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Culture War Roundup for the week of March 11, 2024

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Society vs Male Radicalisation II - Male Role Models/Surely This Time Our Plan Will Work

I was on the internet this week, and I found this:

Labour to help schools develop male influencers to combat Tate misogyny

It is interesting to note that there is an increasing shift towards talking about "role models" for young men and boys as a means of cooling the gender kerfuffle, rather than by repeating feminist talking points at males until they concede as was the case when I was a teenager. The Labour Party, the UK's apparent next government, has come up with policy to reduce the influence of Andrew Tate among schoolboys with the intended aim of safeguarding women and girls. It means to do this by creating counter role models to whom boys can look up to. This would not even the utterly embarrasing 30 year old boomers trying to guess what resonates with children, but would consist instead of older volunteer boys taken from within the same school. This if it is implemented, will have educators select the real life version of Will from Inbetweeners as its senior male role model and think themselves of sound mind for doing so. You are only ever going to get uncool loser types volunteering, and it is the fear of becoming an uncool loser (or worse) that motivates young men to go and consume manosphere content.

Feminism's defenders will counter that there are many existing role models available for men, often listing real or fictional people like Ryan Gosling, Marcus Rashford or Ted Lasso. These men are either fake or literal one percenters whose lifestyle an average young man has no hope of to attaining. This betrays a complete lack of understanding about why men choose the role models they do and how they attempt to emulate them. These role models are deliberately or implicitly chosen as role models for young men by people who aren't young men often because they display qualities that are useful, rather than valued, to society. This is because almost all policy dreamt up by institutions concerning Men and Boys is not to their benefit, but instead to neuter a perceived threat against Women, Girls and the wider society. For every Marcus Rashford, there are multiple Mason Greenwoods or Kurt Zoumas who continue to receive all the signifiers of male success and receive no punishment for any of their transgressions.

It is clear that what educational and social institutions want are meek, inoffensive and productive men who do not question the rules of society. This is in direct contrast to what young men want, which is to be outspoken, to be popular with women, to be socially and economically successful. No role model ever produced or selected by the state could manage this, particularly not when operating under the notion that it must maintain women's liberation, which itself requires the stifling of men. I question for how much longer this approach will be kept in place. There are hundreds of people like Andrew Tate across SM, each ready to teach boys what society is unable to teach them. Educators can more easily dispel Tate because of the sex trafficking offences and because Tate himself is a clown, but people like Hamza, whose lived experience is much closer to the boys he is trying to proselytize to than that of Tate's, they have no counterargument.

It is... interesting... to see all this discussion about "progressive male role models" given that the progressive memespace has long been, and mostly still is, dominated by gender eliminativists. The elevation of fringe-of-a-fringe transsexual issues to the "cause du jour" has of course introduced irreconcilable metaphysics into the discourse, but coalition building has ever been thus. The philosophical work underpinning extant views on gender goes back over a century, to Nikolay Chernyshevsky's declaration that

people will be happy when there will be neither women nor men

and philosophical feminism has been broadly gender-eliminativist pretty much ever since.

All of that to say: progressives can't do "male role models" because progressives are fundamentally opposed to the existence of men. Sure, sure--ask your local progressive, they might very well deny it. But this is the standard motte and bailey that exists between thought leaders and political movements everywhere, the disconnect between political theory and political practice. You can't read feminism without stumbling over gender eliminativism, and progressivism is avowedly feminist. "Eliminate gender" is right up there with "abolish the family" on a list of things progressives explicitly and actually want to accomplish, even if these are things they're willing to compromise on for the moment, for the movement.

And you can't really believe that gender needs to be abolished, while simultaneously believing that anyone needs male role models. At best you might say something like, "well, we have to meet the little troglodytes where they are, so we need some... mannish... role models--but not too mannish! Nothing, you know, toxic, nothing overtly heteronormative..." and you've already lost the plot.

