Thursday, March 31, 2005

Equality of violence

The Age didn't provide a link for this, so I'll quote it directly:

Two-thirds of homeless youths in a Melbourne University survey came from single-parent families.

The research, based on 700 interviews, also found that 43% said they left home because of family violence. Mothers were just as likely as fathers to be the perpetrators. [The Age 31/3/05]

What this means is that domestice violence by women ought to be taken seriously. The evidence shows that female domestic violence is just as damaging as male domestic violence in causing youth homelessness. Yet, campaigns against domestic violence still continue to portray men only as the perpetrators, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Second, the research also undermines the idea that any kind of family arrangement is as good as another. Clearly, single parenthood increases the risk of young people falling all the way into homelessness. The traditional two parent family, imperfect as it no doubt is, does at least help to protect young people from this outcome.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

How to lose fans

My wife has been a big fan of celebrity liberal Susan Sarandon. So she was keen to read the April edition of The Australian Women's Weekly featuring an interview with the American actress.

The interview includes some fairly standard fare, including the the following defence of the actress's political activities,

Susan makes no apologies for her activism. She believes celebrities have no reason to abstain from practising responsible citizenship - if anything, they can use their visibility to create awareness. "Social justice has always been a big part of my life. Often [as a celebrity] I can act as a small flashlight to illuminate information that is not making the news."

Well, my wife almost fell off the couch when she read one of Ms Sarandon's attempts to be a small flashlight. This is Ms Sarandon's considered opinion on the issue of children and sexuality:

I've embraced the fact that my kids were sexual beings from the time they were born. It's one of those things that nobody talks about, but from the time that kids come into the world they're sexual, it doesn't kick in at adolescence. I've always been comfortable with that ...

Say what???? Kids are sexual from the time they're born? Has Ms Sarandon been reading too much Kinsey?

Well, my wife is no longer such a big fan. As for me, I just hope that the Sarandonites of the world are not going to make this idea a trendy lefty one. It really is time for the likes of Susan Sarandon to practise responsible citizenship and to think carefully about the consequences of the ideas they choose to "illuminate".

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Noble feminism?

David Huffman is a student at the University of New Hampshire. Being a bold soul, he decided to attend a feminist poetry reading and story telling event. He was only allowed to stay for the nicer part of the proceedings - but this was more than enough to reveal the less than lovely side of the campus sisterhood. As David describes it,

Throughout the first part of the evening, the girls sang songs about "man-hating" and glamorized it. They also read poetry about castration and cutting off men's genitalia. The girls wore scissors around their necks. It was angry, violent, hateful speech.

As David quite rightly points out, this does not quite seem to measure up to feminists' own supposed commitment to tolerance and diversity. Are they not in contravention of their own left-wing campus codes?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Understanding the gap

Feminists go on and on about the "wage gap" between men and women. The fact that men earn more money than women is held to be the single greatest proof of sexist discrimination against women.

But is the wage gap really due to sexist discrimination? Warren Farrell, in a new book called Why Men Earn More, thinks not. He provides a wealth of interesting facts to support his case, and these are very usefully summarised in a short review of the book by John Leo.

For instance, the mass media rarely reports the fact that women are 15 times more likely to become top executives in major corporations before the age of 40. Or that a female investment banker's starting salary is 116 percent of a male's. Or that never-married, college-educated males working full-time only make 85% of what their female counterparts earn.

These facts hardly suggest a hostile sexist discrimination against women. Far from it. So why do men in general earn up ending more? Farrell himself suggests a variety of reasons, including the female preference for choosing glamorous but lesser paid work, and the greater willingness of men to take on risky and dangerous jobs.

The deeper reason, though, is likely to be the role of human nature: that men are more likely to be highly committed to paid work because of their masculine role as providers within a family, whereas women are more likely to lessen their workplace commitments because of their role as mothers.

Achieving equal earnings between men and women will therefore never happen naturally. It would require massive social engineering to overcome the effect of differing gender roles within the family.

In fact, it was reported earlier this month that despite decades of feminist initiatives and campaigns, the pay gap in Australia is actually growing, from $230 a week in 1996 to $310 now.

