***Consider this a post that points you toward a new area to explore and think about. It reflects a little of what I’m thinking about. I’m not totally settled on any of it. The discussion could extend on indefinitely, so I can only say a little here. Check out the links embedded…see what you think of it all.***

|| It’s also important that I note I am attacking feminism as an ideology here. However, I do appreciate some of the value feminism has given unto philosophy. I realize that there is some slippage between the negative side of the ideology and its positive benefits, such that one cannot as it were, throw the baby out with the bathwater. For an example of the positive contribution of feminism in philosophy, see Graham Ward’s use of feminist standpoint theory in Cultural Transformation and Religious Practice. ||

In a new article from the Weekly Standard by Charlotte Allen, I read about a culture of people I’ve never interacted with, but apparently they’re all around me–and you too. We’ve heard about the hook-up culture: apparently it’s dead. Allen writes that we have now progressed (or digressed?) into a New Paleolithic Age.

Her article, “The New Dating Game,” is something of a sociological study of the post-hook-up culture. Through a lot of blog research, she brings to bear some interesting observations about the nature of dating and relationships in our very fragmented age. One of the things she seems to highlight by the end is the damage that feminism has done to the very objects of its beneficent intent: women. In an analysis similar to Wendy Shalit’s in A Return to Modesty (a great book, by the way), which says that women, in arguing for their equality and freedom (an argument which has done a significant bit of good for women I might add, but is not without some dire consequences) has forced women into roles they do not want, and maybe naturally do not want. Being promiscuous is now an exercise of a woman’s freedom to choose a mate, or many more than one if she so wishes–such behavior is just plain expected.

Men certainly have abused the privilege of the new sexual freedom that has come as a perhaps unwitting result of feminism’s enterprise. Yet in many ways their hands have been tied too. I find it almost utterly hopeless to find women portrayed in the media as living in respect of other men, especially those women portrayed as married. In real life, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard women putting their husbands or boyfriends down for being “dumb men.” Feminism has formed men such that they have no way to fight back. The women call their husbands dumb because they don’t act like real men–they don’t make decisions, they don’t take responsibility…they just sit on the couch and watch sports. Yet, what else is there to do when women have taken control of everything? How can a man be a man when a woman demands that she be allowed to do everything a man does? Granted, there are certain problems with privilege that must be dealt with here so that women aren’t abused and treated as less than human, a sad fact of history the response to which has been the feminist movement. Yet the results haven’t turned out so good for either party–men or women–men can’t demand their roles back (in part cuz sometimes we’re just willing to be lazy) because women refuse to give them up, or worse, because we’re accused of being patriarchal, antiquated, and misogynistic when we make the demand. I’m concerned that women really want us men to take the responsibility and that they’d rather not have it–in fact, they’re resentful that it’s landed on them; but in the end, men feel whipped, hopeless, and resigned while women walk all over them. Men can’t win for losing.

I can’t say that I know people like those described in Allen’s article. They must run outside my circles, or else if I associate with them, I am unaware of a significant aspect of their lives. But I do know people like those I’m describing above.

How does all this play into theology? Well, unless you’re gonna accuse me of being sexist, misogynistic, patriarchal, or antiquated (and hence, to fully miss my point), I’m gonna say its all related to God’s making man responsible in the garden. God didn’t blame Eve. God made man responsible. Feminism is woman’s effort, in some sense, to take that responsibility for herself.

How does this all play into philosophy? It’s another instance of identifying the fact that we have been formed in a culture to be certain kinds of people and relate in certain ways by a underlying productive mechanism that we never really noticed, and thus we are confronted with a very significant challenge if we wish to change it or overcome it.

Back to Allen’s article, her work is just another instance of feminism’s failure to women. It tells the sad story, both of men and women, and the damage of feminism to the possibility of healthy relationships. It has so befuddled and confused us, that we don’t even know how to define “healthy” relationships anymore. I have no short, pithy fix, so I leave it  to you to ponder.

Further resources to jump into this area of thought:

Wendy Shalit’s other book: Girls Gone Mild: Young Women Reclaim Self-Respect and Find is Not Bad to be Good (I haven’t read that one)

Donna Freitas: Sex and the Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance, and Religion on America’s College Campuses

Emerson Eggerichs: Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs


As an aside, I also appreciate the ongoing conversation throughout the article about evolutionary psychology. Evolutionary psychology can argue that any human behavior can be interpreted as perpetuating the idea of “survival of the fittest.” That is, everything we do can be interpreted as positioning ourselves (or better, our genes) to have a legacy, and a good one, at that. The problem with evolutionary psychology is that it runs into contradictions. Check out this article from Salvo. Allen’s article wittily notices this fault.