YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

November 11, 2017

My flagging sense of “propriety”

NBC News photo

This blog is about the notion that loss of self-control by males regarding the pawing of young girls is a breach of “propriety.”

As I write this, the press is roiled over the Roy Moore pedophile question, with many media (and Republican “moderates”) demanding that “Judge Moore” step down for the allegations that he was guilty of “sexual improprieties” while a mature man of 32. But this riveting case may mask a larger problem: the invasion of women into the male sphere. In this posting, I look broadly at the Roy Moore problem.

I have watched aghast as a parade (or “avalanche”) of male miscreants have been outed by indignant ladies and a sympathetic press. Why am I amazed? It is the salience of [pedophile] sexuality as a political issue in an era of anti-Freud propaganda.

(See https://clarespark.com/2017/10/27/moral-chaos-of-womanhood-the-harvey-weinstein-scandal-and-lolita/, https://clarespark.com/2014/03/02/roy-porter-and-the-anti-psychiatry-movement/ and https://clarespark.com/2012/02/19/the-romantic-repudiation-of-freud-co/.  It is a major claim of Freudians that sexuality and aggression are primary human instincts that must be recognized to explain neuroses, war, and violence in general.) It is true that the wave of feminism coming out of the New Left has concentrated on sexual liberation (https://clarespark.com/2012/10/03/the-sexual-revolution-2/), but most women would probably agree that males are in dire need of “civilizing” and that male sexual aggression is more of the norm than social conservatives are likely to admit.

Witness the phrase “sexual impropriety” (of which Roy Moore is supposedly guilty) as if self-control was a subset of politeness.

Most readers of this website are not looking for “politeness” but for an empirical, historical look at current controversies. As I look over my long development, I have concluded that emulation of my father the doctor is the key factor, for I went into science teaching as a substitute for a career in medicine. As a science major at the Cornell University State College of Agriculture in the mid-1950s, I had to take a semester of practice teaching to get my degree. It is that story of my alleged impropriety in the Fall of 1958 at Ithaca High School that is the focus of this posting.I was anything but a feminist in that conservative decade, but I did take myself seriously as a prospective chemistry teacher (a deviant choice for a young female, I was to learn).

My supervisor was Mr. Ming, who would take a brown bag lunch with other male science faculty. In my 1950s naiveté, I thought that they would be discussing matters of scientific relevance during their lunch break, so zealous Clare improperly showed up at their confab. Mr. Ming punished me with a bad grade: a“65” because I had an inadequate “sense of propriety,” a grade that my (male) Cornell professor changed to a “90.”

I am resuscitating this memory to make a larger point than some conservative or “moderate” commentators snowed by an “avalanche” of belated confessions: that women of my generation were politely and punitively excluded from the “male” sphere, and that this situation was of more interest to me at that time in the mid-to-late 1950s than various clumsy male gropings of adolescent-looking females seem to be today (https://clarespark.com/2017/10/27/moral-chaos-of-womanhood-the-harvey-weinstein-scandal-and-lolita/).

Or, if we dig deeper, is the entire Roy Moore flap better seen as yet another assault on Southern and Western “cowboys” by neo-Progressive liberals?



June 11, 2011

Coulter, Weiner, Goldberg and the Liberal Mob

Two events in the last several weeks are worthy of comment by a historian.  First, the still brewing scandal of Congressman Anthony Weiner’s tweets, and second, the release of Ann Coulter’s latest book, this one entitled Demonic: How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America.

Yesterday on my Facebook page, I wondered why the thrust of “Weinergate” was a mob-like assault on Weiner, tantamount to a witch hunt. Pundits did have the option to talk about male sexuality [and its drive toward multiple partners], instead of piling on Weiner. As this was a bit abstract and possibly dangerous territory,  I tried to direct the discussion into the hyper-sexualization of adolescence in the popular television show Glee, going so far as to suggest that adolescent boys and girls might be better off separated in single-gender schools so that they might be free of the biologically based preoccupation with snaring love-objects.  As a feminist, I was especially concerned with the emotional manipulation learned by girls that caters to male fetishes. This latter suggestion prompted some responses and lots of wandering off topic. Sex is apparently too hot to handle especially in a public forum. One very religious right-wing commentator on my list was furious that Weiner had lied. I replied (roughly) that the lying that goes on in both private and public life was so pervasive as to be the norm, and that powerful persons will do and say anything to retain power, that the problem is with a culture that rewards status-preservation above the truth.

Earlier in the week, one Christian Toto, a writer for Pajamas Media, puffed Coulter’s latest outpouring against the Democratic Party, adding to his praise a mention of Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism.  Both works see the Jacobin mob and its Reign of Terror as precursor to everything that conservatives Coulter and Goldberg reject in progressive America.  I objected to this ahistoric and irresponsible  line of reasoning in a comment, and the comment was censored. I also remarked that venting on the internet was not constructive. I had crossed a line, at least for whoever moderated the comments.

It is very strange to me that Anthony Weiner’s lying should be universally condemned, while Coulter’s and  Goldberg’s lying and hysterical demonization of the opposition, is not. It is one thing for conservative journalists to condemn statism through criticism of specific social policies, but to take the moral high ground while highly vulnerable themselves is hypocrisy. Ann Coulter agrees with Jonah Goldberg that we are in the grip of a “nanny state.” (Coulter notoriously suggested –jokingly–that women not be allowed to vote, for their compassionate nature overcomes sound economic policy.)

I have worked over Jonah Goldberg’s awful book here: https://clarespark.com/2010/03/10/jonah-goldbergs-liberal-fascism-part-one/. I have not written previously about Ann Coulter, but I recommend another blog  https://clarespark.com/2009/07/13/eros-and-the-middle-manager-s-m-with-implications-for-multiculturalism/.  If Ann Coulter does not fit the dominatrix archetype, then no one does. Her popularity (on the Right) as a polemicist is a symptom of a pathological and hyper-polarized political culture. It is also a reminder that conservatives and classical liberals have little to say to each other.

[Added later 6-11-2011:] I have been asked to specify how Goldberg and Coulter were lying.  In my blog on Liberal Fascism, I pointed out that Goldberg had mischaracterized Walter Lippmann. [I just reread my blog: I criticized Goldberg on Lippmann elsewhere on the website, here: https://clarespark.com/2009/08/19/noam-chomskys-misrepresentation-of-walter-lippmanns-chief-ideas-on-manufacturing-consent/.] In both cases (Goldberg and Coulter), there is no genealogy that links the [godless]  Jacobin terror with modern social democracy and its alleged mob psychology. It is a violation of historical method to do that. The precursors to social democracy were religious conservatives fending off materialist ideologies (e.g. materialists doing history without taking into account divine intervention in human affairs). They include Christian Socialism, Bismarck, the Social Gospel, the distributionism of Rerum Novarum, and of the Progressive movement in general. Social democrats have been strong anticommunists, offering their own piecemeal reform as the antidote to godless materialism.

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