Summary: Let’s pause in this series about the gender wars to see the big picture. The gender wars have casualties, men and women with varying degrees of damage. Here we look at the rising number of people alienated from our culture – potential recruits for new movements that emerge from the void. (Revised and expanded from 2015.)
A vignette of modern young women in action
We pride ourselves on being free (more or less) of the hypocrisy and masks that people were forced to wear in the past. While perhaps true for a moment after the 1960’s, feminism has again made false fronts a requirement for polite society.
Last year I was at casual mixer in Silicon Valley in a room with no chairs. We had heard brief presentations by the corporate sponsors, followed by pizza and beer. A stunning blonde woman, mid-20’s, stood amidst a group of guys orbiting her like bugs about a porch light. Two hard-core techies talk to each other, over our heads. She attempts to get a word in edgewise. They trample over her words, ignoring her.
After they run down, I congratulate her as the hero of the evening: she stood for two hours in four inch heels. She replies “Ooh, I never wear heels, but just felt like it today.” We all nod pleasantly at that unlikely story.
Later I gave my pitch about the shortage of marketing ideas on the cutting edge of high-tech fields. I end with my big close. Imagine you are in an elevator with a senior executive of your best prospect. What do you say? I find most people in tech — even salespeople — don’t have an “elevator pitch” (you win if the exec wants to hear more about your firm or product when the door opens). Instead they spout technobabble. The woman gave first the first and best response. She laughed and says “I will just flip my hair and smile. That’s how I beat my quota last year by a million dollars.” She flips her hair and smiles. It is enchanting.
She then realizes her sin, and throws smoke in defense. “Oh, I don’t really do that. It wouldn’t work.” We all nod and smile, as if we believe either of those sentences.
Now, of course, any guy asking her out for drinks after experiencing her flirting risks an accusation of harassment (unless she finds him sufficiently alpha).
Mixed messages from actress Jennette McCurdy.
Other stories from our America
For 15 years I was an adult leader of Boy Scouts. During those years many dads told me about their children. Never did I hear a dad speak more highly of his daughter than when saying she was a “tomboy” (or something similar, such as doing activities usually associated with boys).
Similarly, modern films and TV tend to give the most positive portrayals of young women who display traditional male behaviors. Women who in these who like traditional female roles are “woken” in the plot.
How prevalent is this behavior by dads? How do young women react to this? How much does this damage the self-esteem of women who traditional women’s roles? Might this contribute to the high levels of depression and eating disorders in girls (see this summary, and this list of studies).
Young men, too
It’s not just women. Men that show an interest in young women are sometimes told by women that this is “pervy”, especially when there are age differences (despite having husbands 7 to 10 years older was once commonplace). Men physically attracted by girls in the late teens – post-pubescent, their physical sexual cues at peak levels – are called “perverts.”
These are all common tropes in films and TV shows, the stage on which we see the great and wise of Hollywood instruct us on proper behavior. For example, on NCIS Los Angeles Kensi often describes Deeks as a pervert for looking at or chasing women. Now the #meTOO movement is further broadening the definition of harassment, narrowing the range of acceptable approaches by men to women (sometimes requiring telepathy, since men must know in advance how women will respond).
This combines oddly with the hook-ups and sequential affairs that replace trust and intimacy in the lives of young people. See the stories in Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage, and Monogamy by Mark Regnerus (assoc. prof of sociology, U Texas-Austin). The new social regime does not work well for many women. Time will tell how well it works for men. Will cheap and easy sex (for those that master the new rules) compensate for the frustration of men’s sense of possessiveness?
In another decade the behavior codes for relations between the genders will makes the Victorians look like wild hippies by comparison.
I see these stories played out all around us. Our natural selves are politically incorrect. So we watch what we say, what we look at, and even what we think. All this moves us away from our true selves. We become alienated from ourselves by our society, and forced to present false facades to each other. We develop something like the class-based “false consciousness” described by Marxists. These fragment our concentration and sap our energy.
Some degree of alienation is part of the human condition, but I suspect the degree of alienation today is unusually high. This is odd given our society’s emphasis on being natural, and authenticity.
“Nothing is written.”
— Lawrence of Arabia, in the 1962 film
The immediate political implications are obvious. People alienated from their true natures, are weak. Their leaders easily manipulate them. But over the longer term? Social change is never linear. There is always a counter-revolution (see here and here). We do not like our new society, we probably cannot go back — but we can go forward. There are new values and new ways of life. We need only find them and make them ours.
“The world revolves around the creators of new ideas, revolves silently.”
— Nietzsche in Thus Spoke Zarathustra.
For More Information
- Diagnosing the Eagle: Alienation.
- The bitter fruits of our alienation from America.
- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is the secret life of many Americans.
- A brief guide to the new war of the sexes. Both sides are 100% right.
- The Left helps bring us Weimerica, the prelude to big changes.
- Classic films show what marriage was. Facts show its death.
- The coming crash as men and women go their own way.
Books to help us understand the gender revolution
The Privileged Sex by Martin van Creveld.
Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage, and Monogamy by Mark Regnerus (2017). See Cheap Sex is the Inconvenient Truth in the end of marriage. and Misadventures of a young woman in modern America.