The Tao of Gender
1. THE PRIVATISATION OF WOMAN
‘The problem with media-run “conversations” on gender is not merely the almost total absence of male participants, but the suppression of class. It is tempting to say real politics are missing, too, but bourgeois boundaries and prescriptions are real enough. Thus, gender, like race, can be presented in isolation. Class is a forbidden word; and gender subordinate to class is heresy.’
Feminism emerged during the nineteenth century, when women were forced into a formal economy which, until then, had been a male enterprise. Before this there had, of course, been a long and shameful history of subjugating, abusing, objectifying and marginalising women (along with sporadic rebellion); but there was still a separation of domains, a sense that some aspects of the world belonged to men and some to women.
In primal societies (pre-agriculture and pre-conquest) there is no question of gendered inequality or of one sex lording it over another. Men have one approach to reality (and to time and space; with a concomitant set of tools) and women another. Although the divisions between domains may be fluid — certainly not established in law — they are kept separate. This does not lead to conflict but to a complementarity which governed human life for most of its history — and continued to exist in various modified or degraded forms into pre-modern planter and herder societies; if, as Ivan Illich says, ‘its rule was relaxed, this happened only among decadent elites, and then only for short periods.’
Men and women also lived in different psychological domains. They share some features of each other’s cognitive powers — there is no question that women cannot think as men do and vice versa — but with pronounced emphasis in their own gendered realities. Men are naturally cut off, to some extent, from the context and engaged in a mission (from immaturity to maturity) to return to it, while women are more embodied, more sensitive to the context, and therefore more genuinely intelligent (and always more mature), with their less intelligent abstracting mind more closely integrated with their contextual awareness.
With the advent of civilisation the male domain overtook the female and men began to separate themselves from contextual feminine experience — or perhaps it is more accurate to say that the male self took control of experience and went on to take control of society; but in either case the two processes fed off each other, resulting in a male-dominated elite world built on abstract, compartmentalised male systems of transcendent knowledge and a male experience of time and space. The so-called ‘civilised’ systems of antiquity, the monotheistic Abrahamic religions and the modern market-system, or economy, are all entirely male creations, sprouting from a male mind utterly out of contact with reality, context and body, and terrified of anything which cannot be controlled, abstractly understood, possessed or brought to the schizoid light of the fragmented male-mind — such as innocent children, wild nature, darkness, the present moment and sane femininity; which are unconsciously perceived as a threat and either ignored, violently suppressed or eradicated altogether. The entire appalling history of man’s violence towards women, his physical and economic suppression of her spontaneity, intrinsic creativity and generosity, and his systematic, sexualising brainwashing of her—in short, his sexism—originates here.
It is this male world that, in the nineteenth century, women were forced to enter; to work, compete and think alongside men and, crucially, as men. Illich again;
‘Women complained that men suddenly ordered them around at work; a totally new experience for them. No matter how much the gender-defined work of women might seem subordinated to that of men, the notion that men could direct women in the work itself had so far been unimaginable. Women resented the loss of domain. Women also complained that, while men had time after working at the rhythm of the plow to relax at the inn, they had to hurry back and forth between the hoe and the kitchen. Envy of a new kind, envy for the other gender’s schedule and rhythm, thus appeared; an envy destined to remain as a central characteristic of modern life, an envy fully ‘justified’ under the assumptions of unisex work but unthinkable under the shield of gender.’
Men had been abusing and subordinating women since the dawn of ‘civilisation’, but women were now forced into a domain which radically intensified their exposure to male exploitation and radically deformed their experience, intelligence and sensitivity. To compete in the insane male world women had to become like insane men — cut off from their bodies, from nature and from the ineffable. In order to fit into the intensely hierarchical, systematised, unreal male market-system woman had to split her psyche and inure herself to the psychological pressure and emotional pain of this split that hitherto only men had dealt with.
This process is analogous to the privatisation of public capital and labour. Just as workers in state-controlled economies passed, during the late industrial revolution, from centralised forms of subordination to far worse decentralised forms, so women passed from domestic subjugation to market subjugation. The winners and the wannabes of the brave new world of ‘women’s liberation’ denounce — and rightly so — domestic servitude, but refuse to recognise that it protected and still (occasionally) protects women from the far greater depravations of market-servitude. This isn’t to say, of course, that we must return to putting wifey in her place, any more than we must return to the state-protected ‘job for life with pensions and benefits’ fantasy-land that the more subservient of the modern precariat dream of. As with so many conspicuous either-or conflicts, there is a third way, which, unfortunately, the subjugated woman, like the subjugated poor and the subjugated blackfella, failed to perceive.
Rather than demand a return to her own domain (e.g. to be paid and recognised for the ‘uneconomic’ shadow-work she had been doing), rather than refuse entry into the nightmarish market-economy, rather than demand that man face the ineffable and learn to experience the feminine source of his own fragmented hyper-rational experience, she instead accepted the capitalist assumptions of the male world and began to fight for ‘equality’ and ‘recognition’ within it. This was the beginning of feminism — an understandable but ultimately useless wrong turn into professional subordination, institutional slavery and democratic irrelevance.1
Some women who call themselves feminists simply want to look after abused women, others are interested in uncovering the neglected history of women, others just vaguely ‘support women’ and one or two wish to annihilate men from the face of the earth. Like most words, feminism has a great many meanings, some of them barely articulated, some indeed — referring to the ineffable nature of femininity — nearly impossible to express. There are feminists who would even agree with the analysis above, passionately even; but the feminist movement did not begin with this understanding of domain, a demand for the truth of femininity to be honoured, an understanding of the role class plays in the subordination of women or with a radical critique of hyper-male insanity. It began with a reasonable but ultimately misguided demand for fair representation in insane male-made institutions (such as marriage). This was followed, in the 50s, 60s and 70s, by an extensive protest that ‘male language’ (meaning the male variety of language that women were now forced to use), male modes of awareness and ‘male assumptions’ were inherently sexist or loaded with repressive beliefs and feelings about women. Recently, the feminist project has reached its rational end-point; an extended campaign for the complete eradication of gender.
