Man, Woman, and Machine — Part 2
Image courtesy: Affarimedia.com
(Read Part I, here)
I have a feeling some kind of disclaimer is due.
My fight is not the 19th-century fight for “Mutual Respect”; my fight is the 21st-century fight for the continued existence of “Community, Tradition, Cultural Identity,” and ultimately “Humanity” as we know it. As far as I am concerned, mutual respect is a given, whether I am talking about inter-community dynamics or man-woman dynamics. I am not endorsing supremacy of any kind. This is a call for a return to sanity.
People pointing out that Hindu society suffers from many of the same problems that the West does should realize that human weakness, and subsequently societal sickness, is a universal phenomenon. The difference lies in intent. Sanatana values stand against moral descent and societal disintegration – daya, dana, ahimsa, aparigraha, vairagya, ashrama dharma, purusha, pancha rna. Our values are invested in the maintenance of self-control, synthesis, and harmony. This intent is reflected in our longevity and our ability to renew ourselves even after periods of internal decay or external aggression. So, whatever societal decay we see in Bharat today is in spite of our values, not because of them.
Western modernity, on the other hand, is openly entropic in nature. Its outcome, if not its explicit aim, is to erase all forms of true community to supplant people with machines, and culture with a technology-supported centralized state, which I have earlier referred to as the Tech-State. It does this by glorifying what has come to be known as Western values – Individualism (in the form of self-indulgence), Materialism (in the erasure of the idea of the sacred), and Progressivism (of both the technological and moral kind). So, unlike in the case of Bharat, the civilizational decay we see in the West and in Westernized segments of our own population is not because humans have failed, but because the system has succeeded! The Tech-State, and the elites who run it, see the inherent inefficiency and messiness of human interactions as justification for control or erasure. Yuval Noah Harari points to this reality in his interview with Chris Andersen:
“A lot of people sense that they are being left behind and left out of the story, even if their material conditions are still relatively good. In the 20th century, what was common to all the stories — the liberal, the fascist, the communist — is that the big heroes of the story were the common people, not necessarily all people, but if you lived, say, in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, life was very grim, but when you looked at the propaganda posters on the walls that depicted the glorious future, you were there. You looked at the posters which showed steel workers and farmers in heroic poses, and it was obvious that this is the future.”
“Now, when people look at the posters on the walls, or listen to TED talks, they hear a lot of these big ideas and big words about machine learning and genetic engineering and blockchain and globalization, and they are not there. They (ordinary people) are no longer part of the story of the future.”
“Now, fast forward to the early 21st century when we just don’t need the vast majority of the population,” he concluded, “because the future is about developing more and more sophisticated technology, like artificial intelligence [and] bioengineering, Most people don’t contribute anything to that, except perhaps for their data, and whatever people are still doing which is useful, these technologies increasingly will make redundant and will make it possible to replace the people.”1
The only error in Harari’s observations lies in his tracing of the origin of this problem to post-modern times, when in fact, the roots of this problem lie in the source code of modernity itself, in the worldview that cut the thumbs2 of Bengali handloom weavers in order that the machines of Lancashire could triumph.
Feminism too, as a child of Western Modernity, exhibits a predilection for all these impulses – Individualism, Materialism, Liberalism, Centralization, Technologization, and a disdain for Traditional Community. Many women (and men) proclaim that they are Feminists without really knowing what it is they mean by that statement. What they really want is a world of “mutual respect,” that is Ardhanareeshwara, but in the absence of intellectual clarity, they latch on to the term Feminism, which is a mistake, as we shall see below.
Every degeneracy we see today has its roots in four layers of cultural sub-soil (each progressively leading to the next):
- Abrahamism — from which came the destruction of the ancient Dharmic value of Mutual Respect and the exaltation of the idea of Universalism in its place. That is, the idea that what is good for me should also be good for you and I will proactively impose my vision upon you regardless of what you want because I know better than you about you. This is violent supremacy (Matsya Nyaya).
- Western Modernity — from which came the glorification of Individualism as self-indulgence; Materialism as the erasure of the idea of the sacred; and Technological Progressivism as represented by the subordination of human interests to the logic of machines and the impulse to Centralization via the Tech-State.
- Marxism — from which came the exaltation of the oppressor-oppressed lens for viewing human history, the institutionalization of perpetual victimhood, and the commandeering of the Tech-State as the vehicle of Moral Progressivism, that is, the belief that human society can be consciously redesigned to represent higher and higher moralities. And ultimately,
- Feminism — from which originally came a) the intellectual separation of Sex and Gender; b) the inclusion of Sex and Sexuality as categories of Oppression; and c) the idea that the body itself is a site for political action and ultimately technological tinkering.
It is important that Hindus start making the connections between the complex matrix of the many “isms” out there, their Abrahamic/Western roots, and their final surrender at the feet of the un-human centralized, machine-aligned Tech-State.
Hindus are not opposed to anyone’s personal choices, or even any group’s collective choices and self-perceptions. But unfortunately, these choices that other people have made have become political battlefields upon which the whole world’s culture and morality are now imagined hinging, and Hindus in their current weakened state find themselves drawn, like moths to a flame, into these battlefields. The idea that there must be a single moral code by which every human in all nations of the world should abide is Abrahamic supremacy in its most distilled and potent form. We have seen it before… and we have fought it before; we must therefore recognize it again now in its newest avatars and resist it at all costs.
The early 21st-century culture wars in America and the UK have found their way, in a remarkably short time, to our shores as well:
“(You) know what is not a problem for kids who are seeking a good education? Drag queens…. Drag queens are entertainment. And you know what I’ll say that was totally not poll-tested, I’d say this, ‘A drag queen for every school’.”3 — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel at a Summit in Lansing, MI, hosted by the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.
“Research suggests that children as young as 2 recognize their trans identity, yet many nurseries and schools teach a binary understanding of pre-assigned gender. LGBTQ-inclusive and affirming education is crucial for the wellbeing of all young people…. Young children should be able to play, explore and learn about who they are, and the world around them, without having adults’ ideas imposed upon them.”4 — UK LGBT advocacy group Stonewall.
