Broke: Cultural appropriation. Woke: Conservative appropriation

By this point, unless you are fortunate enough to be able to completely ignore social media and most television programming, you’re probably familiar with the term “cultural appropriation.” It’s an increasingly popular term among social justice warriors, typically employed as an accusation of cultural insensitivity. This means that if you choose to wear some clothing, eat some food, dance to some music or otherwise partake of something which is deemed to be the “property” of a particular demographic group, you’re stealing it from them and somehow cheapening it. One of the most recent examples was the young lady who wore a traditional Chinese dress to prom and was roundly lambasted on the left over it.

It’s a silly idea which I’ve never paid much attention to since nobody “owns” a particular style of clothing, food or whatever unless they happen to hold a patent or copyright on a specific brand. But now, thanks to our Townhall colleague Timothy Meads, perhaps we can put that all behind us. There’s a new type of appropriation in town and it’s known as “conservative appropriation.” Hey now… that might have some potential! Do you mean people are taking on conservative traits without being conservative?

Sadly, no. In this case, it’s liberal women claiming that conservative women can’t speak up on women’s issues because… I have no idea. But it’s apparently “appropriation” of some sort.

According to the New York Times’ Jessica Valenti, conservative women cannot use the term “feminist” because their beliefs do no match up with hers nor in her mind help women. In today’s edition of NYT, Valenti says:

“Now, we have a different task: protecting the movement against conservative appropriation. We’ve come too far to allow the right to water down a well-defined movement for its own cynical gains. Because if feminism means applauding ‘anything a woman does’ — even hurting other women — then it means nothing.”

Valenti basically says that feminists wrongly led others to believe in a version of feminism that was separate from the truth. It does not simply mean equal treatment under the law or in the work place. Instead it means believing in ideals that ascertain only to the left. Because, according to Valenti, those ideals are what truly help women.

Valenti goes on at length to make an extensively cataloged list of complaints which explain why women who benefit from earlier feminist endeavors can’t actually be feminists if they are Republicans or conservatives. Breaking the glass ceiling in a major company or government office is “groundbreaking” according to the author, but only in a technical sense. It’s not a real victory for women to see one of their own gender take over Fox News, for example, because they’ve risen to the top in an organization which liberals don’t endorse. You see, feminism is apparently inherently tied to liberalism and anyone coloring outside those lines is not welcome in the clubhouse.

Wasn’t the original idea of feminism to fight for gender equality in the workplace and, more generally, under the law in all aspects of life? How does the question of whether you support or oppose tax cuts relate to this subject? Shouldn’t the career achievements and success of women like Nikki Halley or Betsy DeVos be celebrated by all women, if only for having busted their way into the old boys’ club?

Apparently not. For a long time now I’ve heard from various women who tell me that females in the workplace are their own worst enemy. There is anecdotal proof that women in competitive environments tend to treat each other horribly and stab each other in the back far too often. Apparently, it’s the same in politics. It’s all “up with women” and “fight the patriarchy” until someone shows up with some different political views. Then they are summarily kicked to the curb. It’s a phenomenon which was perfectly demonstrated when some Jewish lesbians were kicked out of the Dyke March in Chicago last year.

Just keep making that tent smaller, feminists. One of these days you’re going to wake up and realize that it’s gotten awfully lonely in there.

The post Broke: Cultural appropriation. Woke: Conservative appropriation appeared first on Hot Air.

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Are Google and YouTube BlockingSearches for Red Pill Videos?

A year or so ago, there were a spate of articles about the red pill videos on YouTube – millennials turning off to the bullying by feminists and race hustlers, thinking for themselves, becoming conservative, and posting a video of their personal journey from blue to red online. I googled ‘red pill’ and had a cheerful time following links.

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Incels Are the Product of an Incomplete Sexual Revolution

We all need more freedom to openly discuss—and engage in—sex. Instead, we all too often pounce on provocative opinions and hem in what is Couple in Beddeemed “acceptable” bounds of debate. This is a shame.

Consider the rhetorical maelstrom created when George Mason University economist Robin Hanson recently suggested that the Toronto attack— in which a self-described incel (an involuntary celibate) mowed down 10 pedestrians — shows that we should worry not just about income inequality, but also the sexual inequality that is leaving too many men sexually frustrated. Hanson, whose blog Overcoming Bias is dedicated to raising uncomfortable questions that cut against ingrained thinking, mused that “cultural elites” might consider “redistribution” schemes that could help incels get a fair share of the action.

This was a provocative suggestion, no doubt. But Hanson wasn’t really serious about it. He is a libertarian, after all, so talk of “redistribution” was more in the vein of a thought experiment. Still, many people were understandably offended by even the hint of a suggestion that men are “owed” sex, or that this particular man was somehow justified in his violence because of some societal failure to keep his sexual drive satiated. This was, after all, the second instance of incel violence in four years.

But almost everyone reacted poorly.

Liberals roundly pilloried Hanson. Slate‘s Jordan Weissman called him “America’s creepiest economist,” before doing an entirely tendentious interview with him with the aim of exposing Hanson as a nutjob. Wonkette‘s Robyn Pennacchia accused Hanson of “singing the songs of horny men.” Motherboard‘s Samantha Cole declared that Hanson really wants “women to f–k violent men.”