This final insane move is feminishism…
‘Serial or sex murder, like fetishism, is a perversion of male intelligence. It is a criminal abstraction, masculine in its deranged egoism and orderliness. It is the asocial equivalent of philosophy, mathematics and music. There is no female Mozart because there is no female Jack the Ripper.’
Sexual Personae, Camille Paglia
Cordelia Fine’s popular Delusions of Gender is a model of feminishist priorities. It begins with an approving quote from arch-fiendess Margaret Thatcher – after which we are expected to take seriously Fine’s moral judgements, which turn out, as might be expected, to revolve around access to top jobs as corporate psychopaths; the usual meaning of ‘gender equality’ in the mass-media today. The idea, firstly, is that it is better for women to be lorded over by an cruel, inhuman male system than by a cruel, human male husband (apologists for capitalism make much the same argument in extolling clean, professional factories over dirty, peasant farms) and secondly, that women who succeed in this system are worthy of admiration and emulation. ‘Professional Feminist’ Laurie Penny, for example, like many other high-profile corporate employees, last year gave her support to Hillary Clinton ‘because she is a woman and a feminist’. No problem that Clinton was backed by all the largest oil companies in America, or that she oversaw the obliteration of Libya, made 30 billion dollars of arms sales to Saudi Arabia and cheered on the biggest arms deal in history to Israel. No, ‘she’s a woman and a feminist’ — good enough for Penny — as was notorious psychopath Valerie Solanas, author of ‘The SCUM Manifesto’, which calls for ‘the eradication’ — indeed the ‘cutting up’ — of men.
Another common feminishist complaint is that male culture ‘reins in’ female desire. Women, we are told, have just as high libidos as men, are just as sexual, just as hungry, just as lustful; not just for fucking but for power. This ‘hunger’ for sex and power is just fine, apparently — as long as feminishist women are allowed in to the party (i.e. that their ‘libidos are not controlled by men’).
That fucking might be an aberration, that the restless urge for it might in fact fall right into the hands of the sexist enemy, that love might be missing here, is far off into la-la land. ‘Is love even necessary?’ wonders Penny, making no reference to true love anywhere in her work. Love for feminishists is no different to love for sexists — desire, neediness, hope, attachment, care or seven stages of mounting horror culminating in heart-break. For Germaine Greer love is ‘disguised egotism’ (a state we are born into), self-sacrifice is ‘chimerical’ and altruism is an ‘absurdity’. For Greer the mysterious wisdom of woman (which man strives to attain) is actually acculturated weakness and capitulation. She must fight to claim her missing cock, you see, not fuss over all this altruism blather. (This might explain Greer’s admiration of an Australian Thatcher, Julia Gillard).
Love-making for feminishists and sexists is exclusively left-brain fucking; the mind-focused sub-dom power-play of the restless ego; masturbation with someone else there. The whole liberating presence of love does not get a look-in for feminishists who seek — demand — an externalised, definable, acquisitive sexuality. ‘Germaine Greer wrote that women will be free when they have a positive definition of female sexuality,’ says Naomi Wolf, approvingly, and then goes on to dismiss woman’s innate receptivity, sensitivity and indefinable physicality as the result of male conditioning. Not her unhappiness, or her ambition, or her confusion, fear and broken-heart. No, these are her own. It’s her femininity that men are guilty of instilling in her.
It’s interesting and telling that Penny conflates lust for fucking with lust for power. They are, indeed, the same; loveless. Just as true love plays no part in standard accounts of romance and sex, so the real body — specifically the body of a woman — plays no part in the ambitions of women to succeed in the male [virtual] world. The unpredictable, mysterious and uncanny reality of the female body is as horrifying to masculinised modern feminishists as it has always been to sexist men; the difference being, of course, that it is still hers. The sadistic, excessively abstracted male can rise without pain through unnatural, anti-social, totalitarian hierarchies, while the inherently present, incarnated woman must suffer all the way up — a suffering which serves to enhance her erratic cruelty in roles of responsibility in the male world — until she has become an insane man.
Feminishists reject the idea that society masculinises. For Fine, Penny, Lucy-Cosslett, Moore, Wolf, Greer and company, gender conditioning is explicit and largely domestic (giving girls dolls to play which slowly puts them off welding careers). Society as a whole, which is transparently masculine, is ignored. Women are raised in a society designed entirely by men, they engage in technologies invented by men, go to institutions planned by men and work in a male domain which rewards masculine styles of thinking — yet none of this is deemed to make women more masculine; for the simple reason that prominent feminishists seek power in the insane male domain. Naomi Wolf, for example, in her influential The Beauty Myth, begins by celebrating women’s entry into ‘the trades and the professions’, a position she uncritically accepts for the same reason professional journalists do — because she occupies it.
Creeping masculinisation2 is obscured by denying the existence of gender entirely, which is considered deviant. Reason; feminishists do not want to be feminine — it does nothing for their career. And just as femininity is rejected for woman, so masculinity for men is outlawed. Men are not permitted to take the manifest lead in the manifest male domain, while she leads in the world behind the world; men are not permitted to act, think and speak as men do (‘mansplain’) while she acts, thinks and speaks as women do; men are not permitted to show manifest superiority in their own domains while she embodies pre-manifest superiority in hers. Men are expected to allow her to be ambitious, rational, violent and insensitive (i.e. male) in a system which also rewards inaction, obedience, wordiness and hypersensitivity — turning him into a bitch. All gendered activity, influence and style, in other words, must be effaced or levelled into a single, rational, monogender. This is called ‘equality.’
Thankfully some women who call themselves feminists don’t behave consistently. They might profess a need for this bland, indiscriminate ‘equality’, and gain solace from hanging around puppyish halfmen — but they still expect their men to lead in a dance, to choose where to sit in a public space, to grow a pair and to behave with male dignity; and many women will, despite the PC opinions she overlays her instincts with, punish him if he doesn’t. Likewise she will punish him for hyper-masculinity, excessive abstraction and fundamental lovelessness; for separating himself from her strange wisdom which, as anyone with intelligence knows, is where authority lies.
Women who don’t do this, who let men get away with their disgraceful self-obsession and lack of love are either doormats and commodities — the principle targets of feminishist ire — or… they are feminists. Feminishists cannot accuse man of his worst crimes, for they are guilty of them too. When feminishists claim ‘men cannot stand intelligent women’ what they actually mean is ‘insane male smart-arses cannot stand insane female smart-arses’, which is true, but not really news.
