December 11 2013
“Be it Resolved: Men are Obsolete.” That was the topic of a recent debate in Canada that featured Maureen Dowd and Hanna Rosin in favor of the resolution and Camille Paglia and Caitlin Moran opposed.
Sounds like fun. We’d love to have been there and hear that much of what was said was tongue-in-cheek, though certainly there were also serious ideas. The American Enterprise Institute's Christina Hoff Sommers says that Paglia’s opening statement was the highlight. You can read the transcript or listen to the audio of the event, but Hoff Sommers provided a snippet of Paglia's opener on the AEI blog:
If men are obsolete, then women will soon be extinct—unless we rush down that ominous Brave New World path where females will clone themselves by parthenogenesis, as famously do Komodo dragons, hammerhead sharks, and pit vipers.
A peevish, grudging rancor against men has been one of the most unpalatable and unjust features of second- and third-wave feminism. Men’s faults, failings and foibles have been seized on and magnified into gruesome bills of indictment. Ideologue professors at our leading universities indoctrinate impressionable undergraduates with carelessly fact-free theories alleging that gender is an arbitrary, oppressive fiction with no basis in biology.
Hoff Sommers noted that Paglia even praised free-market capitalism, even commenting on its value for women:
History must be seen clearly and fairly: obstructive traditions arose not from men’s hatred or enslavement of women but from the natural division of labor that had developed over thousands of years during the agrarian period and that once immensely benefited and protected women, permitting them to remain at the hearth to care for helpless infants and children. Over the past century, it was labor-saving appliances, invented by men and spread by capitalism, that liberated women from daily drudgery.
Hoff Sommers described the proceedings:
According to the “males-are-in decline” crowd, the future belongs to communicative, consensus-building, emotionally intelligent women. Men, with their brawniness, risk-taking and general penchant for mayhem have overstayed their welcome. Dowd wondered if they would finally become extinct, taking “video games, Game of Thrones on a continuous loop and cold pizza in the morning with them.” Paglia politely but firmly reminded her sister debaters that today’s busy, multi-tasking, alpha-females may be joining men in running the world, but they are hardly replacing them. And their brilliant careers are made possible by legions of hard-working, risk-taking, innovative men.
Paglia observed that men do dangerous and dirty jobs (such as pouring concrete, tarring roads, and stringing electric wires) that women rarely even attempt. In what must have made the other team choke, Paglia said:
The modern economy, with its vast production and distribution network, is a male epic, in which women have found a productive role–but women were not its author. Surely, modern women are strong enough now to give credit where credit is due!