One of my favorite feminist scholars is Wendy Brown. She has a book of essays called Edgework. It’s called Edgework, I suppose, because her writing is edgy. Edgy like the idea of being gay or having an abortion was edgy in the 1960s. Back then social norms dictated that homosexuality was a perversion and films were required by law to condemn abortion on the silver screen. Saying you were gay or that you’d had an abortion was a truly edgy act of rebellion. It would ignite the moral outrage of the world and effectively turn you into a social leper, a punk. Confessing to your own homosexuality or a past abortion was the modern equivalent of saying today in San Francisco that you don’t support gay marriage, or saying you are personally pro-life in New York City: an invitation to be publicly flogged for your weird, unethical ways. Ms. Brown – as, I guess, a post-feminist – does something similar. She walks the hazardous path of critically questioning the dogma of liberalism and feminism. She asks questions that you shouldn’t really ask today in popular discourse, that go against the cultural norms. Are women and other marginalized groups sabotaging their liberation by constantly talking about it in the public arena? Is Women’s Studies an unsustainable academic discipline? Does “writing women into law” paradoxically take away their rights? Her book is subtitled Critical Essays On Knowledge and Politics, and that’s important because the book doesn’t so much offer solutions or definite statements, rather it simply asks us to think critically about our own assumptions and go to “the edge” of thinking. This article is my own kind of edgework on feminism and social reality. It hardly reflects the thinking of Brown except that her work was the inspirational origin.
We don’t need feminism because it doesn’t quell violence or rape.
Male African chimpanzees raid, rape, and violently beat rival gangs in territorial wars. This is hardwired into the male apes’ biology, just as it is in the human male genetic configuration. As a general rule, advanced male mammals are demonic and violent creatures. This violence dosen’t stem from misogyny. It stems from men hating other men. Recent stats show 63% of all homicides in the United States involved a male offender with a male victim; only 22.7% had a male offender and female victim. Even male on male rape is prevalent. Not just in war – when men rape other men to show complete physical dominance over an enemy, but many scholars and advocacy groups believe male on male rape in regular life is radically underrepresented and perhaps even more pervasive than male on female rape (when including rapes in the prison system). Feminism’s focus on misogyny as a source of rape is important, but its vision is limited, for misogyny is simply a side effect of man’s biological disposition towards aggression and violence. What needs to change now, it seems, is not how men view women, but rather how men view other men and deal with their own aggression.
We don’t need feminism because women don’t need to be patronized or coddled about their career choices.
People love to decry the “injustice” of the wage disparity between men and women. Yet, the wage gap is feminist propaganda. In 2009, Obama created the “White House Council on Women and Girls.” The purpose? To ensure lawmakers took into account the interests of women and girls when drafting legislation. Last year the council released a hallmark report, which concluded the reason for the gender pay gap was because women on average choose to work in less stressful work environments and choose jobs in lower paying industries like education and health care. A 100-page study sponsored by the Department of Labor came to a similar verdict, concluding: “The differences in raw wages may be almost entirely the result of the individual choices being made by both male and female workers.” Simply put: women don’t seem to care about money as much as men do and generally self-select into lower paying careers by their own volition – not because of prejudice.
Perhaps, though, women are being coerced into choosing lower paying careers by indirect prejudice and the history of sexism? You can believe that. But that line of thinking doesn’t add up with the biological evidence. Biology and evolutionary psychology are proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that males and females are, generally speaking, different from one another for reasons that have nothing to do with the way they were raised. In the womb, men produce testosterone from their own gonad. Women, however, produce little to no testosterone in the womb. In life, men then have significantly more testosterone in their bodies than women do. Their lack of testosterone makes women generally more kind and social. The extra testosterone makes men generally more antisocial, violent, and combative than your average women. (That the word “contest” literally means “with testicles” is no coincidence. The etymology emerges from an organic reality: primitive men, not women, engaging in ritual combat.) So, when it comes to taking a job, women typically follow their natural inclination to work where cutthroat corporate coldness is shunned and creativity and social interaction are celebrated. Men, on the other hand, typically enter more combative, aggressive environments with higher stress and higher-risk jobs. Put crudely: boys are insecure and will do stupid things to prove their “manliness.” Girls, as Faulkner’s character Isaac McCaslin notes in the The Bear, “are born already bored with what a boy approaches only at fourteen and fifteen with blundering and aghast trembling.” This is what seems to be happening in the workplace. Women, due to a natural inclination to care about more than just money, have a different vocational trajectory. Men are a bit more concerned about money and proving themselves in rather silly games.
As a recent New York Times op-ed notes, women typically don’t make as much because they aren’t aggressive and demanding enough in job interviews. The answer here isn’t that we need more feminism or coddling, it’s that women must learn to embrace more conventionally male traits of assertiveness and dominance (and to try to produce more testosterone?) if they really care about making more money. Of course: we also need to realize everything in life is a compromise. Women might earn on average 77 cents on a man’s dollar (or whatever the latest trendy statistic is). But men also die significantly younger than women, and this early death seems to be connected with the fact that testosterone, aggression, and stress lead to an early death.
We don’t need feminism because we need more, not less, virility.
Throwing a ball like a girl is lame. That’s why most people, male or female, prefer to watch the NBA over the WNBA. Aggression, intensity make sports more interesting and captivating. Male virility isn’t good for just sports, it’s good for culture and civilization. The scientist Richard Alexander notes: “Atomic fission, space travel, and probably most of the remarkable modern advances in science and technology occurred or were accelerated as consequence of intergroup competition or outright war.” Now, we don’t need to balk at traditionally feminine values in the United States like they do in China. But effeminate nations of love and equality don’t produce companies like Google or Apple. We need popular culture, of course, to celebrate the traits of femininity, but we also need it to celebrate the aggression of masculinity and its power of creative destruction, too.
We don’t need feminism because we are individuals.
We don’t need feminism because its becoming outdated and we need a new paradigm for the future. One that is not so much a collective movement, but a way of living which respects and integrates men, women, and every beautiful and complex variation in-between.