After reading the sloppy, shit-slinging mediocrity of modern feminists (c.f. the extraordinarily degrading public disputes of Paglia, Burchill, Wolf and Steinem), it is something of a relief to turn to the penetrating intelligence of the original work of so-called ‘second-wave’ feminism, The Second Sex, by Simone de Beauvoir. True, Beauvoir’s view of the universe is as bleak and loveless as that of other feminists (constant warfare), as dismissive of the ineffable as Greer (‘feminine mystery’ is, for Beauvoir, a lie invented by men for the purposes of dismissing women entirely) and, ultimately, founded on the same misunderstanding of pre-civilised life as Wolf. But The Second Sex does at least offer a more accurate and interesting account of man’s appalling record of subjugating women than that of modern feminists, along with some excellent critiques of male literature3 and a now unfashionably realistic appraisal of the difference between men and women artists. ‘No woman ever wrote The Trial, Moby-Dick, Ulysses…’ she says. Certainly, like other feminists, she blames this on civilisation and social-training, but at least she begins by admitting the superiority of these works over Oroonoko, Jane Eyre and the execrable To the Lighthouse.
There has never been a female Beethoven, a female Nietzsche, a female Beatles or a female Monty Python and there never will be. Anyone who asserts such women exist or have existed has either never really attended to these male masters, or they lie about the make-up of their record collection, or they don’t really know what it means to be a woman (a common problem amongst ponderously materialist professional feminishists). It’s not so much that she couldn’t write nine breathtaking symphonies of transcendent beauty if she wanted to, but that a real woman, one capable of doing so, would thereby betray herself — for she is those nine symphonies. As Paglia realised, in one of her more perceptive moments, she is that which poets write of.
Again, this does not mean that woman can’t contribute to the male world library — and sometimes even without sacrificing her femininity — but that her priorities lie, ultimately, in living the source of art, not in manifesting it abstractly. She can create very good male-type works of art, but her genius is in creating life, and those forms of art (and science) which celebrate, adorn and nourish it. In living life — in improvised theatre, in song and dance, in informal communication and speech, in discursive and picaresque literature, in decorative and illustrative art, in handcrafts such as pottery and textile design, in sensuously embodied sculpture — in short, in feminine styles of spontaneously living and materially creating — she is, on the whole, naturally superior to man. Such forms of expression are either considered inferior to the edifices of immortality that man seeks to create or are not allowed to flourish in the male world; improvised theatre is banished from the official ‘canon’, fashion and textile design have been dominated by tasteless institutions of megawealth for almost as long as architecture has, useful and beautiful handmade crafts are hardly allowed to exist, let alone seriously be considered as art, and illustration is positively spat on by ‘artists’. All this is sexist — a sexism that male woman has absorbed into her bones and then, after she has struggled out of her domain, defends as ‘equality’. She spurns the imminent artforms that are her birthright, strives to master transcendent styles which are (usually — not always; usually) against her nature, assumes male forms of thought and awareness are standard, and demands equal place amongst man in his world. This she does not by showing she is his equal in it — because she isn’t, any more than he is in hers — but by denigrating the male masters that naturally dominate it.
Write a list of great classical composers down, or great film directors, great novelists, or great scientists and it will be almost entirely composed of works by men. Partly this is because, as feminists correctly point out, women have historically been given no opportunity to contribute feminine works to our collective canon. But there is another reason — great, in this sense, indicates a combination of intense abstraction, ambition and transcendence, none of which are inherently female attributes. This doesn’t mean that female styles of art are ‘not great’, but that they haven’t been honoured — and are still not honoured; even (perhaps especially) by feminists whose complaints about such lists (as mine) will almost inevitably be rooted in a sexist understanding of creation; that disparages activity which is not a result of sacrificing one’s life to abstract manifestation of the ineffable and, second of all, that displays an extraordinary lack of taste. As if Jane Campion’s work is equal to that of Stanley Kubrick, or Kate Bush’s to David Bowie’s (or any truly great woman composer even exists — they don’t), or Hannah Arendt’s to Noam Chomsky’s, or Frida Kahlo’s to Egon Schiele’s, or Marie Curie’s to Einstein’s. Not that Campion, Bush, Arendt, Kahlo and Curie are no good, they certainly are; but their work rarely, if ever, exists in the same universe as that of (in this sense) the ‘greatest’ men.
In this sense ‘women have never had the chance to create this kind of great music, great philosophy or great art’ although true, is irrelevant. They cannot make the male-style masterpieces which we rightly honour (but, wrongly, exclusively honour); unless of course you wish to claim that although women have had the chance to be queens, prime ministers, presidents, CEOs, consultants, judges and army generals, sitting alone in a room with a guitar and writing a song equal to ‘Pennies from Heaven’, ‘Sunday Morning’ or ‘I Want you Back’ has somehow been denied them? Not that, again, women haven’t been cruelly oppressed, and still are — but they have been given the chance to create male-type masterpieces and have fallen far short of greatness in the male realm. Because they are not men.
Likewise women have succeeded (against great odds) in becoming doctors, journalists, and lawyers… yet hardly a day goes by when a journalist doesn’t wonder why are there are so few women engineers, or mathematicians or software developers (not so many complaints about under-representation in mining though). Somehow passing a postgraduate engineering exam poses a more formidable obstacle than the bar exam (although, as society continues to efface gender, this ceases to be the case). It is simply unthinkable that this might be for inherent psychological or biological reasons. It has to be down to sexism, ‘stereotype threat’ and lego.
It’s instructive to take a look at the genuine artistic masterpieces of women; such as Toni Erdmann, by Maren Ade, L’Abandon, by Camille Claudel, The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, and similar works which have been dismissed as ‘light’ or ‘superficial’ by the sexist art world, which confuses transcendence — the provenance of the man obsessed — with quality — which need not be ‘arrived at’ in the same way. The greatest works of women nearly always focus on the sensuous, sweet and imminent bodily reality of our actual life. In this, women nearly always excel men; but are prevented from plumbing the depths of their experience and from realising it, in art, by the structured, focused, ambitious and cruelly competitive art world.