“Today, from the tiniest village primary to large academy trusts, schools teach about sexuality, relationships, and gender identity. They have written policies on gender identity or transgender pupils. Most are identikit statements, but the practices they engender should concern us all.”5 — Joanna Williams, “The Truth about Trans Teaching in Schools,” The Spectator
“In a week-long conference last fall, titled “Standing with LGBTQ+ Students, Staff, and Families,” Los Angeles Unified School District administrators hosted workshops with presentations on “breaking the [gender] binary,” providing children with “free gender-affirming clothing,” understanding “what your queer middle schooler wants you to know,” and producing “counter-narratives against the master narrative of mainstream white cis-heteropatriarchy society. Los Angeles Unified has gone all-in on “trans-affirming” programming. The Human Relations, Diversity, and Equity department has flooded the district with teaching materials, including, for example, videos from the consulting firm Woke Kindergarten encouraging 5-year-olds to experiment with gender pronouns such as “they,” “ze,” and “tree” and to adopt nonbinary gender identities that “feel good to you.” The district requires teachers to use a student’s desired name and pronoun and to keep the student’s gender identity a secret from parents if the student so desires. In other words, Los Angeles public schools can facilitate a child’s transition from one gender to another without notifying parents.”6 — Christopher F. Rufo, “Sexual Liberation in Public Schools,” City Journal
“California Moves Toward Giving Therapists Unconditional Power To ‘Emancipate’ 12 Year Olds From Their Parents.”7 — Susannah Luthi, The Washington Free Beacon
And back home in India, we have this:
“Drag Queen Story Hour was organized by @keshavsurifoundation at Tagore International School, Vasant Vihar on 14th October for campaign members of classes IX and XI where a drag queen @hiten.noorwal read out a story sending our message on gender fluidity and promoting queer models to impact student minds.”8 — Vedica Saxena (as reported by OpIndia – “Efforts underway to mainstream ‘Drag Queen Story Hours’ in India”).
“This training material is designed for sensitization of teachers and teacher educators regarding aspects of gender diversity keeping gender-nonconforming and transgender children at centre stage. The mandate is to integrate these children in the school system and provide them an appropriate learning environment. Teachers’ sensitivity is above all to reach the desired goal because they are the major change makers who are in constant and close touch with children.”9 — 2021 NCERT Training Manual, “Inclusion of Transgender Children in School Education: Concerns and Roadmap”.
“As a talented writer and performance artist, Alok V Menon is paving the way for societal acceptance and visibility for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. Let’s cheer for Alok and the beautiful change they’re creating #WithPride”10
— Tweet by the US Embassy in India.
If the aim is to stop schoolyard bullying of kids who are “different” and to build toilets for actual inter-sex kids, then let’s do just that without losing a single moment. But let us simultaneously know that everything else we hear about these matters is hogwash. We don’t need a worldwide moral revolution to do those things. When we allow these matters to become political and cultural movements, we are playing into the hands of a poisonous branch of Western Liberalism that wants to put sex at the center of human identity and use Western Equality as a crowbar to prise apart not just tradition but identity itself.
Here is the high priest of sexuality himself (celebrated French philosopher and self-confessed pedophile11) stating this in no unclear terms:
“It is through sex — in fact, an imaginary point determined by the deployment of sexuality — that each individual has to pass in order to have access to his own intelligibility… the whole of his body… to his identity”12 — Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, 1976
The right way for Hindus to intellectually process these phenomena that they are being sucked into is as below:
The erasure of the idea of the sacred and the fall of community in the West is generating a vast pool of unhinged individuals, who, in the absence of a sense of purpose and self, latch on to either sexual pleasure or the latest social theory as their holy grail, under which banner they begin to organize moral revolutions. But, without an overarching theory of “Meaning and Balance,” these revolutions quickly descend into more and more perverse manifestations of universalism, many of which unfortunately get locked into law.
The Abrahamic idea of a prophet with a bunch of commandments that should be foisted upon every single human has been inherited lock, stock, and barrel by Western elites under the delusion that they are harbingers of a “more moral” world. Not only is this attitude unethical and supremacist, but the morals themselves are suspect.
The Dharmic counter to Abrahamic Universalism is two-fold:
- Jaati-Consciousness — the idea that difference and diversity can be ethically managed by dividing up time, space, and ritual into community-specific parcels; and
- Purusha-Consciousness — the idea that diverse groups can be brought together by designing the terms for their interaction on the metaphorical plane.
Communities have as much of a right to pass on their ancestral values to their children as do individuals who want to pass on their personal ideals to their children. But not all values and ideals are equal in the eyes of a “Traditional State” (though all can exist in pockets). The traditional State incentivizes the stable cultural mainstream (that stewards, via the performance of duties, the values of self-sacrifice, harmony, and sustainability) while providing graded levels of liberty to the unstable periphery. The Post-Modern Tech-State, on the other hand, appears to be incentivizing the unstable periphery to erase the stable mainstream for greater central control over alienated individuals.
“As these experts pondered what was happening in mid-2020 and the likely changes ahead, they used words like ‘inflection point,’ ‘punctuated equilibrium,’ ‘unthinkable scale,’ ‘exponential process,’ ‘massive disruption,’ and ‘unprecedented challenge’. They wrote about changes that could reconfigure fundamental realities such as people’s physical ‘presence’ with others and people’s conceptions of trust and truth.”
“They wondered, too, if humans can cope effectively with such far-reaching changes, given that they are required to function with ‘paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions, and god-like technology,’ in the words of biologist E.O. Wilson.”13 — Janna Anderson, Lee Rainie, and Emily A. Vogels present their analysis of Pew Research Data generated by 914 innovators, developers, business and policy leaders, researchers and activists, 2021.
Chapter 3 — Man, Woman, and Equality
“People don’t want Liberty, what they want is Purpose. People don’t want Equality, what they want is Respect.”
Many calls for Equality are usually calls for respect. A solution to the problem of disrespect is usually better served by introspection and conversation mediated by spiritual gurus, than by revolution.
