Failure by Design

Note: Friends, just in case you haven’t already noticed, things are in a pretty bad way these days: in families and neighborhoods, schools and colleges, domestic and foreign affairs, and even in the Church. I don’t recall a time in my entire life when people were talking so much about fundamental public upheavals, the failure of old paradigms, lack of trust in leaders, apocalypses, the Third Secret of Fatima, and much more. Pope Francis has even suggested on several occasions that we’re in the midst of World War III but that some unspecified “they” do not want to admit it. All times are troubled since Adam, Eve, and the apple, but not equally so. In times like these, we all need to think – creatively – and act – vigorously – wherever and whenever we are able to fix whatever we can. There’s no point in complaining that no one’s doing anything if you don’t do something yourself. In our current Spring fundraising, we’ve reached around $13,000, a strong early amount but still quite a way from the $50,000 we need. Please, click on the red SUPPORT banner above and become part of our various efforts. By the way, I’ll be on EWTN “The World Over” this evening (8 PM ET, but check local listings) to talk about recent goings on in the Vatican, our situation here in America, and much more. – Robert Royal

In a previous article, I discussed the spectacular failure of the modern woman to raise boys well and inspire them to learn great things. Of course, there’s plenty of blame to go around: absent fathers, men who will not defend the rights of boys, the sewage backup of pornography, and educational absurdities that hurt boys worse than they hurt girls. These last are to be promoted for the same reason why you sacrifice a pawn to take your opponent’s knight: girl to queen’s bishop four.

But the fact is there, in plain sight and stinking to heaven. It does not embarrass, though, because the aim is not to raise strong men, the old-time village elders or city fathers, providing for women and children and protecting them, clearing fields of genuine freedom and self-government.

Nor is the aim the welfare of girls and women, because that too is bound up with solid and self-reliant families. Note that in other regards the feminist regime is remarkably cavalier about the health of the women it claims to protect, suppressing the evidence linking abortion with breast cancer, and the criminological data showing that the safest person in the United States is a married woman living at home with her first and only husband.

The aim is not to build up but to tear down, or at least to render boys and young men incapable of building. Four things are in play here, as I see them.

One is an induced feminist ignorance: a refusal to look at the most obvious facts about the sexes, male and female, made for one another. The feminist is exclusive in this regard: her original sin is to sever the good of the man from the good of the woman. It is Hobbes with lipstick and mascara.

Another is a version of what Max Scheler calls ressentiment, a diseased pride the modern woman takes in considering herself a victim from time immemorial, transforming her grudge-nursing into a virtue. Ordinary people are ashamed to say that they have been chumps and victims; the modern woman glories in it. A sane woman is crushed to learn that her great-grandfather beat his wife. The modern woman is crushed to learn that he did not. It is martyrdom without courage and faith.

Drew Gilpin in 1957
Drew Gilpin in 1957

A third is envy. If you can’t join them, smash them. The modern woman, deep down, understands that healthy boys and strong men can do excellent things if they are given some space. She understands that boys naturally form teams, by no means always having to do with athletics: “teams” for chess, music, fort-building, hunting, whatever. Boys thrive by it. This cannot be permitted. They must be accused of excluding. They must admit girls, and then they drift away as they lose interest. It is social interaction without strong friendship.

The last is avarice; not necessarily the agglomeration of riches, but ambition, lust for power. The greatest thing in our midst is Jabba the State. Millions of well-remunerated secretaries, personnel managers, lawyers, accountants, and compliance officers batten on the slops that fall from Jabba’s table. Whatever feeds Jabba is to be promoted. Whatever threatens to put an electric fence around his reach must be put down, ruthlessly. It is worship without God.

Here’s a diagnostic case. The president of Harvard, Drew Gilpin Faust, herself a graduate of all-female Bryn Mawr, wants to crush Harvard’s “final clubs.” Eleven out of thirteen of these are single-sex: five for women, six for men. The clubs are private and independent, receiving not a cent from the school. Students join them or not, as they will.

The unfortunately named Faust is not content merely to slander the clubs. She is threatening to punish students who join them by making them ineligible to lead any campus club or team, and by refusing them certain recommendation letters they will need if they want to apply for a Rhodes or Marshall scholarship.

She rolls out the usual cannons of slander and question-begging and political sloganeering. The clubs bring about an imbalance of “power.” They do not prepare students for life in the twenty-first century. They are a “male preserve.” They run afoul of Harvard’s commitment to “diversity.” Macht schnell, ihr Schweine!

Critics who believe they are conservative have called Dr. Faust out for trying to eliminate the very thing she says she wants to promote: diversity. Why should students have to join only one sort of club, the sort that Faust approves?

She, as many female students note with acerbity, attended Bryn Mawr, after all. Why should female clubs be collateral damage in her war? Indeed, it appears that they have applied for an exemption from the iron fist. Smash our brothers, but let us be.

Those critics do not understand what war they are in. They are opposing tanks with pointed sticks. The war is not about choice. It is about nature. Men and women sometimes are, to use the ugly word that makes something natural appear deviant, homosocial. It is something that you’ll notice at a party, a natural separation, men and the women gravitating towards members of their own sex, because they find it comfortable and enjoyable. The natural must be crushed.

Here’s what we must ask about any social or educational policy. The answers are predetermined. Will it help both sexes, but boys more than girls? Crush it. Will it hurt both sexes, but boys more than girls? Push it. Will it undermine the family? Promote it. Will it result in less love between men and women, even while it forces men and women together? Promote it. Will it strengthen the bond between brothers-in-arms, husband and wife, mother and child? Crush it. Does it supplant fathers with government agents? Promote it. Does it line the wallets of those who oil the bureaucratic machine? Promote it.

Does it hurt the Church? Promote it – boldly. Grace builds upon nature. Is it good natural soil for grace? Deplete or poison it.

Anthony Esolen is a lecturer, translator, and writer. Among his books are Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture, and Nostalgia: Going Home in a Homeless World, and most recently The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord. He is a professor and writer in residence at Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts, in Warner, New Hampshire. Be sure to visit his new website, Word and Song.