Most issues, The Thinker is a predominantly male operation. The boys will usually take a stab at anything, but when we announced we were doing an issue on sexism, the y-chromosomes all suddenly noticed the nice weather. Do women understand why? Let me begin with a parable.
A little boy and girl were playing outside. When the boy had to pee, he went to the garden and started seeing how many flowers he could flatten with his stream. The girl protested and the boy started teasing that she was jealous because she couldn't do the same thing. She hadn't thought of it before but...how come she didn't have one? Was her body missing something? So she went and asked her mother. The next day the boy tried teasing her again: "You don't have one! You don't have one!" But the girl was smug and answered disdainfully: "My mommy says that with what I got, I can have as many of those as I want."
Or more to the point of today's issue, as few. The boys quickly realize, once they start caring about such things, that the girls are endowed with all the sexual leverage. Boys try to get and use their own leverage -- status, popularity, transportation -- but that just proves who has the real leverage. The girls have what the boys want. They can be cheap with it or they can be dear, but it is theirs to be cheap or dear with.
Modern feminism is built on the supposition that the great sexual leverage that women possess actually puts women at a great disadvantage, even though women enjoy every form of legal and procedural equality. And this is the kicker: feminism tries (and to an appalling extent succeeds) in using women's sexual leverage to enforce adherence to this view.
I once received a Stanford rape education pamphlet that began by using an egregious definition of sexual coercion to ascertain that huge numbers of men engage in rape behavior. (Did you ever have sex more because your partner wanted to than because you wanted to? You just became a "sexual coercion" statistic.) Next these huge numbers were used to slander large parts of upstanding society as "rape culture." "Stay away from any man who likes to look at pictures of naked women." "Stay away from men who rate women's looks,... who drink beer...", basically who live in fraternities or are otherwise politically incorrect.
It is the same strategy that has been used to attack the politically incorrect elsewhere. First it is charged that the world is full of racists, but then, who are they? Certainly the rare spokesman for the politically incorrect view must be racism personified. In a world of men, we would just hash it out and dispense with such nonsense. But when you bring in women, biologically designed to use their sexual leverage to insist on what they care about, everything changes.
It is no coincidence that the rise of P.C. culture on college campuses coincided with the huge rise in the coed population. Where women are not the intellectual vanguard of the various leftist and victim movements, they are always the shock troops. If it were not for women using their sexual leverage to enforce their political sensitivities, P.C. would have been a passing ripple, quickly discarded by robust conversation, not a full blown intransigent culture.
Why would women use their sexual leverage to demand sensitivity to claims of victim status? Because male submission to female leverage leaves female power, and its liabilities, unchecked, and power is a dangerous thing. The male liabilities are much more controlled. Men have been wielding power for a long time and the best male culture has done a remarkable job of achieving broad and honest interest in whatever is at stake. The male liabilities -- of competitiveness, ambition, ruthlessness -- are widely understood an, by legal and cultural means, mostly kept under control. Female liabilities on the other hand, are a taboo subject (thanks to female sexual leverage) and they are out of control. What are they?
When women hurt, they accuse. Item: a Navy investigation of 556 rape accusations found that 60% were false, the most common reasons being to get revenge and to compensate for feelings of shame or guilt. (The Myth of Male Power by Warren Farrell, p.324.) Christina Hoff-Sommers has written a whole book (Who Stole Feminism?) exposing the endless stream of bald lies and phoney statistics propagated by the women's movement. (Did you hear that boys get called on eight times as often as girls? Oops, the actual statistic was that they get punished eight times as often.)
Men expect a rough and tumble. They expect to have to make their own way and competitiveness does not undermine male friendships. Female culture, in contrast, draws less on independence and more on obligation. It is about relationships and being owed and making claims. Where men take for themselves, women appeal to be given, and they are good at it. They wrap their brains all around it. Not being treated like one of the boys? Unfair! Not being treated according to their female differences? Unfair! Women find ways to make claims, and once they feel wronged, they have no qualms about fighting dirty.
All women? Of course not. Not all men are ruthless. Not all women are manipulative. But the feminists are. They are the female liabilities incarnate, and thanks to a history of misguided chivalry and deference to sexual leverage, they have been unopposed in feeding their witches brew to two generation of girls.
So the boys are taking the day off. They are ready to risk nibbling controversy around the edges, where they think the girls won't mind too much, but to actually tweak the beard of the hag that their beloveds call "mother"? That is not long contemplated. If the boys were to write it would have to be to flagellate themselves, to prostrate, in obeisance. A taste of bile starts to rise and, God look at that breeze outside! I think I'll go play basketball.
But while the Y's tuck their tails and leave female power to take its own course, I am pleased to observe the number of XX's who eschew the female liabilities and instead of pursuing victim status, pursue their opportunities. If the cultures of victim status and political correctness are to be broadly rejected it will have to come through women -- the only group that is beyond the reach of female sexual leverage.
(Alec Rawls is a graduate student in economics)
Next article in the Non-ideal Theory volume of Moral Science: Disenfranchise Women?
Next article in Mr. Knowitall series:How Drugs Work
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Date Last Modified: 8/27/99
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