W. Edward Chynoweth
W. Edward Chynoweth is a graduate of West Point, and a retired deputy county prosecutor for San Francisco. He is the author of Masquerade: The Feminist Illusion, University Press of America, 2005.
America is at a crossroads yet to be noticed by her undiscriminating citizens. This is not careless name-calling; it's the present law. They are forbidden to "discriminate" except as a court might allow, etc. (Titles VII & IX, the Glass Ceiling Act, Custred/Connerly anti-discrimination initiatives repeating the edict, etc.; while lockstep conservative pundits ritually recite fashionable "anti-preference," "thou shall not discriminate" litany.) Thanks to such misguided theory, even homosexuals now claim they've been discriminated against by centuries of Western culture, convincing gullible politicians to distort the honored institution of marriage to include homosexual "unions." Edmund Burke would advise against such thinking:
. . . whenever I speak against theory, I mean always a weak, erroneous, fallacious, unfounded, or imperfect theory; and one of the ways of discovering that it is a false theory is by comparing it with practice. This is the true touchstone of all theories which regard man and the affairs of men -- Does it suit his nature in general? -- does it suit his nature as modified by his habits?1
Ignored by leaders truckling to homosexual politics is the sexually dimorphic nature of humankind requiring for its survival enduring unions of male and female. Nothing is more unnatural in God's creation than presuming to perpetuate the race with homosexuals.
However, there is hope, since, aside from shrill female voices reporting, advertising, and orating on current issues or commanding male platoons; Democrats and male conservatives whimpering about having to fight another war; beltway pundits talking their way through current events without deep thought; or endless politicking by men and women seeking votes but not truth or the common good; there is an undercurrent of concerned citizens who sense the lack of common sense in their nation's doings and dialogue. We need leaders to stir a commonsense dialogue towards reestablishing long-proven Western patterns. Pope Benedict and others provide a basis but politicians and editors go with the flow. It will take two of Burke's favorite ingredients now being neglected -- manly knowledge of our heritage and prudence. Although the subject has broader scope, this essay will concentrate on Title IX of the Civil Rights Act.
Our post-50s revolution (with roots in the 1800s) is analogous to Burke's times, and we would benefit from his and our Founders' thinking. In their 1964 leveling of the sexes, Congressmen defrocked men of their responsibilities, unwillingly conferring them on women. The current fancy of "empowering" women is an illusion of our times, ignoring what men through the ages took for granted, namely, that women possess so much natural power the law needn't grant them more. Now, annual "conferences on women" dedicated to "empowering women" are mere vehicles for politicians, advertisers, and publishers to advertise their wares and give women a day off to enjoy themselves and feel "empowered." The 1964 Congress set the pace, "destroying at their pleasure the whole original fabric of their society." Such "unprincipled facility" with "floating fancies or fashions" broke the "whole chain and continuity of the commonwealth" and rendered American males "little better than the flies of a summer."2
Bringing this home literally, androgynous chickens are coming home to roost. Consider the ongoing travail caused by the aspect of the theory of "sex equality" requiring "equal opportunities and equal outcomes for men and women in college sports programs." Such sexual innovations weren't the result of wise deliberation on whether it suited our natures but of temporizing subservience to feminists, who represented not most women but the disgruntled ladies who flourish in feminism. Now, most people bow to Title IX as "the law," oblivious to long-standing principle that lawmakers "have the power but not the right" to enact any law they please especially if it's "contrary to the eternal laws of right and wrong -- laws that ought to bind all men, and above all men in legislative assemblies."3 Laws that exceed this right should be repealed. Those who think that this would end sports programs for women or diminish their standing in society don't understand women or Western society.
Though California universities are experiencing a spate of lawsuits alleging violations, the public response juggling "gender equity" and "sex discrimination" is remarkable mainly for the general lack of understanding. Apparently relying on Internet blurbs, newscasts, or talk radio, people seem unaware that such terms are neither reliable standards nor common law (any more than abstract "equal opportunity"). As Burke saw, "Men little think how immorally they act in rashly meddling with what they do not understand."
As a result, critics fault everything but the cause. Blaming individuals involved at one school (Fresno State), e.g., the plaintiff, the school President, the Athletic Department, The Fresno Bee, the courts, or the aberrant jury, they ignore the statute itself. One doesn't blame the smoke on those choking but finds the fire and douses it, in this case a badly conceived statute out of tune with nature and long custom that can only result in loose-gun jurisprudence. The fault lies in ourselves for condoning Title IX!
The feminist propaganda vehicle for such doings is the college program known as "women's studies" (hereinafter, "W. S.") -- a woman-centered exercise deserving a closer look from faculty committees and deans. Unfortunately, after decades of indoctrinating, many more women now accept the idea that women have been shortchanged over millennia and need "empowerment," which amounts to blatant misunderstanding of and disrespect for women. Instead of "broadening views," W. S. present, in the words of one male observer, a "shallow agenda ruthlessly enforced with parameters of the debate narrowly drawn. Its dynamic is to see who can top whom in exposing oppression."4 Fresno State's own Susan Arpad elaborated:
Women's studies classes have an essential life component that more theoretical oriented courses do not. Students discuss frankly the issues of relationships, career, and cultural institutions such as religion. This can touch a lot of raw nerves.5
In other words, W. S. amount to a college counseling session or sorority bull session, but not higher education. Here germinate the seeds of solipsistic female thought these days.
For instance, considering women's current prevalence in all the former male roles, W. S.'s claim of "gender bias" always sounds hollow. With their other interests and different thought processes, women have never been great composers, philosophers, scientists, etc., and W. S.'s vocabulary is no exception. Rife with artifice and self-promotion, it stirs wonder at how this supposedly educational canon has been allowed for so long. Again, their vast literature reveals tenuous scholarship -- mostly revisionist and anti-traditionalist -- suggesting that W. S. might more accurately be called "young women's promotional sessions," or elicit Mark Twain's comment on his wife's swearing, "My dear, you have the words but not the tune."
A remarkable example appeared recently as an op-ed article in The Fresno Bee, with a feminist professor stretching the tired W. S. lexicon from noting the value of sports in rearing boys to manhood, to applying it equally to girls, never mind the incongruity. Their problem is that, despite feminism's avowed goal of (sterile) androgyny, our species is sexually dimorphic and quite fertile, which defeats their entire platform. The professor's flailing at this reality in the now familiar turgid terms of "gender discrimination," "male privilege," "sexism," "lesbian-baiting," "cultural definitions of femininity," or "disturbing student testimonies of the homophobic climate in athletics" didn't help their cause. How can a sex known for its networking and "solidarity" honestly castigate males for the same attributes? And, considering the many deserved female privileges, her attacking "male privilege" makes no sense. Women's studies (feminism's) reasoning is simply different, passionately resenting "imagined bonds of brotherhood trumping professional responsibility" -- while overlooking not only their own "professional responsibility," but also the historical value to humanity of bonds of manliness ("brotherhood").
Ironies abound: (1) Despite their women-centered focus, W. S. professors actually abjure womanly femininity as dysfunctional, and aspire to male roles! (Or, as one woman acknowledged somewhat irrationally, "equality in all roles except those requiring strength and risk.") Thus society misdirects young women's great and true value, nudging them into the biblical pattern of "contentious women." (2) A healthy society should not encourage girls to seek male paths but to follow their own, and to raise boys to be strong males respectful of the opposite sex -- i.e., gentlemen. In other words, humanity is a communal enterprise requiring right order between the two sexes, not foes contending with each other. Pirouetting ballerinas don't "deserve" to play their partner's role too, without whose support and guidance their graceful art collapses in folly.
As Edmund Burke saw,
. . . our manners, our civilization, and all the good things which are connected with manners, and with civilization, have . . . depended for ages upon two principles; and were indeed the result of both combined, I mean the spirit of a gentleman, and the spirit of religion.
As most women realize, it takes a gentleman to support the companion spirit of a lady. In his time, Tocqueville appreciated the "superiority" of American women under the natural division of labor, but, since then, men have gradually weakened. By 1900, Henry Adams's female friend answered the question "why the American woman is a failure" by retorting, "Because the American man is a failure!" Thus, Tocqueville's prediction for "sex equality" had come true: "weak men and disorderly women."
Returning to Title IX, actually, news photos of female athletes belie Title IX-inspired "gender equity" rhetoric with graphic evidence of sex differences -- facial expressions, bodily contortions, femaleness, all revealing distinct natures and differing athletic abilities. Furthermore, despite the litany of being "institutionally denied," girls simply do not flock to the playing fields of Fresno State like boys do. They do partake of much publicized team sports but more because of scholarships than a natural bent. Behind many a female athlete also is a father, brother, son, or male coach who judges girls by their performance in male roles, hardly a discerning appreciation of womanhood. Plaintive W. S. boasts that "female athletes prove that toughness is not an exclusively male attribute" insult not only great-grandmothers but all women known for their courage, resilience, and durability. Conflating female and male "toughness" is like equating a crepe myrtle to an oak tree. Though politically overlooked in post-60s America, woman differs profoundly from man. National schizophrenia or dishonesty displays woman in every other arena but politics and journalism as, well, quite different.
