It is hard not to feel a certain Schadenfreude for that community of men in the universities and professions who are feminism’s enablers, “femimen,” as we may call them. These “white knights” have jumped on the feminist bandwagon in an access of estrogen complicity, for a number of parallel reasons: career prospects, self-doubt, cultural acquiescence, fear of exclusion, docility of character, self-promotion, or sexual advantage. Some may even regard themselves as “survivors.” I give three notable instances of the pathology at work.
Michael Kimmel is the founder of the journal Men and Masculinities, the voice of the National Organization for Men Against Sexism, distinguished professor of sociology at Stony Brook, author of many popular books, and a committed feminist. His Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era, described in his university bio as “a comparative study of the extreme right, White Supremacists, and neo-Nazis in the United States, Germany, and Scandinavia,” has acquired near-legendary status. His reputation in the field of gender studies is immense and, until recently, untouchable. Now, Kimmel has himself been accused of sexual harassment, a case of a strenuous advocate for women’s rights hoist on his own petard.
So far as I can tell, Kimmel is an unabashed and self-aggrandizing careerist who has never understood the lives of working men. He has thrived on his university authority, popular books, and speaking engagements touting the need for understanding of and sensitivity to the plight of women on the part of men enslaved to their own raw and turbulent masculinity. Though he assumes the mantle of enlightened fairness, I regard him as a fraud who has done much harm in promoting the social and cultural dysfunction from which we now suffer. There is a kind of poetic justice in his recent troubles. Naturally, Kimmel immediately played the apology card and lobbied for survival by wishing to “make amends to those who believe I have injured them.” The creepy and patently insincere mawkishness of this star feminist is par for the course. Kimmel is not to be pitied, nor is the feminist sorority to be pardoned. They are equally complicit in acts of malfeasance.
One thinks, too, of Steven Galloway, formerly a professor at the University of British Columbia, author of the international bestseller The Cellist of Sarajevo, and a member in good standing of Canada’s politically correct literary community, who found himself fired by his university and cast into outer darkness on the basis of demonstrably false accusations of sexual misconduct. Although cleared of all charges by an independent inquiry, he was not reinstated. He has no future prospects in this country, neither as a writer nor a professor.
Yet he has admitted to participating in rejecting a job application from a candidate to his department owing to an unproven sexual allegation against the applicant by a female graduate student, indicating Galloway’s career-driven or inner assent to the reigning feminist orthodoxy. But the issue was rather more complicated than appeared at first sight. It turns out he had been having an extramarital affair with the same graduate student who had made the initial allegation against the hapless applicant, and who was now, in a crowning irony, accusing her mentor and lover of rape. Galloway’s long and meandering text in the National Post, partly an exercise in mea culpa and partly an exculpatory document, will not serve to extricate him from the feminist dungeon. Nor does it excuse his naivety, his desire to believe without evidence. Some men never seem to learn.
Jian Ghomeshi, formerly a celebrity broadcaster for the CBC, was the target of a lying campaign by a gaggle of unscrupulous women who accused him of sexual abuse. Though exonerated in a famous trial in which his accusers were shown to have colluded in preparing a sheaf of false charges — some of whom continued wanting to date him even at the time of his alleged misconduct — his career is ruined and his reputation in tatters. “I’ve become a hashtag,” he says.
Ghomeshi in his own words had been “a doctrinaire activist who was tear-gassed at protests.” He wore T-shirts “screaming slogans of equality and liberation.” And he admits to having used his “liberal gender studies as a cover for my own behavior.” Although he quite justifiably “cannot confess to the accusations that are inaccurate,” he now feels “deep remorse about how I treated some people in my life.” He affirms that he is “not suddenly an antifeminist activist, stage-diving at a Breitbart road show” and goes so far as to say that he now sees his own actions “as part of a systemic culture of unhealthy masculinity.” Though I believe he may be sincere in his expression of contrition, Ghomeshi has clearly made all the right penitential moves in a well-written but humiliating apology for his dismissive and narcissistic conduct — chiefly with women, obviously. It doesn’t make any difference.
“Men seem to be so cowed that they can’t fight back,” said former feminist Doris Lessing. This is doubly true of feminism’s advocates or allies. They do not fight back, they apologize and repent. They may claim they have reformed, they may acknowledge bad behavior, they may salvage a few shreds of dignity by showing how they have been slandered and misprized, they may be vindicated in law or by inquiry, and they may swear not to disavow their feminist sympathies, but it does them no good. All the virtue-signaling in the world will not help to redeem a perceived transgression or permanently remove the stigma. Better these men should never have been feminist enablers, opportunistic sympathizers or go-along trendies in the first place. Compliant men, take heed. Feminist bona fides count for nothing in the breach.
Kimmel, Galloway and Ghomeshi are representative figures indulging a talent for maudlin regrets in a bid to atone for a wayward but not uncommon sex life. Apologizing for natural male vigor and energy in violation of their own inherent masculinity is a form of psychological suicide. Indeed, the onus falls equally on women who tend to appreciate virile men and who enter into relationships knowing full well what they are doing. Men are men and women are women and that is realistically all there is to it.
Begging forgiveness for being a man is precisely the kind of saccharine reparation that Iron John wouldn’t be caught dead making. As poet Robert Bly writes in his book of that title, “Contact with Iron John requires a willingness to descend into the male psyche and accept what’s dark down there, including the nourishing dark.” There should be no temporizing. Moreover, men should recognize that feminism does not tolerate what we might call indemnity politics on the part of its fellow-traveling victims. The shaming industry is relentless and the Twitter mobs are ruthless. An allegation is always a verdict in the feminist mind, as it is for the madding crowd of the social media world.
The truth is, no one is safe from the feminist blitz, not even its male collaborators. After all, despite their unmanly support for or deference to the cause, they too are men. It is unfortunate that politics, career, or emotional rapport has led them to forget that fact.