EMPATHY UNHINGED

A kind of motherhood …

Unreason wears such a pretty face sometimes. But the latest strange elaboration of the ongoing PC hysteria—a phenomenon that future historians, if they are free to do so, may recognize as a sort of Black Plague of the Western mind—is one that seems to have furrowed brows even at the New York Times:

Readers who have visited this website before will probably be familiar with my long-running argument—once heretical, now all too obvious—that the PC movement itself, and many of the public policies that have flowed from it,  have roots not just in “feminist thought” but in the female cognitive style. That cognitive style has been given unprecedented cultural weight by the general entry of women into public life in Western societies, and it represents a real break with the past, because it puts more emphasis on empathy, compared to the male cognitive style (on average—think of two overlapping bell curves) and I would say less emphasis on cold logic and considerations of long term outcomes.

As I’ve noted before, I don’t think that shift is entirely bad. I also suspect that 95% of Western women today would scoff at this “trigger warnings” demand by students as the absurdity it is. But the fact is that the culture has been moving in this direction basically ever since women began to gain a real voice in policymaking and the media. And back in, say, 1960, if you’d polled women about some of the things that are accepted policy now, they’d have called them absurd too.

Here, at any rate, is the latest manifestation, which is in a way beautiful as a demonstration of extreme, focused, feeling-driven femthink, and its remarkable blindness to long-term adverse consequences:

Incidentally, one of the likely reasons that women, on average, are more empathetic, is that empathy is an adaptive approach to child-rearing, for which women are and always have been principally responsible. Moms and Dads frequently pull in different directions on this issue—the Dads wanting to toughen the kids up a bit, to prepare them for the real world, the Moms wanting above all to protect the kids from physical and emotional discomfort. The “Mom” style of thinking comes through nicely in this next passage, despite the cloud of PC gobbledegook with which the speaker tries to obscure it:

One thing about hysterias is that they can be hard to control or predict, and sometimes end up turning on the very people who helped whip them into being. The NYT, for example, has in recent years played a major role in encouraging PC outbreaks, with stories that basically assemble and amplify the very “outrage” they purport to cover. Poetic justice then, that the paper itself has now become a target of the mob, and has had to issue a public justification of its recent firing of editor Jill Abramson:

It’s all so laughable. But when will it stop? Can such a movement ever stop on its own?

Clearly there is pushback now in the case of the trigger-warnings controversy. But there has always been pushback against PC campaigns, and in the end it has never worked. Think how far this movement already has come.

Assuming that universities, the primary incubators of PC ideology, survive, and assuming that America does not dissolve in civil war, I can think of just one force that could stop the PC movement’s forward march: universal ridicule. Women like Meredith Raimondo may not possess enough self-awareness to be stopped this way, but probably the majority of the movement’s followers do.

And there is something essentially ridiculous about the PC movement. This is a movement that would cease to exist without its core of feminist women, who decry the patriarchal, misogynist past and its suffocating traditional gender roles, even though virtually everything they do reveals their fundamental biological drive to think and act like mothers. The objects of their empathy and compassion—other women, ethnic minorities, the physically disabled, LGBTs, illegal immigrants, victims of trauma, etc. etc.—are in a way their children.

EMPATHY UNHINGED