"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

On Testoterone

I'm a matchmaker, a headhunter by profession. I see a vacuum, a possible synergy, an unrealized potential, and my creativity leaps to the fore. It's a vocation in its way. I love it.

Don't know if it makes me a moralist, a feminist or just a man who loves women, but I won't introduce any of the men I know to any of my wife's unattached friends. I admire these women, every single (!) one, and the men are still boys, adolescents. They are not worthy. I couldn't live with myself.


Our Michael Simpson questions the wisdom of the recent innovation of coed dorms below, and relates it to the recent violation of certain female exotic entertainers at a Duke sports team party.

Is this incident related to feminism, feminization, or gender egalitarianism? I asked the wise Mrs. TVD, who knows of such things, who was of the opinion that such male oppression could easily happen in any age. Still, she was also of the opinion that the specialness and magic of the weaker yet stronger sex might suffer degradation in a base environment like the coed dorm.

Now, it seems there's tacit agreement among all that whether by the academy's design (my opinion) or just inevitable consequence, coed dorm living results in greater sexual experimentation. (We may assume that most male 18-year-olds have always been sexually liberated: the historical problem was always finding someone to be liberated with.)

Is it fuddy-duddy to wonder whether sexual liberation has been good for women? On the personal level, questioning the proposition that psychologically, copious experimentation is harmless; on the macro level, whether easy sex has changed the behavior and attitudes of the male of the species.

The greatest challenge of any society is civilizing its young men, and I do believe many of our current societal problems rest largely on men's disrespect of women, and that's certainly relevant to consider in the hiring and subsequent dehumanization (brutality!) of the women in question.



I do know from scouting about the internet that among the black community, the sexes are almost at war, and bitches and ho's is just the tip of the iceberg. Many on the outside would be quite surprised, I think. The battle is at a more low-level intensity in the majority culture, but as they say, when white America catches cold, black folks get pneumonia.

I've had the notion that Western civilization, especially in just this past 1000 years, has been on a course toward the true emancipation of womyn, that we've been on to something. But now I think that the pendulum has swung from protection/oppression to exploitation/oppression.

Women are not men. Daughters are not sons. These days, we forget that, don't we? Does egalitarianism breed contempt? Is woman the victim of her own success?

28 comments:

Jay D. Homnick said...

This is not a casual question. It is perhaps the central question of the time and deserves more than the perfunctory attention that my schedule allows for at this hectic moment.

Still, I want to acknowledge its significance and to make a mental note to see if I can find time later to revisit.

Kathy Hutchins said...

What I have will sound like a cliche, but here goes: the respect for women that must be at the heart of any sound humanism has gone fatally astray by confusing equality with sameness. It has become professional suicide to even raise the possibility that man and woman may be essentially different -- yet anyone with a milligram of common sense and one working eye can see that of course they are. True equality for both sexes does not consist of treating everyone as if they were the same, but treating everyone in the way that respects his or her core being. Men and women are so fundamentally different that to treat them as the same will of necessity demean one or the other.

With respect to the stripper, the coed dorms, et al.: the different kinds of power wielded by the two sexes in their sexual relations with each other requires that modesty be a valued attribute of women when they are around men. It also requires that men should value gallantry towards women. Men should shame other men who do not treat women respectfully. Women should shame women who behave immodestly.

My obligatory personal anecdote: in July of 1988 a heat wave pounded DC. I was a mid-level bureaucrat in a downtown office, and I rode a crowded commuter bus for 90 minutes one way to get to work. I was eight months pregnant. After morning after morning of standing in the aisle, with no one offering me a seat, I just simply had enough one day and asked a man if he would mind letting me sit down. He did, but with a surly expression, and leaned over me to say to his companion, "They're all the same. They demand equal treatment, and then they bitch when they get it."

Both these men were wearing the uniforms of Navy officers. If they were not ashamed to act so, then the men around them should have made them feel their displeasure. A tolerance for this kind of disrespect, from a class of men who traditionally were expected to embody the highest standards of gentlemanlike conduct, means that the society that produced them is becoming unhinged.

Pastorius said...

Kathy,
I sympathize with you for the situation you found yourself in, and surely, I would have gladly given up the seat to you, if I had been asked.

However, what the man said is true.

