Mean Men, Victorian Feminism, and Risky Business
Watching Kamala Harris’ performance in tonight’s debate reminded me of just how fraudulent today’s neo-feminism is:
Harris and the women who share her worldview, see men – specifically white men – as oppressors. Defining someone as an “oppressor,” however, assigns that person potential power over another and as such, is naturally a threat that must be stopped.
For neo-feminists, the white-male patriarchy is the inherent threat that must be destroyed in order for women to rise to their full potential. If not completely eradicated, the patriarchal system and its male enablers will continue to keep women in the dark ages.
The problem with this theory, aside from the fact that it smacks of sophomoric angst and dramatic egoism, is that in order to believe it, women must define themselves as victims, who are weaker than men, and the last time I checked, “victims” need rescuing (Not exactly an empowering mental model).
Not surprisingly, the media are eager to play the role of gender-defender: The Los Angeles Times ran coverage of the VP debate with the sympathetic headline: Kamala Harris’ Sterling Debate was for Every Woman Who’s Been Talked Over by a Man, complaining that the country is like an endless episode of Mad Men, with “male candidates treating their female opponents like subordinates, and men dismissing women in boardrooms and office cubicles across the country. ”CNN’s Van Jones came to Harris’ aid saying that Vice President Pence “was a man-splainer-in-chief,” for doing what the rest of us would describe as defending his positions.
Seeing everything through an emotional lens:
Neo-feminists claim to want equal treatment, yet when they get it, they play the damsel-in-distress card: In the case of the VP debate, the media rushed to Harris’ aid, claiming that Pence was “mean” to her, talked over her, and asserted his maleness in a way that was just unfair.
WTF happened to debating the issues?? If Harris can’t handle some verbal sparring in the most important job interview in the country, how are we supposed to believe that she’s equipped to stand up to the Putins of the world?
What we’re seeing is the worst possible hybrid of weakness, anger and entitlement: a bitter cocktail that encourages women to be righteous victims. Neo-fems insist that men shut up and “respect” their authority while at the same time displaying a Victorian-era frailty at the slightest look, challenge, or even humor.
A worn-out recipe for success:
Harris-style feminism is the result of pioneers like Hillary Clinton, who dredged up this playbook from 1960 issues of Cosmopolitan, where the only chance a woman had of success was to ride the coattails of a truly chauvinistic man, enduring his vulgarity, his clumsy verbal mis-steps and embarrassing antics until that day when her years of patience and humiliation would pay dividends in power. With Hillary, it was Slick-Willie’s womanizing. With Kamala, it was climbing the ladder of success on her back, beneath the Willie Browns of the world until she could tether herself to the next powerful man.
Harris is the neo-feminist’s definition of a strong women, but for what? For playing the race card? For playing the woman card? Or is it for enduring Uncle Joe's history of racial slurs and creepy hair sniffing in exchange for success? Success not earned, but rather bestowed. Sad.
Neo-fems see Harris as smart and empowered, when the reality is that if the best a woman can hope for is a Faustian trade of dignity for power, then she’s neither dignified nor powerful.
Practically speaking, modern feminists are a bad risk for business:
Today’s working culture is based on close collaboration and relationships with long hours, business trips, meals together, intensive projects, night-time texts and emails, all setting at atmosphere for misconduct, misconstrued humor, and hurt feelings.
Sixty percent of women say they experience some form of workplace harassment and a whopping $165 million was collected in 2015 by the EEOC from alleged offenders. Based on those statistics, only one of two things is true: Either the workplace is rampant with misconduct – in which case the risk of intermingling men and women is a bad bet for recruiters – or these numbers are grossly inflated from bogus claims by hyper-sensitive, vigilante feminists with a distorted mission left-over from their grandma's bra-burning protests of the sixties. My bet is on the ladder.
In both cases, the results are not helpful for truly professional women or for women who are actual victims of harassment and whose claims are made more trivial by the preponderance of false reports.
What’s more, neo-fems seem to agree:
More neo-feminists than ever are self-segregating into enclaves of women-only businesses that favor female employees and female leadership. This would be a good thing if these changes were the natural result of a positive move toward developing teams of talented women where comparative advantages in certain markets shine, but this trend is more motivated by a reactionary move away from what these woman see as the oppressive male-dominated workplace. Too weak to hack it out with men, these powerful feminists are choosing to retreat.
So while neo-fems look in the mirror and see power, many of us women see the obsession with labels, victimhood and retreating as the adult version of picking up your toys and stomping out of the room, and if life has taught me anything, it’s that success, fulfillment, respect is overwhelmingly gained by value creation, not isolation.
Today’s so-called feminists are neither feminine nor powerful:
They’re embittered and emboldened and they don’t want equality, they want revenge. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t male chauvinist assholes out there. But playing the victim at every joke or challenge makes it harder to be taken seriously for women with legitimate claims.
Neo-feminists need to toughen up and choose their battles more wisely:
Strong women know that power doesn’t rely on feminism, it relies on contribution. Since all movements tend to have a shelf-life, maybe one day the neo-fems will hang up their pink kitty-cat hats and join adulthood. Until then, they'd do well to lay off Oprah, anti-depressants and Chardonnay.