Guest Post by @henrymcg : Ms Whiplash Strikes Again!
I knew nothing , before today, of Lauren Wolfe, one of the writers of this article. On the other hand, Gloria Steinem has always seemed to me one of the more frustrating members of the sisterhood.
She is not obviously stupid, and this being the case, she must surely know what she is doing politically; the consequences of this desperate agenda-setting, the number of issues that are pushed aside so she can get a better and better deal for women; the attempts to anger and scare women as much as possible for political purposes.
What she doesn’t seem to know enough about, is men. And here she is, with Wolfe, telling us how masculinity works. I can only speak for myself, of course, but the idea that I’m going to be told how to be a man by these two women is not a good start to the day.
There are a number of odd statements in the article. In a slightly portentous paragraph where the authors share some wisdom about the human condition, they opine that:
“..the woman a man most fears is the woman within himself”
This may be a ‘truism’, as the authors claim, but I don’t think it is actually true. It has, for example, nothing whatsoever to do with MY personal life. Once again we are being treated to supremely confident, and utterly baseless generalisations about men. Like Greer’s famously muddled contention that women don’t realise “how much men hate them”, we are unclear which men, how many men, how many women they hate, if any, who she has asked, what evidence there is…
You have to admire the cheek of this, and the extraordinary fact that it is printed, albeit as an opinion, in a respected national newspaper. Given the seeming immunity from rational argument on display, one also wonders how many such assumptions underlie the teaching and set texts in the Gender Studies courses that Tom Martin is currently taking to the law, with little support. Both academia (rather tragically) and journalism have become more and more the tools of politics.
Then there is the central argument:
“The use of sexualised violence on the streets of Britain or America is the result of the cult of masculinity – some men become addicted to it and feel they have no identity without it. This cult is a drug pushed by gangs and the culture of wars in order to make men act violently and risk their lives against their own self-interest as human beings”
With this phrase, the “cult of masculinity” the authors may, for all I know, hope to be quoted far and wide. But at a time when we sorely need clear heads and a clear understanding of what it means to be a man, do we want to be lectured about it by two women who, far from having “walked a mile in my shoes”, have instead spent much of their time behind a keyboard writing about men in a rather abstract way? Everything they say about men here seems like bumbling guesswork.
They link to carefully chosen ‘evidence’, some of it anecdotal. But I’m far from convinced that any analogy with a cult applies. The way men behave in various extreme circumstances, and why, might be an interesting study. But Steinem and Wolfe are not really doing science, are they? They’re only adding this concept of a ‘cult’ (a word with plenty of emotional impact) to an old discussion.
Perhaps that’s the way they want to understand it. I don’t think it’s going to help us make a better world, but it might put some (probably erroneous) ideas about men into people’s heads.