Saturday, August 9, 2008

Dr. Helen - Where have all the Vikings Gone?

The most recent issue of What Is Enlightenment? is focused on masculinity, as I have already blogged. Apparently, Dr. Helen's husband (?) Glenn picked up the new issue while shopping at a "crunchy organic healthfood store," and she read a couple of the articles.
Uh, okay, I thought, this can't be good, it's a magazine from a crunchy organic healthfood store with what I assumed would be a somewhat biased picture of the male gender complete with articles describing how men should be more like women. I was mildly surprised to find out that the articles were actually somewhat enlightened themselves. While I didn't exactly love them, I didn't hate them either. The articles were not too bad.

Due to time constraints, I will tell you about the main article that caught my eye--the one on men acting like women in Scandinavia. The author, Elizabeth Debold, sets out to Scandinavia to find out how "gender equality" is playing itself out in that culture. She starts out the article describing how in Sweden, for a man to pee standing up is increasingly considered to be "the height of vulgarity and possibly suggestive of violence." Debold seems surprised to find out that gender equality is not all it's cracked up to be, especially when she discovers that the new equality is nothing more than "patriarchy in drag." Despite progressive sources that suggest that Scandinavians, particularly Danes, are the happiest people in the world, possibly because they are so egalitarian, Debold finds out that men there are not doing so well.
She goes to describe the article and its findings, which are quite disturbing (I hadn't read this article yet) -- especially that thing about peeing sitting down. What the hell is that about?

Anyway, go read her article -- the comments are interesting, too. For what it's worth, I agree with her opinion and her conclusion:
Let's hope the US never goes the way of Scandinavia--for all the talk about equality, it sounds like the men there are nothing but second class citizens who are lost, lonely and victimized.
I think there are some things we can learn from Scandinavia, but how the men are treated is not one of them. This smells a lot like the Mean Green Meme of integral theory.

One of the downsides of post-modern liberalism is that there has been a rejection of hierarchy and differences -- all people, all ideas, all religions, and so on, are equal in a relativistic world. Those who hold these views -- like the Scandinavian nations, Western Europe in general, and an increasing number of Americans -- want to break down all cultural and social structures that recognize difference or hierarchy.

This is a double-edged sword. Certainly, equal rights, environmentalism, the end of racism, and so on, have all been good things brought about by this worldview. But the efforts to make men and women essentially equal in all ways is so misguided as to be silly, as Dr. Helen's review of the article points out. Biology dictates that men stand when they urinate, and that we are physically stronger, and that we have different intellectual and emotional patterns, and on and on.

Any attempt to eliminate those differences is going to victimize either men or women for no good reason. It seems that women have reversed the victimization pattern in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries -- hopefully that will work out itself out before masculinity there is extinguished.

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