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October 10, 2012

VJina: Feminist Website Declares Famous WWII Kiss, Between Sailor and Nurse, a "Sexual Assault"

The most famous V-J day picture in the world.

kissing-sailor.jpg

…Far from being a kiss between a loving couple, we learn that George and Greta were perfect strangers. We learn that George was drunk, and that Greta had no idea of his presence, until she was in his arms, with his lips on hers… It seems pretty clear, then, what George had committed was sexual assault.”

Many movements or eras -- most, probably -- enter a decadent phase at some point. I don't know of a textbook definition of a decadent phase, but my off-the-cuff attempt is this:

a period marked by extremely minor variations on art or thought that has gone before, of recycling, of re-using old tropes rather than creating new ideas;

a period marked not by accumulation or creation of capital, whether monetary capital or capital of another kind, such as intellectual or influential or philosophical, but instead marked by the use/spending of previously acquired capital without replenishing same;

a period of sloth, whether sloth in intellect or sloth in industriousness, and a concomitant lowering of standards so that what little new work is done can be credited as good, important, or noble, albeit by a greatly reduced standard;

a period without vitality;

and, ultimately,

a period marked by inward-turning self-indulgence, of whimsy, of juvenalia and "childish things," and a focus on trivia.

I am not an unbiased critic of feminism, or at least "feminism" as is practiced by the the successors of the Frankfurt School on the left.

Nevertheless, I think it's difficult to argue against the point that feminism -- whatever it was in the past -- has entered a long, dreary Decadent Phase, largely focused on the past glories of a long-faded golden age, now rehashing the same three or four themes endlessly into (very slightly) different configurations.

There's a woman I admire for her smarts. I won't say who. I find her to be a lively and interesting thinker, and funny.

But I frequently hear this woman ask "what do my very minor, trivial fashion choices say about me As A Woman (capitalization implicit)?" and "are my occasional attempts to appear attractive a capitulation to the Male Gaze?" and other such absurdities.

In this particular woman's case, she asks these questions archly, with a bit of ironic distance, so that she is parodying herself at the same time she asks these questions. Nevertheless, these questions occur with such frequency I am reasonably confident that, while she is sort of goofing on herself for thinking about such things, she does think about such things, and not just occasionally, but rather a lot.

Which I consider something of a shame. I don't care about her politics, really. But it does strike me that a bright, insightful woman is inflicting something akin to intellectual lobotomization on herself, filling her head with constant trivialities.

I don't hate this woman. I rather like her. I'm a bit of a fan. I actually feel somewhat bad for her. A not-inconsequential portion of her mind is constantly being used to chew over absurdities of a quasi-religious nature. Is the fact that I have chosen to leave my bra-stap visible beneath my t-shirt a betrayal of the feminist ideal? What does my exposed bra-strap say about me as a person? What messages am I sending to the world? What philosophical implications flow from this casually exposed bra-strap?

I think most people would concede that the question "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" is a terrific waste of time that accomplishes nothing except, perhaps, distracting the mind from more important questions with more tangible implications.

Which is how I feel about feminism (Frankfurt School version). A philosophy -- and feminism is put forth as a philosophy -- should engender interesting questions, further avenues of exploration, rather than a stultifying and stupefying its adherents in a warm bath of easy, predictable answers.

And not just easy answers -- but utterly inconsequential ones.

In this feminism seems to me to be a flight from the world, not an engagement with it. Just as monks cloistered themselves away to ponder upon pins and dancing angels,* so too do Frankfurt Feminists cloister themselves -- or at least large parts of their intellects -- in monastaries of the mind, protected from challenge, relentlessly reinforced in the same old dogmas.

There is also a Geek factor to this. One bad habit of geeks -- they have good habits, but some bad ones as well -- is that they create for themselves a very narrow and inconsequential area of expertise -- Transformers, comic books, Star Trek, what have you -- and spend overmuch time in this psychological Woobie.

It's comforting to revisit and revisit and revisit again the same well-known corridors of information. I keep saying that there should be a word for this phenomenon -- preferably German, I think -- to describe "the pleasure one feels by hearing something one already knows to be true."

This is why Shark Week is so popular. People who watch Shark Week already pretty much know everything they're going to see in Shark Week. They know, for example, the Latin nomination for Great White Shark. But it gives them pleasure to hear the words they already know -- Carcharodon carcharias. There's just a comforting pleasure that is hard to describe in "learning" things one has already learned.

