No Help For the Meek

No amount of preaching can fix this.

No amount of preaching can fix this.

Yesterday, as we were driving around, (I took the laptop and wrote. Weird way to break a minor block, but it did.) Dan was telling me about this book he was reading and how the female main character of the book is always blaming herself for the bad actions of other people.

And he said “I thought that if it didn’t do anything else, feminism would make women realize they didn’t have to be doormats.”

And suddenly I had a blinding insight.

It ties in with the “Laws aren’t magic” post from last week.

What do laws against striking children do? They curb the swat to the butt parents who would have stopped children getting into dangerous/difficult situations that way. The parents who stop after a swat. The ones who train their kids into not doing crazy things before they’re five, so that there’s a lot less involved in watching/overseeing them and they’re more pleasant at that age.

Does it do anything to stop the “Beat him till he stops moving” parents? I don’t know. I know I read about as many horrible cases in local news. And psychologically I doubt it would stop them. Beating your child to a harmful extent has ALWAYS been forbidden. If they’re willing to do that, they’re not law abiding people.

This is the same as with guns. Forbid gun ownership and the only people who will own guns are those who don’t give a hang about laws, and therefore the community will be less safe.

I was thinking about this and realized it’s the same with feminism.

Feminism doesn’t stop women who are by nature subservient or by nature self-blamers from being subservient and self-blamers. This, btw, whatever the feminists tell you about patriarchy and the evils of capitalism, is not a characteristic of women alone. Some men are also subservient and self-blamers.

In the self-blaming part, particularly, I come from a long line of men who, like Atlas, tried to lift the world on their shoulders and blamed themselves for failing.

It’s what Heinlein calls the Fallen Caryatid.

This poor little caryatid has fallen under the load. She’s a good girl—look at her face. Serious, unhappy at her failure, not blaming anyone, not even the gods…and still trying to shoulder her load, after she’s crumpled under it.

But she’s more than just good art denouncing bad art; she’s a symbol for every woman who ever shouldered a load too heavy. But not alone women—this symbol means every man and woman who ever sweated out life in uncomplaining fortitude until they crumpled under their loads. It’s courage…and victory.

Victory in defeat, there is none higher. She didn’t give up…she’s still trying to lift that stone after it has crushed her…she’s all the unsung heroes who couldn’t make it but never quit.
~ Robert A. Heinlein,
Stranger in a Strange Land

Both men and women have this type of personality. I catch glimpses of it in myself. I know my dad has it. I know his mother had it. My older son, though he doesn’t look it, is the caryatid, and blames himself when he falls under the load. (As well as lifting a load no one would expect a human being to bear.) His brother is going that way too.

Now, this is not being a doormat, but the feminists of today would have trouble realizing that. They think a woman doing anything for men is “subservient.”

And this brings us to what is wrong with “feminism teaching women not to be doormats.” You can’t – no matter how much you preach at them – change a person’s whole personality by telling them to stand up for themselves and not be doormats. That’s not how humans work.

I know that I have certain personality traits I abhor (mostly the depressive tendency) but yelling at myself only makes me unhappy. It doesn’t change my personality.

As for subservient, my maternal grandmother was one of those gentle and helpless women. You know “her voice was ever soft” types. She didn’t curse, she didn’t raise her voice, she didn’t stand up for herself.

Was that because she’d been crushed early and told to be subservient? I doubt it. As far as I could tell, she came from two very gentle people and a very happy marriage. Unfortunately for her the man she married was not gentle and her marriage was not happy. She tried to do what she could around the edges, including various under-the-table jobs as he wasted his inheritance, but she couldn’t stand up to him, because she simply wasn’t built that way.

Only one of her children, a son, took after her in temperament. I loved my uncle, but he had all the force of a wet towel.

If she COULD have stood up to my beloved – and quite insane – grandfather, she would have. She loved her children and hated seeing them growing up in abject poverty. Her parents told her that her marriage was not working right, that she needed to stand up for herself.

But she couldn’t.

Yes, in modern days, she might have been persuaded to leave him. (Hard to tell. She had the stubbornness of the gentle and weirdly she always loved him.) BUT if she had and had fallen for another man who wasn’t as quiet and gentle as her parents, she would have the same exact issue. Her brother had the same issue, having fallen for an ungentle woman.

People are people. It’s not a “patriarchal plot” – some personalities simply aren’t dominant.

So what does the – current – feminist preaching that it’s always the woman’s fault and that no woman should ever listen to a man, and that every woman should have the upper hand in a relationship do for the meek and the mild?

