Thursday, February 5, 2015

Then and Now: "And Mary Pondered These Things in her Heart"

The wonders of the rape culture are something to behold. First there was "Jackie," freshman at the University of Virginia, who conceived a story about rape on shards of glass in a fraternity house. Then there's the Columbia mattress story, where we have now heard the side of the German student accused of rape (for which the police declined to prosecute).

I've said it before in 2008, so I'll say it again. This is all about sociologist Georg Simmel's century-old prediction that eventually women would transform the public square to "suit a more feminine sensibility." And it's about the clash between women's "liberation" and the basic instinct that every woman needs to be right with the other women in her community.

In Honor: A History, James Bowman says that honor for a woman is her chastity. But we should understand chastity in a wider sense than not having sex before marriage and not having sex with other men. It is about not being wrong, ever. A woman cannot say: Gee, I screwed up; but let's forget it and start over. Starting over is for men, not for women. A woman must reinterpret events that might throw a bad light on her to show that she was innocent all along. I am not saying this in a pejorative sense. I suspect that this attitude is deep in the Darwin, a necessary part of the female role of bearing and raising children. After all, one mistake and your kid is eaten by a wolf, or nowadays, darts into the street and is run over by a car.

There's another thing too, something I learned from James A. Ault's Spirit and Flesh: Life in a Fundamentalist Baptist Church. It's the story of a liberal's sojourn in a fundamentalist church community. You know, patriarchy and barefoot and pregnant and all that. Only it wasn't.
It is true that women did not hold any offices in the fundamentalist church of his study. But Ault found that it was misleading to assume that they had no power. On the contrary, they controlled the church. And they controlled it through their gossip network. The women’s gossip network got to define reality, who had said what to whom, and who had done what to whom. This made the women of the church enormously powerful. But their power often was used destructively, and the church would split every year or two.
We are now reaching the point where the majority of university students are women. And a larger and larger number of university teachers and administrators are women. This means that a moral equivalent of the "women's gossip network" is getting to define reality in the university.

How do you explain "Jackie's" transition from disappointment at failing to win the love of "Randall" by rousting him out in the middle of the night with a story about being forced to perform oral sex at a fraternity to the magnificent story of the Night of the Shattered Glass? (Notice how careful "Randall" was to get a couple other friends to accompany him to rendezvous with "Jackie"?) "Jackie" started talking about it with the campus counselors.

And what about the Mattress Girl at Columbia? Six months after a night of rough sex, after which she and her lover started to drift apart, she accused him of rape. Through the Office of Gender-based Misconduct.

How do you explain this? Mattress Girl got angry. She started talking about it with friends and then with the campus counselors, and one thing led to another.

I will tell you what I think. I think that free sex just doesn't work for most women -- particularly well-born women. When a woman has sex she opens her heart as well as her legs, and she can't shut it off like a man, and go on to other sexual partners. So in the turmoil of the campus sex culture she gets to feel angry, abandoned, and ashamed. You can see the searing ambiguity in the relationship between Mattress Girl and her German lover. They were supposed to be friends, but a couple of times they ended up sleeping over and one thing led to another. I tell you: girls don't like that sort of thing.

There's a double standard here, of course, but it is not the one you think. Let's rewind to the most popular opera of all time, La Boheme. It involves two middle-class artists living in a garret doing the bohemian thing and getting it on with little Mimi, a seamstress, and Musetta, a girl with a sugar daddy. All great fun and all that. But don't start trying this bohemian stuff with Daddy's girl, or helicopter Mommy's girl. Oh no.

You see, in the lower orders, a girl accepts what the world hands out to her; she has to. And hey, suppose she managed to snag a college boy? But in the professional middle class things are different. Middle-class girls get protection, and the middle class doesn't take kindly to adventurers mucking around with their little darlings. If you want confirmation, just read Trollope's The Prime Minister, where a rich county girl, Emily Wharton, gets swept off her feet by an adventurer, Ferdinand Lopez, about whom nobody knows anything. Well, it all ends well because Lopez eventually gets run over by a train, and Emily marries the man she was always supposed to marry. But she takes a year getting to Yes because she is so ashamed of herself for getting into a mess with Lopez, the man from nowhere.

Ever since the Virgin Mary in Luke 2:19, and doubtless long before, women have been pondering things in their hearts. Mary had a lot to think over, what with her cousin Elisabeth getting pregnant and all and Mary wanting her baby to be special rather than a follow-on after Elisabeth's baby. I'm not saying that Mary got envious when Elisabeth suddenly got pregnant after years of trying and concocted the whole story about the angel to cover the fact that she ran out and got pregnant before she actually married her espoused Joseph. Oh no. After all this time, who can tell?

But as a conservative I have to believe that people don't change, least of all women.

I believe that we are seeing women today revolting against the sexual revolution, and they are revolting against it using the woman's cultural technique of the women's gossip network all gussied up into glorified bureaucratic categories.

The problem is that I wonder if the informal women's gossip network doesn't make a complete mess of the public square and the fact that the public square can't operate on feelings but must be based on facts, facts that can be adjudicated in court.

The lesson for men is simple. Get away. Don't go to college, don't work for big anything, because the women's gossip network is taking over, and you are in the target hairs.

The whole point of being a man is to make life into an adventure. That's what rape and pillage were all about; that's what ISIS is all about. For us civilized chaps rape and pillage are out, but there is still the start-up. Read Peter Thiel's Zero to One: Notes on Startups and How to Build the Future to get with the program.

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