No day is safe from news of you
Walking about in Africa maybe, thinking of me
The Rival, Slyvia Plath
In 2014, relations between men and women are little more than a smoldering, ashen trainwreck of a failed social experiment. What began as an unhealthy society has slipped and skidded down a mine shaft of sheer insanity. As much physical harm and frothing vitriol second-wave feminism has engendered, the roots of sexual disaffection between men and women can be carefully traced from the inception of America to the modern day and involves far more than feminism.
America was birthed at the hands of a subset of Christians known as Puritans. Seeking to escape theistic persecution in England, they crossed the Atlantic and settled in what is now Massachusetts. The Puritans were by all accounts a hardy, self-reliant and stoic group of men and women. However, history remembers them as an extremely rigid society based out of extreme psychological repression, using deep religiosity as a mask for dark impulses lurking underneath the veneer of social propriety. This repression is often well-represented by religious movements and similar left-wing movements such as feminism and Atheism+. However, this puritanical repression is clinically known as obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.
OCPD, at its beating heart, is based out of a fear of internal chaos. Instead of mastering all the anti-social impulses that any human has in their life, they run away from them, burying those impulses as deep as they can with work, perfectionism and, often, religion. Like I previously observed, these people are hard-working folk, reliable and usually upstanding citizens of their respective communities. However, this behavior is resultant of repressing fear, anger and other anti-social feelings. They place a preeminent importance on adherence to the rules of society, as their precarious identities hinge on rigidly adhering to them. They love punishment, abhor rehabilitation and generally seek to avoid “sinning” so they can feel free to judge others in the first instance.
This is the psychological posture of early America. Americans saw the expansive wilderness filled with foreign people as the physical manifestation of their internal conflict: that civilizing the rest of the world is up to them – they will set up a society with rigid rules that will ensure nobody sins and everybody lives life in strict accordance with their distinct flavor of Christian doctrine. They saw both a terrifying world teeming with unpredictable forces but also a righteous challenge. Thus, they set out to create their “Shining City On A Hill.”
While the nastiest manifestations of this were manifest in the Salem Witch Trials, slowly but surely this mindset began to weaken. As America grew and expanded from a predominately agrarian one into an increasingly urban one, the ruling elites pondered and enacted sweeping changes to society that would ultimately lead to the complete degeneration of sex relations.
Traditionally, the transmission of culture, religion and socialization of a child was done by families. Men would have their growing boys toil alongside them mending fences and tending to fields, girls would churn butter with their mothers and learn to sew and cook. Ignore the odiously ignorant painting of sex relations by feminists: in this setup of rigid sex roles, America was most peaceful.
This social setup was tolerable and peaceful enough primarily because of the palliative effects of marriage and chivalry. When men and women engage each other most as sexual partners, tasked with the sacred duty of raising children and preserving the marriage bond, society is stable. However, when men and women engage each other as economic, social and political rivals, the necessarily fragile and intricate relations between men and women fray. However, it isn’t just the primacy of marriage bonds between the sexes, but also chivalry.
Chivalry, as a concept, exists in every society in the world. It often takes many different forms, complete with different social roles and conventions, but it is always based on a sex-based duty of men to women. To the trained eye, it is borne out of sex-based paternalism, but the feminist analysis leaves out 50% of the equation: the concept of female privilege.
American chivalry exalted the woman as a mother and a wife, her virginity prized more than any other aspect of her personhood. Yes, youth, looks and feminine domesticity were important, but the deep repression of sexuality catapulted the value of a woman’s hymen to stratospheric proportions. Women were regarded as superior caretakers of homesteads, caretakers of youth and better curators of civilized communities. Women enjoyed primacy as men’s moral superiors, while men claimed to be women’s intellectual and political superiors. Whether this is true or not is irrelevant, as this simply was the mindset of America.