Nothing. They are who they are. Only now to the long list of things they can’t change about themselves is the guilt that they can’t change who they are and take the upper hand which everyone from kindergarten on tells them they’re supposed to. It crushes them under the certainty that they’re weak and there’s something “wrong with them.”

Whom does this preaching empower? Women who would have the upper hand anyway, and who now seize this philosophy of “woman empowerment” to run roughshod over men and boys and to blame them for every failure/wrong in their lives.

No wonder the feminist movement turned bitter and into androphobia. The people it empowers are the ones who would have ruled the roost anyway, but who now seize on this as an excuse to crush both men and the meek, mild women underfoot.

Understand I’m not saying that there is no point to abused women’s shelters, or to trying to get people (men or women) out of bad situations. There is. I approve of this effort. Grandma might not have stayed away, but having people on her corner might have kept her from suffering as much as she did under her husband’s despotic rule.

What I’m saying is that preaching at her that she should “rule the family” and bring her brilliant, rakish, erratic and violent husband to heel would do nothing. She’d just have sighed and said “I know.” And felt even more guilty.

My other grandmother – my beloved paternal grandmother – if she had been less of a caretaker, would OTOH have seized on such instruction to become a tyrant. (She was in a way, her rule only moderated by her CARING for others.)

These philosophies; these injuctions that tell people how the genders would relate in an ideal world, (or the classes, or the income levels, or the … whatever) in the end only oppress the oppressed.

It’s all very well for the feminists to turn on women who aren’t “with the program” but it changes nothing, except add a layer of feminist bullying to the lives of the meek and the mild and those Fallen Caryatids (female AND male) already lifting too heavy a load.

We don’t need no (re) education. We don’t need no thought control.

We need help for those men and women who are likely to let themselves be crushed underfoot. Real help of the “here, let me lift the load a moment.” And laws that help the meek and mild save something from the bonfire of crazy spouses/family/mates.

What we don’t need is the opposite of what old charity missions used to do. All sermon, no help.



58 responses to “No Help For the Meek

  1. Ultimately the only cure is love and discernment. Good luck trying to translate that into public policy under any governing system there is.

  2. Common sense is a beautiful thing. Thank you Sarah.

    • its also an uncommon thing….

      • Common sense is quite common, if a person is given a chance to make and learn from mistakes.

        Until then… well, any never-burned baby put near a flame is going to make straight for it, because it’s pretty, shiny, and it moves. Once they get burned, they figure out pretty fast that it’s pretty, shiny, moves, and HURTS.

        Unfortunately, for common sense to kick in, you have to let youngsters fall out of trees, get in fights, skin up their knees and bloody their noses, get burned, break a window or two, and go roaming out of your sight where they might get stung, bitten, or a bone broken. And you have to enforce the idea that Actions have Consequences. Which is, like life, unfair but true.

        • Of course, if you have common sense then you’ll start thinking things like government is just as susceptible to corruption and abuse of power as any other human endeavor, but lacks the corrective influence of the market; or that if we keep robbing Peter to pay Paul, Peter will eventually leave or run out of money. And once you start thinking like that you won’t vote for the people whoa really better than you (just ask them).

      • So rare, it’s a gdm super-power!

        • I always wondered why they call it common sense when it’s not terribly common. Was there ever a time when sense existed in greater abundance?

          • I’ve sometimes interpreted it to refer to class, rather than frequency. That is, the sort of sense that the working man is likely to have, and which the stuffed shirts often lack. Or, in other words, there are some ideas so stupid it takes an aristo to believe them.

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              That is my preferred explanation. Those who learn quickly that if they don’t work, if or if they break the likes of the wooden shovel, and can’t work as well, they starve. Then there are those for whom things are toys, not tools, and can grow up carelessly breaking things without starving.

            • Ahem…the Good Idea Fairy can strike any of us if we let our guard down. But, in general, yeah, you’re right.

          • I recommend C. S. Lewis’s Studies in Words for that. Has an entire chapter on sense, including common.

            Which happens to be our Book of the Month. 0:)

          • CombatMissionary

            Yes. When we, in all our brilliance, hadn’t disabled Darwinism.
            EVIL still abounded, but common sense, too.

        • CombatMissionary

          Adding this one to the library!

      • I just read a newspaper story, and the comments to it, of how pain medication is handled in Finland for terminal patients.

        Seems it’s often handled very badly. Doctors don’t give enough meds to handle the pain.