Although it's the height of political incorrectness to say it, this isn't necessarily bad news. It means that men are still working hard to be providers, and that women are still committing at least a part of their lives to motherhood. It means, in other words, that part of the social basis of the family is still operating healthily to the benefit of both men and women.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Catholicism at the crossroads?

Sometimes I wonder which way the Catholic Church will go. It could be such a force for resistance to modern secular liberalism, but at times it looks like collapsing into it.

For instance, I was surprised by the comments made last week by Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson. He spoke in support of a a new parliamentary bill which extends property, superannuation and inheritance rights to homosexual couples. He said,

We clearly regard marriage as being a unique type of relationship ... but at the same time we recognise the fact that there are people in society who live in other kinds of relationships.

I wonder if this comment, as it stands, really does represent the new position of the Catholic Church (perhaps Archbishop Wilson simply expressed things clumsily and clarified his thoughts later on).

As they stand, though, his comments represent a surprisingly open acceptance of homosexuality by the church. Archbishop Wilson is now only interested in defending the uniquely heterosexual status of marriage. Homosexuality is for him, simply an "other kind of relationship", rather than something "objectively disordered" which, as I understood it, used to be the considered view of the Catholic Church.

Anyway, of more concern is an item reported by Lawrence Auster at View from the Right. The supposedly Catholic Georgetown University gave an honorary degree to Jordan's King Abdullah. During the ceremony who did the American Cardinal choose to make his prayers to? To Allah!!!

Is the church losing itself in a sea of liberal relativism? Time will tell, but some of the signs are not good.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Shallow universalism

Here's an odd, but interesting, item. Robert Lindsay is a left-wing blogger from California. As you'd expect of any kind of liberal, he doesn't like ethnic nationalism or tribalism. In a recent thread at Majority Rights, he began by clearly announcing,

I have no interest in being ethnocentric towards my race - white Europeans ... I don't care about my race, nor even like it very much ... I'm the original race traitor ... this is one of my main beefs against Jews - they are the most anti-universalist people on Earth.

It's all just primitive caveman stuff to me .. Fetishing race is erecting barriers between humans where none should exist! It's promoting differences that are so petty it's laughable ... In fact, I hate racialism and tribalism so much that I want to see the races (at least here in the US) thoroughly mixed. If there are differences, then we should mix everyone up enough to even everyone out. At some point there won't be much race left as everyone will be mongrelized and all of the measurable racial differences will also fade away."

As I said, this is standard liberal fare. What's interesting, though, is that Robert Lindsay stayed to respond to criticism of his views from the Majority Rights regulars. In doing so he confirmed some of the suspicions that we conservatives have about liberals.

For instance, one reader argued that because Robert Lindsay felt no love for his own ethnic group, he had filled up the hole with a liberal universalism. Lindsay countered by admitting that his earlier statement, about not liking his own race, wasn't true. He confessed,

Ahh but I lie. Sheepishly. I am embarassed to admit, that of course I have some ethnocentrism but it is well buried and denied. As I'm aware of my psych defences, unlike most, I can see it's being denied. I like the way I look - I am white. I am, at times, proud of my people and of course proud of my ancestry. I feel a kinship with whites.

So there! Even liberals like Robert Lindsay feel, at times, the same love of ancestry and ethnicity as conservatives, but unlike us they deny and bury these feelings. In other words, Lindsay is being honest enough to admit that "ethnocentrism" really is a part of human nature, but, as a liberal, it's a natural part of human identity which he wants to overcome. The way Lindsay himself puts it is that,

We are Leftists, we are out to socially engineer the species away from its caveman tendencies ... Leftism [is] about getting humans to transcend their base natures through brainwashing, shaming and praise.

(Of course, conservatives would deny that love of ethnic tradition is a base part of human nature.)

Finally, Lindsay admits at the end that despite his claims that all people are the same and that different races should be mixed up, that he himself chooses to live in the one part of California which is still solidly white, and that he wouldn't live in a nearby racially mixed city. He writes,

White flight, well, I am an example of that I guess. I live in the California mountains, the last redoubt of whites in this state. It's basically all white ... There is a large city near me full of Hispanics, SE Asian immigrants, Blacks and East Indians. Whites are now a minority in that town. There are certain districts of that town I would not live in.