“The French Revolution took place in the name of an intrinsically contradictory and unrealizable slogan: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. But in social life, Liberty and Equality tend to exclude each other, are antagonistic to each other! Freedom destroys social Equality — this is even one of the roles of Freedom — while Equality restricts Freedom, because otherwise it cannot be achieved. As for the Fraternity, it is not of their family. It is only an adventurous addition to the slogan, and it is not social dispositions that can make true brotherhood. It is spiritual.”14
— Alexander Solzhenitsyn, speech delivered at Lucs-sur-Boulogne, 1993
Most people are aware, at the back of their minds, of this conundrum. Equality and liberty are antithetical to each other. The more externally imposed equality we institute, the less free all of us are going to be in the long run, and beyond a tipping point that loss of freedom leads to immoral outcomes and violent reactions.
“It makes no sense, for example, to equate equality with freedom. Equality in certain circumstances is anything but free. If we have equality and nothing else, no compassion, no magnanimity, no courtesy, no sense of mutual obligation and dependence, no imagination, then power and wealth will have its way, brutality will rule. In order to survive, a plurality of true communities would require not egalitarianism and tolerance but knowledge, an understanding of the necessity of local differences, and respect. Respect, I think, always implies imagination – the ability to see one another, across our inevitable differences, as living souls.”15 — Wendell Berry, in Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community, (Art of the Commonplace), 2002.
To the above we might add that as Purusha Consciousness would have us understand, to see those living souls as forming part of a greater divine living soul….
And yet, we are captivated by this idea of Equality.
Equality is a very persuasive idea because it has mathematical simplicity. It appeals to our sensibilities, even though every fiber of reality screams I N E Q U A L I T Y.
In Part-1 of this essay, extracts from Simone De Beauvoir’s book “Second Sex” gave us a fairly objective, materialist understanding of how man-woman relationships evolved. But, I object to her misreading of agricultural society. She is mistaken when she lays the blame for Abrahamic misogyny and the tech-derived problems of early modernity at the doorstep of agriculture. A truly agricultural polytheist society provides equally important work for men and women. If men are plowing, then women are planting. If men are threshing, then women are winnowing. If men are milling, then women are cleaning the grain. If men are repairing the roof, then women are maintaining the floor. If men are building and maintaining the family’s bridges within the community at large, then women are building and maintaining the family’s bridges within the extended family. The men placate Munishwaran. The women placate Mariamman. This is a kind of equality and in fact, it is the traditional Hindu view of equality. That is — Equality as Equivalence. This view differs dramatically from the Western model that is being pursued today, which is Equality as Equity, or the equality of outcome. This ideal forces upon us the remarkable view that if men and women are not equally represented in all activities and end goals, and if men and women are not equally involved in all decision-making, then it must be because women are being oppressed.
Man, Woman, and “Equality as Equivalence”
Recently, something that I had been aware of for two decades, but that I had always looked at with limp Western eyes, suddenly appeared to me in all its ancient intricacy. In my line of work, building construction, there are always teams of men and women who do different jobs. Even when they are involved in doing the same job, the work is divided into masculine sub-jobs and feminine sub-jobs. Try as I might, I could never convince a woman to do a man’s job even when I knew that she had the strength to do so and neither could I convince a man to do a woman’s job even when I knew he had the delicate hands to do so. My attempts were always met with derisive laughter… “How can I do that sir? that’s a man’s job” or “What sir? That’s a woman’s job”. This is not unique to construction of course as it extends to agriculture and all traditional occupations. The entire traditional population of this country lives in a completely gendered landscape! Their entire world is gendered – language, clothes, ritual, work, family, and even space….
If we step out of the patriarchal framing of this scenario that we have been taught to assume and enter the world of the Ardhanareeshwara, we would be overcome by a delicate sense of beauty as if walking past a night queen in full bloom on a moonless night. Something would grab us and turn our heads against our will, and in a direction we had no intention of going. This is not about power; this is about beauty and balance and the acknowledgment of the will of the Gods. This is thus… and thus it must be.
Traditional Hindu society, like all other traditional societies, has grappled with the conundrum of equality. But unlike the Abrahamic religions that chose to impose equality through violent genetic and memetic homogenization, Sanatana civilization chose to define equality in abstract terms. Divining, already five millennia ago, that any attempt to impose equality from the top down would lead to unthinkable immorality (genocide and ethnocide); it accepted instead that the great diversity of community life and spiritual expression in this land should not be erased. And that every person would find equality not in homogeneity, but in equal access to Purushaartha, to the tools of Dharma, and to the road to Moksha. This lofty ideal also had material implications. It required that a tribal society be organized in such a way that all communities, and by extrapolation, all individuals within each community, would have access to the means to garner Artha and Kama (the foundational elements of Purushaartha). It was this that gave birth to jaati. Jaati was, and in many places continues to be, the unique, self-regulated, and decentralized welfare state of traditional Sanatana society.
Our understanding of gender differences was no different. The differences between man and woman were patently obvious. It was apparent to our ancestors that they were intended to lead different lives and had different routes to self-fulfillment and self-realization. Throughout history, in all traditional societies, whether the Native American long house or the Hindu autonomous village, women and men led entirely different lives — women with other women, and men with other men. Women cooking, weaving, storytelling, singing, cleaning, looking after children and animals, agricultural post-production, and medicine making. Men hunting, plowing, building, negotiating, trading, and jousting….
In “Exploring the Longhouse and Community in Tribal Society”, Jodie A. O’Gorman reveals the following:
“Although the boundary is ambiguous and permeable, activities typically involved women in agriculture and gathering, while men were engaged in warfare and hunting (O’Gorman 1996; Skinner 1926; Wedel 1986). In much of their daily lives adult men and women occupied distinct spatial realms, and their practices and interactions with gendered groups shaped experiences of community. Associated patterns of behavior would be focused on the longhouse, natal, and village communities for women and the longhouse, natal, and marital communities for men. In the wide range of activities that women engaged in, the community of the longhouse would have provided support in child rearing, protection, and pooled labor for harvesting and processing a wide array of wild and domesticated foodstuffs. Shared labor relationships in the longhouse community would have been particularly important during the fall months, when many of the important wild and domesticated storable crops had to be harvested and processed for storage.”16
Similar descriptions can be read in “The Remembered Village” by M.N. Srinivas:
“During the post-harvest rain-free period, women busied themselves with making dried foods and pickles which brought some variety to the routine diet of cooked balls of ragi dough and hot sauce. Strips of mutton were covered with a paste of spiced chillies and hung out to dry and then stored. These were roasted and eaten as a relish during summer when the appetites of even men working in the fields needed to be coaxed. Happala (Papads) and sandige (relishes made with cooked rice flour), and green mango and lime pickles were made and stored in mud pots or stone jars. In the richer and upper caste households, these activities consumed a considerable amount of the time and energy of the womenfolk. Work parties of women and girls rolled out papads and made different kinds of sandige during summer afternoons. If there was going to be a wedding in the house, then these tasks were begun weeks ahead of the event.”
