The Tao of Gender

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 may well be 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), or which is exerting catastrophic social and psychological pressure on its members has a crucial bearing on sexuality or sexual preference? Again, no. Unless you are committed to a career or personality-enhancing ideology.

(See ‘Homosexual Love’ by Edward Westermarck for a reasonable overview of how much homosexuality there has been in pre-civilised life and for a intelligent appraisal of how much that is likely to have been due external, social factors; see also the classic ‘beautiful ones’ experiment by John Calhoun in which male mice facing environmental stress all turned into beautiful gay hipsters).

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 —  the challenges and horrors of the mystery are absent or mitigated — 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, in this sense, ‘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. You may disagree though, and have had homosexual experiences of tantra, which is fair enough (although I’ve never heard of any).

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’ (much less ‘transphobic’) 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, or how they feel about their gender, 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 trans 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.

j) A final, rather more trivial, point, on the gay identity, and particularly its putative status as a radical, dissident, alternative movement; I give you Gay Pride, London — sponsored by Barclays, Starbucks, Amazon, Vodafone and CMS. Not that there aren’t a lot of genuinely subversive gay / trans men and women out there, of course, outraged by ‘pink washing,’ or that capital doesn’t co-opt truth wherever it appears, but the fact that corporate power is falling over itself to embrace LGBTQ activism (and feminism) shows that vast areas of these movements are now part of the establishment.


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 the loveless cockmind 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 and feeble, 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:

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, first of all is that men’s rights activism is largely based on feeble and futile claims to superior victimhood. We’re the victims here! Secondly, and more seriously, men’s rights activism ignores the same reality as both feminishism and red pill sexism, refusing to see 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.


SOME OBJECTIONS

Feminists, at least feminist women, are very reluctant to debate with me. They tend to vanish quick-sharp. A few women have written to me with objections however. Here’s a selection:

Why are you so down on feminism? Are you a mysognist?

This really is silly, but standard. Criticism of all groups who claim to speak for the general population is taken the same way (criticism of Zionism = anti-semitism, criticism of US government = anti-American, etc). If you criticise one group, in this case feminists, you must, ipso facto, be a) criticising all women everywhere and b) a member of the baddies (boo! sexist!). Nuance cannot be permitted.

But in any case, I’ve explained why I am against feminism above, particularly its latest incarnation; although I should perhaps add that one of my main problems with it is how dull it is. Feminists, like most of the ‘commentariat’ — right and left — are usually middle class types who grow up in middle-class homes, go to a middle-class university, do a bit of middle-class travelling and then come home and get themselves a middle-class job. Their experience of life or love is flickering around zero, which is why they never write meaningfully about these things and focus on a few easily acquired ‘issues’ that they can construct a personality and a series of articles around. How they live (and have lived) is boring and so what they say is boring; in this — most of all in this — they are no different from right-wing fools.

When you have almost no experience of reality — the context — it becomes an active source of anxiety.  This is why many journalists and academics who write about gender are either terrified of unspoken, implicit forms of communication (which depend on the context) or are so feeble, brittle and irresponsible that they must live their sexual lives as a cold particle of frosted glass that can shatter at the first whiff of controversy or initiative (I’d say a ‘snowflake’ — but snowflakes are natural). Such ‘radicals’ depend on institutional authority (the ‘law’) to defend them against a hostile universe. This is why they must broaden the definition of ‘rape’, ‘abuse’, ‘sexism’, ‘hate’, ‘racism’ and so on to encompass, and criminalise, every last particle of psychological difference they encounter, and why they go running to mummy and daddy (the authorities) when they hear a bad word.

I’m also none too impressed with feminist understanding of human nature. Take, as one example, their unhappiness with men — with ‘toxic masculinity’. Okay, men are more violent, correct. That’s bad, correct. Men are also pushier and more aggressive. Right again, and we don’t like that. At the same time some feminists, certainly many women, find that they are attracted (despite themselves) to men who are confident — perhaps even a bit cocky — men who are bold, or who exude authority. This contradiction, or how it can be resolved (how men can ditch their insanity and stay men), receives zero intelligent attention from third-wave feminists, who seek to crush all maleness, good and bad, and leave us with a world of wordy saps. Again, nuance is not permitted.

