Men are not a different species
Gender determinism has returned in PC form.
We are in the midst of a moral panic. And not just any old moral panic – a traditional reactionary one directed at paedophiles, immigrants, skinheads, mods and rockers or Teddy Boys. No, this is a proper ‘progressive’ moral panic, as embodied by the Pestminster witch-hunt. This moral panic is about men, and the belief that there is an existential problem with males as a whole. Masculinity has now become pathologised, and sexism today has become transformed into a modern-day evil: invisible, intangible, omnipotent.
For decades we learned to appreciate that while your sex might influence the way you act and think, it doesn’t define you. Environment is just as important in shaping who you are, both in how culture interprets the differences between men and women, and through other factors unrelated to your sex. More importantly, human beings are not hostages to biology: we can think for ourselves. We may not be able to escape nature or rewrite how we were nurtured, but we are not condemned by either. My genitals, chromosomes, hormones or ‘male brain’ aren’t writing these words – I am.
Yet gender determinism is curiously back in fashion (as is racial determinism, with the rhetoric about the ‘problem with whiteness’). It has become normal to talk of ‘men’ as a problematic category, as if all ‘men’ are potential or actual sexual predators, as if we are a coherent category of automatons, confined by those inverted commas. When Caitlin Moran concluded her Times column on Saturday speaking about ‘the problem of men’, she summed up a mainstream sentiment. It’s astonishing that it needs saying these days that this is no different to talking about the ‘problem of women’ or the problem of ‘the blacks’.
It should baffle us that gender determinism has magically returned, but it is the logical consequence of identity politics, which has held sway ever since the appeal of class began to wither in the 1960s. If you are going to obsess about gender (or race), as has been the norm, making it the foundation of your very essence will follow. This is the logic of political trends, and fashion in general: they always veer to the extreme. Just as once skirts got shorter, flares wider, hair longer and now hipster beards bigger, political trends always get more outlandish.
It is this very ignorance of class that makes today’s gender determinism so intellectually bankrupt. Not only is it irrational to talk of ‘men’ as if they are a different species, and prisoners of biology, but this current fad among a loud, unrepresentative coterie of academics, twenty- and thirtysomething tertiary types and upper-middle-class London journalists ignores class and social status, and other factors that help to shape you, such as race, religion, age and sexual orientation.
Power is gender-blind. A docker in Dover, an African-American in Detroit, or a Third World manual labourer: each possess a fraction of the power and privilege of a wealthy woman in London who writes for a national newspaper. There has been improper behaviour at Westminster and Hollywood not because the culprits are men, but because they are MPs and film directors. Their power – and abuse of it – derives from their elevated social status, not their sex.
Any person who talks about the ‘problem of men’ implicitly condemns their own father and any brother or son they might have. To talk in such hostile, blanket terms of ‘men’ exposes the inhumanity of gender determinism. All of us have or have had a male and female biological parent; misandry is as irrational as misogyny.
No one factor determines you, either biologically or environmentally. You yourself are the final arbiter of who you are and what you are. Like most men, I have never raped a woman or groped a female colleague, and so I refute the war on men’s deterministic narrative. I refuse to accept it. I am not guilty of anything.
Delete your account
I’m somewhat glad George Takei has come a cropper. His incessant online moralising long ago became tiresome, to the degree that many now forget that he was once Mr Sulu in the original Star Trek.
Alas, he is not the only one to have his reputation marred on account of Twitter and all the tempting flattery available there. AC Grayling was a moderately interesting philosopher before he became that man who will just not shut up about Brexit. Gary Lineker used to be an amiable TV presenter before he became the most virtuous of all signallers. Worst of all, Graham Linehan, co-writer of Father Ted, the funniest and sweetest comedy of my lifetime, became on Twitter a censorious monster.
Linehan has recently left Twitter. I would advise others to do the same, before their reputation is sullied beyond repair. Or else follow Richard Dawkins’ lead, and return to tweeting about professional matters, before we end up utterly hating people we once liked.
These Christmas adverts are a total disgrace – by Mungo Krankenhaus*
John Lewis and Tesco should hang their heads in shame. Their Christmas TV adverts are an outrage. They depict Muslims, people of Afro-Caribbean heritage, gays and women, but what is so glaringly absent, so disgraceful airbrushed out, is any representation of Britain’s Aztec community.
Britain’s Aztecs, who first arrived at Southampton in 1876 on the SS Chapultepec, and who now mostly live in Southend-on-Sea, are an integral part of Britain’s vibrant, diverse, multicultural landscape, with their practice of human sacrifice and cannibalism adding so much to the rich tapestry of the nation.
As individuals, they have also given so much to this country. Consider that national treasure Barry Huitzilihhuitl, bobsleigh silver-medal-winner for ‘Team GB’ in the 1988 Winter Olympics, or Doreen Axayacatls, the first female Aztec member of parliament – MP for Basildon South from 1964 to 1966. And who could possibly forget Stan ‘Chopper’ Xocoyotzin, Leeds United’s ever-reliable centre-back of the early 1970s.
It’s bad enough that not a single one of these role models is on our new five and 10 pound notes without Britain’s Aztec community being literally ethnically cleansed from the Christmas narrative. So pull your finger out Tesco and John Lewis: your adverts should represent ALL of the people of Britain.
*With apologies to Michael Wharton
Patrick West is a spiked columnist. His new book, Get Over Yourself: Nietzsche For Our Times, is published by Societas.