Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Tiger Woods Saga: Feminism Weighs In

No one has ever accused me of being a feminist. Perhaps I have been gender-disqualified, or perhaps the phrase "male feminist" feels too much like an oxymoron for anyone to embrace it willingly.

Even if I were offered honorary membership is what looks to me like a cult, I would respectfully refuse. Feminism is an ideology; its cause is the propagation of its own ideas.

As best as I can tell as a self-defined outsider, feminist ideology is founded on a fundamental category error. Feminism is blind to the distinction between equal and identical.

No serious individual would disagree with the notion that women should have equal rights and equal opportunities. To go from there to believing that men and women are really the same thing, and that they will become the same thing once we have overcome the patriarchal repression that has set up artificial gender roles... is an error.

Unfortunately, it is a fundamental error.

Far too often I have seen mixed-gender relationships undermined because one of the partners decides that both should have exactly the same roles. No one seems to have noticed or seems to care about the fact that the division of labor makes for a more efficient and harmonious household.

Assuming, that is, that feminism really wants to produce more harmonious relationships. I suspect that it does not.

Relationship harmony requires each party to accommodate gender difference. Pretending that men and women are all the same gives each party a way out of accommodation and a way into drama. If you don't believe me, try it.

But it is not all one-sided.

Prof. Henry Higgins in "My Fair Lady" wondered out loud why women cannot be more like men. Today's feminists are less tolerant than Higgins. They insist that men be more like women, that they get in touch with their feminine sides, and that they become metrosexuals. If it happens that women are not especially attracted to these omega male types, then that is surely a sign that the culture has not evolved beyond gender differences and gender prejudice.

Truth be told, anyone who believes the the two genders are identical or the same is suffering from what the clinicians call narcissism.

If you believe that when you look in your lover's eyes you should feel like you are looking in a mirror, if you believe that whatever you do he or she should do, then you are indulging a narcissistic misunderstanding of human relationships.

Excuse this rather long preamble to my comments on a recent feminist text on the Tiger Woods saga. Link here. Written by Hanna Rosin it purports to present us with the latest in feministically-correct thinking about Tiger Woods. As the French would say: il ne nous manquait que cela. Rough translation: just what we needed.

According to Rosin, calling men sex addicts is a victory for feminism, regardless of whether it is a valid diagnosis and regardless of whether it is true.

Since women have been labeled promiscuous and nymphomaniacs, Rosin considers it a good thing that men who fool around too much have their own psychiatric diagnosis. How else can we show that these men are really sick? How else can we shame them?

We will not even get into the great debate about how much is too much? And we will pass over the obvious point that what is too much for a woman might not be too much for a man.

Making our way through Rosin's muddled thought is no small task. Perhaps nymphomania was a psychiatric classification in the 19th century; it is surely not part of the DSM IV. And since when is a psychiatric classification used to shame people? Should people be shamed for suffering from an illness?

And keep in mind, that in everyday parlance, terms like promiscuous, slut, tramp and the like, when used to describe the sexual behavior of women ... are most often uttered by women. It is women who stigmatize promiscuity, not men.

Amazingly, Rosin declares that she is thrilled that "predatory" men can now be called promiscuous. In her fantasies, perhaps. In reality, surely not.

She believes that the term promiscuous had henceforth been used to describe hysterical women... which is not true.

Besides, she is committing an unconscionable slander when she conflates promiscuity with being a predator. In our culture sexual predators are rapists and pedophiles. A man who calls up a prostitute or two for an evening's romp is not preying on anyone. He is paying for their services. A man who takes up the offer of a young woman who throws herself at him and offers her sexual favors is not preying on her. He is being kind enough not to reject her.

These distinctions make a considerable difference. If you miss them you are wearing ideological blinders, and cannot see reality for your obscurantist mythology.

After all that, Rosin concedes that according to the standards that define sex addiction, Tiger Woods does not seem to qualify.

Does it matter? Not to Hanna Rosin. Woods is a man; he cheated on his wife; he deserves to be punished. Being called a sex addict shames him. The monk-like existence that he is enduring in Mississippi might help him to get in touch with his feminine side.

So, sex addiction is a good thing because, from a feminist perspective, it offers yet another way to humiliate men.

But Tiger Woods might not have been a sex addict. From a feminist perspective it does not matter, because we do not want to miss the opportunity to punish him.

Even though Tiger Woods might not be a sex addict, it is good, from a feminist perspective, that he be treated for it anyway.

As I said, this is an extraordinary muddle, enacting an adolescent revenge fantasy against men.

From Rosin's perspective the important point, expressed as a subtitle, is that: "sex addiction is victory for feminism."

Of course, you might read this subtitle to say that when a man becomes a sex addict it is a victory for feminism... which does not make a lot of sense.

More likely, Rosin means that the diagnostic category of sex addiction, which is not in the DSM IV, is a good thing because it allows women to humiliate men. One man's pain, one man's humiliation, one family's hard times... all the suffering is redeemed because it is a victory for feminism.

Is it a victory over sexual difference? Is it a victory for ideology over human nature? Or is it a victory for a culturally-induced gender dysphoria?

Feminism gains at the expense of men, but also, by extension, at the expense of the women and children who love them or are related to them. As I said, this is about ideology, about propagating ideas, regardless of the effects on real people.

Nowhere does Rosin show any willingness to accept the intuitively obvious point that male and female sexual behavior are not the same thing. And we haven't even gotten to the question of the sex drive of alpha males. Where is Darwin when we need him?

And since Rosin wants Tiger Woods to be punished, to do penance in a monk-like facility, she seems to know nothing of reality of the sex rehab program. When she says that sex rehab does not even allow a hint of sex she is demonstrating a woeful ignorance.

As I mentioned in my previous post on the topic (link here), sex addiction rehab involves talking about sexual experiences. Since this runs the risk of exciting and arousing the participants, the groups has a safe word that any member can pronounce to stop the description.

And if Rosin or anyone else imagines that sex rehab meetings do not lead to hook-ups, she is either naive or blinded by her ideology.

Last, Rosin shows no awareness of the fact that sex rehab at Dr. Carnes' clinic involves coming clean to one's spouse. As has been widely reported Tiger will be obliged to tell his wife all of his sexual indiscretions, in detail.

Is there a woman alive who would want to hear about all of it, in graphic detail? I do not know any. Would Rosin want to hear about it herself? I doubt it.

When you are trying to save a marriage you should never, never, never, never engage in a willful effort to humiliate and abuse your spouse. Why would any woman want to be tormented by visions of her husband's sexual acts with other women?

If you want to humiliate a man, and if you want to proclaim a victory for your ideology, then you are likely to ignore the effects these horrors will have on real human beings.

As I was saying, an ideology is about propagating its ideas, not about improving the lives of real people.


Anonymous said...

You touched on one of the elements of this saga that drives me mad:

The golf ball doesn't care about your real or imagined problems. Neither the clubs nor the course cares. Go play golf. You're a golfer. Go win.

"Guys, I've caused some trouble for myself. Now watch this."

Why can we do that anymore? I know: Too much therapy.


Stuart Schneiderman said...

I agree... if his condition were sufficiently debilitating to merit a psychiatric diagnosis it would surely have affected his golf game...

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flytouch 3 said...

In my view one and all may read this.

Sanjay Sharma said...
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