not discussing a conservative understanding of the sexual division of labor

Referring to a set of options for dealing with men undergoing a supposed “loss of unearned privilege,” Kazzy says:

It’s not clear to me which of those [options] CKM is advocating. What must be remembered is that harm is being done by the mere existence of privilege. It might be unseen or unfelt, especially to those in privilege, or so baked in that even the victims do not actively realize it’s presence, but it is there. Every day. Which is why calls for patience can be so frustrating.

Could be it’s not clear to Kazzy, and others, which of those answers to a supposed question of loss of privilege CKM is advocating because CKM does not advocate and would not advocate any of them. ((Reference throughout is to (very extensive) discussion under “Some mansplaining on women’s access to the workplace” by Tod Kelly at the League of Ordinary Gentlemen blog. Kazzy’s suggested options are:

“There are people harmed by ceasing this privilege. Therefore we should not cease privilege.”


“There are people harmed by ceasing this privilege. We should temper our efforts to cease privilege to minimize their harm.”


“There are people harmed by ceasing this privilege. We should be mindful of their harm and mitigate it where possible such that we do not interfere with ceasing the privilege.”

)) CKM does not accept that the questions to be answered have been properly framed or their terms properly defined either by Kazzy or by any other participants, including CKM himself, on this 619-comment (and counting) discussion thread on this at least fourth League of Ordinary Gentlemen post on a derided and belittled recent set of statements by certain lesser media-political celebrities regarding gender norms. CKM rejects the definition of privilege adopted earlier in the discussion, in particular the prejudicial attachment of the adjective “unearned” to that central term “privilege.” CKM also rejects any sharp distinction between “privilege” and “right” since it neglects both the connection between the two terms going back to the Middle Ages as well as their specifically modern, liberal, and democratic co-articulation in or as a realm of “privacy” in the law, or of “private law” or “private right”: or the rights and privileges of citizenship in a democratic republic or under the reign of the generalized particular or society of individuals. ((The right or privilege or right-as-privilege and privilege-as-right of presuming those rights and privileges to be universal, inalienable, self-evident, etc., and in those senses simple rights that do not have to earned, would under the selfsame liberal democratic theory that defines such right or privilege always need itself first to be earned, as through revolution, then re-earned (as unearned) through responsible exercise, elaboration, and protection.)) CKM remains unconvinced that a conservative or traditional point of view on the sexual division of labor – on a desirable and necessarily generalized description of the rights and responsibilities (or privileges and duties) of men, and of the rights and responsibilities of women – has been even minimally comprehended, much less taken seriously, by many of those prepared and eager to dismantle and experimentally replace it or its remnants. For a conservative, the dismissive ignorance and one-sidedness of the discussion will be distressing and symptomatic in themselves, and be taken as further evidence that functional positive ideals of manhood and womanhood, rather than being systematically suppressed on behalf of faulty and incoherent social theories, should be inculcated from an early age and reinforced at every opportunity. It tends to fall to CKM to describe this perspective not because CKM is convinced of its adequacy, but because no one else seems willing or able to do so, perhaps least of all or least effectively its self-styled defenders. For political purposes that are not CKM’s purposes, CKM ends up appearing to be “on the side” of American political conservatives, whose approach to these matters CKM finds unsupportable and which he suspects will be as destructive in relation to their announced ends as the approach or approaches of American political progressives will finally be to theirs. CKM suspects that moving beyond these circumstances of a social and political fabric being gradually un-knit from both ends may not be possible at all. CKM might be open to being persuaded otherwise, but CKM’s lack of a personal stake in the discussion, except as a discussion purely, may make him less likely to be persuaded at all, just as it leaves him without any sufficient interest in explaining why his disinterested perspective, though obviously also pessimistic, is not simply pessimistic. CKM remains skeptical that a truly persuasive argument can be derived from the same presumptions whose elaboration both intellectually and objectively already is that same gradual systemic self-unwinding in search of irrevocable self-disappearance. To go much further would require a willingness to suspend judgment and start as though at a beginning, yet from closer to an end, by all participants. That requirement, the one thing required, will always be too much to require.

4 comments on “not discussing a conservative understanding of the sexual division of labor

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  1. So are certain opinions, mere ‘doubleunplusgood’ or actually thoughtcrime, I’m a little perplexed, of course, Erickson, as a general rule, starts with the ‘turtles all the way down’

  2. CK, I love this. Like you, I’ve had misgivings about the liberal feminism that’s popular right now, and I’ve found it hard to articulate these concerns without being lumped in with actual reactionaries. I’m probably rehashing stuff that was already said at the League, but your post here inspired me to articulate my own related musings.

    The problems with the feminism that is currently popular are the problems with the classical liberalism from which it sprung. The prescription to “treat like like” — which is so general as to be unobjectionable — has become a rigid, difference-eliding dogma. Liberals have not fully appreciated that applying “equality” as the perennial prescription can be expected to result in a stultifying homogeneity of values. Liberal feminists, by mandating that women achieve all the traditionally male trappings of “success”, have not only made it difficult to extol the traditionally-feminine virtues, they’ve made it difficult to talk about feminine virtues at all. By erasing non-masculine virtues from public discourse, liberal feminists have reified the patriarchy more fundamentally than any misogynist ever could.

    Of course, men and women and transgender people are individuals and cannot be treated as exemplars of the category into which society assigns them arbitrarily. Liberals are surely right about this. But this is not the same as saying that manhood and womanhood (or trans-hood, if we’re at that point) are identical. And just because it is improper to prejudicially categorize people based on their sexual organs doesn’t mean that some kind of benign, celebrated diversity between groups is inferior to an enforced homogeneity.

    • Thanks, Robert, very well said, and good to see you around again. I’m hesitant to say anything at all, since I’m afraid of falling into that multi-thread 1,000+ comment vortex again, even from this distance. The liberationist argument will be that they’re not aiming for an objective equality – impossible short of androgyny – but for equality of opportunity and possible discovery of a variegated, un-predetermined equilibrium state. For reasons I partly went into over there, I think this ideal may be utopian, and may make unjustified presumptions about what arguments have really been won or settled. I’ve been thinking about the different philosophical, religious, and scientific claims about the sexual division of labor and “natural” sexual differences. Maybe some time down the line we can delve into them in greater detail, as you seem also to have given them a lot of thought. Might make an interesting bookend with your debut post that looked at the Garden of Eden from a completely different perspective:

  3. No, the problem lies a little differently, it is illiberal in the classical sense, distinctions between the genders are not arbitrary, Erickson and Bryant, are possibly the mostly clueless polemicists on that point.

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