We are living an age when any reference to women runs the risk of violating the “victimhood” rights of feminist women.
What is “Victimhood?” It was explained by two sociologists in 2014.
We’re beginning a second transition of moral cultures. The first major transition happened in the 18th and 19th centuries when most Western societies moved away from cultures of honor (where people must earn honor and must therefore avenge insults on their own) to cultures of dignity in which people are assumed to have dignity and don’t need to earn it. They foreswear violence, turn to courts or administrative bodies to respond to major transgressions, and for minor transgressions they either ignore them or attempt to resolve them by social means. There’s no more dueling.
The “Honor Culture” requires that one avenge insults to preserve honor. The law and third parties are avoided and this culture is typical of areas where law and authority is mostly absent. A classic example is the American West in the Age of the Frontier. As law and authority became available, the culture gradually changed to one of The Culture of Dignity in which people are assumed to have dignity and don’t need to earn it. They foreswear violence, turn to courts or administrative bodies to respond to major transgressions, and for minor transgressions they either ignore them or attempt to resolve them by social means. There’s no more dueling. Lawyers have made this culture ubiquitous, even in war.
Now, we have a new phenomenon.
It is a new culture of victimhood in which people are encouraged to respond to even the slightest unintentional offense, as in an honor culture. But they must not obtain redress on their own; they must appeal for help to powerful others or administrative bodies, to whom they must make the case that they have been victimized. It is the very presence of such administrative bodies, within a culture that is highly egalitarian and diverse (i.e., many college campuses) that gives rise to intense efforts to identify oneself as a fragile and aggrieved victim. This is why we have seen the recent explosion of concerns about microaggressions, combined with demands for trigger warnings and safe spaces, that Greg Lukianoff and I wrote about in “The Coddling of the American Mind.”
Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense. Last December, Jeannie Suk wrote in an online article for The New Yorker about law students asking her fellow professors at Harvard not to teach rape law—or, in one case, even use the word violate (as in “that violates the law”) lest it cause students distress.
This phenomenon is related to Feminism. A professor named Laura Kipnis wrote an article in “Chronicle of Higher Education,” called “Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe.”
The article described a new phenomenon on college campuses.
It’s been barely a year since the Great Prohibition took effect in my own workplace. Before that, students and professors could date whomever we wanted; the next day we were off-limits to one another—verboten, traife, dangerous (and perhaps, therefore, all the more alluring).
She was referring to a ban on student-professor sexual relationships, including marriage. An example might be Will Durant and his wife Ariel.
At the Modern School, he fell in love with and married a 15-year-old pupil, Chaya (Ida) Kaufman, whom he later nicknamed “Ariel”. The Durants had one daughter, Ethel, and adopted a son, Louis….
Will and Ariel Durant were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1968 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977.
As a reward for her article, Professor Kipnis became herself the target of a Title IX inquisition.
In late February, Kipnis prompted a heated debate with an essay she penned for “The Chronicle of Higher Education” titled “Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe.” The article addressed student-professor relationships, issues of consent, the language with which we talk about sexual assault, purported emotional “triggers,” and the messy lawsuits that arise out of alleged sexual encounters with little evidence and hearings with few procedural safeguards, among other topics. In response, Northwestern students protested the piece and asked the university to officially condemn it.
Of course, students are free to criticize the essay. Student responses could have led to an open discussion on the topic. Instead, Kipnis was hit with Title IX complaints filed by two students over the essay and a subsequent tweet she had posted from her personal account. She hadn’t named any students in her essay or tweet; she had remarked only on nationally reported cases. Yet she was being charged under the same provision that normally protects students from discrimination and targeted harassment.
The inquisitors lost after subjecting her to a weeks long harassment.
I wrote back to the Title IX coordinator asking for clarification: When would I learn the specifics of these complaints, which, I pointed out, appeared to violate my academic freedom? And what about my rights — was I entitled to a lawyer? I received a polite response with a link to another website. No, I could not have an attorney present during the investigation, unless I’d been charged with sexual violence. I was, however, allowed to have a “support person” from the university community there, though that person couldn’t speak. I wouldn’t be informed about the substance of the complaints until I met with the investigators.