Women are no more allowed to be women in the world of illustration or film than they are in the world of comedy. When they are granted access, they are forced to betray themselves. The creative comic genius of the spontaneous woman who attempts to emulate male forms, such as ego-cracking physicality and nudity, aggressive satire or intense [transcendent] surrealism, is corrupted the minute it hits the panel-show spotlight, leaving her without dignity or delight. It is, in other words, correct to say that ‘women are not funny’ — while we have to view women comedians through the prism of the male media system and the cut-throat world of stand-up.
Compare a naked, dumpy, man and a naked, dumpy woman running away from an angry landlord. The former is, or at least can potentially be, funny; we laugh at the uglier male form and the breaking of the uglier male dignity, whereas we just feel pity at a debased woman’s body. Or put Sarah Silverman, Tina Fey, Donna McPhail and Bridget Christie alongside [early] Robin Williams, [early] Steve Martin, [early] Eddie Izzard and [early] Steve Coogan. Or compare the genius of the great woman improviser with that of the great male impro-artist — and note how she fills his transcendent narrative structures with her imminent magic. The miraculous comic actress (Julie Walters, Alison Steadman, Brenda Blethyn and countless superb exponents of impro on the UK, US and Canadian stages) is a genius, but as soon as she forces her artistic truth to excessively inhabit his psychological domain all charm, creativity and, in this case, comedy, instantly evaporates. Feminishists of course, like groupthinkers since time began, laughing at their membership of the club (the depraved comedy of ‘us vs them’), don’t notice that anything is missing.
Women haven’t had the chance to create great music, great novels, great art and great comedy in feminine styles. Forms of art that are organically wedded to human production, that spontaneously arise from the free play of free people making and adorning the things of life, that celebrate imminence, that do not demand fantastically abstract male traditions to find form, that can find widespread informal, vernacular expression… such art forms have either been denied woman (and common people whose lot she has, naturally, always shared) or are so intimately wedded with life that it would be odd to call such genius ‘art’. This has been so since the dawn of the cut-off male world; and it won’t change by women achieving ‘equality’ in that world, by apeing male styles of expression, by hopping into bed at the drop of a hat, by shattering in offended outrage at the mention of a bad word or by learning to subjugate, dominate, decimate and destroy as men do.
For woman to be recognised as the genius she is, the whole world must be turned upside down.
3. THE TAO OF GENDER
‘To know the male,
But to abide by the female,
Is to be the valley of the world.
Being the valley of the world,
And departing not from the everlasting power,
One again returns to the infant.’
Tao te Ching, Chapter 28
‘Sex can be discussed in the unambiguous language of science. Gender bespeaks a complementarity that is enigmatic and asymmetrical. Only metaphor can reach for it.’
Gender, Ivan Illich
‘Woman has learned to make love through man who does not know how to make love. Hence the dreadful mess that love is in.’
Making Love, Barry Long
Women have softer bodies and softer, more integrated selves / psyches, men harder bodies and harder, more concentrated selves / psyches. Women, consequently, tend to avoid dirty, gruelling work, tend to be better at absorbing the whole context (and therefore better gatherers), tend to be in charge of informal, private social domains and tend to be more interested in the reality of our material lives, rather than in ideals and ambitions; they tend to have greater feeling intelligence, empathy, overall [soft] awareness and their creativity tends to be intrinsic or imminent. Women have a reduced facility with perspective, less interest in isolated abstract systems and ideas, less ability to make systematic, clock-based plans and, overall, less need to get somewhere.
Men tend to prefer risky, abstract or filthy activity, tend to be better at isolating elements of the context and relating them to each other (and therefore better hunters), tend to be in charge of formal or public social domains and tend to be more interested in ideals or ambitions than in whether their underpants are clean. They tend to have greater visual-spatial thinking intelligence, a greater ability to focus on abstractions and their creativity tends to be extrinsic or transcendent. Men have a decreased ability to think discursively or to perceive intuitive embodied similarities between distant concepts and are susceptible to plan-addiction and obsessive intellectual insensitivity.
Women, typically, have a tendency to emotional egotism, to masochism, body-obsession and self-harm, to neediness (particularly after the sex-threshold has been crossed) and to avoidance of manifest conflict (preferring subterfuge and wars of attrition), Men, typically, have a tendency to mental egotism, to a restless desire to mark the world with the piss of their selves, to tease women, children and animals into reaction — or to torture them — to obsessive plan-addiction, to explicit aggression, to sex-obsession, schizophrenia and outright sadistic psychopathy (see ‘notes on the male rights movement’ below).
These tendencies are innate, and so have existed throughout pre-history, exist across wildly different cultures, no matter how men and women are conditioned and can be roughly and indirectly observed in neurology and physiology4 . Claire Lehmann summarises current findings;
In the last 15 to 20 years overwhelming evidence [has] been amassed to show that sex differences, both large and small, exist at every level of analysis in the human animal. Neurobiologists have discovered that there are sex differences in how our brain hemispheres are wired, with women’s being more highly connected across the left and right hemispheres, and men having more connections from front to back. There are sex differences in the amygdala, hypothalamus, and hippocampus, in both size and activity. For example: Activation of the left side of the hippocampus is found to be more dominant in females, and activation on the right is found to be more dominant in males. There are fundamental sex differences in basic neurochemistry. Men and women have different baseline amounts of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. They also differ in their abilities to synthesize these neurotransmitters. When neurons of male and female rats are placed under a microscope, the ways in which these cells die are different — a discovery with profound implications for the treatment of brain injuries, Alzheimer’s, and stroke. This evidence has been a difficult pill for some to swallow.
No prizes for guessing which group have found the pill of this evidence bitterest of all; which group have demanded that such findings be labelled as ‘neurosexist stereotyping’ or that neuroscientists be trained in gender studies, and which group have been, on the one hand, roundly criticised by neuroscientists and, on the other, universally exalted by the middle-class press.