This is just another clear case of progressive dreams running headlong into the unyielding embrace of biological reality. People are incredibly plastic! And yet we are not, apparently, infinitely plastic. "Cultural construction" can do a lot, but it cannot lightly obliterate thousands of years of natural selection.

Talk of "misogyny" simply misses the point, and the problem. The only really committed misogynists I've ever met have been women. The men I know who seem to hate women, very obviously genuinely love women--but are angry that they have been denied access to women, by whatever means and for whatever reason. Sometimes it's literally just their own unrealistic expectations. Sometimes they have been badly mistreated by women. Sometimes they are bewildered by the refusal of women in their lives to behave as women. You cannot use "role models" to train people away from this kind of behavior; heterosexual men denied access to women will never just accept that fact. At best, maybe you build sexbots sufficiently indistinguishable from tradwives or something, allowing biological women to pursue whatever bland "non-binary" life they imagine lies at the end of the eliminativist project, but until those bots can do particularly biological things like have babies, there will still be men who dedicate their lives to finding a woman--and, sometimes, going off the rails when faced with sufficiently brutal failure.

Or so it seems to me. I think the progressive response is probably retrenchment on the idea that, surely, anyone can be taught to be anything, given sufficiently quality teaching methods. ("We just need more government!") But their real goal isn't to make better men, it's to make a world where there are no men, in the sense that the social gender binary has been eradicated. Recruiting masculine role models to achieve that end is flatly contradictory.

I'm not so sure that the progressive agenda is to remove gender. There is a lot of progressive effort to promote female role models and that doesn't seem consistent with removing gender unless the goal was to promote female role models that would influence women to act more like men.

Any discussion of the progressive agenda is going to be confounded by the fact that a) there is no pope of progressivism, empowered to speak on behalf of progressives or set doctrine progressives must adhere to in order to be proper progressives b) not everyone is even referring to the same groups of people when they talk about progressives (elected officials like the CPC make an obvious standard, since they actually represent millions of people and have a hand in making laws, but they're usually not going to be avant-garde as academics/activists/pseudonymous bloggers).

I'm not so sure that the progressive agenda is to remove gender.

I mean, you're not obligated to agree with me, but I did provide a fair bit of evidence you don't appear to have actually gone over.

There is a lot of progressive effort to promote female role models and that doesn't seem consistent with removing gender unless the goal was to promote female role models that would influence women to act more like men.

Female role models, yes. Feminine role models, no, at least not qua feminine role models.

I included the links I did quite deliberately; the Louise Antony interview concludes with her commentary that she supports the transsexual movement to the extent that it undermines the gender binary. To add to that, Sally Haslanger has written that "when justice is achieved, there will no longer be white women (there will no longer be men or women, whites or members of any other race)." Any time you see the phrase "eliminate gender inequality" you are looking at words that mean "eliminate gender differences" which is functionally equivalent to "eliminate gender"--because if all genders are identical, then there is only one gender, and since gender exists to distinguish different things, collapsing gender into socially identical constructs collapses gender entirely.

I also found this blog which agrees that

Gender, or some forms thereof, is seen by the vast majority of feminists as undesirable in many ways

The article goes on to note that some feminists think that gender can't be abolished in every possible way, but even this is marked as "unfortunate":

One can wish to abolish gender roles and gender stereotypes, but preserve gender identity and gender norms as unfortunately inevitable in some way.

Feminism, as I said, has been broadly gender eliminativist for more than a century, and progressivism is avowedly feminist. It's not a selling point! It's not something you're likely to hear from a Democrat politician any time soon--any more than you will hear them say "abolish the family." But it is one of the core values of the whole movement, something that informs every other action, even actions by people (most people!) who have no idea that the point and purpose of their activism was written long ago. As Keynes observed:

The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back. I am sure that the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas. Not, indeed, immediately, but after a certain interval; for in the field of economic and political philosophy there are not many who are influenced by new theories after they are twenty-five or thirty years of age, so that the ideas which civil servants and politicians and even agitators apply to current events are not likely to be the newest. But, soon or late, it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil.