Flat White

Who really won the sexual revolution?

10 June 2018

7:50 AM

10 June 2018

7:50 AM

Chivalry is a virtue, but only when exercised responsibly. Unfortunately, men have so gone overboard in their chivalry that many women no longer realise that they are the weaker sex. This has resulted in women engaging in behaviour not conducive to their well-being or that of society.

Cory Bernardi and Andrew Hastie’s reservations about women assuming combat roles represents the possibility of gentlemen exercising their chivalry in a more responsible manner, one that gently reminds women not to forget themselves. The issue of women in combat roles like the infantry ought to become a staple of conservative agitation, especially given its profound implications and symbolism.

Feminism, it must be recognised, can only exist in a chivalrous society. The Scandinavians used to be an extremely violent people, but something changed in their culture. Christianity obviously transformed these people from worshipping brute strength above all else to affording care and consideration to the weak and vulnerable. Scandinavia, as a result, is now a feminist stronghold. It is therefore ironic that feminists, one of the principal beneficiaries of Christian ethics, tend to be so eager to bite the hand that feeds them, treating Christianity as inimical to the fight for the rights and interests of women, when Christianity is, in fact, their greatest guarantor.

Indeed the feminist idea that women can fight for their rights is itself absurd. Women cannot fight against men. As the Saudis have shown, men can ban women from doing such things as driving if they so wish, and there would be nothing the women could do about it. What, could they withdraw to the mountains to conduct a guerrilla campaign in the hope of gaining concessions or achieving outright military victory over their men? Obviously, women finding themselves in such a society would just have to accept it.

Women can only make a show of fighting for their rights if their men gallantly allow them to do so. In such chivalrous societies, strong and independent women know that their power ultimately lies in being able to make a scene to get their way, safe in the knowledge that gentlemen are obliged to back away in such circumstances. Thus do the feminists exult in their “strength”. This is how the suffragettes used their “power”; and this is how modern feminists like Van Badham – prone to behaving hysterically – also use it.

When society was more sensible, women’s weakness in relation to men was openly recognised, reflected in such things as the legal doctrine of coverture, whereby a woman obtained the “covering” of her husband upon marriage. This principle is still reflected in the wedding tradition of the bride’s father escorting his daughter to the altar, following which she sheds her father’s surname and assumes the surname of her husband, symbolising the transfer of responsibility to cover and protect.

A feminist on reading this would no doubt bristle. The idea of coverture is insulting to her: a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. So such remnants of coverture as the bygone practice of chaperoning must be cast away as the newly freed slave would cast away his chains. The liberated woman will make her way in life independently, engaging in the process of such things as courtship and finding a mate by her own self and on her own terms.

But this is delusional. Women making themselves sexually available and easily discardable will hardly result in their happiness. Women cannot do everything men can do, especially when it comes to sex. Men can walk away after casual sex quite naturally and easily, all the while wearing a big smile. Women find it much harder to do so, perhaps because of the bonding hormone oxytocin. Modern women seem to think that try-before-you-buy represents the seeds of a beautiful relationship. Not understanding how men think, and the testosterone that drives them, they stupidly ask each other after the fact: “Why doesn’t he call me?” The lyrics of the hit Sixties song by the Shirelles reflects a more clear-eyed recognition of the implications of unchaperoned courtship: “Will you still love me tomorrow?

A long quotation from George Gilder’s Men and Marriage suffices to highlight the folly of sexual liberation:

Contrary to the assumption of most analysts, it is men who make the major sexual sacrifice. The man renounces his dream of short-term sexual freedom and self-fulfilment – his male sexuality and self-expression – in order to serve a woman and family for a lifetime. It is a traumatic act of giving up his most profound yearning, his bent for the hunt and the chase, the motorbike and the open road, the male group escape to a primal mode of predatory and immediate excitements. His most powerful impulse – the theme of every male song and story – this combination of lust and wanderlust is the very life force that drives him through his youth. He surrenders it only with pain. This male sacrifice, no less than the woman’s work in the home, is essential to civilization.

So who has been really liberated by the sexual revolution?

About a third of de jure marriages in Australia end in divorce. De facto marriages are, by definition, less committed than de jure marriages, being many more times likely to break up. Increasing numbers of children are born to de facto couples. The social pathologies stemming from the dissolution of the family are too well known to need repeating here.

Since the gentleman is no longer needed in a world where women are apparently strong and independent, coverture must come from somewhere else, usually the state. In the workplace, sexual-harassment legislation, and office rooms that are transparent, will offer women the protection they need in lieu of the gentleman. However, the absence of the gentleman is nevertheless painfully felt when the all-important requirement for consent in sex is technically met, leaving women vulnerable to ungentlemanly (though not criminal) conduct from the likes of Harvey Weinstein.

I do not blame the feminists for this state of affairs but rather the overindulgent gentlemen who have allowed for this. Women, as a result, are losing all touch with reality. When Bernardi, complaining about the inappropriateness of having women in combat roles, rhetorically asked why women are not allowed to compete with men in contact sports like rugby, Senator Linda Reynolds refused to acknowledge this checkmate. Instead, she proceeded to call for a debate to allow mix-gendered teams in the AFL, NRL and rugby union! This, nota bene, was coming from a former senior military officer and now senator. If such a delusional person can rise almost to the rank of general and is now apparently a rising star in the Liberal Party, then this does not bode well for the future.

Fortunately, those whom Howard referred to as “ordinary Australians” would not consider Bernardi’s concerns to be unreasonable; and most of these people would consider Reynolds’ suggestion for mixed-gender teams in elite sports to be quite unreasonable. Ordinary Australians are not as delusional as Senator Reynolds seems to be.

Because of this, focussing on the issue of women in frontline combat roles will not cross the threshold gentlemen are normally held hostage to, whereby a feminist can make a scene in the hope that the gentleman will be forced to back away and give way. On this particular issue, any woman playing the make-a-scene card will just look ridiculous in the eyes of ordinary Australians, who are still prepared to acknowledge the most basic physical differences between men and women and will not advocate for women in combat or women in men’s rugby teams.

Thus can responsible gentleman start walking back the excesses of their irresponsible forebears. Chivalry is a virtue only when it is exercised sensibly and responsibly, and political conservatism ought to reflect this. Otherwise, women start to lose touch with reality, and nobody benefits from this.

Illustration: Warner Brothers.

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