Well, at least Robert Lindsay is one liberal who is honest and open in his hypocrisy. He is a "universalist" as a matter of principle, but in his own heart he feels a natural sense of ethnic connectedness, and, most revealingly, when it comes to the practical, everyday matter of finding somewhere to settle, he reveals a preference for living among his own people.

Doesn't this say something about the shallowness of liberal universalism?

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Geert fights back

This man has backbone. Geert Wilders is a Dutch MP who has been under police protection after receiving death threats from Muslims. He has now launched a political manifesto and plans to establish a new political party.

The manifesto doesn't really challenge the theoretical underpinnings of liberalism - not surprising for a politician who has recently left the Dutch Liberal Party.

Nonetheless, Geert Wilders' manifesto really does represent a shakeup of the complacent liberal consensus in The Netherlands. Consider the following extracts:

"I don't want an elite of cowardly and scared people to keep this country hijacked any longer.

"Our history forces us to a struggle that is not without engagement, but which is most necessary. That struggle is about the continuation of The Netherlands as a recognizable nation, a country that is on the point of saying goodbye to its old roots and wants to trade them for multiculturalism, cultural relativism and a European super state and all that under the leadership of a political elite that long ago lost its way. Of that elite I declare myself independent. [Me: Is this not one of the best quotes from any Western politician of recent times? It deserves to be properly applauded. If we are to have any future it will be through our political representatives having such strong, clear but measured thoughts as these.]

"The clearance sale of Dutch interests and our own Dutch identity becomes very clear when one looks at how the politicians give away our sovereignty to a cast of bureaucrats in Brussels.

"The European Union should not expand any further. Turkey in, The Netherlands out.

"A special status for The Netherlands in the EU ... We have to keep our autonomy in immigration affairs. Never may we allow a civil servant in Brussels or a French politician decide how many immigrants we need to accept.

"Considering the danger and influx of drugs (criminality), and considering the widespread corruption and administrative incompetence of the Antilles, the government should strongly promote the Antilles no longer being a part of the Dutch kingdom.

"The seizure of The Netherlands' population by an alienated elite shows also in the nonchanlant way politicians handle a problem that most people find very important: crime and safety.

"We have to get rid of the idea that civil servants in The Hague should make the curriculum for all the schools. Let the parents and teachers determine the content of the education and let the subsequent educational institutes freely select their students.

"Islamic schools may not be founded. Different situations don't need to be treated equally.

"We have to deny the use of our civil rights to those (Islamic) radicals who want to eliminate our constitutional state and civil rights.

" more asylum seekers should be allowed to enter; all political refugees should be helped in the region. [Me: I've been arguing this for a long time. We best help both refugees and host communities by resettling refugees safely in the most compatible areas. Settling refugees in entirely foreign cultures takes away an important part of their identity, which is especially cruel for the second generation who have no say in the matter.]

"Not only should radical imams leave the country, we should also undertake much firmer action to close radical mosques ... Financing by radicals - such as salafist groups out of Morocco or Wahhabist groups out of Saudi Arabia - should be prohibited.

"The Netherlands is full ... That is why we have to limit immigration and we have to close the borders for non-western immigrants ... for at least five years. Marriage immigration based on marriages between nephews and cousins will be prohibited.

"Getting Dutch nationality will be less easy."

(A full translation of the manifesto can be found here.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Liberals & the nation: what choice?

All of the major political parties in the West share a common belief in liberalism. This does not mean, though, that their politics are exactly the same. There do exist typical differences between those who follow a left liberal politics and those who follow a right liberal politics.

When it comes to the issue of national identity, right liberals are usually more concerned to maintain social homogeneity: which means, in practice, that they want migrants to assimilate into a mainstream culture.

Left liberals, on the other hand, often support a separate identity for migrants and are therefore happy to fund what has become known as the multicultural industry.