The man had other jobs besides the work on the farm and caring for the bullocks, sheep and goats, He had to attend to all the maintenance and minor repair work in the house, bring fuel and chop it, do all the big shopping in the towns. If he had a teenage son, the latter relieved him of such jobs as taking the bullocks twice a day to the pond or canal, providing green fodder for the sheep and goats, and chopping dry sorghum stems for cattle fodder. It was the man who exercised control over the domestic economy. He made the annual grain payments at harvest to the members of the artisan and servicing castes who had worked for him during the year.” 17
Does it really seem accurate or honest then to assess these descriptions of life as forms of “patriarchal oppression”? Or should we see them as merely the organic organization of life in pre-industrial times? The emergence of a sense of oppression and a reactionary felt need for emancipation are both modern phenomena. We are being disingenuous when we lay blame for them on tradition or pre-industrial times. But the modern mind has always needed a fall guy to help justify its excesses.
Pinkola Estes has this to say about the uniqueness of the woman’s being, her soul journey, and how it fundamentally differs from the soul journey of a man:
“A woman’s issues of soul cannot be treated by carving her into a more acceptable form as defined by an unconscious culture, nor can she be bent into an intellectually more acceptable shape by those who claim to be the sole bearers of consciousness. No, that is what has already caused millions of women who began as strong and natural powers to become outsiders in their own cultures. Instead, the goal must be the retrieval and succour of women’s beauteous and natural psychic forms.”
“When women reassert their relationship to their wildish nature, they are gifted with a permanent and internal watcher, a knower, a visionary, an oracle, an inspiratrice, an intuitive, a marker, a creator, an inventor and a listener who guide, suggest and urge vibrant life in the inner and outer worlds. When women are close to this nature, the fact of that relationship glows through them. This wild teacher, wild mother, wild mentor supports their inner and outer lives, no matter what.”
“For many women, the first half of these phases of a woman’s knowing, say to about forty or so, clearly moves from the substantive body of instinctual infant realizations to the bodily knowing of the deep mother. But in the second round of phases, the body becomes an internal sensing device almost exclusively and women become more and more subtle. As a woman transits through these cycles, her layers of defence, protection, density become more and more sheer until her very soul begins to shine through.”18
Taking off from this insightful description of female reality, we can answer questions posed by modern Hindu women about why they were traditionally “denied” ritual fitness. The fact is the very opposite is true. Women were and still are free to create any number of ritual structures, but they never do because it’s simply not their scene (to use a colloquial phrase). Women already have access to eternity via their bodies and birthing. It was man who had to labor to create an exteriorized scaffolding (tradition) to enable him to touch eternity (all the while lovingly holding women as central and indispensable to those traditions). So, when a modern woman claims equal space in the ritual world, she is disrespecting her own spiritual ladder while unconsciously occupying rungs in her man’s ladder. Nithin Sridhar, in his book “Menstruation Across Cultures,” has this to say about how and why the rishis divined the ritual world into male and female aspects:
“Men do not undergo menstruation and hence they do not have access to this self-purifying process. Instead, the scriptures suggest a variety of rules and ritual practices… Activities like samskaaras, mantra japa, and sandhyopasana, etc., have all been prescribed for men to attain purity and be free from adharmic actions. But women do not have to perform any of these spiritual activities to attain purity. They become pure simply by undergoing menstruation. What comes by special effort to men, comes as part of a natural process to women.”19
Anyone who has witnessed Hindu coming-of-age rituals for boys and girls will be struck by the difference in intent. The boy is initiated externally into mantra and ritual acts by a fraternity that focuses on word and metaphysics, whereas the girl is initiated internally into her moon cycle by a sorority that focuses on her body and her beauty. It is clear again, as it was clear to our ancestors, that a woman’s path to self-realization is interior, through the body and intuition, and the man’s path lies in the exterior, through the mind and action. Women’s lives, therefore, have as much of a rich interiority as men’s lives have a rich exteriority. Both aspects represent one half of consciousness — Prakriti and Purusha. It has been the job of traditional cultures to find and institutionalize the perfect balance. It does not mean that a man cannot be intuitive or a woman cannot be analytical. It does not mean that women never fight or trade. And, it does not mean that men never clean or look after children. But it does mean that, by and large, society acknowledged and honored the differences between the two sexes while leaving the framework loose enough to support circumstance and the occasional genius.
Deep in the heart of this understanding of the world lie the following two questions: if a man does a woman’s work, then what are women for? And if a woman does a man’s work, then what are men for? If a sense of being put to full and wholesome use in the service of a larger cause (Kutumba, Kula, Rashtra) is one of the fundamental requirements for human contentment, then one can point to the continued failure of Western Modernity to answer the above two questions as one of the root causes of the all-pervasive dissonance in modern western/westernized relationships – both men and women feel useless, and they bring the stress associated with having to constantly prove their value (to themselves and to each other) in their relationship.
Man, Woman, and “Equality as Equity”
Just as the growth-based economy put us all on a ladder of ever-increasing expectations of efficiency and performance, so too does the “equity” meme pull us into a tighter and tighter matrix of ever-increasing micro-friction and self-validation. Every household activity/decision becomes a site for negotiation where the husband and the wife have to make sure that there is an even distribution of victories of opinion. Children growing up in such an intimate battlefield have no experience of the contentment that comes from a life where everything fits in place.
