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.