The essential patriarch

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In the wake of revelations — not that it was any surprise to those of us paying attention — that the Breitbart Empire has long been working in close collaboration with out-and-out neo-Nazis, I am once again, as I am frequently, drawn back to this essay about the online subcultures of young men who particularly via Gamergate have helped drive us steadily to a bad political juncture.

To the deplorables, whose central complaint is one of masculine frailty, pride, and failure — to deny their identities as men is to deny their complaint. They are a group who define themselves by their powerlessness, by being trapped into defeat. But if they are to accept the left’s viewpoint, they must accept that the problem at core of their being is all in their heads. That is to say, the left’s viewpoint of sexual-difference-as-illusion is exactly what they don’t want to hear — that they have cornered themselves into their mother’s basements.

The left does more than simply declare their opposing viewpoint wrong, the radical idea of sex/gender-as-illusion denies their viewpoint an existence. To the left, a complaint stemming from being a man is null space, lying outside the realm of what it will acknowledge as true.

The irony here, of course, is the radical idea of sexual-difference-as-illusion is meant to solve the deplorables’ problem. It was created to liberate those who are oppressed by the concept of sexual difference by dispelling it as a cloud of pure ideas. But to these powerless men, it’s as if the left were addressing their issue by saying in an Orwellian manner, “There’s no such thing as your problem! Problem solved!”

Here the notion of sexual-difference-as-illusion is not performing the work it was built to do, rather the opposite. Ironically, it works to convince alienated men that sex/gender has marked them as a unique sort of outsider/failures, who cannot be accepted even into the multicultural coalitions that define themselves by their capacity for acceptance. In this way, 4chan’s virulent hatred of gender-bending “safe spaces”, though not justified, makes at least a perverse sort of sense, one tangled in wounded masculine pride.

The whole thing is very much worth reading, but central to it is the sense of sexual failure and the fundamental ego wound that comes from it. As the article says, these angry young men aren’t interested in being told that their sexual anxiety is merely the result of a patriarchal outlook of which they just need to let go. It’s not merely a matter of not being able to satisfy an urge, it is a very deep ego wound that to them reflects a failure in life that cannot be turned aside by sublimation into another source of ego satisfaction. We can’t all be career artists or scientists or famous gardeners… The number of people, male or female, who really don’t care about this, while a lot more than zero, is nevertheless very small.

The problem is, the implicit demand made — validation from women via sexual availability — can ultimately only be guaranteed by restricting women’s choices, i.e., by reasserting and reinforcing patriarchy. A common “Patriarchy Hurts Men Too” analysis is that patriarchy means that men’s relationships with women are inauthentic and not based on real feeling, because there is a gendered difference in the degree of coercion required to put these relationships together. But for these men, this is not a problem: half a loaf is better than none, better a woman socially coerced into having sex with him, bearing his children, and validating his ego, than nothing at all — the knowledge that their problems are viewed as a form of unjustified entitlement, and no one is coming to relieve them of it as they seem to be so enthusiastically for black people, for gays, for women … opens the space for the destructive political anomie and ultimate fascist tendency of the Pepe-poster and Kek-worshipper.

A subset of second-wave radical feminism, the one most associated with lesbian separatism, basically made the case that patriarchy was essential to the male being, because maleness had an implicit demand in it, from the very mechanics of sexual reproduction, on the physical space of the female, and consequently, the only way women could be free of patriarchy was to free themselves from men full-stop. (This version of radical feminism actually had until recently a robust internet presence until it apparently consumed itself in its own ambivalence over the phenomenon of trans liberation.) And indeed, this expression of patriarchy proves itself again and again the door through which war and genocide pass in modern society — seeing once again as it is Gamergate that provides one of the major openings through which Breitbartism enters the mainstream.

The fact that apparently this cannot be turned aside by an appeal to reconstruct masculinity — because its objects reject the call as inauthentic to their own feelings — presents a dismal and pessimistic prospect indeed. Since the demand to restrict women choices so that they can have a bed partner cannot be in any way ethically satisfied, and since the dissolution of gender also cannot offer them the guarantee they demand, it means that there will always be a door through which patriarchally-induced fascism may pass. It means that fascism is the result of a possibly inherent consequence of reproductive maleness. Perhaps the post-patriarchal utopia will only be achieved when humans evolve natural parthenogenesis…

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This page contains a single entry by Mandos published on October 8, 2017 7:56 AM.

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