Wendell Berry wrote:
“The sacrament of sexual union which at the time of the household was a communion of workmates, and afterward tried to be a lover’s paradise, has now become a marketplace in which the husband and wife represent each other as sexual property. Competitiveness and jealousy, imperfectly sweetened and disguised by the illusions of courtship, now become the governing principles, and they work to isolate the couple inside their marriage. Marriage becomes a capsule of sexual fate. The man must look on other men and the woman on other women as threats. This seems to have been particularly damaging to women; because of the progressive degeneration and isolation of their “role”, their worldly stock-in-trade has increasingly had to be “their” men. In the isolation of the resulting sexual privacy the disintegration of the community begins. The energy that is the most convivial and unifying loses its communal forms and becomes divisive.”20
But quaint interests of mine, such as the mechanics of marital disharmony and the Abrahamic roots of misogyny don’t even register in today’s stratospheric discourse centered around gender dysphoria21 and artificial wombs22. We’ve gone from figuring out very simple solutions to interpersonal frictions to a very complex dismantling of all we hold dear in a matter of a mere five decades.
Just as the modern factory-schooling forced children, for the very first time in history, to spend an unprecedented amount of time every day locked up exclusively with other children of their own age group, it is also for the first time in human history that men and women are being thrust into the same physical spaces over such long periods of time every day, forced to do the same things, and compete over the same resources, all the while maintaining a studied asexuality in their interactions. There is absolutely no precedent for this brand-new and presumably un-natural phenomenon.
We have to understand that it is this artificially contrived dynamic between man and woman in the context of the industrial Tech-State that is the context for the modern call for “Equality”. Let us also understand that this new form of Equality bears no relation to the traditional idea of equality as equivalence and has no interest in the idea of “balance”. It is from within the mind-set of the growth-based economy, un-moored from the idea of natural limits and in the absence of a theory of balance, that equality takes the form of “Equity”.
So, what is Equity?
Equity is today defined as “Equality of Outcome”. It carries within it the seed of the idea that if outcomes are not equal, it is because there is systemic bias, which is a form of oppression. Western feminists were the first to chart and mine this intellectual territory and now their Catholic definition of oppression has spread like a virus across the academic and legal terrain. Today, anything organic and normal is considered oppressive simply because it exists.
“Oppression is a system of inter-related barriers and forces which reduce, immobilize and mould people who belong to a certain group, and effect their subordination to another group (individually to individuals of the other group, and as a group, to that group).”23
According to this definition, all of reality is imagined as a hydra-headed weighing scale occupied by an ever-expanding set of special interest groups. The weights are supposed to be controlled by an ever-expanding lexicon of law to ensure that each hydra-head is at the same level as every other. Karl Marx has, like Jesus before him, risen from the dead to claim all of society for himself and his insane oppressor-oppressed binary.
This explosive idea of systemic bias was initially sought to be contained within the structures of Equality of Opportunity when we were talking about designing public services. But by the 1980s Critical Race theorists had extended the critique not just to education and knowledge production but also to the previously off-limits categories of community and family.
“Indeed, as one of the most overarching concepts animating Critical Race Theory (CRT) thought is the critique of liberal, color-blind ideology. Universal principles associated with color-blindness – such as non-discrimination, formal equality of opportunity, and the rule of law – are lauded for their potent mix in bringing down the Jim Crow laws of legalized segregation. Yet these same principles are found limiting in the post-segregation context…The formalistic conception of equality expressed in color-blind strictures of equal treatment can remedy only the most blatant forms of discrimination, such as refusal to employ a person of color, but cannot address processes based on equality of outcome.”24 – Richard T Shcaefer, Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity & Society, 2008.
By the 1990s Queer Theory (QT) had extended the critique further to include Nature herself:
“Expressed differently, the new understanding of heterosexuality as an economic and reproductive regime denaturalizes the classification of human bodies into men and women. Henceforth, it would no longer be possible to think of sex as prior to gender, or as a sign on which the latter is written: on the contrary, sex indistinguishable from gender, a category that is “fully politically invested, naturalized but not natural”25 — Judith Butler, Gender Trouble, 1990
This has led to the kinds of scarcely believable movements in America to forcibly equalize outcomes by law. If CRT and QT remained but topics of academic interest or the guiding principles of a community of believers, then we could simply ignore them and carry on with our lives. But, under the one-size-fits-all umbrella of Western Universalism, CRT and QT catalyzed further by Intersectionality, become revolutionary ideologies that want to upend society altogether. Their adherents will not rest until we are all converted. See the Quentin De Kock “Taking The Knee”26 episode for a public example involving a celebrity. Given the pusillanimous nature of the Indian state, we ignore these movements in America at our own peril. Already “anti-caste” groupings in India have gleefully jumped on this gravy train of university positions and published papers.
The Trans Movement is just one of the symptoms of this way of thinking but has quickly become its most prominent face given its penchant for indecency27 and perverse interest in manipulating children28. Many first-wave feminists like J.K. Rowling have a problem with the Trans Movement, but they probably realize that it was a can of worms that they themselves opened:
“I’ve read all the arguments about femaleness not residing in the sexed body, and the assertions that biological women don’t have common experiences, and I find them, too, deeply misogynistic and regressive. It’s also clear that one of the objectives of denying the importance of sex is to erode what some seem to see as the cruelly segregationist idea of women having their own biological realities or – just as threatening – unifying realities that make them a cohesive political class. The hundreds of emails I’ve received in the last few days prove this erosion concerns many others just as much. It isn’t enough for women to be trans allies. Women must accept and admit that there is no material difference between trans women and themselves.”
“But, as many women have said before me, ‘woman’ is not a costume. ‘Woman’ is not an idea in a man’s head. ‘Woman’ is not a pink brain, a liking for Jimmy Choos or any of the other sexist ideas now somehow touted as progressive. Moreover, the ‘inclusive’ language that calls female people ‘menstruators’ and ‘people with vulvas’ strikes many women as dehumanising and demeaning.” 29 — JK Rowling on her website, 2020
Feminism is indeed tied at the hip to all the radical post-feminist movements that are in play today. More contemporary feminists recognize and embrace the endgame of their journey. The minute sex and gender were intellectually separated, and gender was made into a “social construct,” this was no longer about equal rights; this became about something else altogether – the final and complete destruction of cultural, social, and biological identity.
“By demarcating feminism’s subject matter — by articulating a concrete category of harms that deserved feminist attention — feminists inadvertently defined womanhood in a manner that implies that there are right and wrong ways to be a woman. “Identity categories are never merely descriptive,” she insists in “Gender Trouble,” “but always normative, and as such, exclusionary.”
