De-constructing Sentiment II: Female Power

It is believed that a 19th century playwright was the first person to write that “the pen is mightier than the sword,”1 and that adage is probably more relevant now than ever before. Because in this modern age of false words he could just as easily have said ‘the pen is mightier than the truth.’ The ‘might’ he makes reference to after all is the very real power wielded by people who succeed in owning the meaning and use of words.

So it is very pertinent to the way that feminists have usurped their own cause. Which means that when we take on the burden of contradicting the dogmas of modern feminism we need to take back the meaning of words, and one of those words is power.

Feminists like to talk about power, but only to say that men have power and women do not. Or to say that men abuse power and women do not. But they make little or no acknowledgement of the powers owned by women to imprint newly born minds with responses that will benefit themselves, to reinforce those responses throughout the most vulnerable years of that young life, and then to call on those responses when it is beneficial for them to do so. Although many men feel themselves to be immune from those requests, the truth is that many of them who feel that way still allow their resolve to crumble when faced with a woman exhibiting or feigning distress.

So there is a form of power granted by nature which is enjoyed exclusively by women, and we need to shine more light on it. In order to understand this a little better let’s first look at a female power that is not human, and the peacock provides a good example. Although the word ‘peacock’ is sometimes used as a derogatory term to describe men who overdress, this is somewhat unfair. Because the extravagance of the peacock’s plumage is not their own choice, it is determined solely by the preference of the females of the species. Therefore the day to day appearance masks the real power that shapes the relationship between them. And when we use that relationship as a model to understand gender power, we realise that the grand appearance of the peacock is not a demonstration of power, but evidence rather of powerlessness.

It is therefore a very significant anomaly of nature that in the human species it is the females that adopt extravagant plumage, and who suppress any inclination of males to compete with them. The actress and model Jacqueline Fernandez explains it like this. “Vanity is a women’s prerogative, and it should stay that way.”2 Meaning that the pursuit of attention and admiration causes human females to reverse an established pattern of nature. Which is an anomaly that we take for granted, and a power we underestimate.

Popular scientific opinion/myth suggests that females only exercise their powers to benefit their children. But the plumage of the peacock demonstrates that feminine power is a force of nature, and that it can be eccentric and self-serving. We often hear men being lectured about expressing their feelings. But our society is no more willing to allow men to speak about their feelings than it would be to allow the peacock to contradict the peahen. Why is that you may well ask? It is because the peacock would say to the peahen, ‘you are not doing this for the sake of the children’.

So the enforcement of female choice is indicative of a power that shapes our cultural perception of what is good and what is bad. This may sound obscure and inconsequential, but the distortions contained in such perceptions are intrinsic to our social discourse, and they have a calculated purpose which can be explained by understanding the relationship between sentiment and power.

We tend to underestimate the power of sentiment, but organisations that wield power do not. Governments and corporations and advertisers and broadcasters compete fiercely with each other to influence the sentiments of large groups of people. They employ the very best and most well trained experts and psychologists to help them for that purpose, and are prepared to spend vast sums of money to achieve their ends.

In this respect, the stakes have been raised by the ongoing efforts to globalise the consumer economy. Meaning that the manipulation of consumer sentiment has now become an industry. But this also creates an opportunity of sorts. Because the illusions of sentiment depend a lot on obscurity, so there is a certain danger in repeating them too often. We may therefore even have something to be grateful for. Because the flood of contrived sentiment that pours out of modern media channels makes it possible to observe more clearly methods and patterns of behaviour that previously defied analysis.

Take sympathy for example. In the eyes of many people it would hardly appear significant, and yet when we open our eyes to it we discover that it saturates daily life. But even though there are times when we should show sympathy towards someone we love, there is never a time when we are obliged to love someone for whom we feel sympathy. So even though sympathy is less obvious a feeling than love, its reach is longer.

Therefore if our capacity for sympathy is addressed in the right way, we can be induced to do things for people that we don’t even know. In what way this might be useful to others is not always obvious, and yet those organisations that broadcast news and entertainment, by whatever medium, compete vigorously to influence the sympathies of their audience. So even though it appears to be such an imprecise feeling, sympathy is measured with great accuracy by people who have learned the value of it.

In order to demonstrate that sympathy is no childish or accidental sentiment bear with me for a short review of Ryan’s Daughter3. This is an Oscar winning film released in 1970 that was directed by David Lean. The story is essentially about two men and one woman. They live in a small town in the West of Ireland in the year 1916 when British military forces still occupied the country, and their relations with the local population were very tense. The heroine is a native of the small village and the daughter of one of its few prosperous citizens. She marries the local school teacher and shortly afterwards becomes bored with him. Then she meets the commanding officer of the nearby British military garrison and begins a sexual relationship with him, and the resulting sex scenes became a significant feature of what is commonly described as a ‘tragic love story.’

The sympathy of the audience for the heroine is carefully preserved by meticulous adjustment of the two male characters with whom she is involved. For this purpose, her husband is portrayed as boring and insensitive to her need for passionate love (or sex), which appears to justify her later behaviour. Meanwhile her lover is afflicted with a severe limp, and he also suffers from psychological trauma, both of which were caused by his war experiences on mainland Europe. So on the one hand her husband is excluded from sympathy because of his insensitivity to her ‘needs’, and on the other, the sympathy we feel for the heroine is not tainted by any dislike of her lover. Nonetheless their affair is exposed in the end to the local community who have no tolerance for locals who consort with British soldiers. So the pair are forced apart, and the soldier lover commits suicide.