Andrew Bolt is the most prominent right liberal journalist in Australia. He recently wrote a column complaining about the funding of ethnic organisations by the Victorian Labor Government. (Herald Sun 28/11/03)

The column draws out nicely some of the typical differences between left and right liberals on this issue. Andrew Bolt, as a right liberal, takes aim at the Victorian Multicultural Commission. The purpose of the Commission is to fund ethnic groups "to retain and express their social identity and cultural inheritance".

Bolt claims that "it should be no business of government" to undertake such a left liberal activity. He says of migrants that "surely it's better for us all if they merge into one Australian mass, however multi-hued. Isn't that what we most celebrate in our migrants─that a Zambian can captain the wallabies" [the Australian rugby team].

According to Bolt "it would be best if our paid multiculturalists packed up the whole show and got out of the way of healthy assimilation."

It's not possible for conservatives to support either the right liberal policy of assimilation, as outlined by Andrew Bolt, or the left liberal policy of multiculturalism.

Conservatives don't share the underlying assumptions of both left and right liberals. Liberals want individuals to be self-created by their own reason and will. A traditional national identity is not created by our own individual reason or will: instead, it's something collective and historical that we're simply born into.

So, whereas conservatives are free to support a traditional national identity, liberals need to find some way to escape from it.

Left liberals typically engineer this escape by building up the existence of other ethnic groups, whilst ignoring or damning their own mainstream national identity.

That's why it's politically correct for the Victorian Multicultural Commission to support ethnic minorities to "retain and express their social identity and cultural inheritance." It would be thought highly politically incorrect though for the Commission to support the Anglo-Australian majority to do the same thing.

The left liberal escape plan is poorly thought through. Although it does act to break down the traditional national identity, it's highly unlikely that over a hundred separate ethnic cultures can be supported within a single country.

What's more likely is that a superficial commercial culture will replace the older national culture, something that is unlikely to be welcomed by the left.

Right liberals usually don't have the same negative view of their own tradition as left liberals. Like left liberals, though, they will not recognise the legitimacy of a traditional national identity as part of public policy.

Therefore, they are willing to run a progamme of mass foreign immigration, whilst at the same time expecting immigrants to easily cast aside their own identities.

Again, this isn't well thought through. Culture and people are linked together. Bring in a new people in sufficient numbers and the culture is likely to change. Furthermore, bring in a very large bloc of new immigrants and it becomes difficult for vote chasing politicians to demand they assimilate.

For conservatives, therefore, it is necessary to reject both the left liberal and right liberal positions on national identity. We do not support either multiculturalism or the attempt to assimilate a large, continuous stream of immigrants.

Because we support our own traditional national identity it is only logical that we oppose a policy of mass immigration, and that we, and not only ethnic minorities, claim the right to "retain and express our social identity and cultural inheritance."

(First published at Conservative Central 09/01/2004)

Monday, March 14, 2005

Thinking things through

During the past week I've highlighted two quotes on gender. The first was the statement by a Swedish minister that his government "considers female and male as social constructs." I have little doubt that most conservatives would instinctively recognise this claim to be radically liberal. I expect, in fact, that a lot of conservatives would wonder how liberals could believe such a thing. How could a reasonable person come to believe that there are no natural differences between men and women?

The second quote was by Jada Pinkett Smith. She said when receiving a Harvard award that "Women, you can have it all - a loving man, devoted husband, loving children, a fabulous career. They say you gotta choose. Nah, nah, nah. We are a new generation of women. We got to set a new standard of rules around here. You can do whatever it is you want."

In contrast to the first statement, a lot of conservatives seem to have no problem with this second quote. The only criticism I found of it at many "conservative" sites was that it was a bit "Opraesque" or a bit "unexceptional".

This is a problem. It means that people who consider themselves conservatives aren't thinking things through. The two quotes are not substantially different in what they claim. If the first is a perplexing radical liberalism, then so is the second.

When Pinkett Smith says that women "can have it all" and that "you can do whatever it is you want" she is assuming that the Swedish minister is correct, and that there is no naturally occurring maleness or femaleness to limit or direct what we choose to do. They are both effectively proposing a blank slate model of the human person.