Such high dudgeon does little to advance the cause of mutual sexual understanding among men and women. The fact of the matter is that although the sexual revolution offered the possibility of more sexual fulfillment, it also produced new frustrations and challenges.

The New York Times‘ Ross Douthat, who defended Hanson (and came in for a heap of criticism as a result), rightly pointed out that the “Hefnerian” ethos that the revolution generated has made the “frequency and variety in sexual experience” the “summum bonum of the human condition.” This might work for the “beautiful and rich and socially adept in new ways.” However, it poses special problems for people who lack sexual draw and confidence.

Many feminists consider any discussion of the innate differences between male and female sexuality verboten. But it is hard to deny that evolution has wired the two sexes differently when it comes to sex. The qualitative sexual experience of men and women might be similar. But, by and large, as evolutionary psychologist Diana Fleischman points out, men tend to desire more sexual partners, need to know someone for less time before wanting to have sex with them, and have lower standards for sexual liaison. By contrast, women tend to be more discerning and discriminating (because they bear the brunt of producing offspring).

The sexual openness of today’s liberated women often means that men’s more easily stimulated sexuality is constantly triggered. However, social norms still put the onus on men to approach women and open themselves to rejection. The combination of heightened desire and increased risk from assertive women adds up to constant inner anxiety for many young, inexperienced men venturing into the sexual world. This doesn’t mean that incels are right or owed, or that sex actually ought to be redistributed, or that incels are the “real” victims here. Indeed, incel forums can be dark and degraded places where misogyny and violent rhetoric often runs amuck. But ferocious and reflexive demonization from the left isn’t helping matters. It is still necessary to understand the root cause of these new sexual pathologies.

Now, none of this exonerates conservatives, of course.

All too many social conservatives want to shut down pornography, tighten controls on prostitution, and restore puritanical norms from a time when men and women could only try to meet their sexual needs within the confines of life-long matrimony. This obviously should not (and will not) happen, if for no other reason than it traps too many couples in emotionally and sexually dead marriages.

The trouble with the sexual revolution isn’t that it happened, but that it was incomplete. The problem is not that sex has been over commodified as hardline feminists and conservatives (talk about strange bedfellows!) like to assert; the problem is that it hasn’t been commodified enough. The sexual industry in the broadest sense hasn’t matured enough yet to cater to the myriad and diverse needs of lonely single people (of both sexes). Where are the Dr. Ruths for single people facing confidence issues or looking for advice? Is it really a surprise that young men turn to each other for solace in the deep recesses of the dark web — and that the result is often very ugly?

Progressivism’s promise is to move toward social arrangements that increase the number of winners and diminish the number of losers. But until we achieve a utopia where everyone wins, we’ll have to figure out ways to offer relief to the losers. This will require liberals to start taking the plight of people like the incels seriously, and stop penalizing intellectual mavericks like Hanson who have the nerve speak up on their behalf. And it will require conservatives to stop romanticizing an imperfect past and look for viable solutions that don’t involve turning back the clock.

This column originally appeared in The Week

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SAY IT AIN'T SO: Chris Pratt Made $2 Million More Than Bryce Dallas Howard On 'Jurassic World 2'

Actor Chris Pratt better find one of those old Cold War bunkers to hide from the nuclear fallout that is the revelation that he received exactly $2 million more than his female co-star Bryce Dallas Howard for filming “Jurassic World 2;” the feminists are coming for him.

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TAC Bookshelf for the Week of May 7

Rod Dreher, senior editor: I can’t get Philip Rieff off of my mind. I think he will come to be widely seen as a true prophet of our cultural decline. Rieff, a sociologist and cultural critic who died in 2006, is best known for his 1966 book The Triumph of the Therapeutic, which argues, basically, that with the death of God, our culture has abandoned the pursuit of virtue. Instead, we use faith (and other means) as a form of therapy: to ameliorate our anxieties and increase our comfort. Rieff, a secular Jew, predicted that all the institutions of our culture would eventually be entirely rendered therapeutic, especially the churches. He also said that ours is the first culture in history to have abandoned the core function of all cultures: to proclaim and uphold “sacred order.” To the contrary, we have an “anti-culture,” in which the purpose of culture is to destroy the conditions under which we could have a culture.

There’s a new collection of essays collected as The Anthem Companion to Philip Rieff. I wouldn’t recommend it to newcomers to Rieff; better to start with ISI’s 2006 50th anniversary reprint of The Triumph of the Therapeutic, with its accompanying critical essays. Still, I’m enjoying the Anthem anthology. I believe it’s fair to say that Rieff concerned himself chiefly with the problem of authority in the contemporary world. He observed that in our time, nobody believes in transcendent truths, not even many (most?) of those who used “god-terms”—that is, the religious—for whom religion serves “no other purpose than greater amplitude and richness of living itself.” That is, religion is not seen as a call to transcend the self, but rather instrumentalized as a thing that makes life more pleasant.

