As I’ve described before, one of the fatal flaws of the lefty is her belief that we can create some sort of heaven here on earth. Utopianism has reared its ugly head in the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Cultural Revolution, and in countless other places and times. Efforts to perfect man and society repeatedly leave things worse than they were before, and that’s even if we don’t count the millions slaughtered in the process. Feminism can’t yet match the body count of her sister movements (if you don’t count abortion), but it has changed things for the worse.
Yet as we realistically assess the damage caused by utopianism, we would be equally blind if we failed to acknowledge that before each of these “Great Leaps Forward” that things were far from perfect. The Ayatollah was worse, but that doesn’t mean the Shah was exactly good. The same goes for the Sandanistas and Somoza, the Bolsheviks and the Czar, Castro and Batista, etc.
Likewise, it’s imperative that we who oppose feminism recognize that the Patriarchy was by no means an ideal system. Better than what we’ve got? Hell yes. Perfect? Not quite.
And the reason it wasn’t perfect is that man is imperfect. He always has been, and barring some supernatural milestone, he always will be.
Governments and societies are imperfect men sanctioning the actions of other imperfect men. Some systems work better than others, but none work perfectly because there’s nobody perfect alive to implement them. One of the central features of political maturity is the ability to recognize this. It’s why America’s Founding Fathers were largely successful and why the Jacobins wound up with an emperor a few years later.
Can things improve? The American Experiment proves that we can (at least for a while), but as I’ve written before, we can only hope to bring things closer to how they should be if we first recognize how things actually are. A is A.
Genesis 1:1 describes the Heavens and the Earth as different places for a reason.
Yet another aspect of A (A is A) is that a part of human nature desires to bring the Heavens here to Earth, and we think we can do it on our own. We’ve always had problems, and we never like them, whether we’re some poor bastard washing his underwear in the Ganges or a Prince suffering from perpetual ennui. We will always stretch our positive desire to improve things into a negative desire to ignore reality. We think that life consists largely of good and bad choices when the choices are more frequently between bad and worse.
So when we look at the world that brought us feminism, we see imperfection. There were actual women trapped in loveless marriages, doomed to boredom and misery. Fantime, Tess Derbyfield, and Hester Pyrne are fictional characters, but they’re based on what happened to real women who were put into actual binds. Single mothers were shunned by their families, and their “bastard spawn” who played no role in their own creation were treated as outcasts for the rest of their lives. Under certain circumstances, even rape victims could be shunned as impure, relegated to the fringes of society because of the violent and selfish acts of men who may or may not have faced any censure at all.
Therefore, the progressive mind sees error, and there was error. I repeat, there are always problems. The questions are which of them can we solve, and which of our solutions will be worse than the problem we’re solving.
Chesterton has a quote that bears consideration:
In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.
The feminist saw the “fences” of restrictive gender roles and unfair societal approbation, but did they ever consider why those fences may have been initially erected?
Indeed, some women were trapped in loveless marriages with alcoholics because of strict prohibitions against divorce, but is there any way to calculate how many times these prohibitions simply kept women with their husbands for a rough couple of years, only to discover a few years later that the marriage was actually worth preserving? As awful as a life like Tess Derbyfield’s must have been, is there any way to know how many women steeled themselves against the temptation of an exploitative Alpha nobleman in order to avoid ending up like her?
Sometimes the tradeoffs are downright ugly. Bastards were treated horribly, but that may have been why we didn’t have quite so many of them. I despise the idea of holding a woman responsible for an actual rape, but how rapes were avoided because women learned from Dinah’s mistake and didn’t place themselves in compromising positions in the first place? We will never know.
(And for anyone who thinks I’m excusing rape, I think Shechem suffered an appropriate fate. Unfortunately, that didn’t keep Dinah from suffering an unspeakable hell.)
Do I think that the above social conventions were ideal? Far from it. I think we could and should have done better. However, feminism “cleared away the fences” without paying any mind as to why they were initially erected. I don’t like how things were, but I fear how far the pendulum has swung in the other direction.
Yesteday’s harlots are todays Heroic Single Moms, yesterday’s adulteresses today’s liberated women who simply weren’t understood by their husbands. What we used to call “bastards” we now call “kids”. Families are merely social constructs and children often get more guidance from other six year-olds or gangs than they do from their own families.
If you think that fatherhood has no meaning (other than some guy who has to pay child support), none of this really matters. The boys who grow up to flood our jails or spend years as incels may mean nothing to you, or perhaps you think that a father can be easily replaced by some new government program.
Maybe we’ve replaced the Oppressive Patriarchy of the past with a New Age of Feminine Goodness, where we won’t need men to protect women from rapists and heightened levels of Awareness can keep our economy roaring along forever.
But what if you’re wrong? What if we face a time in which strong men are the only thing keeping you away from the sharp edge of a machete? What if someday we have to send those softies we’re castrating in elementary school off to some hellhole like Okinawa and they’ve never been taught how to control themselves without Ritalin, or their terrified of the very thought of guns (just like you want them to be)?
What if a world run by Grrl Power just doesn’t cut it, and everybody decides that maybe it’s better to put up with their teenage daughter’s incessant whining than it is to raise her children for her? What if enough men decide that they’d rather go to jail than pay for your fourth child out of wedlock? What if everybody decides that women aren’t capable of responsibly exercising this newfound “freedom” and are driving us straight to hell?
What if the pendulum swings back?
You’d better hope it doesn’t, because as far as it’s gone in this direction, when it swing back, momentum might take it places even I don’t want it to go.
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Great post – love the Chesterton quote.
Hmm. This post has given me an idea…must go write.
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Feminism can’t yet match the body count of her sister movements (if you don’t count abortion), but it has changed things for the worse.
Here is a list of things that prove you wrong… unless you are male, of course, since they don’t apply. To most women, however, they mattered a great deal:
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