There has been some discussion in recent weeks about the censoring of the screening of The Red Pill which reportedly is a documentary produced by Cassie Jay. Jay, who has been an active feminist, decided to document the workings of the Men’s Rights Movement. She has conceded that as her investigations progressed she began to have some sympathy towards the views expressed by her subjects.
Now I will firstly confess I have not seen the movie and so am not qualified to comment on its content. But I feel compelled to comment on the appalling decision to censor it.
Let me also state I have no axe to grind on behalf of Men’s Rights. I am naturally suspicious of all minorities that seek to take on victimhood status!
Those seeking to ban the movie have implied it is “offensive” to women and that viewing it could possibly make them feel “threatened” or “intimidated”. Others who have seen the movie say it is relatively benign.
But banning the movie is infantilising women in a most patronising way.
Can you imagine the furore that would erupt if I were to maintain that women are weak and vulnerable creatures who must be sheltered from information that might prove uncomfortable to them?
Even worse, what if I was to assert that women lack the intelligence to ascertain what information they should be subjected to and make their own choices in that regard, and that I should be given the right of censoring such information?
I am sure women would be (rightly) affronted by such assertions.
Are there points of view that women should be sheltered from? I don’t think so.
Should others be empowered with the responsibility of shielding women from ideas they might not agree with? I don’t think so.
[In my personal experience, the only situations I have encountered that remotely resembled this sort of paternalism, has been how some indigenous groups are sheltered from confronting truths that were judged to perhaps make them feel uncomfortable! I have had some personal experience of this when delivering workshops to indigenous groups.]
Of course this is the sort of behaviour that we have come to expect from some university communities. Such institutions have found it necessary to provide “safe places” and provide “trigger warnings” lest the fragile souls in their care might have to confront ideas that make them feel uncomfortable!
Another ridiculous idea being propagated by the gender warriors is that the behaviours we have traditionally believed were male or female are caused by socialisation processes that begin at birth.
Many human attributes including human behaviours are dramatically influenced by our genetics. Your genetic makeup will largely determine how tall you are and what your IQ is. As for human behaviours it will have a marked effect, for example, on your likelihood of suffering depression.
It would be surprising if the gender specific genetic differences didn’t result in differing behaviours between men and women, and of course they largely do. Many studies have for example demonstrated the masculinising effects of prenatal testosterone of the developing brain. When taken to its most absurd level these misguided souls are now even postulating that gender is itself a construct. The genetic endowment we each inherit not only largely determines how smart we will be, how big we will become, but also (after puberty) what gender we are and in many ways how we will behave. To believe otherwise is like planting an acorn and hoping to grow a pawpaw tree!
Now there is no doubt that societal changes have compelled many men and women to adopt roles that were not once typical of their genders. But this role fluidity, largely driven by social and economic circumstances, bringing both benefits and costs to men and women, shouldn’t be confused with gender fluidity.
A surprising set of beliefs underpins this dysfunctional view of gender based behaviours by feminists. It amounts to this. Traits that are seen as sociologically determined are “good” whilst those that are seen as genetically determined are “bad”. Yet the caring capacities of women, which are undoubtedly genetically endowed, are universally admired. Mothers are loved almost without exception.
What these feminists miss, is that our socially acquired characteristics are almost as nearly closely determined as our genetically inherited characteristics. Most behaviourists would agree that the circumstances that have most impact on our behaviours are those we encounter earliest in our lives. None of us choose those circumstances. Just as we have no choice about our genetics, we also have little choice about the families and the social circumstances we are born into.
It seems innate in most of us to attempt to “get our way”. Males, on average, are physically larger, more aggressive and more inclined to take risks. They are more likely than women to use their size and strength to attempt to dominate others. (Nevertheless there are some partnerships where the woman dominates the male physically, but it is far less common.)
Women, on average, use more subtle skills to influence others in their favour. They read body-language better, are skilled at using their emotions and have generally more adept social skills.
