Feminist Demonology and the "Is of Identity"
by Robert Anton Wilson
Author of the famed The Illuminatus! Trilogy: The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple, Leviathan
Confusing oligarchy with patriarchy remains the most flagrant intellectual error of Radical Feminism.
Bigotry: Absurd and Vicious
June 1996 - Naomi Wolf, of all people, has written in a recent Ms. Magazine that feminists should aim their rage at specific males who commit specific acts of oppression and not at all males in general(!) -- a strange outbreak of sanity to appear in Gloria Steinem's own magazine. I could hardly believe my eyes when I read it: I felt as if I had entered the Twilight Zone and found, in an old copy of Der Strumer, an essay by Goebels saying Germans should hate some Jews but not all Jews.
Meanwhile, Dr. Warren Farrell, the only "mere male" ever elected an officer of NOW, has changed his tune and presently tours the country apologizing to men for the unscientific slanders against us he once helped popularize. Well, Doc, better late than never. And, of course, the glorious Camille Paglia (Blessed Be Her Holy Name) has employed great scholarship and scalding wit in tearing to shreds all the false history, confused logic and pseudo-anthropology that make up the Androphobic myth. Not since Nietzsche's attacks on anti-semitism has so much intellect spent so much time refuting so much utter nonsense, and erudition and sizzling style out-class the male-haters every step of the way. With Camille's books in print, it begins to seem as if androphobia might soon become as unfashionable as homophobia, and female sexism will look (at least to the educated) as absurd and vicious as male sexism.
The Stalin of Feminism
A special turning point came, I think, on the recent 60 Minutes show (CBS-TV) when Gloria Steinem exploded in gloriously uncensored obscenity at the suggestion that she should confront Paglia's scholarly arguments. I think Steinem really shot herself in the foot that time -- with millions of TV viewers watching. It sure looked like "the Stalin of Feminism" (as Paglia calls Steinem) has a truly Stalinist fear of open debate and a desire to rule only through intimidation.
Meanwhile, the scientific evidence, such as we have, shows no real IQ difference between females and the allegedly "brutish" and "animalistic" males. I would like to direct the reader's attention, next, to a linguistic difference, which I think underlies the philosophical differences between male-bashing Feminism and my old-fashioned liberalism. According to several prominent authorities on neurolinguistics (e.g. Korzybski, Bourland, Kellogg, Bois) frequent usage of "is" constructions conditions the personality to dogmatism, intolerance and over-generalization. In that sentence the word "conditions" carries the same strict meaning as in laboratory research on animal psychology. The bell conditions the dog to salivate. The word "is" conditions people to intolerant behavior. Korzybski went so far as to claim that over-use of "is" potentiates and perpetuates every type of group-hatred and "demonology" poisoning this planet.
Thus, I habitually avoid the use of "is" sentences to steer my prose far, far from the rocks of sloppy group generalizations and dogmas. Most Radical Feminists (and other ideologists) have not learned this elementary verbal antisepsis. I suggest, mildly, the plausible hypothesis that just maybe this helps explain why Radical Feminism differs from earlier fanaticisms only in substituting "males" for "Jews" or "Freemasons" or "Catholics" or other traditional scapegoats. (Just maybe, I said.)
Besides leading to unconscious dogmatism, unconscious intolerance, and confusing matters of opinion with matters of fact, the nefarious "is" also conditions us to think in medieval/demonological categories rather than in scientific/existential categories. For instance, "It is raining" only makes sense in a world where rain gods or water elementals cause events; what else can the "it" refer to? (Actually the "it" implying some Stone Age divinity gets into the sentence to provide a subject for the "is." As Korzybski indicated, the "is" continually populates our semantic reality-tunnel with similar spooks and demons.) Thus "all men are oppressors," like "all Jews are usurers" or "all blacks are rapists" belongs in the category that modern semantic science calls "meaningless propositions" or "noise" or in Nietzsche's lovely word --"swindles." My point therefore stands, and I refer the reader to psychologist Kathi Cleary's Men in Crisis, which explains why Radical Feminists (as distinguished from rational Feminists) have a block against recognizing their own sexism, (and how this unacknowledged sexism drives more and more men into suicidal depressions these days.)
Not Many Women in the Dirt and Dark
Finally, in describing the plight of some homeless Vietnam veterans as an example of the brutal ways our society treats millions and millions of poor men, certain women reply that war results from what Feminists call "Patriarchy."
Well, I don't give a damn what you call it; the fact remains that the majority of humans who have gotten slaughtered in wars (and, incidentally, do almost all the other dirty and dangerous jobs -- construction work, coal-mining, sailing in rough seas, etc. etc.) look remarkably like male humans if you turn them over and examine their genitals the way we examine a dog; and if you also glance in the bureaucratic records you will find they come from deep poverty almost always. In every large battle photo I've seen, the corpses certainly looked male. In coal-mine disasters, the corpses also look both male and poor; not many millionaires or women work down there in the dirt and dark.
In most of the things "that shouldn't happen to a dog," if done by society, the victims look like impoverished males. They certainly don't look like the pampered Ivy League princesses who write most of the propaganda of the anti-male ideology. Women, of course, do get killed horribly and otherwise viciously victimized -- it has happened to some I loved deeply, and nobody has to tell me anything about that subject -- but that kind of perverse cruelty results from lone sociopaths and lunatics, not from the social policies of our alleged "patriarchy."
Confusing Oligarchy with Patriarchy
And I don't think the label "patriarchy" really describes our society or any other known society. Strictly, a patriarchy would consist of rule by all the fathers of the tribe, or clan, or nation. I know of no true patriarchy, in that sense, anywhere in history or anthropology, although one weird French socialist of the last century suggested such a system. (He wanted all social decisions made on the local level by fathers over fifty years old.) What we have in this country, and what most large nations in history have had, consists of rule by a few rich families. Historically, that system has the name "oligarchy."
Confusing oligarchy with patriarchy remains the most flagrant intellectual error of Radical Feminism, and the main reason that, despite the efforts of many intelligent and fair-minded Feminists, the movement continues to attract and get itself identified with the looniest kind of male-hating dingbats. And finally -- one more time -- I intend none of this as an attack on Feminism per se. I still say that, just as Marx considered anti-semitism "the socialism of fools," I regard anti-andrism as the Feminism of custard-heads. In short, neither anti-semitism nor anti-andrism have anything in common with sane socialism or rational Feminism.
Feminist Demonology and the "Is of Identity" is reprinted with permission of the author from the Talking Raven: Journal of Imaginative Trouble