Gender Studies, an Aberrant Ideology
Steve Moxon lets rip
Jacqueline Rose, Women in Dark Times, Bloomsbury, London, 2014, £20
Women in Dark Times by Jacqueline Rose is feminist cant of such imbecility as to be a leading candidate for the most risible non-fiction book of the year, or even decade.
Most glaringly, it is riven through with comprehensively discredited notions from Freud and other psychoanalysts in their un-falsifiable and therefore wholly non-scientific ‘theories’, revealing that Rose has not even the slightest knowledge of psychology or any science. And no wonder: scientific illiteracy is an essential prerequisite to maintain the empty lines of her argument. Indeed, she explicitly decries “reason”, positing instead that “confronting dark with dark might be the more creative path”. Rose tries to make out that “man’s rivalry with women” – itself a non-existent, merely politically supposed phenomenon (there being no such thing in biology as cross-sex dominance interaction) – is “because she once was, is still somewhere now, a rejected part of himself”. This non-scientific twaddle, cited as being from the psychoanalyst Melanie Klein, was discredited somewhere in the middle of the last century, along with ‘penis envy’, the ‘death instinct’, ‘repression’ and everything else Freud and his disciples ever came up with. Somebody needs to tell university humanities departments.
From the outset, there is the stark assertion of empty political shibboleths without any attempt whatsoever at justification: “We cannot make it only by asserting women’s right to equality”, Rose opines in the very first paragraph; in which she also claims women’s knowledge as a new epistemology akin to some ancient mythic priesthood. Well, at least feminist special pleading is here put frankly. And she does concede that she can speak only for some women, though without pointing out that this is a tiny slither of the female sex; albeit indicating this well enough in her choice of a handful of rarefied individuals she considers emblematic women worthy of a chapter each. These, Rose supposes, are representative of female suffering that is “unseen”! Unseen! Since when was any female victimisation not the very centre of attention, together with various exaggerated or manufactured bogus forms of female victimisation? Never mind in instances of artistic or other fame, as is common to Rose’s ‘heroines’ here. It is male suffering which goes unseen: males are unable to seek help because they know they will not get a hearing and instead will be derogated; hence the extraordinary high rates of male compared to female suicide.
Rose’s exemplars are all supposed dire cases worthy of the label “survivor” – the standard giveaway charged misnomer – yet they are none of them any sort of victims of her ‘patriarchy’ bogey. Most are in no sense victims at all, but, on the contrary, successful if comparatively obscure contemporary artists. The remainder sustained ordinary damage and/or were caught up in grand upheavals that anyone and everyone succumbed to. Marilyn Monroe was passed between eleven different foster families before seeing her mother committed to a mental hospital. Rosa Luxemburg had risen from nowhere to hold court with the most famous communist leaders to express face-to-face severe criticism of them and their movements, that had she been male would have earned her execution long before she finally provoked that end (which, for her advocacy of mass slaughter, she well deserved in any case). And Charlotte Salomon had a family history of serious mental health issues, with her mother and two sisters all committing suicide; and as a German Jew was caught up with everyone else of her ethnicity/religion in the Nazi nightmare.
The heart of Women in Dark Times is where Rose gets away from her obscure artists and empty political or media pin-ups to look at ‘honour’ crime, but she gets this spectacularly wrong at the same time as unwittingly providing a window on the truth. [I say unwittingly, but it’s hard to see how she could be so blind, rather than wilfully addled by her quasi-religion.] Leaving aside that across cultures and through all history those on the receiving end of extreme violence in retribution for infidelity typically if not universally are men, yet ‘honour’ crime is explicitly defined in terms of only female victims; the instigators (rather than the mere proxies) are usually women — the family matriarchs or younger mothers. “One of the most disturbing aspects of these stories is the involvement of mothers in policing their daughters, and even on occasion in killing them”, Rose tellingly comments. “Purna Sen [of the LSE] sees such involvement by women as one of the distinctive features of honour crimes”. Rose cites cases of the target for violence being the male adulterer or both parties, and that the “mother can no longer hold her head”. That the male ‘honour’ killers are proxies of the instigators more than they are instigators themselves, and the ‘fall guys’ in the enterprise, is revealed in the following passage: “… the act is a matter of deepest regret, even as they are egged on, lauded and told to be proud. These young men, often chosen to enact the crime on the grounds that their youth will lead to a reduction of their sentence, mostly find themselves rejected and isolated by their families once in prison”.
It never crosses Rose’s mind that this phenomenon is not some ‘patriarchal’ [sic] imposition but is a female intra-sexual phenomenon which is supported by males inasmuch as they are duty-bound to do so given their civic role. Instead, Rose plucks out of thin air: “Honour is therefore vested in the woman but it is the property of the man”. On the very contrary, it is the ‘property’ of women; just as is Chinese foot-binding, female genital mutilation, and the various forms of face-veiling and body-shrouding (which pre-date and therefore are not from Islam). All of these cultural practices are similarly grounded in female intra-sexual competition for pair-bond partners. They clearly serve to indicate prospective fidelity or to dissuade girls/women who might be tempted to subvert a pair-bond. This is in the interests of high mate-value women, which in turn is in the collective interest of the reproductive group as a whole to maximise reproductive efficiency. [See my paper on human pair-bonding.]
Oblivious to any need to make a cogent case, Rose is at times wholly unguarded in her vacuity: (talking of women, of course) “we find it very hard to blame ourselves” – “No woman is ever as bad as her worst cliché”. Indeed, excruciatingly stupid clichés litter this entire tome. There’s even the utterly fatuous “the idealisation of women’s bodies can be a thinly veiled form of hatred (as we have seen in relation to Marilyn Monroe”). Men adore women’s bodies yet this is somehow inverted to be “hatred”.
Given the hegemony of ‘identity politics’, expect Women in Dark Times to become a multi-part BBC TV series in due course. It’s just the sort of bull the BBC loves to endlessly recycle in the firm belief that eventually everyone will swallow it. They will not.
STEVE MOXON is the author of The Great Immigration Scandal and The Woman Racket.