Unrelated nature photo of the day: live oak tree gives birth to bastard opuntia cactus. Blanco County TX, February, 2007.
One of the countless weapons with which the dominant male culture defends itself and its hatred of women against any real enlightenment is the moldy old established canon of male thought. The canon, which exalts an oppressive white male ideology while pretty much ignoring (except as specimens for study) the lower castes, is self-selecting, self-replenishing, and self-perpetuating. One of patriarchy’s great victories has been its success in passing its canon off as the ne plus ultra of all human intellectual and cultural endeavor. Which is of course entirely bogus, since to contribute to the canon, you have to be a dude. This bigoted class prerequisite is not seen as an impediment to the expectation that everyone, regardless of social status, assimilate this male-authored canon. And everyone does. Because history is men’s history, art is men’s art, politics is men’s politics, science is men’s science, sex is men’s sex, and even TV is men’s TV, what choice have we got?
To ensure this ubiquitous dudecentricity, at every gate to public life is stationed a pink-faced myrmidon, exquisitely schooled in the doctrine of dudely supremacy (is he also secretly afraid that his dick is too small and that he might be a homo? Probably.). He will admit through the gate to life’s rich pageant only creatures like himself.* Everyone else is obliged to stay home having pink-faced babies, or to stay out of sight slaving in some sweatshop.
The exception is when there’s a party and they need something to fuck. Fortunately for them, the supreme patriarchal hegemon has done an excellent job indoctrinating everyone. Men can rest assured that any public woman is a receptacle, if not for semen, then for disdain (e.g. ‘Amandagate’), or for absorbing one of those casual expressions of masterful primacy that helps get’em through the day. Who can forget W feeling up Angela Merkel at the G8 conference last summer?
Thus did Barry Gewen, a New York Times Book Review editor/myrmidon gatekeeper, come to have a “Larry Summers moment” while addressing The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study last week. As Ann Friedman, writing in The American Prospect Online, reports, Gewen seized the opportunity to explain that “the reason so few women reviewers appear in the NYTBR is that they just can’t write for a general audience about such topics as military history.” Like all men who have studied the canon, Barry Gewen knows “facts” about women’s “innate differences” that allow him to bask in the golden glow of his own importance, and of the importance of reviews of books on military history.
It would be nice if “Larry Summers moments” really were just moments. But they are not isolated instances of temporary insanity. They are not anomalous brain-farts specific to atypical academic wankers. They are ruptures in the facade of self-delusion that all successful men cultivate, little windows through which the subordinate castes may occasionally glimpse the gilded luxury of white dudes’ universal privilege. Which privilege is predicated on the lifelong practice of misogyny.
* Except for a few tokens, who are let in so that dissident voices can be squelched by countering, “We let Condi Rice in, so clearly we’re not misogynist racists.”