The Left’s Moral Kulturkampf Reaps the Whirlwind

Lena Dunham, queen of the Twitter “Listen and Believe” brigade, former “Girls” star, and self-declared feminist, initially defended her show’s male writer from a claim of rape. Murray Miller, who was also the executive producer on “Girls,” was accused of sexually assaulting actress Aurora Perrineau. This is fascinating, coming from someone who once tweeted, “Things women do lie about: what they ate for lunch. Things women don’t lie about: rape.”

Dunham came out with a lengthy, laborious apologia—which by her own standard would amount to defending rape. “While our first instinct is to listen to every woman’s story, our insider knowledge of Murray’s situation makes us confident that sadly this accusation is one of the 3 percent of assault cases that are misreported every year,” she said, adding that the issue is “misreported.”

We believe,” Dunham added, “having worked closely with him for more than half a decade, that this is the case with Murray Miller.” Dunham believes—but not this woman, this time.  

She backtracked of course, adding on to her list of apologies, as well as being dubbed a hipster racist, by her fellow stars, whatever that means. A Twitter bot now randomly generates apologies on behalf of Dunham.

Something curious is taking shape in the American political culture. As Kevin Williamson pointed out, a society obsessed with sex, where vacuous sloganeering propagated in the last couple of election cycles, is winding down under the weight of its own logical contradictions. And there’s more to come. Consider the case of another online feminist and academic, Kate Harding, who wrote an essay on why, particularly as a feminist, she supports Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) remaining in the Senate even after he apologized for his harassment caught, as it was, on film. The reason is as tribalistic and hyperpartisan as it could be, and it resembles the notorious 1998 apologia of Bill Clinton by Gloria Steinem. “Democrats are members of the only party positioned to pump the brakes on Republicans’ gleeful race toward Atwoodian dystopia,” she wrote. Hence, all is forgiven if the perps are on our side.

Liberals didn’t expect the kulturkampf on morality would backfire on them so spectacularly, but they should have. An industry, which even by its own standard of bacchanal libertinism, is infamously loose and amoral, and simultaneously insufferably preachy, was on the forefront of a moral crusade in the wake of Donald Trump’s election. Such a move could be anticipated, as the industry is also infamously liberal, but the line of attack they took turned out to be a miscalculation.

Suggesting that Trump’s personal moral failings somehow discredited the ideas on behalf of which he campaigned, they showed themselves to be an industry which glibly pointed fingers at Donald Trump while laughing simultaneously at Mike Pence, for his own strict moral standards. All this, while also claiming that they are prisoners in an exploitative society like The Handmaid’s Tale. Well, yes, the exploitation is there, but again, they project what exists within their own industry out onto the rest of the country. Meryl Streep’s pompous speech at the Golden Globe Awards last January seems spectacularly ironic in the wake of Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey.

This kulturkampf continued on into tech industry, another hub of liberal activism, where CEOs were forced to resign as the accusations started to spread like wildfire, forcing some companies to brainstorm on new guidelines on hiring women for work. In Britain, the worst hit in this “sexual assault crisis” are the liberal left. From Labour members of Parliament to socialist male feminist columnists, the nonstop allegations keep pouring in.

These are predictable outcomes. The kulturkampf was about to be a supreme irony, as the neo-puritanical fire started by the Left, is burning down the liberal rank and file in both the United States and the United Kingdom. The apologia  appearing now is a rushed defense as the visible breach is near, now that sexual puritanism has turned the table. The revolution, yet again ladies and gents, is devouring her own children.

There were legal and clinical definitions of rape and assault. Those lines were blurred with the liberal adoption of identity politics over the last several decades, which gives preeminence to feelings over facts, and everything from workplace gossip, to winks, to serious abuse now falls under the flat descriptor “sexual harassment.” But in following this train of thought, as they’ve done, the Left has discovered itself on an unequal playing field—one which, frankly, they were too myopic to understand.

The result has been and will continue to be predictable as well. In the tech industries there are serious debates regarding hiring of women, or the advisability of closed door meetings. Some British MPs are planning to stop taking on female interns. Booze and socialization in workplaces or colleges are being cut. Some fellow academics, who, in a sort of unwritten Pence rule, are starting to avoid meeting students alone for feedback, unless with other people present in the vicinity. Self-preservation is a natural human instinct, and when the lines of harassment are blurred from the legal definitions to reflect highly subjective interpretations of winking and knee touching, this was frankly inevitable. Who wants to risk reputation, and a ticking timebomb of a lawsuit, anyway?

Although those on the Right will never be exempt from being called out on such charges, on average they do tend to be more socially and morally conservative and the outliers with a tenuous relationship between their words and deeds are likely to prove less numerous than the numbers of liberals who live up (or should we say, “live down”) to a loose understanding of morality and propriety. Cases like Roy Moore notwithstanding, average conservatives value family and chivalry, two social constructs that are under continuous assault by liberals. The damage potential of an all-out no quarters given, morality war was always more likely to be felt hard on the Left.

