scooping it out with a circumcised tip and then a rinsing with a massive shot of anti-inflammatory jizz cream.

Ms. Marcotte and her ilk have little (if any) respect for the humanity and dignity of men. From their gynocentric point-of-view, men cannot be dehumanized, for men are not human at all; men are less-than-human. They are patriarchy. As such, men are maimed, mutilated, dependent, confined to a life of immanence and forced to be an object-of-utility for a woman, for women, and for society-in-general—douche nozzles that exist to “do for her.” Ms. Marcotte and her ilk are the selfish, blinded, and ruthless beneficiaries of the mutilated personhood of half the human race. FTSU.

[Gynocentric] culture confines…[men]…to immanence. Immanence designates being an object, a thing with an already defined nature lined up within a general category of things with the same nature. [Masculinity]…is an essence, a set of general attributes that define a class, that restricts…[men]…to immanence and to being defined as the Other. –Iris M. Young, Humanism, Gynocentrism, and Feminist Politics

The Past Ain’t Through With Us

 past-present-future-sign1

There are stories of coincidence and chance and intersections and strange things told and which is which and who only knows…and so it goes and so it goes and the book says, we may be through with the past, but the past ain’t through with us.Magnolia

If the “past ain’t through with us,” what’s the point of deliberating about going our own way and of making the choice to go our own way? If the “past ain’t through with us, are MGTOWs and other men “choosing” to go their own way, or are they simply passive actors, soldiers on the battlefield possessed by thoughts of helplessness, caught within a storm, too close to observe its beauty, wrenched with fear and immobilized by their fate?

I’ve been asking this question for a good while now and when I hear statements from various MGTOWs describing Briffault’s Law as the inherent nature of women, when I hear statements like  “men will not change,” I suspect there may be a strand of fatalism that runs deep within MGTOW philosophies. MGTOWs should be careful and would be wise to not fall into the trap of invincible fatalism and, by extension, other sorts of various determinisms. Doing so makes all the deliberation about going our own way and opting out of marriage and similar relationships unintelligible.

 It's a Trap

Even though there may be a sense of comfort, a solace to be got from embracing fatalism, doing so undermines the deliberation and subsequent choices made by men who go their own way. The problem here is that deliberation is an unintelligible and useless endeavor for the fatalist.

At first glance, it would seem that men who are going their own way may have deliberated and made their choice. However, it may well be the case that some MGTOWs are simply fatalists who sit back like passive observers and take comfort in knowing that things are the way they are because things simply could not be otherwise. Consider this statement from Stardusk:

I’ve come to the conclusion that men, generally speaking, are just that and that’s all they want to be. They do not wish to be anything else, nor can they envision themselves being anything else.

 MGTOW Fate (Small)

This statement seems to fit nicely within the framework of a fatalism—of men’s prior and continuing facticity as tools—as men whose “past ain’t through” with them . Men are “fossils,” as Stardusk says. They are what they are and they will not be otherwise. It’s almost as if a place of solace is being created within a position of stoicism, wrapped in a shell of deliberation and choice. Consider this description of fatalism from Richard Taylor.

We are all, at certain moments of pain, threat, or bereavement, apt to entertain the idea of fatalism, the thought that what is happening at a particular moment is unavoidable, that we are powerless to prevent it. Sometimes we find ourselves in circumstances not of our own making, in which our very being and destinies are so thoroughly anchored that the thought of fatalism can be quite overwhelming, and sometimes consoling. One feels that whatever then happens, however good or ill, will be what those circumstances yield, and we are helpless. Soldiers, it is said, are sometimes possessed by such thoughts. Perhaps everyone would feel more inclined to them if they paused once in a while to think of how little they ever had to do with bringing themselves to wherever they have arrived in life, how much of their fortunes and destinies were decided for them by sheer circumstance, and how the entire course of their lives is often set, once and for all, by the most trivial incidents, which they did not produce and could not even have foreseen. If we are free to work out our destinies at all, which is doubtful, we have a freedom that is at best exercised within exceedingly narrow paths. All the important things—when we are born, of what parents, into what culture, whether we are loved or rejected, whether we are male or female, our temperament, our intelligence or stupidity, indeed everything that makes for the bulk of our happiness and misery—all these are decided for us by the most casual and indifferent circumstances, by sheer coincidences, chance encounters, and seemingly insignificant fortuities. One can see this in retrospect If he searches, but few search. The fate that has given us our very being has given us also our pride and conceit, and has thereby formed us so that, being human, we congratulate ourselves on our blessings, which we call our achievements; blame the world for our blunders, which we call our misfortunes; and scarcely give a thought to that impersonal fate that arbitrarily dispenses both. –Richard Taylor, Metaphysics 3rd Edition.

