“A pox on both their houses,” we may say, when wishing both sides in a contest could lose. I surely feel this way, too, with the “transgender” vs. feminist debate over men masquerading as female entering women’s sports and private spaces.
Oh, I don’t fence-sit. Not only have I likely written more pieces on preposterous “transgenderism” than most any other commentator, but I even reject the term and coined a more accurate characterization of the phenomenon — the MUSS (Made-up Sexual Status) agenda. Yet I also know this:
While leftists may call that agenda a men’s-rights-movement monster, the foundation for it absolutely was laid by feminists.
You won’t hear this much in a land so “patriarchal” that a common refrain is “My wife is always right.” Of course, the poor saps thus confessing don’t really mean their wives are infallible and are actually always right; they mean the missus will never, ever admit being wrong.
The sexes have different characteristic weaknesses, with lust being one of men’s. One of women’s involves greater difficulty admitting error. Also said is that it’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind, and, boy, have feminists ever done a 180 on sex differences.
That is, MUSS activists have been accused, understandably, of trying to “erase women.” Yet conveniently forgotten is that theirs wasn’t the first movement to attempt such.
Up until about last Thursday (speaking metaphorically), and far from today’s dominant “gender identity” theory, feminists upheld and socially enforced an outgrowth of “gender neutrality” theory: that the sexes are the same except for the superficial physical differences and, therefore, raising them identically ensures they’ll end up identical in inclination and, even, the devout believers insisted, in abilities.
This sameness-of-the-sexes dogma (SSD) was its day’s wokeness, enforced with a pink fist inside an iron glove. An example: Self-professed feminist academic and lesbian Camille Paglia once mentioned that fellow feminists would corner her on college campuses in the ’70s and, glaring, insist that hormones didn’t exist and that, even if they did, they couldn’t possibly influence behavior.
SSD was applied to sports, too. A 2008 article titled “Women and men in sports: Separate is not equal,” whose feminist authors ask “Why is gender segregation in sports normal?” is representative. Yet certain feminists (some of whom were male, mind you) were even more radical. Two exercise physiologists predicted decades ago, after analyzing the sexes’ world records’ progression, that women would overtake men in track and field by the late ’90s. (In reality, the intersex performance gap actually widened again that decade owing to better performance-enhancing-drug testing.)
In a nutshell, feminist dogma held that men surpassed women athletically only because they’d been developing their abilities longer; allowing women to tap their potential would ensure parity.
SSD was convenient: Since belief in inherent sex differences could be used to justify different sex roles and male-only domains (e.g., police), it had to be deep-sixed. Yet, tangled web woven, doing so paved the way for today’s MUSS agenda. How?
First, feminists spent decades enforcing the proposition that “the sexes are the same except for the superficial physical differences.” Then the MUSS crew came along with a corollary:
Changing the superficial physical differences can make you the opposite sex.
Of course, MUSS activists have gone beyond even this, insisting now that identity is reality. The feminists, however, gave them the launch pad. It’s A leading to B — proposition and corollary.
Thus is it tragically comical seeing feminists such as Kara Dansky appear on Tucker Carlson’s show and call the MUSS phenomenon “men’s rights movement” handiwork and “The New Misogyny.” At age 49 (soon), Dansky is old enough to remember feminist SSD advocacy but, hey, none of this is about principle — and feminists will never, ever admit their error.
Yet her feelings are fathomable. By entering and sometimes dominating females’ sports, MUSS males have accomplished something that eluded normal men: Given the feminists a painful object lesson in reality. When you can’t even beat perhaps gelded men taking female hormones, it’s hard complaining, as in the aforementioned 2008 article, about how this Patriarchal Culture™ claims a “female body is athletically inferior to a male body.”
But it’s always men’s fault, you see. The 2008 article also laments how in our male-dominated civilization, “the shadow of female frailty still shapes the environment of sports.” Female frailty, perish the thought!
Except that now, 15 years later, ex-runner and coach Lauren Fleshman complains at Time that having girls train athletically as boys do is causing them injuries and health problems the lads don’t suffer. And whose fault is this?
Fleshman writes that sports, as we know them, were “designed by men for men and boys” and “have never been designed around” the female body’s “developmental norms.” She’s on to us, alright. Do you fancy that sports evolved organically because people wanted to have fun and learn who was stronger, faster and “better”? Ha! No, they were “designed,” beginning millennia ago in ancient Greece, by a patriarchy so clever and nefarious that it purposely made athletics incompatible with the female body.
This said, I seem to remember it being feminists who wanted Title IX, girls not only playing sports but doing so competitively, and who said the lasses could do anything boys could — and maybe better. But why argue? “My wife is always right.”
It’s ironic, though: Disputing SSD decades ago — by, let’s say, mentioning male athletic advantages and that women can’t compete with men — made you a sexist or misogynist who must be silenced via social pressure and career-destruction threats. Now feminists will write articles, produce videos, appear on shows and even before government bodies talking about a plethora of “immutable” male athletic advantages such as the benefits of testosterone, increased muscle mass, greater VO2 max, and bone structure differences (e.g., narrower pelvises). Imagine that, feminists went from not knowing in the ’70s if hormones existed to being able to write a physiology textbook. Those MUSS men sure can deliver an education.
And today, saying there’s no reason women can’t compete with men athletically renders you, again, a sexist or misogynist who should be canceled. After all, females deserve “their own sports and private spaces.”
So does this mean men get theirs back? Will institutions such as the Citadel and Virginia Military Institute and once-male-only clubs again become XY exclusive? Will boys’ sports teams now be able to reject a girl without possibly being dragged through the mud and into court? Of course not.
SSD is a problem now that it’s enabling males to enter females’ domain. But it was gospel when it enabled females to enter males’ domain.
For the record, the MUSS agenda should be eradicated, but doing so while leaving feminism intact is a half measure. Both misbegotten forces should be rent root and branch.
I won’t hold my breath waiting, however, for conservative men to stop conserving yesterdays’ leftists’ victories, such as feminism. People have short memories, it’s in fellows’ nature to play the white knight, and then, don’t forget:
My wife is always right.
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.