Thursday, July 18, 2019

Me Too Hysteria: The Ultimate Loss of Femininity

A woman and a man with futuristic guns fighting in the desert
Could and should a young black female play James Bond? As Daniel Craig is planning to officially retire from impersonating the British spy James Bond, Lashana Lynch is potentially slated to take over and inherit the role of the famous secret agent 007. This suggestion has excited and enthused many, and it has been heralded as a watershed moment of diversity. In my point of view, this excitement is misguided and misdirected, and these kinds of choices are not a sign nor signal of liberation but rather one of desperation.

Before I get prematurely attacked or branded as being misogynistic or racist, or both, please hear me out and let me explain a few points and thoughts about the Me Too movement. I applaud and highly encourage gender equality and am against racial discrimination as well as discrimination based on sexual orientation or lifestyle. And as long as this movement is dealing with and focusing on these issues, I am in full agreement and in support of this movement.

In the initial stages of what is known as the Me Too movement, female actresses came out against rich and powerful men in the movie industry. One of the most notorious men in this case was Harvey Weinstein who had previously seemed untouchable; he wielded his position and influence and forced women to do his bidding; he humiliated them, took advantage of them and emotionally and sexually abused the women within his grasp and range.

Such injustices and criminal actions were often not reported or were disregarded and discarded by the authorities as well as the media. Men who preyed upon women and violated their rights often got away with their abuses because they had protection from higher-ups and because they benefited from a culture that kept turning a blind eye to such violations.

These actions went under-reported by women who felt threatened by the status quo, and these incidents were rarely reported in the news and media. This created an atmosphere that debilitated women. 

One of the most cringe-worthy and appalling arguments in sexual assault cases was that women provoked the abuses heaped upon them by either placing themselves in a dangerous location or by dressing provocatively. Rape is the ultimate form of violence against women in which the male dominates over and violates all that is feminine. (The rape of children of both sexes is even more revolting and disgusting, but that is not within the scope of my post here.)

Another fact was also the cultural white-only hegemony. Movie characters and superheroes were predominately white, whereas ethnic actors would be generally delegated to portraying villains or at best they were given minor roles as nonessential characters. There simply was not enough diversity on television or in cinema no matter where you looked.

The immensely popular show Friends may have equally sported both genders, but it was populated by well-to-do young and good-looking white characters only. This has been worrying throughout the history of the beloved small screen, while one of the notable exceptions to the rule The Cosby Show has in recent times lost its prestige and standing because its colored protagonist committed inexcusable acts against women.

As a growing positive trend in the film industry, we now have various movies that focus on a more diverse cast, whether they be Asians or people of color often in their own shows and programs. This ranges from the critically acclaimed Black Panther (2018) of the Marvel series to the more recent and highly successful Crazy Rich Asians (2018) to other shows that highlight ethnic groups from Dear White People to Atlanta and Black-ish. The argument that these programs would not be lucrative or popular have been proven wrong and illusory; in fact, the opposite has been shown to be true.

This trend of empowerment has spilled over into more movies that portray and show us strong female characters. Although again I applaud such movies, it has started to lead down a dangerous slope of decline, which I shall elaborate upon a little later. For now, having gender presented and represented in equal measure has been again a very positive and beneficial trend. I think that the world is better not worse off when it comes to positive and powerful female characters like Wonder Woman (2017) and Captain Marvel (2019).

Then came the wave towards remaking traditionally male films with female reboots, and that was and has been a decisive step in the wrong direction. Although the all female cast of Ocean’s Eight (2018) and to an extent Netflix’s Wine Country (2019) were generally well done and not unpleasant, the Ghostbusters (2016) reboot clearly signaled what is most wrong with this new trend.

My problem is not due to having female instead of male characters, but that the Ghostbusters reboot was very sloppily written and at times deliberately insulting both to men and women. It was filled with propaganda that seemed to espouse highly stereotypical views of men. It was never all right for men to have stereotypical views of women, so why should women do so and get away with it even if it was supposedly made for laughs.

This trend has now extended to having - or proposing to have - a female Bond. Now James Bond is a fictional male character that is based on Ian Fleming’s novels. The previous movie adaptations may have supported and promoted stereotypical views on gender, but none of this changes the fact that the character is male. While in Ghostbusters, there could easily be female protagonists, and they could have gotten away with it with a better script, not to say better acting and filmmaking, in Bond’s case, this is simply not possible.

And if this trend is followed through, why not also have a female Sherlock Holmes as well as a female Rambo, Rocky, Shaft, and Terminator. And why not make an all female version of Lawrence of Arabia? The idea of having women play traditionally male roles is certainly not liberating but rather limiting if not downright ludicrous. It may be trying to undermine what is a male-dominated and oriented domain, but this unimaginative approach is one that is fueled by and filled with resentment against what are, for better or worse, considered traditionally male qualities.

What all of this shows us is that women do not want to be free, but they want to be exactly like men. They consciously or unconsciously copy male chauvinism in the forms of attitude, violence, and disregard for others. The tables have turned and now the women shall topple the patriarchy and start oppressing the male. Personally, I would not mind having women in power but do not warm to the idea of having women play men in power; it is merely the same thing only presented in a different wrapping and outfit.

Essentially, my idea of feminism is that men and women ought to have equality, yet they should not be the same. Put differently, they should have access to the same rights and opportunities but not be duplicates of one another. If and when both are identical, we all end up losing, and all the diversity in gender will be irrevocably lost.

Of course, gender is not binary. Regardless of what sex you are born in, you will have both female and male characteristics. Ideally, each of them, just like the yin and yang of the Tao, are and should be in equilibrium. That is either sex will contain and embrace elements of the other.

