Before I begin on her article, though, I thought it useful to point out the way the Lisa Wade defines feminism. I have previously argued that feminism is liberalism applied to the lives of women. Lisa Wade agrees:
When prompted to define feminism, Wade answered that she considers feminism to be “the desire that our choices in life and feelings about ourselves are dictated by who we are, not our sex.”
“I just want everyone to be themselves,” she said.
Liberals have this worldview in which being a man or a woman is not being ourselves, because these are predetermined qualities and the liberal individual is supposed to be an autonomous, self-determining individual. So being a man or a woman is not supposed to matter. As masculinity and femininity imply that we are influenced in who we are by our sex, they too are thought of negatively as "prisons" or "limitations" that not only curtail our freedom, but in the leftist view have an even more sinister role of enforcing privilege and inequality.
Which brings us to Lisa Wade's article. She begins by noting that liberals have a faith in an arc of moral progress:
The first thing that must go is the belief among progressives that we are on some fateful journey to a better place. We know that America’s grand democratic vision of “all men are created equal” didn’t initially include all men, or any women, and that we have never granted the promised equality. Yet many of us still hold fast to the idea that America is a great nation, managing the cognitive dissonance by envisioning the country as on a journey toward perfection. As Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, echoing the abolitionist Theodore Parker, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
It is important to take this in. It is an example of how Western intellectuals "immanentize the eschaton." Rather than seeing history as recording the rise and fall of civilisations, with each civilisation struggling to avoid its decline, the leftist/liberal believes that he is participating in and helping humanity progress towards its ultimate end point of moral perfection. He believes that such a thing is possible and that it gives meaning to history and to those pushing the way forward to "social justice." This helps to explain the sometimes cult like nature of Western liberalism, in which individuals cling to a set of beliefs that to an ordinary observer would seem self-destructive.
But here's the catch. This faith in progress depends on society heading ever further along liberal lines toward the bringing down of men and of whites as "privileged" classes. But the success of President Trump shows that progress is not running in the direction it is supposed to. Therefore, thinks Lisa Wade, the older half measures adopted by the progressive left have to be jettisoned, as they aren't powerful enough to keep the revolution on track.
According to Lisa Wade, the liberal left once thought it sufficient, to achieve equality, for men to adopt their feminine half and women their masculine half:
Implicit in the metaphor is the idea that we will have reached gender equality when men and women alike embrace both halves of their humanity: masculinity and femininity. As a nation, Hochschild argued, we are halfway there. To fully revolutionize gender relations, we just need to get moving again.
Thirty years is a long life for a metaphor, and it’s still here because it’s been useful and descriptive, reflecting a lived reality. But we are in Trump’s America now. The metaphor of the stalled revolution, however useful it has been, posits a linear past and future. It assumes that stall is equivalent to stasis: that we are still in the driver’s seat, the path is still there, and we’re still aiming at something good. The metaphor doesn’t allow for the possibility that the world has shifted around us, setting us on a path that we may no longer want to be on. It certainly doesn’t contain the prospect that we are—that we have been—moving toward something terrible.
Lisa Wade senses (hopefully correctly) that the revolution has not just stalled, but that there is a reaction taking place in society. So the assault on the privileged class, namely males, can't any longer be anything so "soft" as "embrace your feminine half and become androgynous." No, it has to be something sterner, it has to be a total rejection of and attack on masculinity in its entirety:
The quaint balance of masculinity and femininity that the metaphor promised is no longer desirable, if it ever was. Instead of advocating that women compete with men on masculine terms and men mix in just enough femininity to distance themselves from the most toxic versions of masculinity, we need to start being honest about what being a man has come to mean. Trump’s rise has made it terrifyingly clear that his toxic version is not at all peripheral to 21st-century modern masculinity. It is central. It is authoritarian. And it is lethal.
If we’re going to survive both President Trump and the kind of people he has emboldened, we need to attack masculinity directly. I don’t mean that we should recuperate masculinity—that is, press men to identify with a kinder, gentler version of it—I mean that we should reject the idea that men have a psychic need to distinguish themselves from women...
In fact, we should be as suspicious of males who strongly identify as men as we are of white people who strongly identify as white...
We are here in Trump’s America in part because we have been too delicate in our treatment of dangerous ideas. The problem is not toxic masculinity; it’s that masculinity is toxic...It’s simply not compatible with liberty and justice for all.
If we are going to finish the gender revolution, then, we need to call masculinity out as a hazardous ideology and denounce anyone who chooses to identify with it.
People wonder why the West has gone the way it has. I would point out that one reason is that our intellectual class has adopted the worldview set out here by Lisa Wade. She isn't hiding anything, she has laid it all out for us.
It is not easy for an intellectual to give up what is effectively a quasi-religion. I would hope, though, that as the decline becomes ever more obvious that an increasing number of Western intellectuals will query the idea that liberalism is a philosophy that leads to social or moral progress.