Not long ago, my wife and I received the sort of potentially unsettling news parents hear from time to time. The bearers of the news were all women, and when we were headed out of their office, they had me take our child to the exit while my wife stayed behind for something we were to bring home.
It took a while, and as we waited, the thought entered my mind, for no reason relevant to our visit, that they were asking her insinuating questions about me. If that sounds like the product of a guilty or paranoid mind, consider that the New York Times recently published an essay titled, “The Unexamined Brutality of the Male Libido,” by a male writer named Stephan Marche. If the essay pushes the envelope on mainstream anti-maleness, it’s not by much.
Not surprisingly, Marche’s mentality strikes me as demented:
The crisis we are approaching is fundamental: How can healthy sexuality ever occur in conditions in which men and women are not equal? How are we supposed to create an equal world when male mechanisms of desire are inherently brutal? We cannot answer these questions unless we face them.
The question I would ask in response is: How can we have a healthy sexuality if we insist on seeing one of the sexes as essentially dangerous animals?
At least he’s right that a healthy interaction of the sexes is all about culture. I’d speculate that his sense of paradox, however, arises from an unwillingness to entertain the possibility that progressives destroyed the culture that moderated these things, which had developed over millennia. Sure, humanity hadn’t reached perfection by the time of the sexual revolution, but we were advancing, and we sure won’t improve our lot by simply switching the direction of suppression and amplifying it.
On a related note, Glenn Reynolds expresses an interesting thought on Instapundit, about the odd behavior of Harvey Weinstein and the sexual-harassment dominoes that have followed his fall:
Instead of exercising traditionally male power, they were trying to exercise the traditionally female power of being desirable and desired. Maybe it’s because they were in industries where that power is especially prominent, but pathetically, they were acting like they hoped someone would find them . . . beautiful.
Reynolds’s theory can certainly function alongside the opening salvo of Marche’s Times essay, in which he (Marche) insists that all men are “unbelievable,” by which he means they may espouse the “correct” views concerning gender politics and still be harassers. Note that he’s referring, here to men of the Left, who presumably hold (or at least mouth) progressive values, so perhaps Weinstein and the Dominoes really weren’t being toxically male so much as they are simply confused.
They had normal male feelings that their left-wing micro-culture told them were bad, and it messed them up. Believing the radical lines about sex and sexuality, they’d thrown overboard the sextant by which to take bearings and drifted into troubling waters.
For some sense of the how such a tool takes measure of humanity’s two points of reference, turn to Jenny North’s statement of thanksgiving for men on the Victory Girls blog:
The last several weeks have produced a multitude of bad man articles and an avalanche of allegations against bad men, and men behaving badly. We at Victory Girls would never fall into the trap of blaming all men for the sins of a select few. In fact we think that the hostility toward men acting manly is part of the problem! As much as the Left wants to create a gender fluid society, they ignore Science! We need our genders in tact – both of them! Females are complemented by the male variety and vice versa. We need each other for balance and harmony.
Men and women are complementary by nature. We’re of all varieties, to be sure, but human nature and overall tendencies can’t be ignored. A healthy society needs both cultural guides for the sexes, on one hand, and an appreciation of our individual humanity, on the other. In other words, evolution of our chivalric system (setting expectations for both sexes) shouldn’t have required rejection, but rather tempering with tolerance for the ways in which we differ.
As it turned out, my wife wasn’t delayed out of suspicion, but for some woman-to-woman consolation. To be honest, that’s something I was content to do without, but I’d prefer to think it was withheld as an acknowledgment of fortitude, rather than as an indication (perhaps subconscious) of indifference. In our times, the latter seems more likely.