From what we know about the allegations of sexual misconduct in the news recently, there is no reason to doubt that some are legitimate, or that others are likely to turn out to be false.
Leaving this question of truth and falsity aside, however, the commentary on this latest manifestation of the phenomenon of sexual misconduct is worth noting for more than one reason.
First, and predictably, this spate of allegations has been situated within the framework of a feminist narrative: the allegations, even those without a speck of substantiation, have been treated as proof of the guilt of the accused, and the alleged misconduct is depicted as the legacy of “the Patriarchy.”
This is quite revealing, for it crystallizes the self-contradiction—the logical quicksand, if you will—upon which feminism has always rested. In other words, feminism depends upon the very same traditional conceptions of women and men that, ostensibly, it wants to destroy as illegitimate.
Although even the staunchest of traditionalists had always recognized they were only ever trading in generalities regarding gender differences (that is, patterns that admit of exceptions), they nevertheless recognized as fact that women—physically, hormonally, and psychologically—are fundamentally different from men.
Physically speaking, women on average are smaller and weaker than men. Thus, women deserve special protections on the part of men.
For example, men were never to strike women; those men who violated this proscription could expect to be treated with contempt—often violent contempt—by other men. Women were thought to be—or at least given the benefit of the doubt in public—that they were more sexually inexperienced, naïve, and pure than men. Men were expected to hold doors for women, help them carry their bags, and offer them their seats when none other were available.
These ideas, “liberated” feminist women now insist, are “sexist,” maybe even “misogynistic.” Women can do anything that men can do. Whether it is fighting fires or fighting criminals and terrorists; coal mining, whale gutting, or lumberjacking; whether studying the sciences, mathematics, or engineering—women can do it just as well, if not better, than men.
Or so goes the contemporary feminist line.
Women are no more or less desirous of sex and certainly no more or less sexually experienced, than men. And they have as much need of men’s protections as men have of the protections of women.
That is to say, women most definitely do not need men to save or protect them.
Their anatomical differences notwithstanding, men and women are indistinguishable from one another. So, they should be treated as such.
However, while feminists reject traditional gender “stereotypes,” their response to sexual misconduct allegations proves that feminists also endorse these same “stereotypes.”
Women, evidently, are indeed weaker than men. How else can we explain, to hear feminists in the media and elsewhere tell it, that women are constantly at the mercies of oversexualized men? Everywhere that the activists and journalists would have us look we find women claiming to have been victimized by men.
In fact, today’s woman, or at least the feminist version of Woman that is promoted regularly in the media, doesn’t just appear to be weaker than men; it seems she is much weaker than those women from yesteryear who feminists tell us lived under the male bondage from which today’s woman has emancipated herself. After all, women in the past weren’t “triggered” when men referred to them as “Ma’am,” pulled out their chairs, opened their doors, and complimented them on their appearance. Quite the contrary. Conduct that today’s feminist views as proof of a system of misogynous oppression, yesteryear’s woman viewed as manifestations of the kind of chivalry that they expected from gentlemen. And they were proud of themselves and their power in demanding it.
Women are both equal and radically unequal to men. Gender “stereotypes” of the past both are and are not true. This is the incoherence at the heart of contemporary feminism.
Second, the commentary on these scandals has revealed the glaring moral cowardice and posturing of many of those weighing in on them.
Judge Roy Moore, Republicans and Democrats insist, must drop out of Alabama’s U.S. Senate race because of unsubstantiated, decades-old sexual allegations that several women have suddenly leveled against him—charges that Moore unequivocally denies. Yet many of these same people, exemplified by Senator Mitch McConnell, the poster child for moral weakness in Congress, refuse to apply the “Roy Moore Rule” to Senator Al Franken, a seated Democrat from Minnesota, by calling for his resignation—even though he was photographed groping a woman while she slept.
Allegedly, sexual misconduct is commonplace in Washington, D.C. and in Congress. Even so, proponents of the Roy Moore Rule show themselves unwilling to apply it to those of their colleagues (and themselves?) who are the culprits. It only works for those they would rather not see become their colleagues, apparently.
Former President Bill Clinton stands accused of numerous charges of sexual assault and rape. For decades, his fellow partisans in Hollywood, the national media, and academia vociferously defended him while demonizing his accusers as “trailer trash” and worse. Recently, however, and now that the Clintons are no longer of any political value to them, some of the Clintons’ former apologists admit to having had a change of heart on this matter.
These conversions should not impress. As long as it is maintained that so much as the allegation of sexual misconduct against a person suffices to render the accused ineligible of acquiring or maintaining a professional position, or a position in the public eye—as long as the Roy Moore Rule is upheld—then it is only fair that every politician, journalist, commentator, academic, and entertainer who either defended Bill Clinton against charges of sexual assault or endorsed Hillary Clinton despite the claims of her husband’s accusers that she threatened and intimidated them should resign from their positions effective immediately. They showed, at a minimum, awful judgment.
But we shouldn’t hold our breath. Real virtue, as opposed to moral showboating, comes at a cost.