The Monologues & Marie Antoinette

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Feb 22, 2005

Promoters of Eve Ensler's V Monologues assert that its purpose is to reduce violence against women. No one, of course, really believes this vacuous claim, but it allows the partisans to paint opponents as villains who positively want to expose women to harm, while it provides them amusement to watch, e.g., the Jesuit university presidents sit up on their hind legs and obediently repeat the feminist catechism. "Some of the discomfort comes," Fr. Kevin Wildes gravely assures us, "from the exploration of violence against women and the exploitation of women in society." Good puppy! An article on the University of Chicago's V Day Celebrations notes that a women-owned sex-shop named Early To Bed will provide -- well, I suppose Fr. Wildes would call them "marital aids" -- to be auctioned off in support of the cause. Feel safer yet, ladies? Many years ago already, Professor Ruth Wisse, writing in Commentary (August 1988), pointedly scored the hypocrisy of "movement feminists" secretly attracted by the violence they pretended to deplore -- whose much-advertised concern for women, in other words, was largely a cover for lubriciousness. She was writing from Montreal's McGill University:

One of the first things the organized feminists did on our campus was to plaster on the inside of every cubicle in every women's toilet a sinister cartoon. Under the caption YOU MAY NOT BE ALONE, an oafish man leers over a toilet door. Beneath this piece of daintiness is a phone number, presumably of the women's movement office, though it would hardly matter because there are no phones in any of the bathrooms. Since this notice cannot be meant to frighten an intruder (being posted only on the inside of the door), nor offer his prospective victim any safety, its sole purpose is sadistic.

The assault comes not from any man, however, but from the sick mind of a movement that pretends to protect women from a danger it abets. Anyone worried about the thinness of the patina of civilization that covers our sexual appetites should be duly eager to preserve such domesticating institutions as exist, monogamy preeminent among them. If every man is a potential rapist, and every toilet stall his target, one would think women would do well to invent strategies of pacification, rather than these titillating goads to violence.

But the women who launched the movement did not initially weigh the predatory qualities of males at all. They had in mind their pacific middle-class fathers and husbands. It was only once they had embraced an ideology denying men their customary role of protectors that they felt exposed to danger, and from the protectors they had just dismissed. Demanding equality and liberation one minute, they screamed Help! Rape! the next. Only they were not the ones to suffer; the real damage fell not on the middle-class women who propelled the movement, but on the poor who had never asked for anything but protection from the men around them.
I think this last point deserves a lot more attention than it's gotten, either from the Left or the Right. There is a strong element of Marie Antoinette in indulging the thrill of play-acting a victim, while remaining unmoved by the writhings of the real one. The college girls at Loyola or Fordham or Chicago will neither decrease nor increase their exposure to violence by embracing feminism. It's the women who cook and clean for them, the women who travel to work by street car, whose live-in boyfriends deal out black eyes and broken ribs and, all too often, abuse their daughters as well. Feminism is not the sole reason for the increasing likelihood that such women will have, in place of a husband, a succession of short-term mates, but it's one of the most significant contributing factors. Perhaps somewhere in their orgy of moral self-congratulation the Catholic sponsors of the V Monologues might pause to reflect on the real-world legacy of abortion, bastardy, and casual sex as they have helped form the attitudes toward women held by real-world blue collar males, the males whom the gals on the housekeeping staff will see when they come home from work.

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