When men and women use their respective “get my way” strategies there are often unfortunate consequences. The physical strategies of men result in injury and sometimes death. The more subtle strategies of women have emotional and psychological side effects. My experience shows that women bully others in the workplace just as much as men. In fact some of the worst workplaces for bullying are those where women predominate, it is just that the bullying strategies being more subtle, are less obvious.
I relate all this largely because one avenue now being pursued by the gender warriors is infiltrating our schools with programs based on the ideology of gender fluidity and related material aimed at our very young (preschool and primary school students) in the guise of reducing bullying and domestic violence. Most of these programs seem to me to confuse children and largely denigrate boys.
With respect to bullying, it makes the assumption that much childhood bullying relates to gender ambiguity and more specifically that a significant component of such bullying is targeting children struggling to identify as either male or female or exhibiting same-sex preference. But we all know bullies target far broader attributes than this. Frequent targets are the obese, intellectually challenged, the physically uncoordinated, the physically deformed, those of different racial backgrounds and so on.
An anti-bullying program needs to ensure that proper regard and respect is paid to all.
The activists are right in this regard – disrespect for others is largely socialised in us at a young age.
As I have described in other essays, psychological maturity is gradually established in the growing child. A measure of this progress is demonstrated by how widely the child can identify and empathise with other people. We start with a small circle that encloses such people as parents, family and significant others which gradually expands to include more categories of people.
The most enduring impact on this process is made by our parents and immediate family members. Certainly by the early years of school our teachers and our peer group are beginning to impact as well. But it is unlikely that anyone will have greater impact than the impact of the role models of our parents and families.
So the three shortcomings I see in the approach outlined above are:
- An undue concentration on gender with mistaken ideas about gender fluidity, rather than addressing the broader range of causes for bullying,
- Focus almost entirely on the worst aspects of male behaviour which is detrimental to the self-esteem of boys, and
- An ongoing propensity to try to correct for parental failures by burdening teachers with more and more interventions (some unfortunately ideologically driven) to counter poor parenting to the detriment of mainstream educational outcomes.
In a society where the prevalence of the traditional nuclear family is diminishing, good parental role models are also on the decline. Children raised in family environments where physical and mental abuse proliferates are perpetuating the problems when they in turn become parents. Much of the aberrant behaviour in our schools and workplaces are seeded in this malignant developmental environment.
I believe we have a crisis in parenting. I have been watching a documentary series on SBS titled Testing Teachers. I have been appalled by the behaviour of children in the classes under observation. The teachers seem to berate themselves for their inability to control such students. I wonder how such children can be properly educated in classrooms where such behaviour seems largely tolerated and the teachers have few tools to deal with it.
I can give you many other examples, but it is clear to me that many mothers and fathers are avoiding, or perhaps even more sadly, ignorant of their parental responsibilities.
Instead of ploughing more money into our schools for little or no benefit as we have seen in recent decades, maybe we would get a better return on our money by investing in parenting education.
But let me get back to the issues of bullying and domestic violence which the radical feminists are using to advance their gender based ideology.
The genetic inheritance of males, which in general disposes them to use physical aggression to assert themselves and to dominate others more than women do, is certainly a problem in our society. Statistics will attest that men will murder, die from vehicle accidents involving speed and alcohol, commit suicide, and so on more often than women. As we saw earlier their bullying and domestic violence efforts are riddled with physical violence. This of course is intolerable and we need to do what we can to reduce the incidence of these atrocities.
But I would contend that encouraging boys to play with dolls and wear dresses is unlikely to be helpful.
Girls are disposed to certain behaviours because of their genetics.
Boys are disposed to certain behaviours because of their genetics.
Our responsibility as parents is to let our girls be girls and let our boys be boys as their biological history has so disposed them, but to ensure that under our parenting that they are good girls and good boys and understanding their oneness with all of humanity to value, respect and nurture others. That is the antidote to bullying and domestic violence.