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250. Return (II)

I recently acquired a puppy, and, somewhat as with childbirth, this has proved to be an opportunity to learn about human nature. Specifically, while I feed and discipline the dog, my female relatives—overcome by the Spaniel’s eugenically enhanced neoteny—think that even to say “no” too harshly is unbearable cruelty. As with children, the male becomes an ambivalent—if respected—figure, the lawgiver, while the female provides unconditional, if irresponsible, care and is adored.

Yet to assert this difference is a minor social scandal—or least something that cannot be said, even though it is very salient for politics. The first female mayor in Missouri, elected in 1921, was spurred into politics because she saw a chain gang and was appalled at the punishment. Women in politics are no different from women with puppies: “You beast, how could you treat the poor boy that way?” The “poor boy” is a child murderer.

You may think that it was not so bad in your grandfather’s day, such delusion would rarely happen in a time when men were men—a time when hundreds of thousands of men slaughtered each other in global total war. Unfortunately, this all goes much deeper than many people think. I recently watched the old Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films, mostly made in the 1940s. The films updated Holmes to contemporary Washington and wartime London; he fights Nazi spies and saboteurs, and all the films have heavy-handed propaganda themes: Holmes will pause at the film’s end to deliver a substantial speech by Churchill about the fraternal bonds between England and America, the target audience being American cinema-goers who, at the time, were mostly against America entering the war on Britain’s side. As with the Iraq War, it was necessary to con the American public into a war that was not in their interests.

Within this reimagined Holmesian world, poor Dr. Watson has been reinterpreted as comic relief; he is a foolish—if amiable—English duffer who Holmes has to rescue all the time; nothing like the original Conan Doyle character. It is Watson who pooh-poohs a woman’s ability: “Women are emotional, you know, Holmes. They go to pieces in a crisis.” Of course, in the next scene it is shown that the girl in question has outwitted Watson completely, while he has fallen to pieces in a crisis. The man who makes statements that are basically true about female nature is outwitted and shown to be a fool: the propaganda within the Rathbone films is pretty obvious and is not really so different to the familiar “idiot dad” we see on today’s screens.

As I have noted before, “woke” is not new; and the basic premisses have been in our consciousness for decades, if not centuries—prototypical woke views about women are found, for example, in both Dickens and Mill; the sentimental and unrealistic worldview. It is only that the assertions have become progressively more extreme and detached from reality as time has gone on. What starts as the view that women are as level-headed and cool as men in a crisis ends with the assertion that a woman can beat up any man, or even that a man can be a woman and vice versa.

So, unfortunately, your grandfather, in all likelihood, sat in a Rathbone Holmes film with your grandmother, on a date, and, as with agreeable middle-class men today, nodded along at the propaganda moral; perhaps he did not really agree, just as most men do not agree with woke propaganda today, but it is easier to agree and have some peace—as with a wife that nags. It is what the schools, the experts, and the educators say; it must be true, and even if it is not there is no point causing a fuss and being a martyr for nothing—there is your career to think about. In this way, Western societies have accreted great ideological illusions that can only be shattered by childbirth—or dog ownership.

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