some depressing links for you.

This gentleman argues that perhaps the experiment of giving women the right to vote should be reconsidered. No, no I’m serious… the main argument is basically:

So, what I’m talking about here is not just the influence of women voters as women voters. What I’m talking about is the political impact of defining society in purely liberal terms as a collection of equal persons, rather than as an organic society in which different parts of the population are seen as naturally different from each other and so specializing in different spheres.

He thinks women should not be considered citizens but should go back to being understood in their traditional roles, so everyone knows where they stand.

I will say, though, that although obviously this is a ridiculous notion, the concern that it stems from is something valid. I think we do have a problem in the modern world about figuring out who we are, and I think there are 3 possible answers, 2 of which are weak but which we turn to most often. They are traditional roles, consumerism, and existentialism – we can use different words to name the categories, and there is some overlap, but the idea I’m getting at is the notion that “who you are” can be the socially determined fate into which you are born, an expression of a cultural type manifested in consumer choices, or true freedom. True freedom is the most frightening and the hardest work – as Sartre said, we’re “condemned to be free” – so people turn to social roles or consumer roles to find a way to fit within something larger, to be a cog in a machine, because we want to be cogs in a machine, in a nice, comforting machine that we all belong to, where we all have a purpose.

ANyway, the conservative dream is to return to a time when everyone knew their place, when goils were goils and men were men, because it provides a structure within which to live that works in the broad scheme, and it doesn’t matter if a few individuals are unhappy or claustrophobic. The modern age, sadly, has not been able to do all that much better, although we tend to be unhappy for different reasons now – we don’t have time for real introspection and philosophy, so we turn to consumption and keeping up with the Joneses.

THe other depressing link I wanted to share is another kind of example of keeping up – the BBC did a little quiz where they had two writers discuss War & Peace, one of whom was the author of a book on bluffing. He’d never read it, and was making the case that you don’t have to actually read things; you can bullshit your way through life. The results were pretty even – about half the respondents thought the guy who had actually read Tolstoy was the faker, perhaps because he wasn’t trying to hit the plot points quite so distinctly but just rambling organically. But of course the depressing thing is that someone wants to fake having read great books. If you don’t want to read it DON”T READ IT. Then go do something else. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. If you don’t like literature, don’t talk about literature. It is perfectly okay to not like literature. Be interested in whatever interests you, and make it interesting to other people by honestly expressing that.

2 Responses to “some depressing links for you.”

  1. Richard Gay Says:

    Miranda, I wonder if pure existentialism can really serve to meet the needs we appear to have as social beings? I don’t mean to make the case for traditional roles or consumerism (as I have problems with each). Where do you fit in it all?

  2. Dennis Osborne Says:

    I fear ‘existentialism’ is a word whose meaning goes beyond its dictionary definition which leaves me out. But as for a professed difference between men and women and a desire to gain control, I’ve observed it’s not only men who have been guilty of that. The Women’s Movement often vilified the opposite sex. And it was only a few weeks ago, Sally Fields, in accepting an Emmy award, declared wars would come to an end when mothers were in control.

    I think she was way off, though. I’ve observed there are a good many women hawks, and not just in our land.

    I suspect both men and women feel there are some differences between them in perspectives. I’m grateful these are times when that’s a discussion usually met with a sense of humor rather than adversity.

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