Hannah and Papa J

Hannah and Papa J

Friday, March 20, 2015

How to celebrate International Women's Day

Dear Hannah,

Of all the classes I took in college, English 201 and Health stand out the most.  And I think the reason is because in English 201 we spent nearly all our time trying to misunderstand the English language, and in health class we spent nearly all our time trying not to catch venereal diseases.


The two were more closely linked than anyone might have imagined.  Of course, the first thing you want to learn in any English class is how to use and interpret the English language properly -- not to spend your time reading bad essays written by people of a certain skin color.  And the first thing you want to learn in any health class isn't how to avoid getting a sexually-transmitted disease, but how to make yourself a more robust person in general.  We never idolized the mind of Lord Macaulay or the body of Sophia Loren.  Neither class had anything to do with winning.  They had everything to do with people who were perceived to be losing.

There was no test at the end of health class, to see whether the fat people got skinnier or the weak people got tougher or the sick people got better -- we had a dumpy fat woman in sweatpants who openly declared she'd eat a stick of butter before getting trashed.  Nobody checked to see if she'd stopped binge drinking by the end of the first semester.  I was munching benzos throughout the entire thing, and I lost my virginity in the unsafest way possible to the blonde who sat in front of me; so if anything, I should have been given an F.  Likewise, nobody in my English class ever learned to speak English any better, or even to understand anything really profound.  The "profundity" of our entire English semester consisted in our reading things written by minorities.  Every single story was written by or about a Mexican woman, a black woman, a disabled man, a gay man who died of AIDS, or women who fantasized about being raped.  In short, it had far less to do with our being greater thinkers and communicators and poets, and more to do with our focusing on the worst things possible in an English class -- skin color and sexual orientation. 

This marks a very important divide between Democrats and Republicans.  And I say this because there are really two typical ways a person looks at winning and losing, and the first way is by focusing on the winners, and the second way is by focusing on the people we perceive to be losing.  It would make sense, if possible, to keep both in mind by celebrating success and watching out for the weak; but in my experience, our desire for logical consistency leads people into one of two camps.  Conservatives would rather spend their time focusing on geniuses and tycoons and Roman heroes, while leftists would rather focus on disabled people and poor people and American Indians.

You can imagine that thinking about one of these sets might be more useful in the long run than the other; but there isn't anything wrong with talking about either side of the spectrum.  Imagine a society in which each of us only cared about one side of the matter: imagine the coldness of a world in which people were only loved for winning, or the insanity of a world in which we only paid attention to people who were suffering.  Imagine a world in which everyone believed everything was our fault, or another in which everyone blamed everything on the coincidences of the world we were born into.  It's very nearly the celebrated difference between Ayn Rand and Jesus, in which Ayn Rand appeared too fanatical about the well-deserving winners, and Jesus appeared too fanatical about taking care of the unfortunate losers.  The one thing you'd never hear, despite the fact that Ayn Rand was a woman, is that we need a day like International Women's Day to celebrate women just for being women.  The one sermon we never heard from Jesus, despite the fact that He was a carpenter, is that a man ought to dominate at his business (but I suppose this was already well covered by His Old Testament).   

My own personal observations have led me to believe that this ideological divide tends to run along the lines of gender as well.  Generally speaking, men appear to be more interested in winning; women, in taking care of those who are weak or hurting.  And I believe this marks the very reason why men are more likely to enjoy football than church, to be surpassed by women in modern schools, and why women are more prominent members of the Democratic Party than the Republican.  A church that's always focusing on being gentle and taking care of the poor has a massive appeal -- to women.  This is why, whether you're reading Erasmus in the 16th century, Voltaire in the 18th century, or even listening to a megachurch pastor like Mark Driscoll, you'll hear about how women play a prominent role in the church -- and how difficult it is to get a young man inside the building.

When it comes to men and academics, the matter is almost identical.  Teach a man about Livy and Plutarch, Jefferson and Madison, Jackson and Patton, and suddenly you've got a willing pupil: but make his political theory about equal opportunity, spend his history classes talking about the atrocities of Columbus, strip his nationality of all manliness and manifest destiny and the triumphs of liberty and capitalism, and watch the women quickly outpace him.  Men recently outnumbered women in physics and finance and economics and engineering -- in everything where fair winning is possible and no room is given to whining or self-hatred.  Introduce leftism in any way, and you'll find him wanting nothing other than to get out of class.  And although leftists have their share of masculine men too, when it comes to politics, I've found that the most weak men, the most useless men, the men most lacking in virility nearly all belong to the Democratic Party -- because they've forgotten what it means to win and deserve winning.  Some researchers are beginning to agree with me, which makes me worried. What makes me even more worried is how we ended up with so many weak men in the first place.

Historically, men can only handle so much losing.  They can smell the hypocrisy in solemnly quoting Indian chiefs when nobody is trying to move into an Indian reservation.  But bringing home the bacon, winning a war, founding a republic, dominating your rivals and enemies is more of a man's game -- that's to say, they find them much more appealing.  And if leftists had any sense, they would be glad men and women are generally different. If nobody was more concerned with suffering, our children may never have grown up physically and psychologically healthy because they may never have been mothered.  But if nobody was more concerned with winners and winning, far fewer would be able to take care of the weak.  We would all be worried about our children starving or getting raped by raiders.  The irony of the matter is that an over-emphasis on suffering is really only possible in a society that's been winning for a long time.  Our problem is that we've simply grown too comfortable to appreciate men.

Nothing displays the current feminization of our public institutions more than our boring and artificial appreciation days and months; and amongst these, nothing transgresses the virtues of manliness worse than International Women's Day.  International Women's Day is a day of appreciation that only a woman could have appreciated.  A healthy man appreciates women every day; a good man is always looking out for their interests and safety.  To give special attention to any woman simply because she's a woman is something bordering on sin: to celebrate anyone for having a vagina is the antithesis of a holiday, and a perversion of what could otherwise be valuable worship.  Celebrate your mother.  Celebrate Mother Theresa.  Celebrate Queen Elizabeth for defending Protestant Europe against a raging papacy, or Jael for sticking a peg through a murderous tyrant's head.  Never celebrate a woman for being a woman.  Never suggest that women should be promoted just because they might otherwise be left behind.  Find a great woman nearby, and tell everyone why she's great.  Promote a woman who possesses all the obvious marks of leadership and genius.  In other words, celebrate International Women's Day like a manly man would think on any normal day: by enjoying the women he actually enjoys, and forgetting about all the ones he doesn't.

Your father,
-J

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