None of this is to say though that, in certain respects, sex differences, like bodies and minds, aren’t malleable and cannot be shaped by culture. They evidently can; which is how the natural gender complementarity of pre-history became, via the subjugation of women by men, the hellish world of pre-modern gender-warfare (hyper-masculinised sexist men vs. hyper-feminised submissive women — which still exists in the lower classes) followed by the even more nightmarish world of modern monogendered decadence (emasculated metrosexual man vs. sharp, hungry ambitious woman — typically a middle and upper-class phenomenon). It‘s also why modern men and women violently assert the illusory nature of gendered tendencies (it’s all so black and white! there are no genders, just people!), pointing to the legions of confused, unhappy monogens around them (Look how sadistic she is! How masochistic he is!) or pointing to the unconfused — but equally unhappy — sado-masochistic nonsense of times past (or of classes below).
Of course the matter is extremely complex. Men and women are naturally quite free to encroach on the gender-realm of the other, women can do male tasks and vice-versa, traditional societies show a massive range of domain (such as the ‘two-spirit’ gender-ambiguity of some native indian tribes), and, in reality, selves are composed of many components, layers and predispositions, each of which can be masculine or feminine, or even coloured neutrally. Vulnerable men, strong women, male carers, female farmers, sensitive gentlemen, raucous ladies — the list is infinite, thank God. What’s more, the nature of femininity reaches into realms impossible to describe in the clear, concise form of a male essay such as this, written by a man; which means that its relationship with the definable is equally enigmatic — as Illich says only metaphor can reach for it (which is why women have always been more at home with metaphor than men). But none of this means that useful generalisations cannot be made, or that, in this case, there are not qualitative gendered differences between men and women, which complement each other; and which the modern world — particularly feminishist ideologues — has a vested interested in caricaturing or effacing.
As mentioned above, despite extremely gendered societies, gender inequality — or any kind of repression — did not and does exist in pre-civ / pre-conquest societies. The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Hunters and Gatherers presents an overview:
‘Turnbull writes of the Mbuti: “A woman is in no way the social inferior of a man” (1965:271). Draper notes that “the !Kung society may be the least sexist of any we have experienced” (1975:77), and Lee describes the !Kung (now known as Ju/’hoansi) as “fiercely egalitarian” (1979:244). Estioko-Griffin and Griffin report: “Agta women are equal to men” (1981:140). Batek men and women are free to decide their own movements, activities, and relationships, and neither gender holds an economic, religious, or social advantage over the other (K. L. Endicott 1979, 1981, 1992, K. M. Endicott 1979). Gardner reports that Paliyans value individual autonomy and economic self-sufficiency, and “seem to carry egalitarianism, common to so many simple societies, to an extreme” (1972:405). Stressing complementarity, Sharp observes that women are as fully involved with and responsible for generating Chipewyan culture as are the men (1995:47). Leacock (1981) interprets the historical record on seventeenth-century Montagnais-Naskapi (Innu) gender relations as egalitarian, with individuals, male and female, making decisions about their own lives and activities. In short, differences between what men and women do in these societies make no difference. Instead of reinforcing inequalities and constructing hierarchies, these societies deliberately level differences.’
So how do gender domains affect decision making? What are the gender domains that govern such societies? Here’s a clue:
‘Chipewyan women defer to their husbands in public but not in private, Sharp cautions against assuming this means that men control women: “If public deference, or the appearance of it, is an expression of power between the genders, it is a most uncertain and imperfect measure of power relations. Polite behavior can be most misleading precisely because of its conspicuousness” …Some foragers place the formalities of decision-making in male hands, but expect women to influence or ratify the decisions. Gitxsan male chiefs do not support community-wide initiatives without their mothers’ and aunts’ approval (Richard Daly, personal communication). Andamanese men act together to make a decision, then get women to endorse it before its implementation. Sometimes, too, women instruct men to undertake specific tasks (V. Pandya, on the Andamanese, personal communication). Other foragers expect both men and women to participate in group decisions.’
What is happening here is that men are exerting more influence in the obvious, explicit, polite, manifest, ‘political’ domain, while women are exerting more influence in the occluded, implicit, unspoken, unmanifest, ‘domestic’ domain. Originally these worlds were considered equally valid — indeed the female realm was given priority — a long way from the degrading prison that ‘home’ was to become for her. As male civilisation and self took hold of society the obvious, public, mental male realm came to wield more power and be considered superior to the hidden, private, female vibe-realm. It was at this point that ‘domestic’ became a euphemism for ‘out of harms way’ and darkness and femininity began to be considered negative, diabolic states of sin or ignorance; an attitude that prevails in sexist and feminishist worldviews, which denigrate or ignore both the sphere of influence that women feel naturally at home in and the heroic mission men have to return their fractured selves back to a source which women never leave.
For masculinised feminishists the problem is formal, explicit and definable; and so is the solution. We need only do this, do that, restructure society this way or that, respect this group, give up that opinion; and everything will be alright. A classic, much harped-on example is the complaint that feminists of all stripe make against ‘objectification’; men telling women what they can wear, defining norms of beauty which women must conform to and so on. Clearly this is a grotesque state of affairs — but what is the solution? For men — and male cultures — to stop having preferences? For men to stop wolf-whistling or chatting girls up? For men to stop admiring divine breasts or using the word ‘chick’? Such measures are as absurd and pointless as preventing women from wearing burkhas.
Men will be free of their obscene need to control, possess and objectify when they can perceive women — and reality — directly, not when they are using the correct words and admiring the right body shape. Likewise when women are experienced, valued and seen as they actually are they will cease wearing preposterous clothing or starving themselves to death in order to feel accepted by men and by a male culture.
What this perception and experience amount to is the great taboo amongst sexist men and feminist women. Love: a word hardly uttered by either, and when it is, almost completely devoid of meaning. The ink spilled in feminist discourse on desire, pornography, objectification, sex, and ‘what women want’ could fill a lake, while that spent on truthfully expressing or ‘calling for’ love would barely fill a teaspoon. Love is either taken to mean needing, fawning, craving or sentimentally exalting or, more often than not, it’s simply ignored, as if we know what it is. Oh yes, love, all very well and good, but it has nothing to do with the issues.