The adoring valuation of women as ladies had a dark counterpart in the ruthless devaluation of women who refused to conform to said norms. When women complained of violence towards them as women who refused to conform to the prevailing sex roles, they weren’t actually talking about actual violence, they were talking about the brutal repression of sexuality in America. They could sense the repressed violence that men wanted to act out, but the surprise and revulsion against actual acts confirms they implicitly understand it will not be acted out.
Still, the greatest supporters of this social system was other women. Women having sex outside a martial contract with God and engaging in acts like drinking publicly or refusing marriage outright was supremely offensive to the average American female. The fear they wanted those things too drove women to be the harshest enforcers of this social order. To this day, man don’t need to lift one finger or send a Tweet at a woman, this social order is completely upheld and enforced by other women.
However, this social contract is based out the family and local community being the primary or sole curators of this social order. Starting in the Gilded Era, the ruling liberal elites, looking to dismantle what they perceived as the inherent backwardness of the self-dealing family and primacy of religion over education, began to toy with ways of dismantling what they would eventual label “Christian patriarchy.” This was never done with the best interests of the lower classes at heart: it was based out of finding ways of exploiting the lower classes so they could better fit with progressive desires for society. They first targeted blacks, Irish and Italian folk as needing remedial assistance to shore up what they perceived as deficient cultural practices.
Relying on ethnic and class prejudice, they convinced the public that these people needed an expanded educational system that did more than teach reading, writing and arithmetic—with one that educated the whole person. They created the juvenile justice system, relying on extreme cases of bad parenting to slowly bring children as a class primarily under the care of the state instead of the parents. Liberal elites in emerging fields like psychiatry and sociology began to expound theories of how the state and private experts could better teach children and educate parents on the art of parenting. The rapidly expanding scope of government and corporate power coincided with expanding urban areas.
Eventually, they brought every class in America under the tutelage and purview of learned elites and technocrats and used the criminal justice system, family services and educational system to disempower parents. Instead of parents shielding children from the crushing power of the state, children were shielded from the love of parents. Liberal elites may have been exploitative and possessed a critical level of prudence, but they were not unintelligent. As early as the 1910’s, they began to notice that their reforms were not having a positive effect, but were simultaneously creating great levels of anxiety in parents that resulted in children with great levels of anxiety. Freud penned his essay “On Narcissism” in 1914, as he noted shifts in the psyche of patients who presented themselves at his practice; by 1976 Sheldon Bach observed:
You used to see people coming in with hand-washing compulsions, phobias and familiar neuroses…now you mostly see narcissists.
The absolute degradation of the American family at the hands of liberals had a predictable effect on women: they were the first to reject marriage. “New Women” in the Gilded Age rejected motherhood and marriage, flappers in the 1920’s flaunted their curves in public and would shamelessly flirt with men in public. The carefully proscribed relations between men and women had begun to crumble as the state and elites began to pick away at an institution they did not understand. As women became worse mothers and fathers worked away from home at factories or as businessmen, the American woman justifiably became terrified of motherhood and wifehood, as she could not draw on positive experiences of her mother as a youth. These weakened links between love, marriage and childrearing birthed the “Sexual Revolution.” Women sought to extricate themselves from the bondage of commitment and children.
Yet, that is only half the picture. As chivalry began its slow death, the curtains were raised on the resentment between men and women. Women resented being placed on the pedestal of masculine adoration. They resented the rigidity of sex roles based not on the needs of men and women, but on the sick repression of anti-sociality, specifically male anti-social behavior. This class resentment was exploited for economic gain by corporations and government.For example, marketers shamelessly targeted flappers in the 1920’s to smoke cigarettes, framing it as liberating from male influence. It was further exploited for economic gain as women were eventually turned into tax-paying capitalists, with elites hijacking second-wave feminism. The uncontrollable rage of those feminists—ironically highlighting the worst stereotypes of women as shrewish victims—was sublimated by corporations and the elites and shunted women into roles of wage-earners. Why work with a man as a wife when you can work for The Man?