“Any attempt to catalog the commonalities among women, in other words, has the inescapable result that there is some correct way to be a woman. This will inevitably encourage and legitimize certain experiences of gender and discourage and delegitimize others, subtly reinforcing and entrenching precisely those forces of socialization of which feminists claim to be critical. And what’s worse, it will inevitably leave some people out. It will mean that there are “real” women whom feminism should be concerned about and that there are impostors who do not qualify for feminist political representation.”
“The women who are accused of being impostors these days are often trans women.” 30
— Carol Hay, Who Counts as A Woman? (The New York Times), 2019
This way of thinking about the world has led to outcomes both amusing and abhorrent. I quote now from various news reports and radical academic sources to give us a picture of what’s really happening deep in the American heart and a sense of things to come.
The acknowledgment that feminist autonomy would not exist in a low-tech environment and is therefore predicated on a world of high technology leads cutting-edge feminists to make a public show of loyalty to a dystopian, cyborgian future:
“The construction of freedom involves not less but more alienation; alienation is the labour of freedom’s construction… Anyone who’s been deemed ‘unnatural’ in the face of reigning biological norms, anyone who’s experienced injustices wrought in the name of natural order, will realize that the glorification of ‘nature’ has nothing to offer us–the queer and trans among us, the differently-abled, as well as those who have suffered discrimination due to pregnancy or duties connected to child-rearing. XF (Xenofeminism) is vehemently anti-naturalist. Essentialist naturalism reeks of theology –the sooner it is exorcised, the better.”
“Our lot is cast with technoscience, where nothing is so sacred that it cannot be reengineered and transformed so as to widen our aperture of freedom, extending to gender and the human. To say that nothing is sacred, that nothing is transcendent or protected from the will to know, to tinker and to hack, is to say that nothing is supernatural. ‘Nature’–understood here, as the unbounded arena of science–is all there is. And so, in tearing down melancholy and illusion; the unambitious and the non-scalable; the libidinized puritanism of certain online cultures, and Nature as an un-remarkable given, we find that our normative anti-naturalism has pushed us towards an unflinching ontological naturalism. There is nothing, we claim, that cannot be studied scientifically and manipulated technologically.”
“Xenofeminism indexes the desire to construct an alien future with a triumphant X on a mobile map. This X does not mark a destination. It is the insertion of a topological-keyframe for the formation of a new logic. In affirming a future untethered to the repetition of the present, we militate for ampliative capacities, for spaces of freedom with a richer geometry than the aisle, the assembly line, and the feed. We need new affordances of perception and action unblinkered by naturalized identities. In the name of feminism, ‘Nature’ shall no longer be a refuge of injustice, or a basis for any political justification whatsoever!
“If nature is unjust, change nature!” 31
— Laboria Cuboniks, in “their” manifesto, “Xenofeminism: A Politics for Alienation.”
Compared to that cutting edge, some older and more prosaic battles are still being fought:
“The Marine Corps’ longstanding tradition of having two-tiered fitness requirements for men and women aims to ensure fairness, but a growing chorus of critics say it creates a double standard and implies that female Marines are not as physically capable as men.”
“Many experts say the Marines’ current policy makes sense. There’s clear scientific evidence that men on average are physically stronger than women.” 32 — Jeff Schogol, “New concerns that lower fitness standards fuel disrespect for women” (Marine Corps Times), 2017
The commandeering of the Trans movement as a stepping stone to extinct the species and create “super-humans” or Cyborgs:
“Nathanson told Ingraham that trans and non-binary movements have sprung up because ‘feminists challenge the notion of gender’ and this has evolved into the development of feminist ideology.”
“In response, Ingraham said: ‘Their goal ultimately is the destruction or elimination of the traditional family, though, is it not? That’s what we really want to get at here. That’s really what’s going on’.”
“I think that the trans people have taken it one step further because by abandoning gender altogether, not simply re-writing it, they’re basically trying to use social engineering to create a new species. Which is what, in fact, the transhumanists have been doing for the past half century. Using medical and other technologies to develop a new species.” 33 — Ewan Palmer, “Laura Ingraham Guest Says Trans People Will ‘Destroy’ Gender Norms to Create ‘New Species’ — ‘Human and Part Machine’,” (Newsweek), 2019
The colonizing of all branches of knowledge with Marxist theory. Teaching the “Equitable Math” curriculum is law in California today:
“White supremacy culture shows up in math classrooms when… ‘good’ math teaching is considered an antidote for mathematical inequity for Black, Latinx, multilingual students.”
“Instead… this reinforces either/or thinking by reinforcing stereotypes about the type of mathematical education that certain groups of students receive. It allows the defensiveness of Western mathematics to prevail, without addressing underlying causes of why certain groups of students are “underperforming,” a characterization that should also be interrogated. It also presupposes that “good” math teaching is about a Eurocentric type of mathematics, devoid of cultural ways of being.”
“White supremacy culture shows up in math classrooms when… the focus is only on getting the ‘right’ answer.”
“Instead… the concept of mathematics being purely objective is unequivocally false, and teaching it is even much less so. Upholding the idea that there are always right and wrong answers perpetuates objectivity as well as fear of open conflict” 34 – A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction, 2021
The emergence of a new Theology. Radical sexual movements take Marxist theory to its illogical end. It feels like 50 CE all over again — The Christians are at the gates of Rome… only this time, the Christians themselves are Rome! And like the early Christians who infiltrated Rome two thousand years ago, it is not really Rights that the new bearers of victimhood want, it is the entire world remade in their image. Normal itself is oppression:
“Queerness is not yet here. Queerness is an ideality. Put another way, we are not yet queer. We may never touch queerness, but we can feel it as the warm illumination of a horizon imbued with potentiality. We have never been queer, yet queerness exists for us as an ideality that can be distilled from the past and used to imagine a future. The future is queerness’s domain. Queerness is a structuring and educated mode of desiring that allows us to see and feel beyond the quagmire of the present. The here and now is a prison house.” 35 — José Esteban Muñoz, Cruising Utopia, 2009.
“Carruthers suggests that bringing a Black queer feminist lens to political thought and praxis renounces the middle-class notion of the public sphere as a place where identity should be abandoned to maintain the myth of universality. Even more, her vision of activism decenters queerness; she demands that multiple types of oppression, types that will not be experienced the same way or even at all by the entire LGBTQ+ community, must be acknowledged to imagine and enact a truly transformed, justice-oriented social world.”
