Dave Sim's blogandmail #251 (May 20th, 2007)
Fifteen Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast That Make You a Good Feminist
1. A mother who works a full-time job and delegates to strangers the raising of her children eight hours a day, five days a week does just as good a job as a mother who hand-rears her children full time.
2. It makes great sense for the government to pay 10 to 15,000 dollars a year to fund a daycare space for a child so its mother - who pays perhaps 2,000 dollars in taxes - can be a contributing member of society.
3. A woman's doctor has more of a valid claim to participate in the decision to abort a fetus than does the father of that fetus.
4. So long as a woman makes a decision after consulting with her doctor, she is incapable of making an unethical choice.
5. A car with two steering wheels, two gas pedals and two brakes drives more efficiently than a car with one steering wheel, one gas pedal and one brake which is why marriage should always be an equal partnership.
6. It is absolutely necessary for women to be allowed to join or participate fully in any gathering place for men, just as it is absolutely necessary that there be women only environments from which men are excluded.
7. Because it involves taking jobs away from men and giving them to women, affirmative action makes for a fairer and more just society.
8. It is important to have lower physical standards for women firepersons and women policepersons so that, one day, half of all firepersons and policepersons will be women, thus more effectively protecting the safety of the public.
9. Affirmative action at colleges and universities needs to be maintained now that more women than men are being enrolled, in order to keep from giving men an unfair advantage academically.
10. Having ensured that there is no environment for men where women don't belong (see no.6) it is important to have zero tolerance of any expression or action which any woman might regard as sexist to ensure greater freedom for everyone.
11. Only in a society which maintains a level of 95% of alimony and child support being paid by men to women can men and women be considered as equals.
12. An airline stewardess who earned $20,000 a year at the time that she married a baseball player earning $6 million a year is entitled, in the event of a divorce, to $3 million for each year of the marriage and probably more.
13. A man's opinions on how to rear and/or raise a child are invalid because he is not the child's mother. However, his financial obligation is greater because no woman gets pregnant by herself.
14. Disagreeing with any of these statements makes you anti-woman and/or a misogynist.
15. Legislature Seats must be allocated to women and women must be allowed to bypass the democratic winnowing process in order to guarantee female representation and, thereby, make democracy fairer.
Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today in the sight of Almighty God to find out what Mike Moore (no, not that one, this is a different Mike Moore) thinks is missed by the "right/wrong" paradigm.
Quoth Mr. Moore:
Any awareness that there is such a thing as a sense of perspective, that context is relevant, or that there is something called "emphasis" and that these things matter and affect the outcome of lives. Many fanatics can be recognized by the fact that, although almost everything that comes out of their mouths is correct in some way (usually it is factual, or a correct quoting of a holy book), their entire emphasis or life direction is unhealthy, insane or detrimental to pretty much everything. So right/wrong doesn't address that huge question of "What is important? Upon what do I have time and energy to expend?"
Well, obviously I disagree. You presuppose that "congruence and conformity" are diametrically opposed to "excellence and worth". Your use of terms like "perspective" "context" and "emphasis" it seems to me constitute the discreet euphemisms which are the foundations of relativism and, to me, that really amounts to writing yourself a blank cheque to "fuzz out the edges" in such a way as to allow you to do whatever you want with impunity by finding and holding a middle ground between right and wrong. A middle ground that I believe, personally, to be wholly fictitious. I mean, in a way, "Would that it were so," and I could write myself a comparable blank cheque, but I don't think it is. You stack the deck in your own favour by unilaterally declaring the emphasis and life direction of the religiously devout and the religiously observant to be "unhealthy, insane or detrimental to pretty much everything." To me (and to them) "pretty much everything" is the (rapidly expanding) societal problem and not the solution: so anything that is to the detriment of "pretty much everything" is all to the good.
Your twofold question is a good one: "What is important? Upon what do I have time and energy to expend?" My own answer is prayer, fasting, acknowledgement of God's sovereignty, paying the zakat, observing a Sabbath and—after the appropriate levels of time and energy have been expended upon them—I expend as little time and energy as possible on "pretty much everything" always attempting to err on the side caution. Reading, doing the Blog & Mail, writing and drawing. That's pretty much it.