As for the supposed "promise of Title IX" and revisionist claims of its legitimacy, it was a mere adjunct to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, to which "sex" was added as a southern ruse but which passed anyway, under feminist pressure, thus dismantling at will, as mentioned above, the fabric of ages without a model of proven utility for replacement. Neither then nor now has there been a national outcry for more female athletes or Soviet-style "compliance monitoring offices" to force educators to create an abstract "gender equity" in sports.
We should remember that order and stability in the universe, whether through the control of God's gravity, a quadratic equation, or countless other examples, require the interaction of counterbalancing functions and forces. "Equality of the sexes" is no more feasible than "equality" of the shank and lever of a ratchet. As Burke knew, any sort of human "equality" or "liberty" should be subordinate to justice and underlying arrangements developed over centuries, which require more thought for the human sexes than W. S. wish. As he realized, the only real human equality would be moral equality. With Titles VII and IX, we upset a long-proven balance, forbidding the very "discrimination" needed to sustain the healthy interaction of wise, manly men; and wise, womanly women. In failing to study feminism and resist its patent onslaught on a right order of the sexes, Western men have failed miserably to uphold their part by performing their manly duties.
As for the philosophical error of condemning "sex discrimination," if we didn't discriminate as to sex, there'd be no children -- the true sex equity -- our inheritance. It is women's great and natural power, with the force of reproductive behavior inevitably demanding the discrimination necessary for sensible relations between the sexes. Why do Americans numbly pretend otherwise? That a people accept the notion suggests ignorance, or an inability to read or -- discriminate! Because Titles VII & IX's thoughtless drafters were only catering to militant feminists, any excuse for them vanishes. (As if this weren't bad enough, the 1980s' "Glass Ceiling Act" added a dose of pretentious, socialistic, micro-psychobabble.)
That institutions of higher learning, docilely obedient to state-mandated Marxist "committees of compliance," cannot muster the needed intellectual leadership to preserve their educational tradition is disgraceful for all responsible -- legislators, educators, citizens, trustees, governors, executives, editors, etc. Again, in the end it is not various scapegoats or the courts doing; it is our own for condoning a bad law. Sports programs are best left to school administrators whom we can hold accountable, not to abstract, draconian theories of mere politicians. Instead of following the lead of people like California State Senator Dean Florez, currently busy in Sacramento trying to amplify Title IX by squeezing the budgets of state universities who don't give "equal athletic opportunities to women," men and women need to stir themselves and their representatives to repeal arbitrary statutes meddling with the two sexes, whose long partnership is better managed by a civilized people and the common law than shortsighted innovators. Once they're gone, then we can judge universities on how well they educate.
In his eagerness, Dean Florez gives no thought either to consequences or our freedoms, reminding us of Goethe's insight, "Legislators and revolutionaries who promise equality and liberty at the same time are either psychopaths or mountebanks."6 Our own constitutional system of checks and balances, and separation of powers, was characterized:
. . . not by objectives but by its mode of operation and devotion to a body of laws which codified that mode. . . also defined by procedures, by way of conducting official business, as opposed to a high-minded set of purposes hidden away beneath its surface like a ticking bomb.7
In centralizing control of education in Sacramento according to his politics, Florez undermines the freedom and responsibility of those actually doing the job -- a classic example of poor management as well as a "ticking bomb."
Again, the many efforts to defend Title IX reflect the striking analogy of our time with Edmund Burke's -- when abstract claims of "liberty, equality, and fraternity" brought violent destruction. Ours is less bloody (if one overlooks millions of aborted babies) but equally radical, since we are neither the socialistic republic nor matriarchy that many people are taking for granted. It will need robust, relevant debate to confront the trends and men will have to decide whether to surrender leadership to women or not. If they do decide to, they'll be the first in history. *
"A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar." --H. L. Mencken
1 Speech on the Duration of Parliaments (1780), The Best of Burke, edited by Peter J. Stanlis (Regnery).
2 Quoting from Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France.
3 Edmund Burke, as quoted from his speeches by Peter J. Stanlis, in Edmund Burke: The Enlightenment and Revolution, p. 15 (Transaction).
4 Michael Weiss, Academic Questions, Summer 1992.
5 Contact, CSUF, Winter 1989.
6 Maximen and Reflexionen, quoted by Hans Hermann Hoppe, in the October 1999 issue of The Free Market, Ludwig von Mises Institute.
7 Prof. M. E. Bradford, Original Intentions, p. 104, in quite Burkean terms.