Love is central to the problem of gender. Take, as one example, the dreadful problems women have over their body-images; an anxiety which is cynically (if sometimes unconsciously) exploited by men (not to mention by the feminishist movement5). Would they worry so if they felt love, smouldering sweetly in their bellyminds? Absolutely not. A woman who actually feels love, the unmistakable mysterious confident warmth of it in her body, couldn’t care less if her male-friends, her boyfriend or her whole society preferred skinny women to full-figured women, or perky young girls with glasses to middle-aged women with sagging breasts. Somatic ideals and preferences — which individuals and societies have always had and will always have — are completely irrelevant to the actuality of love and the reality of attraction between two people; as irrelevant as the ‘sexist language’ that so many feminists lose so much composure over. If there is love, a man can call a woman a cow and she’ll smile. If there is no love he can elect her prime minister and she’ll feel offended.
Does this mean that women need the love of men to feel confident, happy and [that immense red-herring] ‘self-worth’? Yes! We all need the love of men; and we all need the love of women. The alternative to love — to self-sacrifice, altruism, selfless consciousness — is self-love, desire, disinterest, casual coupling, suspicion, boredom, anxiety and constant misery. Ultimately love comes, unconditionally, from experience — lack of which leads to neediness. But, together, in relation, we either love each other or nothing works. This applies to friendships, families, partnerships and planets. Women need the love of men; that they settle for less is why they suffer so much. Men need the love of women; that they expect to get it without first actively, confidently, sweetly delighting is why they cause so much suffering.
How does a woman know a man loves her? How does she know that the look in his eyes is the simple, generous warmth of love and not fawning, grasping neediness or the cruel stare of acquisition? How does she know, living with him, that he really loves her and isn’t just using her somehow or taking her for granted? If she has to ask such questions — if the reality of love in her body is so distant and questionable — things have come to a pretty pass. The simplest answer is that in love there is no sex. Male sexuality (which feminishists are so keen to appropriate) is acquisitive, aggressive, unconscious, irritable, restless, cruel, creepy, competitive, hard, predictable, self-aggrandizing, easily bored and unfulfilling. It poisons the atmosphere of the family and the office, it ruins the most casual interactions and it utterly shreds the heart of woman in partnership.
Love, on the other hand, is warm and accepting, ungrasping and not in the least bit creepy. A loving man can play with young girls, flirt with companions, fill the hearts of aunties, and only good results. A loving man, in partnership, makes love — every day, all the time, whether he feels like it or not, and it is always good. He delights her, he gives to her—not merely pleasuring her to orgasm first, but utterly sacrificing his cut-off (symphony-writing) self to the physical mystery of her complete body, igniting it as only he can. Such incarnate love— so tragically rare, as all women know — makes both of them less anxious, less fearful, less needy, less self-conscious and less dependent on or enslaved by ‘moods’. Love doesn’t dominate, put-down or attempt to control, yet is absolutely immovable before emotional demands and the sly games of the false emotional self. It inspires confidence, respect, gratitude, loyalty and affection — all those good things that the false self demands, wheedles for or attempts to seize.
Is such a love possible? Yes! There is a world where this does happen, a world where men and women harmoniously inhabit and master their domains without exerting excessive influence in realms where the other is more competent; yet still free to cross boundaries on a whim, a world where stupendous love-making, filthy fucksex, bumslaps, high-heels, ballet-flats, any damn thing you please is permitted, yet is free of psychic vampirism, heartbreak, restlessness, violence, weird male imaginative self-isolation and the ghost world of compromise — a world that you don’t have to journey ten thousand years back in time, or to the last undiscovered hunter-gatherer tribe of the Amazon, to reach. And that world is the true love of the sane.
It exists. It is possible to live together as the Chipewyans, Gitxsans and Andamanese do, with the man6 making all the manifest decisions, leading in the dance, taking charge of the ship of the partnership and standing firm against emotional storms — while all inspiration emerges from her love, all intelligence has its source in her femininity and all judgements of importance cannot proceed without her superior discernment. It is possible to live in fluid gendered domains, without being imprisoned by them; with men and women free to do and feel whatever they please — but without denying the marvellous, mysterious, complementary reality of gender. It is possible to live together harmoniously, knowing the male, but abiding by the female.
Man has been terrified of love for ten thousand years. Woman, more loving than man, has always been the more intelligent, perceptive and, in the very best sense, weirder sex, and so he had to bar her from entering or benefiting from the destructive, iniquitous and oppressively realistic world he created; until it served his interests to let her back in. At which point feminism magically appeared to give woman the ideological foundation she needed for her demands for equal pay, equal rights and the vote. As woman entered more fully into the male system and began to think (i.e. objectify), fight and suppress her natural instincts as the systems-man does, she began to lose her capacity for brilliant discursive thought, her extraordinary physical presence, her enigmatic imminence and her innate irrational generosity — everything that might have actually made the world she entered better. When it was suggested to her that she was losing her femininity, that there might be something misguided about the whole project, she responded with feminishism, the idea that gender does not exist; that it is a social construct. In so doing she lost the power to understand the real reason why man treats woman so badly, why he gets bored of her so quickly, why he tends to either exalt or desire her — but never really to see her, why he is such a poor lover, why he takes himself so seriously, why he gets so easily addicted to porn and to video games, why, despite his manifold problems, and his predictable desires, there is something mysterious and alluring about him and why he created this shitty world in the first place. In denying the existence of gender feminishist woman (and society) also lost the power to understand the real reason why woman feels such dreadful self-doubt and lingering depression, why she feels so utterly out of place in male systems, why she feels more subjective well-being and more depression than man, why even the most satisfying sex can leave her feeling needy or irritable, why her heart breaks so agonisingly when a partnership ends, why there is such conflict between how she feels and how she feels she ought to feel and what it really means to be a woman. If you cannot understand gender, if you assume that it is an illusion, or a social-construct, or a result of genetics or the composition of the brain, nothing that happens between men and women makes sense, and no solution to the problems caused by this ignorance will ever work.
In short feminism is patriarchy’s greatest invention. It has fooled woman into being man, in treating love lightly, in reinforcing the insane male-world and in profaning femininity; while fighting for woman’s ‘right’ to degrade herself as thoroughly as man in his system — be it capitalist or socialist. While woman disregards the revolutionary potential of true love, the shattering wisdom of being a real woman and the harmonious nature of complementarity which has stood our species in good stead for tens of thousands of years, she will never know true love, she will never know who she really is and she will never be free. She will be as imprisoned as he is.