Apparently the idea was that they’d tell me the charges, and then, while I was collecting my wits, interrogate me about them. The term “kangaroo court” came to mind. I wrote to ask for the charges in writing. The coordinator wrote back thanking me for my thoughtful questions.
Feminism seems to be related to the “Victimhood Culture.”
This new climate is slowly being institutionalized, and is affecting what can be said in the classroom, even as a basis for discussion. During the 2014–15 school year, for instance, the deans and department chairs at the 10 University of California system schools were presented by administrators at faculty leader-training sessions with examples of microaggressions. The list of offensive statements included: “America is the land of opportunity” and “I believe the most qualified person should get the job.”
I accidentally ran afoul of one of these victimhood cultural warriors with a sarcastic comment on Facebook to a piece about Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit against Louisiana over Medicaid funding.
Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast Inc. Tuesday asked a federal court to block Louisiana from cutting off Medicaid funding to the organization following the release of videos on fetal tissue research.
The organization and three patient co-plaintiffs filed for an injunction to stop enforcement of an order by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal that would bar Medicaid funds from going to Planned Parenthood facilities in the state beginning Sept. 2.
The state moved to cut off funds after Mr. Jindal, a Republican presidential candidate, said this month he was giving the organization a 30-day notice that he was canceling the state’s contract with Planned Parenthood.
I am actually pro-choice and even performed a few abortions as a surgery resident when abortion was legal in California in 1969. The abortions were performed on GYN Admitting and I was serving a period as part of my surgery residency, Nobody liked doing them and I felt I should cooperate. Eventually, the County hired physicians who didn’t mind doing abortions but that was after my time. Some obstetricians do them as part of their practice and I have no objection to abortion as a procedure that is legal and appropriate in certain circumstances. I do believe, however, that it should not be legal past the point of viability of the fetus and any woman, short of serious danger to her life, should not be allowed an abortion as a matter of choice when the fetus is developed enough to survive on its own.
Many people object to abortion at all and do not wish to subsidize it with their tax money. I am neutral on that issue as it pertains to abortions performed before viability or for valid medical reasons, which are rare anymore. Delivery of a full term infant and adoption seem a much more moral solution once viability has been reached. Adoption, however, has become another political football with objections to adoption by white couples of black children and other barriers, such as the outrageous decision to remove a six year old child from its home because it is 1/64 Indian.
Six-year-old Alexandria clutches her arms and legs tightly around her foster father as she is whisked away from the home she has known for four years.
Her foster family in Santa Clarita, California, has lost a bitter custody battle involving the Native American Choctaw tribe.
“With heavy hearts we are complying with the order,” foster father Rusty Page says.
Page begged authorities one day earlier to let the child stay with his family. His voice trembles and he holds back tears as he tries to explain why he thinks the state should let his family keep Alexandria, whom they have fostered for four years. Page, his wife and their three biological children have bonded with 6-year-old Alexandria, who they affectionately call “Lexi,” he says. Lexi has lived with them since she was 2. They have been trying to adopt since she moved in.
The happy Indian home she is to be relocated to ?
Court papers say at 17 months old she was “removed from the custody of her mother, who has a lengthy substance abuse problem and lost custody of six other children.”
Her father “has an extensive criminal history and also lost custody of one other child,” according to the documents.
Anyway, the Planned Parenthood lawsuit seemed ridiculous to me and I made a comment which appears to have outraged a Social Justice Warrior.
I don’t recall the comment but I vaguely recall saying something like “They can do abortions if they are limited to females.” I was not serious but I am increasingly frustrated and tired of eternal female outrage at trifles.
According to Kipnis, one of the complainants against her claimed “the essay had a ‘chilling effect’ on students’ ability to report sexual misconduct.” It is very difficult to see how a professor’s rehashing of already widely-reported allegations would have an effect on sexual misconduct reports—unless the mere fact that a professor is examining allegations critically would chill reports. But students’ comfort cannot trump community members’ right to question public allegations.
Of course, the complainers were female students. Several years ago, I wrote a review of Helen Smith’s book, “Men on Strike.”
The review is here.
At the time I was living with my basset hound and content. Since then I have gotten back together with my second wife after 25 years of divorce. We get along much better than we did the first time but I am surrounded by female relatives and know a bit about how females have turned the tables on men the past few decades. Sixty percent of college students and of medical students are now female. Yet we see constant complaints about the “plight” of females.
