Friday, January 20, 2023

Too Hot to Handle: Invincible Girls

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

You’ve seen the meme going around. Or maybe you haven’t. It reads like this:

“I took my girlfriend to see it. She knew nothing about Wonder Woman. In the opening training scene she leaned over and whispered, ‘Those are all women?’ After the movie, she had to take a moment in the car. She said, ‘So that’s what representation feels like. I had no idea that kind of role model was missing from my life.’ Then we cried. Thank you, Wonder Woman.”

Tom: Anything about that sweet story make you the slightest bit suspicious it isn’t 100% non-fiction, IC? (Hint: the claim, “Then we cried” is strongly suggestive.)

Immanuel Can: This is a guy we’re talking about, right? I just want to check, because it’s by no means apparent to me.

Pop Culture Fem-tropes

Tom: Assuming it’s a true story, I almost positive she dumped him the next day. If not, she should have.

IC: On the Wonder Woman thing, the idea that every woman is potentially a kick-butt Amazon has some currency in modern fiction, that’s for sure. Xena: Warrior Princess, Charlie’s Angels, The Bionic Woman … how far back can we go and find this pop culture trope?

Tom: Oh, it’s been around for a long time. The difference, I think, with Farrah Fawcett and Lindsay Wagner in the seventies was that nobody thought for a second that a woman trading punches with a man on a TV show reflected reality in any way, shape or form. They enjoyed those stories and characters without feeling that what they were watching had very much to do with their own identities. I never heard girls talk about how Jill Munroe or Jaime Sommers “represented” them. They just wished they had hair that looked that good.

The Grrl Power Narrative

IC: That’s a difference I detect. I think a lot of today’s girls and women have stopped knowing how far from reality all that nonsense is, and have started imagining there’s something to it. It’s been a slow process, because the obvious facts are so clearly against it; but propaganda works slowly. Anyway, I’m amazed at the number of young women around today who genuinely seem to imagine that they can do anything and remain in control of their own safety and situation. The theory seems to go, “We ought to have a right to do anything we want, and we want to be powerful, therefore we are.”

Tom: The reality, as we know, is much scarier. What do they teach women in self-defense classes? They teach them to run at the first opportunity. Why? Because on average men have 26 lbs. more skeletal muscle mass than women, 40% greater upper body strength and 33% greater lower body strength. Again, on average, men are faster and have considerably greater endurance. In 2015, it was estimated that 85% of women could not complete the U.S. army’s basic training without compromising the current standard of fitness required.

These facts are not in dispute. In the real world, at least so far as physical differences between the sexes are concerned, the “grrl power” narrative is a total bust.

Empowerment for Sale

So why is the media pushing it so hard, IC?

IC: I think it’s ideological. It’s PC to argue that females are “equivalent” or even in some ways better than males. But even more, it’s commercial. It’s a message that people want to believe, and it sells stuff. What I cannot believe, however, is that a portrayal of women can get so very far from any reality and still be clung to so fervently by some.

I think we have good reason to be concerned.

Tom: Now, there are obvious dangers that can arise when a woman believes she can handle herself physically against men and then finds out that she can’t. There’s video going around of a young Antifa woman at the Berkeley riots a few months ago who took seriously the directive to “punch a Nazi in the face” and was knocked cold by a single left hook in response.

Incidentally, you will notice the women among the Trump supporters in those video clashes don’t do this: they stay behind the lines, provide support and encouragement, watch for incoming rocks and bottles and tend to the injured. The Leftist mobs, on the other hand, put their women right on the front lines where they take their lumps with the men.

Of course most of the time it doesn’t come to that.

Competing at a Disadvantage

But what does it tell us that so many women so urgently want to compete with men in an arena where they are at such a clear and decisive natural disadvantage?

IC: Well, they’ve been indoctrinated with the nonsense idea that they’re not. And they’ve also got the idea that women hitting men is permissible, without any consequences ... that it’s some sort of legitimate and protected demonstration of female exception-taking to males. So now YouTube is full of videos of women hitting men — then getting slapped back much harder, slugged into unconsciousness or put through plate-glass windows for their trouble.

Now, the Islamists ... there is a group of men who know just how much power differential they have with women; and they’re taking full advantage of the fact that many women do not any longer have a realistic assessment of their situation.

Tom: I think that’s true.

