The Western War against Men and the Sinking of the Titanic
One of the current social realities is the war against men—or if you prefer, the war against masculinity as traditionally defined. Confirmation of this comes from an unusual source—from Camille Paglia. In an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, associate editorial features editor Ms. Weiss writes about Paglia in an article entitled, “Camille Paglia: A Feminist Defense of Masculine Virtues.”
She relates that Paglia has noted with alarm certain features of western society, such as “society’s attempts to paper over the biological distinction between men and women,” which she connects with “the collapse of Western civilization.” For Paglia, the cultural attempt to refashion society and eliminate traditional masculinity begins early. In the educational system, for example, “They’re making a toxic environment for boys. Primary education does everything in its power to turn boys into neuters.” Paglia sees the concentration on “female values”—such as sensitivity, socialization and cooperation—as the main aim of teachers and of society. For those not familiar with Paglia’s work, she is no mere mouthpiece for the Christian right. She is a lesbian, and a self-described “notorious Amazon feminist.” Her criticisms of the feminist movement come from her long involvement in that movement. But she wants feminism to be “open to stay-at-home moms and not just the career woman” and suggests that to be taken seriously feminism must take on matters like rape in India and honour killings in the Muslim world, which she describes as “more of an outrage than some woman going on a date on the Brown University campus.”
I’m with Camille. I agree that western society is bent on turning men into neuters. All mysticism has been stripped from gender, which is now reduced to simple anatomical differences, and even these are no longer definitive. No roles are more suited to men than to women, as no roles are more suited to women than to men—at least that’s the party line. Anciently (i.e. before the late 1960s), all gender had a mystical aspect. Men had a life and secrets of their own that they would not share with the women, and women had lives and secrets not for sharing with the men. Certain mystical (and therefore culturally arbitrary) rituals ruled interactions between the genders: a man, for example, would hold a door open for a woman, and would remove his hat in her presence, or stand up when she approached (as he would remove his hat and rise for his sovereign). Any man worth his masculine salt would instantly come to the aid of any woman in distress, even at the possible cost of his own life. It was not a matter of bravery, but of simple masculinity. That’s what it meant to be a man.
Such mystical behaviour can become very practical, as it did one day in 1912. At 11.40 p.m. on April 14 that year, the good ship Titanic struck an iceberg in the north Atlantic, and was fully submerged just over two and a half hours later, with tremendous loss of life. The facts are too well known to need repeating. What is perhaps less known was the insistence of those on board ship upon filling the insufficient number of lifeboats with women and their children and of not giving a seat in any lifeboat to any man where a woman could be found to take the seat instead. In one of the later inquiries, one survivor related, “The men all refrained from asserting their strength and from crowding back the women and children. They could not have stood quieter if they had been in church.” Before each boat was cut away into the water, the cry went up, “Any more women?” These men were not especially heroic. They were simply acting as their society had told them men must act. Real mysticism has always been practical.
It is still practical in our day, for women are still subject to threat and violence, and it can no longer be assumed that any man will come to the aid of any woman. If the war against masculinity succeeds and such mystical behaviour is programmed out of future generations, what will take its place? In a word, law. In April 1912, no laws were necessary decreeing that the few lifeboats available must first be filled with women and children. Such gallantry had become part of the masculine character; it had become culturally internalized. But such things as the “take back the night” marches testify to the fact that such things are internalized no longer. And in the absence of internal constraints, society must fall back upon external ones.
Admittedly some religious groups retain an internalized standard of masculine gallantry, but these groups have largely been included in society’s war against masculinity, and find themselves under threat as well. Their masculine codes of gallantry, where they survive, will be of little use in providing the necessary societal constraints. Anti-discrimination laws will replace gallantry, and when government finds them a poor substitute, it will respond by passing even more laws and inflicting greater punishment for infraction. Expect Big Brother to grow even bigger.
In the future, I therefore predict ever-increasing propaganda, with the canons of political correctness being backed up with severe sanctions from Human Rights Tribunals (or whatever Big Brother will call them), and with increasingly sweeping and draconian powers exercised by the government to enforce the new norms and requirements. Even now our culture is flexing its muscles and trying the waters: witness the fury with which Phil Robertson’s traditionalism was greeted by powerful people in the media, and the progress of the Gay Marriage steamroller. Alas, my crystal ball is still in the shop. But I suspect that the proverbial Chinese curse will find fulfillment in our future: “May you live in interesting times.”
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