By Dr. Carrie Gress
This article first appeared in The Federalist
There is nothing like a natural disaster to clarify what is important and true in life. Plenty of ink is spilling over the “toxic masculinity” that came to the rescue in Houston and how these heroes with their trucks, boats, guns, and brawn saved thousands of people from rising waters.
But why did it take a storm of biblical proportions to help clear the cobwebs out of our collective minds about the gifts men have? The answer is in the power of marketing, particularly to the fairer sex.
Women have a tendency to look to other women for ideas. We applaud this in the multi-billion-dollar fashion industry and entrust most of our wardrobe and fashion choices to whatever is trending. In the movie “The Devil Wears Prada,” fashion mogul Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) breaks in her idealistic new assistant, Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway), who dreams of doing something more important than matching skirts with sweaters. When Miranda catches Andy smirking at serious chatter over denim skirts, Miranda unloads:
See that droopy sweater you’re wearing? That blue was on a dress Cameron Diaz wore on the cover of Runway – shredded chiffon by James Holt. The same blue quickly appeared in eight other designers’ collections and eventually made its way to the secondary designers, the department store labels, and then to some lovely Gap Outlet, where you no doubt found it. That color is worth millions of dollars and many jobs.
We women appreciate that others work hard to provide us new selections every season. What we may not realize, however, is that the marketplace of ideas works like the fashion industry. Instead of elite designers, the political and social elite—the matriarchy—provide the parameters about what we think. Instead of skirt lengths and eye-shadow hues, they suggest intellectual trends that we scarcely know are being dictated to us through every possible avenue, from women’s magazines to popular daytime television and, especially, mainstream media.
The Trickle-Down of Matriarchal Ideas
Mimicking clothing, fashionable ideas start with a statement by Hillary, Tina Fey, or Gloria Steinem, followed by a well-placed message in “Girls,” then picked up pundits on MSNBC, then trickling down to emotional appeals on “The View” or in Cosmo, and so on. Like Andy’s blue sweater, thousands of people helped craft these messages. These are the ideas presented as acceptable for public consumption. The influence is so subtle yet so pervasive that even having a discussion on this topic can be difficult because we live under the impression that we are free thinkers, although thinkers are generally not free when they think just like everybody else.
So what are the current thought trends? Today’s crop of “acceptable” tenets include:
- Women are always victims.
- Men and masculinity must change.
- Others must provide women unrestricted access to contraception and abortion.
- Women will only be equal when they are considered exactly the same as men and, therefore, must be granted special safeguards from and privileges over men.
- Society must accept gender neutrality and fluidity (unless it flows back to heterosexuality).
- And the newest one: Let’s share our lady-parts! Grab your pink hat.
These basic ideas have become the very air of public discourse. When any are violated, matriarchs are quick to remind everyone that women are victims and throw a collective tantrum. “Shut up!” they explain (h/t Instapundit).
Such histrionics keep us from looking deeper into the underpinnings of the matriarchy’s arguments, so much so that most don’t recognize they are largely divorced from logic, science, and basic common sense. Truly, the empress has no clothes, but we have spent decades commenting on her fine raiment, color, and style so that almost no one dares comment on her intellectual nudity. Yet Houston’s flood has reminded us all that maybe there is more to the story and that Melania Trump’s stilettos are really just not that important after all.
It’s an Exclusive Club. Don’t You Want In?
From New York to Washington to Hollywood, it is hard to find elite women who are not part of the matriarchal structure, towing the line for Planned Parenthood, radical sexual license, or female victimhood. And whenever an elite woman is honored for being brave and courageous, she is almost always doing so within the comfortable boundaries set by the matriarchy.
James Damore, formerly of Google, made the unfortunate mistake of speaking from behind the curtain about what he saw. By stating in the most benign fashion that men are different from women, he threatened the fragile matriarchal edifice. His non-conformity has only one solution: silence. So the great Google searched for a rationale and found only this: “Shut up!” and, in ironic imitation of its White House nemesis: “You’re fired!”
Lest you think I exaggerate, I challenge you to think of well-known women who don’t ascribe to this ideology. I can think of about five, none of whom the media treats well. Discussion is hermetically sealed so no one notices that there might be another way to think. Women who operate outside these parameters are labeled “problematic.” And problematic ideas from problematic women are immediately assailed as suggesting that women should be doormats or slaves, even if no such argument is made.
Let’s Use This Hiatus for a Fresh Start
Surely, there must be room to speak of women in content-rich terms between what the matriarchy presents and ‘doormatitude’. The everyday lives of women not caught in the matriarch’s vortex attest that there is plenty.
We know this momentary break from the matriarchy’s narrative won’t last long, so how do we permanently unshackle ourselves from its menace? First, we have to recognize just how much we are influenced by this marketplace of ideas and the many mistaken concepts we have about womanhood (and manhood). Finding alternative sources of news and entertainment is a start. Reading books from different eras and cultures is also important for thinking outside the typical box.
Women should also seek out women living their lives with grace and wisdom and adopt their habits. Third, we all need to find silence and prayer. The “still, small voice” has a lot of wisdom to impart to the listening heart.
Fourth, we need to use the tools available to us—everything from the law, humor, courage, the pen, social media, and honesty—to combat the matriarchy’s advances. Finally, let’s pray it doesn’t take another 500-year storm to bring us to our senses once again.