As for being down on women. Real women, who have character (rather than a predictable handbag of opinions, likes and wants), who are responsible for their actions, who emit mysterious waves of dignity and presence, who are spontaneous — sometimes terrifyingly so — who see straight into the heart of things without needing an ideological prop to do so, who can detect the individual character of other people (other animals, other plants) with miraculous discernment, whose communication — often profound — takes its meaning from the context, who can give as good as they get, who are practical and self-sufficient, who have no interest in achieving as men do (meaning struggling their way back to a state that is already and always available to them, much less clawing their way up the black ladder), who shame me with how much love they have, and playfulness, and inspire me to raise my sordid, serious game — no, I’m no down on those folk.

Feminists are though, I find.

I’d like to know whether you’d be comfortable with a female child (yours, if you have one) hearing words to the effect of your essay.

Yes, of course I would.

Are you really sure that is a harmless thing for a human child to internalise?

Yes, quite sure.

If she, engaged in some kind of high challenge/high skill flow-promoting pursuit (requiring, of course, the traditionally unfeminine qualities of singlemindedness and concentration) — asked you whether or how well a woman can do it, what would you tell her?

Very unlikely to happen, but I’d say pretty well.

You don’t understand what it means to be a woman! You’re a privileged white man.

You’re right I don’t understand, neither do women. Nobody does. Femininity — and the body it is more at one with — is an enigmatic state, a mystery, as is, ultimately, its relation to masculinity — ‘only metaphor can reach for it’.

Feminists who are struggling to manifest their physicality and their sexuality, to explain themselves, to project themselves and to succeed as fighter pilots, academics, corporate journalists, mathematicians and the like — they like to think they understand what it means to be a woman, because, like the insane men they wish to emulate, they are obsessed with thinking. Real women just don’t bother.

This is also why feminists, at least some of the more extreme ones, are all about giving ‘explicit consent’ to sex and why they like to reconfigure any and all unwanted romantic advances as molestation and harassment. They are engaged in the intensely capitalist project of turning reality into an abstract simulacrum; a literal, describable, legal world that they can then appeal to or control.

How would you like it if your daughter were pawed by a creep at work or at school?

I would never send my daughter to school. If she were unlucky enough to ever have to work, and if she were my daughter, she’d have the gumption to deal with the situation effectively. Women are more than capable of reducing ordinary men to rubble, or getting help to do so in serious cases, without resorting to criminalising neutral descriptions of behaviours or falling apart at a seedy look, much less a spontaneous declaration of love.

But molesting a woman is not neutral!

The description is, and all laws are descriptions; they are not the thing described. Confusing the two is is not just an ideological act but a magical one. Putting your hand on a girl’s knee is not inherently wrong, any more than stealing a loaf of bread is. It only becomes wrong (creepy, immoral) in certain kinds of context. In other kinds of context, both are fine. Laws obliterate the good with the bad, so that the law-giver or appealer can benefit… because sooner or later the enemy will slip up and do something right which can be described as wrong. That’s how laws have always worked.

Men, it’s worth remembering, being that they tend to be projective risk-takers inhabiting a manifest, literal ego-world are likely to express their insanity there — in literal speech, obvious gestures, active initiative and so on. And this is all we hear about in the fashionable paps. Female-style shenanigans — far subtler — don’t get anything like the same scrutiny. We hear of male monsters and reptiles, but of the women who sold their souls to join them? Silence. To suggest that women could ever do anything wrong in sexual matters is now deemed to be an apology for rape.

ALL MEN ARE POTENTIAL RAPISTS!

That’s not true. All men are sex obsessed, to an extent that would surprise a lot of women, and unless they can overcome their obsession (constantly thinking about sex, chronic masturbation, addiction to porn, always chasing an ‘ideal’, fixated on depraved substitutes for direct sensuality, etc) they’ll never be happy and will make the women around them unhappy. That’s true, yes, all too true.

