Feminism, woke, and female bullying. By Alistair Roberts, from 2016.
There is an elephant in the room of our social discourse, one salient fact that goes a long way to explaining the tensions between different forms of social and political discourse and their relative sites and means of power and influence. However, this fact is a fact that progressive discourse necessarily dissembles, because it is taboo:
Men and women are different and their differences have an immense impact upon the climate of our social and political discourse.
Jonathan Haidt, writing on Heterodox Academy, describes a striking experience he had when addressing high school students about the importance of open and challenging discourse in the educational environment.
[T]he discussion began, and it was the most unremittingly hostile questioning I’ve ever had. I don’t mind when people ask hard or critical questions, but I was surprised that I had misread the audience so thoroughly. My talk had little to do with gender, but the second question was “So you think rape is OK?” Like most of the questions, it was backed up by a sea of finger snaps—the sort you can hear in the infamous Yale video, where a student screams at Prof. Christakis to “be quiet” and tells him that he is “disgusting.” I had never heard the snapping before. When it happens in a large auditorium it is disconcerting. It makes you feel that you are facing an angry and unified mob—a feeling I have never had in 25 years of teaching and public speaking.
After the first dozen questions I noticed that not a single questioner was male. I began to search the sea of hands asking to be called on and I did find one boy, who asked a question that indicated that he too was critical of my talk. But other than him, the 200 or so boys in the audience sat silently.
After the Q&A, I got a half-standing ovation: almost all of the boys in the room stood up to cheer. And after the crowd broke up, a line of boys came up to me to thank me and shake my hand. Not a single girl came up to me afterward.
The gender divide startled him. After the talk, he led a discussion, within which he seemed to make some progress. In the article, he describes the fact that the boys experience immense social pressure to self-censor, a pressure exerted by the girls:
That night, after I gave a different talk to an adult audience, there was a reception at which I spoke with some of the parents. Several came up to me to tell me that their sons had told them about the day’s events. The boys finally had a way to express and explain their feelings of discouragement. Their parents were angry to learn about how their sons were being treated and… there’s no other word for it, bullied into submission by the girls. …
This is exactly the sort of problem we should expect to find in a society that ideologically resists the reality of gender and presumes that it isn’t an insistent natural reality that must be negotiated rather than dissimulated. Though we may hit the nerve of the sacred value of equality, homogeneous and indiscriminate inclusion in speaking of it, the integrity of our discourse itself depends upon careful handling of the relations between and within the sexes. …
It should not be presumed that men’s disguise of their true sentiments arises from a manipulative hostility towards women on their part. Indeed, it is often quite the opposite: men hide their true sentiments because they care about women and don’t want to expose them to viewpoints that they might find threatening. Most men genuinely care about women, yet a great many are ambivalent about or unpersuaded by much of feminist thought.
Social media has made it so much worse:
The rise of social media is akin to the first introduction of a mirror to a society in which people had never properly seen their own faces. We are now existentially involved in an online spectacle on social media, where we must rigorously perform our identities, acutely aware of the fact that we are constantly exposed to judgment.
Existing in such a context elevates our social anxieties. It fractures or overwhelms former contexts of solitude and withdrawal from society.
When people complain about the need for a ‘safe space’, it is important to bear this new social reality in mind. Where there are few genuine sites of retreat from society and where challenging discourse no longer can be limited to a heterotopic arena, people will naturally feel much more threatened by people who strongly disagree with them. …
Our ruling class, the hive mind, and Twitter:
The mind of the new cultural elite is being formed in the echo chambers of Twitter and Facebook. Their culturally elite status isn’t a matter of wealth or even of class as traditionally defined, but is a matter of holding the prestige faith of progressive liberalism, something that is closely bound to college education. Many poor students and journalists nonetheless belong to this elite class.
Twitter is the small talk of an interminable fancy dinner party, the cultural terrarium within which an internationalist political class grows. …
On Twitter, real world events and realities exist chiefly as props whereby a privileged class can negotiate their internal relations, where news is fodder for [conversational speech used to communicate sociability more than information]. Twitter brings this class so much closer together — into constant and incessant correspondence — yet thereby increasingly detaches them from the rest of the population. …
Bernie Sanders is correct: the progressive liberal elite is incapable of talking to the working class, and this is why. The working class may not be privy to the heart of this conversation on social media, but they see its effect on the national conversation in the newspapers, TV shows, and, most particularly, in the silence upon the issues that affect them the most.
The more closely interconnected the political class is within itself, the more disconnected it is from the rest of the country. Twitter hogs the bandwidth of the political conversation, preventing other things from being talked about. …
In Twitter, we are witnessing a collapsing of the traditional manly political discourse into a more feminine polite society …
Places like Twitter are becoming our Versailles, establishing progressivism’s hegemony by creating a new stifling centralized polite society under its oversight, with everyone jockeying for position by cosying up to its values, yet alienating and disempowering the rest of the population in the process. …
In the process, the population at large is gradually cut adrift from the political classes. The feminization of the realm of political discourse will naturally risk the tendency of closing the political class in upon itself. ..
The reaction — the rise of the new right:
I would be interested to know more about the demographics of the alt-right [as it was known in 2016, before the left redefined it].
My strong suspicion is that they are predominantly college-educated men with considerable knowledge of the inner world of our polite society, but who feel suppressed and marginalized by it, perhaps especially in their masculinity.
They are probably not generally rural white people, but people on the periphery of the inner circles (the regime of political correctness, for instance, is largely focused upon elite colleges), people who chafe at the progressive values they encounter there. In any society where sanctioned forms of masculinity are emasculating, there will be a tendency for young men to pursue unsanctioned and destructive forms of masculinity. The alt-right is the dysfunctional masculinity movement that the stifling maternalism of progressivism has brought upon itself.
The alt-right are attracted to journalistic organs such as Breitbart, because they have the balls to tell offensive truths. The offensive character of the truth is desirable in itself, because this serves their acting out against progressivism’s hyper-vigilant maternalism.
Violating the taboos and attacking the virtues of progressivism gives them a sense of liberation from its shackles. It once more brings them into an exhilarating relation with a masculine realm where dangerous truths exist, where civilization itself is at stake, where strength and courage are imperative, where non-combatants should get off the field, where we must put ourselves on the line.
Where people cannot speak openly and fearlessly about difficult truths, and favour obliging lies or self-serving half-truths instead, there will come a point when certain people will start to react the stifling of truth for the sake of niceness and safety by throwing themselves into the pursuit of the most hateful truths they can find. …
Nor should it surprise us that Europe’s immigration crisis swiftly became the favoured Rorschach Test for this movement.
To the sentimental maternalism of progressivism, immigrants appeared purely as vulnerable victims, their eyes attracted to the young women with their terrified children. Just as a mother may fancy her infant to be incapable of any wrong, so progressives constantly resisted the idea that the new arrivals on Europe’s shores might contain a significant criminal, violent, fraudulent, and terrorist element.
The alt-right, however, saw a mass of young men like themselves, a population with a similar demographic composition to an army. They saw them being welcomed into European cities by women waving affirming banners, as if they were frightened toddlers. Breitbart delivered a steady drumbeat of stories of deception, rape, violence, and terrorism by new immigrants largely unreported in the mainstream press, with their regard for the ideological taboos of effete polite society. The young male readers of the site heard a summons to a reactive masculinism, to the rejection of the norms of polite society and a return to a baser tribalism.
Feminism has given rise to wokeness and its rejection of truth, merit, and critical thinking. This is rendering our western societies weak and less competitive, favoring the glib and the herd followers over individualism and achievement. This is the opposite of how western societies were on their way up.