Modern feminism has, for the most part, concerned itself with issues of objectification and sexual assault. The #MeToo movement is a prime example of this new concern with social perceptions of women – and its demands in this specific area are reasonable and morally sound. Feminism has, in this area, identified problems that may otherwise have gone unnoticed by the public at large, and has highlighted areas that are genuine causes of concern in our society.
The unfortunate problem for the movement is that it really fails to put forward workable solutions. ‘Teaching rapists not to rape’ is about as effective as trying to convince a lion to go vegan. In our modern upbringing, we are taught – through conscious and unconscious means – that sexual assault is evil. The problem we have, as is often the case, is that a world of subjective morality and ‘I do what I want’ freedom means perpetrators either do not care about the moral implications of their actions, excuse them, or dismiss their very existence. The question, then, is why this is the case. Why have we, as a society, produced so many amoral people – and, more pressingly, how do we stop them from being so?
The problem, controversially, is freedom. The honeyed, siren song of freedom to act without consequence is everywhere; self-restraint is sneered at and belittled. That most important fact, which our ancestors so clearly knew – and that we now so zealously destroy – is that society is built upon the foundations of individual self-restraint.
We moderns now sneer at the prudishness and constraint of Victorian-era society, and yet make no attempt to understand how or why it came about. Victorian-era restraint was a direct reaction to the wild and disorderly side-effects of a newly and rapidly-industrialising country; it is in this context that we must look for guidance. In our sexually-liberated culture, the common assumption is that everyone, everywhere, wants to have sex all the time. After all, says the modern man with his subjective morals, ‘if it feels good, and no one gets hurt, then what’s the harm’?
We incessantly demand instant gratification whilst at the same time shunning those who refuse it, possibly because the refusal of one of our friends or colleagues unleashes a whole host of doubts about our behaviour that we would rather ignore. These repressed doubts are often projected and unleashed onto scapegoats; hence the unfortunate epithets that are often applied to the sexually promiscuous which I will not repeat here.
Epictetus once said that ‘freedom is not achieved by satisfying desire but by eliminating it’ – and he is correct. How am I free if all of my actions are decided by my basic instincts, instincts over which I have no control, and in fact control me? This is why ‘liberation’ is self-defeating; it allows us to become enslaved to our animalistic instincts, which lacks any sense of our reason-based morality. It leads us not to think with our heads, but to think only of hedonism.
The answer to these ills? We must cultivate – especially in young men – an iron-willed self-discipline, and a strong moral code. This is what feminism needs to do if it truly wishes to achieve the best for women in our society; it must throw out the false God of sexual liberation, and bow down at the altar of self-restraint. If we show indulgence in harmful desires for what it really is – namely, a pathetic weakness – then we can create a generation of morally-excellent people that defend the weak, abhor greed, live humbly, and govern well.
As temperance came from ‘Gin Lane’, the first stirrings of backlash among the left comes from #MeToo. Even now, if you look, you can see radical feminists campaigning on everything from banning pornography to fighting prostitution, and encouraging a culture more respectful of one another – and more wary of risk. To the conservative, this surely should be an encouraging development; after all, the left was heavily involved in temperance movements throughout the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries – why not bring back their ideas of moral restraint?
A move away from sexual liberation would logically lead to an encouragement of marriage as a safe and loving space where relations between the sexes can flourish in a healthy manner. With trust between the sexes at such a dangerous low, it is surely reasonable to ask whether our current situation is viable on a long-term basis, and how this breakdown of trust will affect our society as a whole in the coming years and decades.
Gender and sexual relations are becoming increasingly polarised, from ‘Incels’ (Involuntary Celibates) and ‘MGTOW’ (Men Going There Own Way), to anti-men intersectional feminists. All of these groups talk in terms of their supposed ‘enemies’ in a frankly terrifying way, and it is paramount that this ridiculous gender-baiting be ended as soon as possible. It may seem strange to categorise these groups together, given their wildly differing viewpoints, but there is one important aspect common in all their thinking; each group fundamentally rejects the reasonable compromise of marriage, and even the idea of romantic relationships in themselves.
More and more often in the modern world, we seem to be like children lost in a supermarket aisle, throwing a tantrum about something or other. We refuse to be reasonable, we refuse to compromise, we refuse even to recognise the humanity of many of our fellow humans. Ultimately, we are a people who refuse to allow ourselves to be trusting of the people around us – in doing so, we serve only to damage the foundations of the society we live in.
Photo by Jenny Salita on Flikr.