1 Feminism was understandable—and even, in some respects, salutary—in that it gave women (that is middle-class women) legal power to extricate themselves from some of the more grisly forms of gender-oppression and develop the powers of the minority who wanted to study and master male traditions. It was catastrophic in that it kept the root of the problem intact, and, ultimately, allowed it to grow stronger. You’ll notice that after a hundred years of the vote and at least thirty years of women having influence over institutions we aren’t exactly on the road to paradise.
2 Masculinisation in this essay refers to a negative process, to an insane over-emphasis on masculine strengths and priorities (abstraction, ambition, rationality and insensitivity) demanded by the man-made system. The positive counterpart, to man up — to manfully engage in the male process of unifying / mastering the isolated male self with the intelligence that women is born with (dubbed The Heroes Quest by Joseph Campbell) — is actively punished by the system; which, in this sense, feminises. The system rewards the insane feminine traits of inaction, wordiness, inactivity, hypersensitivity to criticism and socialising (‘networking’) over striving for mastery. Again, the sane counterpart to this process, to ‘fem in’ (?) — to femininely level hierarchies, practice radical generosity, be spontaneous, loving and present in the senses — is systematically banished. Thus the system makes wankers of women and bitches of men.
Note, however, that this is not the meaning of feminisation in the current theory of labour. Because fashionable theory must rule out meaningful discussion or understanding of gender it cannot address what actually happens when gender is warped. When academics refer to ‘feminisation’, they are only describing the tendency of modern work becoming precarious, low-paid and menial; in other words like the demeaning ‘uneconomic’ shadow-work that, until recently, has been done by women.
3 Beauvoir heavily influenced my reading of D.H.Lawrence. I still consider him one of the greatest novelists of all time and one of the few men able to do justice to the reality of romantic love and, yes, even to the essence of femininity, which he presents more truthfully — and strangely — than any other writer. He was an extraordinary human being; but after Beauvoir I now see that he was weirdly cock-obsessed, and that obsession was clearly linked with some of his sillier opinions and more dubious artistic choices.
4 See The Essential Difference by Simon Baron Cohen for a good, if flawed, overview. See also Baron-Cohen’s review of Delusions of Gender in The Psychologist (Nov 2010). See also the far more cautious (i.e. politically correct) Brain Gender by Melissa Hines. The truth is though that it is impossible to prove the existence of masculinity and femininity in brains, genes, bones, art or anything else. There are unquestionable vital differences between men and women in measurable brain function, influence of hormones, body shape and so on but, ultimately, as I point out above, the nature of gender (particularly of femininity) is enigmatic to the mind. This doesn’t mean it cannot be meaningfully spoken of, quite the opposite, rather that — as with every other subject of real importance in our lives — wandering through a hall of academic mirrors on the subject, for all its interest and use, will never allow us to perceive the heart of the matter. For this we need clarity, softness and love, not knowledge.
5. See Crazy Like Us by Ethan Watters for an overview of how the constellation of symptoms surrounding ‘anorexia’ (another fictitious ‘mental illness’) are culturally determined and not necessarily related to ‘unrealistic body image standards’)
6 Heteronormative! What about homosexuals eh!? And transgendered? And ‘questioning’? I think I’ve probably made enough controversial points for one day, but here are a few more;
SOME NOTES ON HOMOSEXUALITY
a) The term ‘homosexual’ is a modern one, as is censure for the supposed state. In other times and places men put their penises in the anuses of other men, or (less frequently) women physically loved each other, or people inhabited psychic states that seemed to blend those of the feminine and masculine, without any of this being a big deal, a thing worthy of note or without conferring membership to a big fabulous club. There is, in other words, no such thing as a ‘gay man’, any more than there is a ‘banana man’. If men who liked bananas were labelled as such and persecuted for it, you can be sure that they would group together, discover common characteristics (which would be reinforced), organise banana pride meetings, banana studies would start appearing on university courses and scientists would assiduously look for the banana gene. Now of course I’m not suggesting that sexuality and taste in fruit are the same thing, but might I suggest, if you cannot see the point I’m making, perhaps you are teeny bit bananaphobic?
b) Feminishism and Queerishism (the groupthink religion of gay) usually go together, but they mask a contradiction between social and sexual identity. Feminishists, in order to justify their social (especially professional) identities, are forced to claim that gender is socially constructed, because they don’t want their identity (as doctors or CEOs) to be ascribed to their gender, but to their will. Queerishists, on the other hand, to justify their sexual identities, are forced to claim that sexuality is innate, because they don’t want their homosexuality to be ascribed to their will, but to an innate predisposition. Any facts or ideas which question these claims are rejected instantly and aggressively (women, particularly, have a hard time distancing themselves from abstract critique). There is, for example, no reason to suppose that homosexuality isn’t influenced by society (see (e.g.) Julien Barthes et al., Male Homosexual Preference: Where, When, Why? and N. Barber Ecological and Psychosocial Correlates of Male Homosexuality nor is there any reason to suppose that highly ‘civilised’ society does not produce masculinised women (and more engineers; phew!) and effeminate (‘lovely’) men; unless of course you have a vested interest in justifying your sexual identity.
c) Is there any reason to suppose that the causes of homosexuality, high libido or ambiguous gender are fundamentally different to, for example, height, depression or musical taste? No. There may be some genetic, epigenetic or biological component to how tall, sad, funky, gay or lusty you are but the decisive factors with such manifestations of innate (and innately gendered) psyche are indisputably environmental, social and domestic: just as some societies have taller, sadder or funkier people than others, so some have gayer, lustier or more transgendered people than others. Is there any reason to rule out the possibility that a society which privileges bodiless form over corporal function, which punishes or frustrates innate or traditionally gendered relationships, which curtails exposure to radical otherness (wilderness, darkness, silence, etc) has a crucial bearing on sexuality or sexual preference? Again, no. Unless you are committed to a career or personality-enhancing ideology.
