Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Question of Women in the Public Square

Over a century ago German sociologist George Simmel, observing the emergence of women into the public square, wrote that women would over the coming years reshape the public square to suit a more feminine sensibility.

And so they have.

Now I would argue that the shape of our political institutions reflect the age-old need to curb the power projects of men. As politics is civil war by other means, the whole point of politics is in fact to direct the male aggressive instinct into political wars rather than actual fighting wars. And then, since men tend to abuse the rules of any political system there is a need for checks and balances to limit the harm that can be caused by men of overvaulting ambition.

But what we have not done is design institutions to deal with the way that women tend to abuse power.

I was reading a piece a couple of days ago by a conservative woman in tech that was helping with coding camps for young women. But she became embroiled in a political war with liberal women for whom the teaching of technical skills was of secondary importance to teaching creativity, networking,  feminist politics and beating up on conservative women. And these women were damaging this conservative woman's business.

At this point, I think it is important to note that so-called "witch hunts" are typically hunts of women by women. Even in the prototypical Scarlet Letter about the poor helpless Hester Prynne, it is clear that the folks giving her trouble are the other women in the New England village.

And in a book I read about witch hunts -- which typically occurred in borderlands where central government power barely projects -- the witch hunt usually ended when the witch hunt started to involve the wives of respected notables. At that point it was time for the ruling class to intervene.

So the question that I have is how we adapt our institutions to deal with the way that women typically project power and abuse power. How do we "regulate" the Culture of Complaint in which women meeting together typically dish the dirt on another woman that is not present when that culture extends beyond the neighborhood community of women into HR departments and university administration?  How do we deal with the teenaged "mean girl" culture when it metastasizes into feminism and the naming and shaming of victims on the say-so of the accuser? How do we deal with the HR mentality that is focused on "codes of conduct" and diversity and inclusion rather than getting the job done?

Now, everybody know that it is a wonderful thing that women have entered into the public square, into politics, into "careers" and that women can now control their own reproduction. But I wonder. I don't know whether it is a good idea for women to be encouraged and accommodated into public life. I don't know if abortion and divorce and gay marriage and the sexual revolution are a good idea. For all we know they might be the high road to civilizational oblivion.

We are doing all this because we are now ruled by the religious and cultural norms of the educated class's culture of creativity rather than the old bourgeois culture of responsibility.

But my guess is that there is plenty of life left in the bourgeois culture of responsibility before it will be time to throw it on the dust-heap of history. Because we still need it.

I suspect that cultural and religious norms are important for one simple reason. Survival. I don't know the meaning of life, the universe and everything, but I believe that all the religions and the cultures and the politics of the world are attempts to guess the actions and the strategies that will put children on the ground and help the community thrive. Some guesses are better than others.

For instance, I think that the lefty guess in the Communist Manifesto was a bad guess that has resulted in millions of deaths and misery wherever it is tried.

I think that the religions and cultures of responsibility that started up when cities first started up 3,000 years ago are telling us that the culture of individual responsibility is a part of the necessary culture of the city. So I think that the cultures that exist to mess with the culture of individual responsibility are probably playing with fire.

In other words I think that everything in left-wing religion and culture that is trying to smash and demoralize the bourgeois culture of individual responsibility is probably a dreadful mistake that will lead to the end of civilization as we know it.

Of course, everything in this life, this world, this universe, goes in a cycle of birth, growth, decline, and death, and ultimate renewal.

So the left-wing culture that seems determined to destroy the bourgeois culture of responsibility is maybe nothing but a refiner's fire that will clear the decks for the emergence of the next big thing in the human story.

Maybe so. And maybe it all seems perfectly sensible and reasonable if you are a Martian observing events on the Earth from the intergalactic bleachers.

But for us here in the middle of things, it would sure be a shame if the whole thing -- our thing -- got wiped out by a bunch of lefties that want government to control everything and a bunch of feminists complaining that "I Can't Believe She Said That."

So I say we need checks and balances on the woman's Culture of Complaint if women are to continue in the public square.

1 comment:

  1. Pearson, Patricia 1997 "When She Was Bad" - a good place to start exploring violent women.