The question is then, what would happen to the sympathy of the audience if we reverse the roles? We would have a story about an unemployed man who married a hard working school teacher and became bored with her because she was no good in bed. So he then starts a sexual relationship with a woman who is physically crippled and suffering from psychological problems. When this lonely and vulnerable woman then commits suicide the damnation of our hero would be complete, and no interpretation of artistic licence would excuse the film maker from talk of malice, or lurking dangerous attitudes towards women. Certainly there would be no talk of Oscar prizes.

Therefore when we watch this film from one point of view it appears like romance, but when we turn the story around, it becomes a depressing tale that would surely be condemned. Which means that film makers are not free to express any new idea for the sake of art. Because it is the formula by which the value of sympathy is calculated that makes it possible for them to portray violence against women, but not criticism of them. Actually their survival as artists depends very much on their willingness to conform to the rules by which the social taboos and monopolies on sentiment are maintained.

Nor is the value of sentiment confined to junk romance. Indeed, experts tell us that the equity and financial markets are driven by sentiment. So if even the value of stocks can be influenced by sentiment, then it stands to reason that people who learn to estimate their relationships in terms of value will also naturally develop an acute awareness of sentiment. Becoming alert to words and deeds that may indicate any change in the state of sentiments they have taken some trouble to cultivate.

When we speak of ‘value’ in the context of human behaviour therefore, it is not money that is the currency, it is sentiment. Money and gold and property of various kinds have a value that can be counted, and they do exercise a powerful influence, but they must be earned, inherited, or stolen. On the other hand, sentiment can be minted, and when it is properly crafted, it can be used to obtain material value. In this context then, the strategy of making other people feel sympathetic or indebted becomes both a business enterprise, and an abuse of power.

Of course the misuse of any power comes at a price. Take for example the well known fact that the display of anxiety or fear attracts attention and sympathy. So people who discover that sympathy has value are also discovering incentives to be anxious. But judging by what we see in the public media, sympathy is as much a female prerogative as vanity. Therefore it becomes possible to predict an imbalance in the levels of anxiety between males and females that corresponds with that imbalance. And indeed, the incidence of phobia (an extreme form of anxiety) is known to be at least twice as high in females4 as it is in males. But that ratio rises to 3/1 for individuals with multiple phobias and 4/1 for phobias relating to animals.

And yet, in spite of being bombarded by so much of it, we appear to be largely ignorant not only of how sentiment is manipulated, but even of what it is. Which should not be surprising, since nothing about sentiment is obvious, except for what we are encouraged to notice. Think about encouragement for instance. On the face of it this is not a sentiment. In fact we need encouragement as children and depend on it for our learning and development. But we are supposed to reduce our dependence on it as we mature. When we don’t, our belated need for it prevents that maturity from reaching its full potential and reflects itself in the mirror of our personalities as a desire for attention and admiration. Which, as it happens, is magnified disproportionately in the affectations and sentimental behaviours of women.

No doubt many people will object that men have this need too, and that is certainly true. But all of these arguments are about degrees and proportions. So if we take the distribution of high street retail space as a barometer, then we have to conclude that women have this need more than men by a very significant factor. This observation is also supported by figures for credit card spending in the UK5 which indicate that in the year 2016 the ratio of female vs male spending on personal items was 4.5/1 on the high street, and rose to 7/1 for online shopping.

These differences present a whole range of problems. But there is one in particular that has reached epidemic proportions. Because what comes naturally for the child becomes more complicated for the adult. Meaning that we give attention admiration and sympathy to children without any need for justification. But adults who want to keep these things with them after childhood must increasingly find ways to justify them, and this need can exercise a powerful influence on their behaviour and relationships. The problem is though that the dripping need for justification creates a tendency towards exaggerated feelings and complicated accusations. Thus we arrive at the modern epidemic of accusing behaviour driven disproportionately by women, and egged on by the agents of consumer propaganda who seek to manipulate women by flattering and indulging them.

Overall then, when we step back and observe the patterns of sentiment and behaviour, we can recognise how much the mechanisms of power depend on them. The fact that women in general appear to be so proficient in the use of these mechanisms is not however to be taken as proof that women have superior moral insight or emotional intelligence which men lack. It is rather that women have a material motive that men do not, and that they have at least three advantages. The first is their biological power to suppress anything that might be disadvantageous to them, a power that translates itself in the minds of men as fear. The second is their ability to imprint the minds of children with responses that are primarily advantageous to them. And the third is their close alliance with the agents who manipulate consumer sentiment. And I haven’t even mentioned sex.

Actually the issues I have mentioned here are only part of a spectrum of powers available to women which deserve consideration. But space does not allow, so I will come back to them another time. Nonetheless, it should be obvious even from this cursory look at the close rapport between sentiment and power that the image of pristine vulnerability which feminists have built in to their vocabulary for and about women is false. It is not that men do not possess power, or that men do not abuse power. They do that indeed. But they are not alone.

Now bear with me one more time please for a short digression. I noticed from comments to my previous article that there was some concern as to whether I understood gynocentrism or not. So in order to save good people from wasting their precious time, let me clarify the point, yes I understand. But I am reasonably convinced that pushing back directly against the monster will be a monumental task that will probably take a long time, and will only  succeed to the degree that a lot more people get involved. Likewise feminism is locked on to the same driving forces that give life to gynocentrism, so I suspect that the struggle against feminism will also be long and acrimonious.

In the meantime, I ask myself, is there something I can do that will help the cause to gain traction? And everybody has their own answer to that question. In my case I take an oblique approach to the problem. Think of it like this. How do you convince a burglar not to break in to your house? You can plead all you like, and the burglar can give whatever assurances you might want to hear. But in the end the police will tell you to take away the ladder the crowbar and the flash light. So for me this is a matter of personal interest rather than alternative paradigm. I want to remove the tools, or at least make them harder to use. I hope that approach will become more clear as I work my way forward, and that it will prove useful to some small degree. But it is not meant to distract from the great work already done.



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