A Huge Methodological Error

Twentieth-century male responses to radical feminism were thoroughly inadequate, in the same way and for the same reason that male responses to the equivalent (Evangelical) female hectoring of the previous century had been. In both cases would-be opponents made the fatal methodological mistake of assuming that the barrage of criticism of all their doings actually meant something. That is, they engaged with what this phenomenon asserted was its own cognitive content, rather than analysing it solely in terms of games-playing, one-upmanship and tactics. Sometimes the female claim to all virtues is an expression of pathological conceit, but sometimes it is merely a pre-emptive strike to distract and confuse.

One might as well indulge in philological research into the roars of triumph and despair at a football match; the point is not what is shouted, but what it makes the shouter and his opponents feel. Or one might as well study the linguistics of the colic baby’s crying; the purpose of its behaviour is to make its mother come running, end of story. In the same way, the point of all female curtain-lecturing since time began has not been to communicate anything to men, much less to convince them of anything, or even to elevate their behaviour. The point is (a) to make them part with stuff, and (b) to allow women to feel themselves superior.

Whether or not there is any sense to be made of the construct of “patriarchy” as social science, its primary function is code for reprehensible failure immediately to meet all the needs and gratify every wish of the woman using the term. It is thus a distant refraction of the classic lament of the middle-class female that modern servants are all so lazy and selfish.

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