So why do some conservatives react differently to the two statements? I expect it's because the Jada Pinkett Smith quote puts the liberal view in its more appealing form. She uses the language of unlimited freedom: of being whatever we want to be.

There are conservatives who want to define conservativism itself in terms of such freedom, and who are therefore attracted to (and disarmed by) Jada Pinkett Smith's appeal to individual freedom.

If there are "conservatives" who are persuaded by Jada Pinkett Smith's appeal to individual freedom, we shouldn't be surprised that there are liberals who choose to hold such ideas, and who are willing to believe that maleness and femaleness are artificial and oppressive social constructs. Even though such ideas seem to the ordinary person to be radical and counterintuitive, they underpin the more appealing idea that we have unlimited "freedom" to act as we will.

And what of Jada Pinkett Smith's claim? Is she really a shining example of a liberal woman who has successfully chosen to have it all?

Readers might like to note that her idea of "having it all" is a little bit different to most other women. Her "devoted husband", the actor Will Smith, has insisted on his own right to do whatever he wants, which includes sleeping with other women. Will Smith has admitted publicly his preference for an open marriage and his belief that monogamy, like gender, is another of those artificial social constructs which inhibit free behaviour.

Individual freedom, defined the liberal way, is not likely to deliver what most of us would truly want or expect for ourselves or our society.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Incredible denial of gender reality

This one really takes the cake. Lawrence Auster has reported extensively on the following story (see here and here).

A dangerous 6'1'' rapist was brought into an Atlanta courthouse and was found to have homemade knives in his shoes. The judge requested extra protection. Despite this a 5'0'' female deputy sheriff was assigned to guard the rapist while he changed clothes. The rapist overpowered the 52 year old woman, took her gun, returned to the courtroom and shot dead the judge and two others. He is still on the run.

When the District Attorney was asked whether a female deputy sheriff should have been chosen to escort the powerful young criminal, he answered:

Yes. Women are capable of doing anything men are capable of doing.

This is yet another example of how seriously liberals take their first principles. Even after three people have been gunned down, a District Attorney (i.e. a reputable authority) still insists that it's OK for a woman to guard a violent male offender. He still insists on the principle that our sex does not set any limits, or suggest any direction, to what we can do or become.

Liberals have made a gross error in defining freedom the way they do. They think that freedom is a liberty of will in which there are no impediments to individual choice. Liberty is therefore set at odds with our given (our unchosen) nature as men and women.

The upshot is that liberals have to deny basic realities in the name of a false freedom. A District Attorney can no longer recognise how absurd it is to expect a petite middle-aged female to guard a powerful, violent male criminal.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

A flood of reputable nonsense

Liberals don't like traditional gender roles. This is an ideological thing: liberals believe we have to decide for ourselves who and what we are, rather than accept the influence of inherited things like gender.

And so we get the following flood of nonsense, all from reputable authorities, seeking to overthrow traditional forms of gender.

First there was a declaration from Jens Orback, a Swedish minister, that "The government considers female and male as social constructions." Not an opinion which would seem sensible to anyone who has ever been in a serious relationship, but nonetheless the stated policy of the Swedish government.

Not to be outdone, the Norwegians have gone one step further, by bringing their Prime Minister into the issue. Kjell Magne Bondevik is upset that the little figures in IKEA furniture assembly instructions aren't depicted as female. He has called this situation "untenable" and secured the support of the opposition parties.

It seems that to the Norwegian political class, any potential remnant of a traditional gender role (men doing carpentry), is considered an issue of national importance, to be handled directly by the PM.

The Norwegian unions, as you might expect, are no more sensible than the government. They want maternity leave time to be taken away from women and given instead to men. This is part of a drive toward a unisex style of parenting.

The plan, though, brought criticism from breastfeeding activists, who rightly perceived that dad might not be as successful at breastfeeding little Lars or Inge as mum.

So, the breastfeeding activists have been won over with a second idea, which is to give all Norwegian working women the right to take two hours off every day, at any time, to breastfeed, and to be paid for it.