It's reassuring. And I think it's also falsely complimentary. When we hear something we already know, a sweet-sounding bell rings in our head-- Pinggg. "I already knew that. I'm knowledgeable. I'm covered on the 'knowing-stuff' front."

There is nothing wrong with this, exactly. All humans have this, I think, to one extent or another.

But I would contend that when a philosophy, or an alleged philosophy, is chiefly made up of the "philosophical" equivalent of Shark Week (Shark Week for the Vagina?), it has ceased being a philosophy and simply become a crutch, an escape. A Woobie.

There is no doubt that the Frankfurt Feminists know everything there is to know about the Male Gaze, the Vagina's para-mind, the philosophical implications of eyeshadow, and the New Holocaust known as "slut-shaming."

Just as there is no doubt that a Trekkie knows precisely where the elevators on the Enterprise run, to what decks.

But Trekkies generally do not call their obsession area of interest a philosophy or a politics. Generally they acknowledge, abashedly, the silliness of it, and will confess, if asked sharply, "Sure, there are more important things."

As humans we are not required to delve into the Most Important Things at all times. Escape is an underrated thing. A simple pleasure is no sin.

Nevertheless, a fundamentally trivial pursuit ought not be elevated to the plane of a supposedly rigorous philosophy which substantially defines the core of one's intellectual being.

We chuckle at people who wear Star Trek uniforms on the street, but when women dress as Singing Vaginas it is put to us, quite seriously, that we are to take this as a Political Statement.

It's not. It's arrogant geekery, the geekery of the geek who doesn't realize his passion is, while understandable enough on a human level, rather silly.

This is my problem with currently-configured Frankfurt Feminism. I don't fear it as an ideology. Just as I don't fear the Trekkie ideology.

But when I see a woman whom I rather like and respect filling her head with such nonsense -- thinking about Gender Issues, as it were, once every seven seconds -- I feel bad that she's been conned, and that her brain is simply not firing on all cylinders, clogged, as it is, with bubblegum and sillystring.

I guess it's not really my place to tell anyone else "You can be more than this. You can cast your gaze further than these comforting, but cramped, nearby shores."

So I won't tell them this.

But this is what I think about them. I think it's frankly sad, and I think it's actually a betrayal of women to fill their heads with this Cosmo Confuscianism -- and to insist to them that they're Not Really Women unless they are constantly deranging their thoughts with sabotaging their intellects with Meditations Upon a Bra-Strap.

I don't find it so terrible when I see dumb women do this -- fine. Dumb things for dumb people. Fools need their foolscap, too.

But when I see smart women so trapped in trivia, I do cringe a little. And I do nod -- very condescendingly -- when I hear assertions like "I am a serious, intelligent woman, and therefore I will now write about the silliest bubblegum mock-politics imaginable for the next hour, or the next ten years of my career."

Rape: The easy rejoinder to this, which I of course perfectly predictable and perfectly silly (and hence a perfect illustration of what I'm talking about), is "You're calling rape a trivium?!?!"

Um, no. Of course not. What I'm saying is that Frankfurt Feminists are connecting fundamentally unserious things to a serious thing through convoluted logic in order to call the unserious things "serious."

A bad sort of Star Trek Geek might attempt to defend his obsession by claiming that "Star Trek teaches us about war, about fundamental truths of humanity, about philosophy, and about man's ultimate destiny in the stars," or some crap.

Thus he will attempt to link his trivia about Yeoman Rand's first name to something weighty and with legitimate import.

But we reject this. Knowing that Rand's first name is "Janice" has nothing to do with that other stuff.

And very silly things -- fashion choices, art fancies, and the like -- are being invested with a false import by constantly linking them, somehow, after a couple of tendentious claims and a few logical leaps, to rape.

There was actually a Star Trek, or two, that had some rape in it. Or rape-like stuff, like Kirk and Uhura being forced into sexual contact against their will. By uh, mind control.

I can't play the Rape Card, though, to insist that this makes Star Trek of serious importance.

And yet this is the method by which all of these fundamentally unserious things in Frankfurt Feminism are invested with false seriousness -- tie them to rape (or... metaphorical rape), and Bob's Your Uncle. Now it's serious.

Headline Theft: "VJina" swiped from dang(c), in the comments. It's too good.

* I realize monks did more than this, including charitable works and keeping the enlightenment alive during the Dark Ages as well as pondering much more relevant theosophical questions. This is what we call a partially accurate metaphor. Most metaphors are only partially accurate. Only A = A. Forget it, he's rolling.


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posted by Ace at 02:08 PM

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