Elizabeth Corey reviews Heather MacDonald’s new book, which she likes very much. “Heather Mac Donald is just such a heterodox woman — a truth-teller who says things that nobody else is brave enough to say,” writes Corey. Excerpt:
This points to the biggest problem embedded within our new orthodoxy of #MeToo, which is that dissenters from the movement generally do not speak out, do not proffer alternative understandings of masculinity and femininity, and do not equip younger generations with the basic information that will help them to navigate human relationships. This basic information is not hard to convey. It is the kind of thing that mothers and grandmothers have been offering young women for generations: “Have a sense of decorum; do not dress too suggestively, avoid drinking too much; avoid dangerous situations with men; and most of all, understand that men and women are different.” Though each and every one of these folksy maxims is poisonous in our current political climate it does not, however, mean that they are wrong.
If we insist that women are entirely without moral agency and can do absolutely nothing to avoid the epidemic of sexual assault, then we are turning them once again into just the kind of helpless victims that they (supposedly) were prior to the advent of modern feminism. Writers who challenge this dominant cultural narrative, like Heather Mac Donald, will be demonized as haters and oppressors of women. They will be told that they are internalizing their oppression and taking their cues from their husbands and fathers instead of thinking for themselves. Could anything be more patronizing?
What Mac Donald does, quite bravely, is insist that women bear some responsibility for their relations with men. She does not deny the existence of assault, or its seriousness, or its terrible effect on those who experience it. She does, however, think that the story currently being told to young women harms them more than it helps them.
Buy Mac Donald’s The Diversity Delusion here.
Corey is right about how impossible it is to dissent from this stuff without being denounced as an aider and abetter of rape. This is a standard progressive tactic. As Ryszard Legutko has written that under communism — and now, under liberal democracy — one doesn’t have to meet objections to the dominant ideology with actual argument. It suffices to accuse the dissenter of sexism (or racism, homophobia, transphobia, or some other supposed evil):
When someone expressed an opinion or put forward a thesis, there was no point in considering it in terms of truth or falsehood. It was much better to show, or rather unmask, the conditions that originated this opinion or thesis.
This passage from Legutko is also good in light of Corey’s point that the “folksy maxims” that used to guide relations between men and women are actually true, despite the danger in saying so:
The liberal-democratic man, especially if he is an intellectual or an artist, is very reluctant to learn, but, at the same time, all too eager to teach. This trait of his character is in a way understandable once we remember that his nature was considerably impoverished by his turning back on standards of classical and Christian anthropology. He lost, or rather, as his apologists would have put it, was relieved of the intellectual instruments — deemed unnecessary — that would enable him to describe the inadequacy of his existence and to articulate a sense of want. He is, as Ortega once put it, a self-satisfied individual, not in the sense that he occasionally fails to feel his misery, or to be haunted by a fear of death, a disgust of meaninglessness, a fatigue of the mystification that, as he begins to realize more and more acutely, surrounds him, but because he assumes and never has the slightest doubt that he is in possession of the entirety of the human experience. Looking around, he finds hardly anything that would put this conviction into question and a lot that gives it — practically each day and with each development — a strong corroboration.
By the way, last year, a group of protesting black students (and allies) at Pomona College wrote an open letter to the school’s president, demanding that he deny Mac Donald a speaking platform at the college. They declared that:
Heather Mac Donald is a fascist, a white supremacist, a warhawk, a transphobe, a queerphobe, a classist, and ignorant of interlocking systems of domination that produce the lethal conditions under which oppressed peoples are forced to live.
Congratulations, Heather Mac Donald! That’s got to be some sort of SJW hat trick.