Since my injudicious comment on Facebook, a person unknown to me has taken it upon herself to message each female family member listed as a “friend” to scold them for even being friendly to me. I only learned this yesterday although the comment was made last summer when the Louisiana case hit the news. One distant relative complained to me.
I got the message. I am sorry I don’t understand why you would say something so offensive.
It was Sarcasm and humor and irony seem to be lost on these people. I’m not even sure I know who that is. I think she is a daughter of a cousin. As far as I can tell, I did not initiate “friendship” with her. One of my daughters (a left winger) also got a message and did not mention it to me but did tell her mother. I don’t even recall the details of the comment or the other context.
Laura Kipnis would understand. I am really, really getting tired of women. Present company excepted, of course.
14 thoughts on “Feminism and Victimhood Culture.”
Yet more grist for the mill:
Will, that was excellent.
A half million dollar grant to study how microaggressions from male students are preventing females from becoming engineers.
What’s next – a million dollar study to determine how kindergarten boys are triggering girls to play with dolls instead of trucks?
That’s a joke, but now that I think about it I’m worried there may actually be such research in the works.
Come on. You are missing the critical issue of the day:
Michael, 3 years ago I divorced the wife. Last year the dog died. I will be getting a new dog.
A half million dollar grant to study how microaggressions from male students are preventing females from becoming engineers.
I knew a woman who enrolled in an undergrad engineering program at a Big Ten school in the late 1960s. She told me that the other students shunned her, and that the professors encouraged her to leave engineering. She did leave engineering and the school with some sort of nervous breakdown. She later completed a Ph.D. in Biology, so I doubt that she lacked the intellect for becoming an engineer. Her leaving engineering seemed to me to be a case of social pressure- call it what you will.
But times changed. I got my engineering degree about ten years after this experience. Six out of the ~30 juniors in my engineering cohort were women. Five stayed in the program to graduate, which was about the same percentage for males. There was no shunning; male and female engineering students worked and played together. One couple emerged- they also went to work at the same company. The best student by far was a woman. She went on to grad school at the #1 school in our field. Another woman in the program is now an engineering prof.
My sister got her engineering degree about the same time, and experienced no shunning from her fellow students for being a female.
What a lot of non-engineers do not realize is that engineering is a tough program for everyone. I put in 60+ hour weeks, and it wasn’t from my being dull- most put in the same hours.[The aforementioned brightest student didn’t have to. She got it a lot faster than the rest of us.]
The above comment would be mine.
Since my injudicious comment on Facebook, a person unknown to me has taken it upon herself to message each female family member listed as a “friend” to scold them for even being friendly to me.
I’ve been running into people with this mindset for over 15 years now, from my earliest days on the internet. Steve Sailer’s critics have tracked down his address, his family particulars, where his wife worked, they’ve urged people to get her fired, etc.
These people are called Social Justice Warriors for a reason. They’re unhinged and they are fanatical. They actually believe that they are a force of good in the world rather than a cancer on humanity.
Vox Day wrote a book I haven’t yet read but which is a best-seller and gets good reviews “SJWs Always Lie.” He cottoned onto the practice I’ve always held, never apologize to your SJW critic because there is no upside to doing so. What’s happening to you is you’re the victim of a game where your opponent is trying to socially isolate you away from your peers, family, friends by threatening their reputations for associating with you.
“I knew a woman who enrolled in an undergrad engineering program at a Big Ten school in the late 1960s.”
My high school girlfriend got a degree in Chemical Engineering at Purdue in 1960. I went to school in California and she married a guy I knew from her class. We stayed in touch for years and she went back to work when her kids were older and is now pretty well known as an advocate for women engineers.
I doubt there are any barriers anymore. Certainly women are 60% of medical students.
My mother was a feminist in her day, although I doubt she ever used the term. Her demands were respect as a person, and equal pay for equal work.
As a payroll manager for the last few decades of her work life, she knew exactly what was going on about pay scales, and once told the management of the company she had worked for for several years to keep a paltry raise they offered if they were so hard up.
She also declined the fancied up work title. They responded, out of chagrin would be my guess, with a raise four times the original offer.
She also told a manager who raised his voice to her to go back in his office and cool off until he could address her as a gentleman would a lady, i.e., with respect. He later apologized.