Rieff comes across as a Moses figure, standing on the brow of Sinai raging at the Israelites below worshiping the golden calf. I find him utterly compelling, because he diagnoses so unsparingly our condition. In the first essay in the Anthem collection, “Philip Rieff and the Impossible Culture,” John Dickson quotes Rieff’s pitiless observation, one that comes across as a warning:  “Where there nothing is sacred, there everything will be destroyed.”

We are living out those terrible words today. Dickson posits Rieff as an anti-Rousseau, characterizing an aspect of his thought thus: “Again, the same question arises: If repression is abolished and everything expressed, what are we left with—the child or the demon?”

The world as it is, and that is emerging, is ever more demonic (I mean it in both the classical sense and the specifically Christian sense). Personally, I see no prospect of turning back that tide, only creating cultural forms that have a chance of surviving it. That’s what my book The Benedict Option is about, but now I am preparing to begin that book’s successor. I don’t want to say too much about it now because I’m still thinking through the contours of it, but it will be a practical guide to rediscovering the transcendent—or, to be more direct, it will be about how to pierce the darkness of this new Dark Age, and to learn how to perceive the presence of God in the beautiful and the good.

To that end, I’m trying to understand more deeply the nature of our loss. I want to grasp more accurately the geography of the canyon into which we have fallen, so that I might be able to map a way out. Last weekend in Washington, I picked up Between Past And Future, a collection of Hannah Arendt essays about politics in the modern age, after the decisive break in Western tradition. Here is the final sentence of her essay “What is Authority?”:

For to live in a political realm with neither authority nor the concomitant awareness that the source of authority transcends power and those who are in power, means to be confronted anew, without the religious trust in a sacred beginning and without the protection of traditional and therefore self-evident standards of behavior, by the elementary problems of human living-together.

Arendt writes in her book’s preface that “without tradition—which selects and names, which hands down and preserves, which indicates where the treasures are and what their worth is—there seems to be no willed continuity in time and hence, humanly speaking, neither past nor future, only sempiternal change of the world and the biological cycle of living creatures in it.” I accept the accuracy of her statement, and as a Christian, feel an obligation to recover that tradition, as much as it can be, and strengthen my family and my community against the decadence overwhelming the remnants of the West. This is a suicidal catastrophe that so very many people on the Right—even religious conservatives—seem oblivious, as if we were only an election or two away, or a revival or two away, from making everything come right again.

In a question-and-answer session just prior to TAC‘s 15th Anniversary Gala last week, I proposed to Patrick Deneen, author of Why Liberalism Failed, that the loss of binding tradition in late liberalism may be pushing us into a period of political violence. Deneen said that yes, that is a possibility; we have cast off restraints. We have to hope and pray that this will not happen, and have to work against it happening. Nevertheless, we also have to accept the possibility that there is little to nothing that we can do to prevent our civilization from taking the path it has chosen, and that the best we can do is fortify ourselves and our communities against what is to come. To that end, Philip Rieff and Hannah Arendt—both unbelieving Jews—offer us imperishable wisdom.

♦♦♦

Grayson Quay, contributor: It’s finals week at Georgetown University, and I’m currently buried under a mountain of terms papers, and the only thing keeping me sane is the fact that some of my papers are actually kind of interesting. I’m currently wrapping up a paper on Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindications of the Rights of Woman, long considered one of the foundational texts of feminism, although its implications reach far beyond issues of gender.

That is not to say that her evaluation of gender issues has nothing to offer. Although third-wave feminists typically denounce her for her opposition to abortion and her emphasis on child-rearing, her advice for the education of girls is as applicable as ever. Girls, she said, should not be trained up to be mere objects of beauty because after they have attracted a husband, the fiery passions of love will soon fade and the man her beauty has entrapped will realize that, however good a lover his wife may have been, she cannot be his friend. At this point, the wife, having been raised to base her self-worth on the appreciation of her beauty will seek out that ardor from new lovers. If I have a daughter someday, I’ll give her this book to read as soon as she’s old enough to understand it.

In my paper, however, I’m particularly focusing on how Wollstonecraft’s religious beliefs inform her politics, neither of which I fully endorse. Wollstonecraft absorbed much of her theology from the Unitarian minister Richard Price, who supported both the American and French revolutions and preached that such revolutions were actually hastening the arrival of the Millennial reign of Christ. In light of Unitarianism’s denial of the divinity of Christ and of the doctrine of original sin, Wollstonecraft’s insistence on the liberation of women becomes a plea for salvation. If humans are unfallen, then we can earn our salvation through our own righteousness, and what Wollstonecraft desires above all is that women be given a fair chance to cultivate that righteousness. This cultivation depends upon personal effort—it cannot be gained through blind submission to the doctrines of an established Church. For this reason, her book is shot through with anti-Catholicism, and she denounces the Church of England as excessively Catholic, writing that the high-church cathedral service produces weak men who are “slaves” to a “childish routine.” Wollstonecraft also links arbitrary, hierarchical churches with arbitrary, hierarchical governments, both of which claim divine authority but actually impede spiritual growth by insisting on obedience and stifling reason.

I’m still thinking through the implications of this connection, but it has certainly made me pause to reconsider my dual identity as a fairly high-church Anglican and a citizen of the American republic.

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