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Wednesday, January 14, A.D. 2009
Questionable Misogyny

Unfortunately, I followed a link this morning on Ann Coulter’s site to a video that showed her appearance on The View earlier this week. Horrified but not surprised, I was moved to dedicate a post to misogyny. Nothing incurs misogynistic thoughts like a coven of irrational wenches posing as if they had an insight—a sensible view—about the world.

Beforehand, though, I wish to explain the title. I refer to myself as having questionable misogyny—it is debatable whether or not I truly embrace a certain though refined hatred of women. I claim such misogyny for myself, but then I wonder if I am simply posing as something that I am not, like the women of The View posing as intellectuals.

I have a tendency quite opposite to that of Mormons when it comes to external relations in the realm of beliefs and ideas. Mormons seem to be bred or well trained to appear similar to whatever you espouse. They regularly exhibit an image quite akin to whatever you say so that you come to see their religion as recognizably familiar to your own. I have even coined the verb, “to mormon” someone, which means to trick others into thinking that one is similar to them when one is quite different. Perhaps, Mormons developed this behavior as a survival mechanism, which then became useful as a missionary tool. Besides a smile, a well-groomed Mormon kid’s chief artillery consists in, “We, too.” That is how the children of Lehi reel in the wary, and then they keep them in the tent with healthy family and community lifestyles: L.D.S. Strategy 101.

Unlike the genial Mormons, I prefer to present myself in the starkest contrast to potential intellectual interlocutors. I have found such a posture not only entertaining but also useful in sifting out folks on whom I do not wish to waste my time. For people of good taste and sensible ideas who are turned off, I could add nothing to them, anyway. For the thoughtless who cannot rise above what I described in another post as phrase thinking, there is no point to engaging them. They are invincibly ignorant. That leaves the open-minded or at least the oddly curious who might just be able to think past the script.

So, why do I describe myself as a misogynist—and why do I have reasons to doubt the accuracy of that label? As exhibit A, consider this post’s catalyst:

I would like to believe that The View causes anyone who watches it pain and disgust. Yet, it is popular with—you guessed it—estrogenized Americans. I have the good fortune to have only seen the show in a few online segments. Folks who believe in false propriety might argue that I have not had enough exposure to judge it. I believe that I have seen quite enough. Rational argument does not have a place on the program. Facts, syllogisms, and common sense must make way for fallacies and trendy stupidities. The bovine obtuseness of the female mind is on gruesome display with most of the panel “opiners.” The only person that I find interesting is Whoopi Goldberg—not because she defies the moronic mold of her colleagues but because she inconsistently escapes it. It is strange to listen to her; she makes sober, intelligent comments, but then she follows such with bizarre and ridiculous nonsense. A consistent twit like Joy Behar is intelligible—not in her opinions but as a fact of reality—but Whoopi Goldberg defies explanation. She is like an autistic version of a pundit—advanced enough in some areas, while inexplicably retarded in others.

Anyway, The View recapitulates everything that I find objectionable about women. Now, I know that an American television show is not an accurate depiction of all women. However, I do think that it approximates the bulk around the bell curve’s mean. Generalizations hold for most but not all. Nonetheless, they still hold for most. What, then, are these dislikable female tendencies?

I know that it seems trite, but the stereotype is rooted in truth: women generally are emotionally driven creatures. Most women seem capable of rational thought, but they pay little heed to it in their decision making. Logos does not drive their actions.

If reason does not command, then what leads in its place? I am not sure about this theory, but I believe that emotion itself is a human response to situations that are interpreted through our view of the world. A person with a Roman Catholic world view will have different emotional reactions and impulses to certain situations than a Wahhabist fundamentalist. Consider how a mother in the former set would react to her child’s going on a “suicide mission” as opposed to the reaction of a mother in the latter group. People who allow their emotions to direct their actions actually allow their conditioning to control them. Of course, some folks have no discernible world view or developed beliefs; they might float from one principle of action to another, depending on the day. However, most people do have influential, though not always consistent, world views. Therefore, to be emotionally driven means, for most people, to be driven by one’s conditioning. This conditioning is usually from one’s upbringing, but it also could be from a successful though irrationally caused supplanting of one’s inherited world view by other values. I suspect that women generally allow such world views to determine their actions in that they rarely submit such actions or their world views to critical reassessments.