Consider this, I am sure I am not the only man who has opened doors for women who stride right through with a look on their face which seems to be, at once, resentment AND entitlement.

I am sure I am not the only man who has considered whether to open the door or not, for fear of being resented for my old-fashioned values.

And, let's face it, one of the victories of feminism is now men can get what they always wanted; free sex. And free sex, to men, means, "Don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out." In other words, commitment goes out the window.

That's just the nature of men.

Men, I believe rightly, feel that women often want to live life without consequences, and when they face consequences they make a University department/major of it.

Even the proposition here is an example. Women ought to be able to change roles in society, without a fundmamental change in their natures, but men ought to fundamentally change their natures (by refsuing to give in to the sudden avalanche of free sex)in order to accomodate women's role change.

brmerrick said...

"Men, I believe rightly, feel that women often want to live life without consequences, and when they face consequences they make a University department/major of it."

Hear, hear. If you want to play with fire, you're going to get burned. If you want to dance exotically for men, you're going to be taken advantage of. If you want to slut it up, you will end up paying with your life, or some other violation of your person.

Likewise the men. If you want instant sexual gratification, you give yourself over to what can quickly become a criminal enterprise. You risk the break-up of your family, addiction, STDs, or even jail.

It seems to me that more men are willing to deal with the consequences of their behavior than the modern-day American female.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, you guys are pretty tough on the ladies, and it makes me wince (altho the university department line was a beaut). I'm with Ms. Hutchins---what is frightening about the Duke incident is that it was a group, and apparently not one of the young men had the courage to stand up and put a stop to it.

The burden of protecting womanhood must fall on men---when we protect someone else's daughter, we protect our own.

We are doing a lousy job, I think, but I myself am stumped at how to stop the modernists from using our young women and the feminists from using themselves as psycho-sexual guinea pigs.

Pastorius said...

TVD, Kathy Hutchins, and all,

I did not realize we were addressing the Lacrosse team incident. (I didn't know the Lacrosse team was from Duke) Is that what we are talking about here? It was never explicitly spelled out.

Forgive me. I am not a traditional news junkie.

If that incident is our starting point, then I am with anyone who is making the case that much of America is becoming a frat-house culture, and it is frightening.

I still maintain that it is a natural part of the backlash caused by the fact that the Feminist pendulum swung too far, but that does not excuse what went on with regards to the Lacrosse team incident.

brmerrick said...

I do not approve or condone for one moment what these men did. That is not the point of my post above. My point is that there was a time when women knew to avoid these sorts of situations. The woman who was raped did not deserve to be raped simply because she is an exotic dancer/stripper, any more than a child who plays in the middle of the street deserves to be run over. But these sad facts of life have been forgotten in a culture that seeks to teach women that they can have it all. No, they can't.

You cannot have "equal" pay for "equal" work, and maternity leave for six months.

You cannot have quickie divorce and expect men to commit.

You cannot have abortion on demand and not permit the other party involved (well, ONE of the other parties involved) to have his say as to whether or not he wants the child.

And lastly, and this is a biggie especially considering the event at hand, you cannot celebrate your vagina in disgusting public displays like the elite feminist you wish to be, and expect men to respect you more. Ensler claims to be fighting violence against women, but she and her cohorts who helped produce this rapist culture have forgotten one thing:

IF YOU WANT TO REDUCE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN, THE LAST THING YOU DO IS TALK INCESSANTLY ABOUT FEMALE GENITALIA!!!!!

Play with fire, expect to get burned, ladies. The good men in this world will never be able to change that.

James Elliott said...

I wanted to tread lightly here, since, as Jay says, this is an extremely important issue that deserves a lot more thought and introspection than time or medium allow. I am very glad to see that Kathy threw her hat in the ring; this is a discussion that cannot occur without women's voices and multiple perspectives, and I very much hope that Connie returns and contributes as well.

When it comes to matters of sexuality and gender in culture, I tend to be far more prudish and traditional than a lot of my peers. But then, their growing levels of prudence and reserved behavior also constantly surprise me, a trend that crosses the lines of sexual orientation. I agree that gallantry, which I see as part and parcel to being polite in general, is a dying breed of social behavior. As far as “modesty” goes, I guess everyone has different definitions, from the burkha to skirt length; I don’t find most dress scandalous, depending on the age of the person wearing it. Modesty, much like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

The greatest problem facing the sexual behavior of men in this country is the base assumption that young men are sexual aggressors. “It’s just their nature,” would nicely sum up some of the above posts. Once we accept that completely empty argument, we allow for biological determinism, which brings us to comments like “IF YOU WANT TO REDUCE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN, THE LAST THING YOU DO IS TALK INCESSANTLY ABOUT FEMALE GENITALIA!!!!!” This biological determinism provides an easy excuse for the aggressors’ act of free will.

