Friday, 30 December 2011

Practical Sexism

Over Christmas I came across a comment I'd made over at HUS a couple of months ago, & wondered why I hadn't dusted it off & posted it here before, as it still says a lot of what I want to. It began in response to some quotes from Esau, one of the regular commentators over there:
Male dominance as a default posture is practical sexism, and I still don’t see any way to integrate it with the egalitarian feminism that I was raised with and which still largely controls mainstream “polite society” culture.  But the hope is that someone with more imagination will succeed me, and I wish them luck.
The difficulty, and here I certainly include myself, is that I don’t think polite American society is ready for even a controlled return to practical sexism, which I believe is what widespread acceptance of Game knowledge would entail.  This is a huge subject which I can’t even start to cover in a comment, but I’ll just put in one note by way of example which is on the word and concept of “dominance”.  You can read a lot on HUS to the effect that “typical men should be more dominant” or “women like to be dominated”.  But whenever you try to liberate the word from highly abstract or even circular definitions (“dominance is acting with assertiveness, to be assertive is to act with confidence, and one shows confidence by acting dominant”) and get down to real-world examples of behavior, every single one falls into the category that I would refer to as “being a sexist jerk”.
Now, more than anything else this is likely more a statement about how I was educated and brought up, rather than anything about the world at large.  To me, my visceral reaction to nuggets of wisdom/advice like “men must lead” or pushing the “captain/first officer model” is, first and foremost, “sexist == jerkery == bad”.  Even if you showed me evidence, proof positive that both the men and the women of the world were in sympathy with these ideas, I would still find them hard to swallow.  But, that’s just me — and a few tens of millions of other guys from my generation.  Re-education may be mentioned, but I don’t think we’ll ever be comfortable with a return to a sexist outlook, no matter how practical or desired it may be from both sides’ POV.
And so, maybe it would be best to have the waters of history simply close quietly over my own generation, leaving us a failed experiment and a warning to the future.  Best of luck to all the younger folks out there in finding a new way.
To which I added:
I am feeling all this profoundly myself at the present time. If you were born anywhere from the late 1960's to the late 1980's, you were raised in a feminist, politically correct society. The values of that ideology are your values, to some degree - the values of your world. You didn't have a choice in it any more than boys & girls raised in Victorian society had a choice on whether they wanted their sexual development to be thoroughly mangled by their upbringing. But no matter what changes we go through, our generation is very unlikely to be able to throw off that programming completely.
If people from the Victorian age were alive today, they would still have deep remnants of the hang-ups that were instilled in them in childhood. They would still on some deeper level feel sex was something 'dirty' & 'sinful' & feel ashamed of their naked bodies. Children drafted into the Hitler youth, I'm sure, had conflicted feelings later on in their life trying to tally up the values of the world of their childhood with the world that came after. How much more entrenched would those ideas have been had the Third Reich lasted 40 years?
Men & women of my generation are the product of a prolonged, ideologically driven societal brainwashing, & we're going to be policing ourselves & beating ourselves up over terms like sexism, racism & homophobia until the day we die, whether we want to or not. Concepts that had never even been thought of in all human history before 50, 60 years ago seem as real as concrete to us. We think instinctively in those terms now, & will do, to some degree, until the day we die. And even when future generations rise up & evolve past them into a new paradigm, we will, in all likelihood, at best witness it from the sidelines.
We can dream of a better world & work towards a future where the values of this age go the way of Nazism, McCarthyism, medieval witch-hunts & Victorian prudery. But it's a promised land we most likely will never get to walk in ourselves.

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