I didn't arrive at the "right/wrong" thing to indulge myself in getting bogged down in semantics, but rather, to give myself a shortcut out of conversations and thought patterns that remain perpetually enmired in, "but how is it wrong?" when harm and evil can be seen clearly, or endless "But Is It The Right Thing To Do?" when the worth and excellence and benefits (even "the need") of a thing are achingly apparent. I think people have reworded scriptural points with the words "right and wrong" instead of good and evil so they can allow themselves the leeway to make everything a semantic argument. One sure sign of this is the secular intelligentsia's complete comfort with the words "right and wrong" and complete avoidance of "good/evil" judgements which seems, at first glance, to be them acting the opposite of true to type. The most liberal of parents will tell you, "My job is to teach my child the difference between right and wrong, and how to make proper, informed and correct life choices." It works for them. It provides comfortable buffers of fuzziness to things. Look around for them taking responsibility when their choices have resulted in a significant degree of harm, and suddenly, the words "bad" or "evil" are nowhere to be seen, and words like "syndrome" or "disease" or "disconnect" or "dysfunction" are suddenly all around. We can say a person "made some wrong choices" but not that they are a bad person. John Douglas points out that we don't even like to call serial killers "evil," but prefer to see them as sick. (He then argues that some are sick, and tend to get caught because their brains don't work properly, while others are just bad people who use their fully functioning brains to get away completely with evil acts of murder). Why does society pretend that there is no evil, just "poor choices" "syndromes" and "addictive personalities"? Why does the average person feel that , if something has been given a name, then something has been done about the problem? Why do we call problems "issues" (complications) now? Why does calling a viewpoint "negative" discredit it even more than if it were actually erroneous? We want to live lives where the worst we can be is sick, misguided, confused, wrong about something or addicted. We don't want to live lives where we might be or do evil, might cause harm. The fact is, we can.
My own view is that these things are incremental both in the individual and the societal sense. Let's use you as an example of "the individual" when you say that you want to give yourself "a shortcut out of conversations and thought patterns that remain perpetually enmired in `but how was it wrong?' when harm and evil can be seen clearly." The obvious rejoinder is, "But, what if they can't be seen clearly? What if they aren't self-evident?" In that case, giving yourself a shortcut out of a conversation or a thought pattern centered on that behaviour is a very unwise idea. What you need to do is to face it head on, not evade it, don't you think? The more immobilized you are by the subject matter the less wise it is to find a way to escape it. Better to ask yourself, "Why does this subject immobilize me?"
The idea of incrementalism is so foreign to our society, particularly as it applies to personal morality and the way that it has shifted so let me belabour the point a bit, here. Let's take my personal decision not to listen to music or to own music or own any means of playing music. Where is the harm in music? In itself, probably nothing. It can be seen as harmless if you listen to it intermittently and if you can take it or leave it. It's a different situation, I would maintain, if it takes over your life or a good part of your life. A lot of people—women in particular—when they hear that I don't own anything to play music on say "I'd DIE without music." Well, no you wouldn't. But the fact that you perceive something as frivolous as music as being a critical necessity to sustain life should (I think) tell you something about yourself that you'd probably rather not hear. It's a loamy foundation indeed on which to build the castle of your life, in my view.
Music is everywhere in our society and my own decision was that the music I hear anytime I'm out in public is enough: more than enough. Some heartstring puller from the 1980s that reminds me of my past nightmare lives and terrible decision-making that led me into my relationships with Judith or Zolastraya or Karen McKiel and it becomes pretty obvious, to me anyway, that this stuff is basically unhealthy. Anything beyond that universal totalitarian subjugation (we never voted to determine if everyone wants to listen to music when they're out at the mall, did we?) strikes me as being detrimental to my well-being.
If I could put the television on every two or three days to watch a few minutes of a Blue Jays game, I'd probably still have television. I know better. If I have television and I turn it on I have three or four hours ahead of me, channel-surfing through audio-visual garbage, escalating my interior level of anxiety. I did a fair amount of it in Columbus this last weekend. If you don't have television, yourself, you can't help but be aware of the enormous psychic impact that it has when you do see it after a long absence. As the number of newscasters has increased exponentially, it's become apparent that the television networks are competing in an unspoken Staggeringly Beautiful Young Woman sweepstakes. A Staggeringly Beautiful Young Woman reading the news off of a teleprompter to men in general has enormous impact particularly when there is an unspoken competition and, consequently, her livelihood at stake. She is going to use her Best Staggeringly Beautiful Stuff on the camera. Well, to me, at any number of levels that's depraved. That a young woman is using her Best Stuff on a camera and that an audience of men is captivated by that when, ostensibly, all that should be happening is that the news is being read and listened to that's an example of incremental unhealthiness—it certainly wasn't here in my great-grandfather's day and I doubt he would think it a vast societal improvement -- that has very wide metaphorical coat tails. It excites a desire within me to have a Staggeringly Beautiful Young Women delivering her Best Stuff to my face and that can lead to any number of bad decisions that reading the newspaper in the morning just isn't going to lead to. By choosing to have television and by choosing to channel-surf and to subject myself to Staggeringly Beautiful Young Women, in my view, I'm just asking for trouble, asking to have my accurate perceptions of reality skewed in unhealthy and fantasy-based directions.
Pretty close to 100% of the world would disagree with me on that. I would be seen as a fanatical religious extremist in getting music and television out of my life. My own experience was that my core level of anxiety began there, which made music and television incremental behaviours on the road to bad directions. Both tend to present very idealized versions of fornication as a nuanced form of love and romance, as an example, which tended to steer me in the direction of fornication since I had come to the conclusion that I was never getting married again. At my rational best – that is, when I'm not under the influence of pop music, movies and television -- marriage is way over there and celibacy and is way over here and there is nothing in between. Without music and television I don't have anything suggesting that reality is otherwise and the fact of my celibacy drops out of my conscious thought processes in the same way that marriage has and I'm able to think about important things instead.
