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#MeToo is a crisis for contemporary womanhood
Camille Paglia
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#MeToo is a crisis for contemporary womanhood 

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There is a crisis of womanhood brought on by the #MeToo movement. While it is purported to be a means for women to speak out against sexual mistreatment, it has become a way for women to assuage their guilt over bad sexual decisions by blaming the men with whom they engaged. In Emily Yoffe’s exploration of the cancelling of journalist Jonathan Kaiman in Reason, she touches on the problem of an unregulated, unlimited takedown movement based on allegation and accusation. As we’ve seen as this whole mess continues to unfold, Kaiman is only one casualty of this movement. But feminism is also a fatality of #MeToo.

For sure men behave badly, and women feel coerced, manipulated, overpowered, into capitulating to sexual encounters they don’t necessarily want. While some men, or maybe like a couple, have been brought to justice for actual crimes committed, there’s been a rush for women to confess victimhood as a means of empowerment for them, and cancellation or vilification for the man involved. Bad dates or bad sexual experiences do not become assault or rape years later, upon further consideration. Women need to accept responsibility for their own decisions.

I say this not as an affront to women, but in support of them. If women do not accept responsibility for their own actions, from drinking too much to regretfully fucking strangers, if, further, women feel that they ought not accept responsibility for those actions because they believe that the responsibility lies with the men they hooked up with, then what we have are women who need to be protected. That’s not a situation that will see women treated equally either in society or under the law.

If women are so inept with themselves that they need society’s protection from both their own and male desire, then we have a real crisis of womanhood. To give in to this idea that women must be protected, that they don’t know their own minds, that consent freely given should be construed as the absence of consent if there has been too much alcohol consumed, that the determination of whether or not too much alcohol has been consumed is up to the man to make, is completely anathema to the entirety of the 20th century feminist movement.

Feminists fought to claim that women knew their own minds, could make their own choices, could take their own risks, could risk their own safety. This was essential, this was everything, this is what facilitated the procuring of equal rights for men and women under the law.

Speaking to Jordan Peterson on his podcast, Camille Paglia spoke about her college years. She and her peers demanded the curfew on the women’s dorm be lifted.

“I arrived in college in 1964, the colleges were still acting in loco parentis, in place of the parents, so my dormitory, all women’s dormitory, we women had to sign in at 11:00 at night. The men could run free the entire night, so it was my generation of women that rose up and said ‘give us the same freedom as men have,’ and the colleges replied ‘no, the world is dangerous, you could be raped, we have to protect you against rape.’ And what we said was ‘give us the freedom to risk rape.’ What today’s women don’t understand is: it’s a freedom that you want.”

Do we women want freedom or protection? Because we sure as shit can’t have both. Do we want men to protect us from men? From themselves? From ourselves? Do we actually want someone, men or organization, government or institution or religion, to step in and save us from our own desires?

I once gave some advice to a younger brother heading off to college. I knew he was attending a party school, and as someone who attended a party school, albeit an emo angsty one, I had some idea of the pitfalls he could encounter. “Know your limits,” I told him, “and make the choice to cross them, don’t let it happen or sneak up on you. If you cross the threshold cross it with intention, and accept all consequences that follow.”

There is a crisis of womanhood when we put the responsibility for our own actions onto other people—any other people—men, parents, educators, friends. We are our own problem and solution, each of us, and we have to own it. Where #MeToo has landed isn’t about prosecuting rape (which yeah, is obviously under prosecuted and under-reported), it’s about errant fingers in alleyways, years later regrets, hapless drunken hookups and wishes that things had been different. It’s about trying and failing to find self-respect after realizing that a random sexual encounter that didn’t even get us off makes us feel like shit months and maybe years out.

With #MeToo telling us it’s okay to take a guy down with accusations of shitty drunken sex years after the fact, women clearly don’t feel like we’re equals anymore. I feel like for a while there we did. Other than actual rape, the women I’ve known have taken full responsibility for their sexual experiences, even the totally messed up ones.

The thing too is men also have no idea what they’re doing. We’re all out here flying by the seat of our pants, hoping we make the right call, do the right thing, doing the wrong one more often than not. These guys are doing that too, and then getting cancelled when they screw up, while women stand there pointing the finger.

Women should own their choices. I’m not talking about rape here, but we know what’s up. Sometimes in the moment you want something you wish you didn’t want later, we’ve all been there. Best get some therapy, maybe a trip to confession if you’re so inclined, but don’t destroy a man for it.

Contemporary womanhood has really fucked us over in this push to be victims, to blame others for our own bad decisions.

We go home with strangers and are pissed when we wish we didn’t. It’s our own choice. We demand that we are equal, that we are in control, that we know our own mind, that sex has no emotions, that we are sexually free, and then we have a bad hook up and destroy a man’s life instead of face our own poor decisions and why we made them. This person wreckage is no absolution for our bad choices. Taking a man’s career doesn’t make you wish that you didn’t go home with him, or let him into yours, or change that you did it. Telling the world you had a bad date won’t fill the hurt inside you that made you do it in the first place.

At its worst, what #MeToo says: women can’t handle their own bodies, they can’t make their own choices, can’t handle their liquor, don’t know their own minds. #MeToo reframes women as weak, as in need of male protection, not just from men but from ourselves, from our own desires, drunken and disastrous though they may be. No. I refuse to consent to this narrative. My poor choices are mine alone, and so are yours.


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