Saturday, June 5, 2010

Blaming your failures on discrimination: the victim crutch and "Sex and the City 2"

After my first year of law school, a black friend of mine flunked out. A group of other students also flunked out, all of them black. My friend angrily approached me and declared that the school "has a problem with black people."

I don't need to spell out my friend's "logic" for you.  The fact that the school's policy mandated grading without the professor knowing the names of the students didn't make any difference to my friend.  He didn't let the facts get in the way of his victim metanarrative. 

In the interest of full disclosure, my school did engage in a form of discrimination: it admitted certain black students who shouldn't have been admitted in the first place in order to help redress "historical" discrimination against blacks.  I am sure that a qualified white kid who wasn't admitted was consoled by the fact that white people were already "overrepresented."

I was thinking about my black friend after I tagged along with some women to see "Sex and the City 2."  I knew full well that I would detest this film, but I tagged along in the interest of acquiring fuel for this blog. That's how cynical and jaded I've become.

I got more fuel than I bargained for. It was more awful, more insipid, more misandric than even I had expected.  During one particular scene I literally had to get up and go to the lobby because I just couldn't watch.

This film doesn't just male bash, it lands a solid uppercut to the testicles.  And instead of shouting "low blow!" most of this film's fans rejoice with a resounding "you go, girlfriend!"

Among other plot devices, the lead character had just written a book, and it got trashed by a big-time critic who happens to be male. The lead character sought consolation for this perceived injustice from her friends, a trio of the most revolting females since MacBeth's witches.  The friends assure the lead character that the male critic simply can't stand the thought of a strong, liberated woman.  End of story.  To lend credence to this conclusion, one of the friends regaled the others about her former male boss, who didn't like her solely because, she concluded, she is female. 

Please understand, the purported misogyny of  both the book critic and the ex-boss were not supported by any evidence aside from the women's serene and conclusory ipse dixits, and the audience simply had to take it on faith that the men in question are sexist pigs. Of course.

As I walked to the car after this nauseating spectacle, I thought about my black friend.  He, and countless others, go through life with the most handy, all-purpose, built-in excuse that he can pull out any time he fails: "I failed because of racism."

It's the same logic we hear from some people whenever President Obama is criticized: it has to be racism.  And when Hillary Clinton started to fall behind during the 2008 primaries, we heard some hardcore feminists pant that men won't vote for her because she's a strong woman.

It's the same logic I heard handling a sex discrimination case for an airline one time: "I was fired because my boss hates women." (Well, isn't he the same man who hired you over several male candidates? "Well, yes, but . . . ."  Oh, I get it. Only after he hired you did he realize you're a woman.)

I, on the other hand, can't blame anything on my birth class. I am a white male, and even when I am discriminated against because of it, you see, it's not really "discrimination." 

While it would be nice to be able to rely on a victim crutch every once in a while when I foul up, I am glad I don't have one. You see, it's deadly to the soul when it becomes a way of life because it keeps people from walking on their own. 

We've seen what our corrosive racial group identity politics, which tries to substitute equal outcomes for equal opportunities, has done for black people: it has created a permanent underclass.

Somewhere along the line, a divisive group identity gender politics has also crept into our culture. So the group that controls most of America's wealth, that controls the ballot box, that is awarded the vast majority of college degrees, that trumps men in virtually every measure of educational achievement, that is assured equal opportunity in every sphere of American life and is provided financial assistance in many simply because of its gender, that maintains a death grip on control of the domestic sphere, including children and family law courts, that outearns the other gender in urban areas until its members drop out and have children, and that lives significantly longer than the other gender -- that group -- insists it is marginalized, oppressed, and not regarded as equal human beings. Feminism, deigning to speak for all women even though few women deigned to identify with it, arrogated to itself the right to construct a self-schema that insists women can only be empowered when they are regarded as powerless.  And as happens with almost every cry of victimhood, a lot of progressives bought into it.

But the "equality" manufactured by insisting that women's failures must be due to discrimination, misogyny, the "good old boys" network, patriarchy, or whatever they want to call it, is the cubic zirconia of equality, a sham, a garden variety hoax.  The more we "empower" women by excusing them from personal accountability for their actions, the more we reinforce the cockeyed notion that women need special treatment because women really aren't equal

Real equality -- that is treating people as fully "equals" -- can't be legislated.  Laws can only go so far.  When a group keeps reminding everyone it's a victim, when it cries "discrimination" at the drop of a hat, the rest of us start to question even the real instances of discrimination that occur to members of that group. (And you white feminists, admit it: when you see Al Sharpton flying around the country, getting his mug on TV and speaking out on behalf of some purported injustice to a black person, you don't assume it's racism.  Your first reaction is probably "there he is grandstanding again."  Be honest, ladies.  That's how we feel when you cry "sexism.")

When an employer is looking to hire someone, and the choice comes down to an equally qualified man and woman, the employer might just be tempted to hire the one more likely to take personal responsibility for his failures and less likely to sue the company for gender discrimination if the need to terminate the arrangement should arise.  You know, the one not wearing a big "victim" sign around his neck.  Some employers won't take a chance on a marginally qualified black, Hispanic, or woman because they assume they are buying a lawsuit if they should need to terminate him or her.  Sad, but true.  And this only keeps good people from being given a chance to prove themselves. 

So back to that insipid movie: maybe the book critic and the ex-boss were sexist pigs. But women do all the other members of their gender a grave disservice by throwing the misogyny accusation around loosely. Sadly, it's a disservice modern feminism foments.