The problem is that traditional society does not see it that way. Boys are supposed to act tough, be independent and not cry, while girls are encouraged to freely express their emotions, but they need to be interdependent, passive, if not downright submissive. In that sense, each and both will feel hurt and stagnated as their other tendencies are not fully explored nor developed.

The problem with feminism is that it often has little to do with feminine values or femininity; it is often the exact opposite of what is considered feminine. This movement is for the most part women trying to be more like men, that is to become more aggressive and tough in their demeanor and actions.

I do not in any way support or subscribe to toxic masculinity, as it is blindly aggressive, bellicose and mean-spirited. But it is rather convenient for women to overlook their own flaws and assume that they are pure and innocent, i.e. a virgin, the symbol and embodiment that ironically enough the patriarchal groups created to attack and confine women.

Many say toxic femininity is not a thing and does not exist, but the reality is women attack in different both subtle and not so subtle ways: They will often resort to passive-aggressive violence. I have been a recipient of such abuse at work, and in fact in a previous job interview led by three women I felt under attack for simply being from the male species (the job position went to a female evidently).

Once in my early college years, I witnessed two women fighting, and it was a rather horrendous scene that left me in shock. When guys fight, there are certain unspoken rules, but when these girls were scrapping, it was complete chaos as there was scratching, screaming and hair-pulling accentuated by constant shrieking.

In fact, radical feminists (whom my wife ingeniously calls femi-Nazis) would negate and fight against the softer and gentler qualities of the feminine and instead incorporate traditionally male characteristics; not only are such feminists denying and rejecting their own femininity, but they also turn their indiscriminate attacks on men as well as all the women who do not espouse their rigid and one-sided conception of womanhood.

When women fought for equality, their right to vote, for instance, feminism used to be a veritable movement in the formidable and noble sense of equality, but when women started feeling ashamed of wearing skirts or of putting on make-up, then something started going awry. It seems that everything that was previously deemed natural shall be turned on its head and that being married and having a family means one has fallen prey to the patriarchal system or establishment.

Some of the changes may have been tied to economic necessity. In the 50s, traditions reigned supreme: the woman demonstrated her innate maternal instincts but was also delegated to the house and kitchen, while the husband went to work. Evolutionary speaking, this was the typical script in which men went to hunt for livelihood (to earn money for the purchase of food and goods), while women stayed home to look after the offspring by also taking care of the rest of the family and preparing or cooking meals for all.

This type of behavior has been ingrained and practiced since the beginning of humankind, and it has been passed on from one generation to the other. Yet right after the 60s, the sexual revolution turned things around. Ideologically, this is for the best, but with it came also a time of economic instability. Thereafter, women could not stay home even if they wanted to; especially after the 80s, it was much more common to see both husband and wife work full-time to make ends meet.

Children were not taken care of by either party; they were sent to daycare facilities. This was an essential loss for the children since they would lack essential contact and bonding with their caregivers and would be instead raised by complete strangers. This was said to foster independence but instead caused lack of connection and a general air and climate of confusion within the child’s psyche.

After this time, women enjoyed their new-found independence and decided to further explore the workforce. Since they gained more economic opportunities, they also gained power both within the household as well as within society. But in some ways, the same women were still unconsciously wanting to hold onto the maternal aspects of caring for the household; as a result, they would often run themselves down by putting too much on their own plates. This is the woman who looks after her child while also working full-time. By trying to control both worlds, she completely exhausts herself and becomes confused regarding her own identity.

Hence, men are often called in to do a task they are not naturally suited or equipped for as it is evolutionary speaking not their domain. They can try hard and learn, but it is not and does not form part of their instincts. Mothers have a symbiotic relationship with their infants as they have been carrying and feeding them in their womb for almost a year, a vital experience that men do not and cannot have and that the males are essentially deprived of.

Similarly, men as ex-hunters tend to relish or thrive under competitive and aggressive situations or at least those scenarios may come to them more naturally, whereas women will necessarily struggle in such situations; they would lack the aggressive touch and impulse. Both respective genders end up being out of place and feeling void and unsatisfied in their new chosen roles.

Again, this is not based on individual differences, but it rather points to general trends. It is a fantasy if not a downright lie that you are born with a blank slate and that you can be who you want to be. In terms of bodies, including the brain and hormones, there is a distinct gender divide, and we are not equal. 

Our bodies are not the same, so how and why should our minds be? This is not a bad thing but something that has ensured that we complement and complete each other in terms of character, ability and even personality, not unlike the androgynous myth of Aristophanes as accounted in Plato’s Symposium.

This does not mean that men cannot excel in traditionally feminine careers like nursing and teaching, nor that women cannot become engineers or scientists, but that there is a still a visible gender gap between these professions, which is due to the innate abilities for each specific gender. Men may have a greater capacity to focus and follow through with tasks, while women tend to be better with social connections as well as being able to multi-task or handle and deal with different tasks and assignments at the same time.

Oddly enough, one of the most accurate but equally disconcerting representations of gender equality is Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers (1997). In this futuristic sci-fi flick, both men and women were the same; there were women that had higher military positions and both men and women showered together as they had lost their differences. 

Both were in the same locker room naked in front of the other while acting and interacting naturally and without shame, modesty or embarrassment; their bodies elicited neither lust nor curiosity, the same way, it was not surprising nor odd to have male or female superiors among their ranks.

In that scenario, gender was easily replaced and interchangeable since they had lost what it meant to be men descended from the sun or Mars and women descended from the earth or Venus. They were merely genderless almost shapeless humans that were living and breathing amongst each other, or rather they were like Adam and Eve before they were tempted and prompted to notice their differences and forge their own separate gender identity.

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