        Because heavy medication can cause dependency.

        We are talking about terminal patients. People who are dying, and will die, in the near future.

        Right. Common sense. People talk about it.

        • That’s often the method for the U.S., too. And while I emphatically do not agree with the assisted suicide folk, I too think it’s stupid to not give terminal patients enough meds because they could overdose and kill themselves, intentionally or accidentally. Let someone die pain-free, if that’s their will; don’t make them suffer because they *might* die sooner.

  3. As for helping those that won’t shout for themselves – Hey! Did you know Our Hostess is in an anthology that just came out?

    The Baen Big Book Of Monsters!

  4. We need to help the meek; instead we just make those who are strong but control it into victims. 😦

    • No, what we are doing is allowing a certain subset of the strong to appropriate the cloak of victimhood, milk society for all the sympathy it will bear, and thus cheat the deserving meek true victims of the help they should be receiving.

  5. In Game of Thrones Martin depicts several kinds of womanly failure, most particularly Cersei Lannister and Lysa Arryn. In the latter we see the subservient mother, subsuming herself while smothering her child. In the former we see the commanding woman representing modern feminism, aping male strength without understanding it nor her own strength. Both are ultimately self-destructive. Neither particularly strikes me as a character I would expect to see in a leading role in one of Sarah’s books.

    Similarly, it struck me the other day that the reason girls are often criticised as “bossy” is, well, because they are. They are not commanding, they are not leading, they are assuming the role of “mother” without having earned it, like children playing dress-up in mother’s clothes they have attempted to don Momma’s persona and it just don’t fit. They have not earned the authority they are trying to exercise and feminist efforts to ban “bossy” does not change that one whit.

    As an employee and as a manager I have learned that everybody brings certain skill sets to the task and success requires matching those skills to the task requirements. There is no cause for shame to lack certain skills, only for denying their absence and failing to adjust accordingly. Blaming people for not having the skill set you want is a way of denying your error in putting them in positions for which they are unsuited.

    • N.B. — Martin also depicts multiple forms of manly failure, most notably in Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon. In fact, pretty much every character depicted thus far is a demonstration of one kind or another of failure. That is why I suspect the series will prove in the end to be naught more than grey goo.

      As to my second point, about fitting people to tasks for which they own suitable skills, all that came to mind as I wrote it were sports analogies which seemed ill-suited to this audience. With the relief of having posted, two apt analogies come to mind. One, do not set a cat to doing a dog’s job, not vice-versa. Two, some authors are natural short story writers, some are more comfortable with novels. Trying to make a short story into a novel or cram a novel into a short story tends to make a hash of it either way.

      • I’m just curious: what form of male failure would you say Ned Stark exhibits?

        • !@#! BROWSER FAIL! Lost answer and I dislike attempting to rephrase.

          Ned Stark practiced virtue and honour in a world which valued neither, He trusted unwisely and relied on the integrity of those who had none. He failed to protect his family from the dangers to which his choices exposed them.

          His eldest son suffered the same flaw.

          His murder (or whatever it is when the crown condemns) is one of the most important signals of what kind of world Martin is spinnng, and is a main reason I suspect the series will end in grey goo.

          • Beloved Spouse advise me Ned’s flaw is naivete. Brienne of Tarth also suffers that flaw.

            So does any reader looking for joy in those books.

            • One of my quibbles with Martin is that a man of Ned’s station and experience should not be that naive, and like you, I expect that series to turn to mush. I count myself fortunate that I stopped after the first.

  6. One thing I have learned through several failed relationships and a failed marriage is you can’t save anyone except maybe yourself. If you come upon someone wallowing in misery, they are probably going to just pull you in with them.

    That said, there is a big difference between helping someone help themselves and “saving” someone.

  7. It’s the meek who resent the big bad world and how it doesn’t match what they want it to be that frost me. They are the ones making the rules like “spanking is abuse”, because it is Too Hard(tm) to admit that we can’t make a simple, easy-to-apply, one-size-fits-all rule that will prevent abuse and still allow discipline. It is completely possible to abuse a child to death without laying a hand on them. It is also possible to spank without turning them into serial killers.

    Same thing with the “zero tolerance” weapons rules. A finger gun and saying “pew pew” is a summoning of the Platonic Ideal of a gun, because making decisions on a case-by-case basis is Too Hard (or will provoke lawsuits by offended Militant Meeks.)