A Lose-Lose Proposition

A sidenote: I was talking about the Wonder Woman movie with a woman who hasn’t been brainwashed, and one thing she liked about it was the main character’s compassion and femininity. And, ironically, after listening to her positive take, I note that a significant percentage of hardcore feminists are actually quite unhappy with the movie. Check out this complaint from the Huffington Post:

“Diana was referred to as a ‘god’ and never once as a ‘goddess.’ This was mind-blowing to me. How could this simple acknowledgement of the feminine be neglected in this supposed female empowerment film?”

The writer huffs that the movie did not make her feel “empowered”. And yet you can see the problem here. For years feminists have demanded gender-neutral language, and when they finally get it — from a female director, no less — they start complaining that the “feminine” is being “neglected”. There’s no win to be had here.

Different Definitions

Let’s ask ourselves the relevant question: do Christian women need to be “empowered”, IC? Is this something we should be teaching our daughters to strive for?

IC: “Empowered”? To do what? It makes a big difference what you are being empowered to do, doesn’t it?

Tom: It certainly does, and that’s something feminists are far from clear about. I can’t tell you because they can’t tell us. For instance, if you read the Huffington Post article I quoted in which the word is sprinkled around like a blizzard, it quickly becomes obvious that the writer longs for a world without any men at all, a sisterhood that runs the show. That means not so much empowerment as extinction or exile for 50% of the population.

IC: As an aside, I wonder if some men feel they have a stake in encouraging women to THINK that’s the way things will work out. But clearly there’s always a nasty subtext in women’s liberation rhetoric. For example, “Women should be empowered regarding their reproduction,” means “Men can be promiscuous, while women pick up the tab.” But that’s not often considered ...

Tom: Quite so.

Matriarchy or Just a Little Respect?

Now, I think this writer’s a little on the extreme side. Most women are not interested in a matriarchy, they’re just hoping for maybe a little more agency and autonomy than they feel they currently possess. They’d like a bigger voice in the things that happen to them. And one might even argue that such a state of things might be good in some respects, but nasty old reality demands we acknowledge it will never happen.

IC: Right. Because pushing men out eventually means backlash. And when the backlash comes from the stronger ones, it’s often very unpleasant. Or another culture appears on the scene — one with aggressive men who are indifferent to women’s appeals for understanding — and the women, their neutered male allies and their general culture are not capable of dealing with such a threat.

The Coming Euro-Crisis

Tom: Exactly. Europe is currently in what I think will eventually be understood to be an existential crisis, and much of it has to do with choices made by politically powerful women that have been rubber-stamped by morally- and intellectually-neutered men. No individual is more responsible for the present immigration crisis than German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and she has her female counterparts in every European nation. The most basic problem with a matriarchy or an Amazonian “paradise” is that however peaceful, amicable and reasonable it might be to live in (and I very much doubt that, having some experience of watching women in-fight), it will always remain immensely vulnerable to attacks from the outside world, which in this case means the excluded and more physically powerful men.

Now, the Wonder Woman solution to that problem is superpowers, but these are not abilities our wives and daughters possess. Meaning that as Christian men living in the real world, we have an obligation to protect the women in our lives, both from outside attack and from their own more insane impulses.

IC: Yes. Now, that’s not a popular realization within our current culture; but more and more, we really need men to step up, don’t we?

Evangelical Catfighting

Do you think this emboldening of women is having an impact on spiritual things, on the church?

Tom: Oh, without a doubt. Many churches are badly off the biblical norm with respect to the role of women in both home and church. The ongoing evangelical catfight between egalitarians and complementarians is very much like the one between liberals and conservatives in U.S. politics, in that the allegedly “conservative” complementarians concede all the definitions and alleged problems between the sexes exactly as they have been framed by the more liberal egalitarians: the evils of ‘patriarchy’, the ‘privilege’ of maleness and all that nonsense. The only difference is that they intend to capitulate to the world a little more slowly.

Our generation definitely needs a complete reexamination of the scriptures about the roles of the sexes in home and church, because we are very much under attack on that front.

IC: I wonder if spiritual “real men” are a threatened breed. By a real man, I mean a man who leads his family spiritually, actively pursues the knowledge of Christ, has a commitment to worship, develops his gifts, serves by working hard, gives generously, practices hospitality, and in all things, disciplines his life in order to provide himself as an example.

Tom: I think that’s probably true. Want to pick this up again next week?

IC: Yes, I think so … it’s a big topic, but a necessary one.

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