Of course, the trade off is incoherent. If dad is home on leave with the baby, mum is not going to be able to use her two hours breastfeeding time anyway. It also contravenes in a spectacular way the idea of "equal pay", since it means a woman would be paid the same amount for 6 hours of work as a man would for 8 hours work.

The move to abolish gender is not restricted to Scandinavia. At New College in California restrooms for men and women have been replaced with "de-gendered" ones. Signs on the doors of the unisex toilets proclaim "Lots of people don't fit neatly into our culture's rigid two-gender system".

The writer of this sign might like to journey outside of California. He/She/It would find that it is not just American culture which has a two gender system. He/She/It would be astonished to find that all cultures do.

I know that a lot of people will dismiss the above as "political correctness gone too far", but remember that it is all being advanced by higher level authorities in society: a government minister, a Prime Minister, a council of trade unions and an academic college.

An official liberalism has reached a radical phase in which a basic fact of life, the distinction between male and female, is being denied and acted against.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Radio theology

I was listening to Derryn Hinch's radio talk show the other day when the topic moved on to religion. Hinch is every inch a secular liberal, yet he listened politely while a Christian lady explained to him her beliefs. All went well till she mentioned her conviction that the faithful would go to heaven and the rest to hell.

"What!" spluttered Hinch. "That's discrimination!"

Hinch then repeated his often expressed view that "we are just ants". Which is an interesting position for a modern liberal to take. Liberalism evolved out of a humanism which wanted to make man the centre of things. Man was to take on god-like qualities of creating his own being. Yet to do so man and the universe he inhabited had to be made empty so that there were no limits to what men could will for themselves. But by making man and his reality empty, man was in the long run made to seem small - ant-like in Hinch's view.

Liberalism reached too far and achieved the opposite of what was intended. We need now to recognise that a god-like self-authorship is not the way to make man into something fine and admirable. It's better to accept that we have a given nature and that we live within a given reality, but that within this existing situation there is a possibility to find and to manifest what is inherently good and meaningful.

Which is simply to say that we have to stop the deliberate, ideological process of making ourselves and our reality empty, and recognise the finer things that are part of our human experience.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

School of rock

I never thought I'd quote Who magazine twice in a week. But I can't resist putting in the following little item.

Scott Weiland is a rock musician, and formerly a junkie. However, following a drugs programme he's tried to get himself together. He now says of his experiences:

I didn't know who I was. I wasn't a man, that's for sure, but I wanted to become a man ...

Now, for the first time ever, I'm a man and I can look at myself in the mirror and say, "Know what? I like who I am."

I'm not satisfied completely, like "Yep, I've arrived," although I am a man and I can man-up and be accountable. I'm accountable for my wife and my kids and that's financially, physically, emotionally, spiritually - in every way.

I find this interesting. Liberals want us to act against our inherited sex and to become less masculine in order to be free of our biological destiny.

But in doing this we're likely to end up like Scott Weiland once was, and to feel inadequte in our own self-identity. What we need to do, and what society ought to encourage men to do, is to deepen our own sense of masculinity, until we reach the point where we really can say that "I like who I am".

Liberalism only delays and confuses this process, by encouraging the exact opposite.

Developing right-liberalism

Lawrence Auster has written a fascinating article on recent events in Lebanon.

I have a special interest in the piece, as it further develops the concept of "right-liberalism", a term I coined in the late 1990s. Lawrence Auster has found his own very productive and persuasive way to make use of the concept.

It's gratifying, of course, to see the term used at View from the Right, which is one of the most successful of traditionalist ventures, with up to 3000 visitors a day.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Nerds' revenge?

Steve Sailer is one of the most interesting of modern thinkers.

In his latest VDARE article, he asks why so many male scientists and engineers have turned on Larry Summers, the President of Harvard.

Summers suggested that the reason why men dominate the higher echelons of science and engineering is, in part, because of a male genetic advantage in these fields. This means that affirmative action programmes for women in science and maths are misguided, as it's not discrimination which is preventing female "progress", but a natural disadvantage.