Music and television create the impression that not only do there exist a great many options between marriage and celibacy; not only do they create the impression that exploring those options is an inherently good thing and should be an A Double Plus Number One priority in everyone's life but they also engender the notion that there is nothing more inhuman and sterile and dysfunctional than not fornicating on a regular basis. There isn't a single behaviour between marriage and celibacy that someone hasn't written a best-selling song about or which has not been featured prominently in a movie or television drama and usually presented as an inherent good and valid lifestyle choice. That simply wasn't true before movies and television and pop music came along and asserted their stranglehold on society. At one time there was a universal consensus that celibacy was the norm and that nothing existed apart from celibacy except sex within the confines of marriage. You were celibate, you went through the courtship ritual, you got married, you procreated and that was what life was made up of. Everything else was aberrational and to be deplored. It is because of movies and television and pop music that we aren't there any more. Now we are here. We got here as a society, incrementally. At one time I was where society is now and I, too, got there incrementally. Now I'm where society used to be.
It seems to me that when you incrementally allow these little villages to spring up "outside" or "between" right and wrong – you have celibacy over here, marriage over there and then in between you have serial monogamy, cohabitation, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, flirtation, seduction, one-night stands, affairs, lovers, childbirth out of wedlock, ménages a trois, fetishism, and so on – you find that the collectively chosen societal course of incrementalism doesn't stay confined to the precincts between celibacy and marriage. Soon it begins to infect all aspects of human existence which leads to all of the misnamed evils that you identify. As soon as you entrench the viewpoint that all of the little villages between celibacy and marriage are just lifestyle choices and rule out of order any attempt to identify them as either wrong or evil, then what you are doing is incrementally countenancing, endorsing, sanctioning, adopting and recommending evil by revisiting all previous carved-in-stone decision-making and habitually overturning each one of them. Why shouldn't we let children decide what they want to do and what they don't want to do? Why shouldn't we treat animals as people? Why shouldn't we sanction all forms of abortion without exception? Why shouldn't we allow euthanasia? Why shouldn't we merge human and animal foetuses in a test tube and see what grows? Once you start overturning things, it all becomes "of a piece". If it's what we used to do or think, it's old fashioned. If our great grandparents would roll over in their graves seeing what we're doing then that means that we're on the right track.
I think these little villages of incremental corruption are called "issues" in our degraded age because it's an effectively neutral and neutralizing term which can be "moved downfield", philosophically, as society chooses to degrade itself further and further and further. In the sense that a baby is seen as an "issue" which came forth from its mother's womb. That's all that's important: the fact of the baby. Whether the baby is a result of fornication or born in wedlock, whether the baby has a father, the moral or immoral choices the mother made in getting pregnant are considered irrelevant. Even bringing up those elements in our society constitutes "bad manners" on par with farting at the dinner table. Oh, how rude. So, we are being trained by totalitarian feminism to view all of these forms of societal corruptions – these "issues" -- as facts and not to explore their source or pass judgement on their nature. And then to move the context of the term "issue"—that this came from somewhere and is now here – one step away from them so as to increase the impression that they were always here in their present form and that therefore they aren't "issues" themselves.
That is, serial monogamy, cohabitation, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, seduction, one-night stands, affairs, lovers, childbirth out of wedlock, ménages a trois, fetishism have all, in recent memory, gone from being societal "issues" and have now (we have been led to believe) become commonplace, the societal norm, lifestyle choices. They "issued forth": came from somewhere into the nature of which it is bad manners to inquire (my guess would be "evil") and they must be dealt with as if they were inherent value neutral facts and that their increasing ubiquity and societal acceptance doesn't represent societal degradation, but rather societal enlightenment. That is, having any response to them besides acquiescence is to call into question one's own psychiatric solidity. It would not be considered polite to describe homosexuality as a societal "issue" because that would suggest that its factuality and the acceptance of that factuality is being called into question. If I have homosexuality "issues", that's a whole other thing. Homosexuality isn't the problem, calling its societal acceptance into question is the problem. Just look what attaching the word "issues" does to your perception of each of these societal corruptions: I have homosexuality "issues"; I have adultery "issues"; I have seduction "issues"; I have fetishism "issues". Implied in each case is that I don't "get it", that my thinking is not politically correct in that I don't accept these value neutral societal realities as having the nature of value-neutral facts and my thinking needs to be changed or shunned or deprecated if I'm not smart enough to keep my "issues" to myself: I have two choices: get out of the way of their entrenchment and endorsement or face ostracism and vilification as an Evil Misogynist.
A super-long Sunday Edition.
Tomorrow on the Blog & Mail: He's Not Done Yet, Folks!
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