If this is correct, women are inherently more conservative than men. They are more likely to stay with the status quo—they are the instinctual defenders of tradition. However, such an idea appears to contradict the Western political experience of recent generations. How can we explain the “feminist” movement, if women are naturally conservative? Was it simply the case that some bourgeois women traded one orthodoxy for another, and once adopted, proved (and prove) impervious to reason? Such an answer may work, but what caused the great initial shift? I have no idea; the counter-evidence to my proposal demands an answer that I cannot give.

Yet, it remains the case that women appear more temperamentally conservative as a whole. That stance toward the world is very useful in sensibly arranged societies, but it is maddening in a dysfunctional, decaying civilization. Babushkas’ regulating Russian life and maintaining order exemplify the former, while The View depicts the latter. For someone of a Socratic bent, I see such conservatism as good for a good society while always bad for potential philosophers. The thinker must rise above convention, and few women do—or possibly can.

Furthermore, most women have severe limitations on their sense of humor. I remember reading somewhere that women typically process humor in the part of the brain that handles social morés. Hence, socially unacceptable humor appeals to men generally while offending most women. We see therein yet another example of female conservatism. The exceptions to this general rule, though, are riotous exceptions—Lisa Lampanelli comes to mind. While entertaining wit and silliness seem to be in the domain of men, female comediennes—the women who are actually funny—are delightfully hilarious. No man could be funny in the same way as Katherine Hepburn, Lucille Ball, Dorothy Parker, or Ellen DeGeneres. Their humor is distinctive.

Ironically, the blogroll for this weblog features a sizable number of female voices. As with any bell curve and generalization, there will always be outliers. Among philosophers and writers, Elizabeth Anscombe, Simone Weil, George Eliot, Edith Stein, Flannery O’Connor, and Hannah Arendt are women who certainly hold their own intellectual ground. Among lesser but nonetheless impressive realms of discourse upon important matters, Camille Paglia, Peggy Noonan, Frederica Mathewes-Green, Ann Coulter, Florence King, and many others enrich the discussion as well as—or more than—their male peers. Even Martha Nussbaum, as wrong as she is, is wrong respectably—as an erring philosopher.

I wonder, then, why I—with my misogyny on trial here—particularly like female thinkers—when they are thinkers? When one of my professors was graduate student, her mentor told her that she thought like a man. She was not sure whether to be flattered or insulted. If by thinking like a man, one means logical, critical, and able to see the forest as well as the trees, perhaps a better expression would be thinking like a truly rational being. Indeed, most men fail at thinking like “men,” though not as many as women. So, given that few men and fewer women are capable of this level of thought, I wonder if those fewer women have something special to add. I suspect so.

If the Abrahamic religions are correct, then we should expect some sort of complementarity between men and women beyond the division of labor that evolution and millennia of experience produced. Traditional and contemporary Christian thought on sexuality, from Augustine to John Paul II, stresses the wonderful, complementary differences between men and women. In my fits of misogyny, I scoff at such complementarity as I ponder how unfit women tend to be for mankind’s most noblest activity. However, when I behold rational women, I stand somewhat in awe. For they do offer something that seems alien but true—I do not mean pink stained syllogisms but rather a certain sensibility to universally accessible truth that nonetheless is perceived only by them. I am not endorsing any crazy notion of menstrual logic or Gaia wisdom as exists in “Womyn’s Studies” departments, but I do think that there is a truth that such nonsense attempts to reach. I cannot explain it except to say that it radiates an intelligible otherness. The French love to exclaim, “vive la différence,” but here is where such an expression applies to that which is highest in human beings. To speak in images, one sees therein the mark of Eve upon the path to wisdom.

So, it is unclear to me whether I truly am a misogynist. Regardless, I shall probably continue to embrace the word, perhaps doing violence to the language comparable to the so-called feminists’ misuse of their own word. For how does it make sense that a supporter of femina—woman—should busy herself with celebrating sterility, child killing, and the cult of ugliness? Such “feminists” do not deserve their word. Maybe, I do not deserve mine.

Posted by Joseph on Wednesday, January 14, Anno Domini 2009
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