"A Mind of Her Own,"

By Lydia Moland,
The Wall Street Journal, March 11-12, 2023;

Review of How to Think Like a Woman: Four Women Philosophers Who Taught Me How to Love the Life of the Mind, by Regan Penaluna, Grove Press, 2023

Towards the end of Lydia Moland's review of How to Think Like a Woman, by Regan Penaluna, we get a revealing passage that should inform our evaluation of the whole:

Ms. Penaluna also shows how these women’s desire to think abstractly was repeatedly derailed by needing to prove that they could do philosophy at all. Here she finds a commonality that defines what it means to think like a woman. “My intellect wasn’t shaped in the glory of transcendent questions but rather in response to the insidious systems of oppression,” she writes. “In this sense, I am a woman thinker.” Not all women philosophers would agree with this. But Ms. Penaluna also finds, in her chosen thinkers, a positive conception of freedom based in solidarity. Because of these women, “I have a better idea of what it might mean to be a woman and to be free,” she writes. “Perhaps this is all there is to rapture -- to free each other to hear our own voices.” [color added]

Part of my reponse to this follows from my own experience as a philosophy student and a writer and teacher of philosophy. Moland says, of the women philosophers examined by Penaluna, "Penaluna also shows how these women’s desire to think abstractly was repeatedly derailed by needing to prove that they could do philosophy at all." However, all you need to "do philosophy" is to philosophize, and to perhaps write and teach about it.

In the history of modern philosophy, the most important philosophers for a long time did not hold academic positions. They simply wrote philosophy, some of them in isolation from any academic institutions. Spinoza, ejected from his own Jewish community, with no institutional "affiliation," wrote works that were only published posthumously, although his reputation nevertheless spread, and friends obtained a stipend for him. Was he less "oppressed" than Regan Penaluna? And who was he going to be in "solidarity" with?

Academic philosophers now tend to think of philosophy as a communal enterprise. You go to conferences. You publish in journals. You argue at philosophy on-line bulletin boards. You try to stay "current" with what everyone else is doing. For a while, Richard Feynman tried to do physics like that, but then he decided it was the wrong idea. To do anything original, he needed to ignore everyone else and keep his own counsel. That worked. Similarly, mathematician Sir Andrew Wiles (b.1953) proved Fermat's Last Theorem by closing himself off from all outside contact. No one knew what he was doing, and he didn't tell them. Until he presented the result. In the same way, significant philosophers have generally turned away from what everyone else was doing, regarding it as noise. That was easy to do when they were not academics and did not need to worry about publishing, teaching, review committees, tenure, etc. Communal philosophy only accomplishes, and enforces, conformity and mediocrity.

Thus, Penaluna's women, mostly in the 18th century, who I expect were independent scholars, were only going to be "derailed" by their own internal inhibitions, not by some committee refusing to grant them tenure. And if they worried that a publisher might refuse a manuscript from a woman, all they needed was a pseudonym, a practice not uncommon at the time. Jane Austen (1775-1817) at first used a pseduonym; and J.K. Rowling, in submitting Harry Potter manuscirpts, was still concealing her sex behind the use of initials. Her Cormoran Strike brooks are still published under the name "Robert Galbraith." Similarly, George Sand, born Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin de Francueil (1804-1876), continued using the pseudonym, after which we still recognize her, after it was well known who she was, while flaunting male dress, whose use by her was more or less illegal at the time.

In turn, Penaluna admits, "My intellect wasn’t shaped in the glory of transcendent questions," which seems to mean that she was herself "derailed" from the issues of perennial philosophy. Why was she then interested in philosophy at all? Are right and wrong "transcendent questions"? Or is there perhaps a kind of dismissive overtone in this terminology? I was drawn into philosophy when Mr. Cousens had us read the Apology of Socrates in high school, in the Fall of 1966. The "transcendent question" there was simply whether Socrates could or should say anything to preserve his own life. Not a consideration to dismiss if you are the one on the spot, although most academics only face being "cancelled," not death (despite some who have actually committed suicide), if they say something, that might be true or honest, to "offend" the snowflakes and ideologues in modern totalitarian "education."

And then we see what Penaluna was derailed by: "in response to the insidious systems of oppression." But then, there is nothing original about that. If Penaluna was unable to engage perennial philosophy because of "oppression," then she has simply joined a mass of contemporary ideology, aptly called "oppression studies," which uses forms of Marxism to deconstruct rational inquiry, mathematics, liberal democracy, capitalism, and Western civilization. That would be Penaluna's ticket to success, with the history of philosophy only used to illustrate "race, class, gender" ideology. However, that does not result in "A Mind of Her Own," the title of Moland's review, but a mind simply reflecting every other au courant brain (I hesitate to call them actual "minds") in contemporary academia.
Allegory of Philosophy, Giacinto Brandi (1621-1691), Musée du Louvre, Paris

We go on from there to "a positive conception of freedom based in solidarity," but the Marxist "solidarity" buzzword tells us what we are dealing with, which is most significantly a class (or, in this case, a gender) conception of history, which is collectivist and hostile to individual existence.

