Mulier Mulieri Lupus

Throughout most of human history, people have been aware that individuals of either or any sex can be stupid, malicious and even wicked. Whatever some women might pretend, not even chauvinist males ever tried to pretend that no men were bad. The attempted denial of the human evil of one sex is very recent, and in my impression is limited by geography and social class. That women cannot possibly be stupid, malicious and even wicked – any accusation against an individual being a wicked oppression by a man – is something that you need to be white, middle-class, well-off and university-educated to believe. Cui bono?

Historically, women have probably gone more frequently to the opposite extreme. We find proverbs like “A woman is women’s worst enemy” all over the place. I myself am as reluctant to believe that women are uniquely nasty as I am to believe that they are irreproachably virtuous. That is simply not territory that I want to visit; I am deeply invested in the notion of human evil being intrinsic to the species as such, a by-product of its ecological role as a K-breeding predator, and not the consequence of any particular race, ethnicity, sex or any other category. Or to put it another way, I do believe in another great divide running though the species: arseholes and not-arseholes.

That female evil can so plausibly be disguised as something else is, of course, a whole different ball game. Unique to our time is the system of elaborate denial and exculpation that cannot but be extremely convenient for any female of ill will. Once again, Cui bono? That of the arseholes.

But to return to the proverbs and long history of female criticism of other females, now academically forbidden: however invested in a misanthropic equality as described above, a man cannot but wonder sometimes: what do they know about themselves that we don’t? Actually believing in the irreproachability schtick requires a complicated form of stupidity for which simply not everyone has the energy; it must be assumed that simpler souls can see straight through it to the bottom line of benevolence contra malice, truth contra self-promotion, and deliver their judgments of individuals accordingly.

This is not to say that if you want to know whether a particular lady is on the side of the angels or not, you can ask around among women. For if she is on the side of the angels, the other side will pull her down, and this sabotage accounts for a major proportion of female activity. Saying that she is no good, therefore, might mean that she is no good, or it might mean that they are no good, and there is no easy way a member of the less socially adept group, namely men, can see which it is.

The overall self-condemnation of women, however, their overall awareness of just how good they are at saying the Thing That is Not, just how good they are at “making the worse cause appear the better”, and just how good they are at psychological assassination, might induce us to re-think our traditional devotion to the sex as a whole. Perhaps we should seek the golden mean between coarse male misogyny and the veneration of women that has dominated our history, first in Christian guise and later in pseudo-scientific guise.

Posted on February 23, 2016 at 10:30 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink

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  1. Written by Urban
    on July 24, 2016 at 15:14

    Excellent insights, as always Hugo, and I don’t mean to be pedantic, but doesn’t “homo homini lupus” already cover both genders regardless of which gender they prey on? Plautus must have known what we moderns are at great pains to deny.

  2. Written by Hugo Grinebiter
    on July 26, 2016 at 09:45

    Of course, Homo is indeed gender-neutral, like Mensch. So yes, Plautus does cover it, but hey, it gives me a fun title.

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