Welcome to the Destructive Age of Male Guilt
In 2006, author Shelby Steele wrote the preeminent book “White Guilt” on how the promises of the Civil Rights movement were subverted, plunging our society into never-ending racial conflict and eroding our principles of liberty. I use this book as the basis of my thesis because everything Steele has written can be applied to feminism and the destructive effects of socially imposed Male Guilt.
For the past few weeks, our country has been embroiled in a battle for the Supreme Court. At the center is the honorable Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman over 30 years ago when he was 17. The woman has no evidence to back up her claims, no legal authority has investigated, and the witnesses she has brought forward have as little proof of sexual assault as she does.
Despite this, the clarion call of Democrats has been, “Believe the woman.” Why? Because men do, in fact, sexually assault women. Because America has a marred past of sexual oppression. Because human history has stood witness of patriarchal abuses that still affect women in many parts of the globe today.
None of these claims can be denied. Men admit it — this admission brought about the Sexual Revolution — and this admission has led to their loss of moral authority. Even if an individual man isn’t guilty, he’s still guilty because of historical patriarchal abuses and inherent association with other men who have in fact abused women. This “male guilt” results in their stigmatization and delegitimization.
Let me turn to Steele to unpack my thesis, using his wording but replacing racism with “sexism,” whites with men, and blacks with women, as well as rewriting circumstances regarding racism and applying them to those that led to the rise of feminism and “angry women":
A free society like the United States is built on principles of equality, individual rights, equal treatment under the law, etc. These principles undergird the moral authority of America’s institutions. However, our history has violated these principles as they apply to women. For centuries male Americans presumed that the patriarchy, or male supremacy, was a self-evident divine right, so freedom’s discipline of principles did not apply where women were concerned.
Over time, this lapse of democratic discipline undermined the moral authority (interchangeable here with legitimacy) of the American democracy and its institutions. The Women’s Liberation Movement and Sexual Revolution disciplined America with democratic principles, establishing the point that one’s sex could not deny one’s rights as an individual. In democracies, moral authority is always one’s own responsibility (not a divine or ideological right) — and it can be earned only through fidelity to principle.