As we end with the achievement "to free each other to hear our own voices," one wonders if this is a collectivist "voice" of "solidarity," or if Penaluna means that now, somehow, she has been freed to express her own personal, individual voice. Yet her individual voice could have been freed long ago, just by ignoring the clutter of noise around her.

That is what I needed to do myself, since the prevailing fads in philosophy as I went through my education seemed wholly misguided to me. I had no one to be in "solidarity" with, except from the past. Which, actually has been the experience of many in studying philosophy. It seems to be the experience of Penaluna herself, except that her experience focused, not on individuals because of their substantive contributions to philosophy, but just because of their sex, often with little sense of what their contribution might have been, as we will see from the evidence of Moland's own review.

If Regan Penaluna has found an original "voice" to express in philosophy, we get no hint of it in this review. Instead, as a reflex of "oppression studies," which now, by the way, has exploded in a tsunami of anti-Semitism, she seems more like someone with a chip on her shoulder. And the question lingers, whether her "solidarity" fashionably erases individuality or not -- as I have just reviewed an essay, by a woman, which explicitly denies individual existence, and its meaning, altogether. Our "voice" needs to be from some sort of Rousseauan "General Will" of class/gender, if not race, consciousness.

On the scale of "oppression," it looks like Regan Penaluna is getting a lot more attention than the Friesian School, which makes me wonder just how "oppressed" she actually is. But that is one of the ironies of the modern academy, that the most "oppressed" and "victimized" turn out to be the most celebrated and even powerful. The Terrorist organization Ḥamās massacres 1400 Jews and openly announces its intention to kill all of them, and wipe Israel off the map, and its supporters claim that it is Israel that practices "genocide." Of course, that is more or less what Hitler, and Nietzsche, said too, that they were only defending us against the malice of the Jews.

I can easily claim victimhood now just for being a "white male," especially after a hiring committee in 1986 admitted to me that they had only called me to an interview because they thought that "Kelley" was a women's name. But I know why the Friesian School is actually marginalized and my publications rejected. It is because of the predominant Nihilism of the modern academy, which celebrates proto-fascists like Nietzsche, actual Nazis like Martin Heidegger, and know-nothings like Wittgenstein, for whom philosophy properly should not even exist, having nothing positive to contribute to "ordinary langauge."

So I suspect that Penaluna has not found a voice as an individual, or as a woman, but simply as an academic who has hopped the bandwagon of trendy ideology, which contributes little or nothing to the progress of philosophy or civilization, but quite the opposite -- even while it does contribute to what a tenure committee or philosophy journals want to see. Nevertheless we can consider what the rest of what Moland's review says.

Without saying where they were, Penaluna seems to have had unedifying experiences as a graduate student in philosophy departments. I was a graduate student at both the University of Hawai'i and the University of Texas at Austin, 1972-1985, where I thought there were a fair number of women faculty and philosophy students, who looked to be as at home in the seminars, etc., as the male students. I didn't see a lot of "silent and timid" women in the seminar exchanges. I may have been often silent myself. I never thought anything of it; and, as it happened, I never had a girlfriend among the philosophy women, although I found several of them attractive. So, unlike Penaluna's boyfriend, I had no role in discouraging or overshadowing any women in philosophy. But even from the description in the review itself, Penaluna seems to have allowed herself to be overawed in her own "oppression":

Ms. Penaluma watched herself become quieter, less confident. After three years of graduate study, she was horrified to discover that she had "come to resemble the stereotypical woman described by the great philosophers." She deferred to her boyfriend, also a philosopher, convinced that he had an argumentative edge she lacked.

Of course, a disease of philosophy students is to exploit "an argumentative edge" in order to win arguments by sophistry. There's always a smart aleck in every philosophy class, and graduate schools seem to conduct a distillation of such types, so that philosophy seminars may be dense with them. Was Penaluna's boyfriend one of these characters? If so, why was she unable to ignore it and follow her own Muse? But intimidation by a false sense of superiority is something we see in the defense of Martin Heidegger by Hanna Arendt and Karl Japsers, who disastrously helped whitewash Heidegger's Nazism, and rehabilitate him, after World War II. They always thought of him as a better philosopher, which foolishly promoted his poisonous thought. Jaspers may have later thought better of that, but Arendt apparently never did.

We then learn that, finally breaking away, Penaluna's attraction was not to some issue or branch of philosophy, but to tracking down women philosophers. The unstated assumption, evident in the very title of her book, How to Think Like a Woman, is that women actually do think differently, and that Penaluma would find her Muse, not in herself, but in historical women philosophers -- as we have seen, where the women were reacting to the perhaps eternal "insidious systems of oppression."

But there is some thin ice there. If women think differently because because they are women, and genetically different, this would be a major feminist heresy, although not unheard of -- it's the "valorization" of the feminine, so that, for instance, patriarchal competition should be replaced with matriarchal cooperation. On the other hand, if women think differently just because they are conditioned by their experience under "insidious systems of oppression," as Marx thought that the consciousness of the workers would be conditioned by their pauperization under capitalism, then Penaluna necessarily signs on to the general neo-Marxist ideology of the modern academy, which is going to do her no good whatsoever as an original philosopher, although, again, the tenure committees may love it. The ideology, of course, is not one of cooperation, but of power, where the patriarchy, i.e. men and economic prosperity, can simply be crushed.

