It demands a culture of restraint while tearing down morality and modesty.
In the wake of the Weinstein scandal, the commissars of feminism are policing ideological infractions with increased vigor. Several women in the entertainment industry have had to apologize abjectly to the commissars for daring to suggest that women seek protection from a salacious, pawing Hollywood culture by not participating in it.
“Big Bang Theory’s Mayim Bialik Publishes Irresponsible Essay On Sexism In Hollywood,” ran a headline in Newsweek, capturing this atmosphere. Bialik had merely allowed herself a brief aside in the New York Times reflecting on the prudence of modesty in an industry of creeps:
I dress modestly. I don’t act flirtatiously with men as a policy. I am entirely aware that these type of choices might feel oppressive to many young feminists. Women should be able to wear whatever they want. They should be able to flirt however they want with whomever they want. Why are we the ones who have to police our behavior?
In a perfect world, women should be free to act however they want. But our world isn’t perfect. Nothing — absolutely nothing — excuses men for assaulting or abusing women. But we can’t be naïve about the culture we live in.
The commissars decreed this an impermissible thought (in spite of its dubious caveats deferential to feminism) and demanded that Bialik prostrate herself before them, which she has duly done in a teary confession note: “I am truly sorry for causing so much pain, and I hope you can all forgive me.”
Fashion designer Donna Karan is also promising to re-educate herself after she asked: “How do we display ourselves, how do we present ourselves as women, what are we asking? Are we asking for it, you know, by presenting all the sensuality and all the sexuality?” Karan blamed her remark on a lack of “sleep” and is prepared to submit to whatever abasements the feminists have in mind in order to erase her “horrible mistake.”
In these pitiful purges, one sees the intensity of feminism’s rejection of common sense, all in the service of a fantasy that ends up hurting women and empowering boors. The Harvey Weinstein scandal didn’t happen in spite of feminism in Hollywood but in part because of it, insofar as feminism encouraged women to plunge into a culture of immodesty without warning them of its costs and dangers.
Indeed, according to the logic of feminism, which holds that all female choices are good ones (provided they deviate from traditional paths), the women who submitted to Weinstein are as honorable as the actresses who resisted him. Feminism, if anything, encouraged a culture of mutual exploitation in which men and women proved their equality by making identically immoral choices.
As all of the protections of women — chivalry, modesty, traditional morality, religion, and so on — dissolved over the years, the feminists cheered. They marked progress in society not by the presence of protections but by their absence. For decades, feminists clamored for the exposure of women to the horrors of war. They thought it a great advance that men no longer hesitated on the battlefield before the prospect of women taken captive and that women would one day serve on the front lines. Women don’t need special protections, they insisted.
Yet the rhetoric heard in recent days belies this insistence. Feminists, while still denying biological difference, assert that women face special dangers in Hollywood and deserved closer protection. At the same time, they don’t want the old protections restored. And so they look elsewhere for protection, to “systemic change,” whatever that means. They, of course, exclude themselves from this “industry-wide” failure to protect women and continue to dole out bad advice to them while castigating anyone who offers sensible counsel.
In the end, feminism will always prioritize ideology over the protection of women. Just look at its loud support for “all genders bathrooms,” the kind that now exist in in the tony New York City hotels Weinstein patronizes. Woe to anyone who brings up the risks of that arrangement for women.
And for all of its talk about the “objectification of women,” it refuses to break with women who define themselves according to it. Feminists defend and celebrate women who turn themselves into sexual objects, then forbid men from treating them as ones. Feminism calls for men to “control themselves,” but reserves the right to maintain an outrageously immodest culture — and to send out its commissars to crush anyone who notices the contradiction.
Mayim Bialik in 2011 (Mingle MediaTV/Flickr-Creative Commons)