I call bullshit. Men are not inherently sexually aggressive. And women do not bring sexual assault upon themselves by nature of wearing immodest clothing and being frank about sexuality, or even by supporting themselves with the one asset our society allows women to have as their own: their bodies. But then, if we buy the explanation that their bodies tempt those instinctually aggressive men, their bodies cease to be their own.

There has been a recent change of focus among some feminist thinkers, that men are as victimized by our culture as women, even if they are not as outwardly oppressed. And make no mistake: when we allow an oppressive idea like men as biological sexual aggressors enter our cultural consciousness unquestioned, we are doing violence to young men. These are the same thinkers pushing for changing maternity leave to parental leave, so that it is available to both parents. Equality doesn’t mean just changing our ideas about what it means to be a woman. We needn’t “rethink” feminism, but rather the nature of “manliness” (to take a little potshot at a recently released book).

I was so excited when the show “Desperate Housewives” had a male character assume the caretaker role, becoming a “stay-at-home dad,” and allowing the mother to assume the role she was obviously better equipped for: provider. My excitement recently became disgust as the father became “emasculated” and, rather than having a frank discussion about his feelings, went back to work and stuck the kids in daycare. Instead of analyzing why a man should feel less of a man by caring for his children and home, the viewers were presented with the “solution” of daycare and child-friendly workplaces. Those workplaces have their value, and it is still encouraging to see a popular television show address this, no matter how obliquely; but in doing so, they eschewed the far more important cultural discussion.

Really, the kind of thinking exhibited by some of the commenters above is the same kind of thinking that led to “boys will be boys” excuses fifty years ago. Thoughts like this, “If you want to dance exotically for men, you're going to be taken advantage of” are neither traditional or gallant: they are an excuse for the young men who were not taught by their parents and their culture to respect theirs and others’ bodies and sexuality with openness and communication. “She was asking for it,” is really what those comments boil down to.

I’m all for gallantry and keeping sex an intimate, private act between those who can willingly and knowingly consent. The emotional impact of sex is an important aspect of the act that society, and therefore popular media, is not willing to discuss. As a society, we do not have frank, open discussions with our young adolescents and teens about their burgeoning emotional and sexual feelings, feelings that are wholly natural. When those feelings are oppressed, ostracized, or glossed over, they are allowed to become obsessive and stunted. It is then that aggression becomes more possible. Free will cannot be fully exercised without its being informed. It is not merely opportunity or the casual proximity of the female or male body that leads to sex.

Hunter Baker said...

I tend to think the women are going to turn this thing around. We'll have another feminist movement that is a little less naive than the one that made pretty good progress in the 60's and 70's only to sell the whole project down the river for legalized abortion. I think expectations about sex will tighten up a bit. These things are cyclical. The overall trend is not good, but we'll get some relief in the relatively near future, I think.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, Mr. Merrick is correct that there aren't enough good men in the world to restrain all the bad ones.

Kathy, to jump off your point even further, it comes to mind that there seems to be very little public female leadership, as in philosophical mentorship of young women. The equivalent of the Promise Keepers, or influential speakers/writers. Dr. Laura?

Neither is there much intelligent cultural opposition to Eve Ensler and other facile exploiters and trivializers of womanhood.

It does seem that our young women are completely on their own: men encourage their selling of their birthright, hip modern women endorse it in the name of freedom from patriarchy.

Merrick's right. Psychotic, but absolutely right. We gotta take these bastards. Now we could do it with conventional weapons that could take years and cost millions of lives. No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part.

Kathy, you're just the gal to do it.

brmerrick said...

