Spengler's Universal Law
of Gender Parity
Since this space was opened to reader enquiries (Ask
Spengler, Feb 12, 2004), numerous comments have arrived,
some thoughtful, and some tendentious and even offensive. One of the latter
sort reads as follows:
I am a society made up over a billion people. We have not progressed
past AD 800. We believe women have no worth or rights and that people
of other societies are pariahs. Is there any chance for us to advance from the
squalor we live in?
Bandying about insults of this sort helps no one. I take strongest exception to
the implication that "women's rights" and human rights in any way are
separable. Permit me to elaborate.
In every corner of the world and in every epoch of history, the men and women
of every culture deserve each other. Permit me to call this conjecture
"Spengler's Universal Law of Gender Parity." Of all the silly plans advanced by
Americans to remake the world in their own image, raising the banner of women's
rights has the smallest chance of success. Where men subjugate women
physically, women ravage them psychologically. That may explain why violence
toward women and secret homosexuality so often are endemic in the same
By no means do I wish to condone ill-treatment of women. In the most successful
cultures, wives order their husbands about; exemplary are the Chinese and the
Jews, whose husbands have been hen-pecked since the time of the Three Kingdoms
and the Patriarchs. On the contrary, the evidence suggests that where women are
badly off, so are the men. To raise the banner of women's rights against
offending societies (as do American conservatives in the case of the Muslim
world) misses the point.
Why, for example, do American lesbians fancy softball (a version of the
national pastime of baseball), while European lesbians evince no interest
whatever in football?
Americans view politics, business, and most everything else through the prism
of sports. The locker room is the inner sanctum of American life, so it is not
surprising that women demand their place in the sauna. American men complain
that successful women become abrasive, harsh, and unfeminine - in other words,
that they emulate male standards of power. American lesbians, who emulate male
behavior, orient most radically to the locker room. For the same reason,
funding for women's games is a leading demand of American university feminists.
In consequence the "castrating woman" has become a commonplace of American
humor, for example this October 28, 2003, entry from columnist Mark Steyn:
"Last month mass hysteria apparently swept [Sudan's] capital city, Khartoum,
after reports that foreigners were shaking hands with Sudanese men and causing
their penises to disappear. One victim, a fabric merchant, told his story to
the London Arabic newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi. A man from West Africa came into
the shop and 'shook the store owner's hand powerfully until the owner felt his
penis melt into his body'. I know the feeling. The same thing happened to me
after shaking hands with Senator [Hillary] Clinton."
Hillary Clinton is an easy target, but she deserves a modicum of sympathy. No
American woman ever has served as president of her country, nor even led one of
the major political parties - unlike England, France, Germany, Spain, Norway,
India, Israel, Indonesia, Pakistan, and so forth. Nature endows women with
marginally more intelligence than men. Margaret Thatcher rose to the top of
British politics because she was cleverer than her male counterparts.
In US politics, intellect elicits mistrust. Unlike the elite-ridden
societies of Europe, where the mandarins often wield more power than
politicians, folksiness trumps brains in America's political realm. The
imperious Thatcher would not have lasted a month with American voters, who
expect their leaders to listen to them, rather than tell them what to do.
Exceptionally intelligent men, eg Dwight Eisenhower, must feign dullness to
preserve the people's trust.
In short, to appear powerful, American women must turn themselves into an
imitation of a man. For every Bill Clinton, nature avenges itself by bringing
forth a Hillary.
Outside the American mainstream, gender parity produces some bizarre results.
African-Americans occupy an extreme position in the machismo spectrum. Not only
have they succeeded through professional sports more than any other avenue,
punctuated by many scandals of misbehavior toward women, but "hip-hop" now
represents the most visible black contribution to popular culture, with
repugnant expressions of misogyny and explicit descriptions of sexual violence
Rapper bravado belies the reality of the African-American predicament.
Fifty-three percent of black children lived in single-parent households as of
the 2000 US census, compared with only 22 percent in 1960. White American
women may copy some of the habits of American men, but black women shoulder the
lion's share of family burdens.
Black American males, for that matter, are not quite as macho as they seem.
Journalist Benoit Denizet-Lewis last year reported on the pervasiveness of
unprotected homosexual relations among young black men ("Double lives on the
down low", New York Times, August 3, 2003). These relations, Denizet-Lewis
observed, typically evince a high degree of brutality. Those interested in the
unappetizing details may consult his article.
This in turn has led to a new human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic
among black college students. The following news report appeared on February
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters Health) - A "dramatic increase" in HIV infection has
occurred among African-American men who have sex with men in North Carolina,
many of them college students, Dr Peter Leone, of the University of Carolina,
Chapel Hill, and colleagues reported on Tuesday at the 11th Annual Retroviral
Conference. Between January 2000 and December 2003, "at least 84 college
students in North Carolina were diagnosed with HIV infection," Leone said. The
HIV outbreak has affected 37 colleges in North Carolina, plus seven other
schools in five other states in the Southeast. Overall, they identified "an
epidemic in college students, primarily involving African-American men who have
sex with men and men who have sex with men and women".
Living "on the down low" appears to be a ritualized expression of power and
submission. While young black men may rap about sexual violence toward women, a
fair number of them are engaged in sexual violence to each other. Rappers often
brag of inflicting damage upon women's genitalia, a nasty sort of fantasy. But
actual genital mutilation sadly is endemic in Africa and the Middle East.
Bitter controversy prevails about the issue, but a great deal of anecdotal
evidence suggests that endemic homosexual behavior is the antipode of violence
toward and ill-treatment of women in these regions.
Scholar Bruce Dunne argued in a widely quoted 1998 article that "Sexual
relations in Middle Eastern societies have historically articulated social
hierarchies, that is, dominant and subordinate social positions: adult men on
top; women, boys and slaves below In early 1993, news of President
Clinton's proposal to end the US military's ban on service by homosexuals
prompted a young Egyptian man in Cairo, eager to practice his English, to ask
me why the president wanted 'to ruin the American army' by admitting 'those who
are not men or women'. When asked if 'those' would include a married man who
also liked to have sex with adolescent boys, he unhesitatingly answered 'no'.
For this Egyptian, a Western 'homosexual' was not readily comprehensible as a
man or a woman, while a man who had sex with both women and boys was simply
doing what men do."
The available literature on homosexuality in the Muslim world is argumentative
and anecdotal. The compelling point, rather, is that sexual relations first of
all are human relations. If men treat women brutally, it is because they are
brutal to begin with, and will treat other men with the same sort of brutality.
Women brought up in a brutal culture will raise brutal sons.
Where gentle and brutal behaviors diverge is another matter. In the past I have
called attention to the importance of imitatio Dei - emulation of God (Mahathir
is right: Jews do rule the world, October 28, 2003). Men act
toward each other in emulation of their image of God. That is a long story, but
focusing attention upon the mistreatment of women as such obscures the issue.
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