But ‘rape’ means to physically force yourself on someone, to violently force them to have sex with you. It does not mean to use your influence, your power or your charisma to wheedle a woman into bed, it does not mean getting a girl drunk and fucking her, it does not mean pawing a woman against her wishes and it does not mean fondling a sleeping woman who you’ve already had sex with. These things can, in certain contexts, be creepy, sleazy or vile — particularly when inexperienced young men and women are sexually coerced — but they are not rape. Making someone uncomfortable is not assault, asking someone out for a date (perhaps even twice!) is not harassment, staring at an arse is not violence. Confusing these things is a mystical conflation of categories, akin to swooning at an incantation.

I find that offensive!

Take the Salem witch trials, set them in a modern university and replace accusations of witchcraft with accusations of hate-speech or perhaps ‘mental illness’. Have young women swooning, weeping, screaming, clawing their faces at your disrespect, abuse and similar magical incantations and you might grasp what ‘I find that offensive’ actually means. It means ‘you are possessed by the devil.’

Oh come on, you’re exaggerating now.

I suggest you read a few more modern feminist books. They are full of accounts of women — privileged women, by the way — falling apart at wolf-whistles, collapsing in art galleries, being crushed by the pervasive miasma of diabolic masculinity. Here’s feminist writer Christina Hoff Sommers on the phenomena;

‘Earlier in this century, many households still had smelling salts on hand in the event that “delicate” women reacted to displays of male vulgarity by fainting. Today, women of delicacy have a new way to demonstrate their exquisitely fragile sensibilities: by explaining to anyone who will listen how they have been blighted and violated by some male’s offensive coarseness. If nothing of a telling nature has recently happened to us, we can tell about how we felt on hearing what happened to others. We faint, “discursively” and publicly, at our humiliations at the hands of men.’

Why do you make a distinction between feminism and feminishism? You seem to be against the lot.

I am. I make the distinction because where I find first and second wave feminism (sometimes called ‘equity feminism’) to be ultimately misguided, for the reasons I have explained, there is clearly a lot of sense in it. If a woman really wants to vote, or to be an arc-welder, then she should be free to do so, obviously. And she should, even more obviously, be free of genuine oppression by men. Going via the law for such matters, attempting to find fulfilment in the market-system, and neglecting love are all catastrophic errors, but I think first-wave feminists would be happy to discuss such matters. They’re basically a reasonable lot.

Third-wave (or ‘gender’) feminists are far from reasonable. Feminishism is on an entirely other planet of misguided, in the hysterical realms of religious mania — as many first and second wavers recognise.

I find it a problem that you portray the ‘love’ & ‘femininity’ as the issues that the ‘gender struggle’ is all about.

Clearly the gender struggle is not about these things. No intelligent discussion of love or femininity ever appears in feminist literature — in the entire canon (feel free to send in some contenders though). When the words are mentioned, it is with outstanding, ludicrous superficiality.

If you mean I believe such matters should be central, then yes I do. Anyone who doesn’t is nuts (certainly unhappy in love).

Why do you make a distinction between ‘male world’ & ‘female world’?

Because men and women are different and — partially — inhabit different worlds. Metaphorically speaking, his world is that of the tool, hers is that of the body. More directly the difference is beyond enigmatic, but real. And thank God it is real. It is only through the meeting of difference, the lived realisation, together, of that which cannot be rationally reconciled, that the genuine miracle of love can occur.

This doesn’t mean that men cannot explore the mystery of their physicality or that women cannot weld tools, but that there is something in the other that is a mystery, and mystery — along with nuance, humour and context — is the enemy of fundamentalist religion, scientism, law, management and feminism.

But you seem to give preference to ‘male world’,

I do nothing of the kind. I make constant reference to the superior intelligence of women throughout my work. This essay mentions that man have to struggle to reach a point that women never leave, makes constant references to the loveless insanity of man and emphasises the superior discernment, consciousness, sensitivity and wisdom of woman.