I honestly don't understand what's "psychotic" about pointing out the obvious. I never said anything like, "She deserved it." She did not. Nor does a woman walking down a dark alley deserve to get mugged. Nor, as I said previously, does a child playing in the street deserve to get run over. But there was a time when parents warned children about playing in the street. There was a time when women knew out of sheer common sense that when you deliberately place yourself in the midst of oversexed and obviously potentially dangerous men as a sex object, you are running the risk of very, very bad things happening to you. Don't do it. This new sexual liberation espoused by elite feminists is giving this band of bad guys more of what they want, and it will give these women nothing. A wise woman understands that you do not entertain this type of man for any reason. A wise woman understands that there can be unintended and undeserved consequences for her actions. Can I be simultaneously aware of the foolishness of being an exotic dancer/stripper, while feeling sad for the woman who has made the foolish choice? Can we not simultaneously demand that justice be served on these men, and use this as an occasion to warn the more gullible women among us to stay the hell away from any scenario in which they are likely to be treated as sex objects?

James Elliott said...

I honestly don't understand what's "psychotic" about pointing out the obvious. I never said anything like, "She deserved it."

Oh, you absolutely did. Your comments quite clearly indicate that you lack even a basic understanding of feminism, sexual liberation, or any of the topics you brazenly attack and dismiss.

Further, what "type of man" are you referring to? Wealthy, clean-cut young college men? Men who, sans this convenient glimpse into their anger and impulse control, are exactly the kind of men she would be encouraged to seek out as husband material?

connie deady said...

Wow, soo much to address.

First, BMerrick's post seems very anti-conservative to me.

This new sexual liberation espoused by elite feminists is giving this band of bad guys more of what they want, and it will give these women nothing. A wise woman understands that you do not entertain this type of man for any reason. A wise woman understands that there can be unintended and undeserved consequences for her actions.

This is classic blaming the victim. Everyone has to take responsibility for his or her own actions. The responsibility for the man who rapes (assuming they did)has to be more than the victim. His post is only a step above "my brother made me do it". No, the men had a choice and they made the wrong one(again assuming the truth of the allegations).We are all responsible for the choices we make. I'd say the responsibility for choosing to be an exotic dancer is a lot less than the responsibility for criminally sexually assaulting another human being.

I agree a lot with Kathy's first sentence.

What I have will sound like a cliche, but here goes: the respect for women that must be at the heart of any sound humanism has gone fatally astray by confusing equality with sameness.

This is so true. The trick is to acknowledge differences without assinging superiority/inferiority. Women have many super qualities that come with child bearing. They should be appreciated and not devalued.

I was in co-ed dorm in college in 1971, which is 35 years ago, so that's not too recent an innovation.

Men have seen women as sexual objects for like, forever. I don't think sexual liberation for women has caused that. I also think that incidents like this have occurred for years. It reminds me of the story when I was a kid about how a bunch of people in New York City watched someone beat a man to death and no one did anything. I remember stories horrified about it.

Tom, Dr. Laura? Blech. I actually used to listen to her when I had a job that required a lot of driving from place to place. I agree with some of her points and her moral viewpoints, but she is obsessive.

brmerrick said...

I would never, in my life, not for one moment, blame a woman who has been raped for what happened to her. There is nothing in my above posts that even hints at this. My thoughts on this subject, its larger implications in our society, and the warning I was trying to offer have been thoroughly misconstrued by the people running this blog and their associates. Thus, I am finished visiting and posting at this site. Shame on the lot of you.

James Elliott said...

It's a shame that brmerrick felt so attacked. I know for myself, I perhaps could have devoted more time to trying to point out why his comments were so aggressive and indicative of that cultural trend without being accusatory, but honestly, some people just don't want to be that introspective. It's damned difficult.

I do want to second Connie's agreement with Kathy's line: "What I have will sound like a cliche, but here goes: the respect for women that must be at the heart of any sound humanism has gone fatally astray by confusing equality with sameness." I didn't acknowledge it before, but this is so true.

Pastorius said...

I think his point had merit. I just don't know the specifics of the Lacrosse team incident, so I'm not going to argue it.

In theory, I agree with Merrick, and I think James Elliots point absolves women of taking responsibility for their actions.

Men are agressive by nature, James. Check out the title of this post; On Testosterone.

That stuff makes us aggressive. And, nature wants us to be that way. Our nature is to go out and impregnate as many females as possible.

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

Did the woman engage in risky behavior?

Tom Van Dyke said...

Geez, that's the last time I quote Animal House. Even tho I was kidding, it looks like it fit.

