Thursday, November 9, 2017

Lindy West Is Seriously Angry

Lindy West is angry. She is so angry that she is spitting fire. She is so angry that you can't imagine how angry she is. She wants to give full throated expression to her anger because, don’t you know it, the patriarchy has been suppressing female anger… because they are afraid of strong empowered angry women.

For my money and for what it’s worth, Lindy West can be as angry as she wants. She can spew her anger in the pages of the New York Times. Yet, all she is showing is that the more you allow yourself to become prey to your emotions the most you lose the ability to think rationally. 

West believes that women’s anger is diminished and demeaned by men—as in, yours truly—because it is endangers the patriarchal order, but seriously. We have now had nearly five decades of vigorous feminism. We have had grand national conversations about sexual harassment in the workplace. Women have raised their voices to denounce men on a daily basis. 

If we wanted to be pragmatic, we would ask: how is that working out? Apparently, not too well. It never crosses the mind of a fanatic like West, but feminism might be the problem, not the solution.

I do not just mean the simple fact that most of the men who are currently being outed as sexual harassers or predators are progressive male feminists. I do not just mean the obvious fact, ignored by West, that these men were given a green light by Hillary Clinton herself. They are simply emulating the example set by that great feminist hero, Bill Clinton. About that, West, consumed by rage, has nothing to say.

I also emphasize that when you fill the airways and the media with anger, anger that is inchoate and inarticulate, that attacks men for being men, that is, for suffering from what is now called toxic masculinity, you are going to get some of it back. Try pushing people around and they push back. Try being hostile toward men and they return the favor. We all agree that they should not. We all agree that they should be held accountable for their harassment and assaults. And yet, should we not prefer a less hostile climate and less hostility in both directions. Besides, push back is not always felonious. There are lots of ways to hurt people without committing crimes.

As I suggest, West has no awareness whatever about the current state of feminism. She acts as though no one had ever heard of it. Her anger is directed against everyone who has not bought into her favorite ideology:

Thurman is seething, like we have all been seething, in our various states of breaking open or, as Thurman chooses, waiting. We are seething at how long we have been ignored, seething for the ones who were long ago punished for telling the truth, seething for being told all of our lives that we have no right to seethe. Thurman’s rage is palpable yet contained, conveying not just the tempestuous depths of #MeToo but a profound understanding of the ways that female anger is received and weaponized against women.

You would think that women have it very, very bad in America. But, you would not want to consider, if you are Lindy West, whether feminism has been the problem.

Not only are women expected to weather sexual violence, intimate partner violence, workplace discrimination, institutional subordination, the expectation of free domestic labor, the blame for our own victimization, and all the subtler, invisible cuts that undermine us daily, we are not even allowed to be angry about it. Close your eyes and think of America.

Actually, the women who have kept quiet were progressive feminists. The men who were preying on them were progressive feminists. How did it happen that within a world known for its political correctness such things could happen and could be swept under the carpet:

We are expected to keep quiet about the men who prey upon us, as though their predation was our choice, not theirs. We are expected to sit quietly as men debate whether or not the state should be allowed to forcibly use our bodies as incubators. We are expected to not complain as we are diminished, degraded and discredited.

West continues her rant, failing to notice that women do vote and that they can vote however they please for whatever reason makes sense to them. The truth, that barely seeps into West’s rant, is that Hillary Clinton was a godawful candidate, an incompetent fraud, a woman who had nothing more than her gender going for her… besides her husband’s name. We did not need to hear it from Donna Brazile, but we are happy that we have:

We are expected to agree (and we comply!) with the paternal admonition that it is irresponsible and hyperemotional to request one female president after 241 years of male ones — because that would be tokenism, anti-democratic and dangerous — as though generations of white male politicians haven’t proven themselves utterly disinterested in caring for the needs of communities to which they do not belong. As though white men’s monopolistic death-grip on power in America doesn’t belie precisely the kind of “identity politics” they claim to abhor. As though competent, qualified women are so thin on the ground that even a concerted, sincere, large-scale search for one would be a long shot, and any resulting candidate a compromise.

West concludes with this, a point that suggests that feminism is something of a novelty:

Feminism is the collective manifestation of female anger.

They suppress our anger for a reason. Let’s prove them right.

Allow me to be clear. Allow me to quote Aristotle. Anger should be expressed, the philosopher said, in the right way at the right time in the right place to the right person under the right circumstances. What he meant, if I may, is that expressing anger should have a purpose beyond your wish to expel a certain amount of toxic emotional gas. If the anger is collective, attacking an entire gender, you might imagine that some of the recipients will be offended for being lumped in with all the male feminist sexual predators.

Anger should be expressed specifically, not generally. It should be addressed to the person who deserves, not to everyone and his brother. If the expression does not produce a constructive result, perhaps you would do better to direct your anger at those who deserve it—like the Clintons—and then see the reaction you get. 

If you lump all men in a basket of deplorables do not be surprised to discover that they do not take the offense lying down.


Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: Yet, all she is showing is that the more you allow yourself to become prey to your emotions the most you lose the ability to think rationally.

I would always agree with this. I might say "passions" more generally than emotions, and it's more helpful since its connected to passivity. If your passions tell you there is only one valid point of view, you are a slave to them, and you resist any voice that could help you step back from them.

Psychologist Jordan Peterson said Resentment and Self-pity are the most dangerous passions because make us believe real power is elsewhere and they distract us from our own responsibility.

Joseph Campbell told the story of a Samurai who had the mission to execute the assassin of his lord, but is spit in the face in the final moment, and forced himself to walk away, because he knows being motivated by personal rage is contrary to impersonal justice. Lady Justice is blind-folded for a reason.

So this suggests whenever you are motivated by rage or anger, you are corrupt and shouldn't completely trust what you think you know.

trigger warning said...

Women may have suffered at the hands of men through the ages, but they have never suffered in silence.

Its a pity I missed the "scream helplessly at the sky" events. A good view and a Thermos of martinis would have made a fine day.

Sam L. said...

Yes, she's seriously angry...but doesn't know quite what to do with it.

Sam L. said...

Off topic, but Ann Althouse takes on Ask Polly:

Unknown said...

When I was about 10 or 11,my grandfather told me that since I was a man,anger was a luxury I could not afford. I have often meditated on this,and the more I do,the more truth I find in the statement.

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth - In the 90s, as a Military Speechwriter, I paid a substantial sum to receive Friedman & staff's valuable knowledge & expertise.

But every time I tried to go deeper, or get further info ... there was an additional hefty fee.

I was GS-9. Couldn't afford it. Asking my Superiors for help was futile. I spent $Ks of my own money on books.

Disappointing. However, my respect for Friedman's knowledge & insight is undiminished. -- Rich Lara

Anonymous said...

RICanuck says:

I suspect that West's complaint about being an incubator is inspired by her own childlessness. I wonder what her relationship was like with her father while growing up.

I believe that the one two punch of fatherlessness and childlessness has adversely affected the mental health of many American women.