“Instead of asking, how can we include queers in the existing social world, he (Joshua Chambers-Letson) asks, how can we queer the existing social world to make it habitable by queers?” 36 — Jennifer Miller, Thirty Years of Queer Theory (UT Arlington Curriculum), 2020.
“Longtime Rubin collaborator Pat Califia, who would later become a transgender man, claimed that American society had turned pedophiles into ‘the new communists, the new niggers, the new witches’. For Califia, age-of-consent laws, religious sexual mores, and families who police the sexuality of their children represented a thousand-pound bulwark against sexual freedom. ‘You can’t liberate children and adolescents without disrupting the entire hierarchy of adult power and coercion and challenging the hegemony of antisex fundamentalist religious values,’ she lamented. All of it — the family, the law, the religion, the culture — was a vector of oppression, and all of it had to go.” 37 — Christopher F. Rufo, “The Real Story Behind Drag Queen Story Hour” (City Journal), 2022
And most damagingly, they know they can’t have/bring up kids of their own, so they want ours. Akin to countries with inverted population pyramids encouraging immigration, unsustainable lifestyles are constantly looking to be subsidized by people who take the trouble to live sustainable lives. How long are we going to allow our children to subsidize the economic and cultural profligacy of the West?
“Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) as a form of queer imagining in an early childhood context. Through this programme, drag artists have channelled their penchant for playfully ‘reading’ each other to filth’ into different forms of literacy, promoting storytelling as integral to queer and trans communities, as well as positioning queer and trans cultural forms as valuable components of early childhood education.”
“DQSH creates spaces for young children and families to immerse themselves in LGBT-themed stories and does so in ways that seem to genuinely reflect queer ways of being and relating – rather than as a neatly marketed product. We believe that this makes DQSH worthy of closer study. We argue that the programme creates a pathway into the imaginative, messy, and rule-breaking aspects of drag for children without necessarily watering down queer cultures.” 38 — Harper Keenan, Drag pedagogy: The playful practice of queer imagination in early childhood, 2021.
“The professional vision of educators is often shaped to reproduce the state’s normative vision of its ideal citizenry. In effect, schooling functions as a way to straighten the child into a kind of captive alignment with the current parameters of that vision,” Kornstein and Keenan write. “To state it plainly, within the historical context of the USA and Western Europe, the institutional management of gender has been used as a way of maintaining racist and capitalist modes of (re)production.”
“To disrupt this dynamic, the authors propose a new teaching method, ‘drag pedagogy,’ as a way of stimulating the ‘queer imagination,’ teaching kids ‘how to live queerly,’ and ‘bringing queer ways of knowing and being into the education of young children’. As Kornstein and Keenan explain, this is an intellectual and political project that requires drag queens and activists to work toward undermining traditional notions of sexuality, replacing the biological family with the ideological family, and arousing transgressive sexual desires in young children. ‘Building in part from queer theory and trans studies, queer and trans pedagogies seek to actively destabilize the normative function of schooling through transformative education,’ they write. ‘This is a fundamentally different orientation than movements towards the inclusion or assimilation of LGBT people into the existing structures of school and society’.” 39 — Christopher F. Rufo, “The Real Story Behind Drag Queen Story Hour” (City Journal), 2022.
And if our children’s minds were not enough, they want their bodies too. Younger the better, often for obvious deviant reasons. These processes are now law in California:
“(Under Bill AB 957) California courts would be given complete authority under Section 3011 of California’s Family Code to remove a child from his or her parents’ home if parents disapprove of LGBTQ+ ideology.” 40
Many of these “oppressed” groups imagine that they are fighting “Universalism” with their attempts to bring down “cis-white-hetero-normative” culture. They do not see that they themselves wish to impose their values universally upon society, thereby becoming universalists themselves.
It may well be that people have different capabilities and desires, and if these groups want to stand against universalism, they will find, once they have exhausted all other paths, that the only logical and ethical way to do this is via the means of jaati — different strokes for different folks. It is at that point in human societal evolution that people will ask – “Then what is it that will hold us together?” And they will find that there is only one answer – the conception of the Purusha. The West is currently not focused on defining its own Purusha because centuries of wealth accumulation and military superiority have kept the wheels of their civilization turning. But make no mistake, as the wealth runs out and their military superiority is challenged, they will either have to discover a way out of the intellectual quagmire they are in, by defining the terms of a modern Purusha, or they will endure total collapse. Marxism and Postmodernism are Western Civilization’s greatest fault lines. Their ship has finally run into these two massive icebergs of their own making.
In Bharat, it was the idea of the Purusha and the institution of jaati that allowed for difference to gain expression while simultaneously protecting us from revolution. Christianity-led Western Universalism and its pyramid model of seeing the world, on the other hand, has traditionally seen differences as threats that needed to be enslaved or exterminated. Today, under the influence of Marxist oppression theory, the West pushes the pendulum to the other extreme by taking these differences and placing them at a privileged position in their politics and society, effectively creating an inverted pyramid. They do not realize that their problem is not how the pyramid is organized; their problem is the idea of the pyramid itself. There is only one solution to “pyramid-thought” and it is “Purusha-Consciousness”: the honoring of difference through separation and resource distribution, and the honoring of similarity through collaboration and the fractalization of civilizational values.
So, where does that leave Hindu men and women?
It can be nobody’s contention anymore that women can’t do what men can do. In all walks of life, from science to business to the toughest physical tests, women have shown that they are eminently capable. Just this month, Kirsten Neuschafer became the first woman to not just sail, but win the Golden Globe Race41. All we can say with certainty is that within the wide spectrum of modern jobs/activities, some are more suited to men, and some are more suited to women, but the vast majority of jobs are suited to both sexes. Our problem is not whether equity can be achieved or whether it is a noble goal, our problem is the outcomes of equity for our families, our children, our communities, and our traditions. Equity kills because it has no nuance. The excerpts in the previous section should alert us all to the dangers of the world that is coming. Just like equality between religions in India has come to mean – “everybody belongs equally to all religions,” so too does equity between sexes end up meaning – “all people belong equitably to both sexes and everything in between”. Where the traditional mind sees “balance” through diversity and mutual respect, the Modern Western mind sees “equity” through uniformity and erasure.