Connie, you see the point. The only apostle of the dignity of womanhood I can think of is Dr. Laura, who's decidedly unhip and a bit of a drag.

We all seem to agree that respect is not accorded to those who do not respect themselves. We need some women to start making it cool to say so.

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

We need some women to start making it cool to say so.

And men!

Kathy Hutchins said...

The only apostle of the dignity of womanhood I can think of is Dr. Laura, who's decidedly unhip and a bit of a drag.

Try Jennifer Roback Morse or Frederica Mathewes-Green. Much less unhip, and not at all a drag.

I have my own issues with Dr. Laura, mainly because she sometimes (and more often as she ages) has trouble distinguishing between authentic moral imperatives and her personal cultural preferences. She dilutes her authority to speak to the necessity for adults to put their children first, for example, by declaring ex cathedra that all military officers with children should resign their commissions because moving every two years is too traumatic for kids. I turned her off the day she scolded a woman for depriving her children of society by bringing them up on a farm, and have never turned her back on.

I can't believe I'm the only one who knew you were channeling Otter, but from the comments, I'm not sure anyone else picked it up.

Pastorius said...

Didn't know. I forgot all about Animal House years ago.

James Elliott said...

"In theory, I agree with Merrick, and I think James Elliots point absolves women of taking responsibility for their actions."

That's utter bullhonkey, Pastorius. You clearly didn't comprehend a damn thing I wrote: my comments were directed towards the perception of men as inherent sexual aggressors. Perhaps the greater conflict is this: I don't think the woman did a damn thing wrong; she doesn't have anything to take responsibility for.

"Men are agressive by nature, James. Check out the title of this post; On Testosterone."

Yes, I know you're all for determinism, be it metaphysical or biological. It's also utter doo-doo. A propensity towards aggression does not aggression make. Again, that's so much "boys will be boys" bull.

"Our nature is to go out and impregnate as many females as possible."

Also not true. There is far too much species and individual variance in primate behavior to make a carte blanche statement like this. If we buy your assertion, then we throw personal responsibility and free will in the dustbin of history.

Pastorius said...

James,
Do you have daughters? What would you tell them about men? That men are all free to choose to do good, or that men are generally sexually agressive, and not necessarily safe in frat-house situations when there are naked dancing women present?

You are talking about how humans have free will. ok, I will agree with you on that. However, that does not mean that men, travelling in packs are likely to consistently make good choices.

connie deady said...

Do you have daughters? What would you tell them about men?

I tell mine that men are the second best sex. They are a necessary and pleasurable evil. Can't live with them, can't live without them.

Seriously, it's not what I tell her about men that matters, it's what I tell her about her that matters. Respect yourself, use good judgment, be aware of consequences, have values.

Saying that men are naturally sexually aggressive says to me that it's not their fault. As long as it's "cool" for men to follow their sexual urges they will. That won't change until the male mental and emotional attitudes towards sex and woman change.

Tom Van Dyke said...

But it's not their fault. They are.

And it will always be "cool" for them to be that way. You know yourself that many if not most women demand it. Nobody wants a wimp.

And, no, they won't change, Connie. You, me and we know that. We're going to have to work around that reality.

Your instructions to your daughter already seem to comprehend that. You made your bones in a coed dorm. (No pun intended or implied...)

connie deady said...

Tom, as a woman I believe in keeping my eyes open, as I tell my daughter. We each have to be responsible for our own actions. But to say men are sexually aggressive is being an apologist for wrongs they may do. That just can't be right!

Many alcoholics have a predisposition to alcoholism. My body is a calorie storage machine, too bad I don't live in a time of famine. I realizes I'm making excuses for myself, but we all have things in our nature that we deal with. We don't use them as built in "I can't help myself"

Tlaloc said...

"But it's not their fault. They are."

You know Tom, you sound an awful lot like those on the left that demand that all actions be attributed to bad environments growing up. A point I'm fairly sure you disagree with vigorously.

James Elliott said...

"But it's not their fault. They are. "

Isn't this in the same vein for men as I was accused of being for women? Doesn't this absolve men of responsibility for their actions?

I don't think enough attention was paid to Michael's earlier point about alcohol consumption. A recent study found that over three-quarters of sexual activity and assaults on campuses involved alcohol. That's a pretty serious and bi-gender problem that needs addressing.