Saturday, February 21, 2015

Desperately Seeking Attention

What’s with all of the foul language? Why are feminists, in particular, filling the media with talk about sluts, for example?

Of course, they intend to keep saying the word until it loses its pejorative connotation. It’s like saying that the more you say “fuck” the more it sounds like an act of love.

Apparently, they do not understand onomatopoeia.

Feminists believe that liberated women should do what they want and not suffer any negative judgment. In other words, the slut-talk is supposed to buy women impunity.

This is one meaning of freedom, but it is certainly not the only one. To be free means to take responsibility and to influence the way others see you.

In Feministland freedom means doing what you want, when you want, where you want, with whom you want… and not suffering the consequences, reputational or otherwise.

Mary Eberstadt explains it well in a recent article:

From the point of view of the feminists responsible, the public proliferation of “slut” is a good thing — an attempt to “take back” a pejorative used for centuries to denigrate and deride. Repurposing the word, it’s argued, will protect women from the damage done by “slut-shaming,” or criticizing women for their sexual conduct. By “women,” of course, is meant sexually active women of a certain type, the kind who in a different age were known as, well . . . you know.

Of course this approach takes for granted the sexual revolution’s first commandment, which is that any such act ever committed by any woman is by definition beyond reproach. 

And yet, filling the airwaves with the word “slut” has not necessarily produce the desired effect. Instead of emptying the word of its meaning it forces more and more people to use the word, thus to make it easier to call women sluts.

Eberstadt writes:

That said, one can otherwise sympathize with the feminists’ intent here. Spurred in part by heartbreaking cases of teenage girls who suffered catcalling on social media and committed suicide, the sisters mean good. Trouble is, their initiative suffers mortally from the “Don’t think of an elephant” paradox. The more the word “slut” gets hurled around, the harder it is not to think about its meaning, and the more likely it is to stick somewhere unwanted.

If all of the slut-talk does not diminish the power of the word, at least, it sells. It’s not just “slut” that sells. Women who talk dirty, who are as comfortable tossing around profanities as men can proclaim themselves liberated from their femininity.

A woman who curses like a truck driver is never going to be accused of being modest or of being feminine.

Of course, when a woman uses foul language, she is also using a fetish. In the mouth of the right woman foul language can function like an aphrodisiac. Has everyone forgotten that old porn classic: Talk Dirty to Me?

Yet, today’s radical feminists are not tossing around profanity in order to turn on men. They are behaving, Eberstadt suggests, like prisoners:

Today’s feminism exhibits instead what might be called jailhouse sensibility — a purposefully tough, at times thuggish filtering of reality that is deliberately stripped of decoration or nicety; snarling, at times animalistic; instantaneous in taking offense; in all, a pose toward life more common in a prison yard than among relatively well-off beneficiaries of higher education.

Promiscuity is practically sacramental in this place. It’s all hook-up, all the time, as popular music by self-described “feminist” artists proves handily. In the aforementioned song “Slut Like You,” a quintessential anthem of the day, self-described feminist singer Pink mocks the idea of falling in love, adding, “I just wanna get some” and “Wham bam thank you ma’am / Boo-hoo / I’m a slut like you.” A 2010 video by singer Ciara, co-starring a mechanical bull, was so untoward that Black Entertainment Television declined to air it. Rihanna, who also professes to be a feminist standard-bearer, can make Miley Cyrus’s performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards look like Julie Andrews twirling in the Alps.

It makes sense that today’s jailhouse feminists, as Eberstadt calls them, are constantly angry. They might be trying to be one of the guys, or at least, the way they see guys. Or they might be angry that feminism has not fulfilled its promises to them. Or they might be afraid of looking vulnerable.

In a prison signs of vulnerability invite aggression. It might be that all the dirty language is really a bluff... a effort at self-protection.

Women ought to be angry at feminism. But, they prefer displacing the anger on to men.

After all, the women who followed the feminist life plan, who developed careers, who matched men shot for shot, who hooked up whenever and wherever they wanted… have found that their behaviors have not made them marriage material. Sorry to put it so crudely.

Of course, movement feminists do not see things this way. They are involved in a class war against white male patriarchy. They want to overthrow the patriarchy with their rage. Like Joshua at the battle of Jericho. 