You would think that male scientists and engineers would react positively to Summers' views. But they haven't, and Sailer has an intriguing explanation for this. Sailer acknowledges that the influence of politically correct liberalism is one reason for male scientists and engineers to oppose Summers. But he argues also as follows:

But a more interesting subset, however, are the male science and engineering types who support gender quotas for women out of self-interest. My theory: they see the feminists' vendetta against Summers as their chance to get revenge on the female sex for its annoying femaleness.

Why do these men insist that sexist discrimination and socialization are the only possible reasons there are fewer women than men in their own fields?

Why do they demand massive social engineering to get more women to become as obsessive about the pocket-protector professions as they are?

Paradoxically, this is typically because of how little these nerds appreciate women. They don't like females the way they are. They want a vast societal effort to remold women into liking the same nerdy things they like.

That way, maybe, nerds can finally get dates.

It's roughly the same reason you see so many butt-kicking babes in movies aimed at male teenage comic book geeks ... It's always hyped in the press as female empowerment. But it's driven far more by the adolescent male's wish that sexy girls would stop being interested in all that boring girl stuff like relationships and start being interested in cool guy stuff, like kung-fu fighting and really big guns.

I find this theory persuasive, though I don't know where it leaves the majority of men who prefer their women feminine. Is it possible for us to get the "nerdier" men onside in some way?

By the way, whilst we're on this subject, I was interested to read the views of Fabio, the cover-guy for female romance novels, in this week's Who magazine.

Fabio is definitely on the side of traditionalists when it comes to female attractiveness. He says,

Something that really attracts me is a very feminine woman. When I see a really feminine woman with class, I melt.

As do most of us.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

There's always a more radical liberalism

Another item brought to my attention by Jim Kalb's terrific website Turnabout is the following.

Harvard puts on a "diversity" show each year called Cultural Rhythms. On February 28th the Harvard newspaper published a celebratory account of this year's show, the highlight of which was a speech by actress Jada Pinkett Smith.

Upon receiving an award from Harvard, Pinkett Smith tearily gave thanks and then shared the following "life lesson" with the audience:

Don't let anybody define who you are. Don't let them put you in a box. Don't be afraid to break whatever ceiling anybody has put on you.

Women, you can have it all - a loving man, devoted husband, loving children, a fabulous career. They say you gotta choose. Nah, nah, nah. We are a new generation of women. We got to set a new standard of rules around here. You can do whatever it is you want.

Not surprinsingly, the Harvard representative at the show, Dr. S. Allen Counter, the director of the Harvard Foundation, was delighted by Pinkett Smith's comments. He said that Pinkett Smith was "the best we've had thus far".

And why wouldn't he. After all, Pinkett Smith's speech was a popular expression of the liberal philosophy which universities like Harvard live by.

The basic liberal idea is that we are made human by the fact that we can create ourselves through our own will and reason. This requires, exactly as Pinkett Smith claims, that we should define our own identity and that we should do whatever we have a will to do.

For a liberal, this is what our humanity rests on, it is how human freedom is understood, and it is the starting point for how equality and justice are understood.

But it's wrong. We don't get to entirely define for ourselves who we are. Much of our self-identity is inherited rather than freely chosen. For instance, our masculine identity as men is something we are born with. So too is our cultural identity something that is not pulled out of thin air, but is a product of the time and place and tradition we are born into.

The problem with asserting the liberal view is that it gives inherited forms of self-identity a negative connotation, as being impediments to individual will. In a liberal society, there will almost inevitably be an attempt to deny or overthrow unchosen forms of human identity.

This process occurs gradually, with each generation asserting a more radical position. And this is what has put Jada Pinkett Smith and Harvard in such a difficult situation.

In the following week's issue of the Harvard newspaper, the celebratory tone of reporting about Jada Pinkett Smith's comments gave way to an apologetic one. It seems that some homosexual students objected to Pinkett Smith's assumption that women wanted a career plus a man and husband rather than another woman.

This, asserted the offended students, was "extremely heteronormative". And they have a point. If the highest aim of life is to be self-defined in whatever way we choose, then it is a kind of faux pas to assume people to be heterosexual. This is society imposing an inherited expectation, rather than establishing an entirely blank canvas for people to choose for themselves.