The reason that a feminist might miss these things is that they give preference to the male world. They tell us, over and over again, how important it is for women to succeed in the male world, how they can do everything a man can do, sweeping aside the universe of truth that lies in the female heart, as well as all those things that only she can do, or be.

It is this kind of rank sexism, the assumption that the explicit, manifest, abstract, systemic world of man is superior to the implicit, occluded, sensuous and mysterious world of woman (and her love) that causes both men and women to denigrate and degrade true femininity. And for what? Social status! Job opportunities! Exposure!

Yes, but you’re saying that a woman’s ‘domain’ is private, secluded, passive, unmanifest — surely this entails a society in which women are holed up in their private homes?

No, it doesn’t. I’m not suggesting any compulsion whatsoever. I’m an anarchist and am against any kind of coercion, unless it be to deprive someone of the power to coerce. As I said, let men and women do as they please — but if they are allowed to do as they please, you’ll see that they gravitate to their own spheres of psychological influence, of genius, and naturally submit to each other’s authority; without any kind of compulsion. I have no idea what this would mean in practice, because life is so diverse and surprising, but I do know that the kinds of success that women currently aspire to — athletic, artistic, political, intellectual, military and so on — once they are not forced or conditioned to enter these entirely — and largely insanely — male spheres for money, power or self-respect, will become less interesting. Men will then do saner versions of these things, women will do sane versions of the things they love, their domains will blend and overlap, as the yin-yang symbol I’ve evoked in this essay does, but there will be widespread masculinity and femininity, in feeling, thought and deed. 

But how are we women supposed to reach such a state? How can we reject this male world? There is no other!

There is always independence.

In Holland I am being payed less then a man, for the same job. As a mother, I am NOT getting any support from the society, ‘women in positions of influence’ is NOT true in: governments, banks, big factories, board of directors of anything, conference speakers.…

I know for wealthy middle-class types that a few extra money-credits and not getting access to the top jobs is all a terribly big deal. Other people have more consequential matters to attend to.

So you’re saying that if only women would stick to what they are good at (love), men will stop oppressing them, and will learn from them that ‘love’ is more  important then possessions, fame, competition… and will start sharing with their loved ones… 

Yes, that is what I am saying. If women were courageous about what they knew in love men would be forced to bend to their superior intelligence. As it is women gad about in the political arena, protesting and writing feminist screeds and whatnot, and they compromise over and over and over and over and OVER again in love. They let men off the hook and, in taking the battle to his world they lose the only thing they’ve got to lose.

Actually even that is not lost, not really, but you wouldn’t know it from encounters with feminists, particularly the third-wave kind.

Feminism, all feminism, is really just a cry for love, the extraordinary love of a real man, but that cry cannot be heard, even by those who make it.


A FEW REFERENCES

Women’s Lives in Medieval Europe — Emilie Amt

Routledge Women and Gender in Medieval Europe, An Encyclopedia (2006)

Gender — Ivan Illich

The Creation of Patriarchy — Gerda Lerner

Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson — Camille Paglia

The Second Sex — Simone de Beauvoir

One Dimensional Woman — Nina Power

The Female Eunuch — Germaine Greer

The Beauty Myth — Naomi Wolf

Unspeakable Things — Laurie Penny

Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Behind Sex Differences — Cordelia Fine

Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women — Christina Hoff Sommers

The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Hunters and Gatherers

A Companion to Gender Prehistory — Diane Bolger

Male Homosexual Preference: Where, When, Why? — Julien Barthes et al.,

Ecological and Psychosocial Correlates of Male Homosexuality —  N. Barber

Homosexual Love — Edward Westermarck

Brain Gender — Melissa Hines

The Essential Difference: Men, Women and the Extreme Male Brain — Simon Baron Cohen

Evidence supporting the biologic nature of gender identity — Saraswat et. al

A meta-analysis of sex differences in human brain structure — Amber Ruigrok et al.

Making Love — Barry Long


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.’