For all of us who value the culture we grew up in and have a desire to pass on that torch to future generations, we must realize that that world did not emerge from a vacuum. It emerged from the lived reality of certain values and civilizational priorities. We must start thinking about how we can engage with the modern world while retaining that core, and a big part of doing that is for Hindu men and women to figure out a new status quo. We may not be traditionalists, but we can choose to be traditional. That involves making conscious choices and sacrifices for each other, the children, the extended family, and the ritual acts we are called upon to maintain. This requires a taming of the individualist spirit that Modernity has engendered in us all… not an extinguishing, but certainly a taming.
In my mind, until the coming of Ram Rajya in the unforeseeable future, we have three options:
- Return to the traditional world. This is difficult at two levels – one, no one wants to do it for economic reasons; and two, that once-vibrant world is now a lonely place.
- Invest a portion of our family lives in the low-tech world, perhaps agricultural, perhaps performing one’s traditional hands-on occupation. This investment of time and effort in cyclic activities will build cyclic consciousness and automatically traditionalize our inter-relationships.
- Consciously bi-gender the modern world. Since we don’t have the capacity to bi-gender work and space in the modern world, we can choose to bi-gender time. For example, the first 15 years of married life, when the man and his active capabilities are on the ascendant, he could work outside the home while the woman does only a limited amount of creative work from home when the kids are at an age that they need her. During the next 15 years of married life, when the woman and her intuitive capabilities are on the ascendant, she could work outside the home while the man does limited creative work from home, where the kids are at an age when they need him. If possible, live with grandparents and home-school the kids.
Obviously, this is not a solution for couples who want to climb the corporate ladder. This is a rough and partially tested idea for Hindu couples who are genuinely looking for a way to manage the conundrum of Western Modernity without having to retreat entirely into Option #1. It is possible that this approach will minimize disharmony, outsourced childhoods, value erosion, and emotional/sexual problems that we have come to associate with marriage in modern times.
References and Links
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- Bolts, W. (1772). Considerations of India Affairs, Almon, London: https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.195631/page/n7/mode/2up
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- Williams, J. July 27, 2022). “The Truth about Trans teaching in Schools,” The Spectator, https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-truth-about-trans-teaching-in-schools/
- , https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-truth-about-trans-teaching-in-schools
- Rufo, C. F. (July 20, 2022). “Sexual Liberation in Public Schools,” City Journal, https://www.city-journal.org/article/sexual-liberation-in-public-schools
- Luthi, S. (June 22, 2023). “California moves toward Giving Therapists Unconditional Power to ‘Emancipate’ 12 year olds from their Parents,” The Washington Free Beacon, https://freebeacon.com/california/california-assembly-bill-665/
- Bhattacharjee, K. (July 25, 2020). “Efforts underway to mainstream ‘Drag Queen Story Hours’ in India, ‘volunteers’ from classes 9 to 12 being trained to further Gender Identity Politics,” OpIndia, https://www.opindia.com/2020/07/drag-queen-story-hour-gender-identity-politics-tagore-international-school-nazariya-qfrg/
- “Inclusion of Transgender Children in School Education: Concerns and Roadmap, 2020-21,” Department of Gender Studies, NCERT, New Delhi, India: https://www.pathashala.co.in/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Inclusion_of_Transgender_Children_in_School_Education.pdf
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- Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Speech delivered at Lucs-sur-Boulogne, 1993 http://la.revue.item.free.fr/nouvelles_de_chretiente141_090808.htm
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- “J. K. Rowling Writes about her Reasons for Speaking out on Sex and Gender Issues,” (June 10, 2020). https://www.jkrowling.com/opinions/j-k-rowling-writes-about-her-reasons-for-speaking-out-on-sex-and-gender-issues/
- Hay, C. (April 1, 2019). “Who Counts as a Woman?” The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/01/opinion/trans-women-feminism.html
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- Schogol, J. (May 21, 2017). “New Concerns that Lower Fitness Standards fuel Disrespect for Women,” Marine Corps Times, https://www.marinecorpstimes.com/off-duty/military-fitness/2017/05/21/new-concerns-that-lower-fitness-standards-fuel-disrespect-for-women/
- Palmer, E. (March 28, 2019). “Laura Ingraham Guest says Trans People will ‘Destroy’ Gender Norms to Create ‘New Species’ – ‘Human and Part Machine’,” Newsweek, https://www.newsweek.com/laura-ingraham-podcast-trans-people-species-machine-paul-nathanson-1377906
- Cintron, S. M., Wadlington, D., & ChenFeng, A. (May 2021). “A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction: Dismantling Racism in Mathematics Instruction”. https://equitablemath.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2020/11/1_STRIDE1.pdf
- Muñoz, J. E. (2009). Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity. New York: NYU Press.
- Miller, J. (2022). “Thirty Years of Queer Theory,” in Deborah Amory, Sean Massey, Jennifer Miller, and Allison Brown (Eds.) “Introduction to LGBTQ+ Studies: A Cross-Disciplinary Approach. SUNY Press. https://milnepublishing.geneseo.edu/introlgbtqstudies/chapter/thirty-years-of-queer-theory/
- Rufo, C. F. (Autumn 2022). “The Real Story Behind Drag Queen Story Hour,” City Journal, https://www.city-journal.org/article/the-real-story-behind-drag-queen-story-hour
- Keenan, H. (January 25, 2021). “Drag Pedagogy: The Playful Practice of Queer Imagination in Early Childhood,” Curriculum Inquiry, 50:5, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03626784.2020.1864621
- Rufo, C. F. (Autumn 2022). “The Real Story Behind Drag Queen Story Hour,” City Journal, https://www.city-journal.org/article/the-real-story-behind-drag-queen-story-hour
- Luthi, S. (June 22, 2023). “California moves toward Giving Therapists Unconditional Power to ‘Emancipate’ 12 year olds from their Parents,” The Washington Free Beacon, https://freebeacon.com/california/california-assembly-bill-665/
- “Meet the First Woman to Sail the ‘Voyage for Madmen’,” (June 14, 2023), The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/14/travel/kirsten-neuschafer-golden-globe.html
(Read Part I here)