Some saw it coming. Feminist Rebecca Traister lamented in Slate about the risk of a backlash, now that the severity of the accusation of a sexual assault has been diluted beyond repair. Sorry—too late now. When the smoke clears in Hollywood, Silicon Valley, London and D.C., wouldn’t it be interesting to see men like Mike Pence or Jacob Rees-Mogg standing unscathed?


About Sumantra Maitra

Sumantra Maitra is a doctoral researcher at the University of Nottingham, and a member of Centre for Conflict, Security, and Terrorism. He is also a regular analyst for Centre for Land Warfare Studies, New Delhi, and a regular essayist for various publications, including The National Interest, The Federalist, and Quillette Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @MrMaitra.

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9 responses to “The Left’s Moral Kulturkampf Reaps the Whirlwind”

  1. It’s easy to strip down (heh) the Left’s wishes to their essence: destroying Traditional America (=White, bourgeois, Christian and capitalistic). If we see all of their “crusades” with that summum bonum in mind, all these seeming contradictions are solved. Sexual liberation was an offshoot of feminism, which in turn was a doctrine designed to make Western women breed less — and now we are lucky if we find one Western nation that breeds at replacement levels. Check. Ditto for the LGBTQWTF movement, the sanctification of abortion, mass-immigration, Islamophilia, the war on logic and history in education–you name it. Check, check, check, check and check.

    Want to explain this last spate of mass hysteria about anything equal to or greater than a pat on the ass? Gin up an atmosphere of frenzied hypersensitivity in which it would be easier to take down today’s perceived totem of Traditional America–Donald J. Trump. The collateral damage, meanwhile, will be a diminished trust and communication between the sexes and, once again, the criminalization of something as fun, timeless, natural and harmless as a simple flirt.

  2. I’d rather do it with her sweater than what’s under it.

  3. Years ago when a young executive, I voluntarily ran a mentoring program for male and female hirees to coach them on how to be effective executives and move forward in their careers. Around that time I happened to watch the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings on TV and saw a man who had lived such a morally controlled life that they could not even find someone who had ever even heard him say a bad word be dragged through the mud based on the uncorroborated testimony of a woman whose career he had aided – a woman who, watching her testify, was obviously lying. I thought a lot about the implications of that and the career vulnerability I was taking on with every woman I established any relationship with. Since it would have been unfair to restrict my mentoring to men only, I discontinued the whole program. From then on in, remembering what happened to Clarence Thomas, I established no non-work friendships or relationships with female work colleagues, restricted all relationships and one-on-one meetings with female colleagues to open door meetings at work, had no off-site meetings one-on-one with any female employee (instead having group meetings with both sexes). I never regretted the decision and the policy. I watched male colleagues who did not adopt my self-protected policies get skewered with accusations – some I though likely true and some I thought likely false and indeed saw multiple cases of women using accusations to destroy more than one male colleague or superior and use the booting out of the male to then move up into their position. The bottom line is that any male executive can be damaged by false testimony from a woman and there is little you can do about it. It was interesting to see that Mike Pence had adopted a very similar policy. I agreed with his policy entirely. There is no advantage to amy ambitious man to rendering himself vulnerable to such attacks. There are a billion women outside the workplace if one wants to have relationships, it is idiotic to have any friendly relationship in the workplace that can be used unfairly to destroy you.

  4. The whole #metoo thing is ridiculous. I had a boss who came on to me when I was a 22 year old reporter at a weekly newspaper. Separated from his wife I guess I seemed an easy mark. I rebuffed him when he pushed me up against the wall and pressed himself on me. I escaped the encounter and the next day he apologized and we moved on. So could I post the stupid #me too? Definitely. The difference between ‘then’ and ‘now’ is that I recognized that a two minute encounter should not be a life altering event. Get over it. Sh** happens . The incident, although icky, just did not rise to a level where becoming a lifelong victim was worth it.

    • But all shitliberalism is based on lies, hypocrisy and lifetime victimization.

    • Exactly right.
      And equally, with a certain level of humility, we need to understand and recognize that normal, human interaction (particularly sexual interaction) is highly prone to misunderstanding, miscommunication, wishful thinking, misperception, and normal clumsiness — all complicated by any number of emotional conditions like love, lust, fear, loneliness, anxiety, stress, desire, etc.

      Take all that, shake it all together, and there is an inevitability to the kind of incident you describe.

      Who knows what your boss thought (maybe he thought you ‘really’ liked him, maybe he thought your friendliness was a signal, maybe he thought he was irresistible, maybe he was lonely, maybe????) in any case he obviously completely miscalculated, was embarrassed, apologized, and you both moved on. As you say “s*** happens”. Or said a different way, life happens. And sometimes we love what is happening and sometimes we find it “icky” but adult commonsense coupled with an understanding that “I make mistakes, too” should allow two adults to handle most of these situations without falling on a fainting couch as powerless Victim.