The combination of women pursuing what amounted to middle-class wages and rejecting the framework of marriage and love based on socially destroyed notions of chivalry, men and women were brought into direct class conflict. Conflict in the workplace, in bars and clubs and in the shams of relationships they would be compelled by human biology and psychology to form. The ratcheting up of demands by women on men highlighted the emergent narcissism: the ridiculously heightened expectations of the opposite sex while leaving space to blame men for their failings to meet their standards. What was once the gingerly tended to sex roles based on mutual dependence, chivalry and primacy of the family was drug down the rabbit hole into sexual Hell of social narcissism.
The tenuous but stable fiction of American sex relations was eventually exposed as a fiction. Not a fiction of biology, but psychology. The unraveling of relations between men and women were heralded by progressive elites, only to see it turn from sexual rancor into pure, blind rage. The fumbling attempts to put the sexual Humpty Dumpty back onto the wall of mutual dependence, chivalry and sex roles was embodied by the consequent actions of liberals to try to turn the twisted trainwreck of sex relations into more than what it would become.
In the movie Beetlejuice, the character of Otho finds a book called The Handbook For The Recently Deceased. By finding this, he confirms his suspicions that the house is haunted and he can profit from it. He skims through the book, finding out a way to summon the ghosts of a house, involving the procuring of the garments that the two married people wore to their wedding. He thinks he has hit the money jackpot, as he thinks he can reliably sell the house as being haunted. What Otho and the erstwhile investors don’t know is that through Otho is really performing an exorcism; his fiscal lust and arrogance have blinded him from realizing that.
He lays out the deceased woman’s wedding dress and the man’s tuxedo on the lengthy dining room table. He brings prospective investors to the haunted house round the table, with them clasping hands as they all channel their energy into the summoning. Otho beams with pride as the bride’s white dress is filled with the corporeal form of the dead wife; the eyes of the potential investors sparkle as the tuxedo of the dead husband is filled with the form of a man.
The pride and bedazzlement is short lived, as the two star-crossed lovers age quickly and badly. They quickly grasp their hands together, looking into each other’s eyes, searching for a love that is soon to die. The youthful pull of their hands turns to the brittle grasp of aging fingers, the firmness of their original grasp turning to dust scattering about on the table. They reach out to each other’s faces, his ossifying hand embracing the line of her jaw before disintegrating into nothingness. Their eyes gaze longingly at each, as the rapidly increasing chasm of reality separates the two.
The investors, formerly stunned and impressed, begin to demand that Otho right this situation. Otho hurriedly flips through the manual. He realizes that he has no idea what he has wrought. He was so preoccupied with what he thought was simultaneously so self-evident and fiscally appropriate that he ignored all else. As he impotently flicks through the book, all he has to say to his most important investor is:
It’s too late, Charles. I’m sorry.
This scene from Beetlejuice is an allegory for what relations between men and women have become. What started with a sense of duty and love towards the other sex became a sex war started by elites who viewed sex relations as something to be used for pecuniary gain. It was based out of ignorance of human psychology that prioritized not just fiscal gain, but illusions of social progression. Elites watched as their subjects became objects who shrunk from one another. Endeavors to ameliorate the situation by definition could not work because the framework embodied by the situation needed to be jettisoned, not engaged in. They locked themselves into a situation which necessarily lead to the destruction of the prevailing social fabric.
In their ignorance of humanity and puritanical psychology, they pushed across America’s Rubicon. They pushed into territories where no man should deign to go. Intelligence often devolves into arrogance and, as Otho did, American liberals thought they knew more than they did. They bit off a mighty powerful bit of psychology, only to find a Cujo-like beast behind it that was no match for any salve they could toss at it.
The space that sexual puritanism occupied—along with its concurrent approaches of mutual dependency, chivalry and sex roles—was blasted apart and replaced with nothing that could defend against what lay beneath. All that was left was pure exploitation of the wasteland that developed.
And, maybe, an apology.
An apology that could never amount to more than the mindless flicking through of a discredited Bible. An apology that could never be sincere. An apology that could only truly lie to itself about what it means.
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