d) While it has often been socially difficult — sometimes appallingly so — to be a homosexual, particularly in the modern Christian West, it is psychologically easier, more fun or, in some respects, less painful to love someone of the same sex, which explains some homosexuality. Gay men, for example, have an enormous number of sexual partners, far more than gay women, because they are capable of separating their male egos from the physical-affective reality of the act — and this suits them just fine. All men, until they achieve emotional maturity, fantasise about meeting a thousand sexual partners with the same acquisitive, insensitive, bodiless sexuality as he has — but only the gay man has access to this irresponsible paradise.
e) I may be wrong, but as far as I understand, long-term homosexual relationships often end up being roughly analogous to male-female relationships anyway, with one partner taking on the male role and one the female role. I have also read that a situation arises in which there are no men in a society the women can start exhibiting male characteristics (and vice versa — see links in b) — although obviously the matter is complex and nuanced), but I can’t recall where.
f) A vagina is not the same as an anus, a hand or a mouth — all four can give pleasure to a penis, and it is possible to feel love during this pleasure, but only one was designed to give it the physical experience of love (and vice versa — fingers, tools and tongues are, ultimately, no substitute for a penis). Men can feel love for men during sex of course, and women for women — they can ‘make love’ with each other and only a nutcase would claim otherwise — but transcendent-imminent love-making (occasionally and misleadingly called ‘tantra’) is a specific kind of complementary physical union which is only possible between (or rather via) a penis and a vagina.
g) There are and have always been more homosexual men than women; because men, all men, are more afraid of true love (meaning, here, the ineffable—not that any other kind of love is not ‘true’ or that this is the only reason for homosexuality) and complementarity than women. Their transcendental selves — ossified into powerful ego — are more afraid of self-surrender than softer-selved women. Women are more likely to describe themselves as ‘bisexual’, because they are not, ultimately, as afraid of The Other. It’s often only when a woman has despaired of ever finding a truly loving man that she turns to women for love.
h) The idea that mentioning these facts (or, in some cases, possibilities) makes me or anyone else ‘homophobic’ is an error. Questioning the existence, origin or nature of homosexuality — particularly its ideological components — and critiquing the trend towards a monogendered world, has nothing to do with antagonism towards men who fuck men, or women who fuck women, or the types of men and women who are attracted to such activity.
i) It should now be clear why I don’t have much to say about homosexual love and relationships, but what people do with their penises and vaginas is their own concern. If you were born in the wrong body and change over, great; if you want to campaign for gay marriage and gay rights, good on ya; if you want to create an island state dedicated to gay disco, even better — but there is no reason to uncritically accept the use of sexual organs or sexual preferences as an ideological prop nor to accept the intellectual and emotional assumptions that go along with ‘homosexuality’ and transgenderism. These are open to question.
SOME NOTES ON MEN’S RIGHTS
Much of the modern male response to feminism, not to mention woman in general, comprises cynical guidelines for pick up artists (PUAs) intent on exploiting women’s weak points and the weaknesses of the emerging feminishist system. Take a look, for example, at this popular advice on ‘getting laid like a warlord’. As with much PUA stuff, there is a lot of truth here for men, and interest for women — ‘maintaining frame’, for example, is a fundamental part of being a man. The unasked question though is; frame around what?
Men frame, explain and objectify more than women, that’s the truth which feminishists seek to subvert (through accusations of sexism, mansplaining and objectification) — but if that’s all men do (and, for many, alas, that is all they do) their split worlds will not arise from and serve the mysterious, fecund source of the male and female mind, but be a brittle egoic film stretched over a cynical, fearful and futile abyss. Cynical because women become rateable targets viewed as obstacles for loveless cockman to overcome, fearful because love is, ultimately, about obliterating frame and futile because without such frameless psychological freedom man can never experience the love he yearns for.
You’ll notice how similar all this is to feminishism. Change the details of the cynicism, fear and futility and you have precisely the same approach to reality: war. A zero-sum arms race that uses up resources the rest of us need to survive (trust, language, domain, etc) in order to create either a monogendered wasteland or a parade of vibrating sexual turnips on a cinder-heap.
Somewhat more human are the reasonable, if limited, critiques and arguments of Men’s rights activists. ‘MRA’s do often make ridiculous claims, such as ‘women are as physically abusive as men’, which may be [increasingly] true in the masculinised west, but is hardly an historical or global fact (emotional violence, maybe). MRAs also have a positive mania, I think, about custody bias — although I don’t know too much about that.
The MRA phenomenon is best understood as a reaction to feminishist power in male domains (just as feminism was a reaction to being forced to compete with male power), tending to emphasise facts such as these:
- Men die earlier than women, die more often at work, die more often from cancer, etc.
- Men are far more likely to commit suicide.
- There are far more men in prison than women.
- Men are more often addicted to pornography, video games, alcohol and drugs.
- Men are more often autistic or schizophrenic.
- Men are more likely to be homeless.
One or two of these ‘facts’ are debatable, but, as a whole, they — and even some aspects of red-pill spleen —unquestionably do point to an aspect of the gender debate which is often overlooked in the clamorous fight for equal pay and bodily integrity rights and so on — that men are often punished for being men and that, as we leave the grim sexist world of hyper-aggressive cock-sure men and enter a monogendered unworld, ‘men become sicker, shier, more socially awkward, more emotionally removed, and more risk-adverse’, unable (and unwilling) to deal with the reality out there, let alone the super-reality in her. Hardly an improvement (unless you’re competing with men for top spot on the pyramid of evil).
The problem, again, is that men’s rights activism misses the same points as both feminishism and red pill sexism: that a) more rights (i.e. greater access to professionally-administered resources) can’t possibly solve the problems created by professional systems, that b) the male self is to blame for a system that began (in pre-modernity) by hyper-masculinising him and hyper-feminising her and that now (in the post-modern word) hyper-masculinises her and hyper-feminises him and that c) only by overcoming this self does man have a hope of manfully encountering reality and earning the love of woman that he craves.
Read more about how gender operates through history and pre-history, how to experience mutually self-shattering godgasms and all the ruptured glories and secret dreads of relationship, partnership and psyche in The Apocalypedia, from which some of the above has been developed.
See also my essay on taking offence, ‘Don’t Take this the Wrong Way.’