Predatory Explanation Beyond Good And Evil

Denying the very possibility of your wilfully selfish action at others’ expense requires that you undermine the idea of a universal, gender-neutral origin or cause of human wickedness. This in turn requires that you undermine the idea of universal, gender-neutral moral rules binding equally on all individuals – even or especially the ones who think they’re special. The primary enemy of the Predatory Explainer is thus Kantian ethics, with their focus on duty and universal application.

In actual practice, women are probably better than men at knowing their duty and doing it, no doubt because they cannot so easily run away from children and the social network involved in raising them. A female Predatory Explainer, in the other hand, will be afraid that any concept of duty may turn around and bite her – that it may be possible for others to say that she has acted badly. The same applies to universality: although normally formulated as a long-winded version of the Golden Rule, Kantian ethics could equally well be defined in terms of their opposite – namely the cry that, “But it doesn’t apply to me.” According to Kant, the very essence of morality is that it applies to everyone, so it jolly well does apply to you, you are not special, and you must not do something that you would find objectionable if done by someone else. Application of a universal and impersonal yardstick to her own actions is, of course, the very antithesis of what the Predatory Explainer is trying to achieve.

First of all, the whole system of duty, universal moral laws and conscience-governed action may be stigmatised as a pernicious male invention, not least because they are generally backed by the sanction of a male deity. Rigid “rules” must therefore be held to be a typical consequence of life-denying patriarchal psychology. The moral thinking of the more fluid and life-affirming Goddess-worship that was allegedly overthrown in the original patriarchal takeover, its altars defiled by the hairy prophets of an angry male god, is not something about which much is really known, which makes it a fitting subject for positive and creative speculation.

Universalistic ethical language is, therefore, a garment that should be donned and doffed as suits the need of the Predatory Explainer to condemn but not in turn be condemned. She should use the word “ought” industriously against men, but object vigorously to its use against herself: men “ought” to do this and not do that, but no man may tell her what she “ought” to do, because that is a condescending, paternalist violation of female liberty. Telling a woman what she “ought” to do is moralistic oppression, but telling a man what he “ought” to do is as natural and necessary as breathing.

Secondly, the scale of values, or tariff of sins, of the Predatory Explainer may be ordered so as to concentrate available moral indignation on the kinds of bad behaviour engaged in mostly by men, so that none is left over for the kinds of bad behaviour engaged in mostly by women.

The third way to subvert the language of moral judgement before it is applied to the Predatory Explainer herself is to shift the focus of ethical language away from the particular acts she wishes to perform and onto the social and political structures she is facing. What she does can be justified in terms of what she dislikes. If she can thus subsume the acts of individual men and women entirely into their societal roles, the rights and wrongs of the relationship between one sex and the other through the millennia, she can confine the discussion to the grand sweep of history. Her own behaviour becomes more difficult to pick out, much less accurately assess, in the welter of awareness, gender roles, oppression, chauvinism, liberation, revolution and so on.

This applies not least to the way she criticises men. The Predatory Explainer avoids the moral language of individual actions, such as “he acted unfairly”, as it suggests the question whether she might not have acted unfairly too; better to confine herself severely to the politicised language of “he was oppressing me”. She should link a man’s pursuit of his selfish interests with concepts of sexism, patriarchy and structural violence that cannot be used to describe a woman’s pursuit of her selfish interests. The simple language of individual moral action cuts both ways, while the advanced language of oppression and liberation never does. It speaks only of the wrongs done to the Predatory Explainer and her struggle against them, never of the wrongs she herself might commit. She is a victim, not an agent.

That men in general have acted badly towards women in general does not mean that in any given individual dispute with a woman, the man is necessarily in the wrong. But it can easily be made to look that way. Conversely, that women have been oppressed by men and not contrariwise does not mean that individual women are not capable of oppression if they have the chance, or that every woman is always in the right against every man. But once again, it can easily be made to look that way.

In the simple language of good and evil, right or wrong, it cannot be taken for granted that the Predatory Explainer will be on the side of the angels; in the politicised language of male oppression and female liberation, on the other hand, her position is unassailable – she is born to the purple. What’s not to like?

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