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?

 

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December 18, 2014

“Rape culture”

rape-culture-imageThis blog is about “rape culture” (supposedly an invention of such “man-haters” as Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon in the 1970s, and carried on, controversially, by such as misogynistic, yet Romantic and quixotic Aaron Sorkin: see http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2014/12/14/newsroom_finale_did_aaron_sorkin_forget_how_to_write_a_tv_show.html), http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/the-newsroom-crazy-making-campus-rape-episode, “The Affair” (a Showtime series), and postmodern treatments of the battle of the sexes.

The second wave of feminism did not turn out well, although some of the chapters in The Shock of the Global (Belknap Press of Harvard U., 2010), state or hint that feminism was the most lasting of the 1970’s “human rights movements” that displaced the “Cold War consensus,” going so far in its chapter on Rock Music to claim that groupies were sexually liberated, like androgynous rock stars, making a lasting contribution to the war against the puritanical 1950s. That a woman wrote this chapter, inverting freedom and slavery, should not surprise us. The second wave of feminism was sex-obsessed and most of the activist women I have known would hate this blog.

I have written earlier about the unwinnable and inevitable “battle of the sexes” for all research and personal observation show that men and women are put together differently, and no amount of activism, cross-dressing, or preaching will change these biological differences. (I wrote about androgyny here: https://clarespark.com/2014/01/23/androgyny/.)

DavidBowie

Thus when postmodern feminists of either sex try to contrast male and female perspectives on events in a marriage or an affair, they get it only partly right, as for instance, the contrasting views of recent events in Noah vs. Alison in “The Affair.” (For instance, Noah initially sees Alison as a femme fatale, a perception reiterated in the Fiona Apple death-obsessed song “Container” that heads each episode; whereas Alison sees Noah as the more aggressive of the pair.)

What is missing is any depth of insight into the difficulties in maintaining the romance in any relationship. Also MIA is the attraction that all mature adults feel for the unspoiled beauty of young children, who we imagine to be “innocent” of the animal urges that torment us in attempting to maintain a monogamous relationship, especially a relationship with children who may arouse contrasting and incompatible feelings in fathers versus mothers. (See https://clarespark.com/2009/06/16/woody-allen-and-the-myth-of-the-artist/.)

Most public speech is heavily censored, much of it by ourselves, as we fight to maintain our idealizations of those we love or admire. So we count on poetry and fiction to illuminate the “dark” side of our impulses, but authors, no matter how talented, well-intentioned, and “conscious” may have the same limitations as readers. For we are all populated internally by “ignorant armies that clash by night.” As I have maintained often on this website, we are to an unknowable extent prisoners of our contexts.

This blog has been abstract and vague for reasons of privacy, or perhaps not. For as Herman Melville famously observed in his “crazy” novel Pierre, or the Ambiguities (1852), “It is impossible to talk or to write without apparently throwing oneself helplessly open.” (Note the qualifying word “apparently”; this is how Melville hooks the reader, laying traps wherever he wanders. On the ideological misreadings of Melville’s oeuvre see https://clarespark.com/2010/06/10/herman-melville-dead-white-male/.)

“NO TRUST.”

notrust

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