Hence, the Harvard authorities have already stepped into action to rectify things. The Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations has begun to work together with homosexual groups to "increase sensitivity toward issues of sexuality at Harvard" and the Foundation has also pledged to inform future speakers of the sexual diversity of their audience.

Jada Pinkett Smith was undoubtedly liberal in her views, but she didn't see the next, more radical version of liberalism lying in wait, the version of liberalism which won't even allow an assumption of heterosexuality to restrict the freely self-authoring liberal individual.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Sweden vs Science

A minister in the Swedish government has made the following extraordinary claim about men and women. Jens Orback announced that,

The government considers female and male as social constructions, that means gender patterns are created by upbringing, culture, economic conditions, power structures and political ideology.

Don't let the meaning of this pass you by. The Swedish government has made it official policy that what is "male" and "female" is invented and has no real existence. Gender difference, it is being claimed, does not really exist.

In Sweden, this view is taken seriously. So much so that funding for a book was denied by a county government because it contained an interview with a leading neurobiologist, Professor Annica Dahlstrom. Professor Dahlstrom referred in the interview to scientific research showing that there are differences in the brains of men and women.

So, Swedish liberals have a problem. They want to believe that there are no differences between men and women. But then a leading neurobiologist lets it be known that science has revealed the most significant of differences between men and women.

What do the Swedish liberals do? They try to suppress the scientific evidence.

Of course, when the Vatican objects to such dubious practices as the use of the unborn for medical research or spare parts, liberals attack the Catholic Church for its "dark age" attitude of hindering scientific progress. But, as we now clearly see, liberals themselves don't support science in an open-ended way. They are willing to try to suppress a scientific truth which is inconvenient to their political beliefs.

And why do they do it? Why do they so stubbornly cling to the unlikely idea that men and women are the same?

The reason, as I have outlined many times before, is as follows. Liberals believe that we are human because we can create who we are by our own will and reason. Our gender, though, is not something that we can choose for ourselves - it's something we're simply born into. Therefore, it becomes a limitation or constraint on our freedom to choose who we are.

Liberals want to remove this constraint. A favourite option for doing so is to claim that gender is merely a social construct. Our masculinity or femininity is merely a creation of society, so the argument goes, designed to uphold a power structure which privileges male will at the expense of female will.

If true, two things follow. First, gender itself can be deconstructed, removing the constraint on the "freedom" of the self-creating individual. And second, by doing so the patriarchal power structure is undermined, paving the way for "equality" (equal will) between men and women.

No wonder that Swedish liberals cling so stubbornly to this idea, even if it makes them look like flat-earthers. It fits in with their ideology beautifully. It makes possible the kind of freedom and equality which liberals so eagerly seek.

Sadly for liberals, science is now fatally undermining the "gender is a social construct" idea. It is now beyond dispute that our masculinity or femininity is created, to a considerable extent, by biological factors. Science has proved decisively the very thing that conservatives have always claimed: that we are not just "blank slates" but that our distinctive natures as men and women are hardwired into us.

And finally, what of those liberals who don't want to deny the overwhelming scientific evidence? Most, no doubt, will retreat to option two. They will recognise that gender difference is real, but insist that it be made not to count.

They will therefore continue to support the attempt to overcome the influence of gender through social engineering.

For instance, they will no doubt approve of the "equality bonus" recently proposed in Sweden. The Swedish government is upset that most parental leave is still taken by women, even after such leave was made available to men. Swedish men, if fact, only used up 18% of their leave entitlement last year.

For a conservative, this is not so surprising. Women will by nature have a stronger maternal instinct than men, and men will have a stronger provider instinct than women. So you would expect most parental leave to be taken by women.

But the Swedish government is willing to spend a lot of money offering financial incentives to men not only to stop working and take parental leave, but to do so alone, when the mother isn't home.

For the liberal Swedish government it's important that gender not count in how we arrange work and family life. And if the financial incentive doesn't work? Get ready for more heavy-handed measures to combat any traces of traditional gender roles in liberal Sweden.