  5. Maybe this will convince the progs to respect the concept of innocent until proven guilty, but I doubt it.

    • It can be reasoned that Roy Moore as Assistant District Attorney for Etowah County Alabama understood that it was illegal to date a girl of 14 years of age in the 70’s and that he wouldn’t have dated her had he known age. As a result, it would be reasonable to rationalize that he didn’t know her age. Perhaps she told him that she was older, 16 perhaps, which is the age of consent in Alabama. Assuming that Roy Moore was not intending to break the law, it would be easy to write off this accusation. It would have been difficult to prove this accusation in a court of law at the time of the event and since the Statue of Limitations has long since run out, it’s really irrelevant to our discussion now.

      What is relevant to our discussion is what Roy Moore has freely admitted, that he dated girls of the ages of 16 and 17, while he was in his thirties. Also, he admitted that he met his current wife while she was a teenage minor while he was in his thirties, though he respectably married her in her mid-twenties. This fits his pattern.

      What I can conclude from this for myself is that Roy Moore is at best a Sleazeball. He is not suitable to be a senator from the Great State of Alabama. I don’t care for the rationalizations of his behavior. He does not deserve the recognition and accolades that are heaped upon him for his supposed morality. He is scum, period.

  6. What we witness is the inevitable collision between Irresistible Forces and Immovable Objects (all keystones of the Progressive Agenda). Yes, absolutely, Women are Victims. They are a bona fide, card-carrying member of the Oppressed Class. When they ‘testify’, our first job is to Believe (as we have been reminded, time & again). But equally critical is the notion of Sexual Freedom, Sexual Expression, Sexual Being. Away with all those old-fashioned, patriarchal morality myths they only perpetuate White, Male, Cisgendered, Heterosexist Oppression. We are free to be who we want to be, free to be WHAT we want to be, free to express our fluid sexual appetites however they need to be expressed. Who are you to nay say me!? Our bodies! Our Selves!

    And so we have this ongoing collision between fundamental truths. We know that Women are Male Equals in every single way (superior in some). We know they deserve equal representation in everything; that nothing should be held back. And equally we know that women need to be protected from toxic masculinity, male sexuality & lust (all packaged in our insidious Rape Culture) We are told (with straight face, no less) that women are not accountable, are not responsible for their actions or decisions if they’ve consumed alcohol or drugs…if they’ve been subject to the evils of male persuasion….or psychological pressure (“Please, please, please — you know you wanna!”)…or threat (and I quote: the “threat to no longer love them”). We are told they are helpless victims, held captive (psychologically frozen) by the predatory male gaze & sexual advances (like, for instance, Louis telling helpless women he was going to masturbate for their entertainment….or Matt Lauer supposedly telling them to take their blouses off). We are told that the condition of consent must be provable and absolutely reacquired at every step in every sexual interaction (that silence and participation does not signal consent from that fair and easily intimidated sex).

    Thus, absolutely confused, we arrive at today’s Hurly Burly…and the strangely puritanical, almost fundamentalist assertion that male sexuality somehow pollutes & intimidates women — is dangerous for women (these women who are — we know — absolutely equal & equally capable in all ways). We are told it should be moderated (it’s toxicity removed) in order to allow our Equal Women to work & live without fear of encountering something (a sexual something…though that is not a strict requirement) which they do no wish to encounter, which they might find offensive, or would label as unwanted. (For that is, indeed, today’s definition of ‘Sexual Harassment’ and ‘Sexual Assault’.)

    And now watching the New Inquisition & Purge… knowing that, per the definition, ANYTHING can be labeled harassment ….knowing that women themselves are telling us that they are absolutely NOT in this context an Equal…that they are not perfectly capable of saying “No”…”Go Away”…. “Get Lost”…. “**** Off!”… We see the beginnings of gender segregation: men refusing to meet with women unless there are witnesses present, men eliminating after-hours work get-togethers (especially those with alcohol) for fear something untoward might happen (or be interpreted to happen)…. men reluctant to bring women into any work situations which might expose them to ‘unmoderated’ males or an unscrubbed work environment. (Is that a picture of your wife in a bathing suit, sitting on your desk!!!???? My God man, what were you thinking!)

    Where this ends would seem to be inevitable:
    “And say to the faithful women to lower their gazes, and to guard their
    private parts, and not to display their beauty except what is apparent of it,
    and to extend their headcoverings (khimars) to cover their bosoms (jaybs), and
    not to display their beauty except to their husbands, or their fathers, … or
    their womenfolk… or the followers from the men who do not feel sexual desire,
    or the small children to whom the nakedness of women is not apparent, and not
    to strike their feet (on the ground) so as to make known what they hide of
    their adornments. And turn in repentance to Allah together, O you the faithful,
    in order that you are successful”

    This is insane, of course. And it flies in the face of every equal rights,
    equal treatment, equal opportunity effort made in the last hundred years…. but
    that is the New Direction…and this is a Brave New World.