The above passage from Taylor’s classic is a compelling description of and introduction to fatalism. It’s the opening passage in his chapter on fatalism and these sorts of passages, with their soothing style and humble attitude, permeate his book and other writings. Even when I disagree with him, there is a kind of soothing solace to be got from his words.

 soothing_serenity_logo_long

I believe there are similarities between fatalists like Richard Taylor and some of the men who are going their own way. For Taylor, fatalism is the belief that whatever happens is and always was unavoidable. Although this may sound a bit like determinism, Taylor is careful to make a distinction between determinism and fatalism. Determinism, for Taylor, is the theory that all events are rendered unavoidable by their causes. Fatalism, simply put, is the belief that whatever happens is unavoidable. It may seem like a minor distinction, but Taylor is quick to point out that determinists, if being consistent, should very well also be fatalists. Determinists simply wrap a layer of theory about causality around fatalism. As such, the fatalist can deliver a rather humbling blow to the pride of determinists who do not consider themselves to be fatalists.

 Determinism

Could it be that some in the MGTOW community are simply adding a wrapper of deliberation and choice to their fatalist philosophy? Perhaps some in the MGTOW community are fatalists first and MGTOWs second? If this is the case, what happens to the foundations of a fundamentally deliberative philosophy like going our own way? A fatalist philosophy is antithetical to a deliberative philosophy. If there is no liberation to be got from deliberating about going our own way, then there is no point to deliberation, and by extension, there is no point in going our own way. In other words, a fatalist who “chooses” to go his own way makes no sense. The fatalists and the deliberative MGTOW are mutually exclusive. Trying to be both at the same time is fallacious incoherent gibberish. Care should be taken to make a clear distinction between a MGTOW and a fatalist who wraps his fatalism in MGTOW skin. It’s a trap.

 Choice (Small)

Taylor mentions a number of possible reasons for believing in fatalism. The primary reason for believing in fatalism is a matter of truth. Taylor argues that there is a body of truth concerning the past and that it is natural to suppose that there is a body of truth concerning the future. As such, Taylor says that “there existed a set of true statements about his life, both past and future…[and that]…each of us has but one possible future, described by that totality of statements about oneself in the future tense, each of which happens to be true (Metaphysics 67).” As such, there are two mutually exclusive, but exhaustive classes of statements—all those that are true, and the class of all that are false. Nobody has ever changed the truth-value of any of these statements and nobody ever will. That is all and there are no others. The totality of these statements constitutes a person’s biography.

Notice the similarities between such beliefs about a person’s biography and the biographies of women as hypergamous and as inherently abusive to men via Briffault’s Law. A person does not deviate from these statements that coincide with their actions. To do so would be to render a false statement true or a true statement false—something that would be a logical fallacy and violate the Law of Excluded Middle.

 Truth Next Exit

Taylor extrapolates by writing that “there is nothing anybody can do about [the past, and]…by the same token, of the future of everything under the sun. Whatever the future might hold, there is nothing anybody can do about it now. What will happen cannot be altered. The mere fact that it is going to happen guarantees this (Metaphysics 67,68).” Taylor writes that he must “assume certain things are true,” if he is to deliberate, because he finds himself making “certain presuppositions” without which “it would be impossible to deliberate at all (Metaphysics 42).”

For fatalists like Taylor (and some self-proclaimed MGTOWs), the “past ain’t through with” us and neither is the future.

Taylor lays out some important distinctions about deliberation. I largely agree with most of his distinctions. However, two of his distinctions are problematic for the fatalist. Firstly, deliberation is only possible about future things, never about past or present things. Secondly, Taylor writes that “I cannot deliberate about what to do, even though I may not know what I am going to do, unless I believe that it is up to me what I am going to do.” So, for Taylor, if a fatalist is to deliberate, it must be about future things and it must be about things that he believes are up to him.

For men going their own way, marriage is about a future thing and whether or not a man marries is something that is “up to him.”

