The conscience of the nation is surely awakened by recent revelations of harassment by males-in-power. Countless women report sordid events where fame eclipses shame. It is refreshing to witness women support one another into truth-telling as they seek justice. This indictment of iniquity is an admirable side of the feminine ethos which speaks to right reason and common goodness. It reminds us that moral extremes cannot be our cultural norms. Our best instincts tell us that all behavior can be either beneficial or detrimental. Yet, too seldom does wisdom guide the choices we make, and right reason is rarely our national default.
For example, I recently watched a debate between two women with differing views of womanhood. As I listened, I was again reminded of the principle that as we think, so do we behave – and our behavior patterns are the best indicators of what we are and what we value.
The debate brought to mind decades of frothy, antagonistic rhetoric by the often-aggressive advocates of women’s liberation and the flurry of hard-core feminist illogic the movement has occasioned.
Empowered …. To What Purpose?
One of the debaters enthusiastically plumped her new-found sense of personal empowerment. She chose to publicly demonstrate her “freedom” by posing (or, more accurately, exposing herself) without a stitch … in a sports magazine. Her new sense of self-liberation inspired her to strip (no doubt, to the ogling delight of countless adolescent males … of all ages).
She spoke proudly of her nudist epiphany and the uplifting urge to reveal her unclad self. Her emancipated ego was ennobled by her cheeky (so to speak) state of undress. She was eagerly passionate about this manner of faux “freedom” but hardly persuasive about the validity of her posturing as a sign of feminine maturity. It is also a stretch to comprehend the contribution such behavior makes to the enrichment of womanhood.
It did not seem to cross her mind that public nudity (even if coyly dictated by the latest fashions) is not a statement of strong feminine identity. By taking it off – equating sex with dignity, defining oneself in blatantly sexual terms -- she strokes the salivating piggishness of errant maledom which so many of her “sisters” now publicly deplore and readily accuse.
Many self-deluding women seem to think that nudity and other seductive ploys are entitlements to respect. They believe nakedness bestows a form of bizarre empowerment ….. but is it not merely a further degree of enslavement to ignorance and self-delusion? Where is our rationality? In our age of selfies, titillation is a game even pre-teens play.
Ah, the brief (as it were) rewards of freedom…………….
Typical But Worrisome
It strikes me that this young lady’s delight in exposing herself is an example of our culture’s toxic, morally immature, psychologically unstable culture. Public nudity, blunt or subtle, hardly seems to be a worthy goal for anyone. Indeed, it is a debasing gesture, an appeal to our lesser selves, made even less human by the self-denigration of women as well as men.
Among other rootless ideas, our culture’s dismissal of self-restraint has led to the moral poverty which infects our nation. History repeats the message that a nation’s balanced regard for public morality determines its future.
Fundamental moral and cultural issues are involved. Many people believe that freedom means:
1) the total absence of personal restraint and accountability,
2) moral truth is subservient to individual mood, and
3) the urges and impulses of the ego are the only applicable norms for individual and collective behavior.
If it pleases me, it’s OK. My Body, My Self. If it gets us what we want, let’s do it – even if it is hurtful, vicious, fact-less, irrational and/or illogical. History has no meaning. Religion is a social event. Tradition is irrelevant. Family means what I want it to mean. Virtues – both secular and sacred – are passé. Do what you want. No one cares, anyhow.
Truth-telling Is Unwanted
No formal organization or union of persons (e.g., the family, the society, the nation) is held together by its basest individualisms.
Human nature is fallen, fallible, at war within itself. Without collective morality and personal motivation to virtue, we all tend to seek our own advantage; a ride on any California freeway will offer more than sufficient evidence about the primacy of ego over altruism. Even those who find history alien to their studied rationalizations cannot escape the fact that people are capable of anything, both profound good and profound evil.
Well-reasoned thinking and principled adherence to traditional virtues are increasingly absent in our public conversations and interactions. Many adults are bereft of core moral beliefs. We have become a culture which accepts avoidance and denial as the norms for relationships. Even the natural reality of sexual identity is now a matter of intellectual dishonesty and surgical absurdity.
The intellectual and educational corruption of America, the rejection of faith and reason, honesty and common sense, and the abnegation of moral seriousness are not a result of foreign threats, many though they be. Our greatest national weakness is our pathetic idea that we can do anything we wish without consequence or responsibility.
It is not without reason we are concerned about the credibility of our political leaders who often distort fact for ideology, about our teachers who push for the right of teachers’ unions over learning, about librarians who support porn for children as a form of free speech, about the glaring contradictions which continue to distort the family – thus, the culture -- in the name of civil rights, about the chilling disregard for truth and the chic incivilities which pervade our nation. Even many of our church leaders project a patchwork of secularist rant as religious principle and praise the maladies of political correctness over calls for living lives of virtue and self-restraint.
Such dispiriting themes do not seem to be merely a phase through which our country is passing, only to be saved by the emergence of a charismatic personage.
After watching this decline for decades, one has no hesitation to say .. with alarm and regret .. that America is changing at its foundations. Let us hope that the Constitution and all it stands for will survive.
Spero News contributor Daniel Boland PhD is a practicing psychologist and former professor of psychology.