March 12, 2009

Is John Ziegler a misogynist? So says blogger Fireweed, based on the dating-show video I posted a three weeks ago, in which the documentary filmmaker spoke of his “€œdream woman”€ thusly:

Someone who is informed and rational, which I realize is kind of an oxymoron for women. . . . Ideally you find someone with a manageable degree of irrationality.

From this, Fireweed concludes that Ziegler is a “€œpredictable misogynist,”€ who is out of step with the 21st century. I think she is wrong about the misogyny. Ziegler strikes me more like Henry Higgins on a blind date with Eliza Doolittle: “€œWhy can”€™t a woman be more like a man?”€

Fireweed is even more wrong to assert Ziegler needs to “€œfast forward . . . to the 21st century.”€ His message could not be more timely. One might say the man and the hour have met, and that Ziegler has unwittingly struck the spark of revolution.

What Ziegler is telling the woman in so many words is something that ought to be plainly obvious from the video: He is not a man who deals well with emotion. He understands that most women act on emotion in their personal relationships, and he expresses an aversion to entering a relationship established on such a basis, where he is so obviously at a disadvantage.

All men”€”all smart men, anyway”€”recognize this intrinsic problem in male-female relationships. We are compelled to deal with women on their terms, or else do without their companionship.

How a woman feels is, to her, an objective reality. If she feels unloved or disrespected, no protestation to the contrary will satisfy her. The man is just going forward, living his life, doing what seems to him ordinary and logical and then “€“ without thinking about how it makes her feel”€”he says or does something that hurts her. Whereupon he finds himself required to expend time and energy soothing a hurt he never intended to inflict.

This happens even in male-female relationships where romance is not involved, nor even remotely contemplated. Women pay close attention to the emotional content of their dealings with others, whether it is with family members, friends or co-workers. My wife can develop an instant dislike toward a waitress or retail clerk over the most superficial perception: “€œShe’s snooty,”€ or “€œHe’s creepy.”€ Women reify their perceptions: If my wife believes you are “€œcreepy,”€ then your creepiness is to her a tangible fact, a thing as real as the nose on your face.

Words like “€œthoughtful”€ and “€œsensitive”€ describe the qualities necessary to cooperate effectively with women. One must carefully monitor one’s interactions with them, gauge their reactions and adjust accordingly. For most men, and especially for hyper-rationalizing men like Ziegler, this is a terrifying tightrope walk across an abyss.

Most men are not naturally thoughtful and sensitive in that way, and they resent having to devote effort to “€œrelationship management”€”€”a task at which they suck”€” when it would be a far more productive use of their time to concentrate on doing the things they do best.

The feminization of our culture has the effect of stigmatizing the rough, insensitive, hierarchical, let’s-get-down-to-business male way of doing things, while making womanly subjectivity the standard by which male-female relations are judged.  If she feels mistreated, the man stands accused in a court where only the woman’s testimony is admitted as evidence. What he intended, or whether his actions toward her were objectively unjust, is irrelevant. She feels hurt, therefore he is to blame.

John Ziegler had the effrontery to attempt, however awkwardly, to express a protest against this. My jocular reaction to Ziegler’s romantic face-plant, and much of the busting on Ziegler by smart-alecks in the blog comments, were directed at the folly of his attempting to do this on a blind date, when men should be on their best behavior. Yet his remarks about female irrationality are a fair complaint.

Women are permitted to complain endlessly about the brutish ways of men. This License To Bitch is so automatic, so taken for granted, that no one even notices it, much less questions it. But let a man attempt to give voice to what all men understand”€”that is, the harmfulness of female subjectivity”€”and he’s a sexist, a misogynist, a swine.

What is the origin of the Bitch Culture, wherein men must constantly be on guard against the accusation of “€œinsensitivity,”€ against which no defense is permitted? Look no further than the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Rep. Howard W. Smith, a Virginia Democrat and ardent segregationist, sought to prevent passage of the bill by adding “€œsex”€ to the categories of prohibited discrimination. Smith believed that a federally enforced regime of sexual equality was so ludicrous, so self-evidently wrong, that even lawmaker who wished to end Jim Crow would vote against the bill.  Smith reckoned wrongly and we behold the consequences.

Over ensuing decades, a series of federal court decisions established a body of law governing “€œsexual harassment,”€ a civil offense that has no explicit basis in law, but rather is an interpretive outgrowth of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. One of the most pernicious of these interpretations is the “€œhostile environment”€ variety of sexual harassment, which permits plaintiffs to adduce as evidence of discriminatory intent almost anything and everything said or done by any man in the workplace.

To describe this regime as an expression of militant egalitarianism is a mistake. Its de facto effect is to enforce female supremacy. Legalized discrimination against men has naturally fostered a cultural attitude that deprives a man of the assumption of innocence if ever a woman accuses him of wrong.

Given the legal and political origins of all this, it was deeply ironic that the incident that brought to public attention the hideousness of le regime nouveau was the 1991 confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Even if every allegation made by Anita Hill were true, it was by no means evident that Thomas had ever discriminated against her in the sense that most people conceive of discrimination “€“ that is, unjustly depriving someone of career opportunities in hiring, pay or promotion. To the contrary, evidence indicated that Thomas had assisted Hill in her career. Had she presented her case as a plaintiff in a harassment suit, she would have been unable to “€œshow harm,”€ as the lawyers say.

The “€œshow harm”€ requirement is the kind of demand for rationality by which Ziegler invited the accusation of misogyny.

American women today, as a class, are the most privileged women in the entire history of humanity. No women anywhere have ever enjoyed more wealth, more leisure, or more opportunity. And yet they are not grateful, nor do they give American men any credit for their good fortune.

All we ever hear from them is bitch, bitch, bitch”€”especially when a man dares call attention to their faults. Gentlemen, you are guilty of cowardice for not speaking out more strongly in your own defense, and in defense of your fellow men.

John Ziegler face-planted for your sins.


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