“If I am within the power of another person, or at the mercy of circumstances over which I have no control…I cannot deliberate about it. I can only wait and see (Taylor, Metaphysics 43).” As such, a fatalist thinks of the future in the way we all think of the past but “…the future is still obscure to us, and we are therefore tempted to invest it, in our imagination, with all sorts of ‘possibilities’ (Taylor, Metaphysics 60).” However, Taylor writes in the same paragraph that the “fatalist resists this temptation, knowing that mere ignorance can hardly give rise to any genuine possibility in things (Metaphysics 60).” Taylor goes on to describe the fatalist as one who views the past and future “the way God is supposed to view them [the past and future] (Metaphysics 60).”

Fatalists think of the future in the way we all think of the past and I’d say that some MGTOWs think of the future in the same way. I’d say that this sort of MGTOW isn’t really a MGTOW. Perhaps a more fitting description would be a fatalist-wrapped-in-MGTOW-skin (FWMGTOW). These FWMGTOWs believe that they are at the mercy of circumstances over which they have no control—the “inherent nature” of women and men, the abusive nature of society towards men as objects of utility, and etc. Perhaps these FWMGTOWs resist the “temptation” to imagine a possible future in which men are not at the mercy of such circumstance because they believe such possibility isn’t genuine. Perhaps such FWMGTOWs believe they have a “God’s-eye point-of-view” and believe that imagined possibility is a sort of sin, a transgression of fallacy.

According to Taylor, the fatalist is smart enough to resist this temptation. The fatalist is supposed to have the truth because the fatalist is supposed to have the “God’s-eye point-of-view.” It is as though Taylor subscribes to the Platonic realm of ideas, saying that to believe the ideal truth is a matter of having the God’s-eye point-of-view. An imagination about possibilities is simply a step removed from the ideal truth, for imagined possibilities are not genuine possibilities. They are a sin of sorts to be cast out of Plato’s Republic.

The “God’s-eye point-of-view” is itself an imagined possibility, but I’ll let that slide, for there isn’t enough room to get into that—at least not in this paper.

Here is the problem for fatalists (and FWMGTOWs). It seems that the first distinction (deliberation being about future things) allows Taylor (and FWMGTOWs) to say that he deliberates about future things, but at the same time, say that this deliberation is merely imaginative ignorance and self-deception about future things—things that are not “up to him.” It is difficult to see how Taylor (if being consistent) would ever be able to say that there is any utility in deliberating about future things. If deliberating is simply a matter of imaginative ignorance—an elaborate self-deception, then Taylor seems committed to saying that deliberation is itself confusion between genuine and imagined possibilities. In fact, deliberating about the utility of possible future things would be mere futility.

The whole process of weighing options in regards to marriage and other similar relationships would be nothing but a sham—an elaborate self-deception. For a man who takes pride in his logic and clear-thinking, the man who goes his own way via fate, rather than choice, has deceived himself about his options and all the work he may have put into deliberating about marriage and other options.

As such, their deliberation about what to do makes no sense. Deliberation is reduced to a sort of routine of motions. Fatalists (and FWMGTOWs) would simply be going through motions, like a machine outputting widgets—making deliberation itself unavoidable. Deliberating about something that one has no ability to change seems like unintelligible deliberation to me. It removes the instrumentality from deliberation. If the result of an elaborate deliberation process nets the same result as not deliberating at all, because whatever happens is unavoidable, then deliberation is useless…and so is the process of weighing and making a cost-benefit analysis of marriage. As such, fatalists (and FWMGTOWs) have to admit that they are either incoherent about deliberation, or that deliberation is useless.

I’m not at all denigrating MGTOWs. I suppose I am one. I simply don’t fall into the trap of invincible fatalism. I don’t take solace in believing that things will not change. I don’t believe that things simply are the way they are because things cannot be otherwise. Care should be taken to not fall into this fatalist trap, for if you do fall into the trap, much of what you say becomes incoherent gibberish. If you decided to go your own way because you are at the mercy of circumstances beyond your control, then what did you deliberate about? What did you choose? Nothing. You yourself would be a circumstance out of your own control. Therefore, any deliberation you may have done to make a decision about going your own way makes no sense.

If the past ain’t through with us, then what the hell is this thing that we are doing–going our own way?

This cannot be one of those things. This, please, cannot be that. This was not just a matter of chance. These strange things happen all the time. –Magnolia