    Dunno what the solution is. But when I am Supreme Overlord, a hard wind is gonna blow. Because I was spanked as a child! (*And* I deserved it. The miracle is I wasn’t throttled or left on a very distant doorstep. Those maternal hormones are more powerful than heroin, evidently…)

    • When I’m supreme overlord I’m going to get us rid of all but the most basic rules.

      I was ROUTINELY threatened with Our Lady of Perpetual Purgatory. If I was bad enough, my valises would be packed. This curbed SOMEWHAT my tendency to go wandering about without telling anyone.
      Didn’t do anything for my tendency to shoot out windows with various improvised weapons through.

      • You were keeping the tigers and monsters away. And were you thanked for this noble service? No, you were not. UNFAIR!

    • I think of some of those as the faux-meek (kinda like fake mink and about as valuable, but anyway). They’re poor widdle dears who just want to make the world a safer place *tear-filled anime eyes here* by using “meekness” as a weapon. I’ve crossed paths with one or two. Yuck.

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      For some reason, the freak-outs about finger guns makes me think of the Original Trek episode “I, Mudd”, where the crew, while trying to drive the androids nuts, pretend to shoot Scotty with their fingers. Maybe we need to all make finger guns as much as possible, to drive the Left nuts.

    • CombatMissionary

      Those are the passively-aggressive evil (politicians).

  8. “run roughshod over men and boys and to blame them for every failure/wrong in their lives.”

    Not just their lives, but *the world*

  9. A law that will not stop a sociopath but will dissuade a decent person from productive action is probably a bad law.

  10. I tend to be one of those people that ends up in charge (which is proof that Himself has a strange sense of humor, but anyway). I had a neighbor at Flat State who was one of the meek, and I work with a musician who is rather meek. And there are times I had/have to resist the urge to shake them and say “Stop that! You’re not a sea cucumber, show some spine.” So I can kinda see how the feministas can get their knickers in a twist, especially if you add in their belief in their *trumpet fanfare* Great Cause and Saving Mission. On the gripping hand, I know that screaming at people is generally counterproductive, especially screaming at them about innate traits.

    • I’m a pretty laid back guy, but I get stuck “in charge” mostly when I’m the only one seen to be doing something productive. Not always the case that the other fellows are lazy, you understand, I just tend to be calmer in motion.

      On screaming, you’re absolutely right, that generally fails. But a Loud Adult Voice tends to bring them up short, too. Especially the protected special snowflake type that’s never so much as heard it before.

      One of my volunteer straw-bosses at the farm is quite good at this. Nothing more than a firm voice and a brisk manner, and somehow things get done. If I could clone her and put her in five other different places I would in a heartbeat- it’d make my job a *lot* easier.

    • “… screaming at people is generally counterproductive, especially screaming at them about innate traits.

      Isn’t that victim-shaming? They can’t help being what they are, and demanding they change to meet your standard for them is intolerant.

  11. The Fallen Caryatid has another term, “Hypertrophy of Free Will”. It is out of the two book series about Evan Larkspur, The Unwound Way and The End of Fame by Bill Adams and Cecil Brooks.
    The basic stance of a sort-of Masonic secret society was: you are here, it is now, you see the problem, so fix it. It was sort of a Pratchett-esque attitude that the cost of being free and self directing means you are responsible for the universe, at least the part you can affect.
    and yes, you can destroy yourself trying to live up to that ideal.

  12. Not Subservient, but *definitely* Self-Blaming….

  13. I’ve been listening to CJ Cherryh books while driving lately, and am currently going through the Channyr (sp?) Saga. She has a subtlety running through those books that is so subtle I’m not sure if she is subtly disparaging feminists, or the patriarchy; or if she intentionally wrote it so it could be taken either way.

  14. Always nice to see a lesson from the master. Thank you. Until now, though I’ve read that passage a hundred times, I haven’t know what the poor girl looked like, 🙂 Persevere, all.

  15. Pingback: Monday | Cedar Writes

  16. Here!

  17. In the wise words of Log Horizon, “If you can’t do something, then don’t. Focus on what you can do.”

  18. I agree that you can’t change a person’s whole personality, not once it’s in place. You can nudge it in one direction or another, to a point. After all, that’s what phychiatry is all about.
    The other question is whether feminism (in its current form) indeed has the goal you quoted. A lot of today’s activists aims to have their targets be forever dependent, forever blaming others for their inability to function on their own. The last thing they need is self-sufficient individuals — it would leave them unemployed. (In this, they are like government bureaucrats, and why they sound that way.)