I have long felt that the descent of feminism into leftist victimhood follows a long pattern among various groups that have been discriminated against in history, and it is a understandable error, but a significant error none the less.
The sequence goes like this—
The group holding the upper hand begins to assign to a lesser group all sorts of negative flaws, perhaps to rationalize their discrimination against that other group, or just to prop up their own claim to superiority, or probably both.
This can be observed way back in history, when non-Romans were “barbarii”, or the endless libels against early Christians, or the blood libels that still exist today about Jews.
The same pattern can be found in the history of the Irish, or the treatment of Native Americans, or, perhaps most clearly, in the continuing saga of Africans who were first enslaved because they would be good workers in the tropical areas of the new world, and then were impugned with an endless list of deficiencies which tried to justify their continued enslavement long after slavery as a social custom began to come under serious criticism for the first time in human history.
The modern era has seen women and gays, among several other groups, react with protest against the attitudes of the larger society.
The error comes into play when the protest becomes open and wide spread—the members of the protesting group adopt the characteristic that was used against them, and claim it as a badge of honor instead, imbuing it with all sorts of superior special attributes, and defining themselves with that special characteristic above all else.
The flaw, of course, is that by adopting the characteristic as the defining feature in their lives, the group members reject their own existence as discrete individuals, and become committed to a group identity which supersedes all other factors in their lives and personality.
The result is everywhere around us today, in which one woman is a hero for being strong and assertive, while another is condemned and slandered endlessly because her form of assertiveness is out of step with the socially accepted format, especially if she is not perfectly aligned with progressive, feminist politics.
The same pattern is found among the various racial and gender groups which have now stepped forward to present their list of demands, and their definitions of who is or is not a true (fill in the blank).
By subsuming themselves in a collective identity, the members of these protest or victim groups commit an offense against themselves every bit as egregious as that which came from the rest of society that abused them in some way, but which is worse in a certain sense, because it is a wound which is self-inflicted.
Asserting the dignity of one’s person as an individual , and therefore demanding the liberty to think and believe and act as an autonomous actor in one’s own life, is a markedly different, and, I would contend, superior form of claiming the rights and prerogatives of a member of society.
By abandoning that individualism, the protester becomes every bit as much a slave to the twists and turns of the political ideology of the movement as any slave of a previous era, and worse, for the enslavement is mental and spiritual, as opposed to the mere physical.
Thus we see the supposedly brave and upstanding members of this or that victim group grovelling in fear before the criticism of whatever faction has managed to acquire for itself the power to define that which is ideologically correct, and cast out anyone who is declared a heretic from the true faith.
This entire process is a subset of the tribalism which is one of humanity’s oldest and deepest urges, whether defined a peer pressure, or group identity, or some other fancy modern phrase. The worst penalty in ancient times was to be exiled from the tribe, cast out from all that was known, into the unknown of a hostile world filled with “the others”.
What once was old, is new again.
When the victims run out of oppressors and others to blame, they will go the way of the Bolsheviks and create a society of blame and correction.
Or they will go the way of the Red Guard and create a world of recrimination and “enforced correction.”
What is old is painful and dangerous … again. Be afraid … act now, before it’s too late.
Old, painful and dangerous, with shiny new tools in the box! I can only hope that somehow, treachery, malice and cunning will be matched, if not bested.
What you see in SJWs is the same pattern of female bullying you see with girls (my third is currently going through middle school). Rally up your friends and ostracize the victim. Easiest to do against an outsider (no danger of conflicting loyalties). When it comes to this kind of fighting, women are often much crueler than men, and quite ruthless. It is all the nastier for largely being conducted out of sight.
I could go into a lot more detail, but instead would simply suggest reading “Queen Bees and Wannabes”. The parallels just jump out.
I talked to my daughter-in-law just now about something else and I asked her if the SJW who sent her the alleged comment I made about abortion had also sent her a copy.
She had and texted it to me. The comment was a reply to another comment that men should have no say in women’s decisions for abortion. I replied that I agreed with her if only females were being aborted. Half of babies aborted, of course, are male. The comment went completely over her head and those of all the females that she messaged.
I suspect that similar lack of intelligence or sense is involved in much of this ideology.
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