In Eberstadt’s words:

Jailhouse feminism’s unique level of anger is not exactly lost on feminists themselves. “Why Are Feminists So Angry?” asks Jessica Valenti in a recent piece in The Nation; her answer is that they are tired of fighting for the same things their mothers did. Feminist backlash ensues against any attempt, even the most anodyne, at rollback of the revolution. When the watchdog group Parents Television Council protested raunch at the 2013 VMAs, for example — which to many people might seem like shooting fish in a bucket — it was dutifully attacked by the blogger Amanda Marcotte as a “retro” and “reactionary” organization whose entire existence “is predicated on using children as a cover story for what they really want, which is an entertainment industry that treats grown adults like we are children.”

Eberstadt points out that feminists are right about one thing. Today’s liberated women are right to feel cornered. Today’s  culture is full of images of women being beaten, harassed, bullied, abused, molested, raped. Just as the slut-shaming movement forced everyone to use the word slut, so has today’s campaign about rape culture filled too many minds with images of women being raped. Why would a woman not feel threatened?

Eberstadt writes:

It is well known that animals, when they are under terrible pressure at close quarters, turn on one another. Prisoners, for related reasons, do the same. The frenzy among many supposedly enlightened women these days is likewise pitiable and hard to watch. And what everyone outside their frantic conversation needs to understand is that feminism is in fact getting a big thing right here: Today’s women should feel cornered.

Violence and implied violence are all over the popular culture — as exhibited by Fifty Shades, by Miley Cyrus’s new video “exploring” sadomasochism, and by plenty of other music videos that do the same, including those of many of the industry’s top names. Their commercial success implies a truly frightening appetite out there, sated only by watching women get hurt — and the stories that percolate from time to time about domestic violence in the entertainment industry suggest that not all bad apples fall far from artistic trees.

Ebertadt beieves that these hip young women, with their profanity-laced discourse and their naked selfies, are desperately seeking attention:

All of which leads, finally, to a sad and monumental fact. Beneath the swagger and snarl of jailhouse feminism is something pathetic: a search for attention (including, obviously, male attention)on any terms at all.

If that means being trussed up like a turkey, so be it. If loping about on TV in your birthday suit does the trick, so be that, too. And if getting smacked around from time to time is part of the package — if violence is what it takes to keep an interested fellow in the room — that is a price that some desperate women today will pay.

If they have abandoned the feminine mystique, if they have abandoned the traditional way that women attract male interest, what is left?

Having overcome traditional gender roles, not needing a man to protect and provide for them, today’s feminists have trapped themselves.

In Eberstadt’s words:

It is instead a terribly deformed but profoundly felt protective reaction to the sexual revolution itself. In a world where fewer women can rely on men, some will themselves take on the protective coloration of exaggerated male characteristics — blustering, cursing, belligerence, defiance, and also, as needed, promiscuity.

When they became the men they wanted to marry, they were outraged to discover that the men they wanted to marry had not become the women they did not want to be.

Traditionally, men have protected and provided for women. No longer. Feminism has insisted that women can protect and provide for themselves. They do not need men. Unfortunately, this has made them more vulnerable... to men who they have insisted are all really predators.

The result has been an emergence of new forms of predatory male behavior, which is, according to feminists, so pervasive that only the state can protect them.

In Eberstadt’s words:

This is the deeper meaning of draconian speech codes on campuses and elsewhere: They promise to limit what men can do and say, in a world in which the old limits on male behavior no longer apply. Women, for all their empowerment, are now more vulnerable than ever before, thanks to the changes wrought by the very revolution that feminism embraces: This is the unspoken, unacknowledged truth beneath today’s furious and ultimately tragic conversation.

The point is well-taken. Feminists have overthrown the old codes of gentlemanly behavior. They have insisted that men not treat them with traditional gestures of respect and courtesy.

The moral of the story is: be careful what you wish for, you might get it.


Sam L. said...

These femininsts, like Rick in Casablanca, were misinformed. Unlike Rick, they misinformed themselves.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Ah yes, Rihanna is certainly a "feminist standard-bearer." The same Rihanna who got beat up by Chris Brown, filed felony charges, got a restraining order... and then later got back together with him. Yep, that feminist standard-bearer. Someone as sultry and sexy as Rihanna could certainly have any man she wanted, what with all the guys throwing themselves in front of her (and her fortune and high-end lifestyle). Instead, she got back together with Chris Brown. I love Mary Eberstadt.