From Moland's review we get an interesting list of woman philosophers, leading with Gārgī Vācaknavī. She is attested in two recensions of the Brāhmaṇa (the Shatapatha Brāhmaṇa) leading to the Bṛhadāraṅyaka Upaniṣad, which leaves us with all the uncertainties of dating and attribution that characterize Vedic literature. An idea attributed to her, "that water underpinned everything," is what, of course, we also find in Thales, one of several points of similarity between early Greek and early Indian philosophy, although Indian philosophy then did not assume an overall character of "natural philosophy" as it did among the Greeks -- despite Gārgī Vācaknavī herself remembered as a "natural philosopher." Whatever Gārgī Vācaknavī's historicity, her example will provide little of value to Regan Penaluna beyond the (unique?) report of her existence.

Moland then cites Hipparchia, whom we have also seen in these pages as one of several attested woman philosophers among the Greeks. It is a little surprising, however, that the lone citation of a Greek woman should not have been the famous Hypatia of Alexandria, certainly the best known philosopher of her age, the best known woman philosopher of Antiquity, and the eponym of a feminist philosophy journal. If Penaluna does not mention her, it is puzzling; and if she does, and Moland doesn't, the mystery deepens.

A problem with all the Greek women in philosophy is that no clearly attested works by them have survived, not even for Hypatia. What she actually thought, apart from the general principles of Neoplatonism, has now became a matter of confabulation, with some people imagining that the Dark Ages would not have happened if she had not been murdered. Yet the most original philosopher in Alexandria, a century after Hypatia, can be found in John Philoponus, so that the actual Dark Age is that Philoponus is now ignored, along with Hypatia's own celibate Neoplatonism. Thus, apart from the existence of the woman philosophers, and the fate of Hypatia that can be attributed to misogyny, they provide little upon which Penaluna could build her philosophical self-realization.

Next we hear of Rābiʿah al-ʿAdawiyya al-Qaysiyya of Baṣra (d.801), St. Hildegard of Bingen (d.1179), and Sister Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648-1695). The problem with these women for Penaluna's project is that they are religious figures and mystics, which is probably not the direction she wishes to pursue her inquiry, although Hildegard and de la Cruz, both nuns (as both Gārgī Vācaknavī and Hypatia were themselves celibate), were enough of polymaths to give us more to work with. However, de la Cruz was a person of full Spanish descent, a Criolla, which makes her a criminal "colonizer" in Spanish Mexico, something that might simply cancel her value to a properly politicized academic. But Moland's comment is:

The list goes on. If we assume these women are not there, we do not look for them. If we do not look for them, we will not find them.

Of course, it depends on what we are looking for. If we are looking for Ṣūfīs, Rābiʿah is likely to turn up. If we are looking for philosophers, however, we may miss her, since the Ṣūfīs are not really in the tradition of Islāmic philosophy. Otherwise, I have never heard of a woman philosopher, or historian, in Islām before the modern Era. But admitting that might constitute the political crime of Islamophobia.

In the same way, St. Hildegard and de la Cruz may be a little off the track. But if we want to include them, then it is hard to see how we could exclude St. Teresa of Ávila (1515-1582), who is probably much better known, in general, than Hildegard. But Hildegard and Ávila are now both recognized as "Doctors," i.e. doctrinal Teachers, of the Roman Catholic Church, like, say, Thomas Aquinas. Indeed, Sainthood in Christianity has always displayed a great deal of "gender equality." But then Penaluna's project is not to study saints. It might give us the wrong ideas about religion.

In turn, if we note that Hipparchia is cited, but not Hypatia, and St. Hildegard, but not St. Teresa, we might begin to wonder if the deliberately more obscure persons are mentioned, rather than the more famous, precisely to imply what Moland says, that "if we do not look for them, we will not find them," as part of a narrative of grievance, rather than an honest history of women in philosophy.

Since the subtitle of Penaluna's book is about "Four Women," what we expect is what comes next in the review, which is the four women whom that must mean: Damaris Cudworth Masham (1659-1708), Mary Astell (1666-1731), Catharine Trotter Cockburn (1679-1749), and Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797). Except for Wollstonecraft, these are pretty obscure figures again. If we ask what would distinguish them as important philosophers, the most interesting gloss may be for Masham, who is said to have "articulated a theory of primary and secondary qualities and argued against Nicolas Malebranche’s claim that God is the cause of every action." Since Locke seems to have originated the theory of primary and secondary qualities, and few philosophers, apart from Spinoza, agreed with Malebranche, this does not sound strikingly original. In turn, if Astell cast a "pitiless light on the sexist ideas of some of the most famous philosophers of her age," this might catch Penaluna's attention, especially with its anachronistic terminology, as perhaps a feminist-before-her-time.

In any case, Wollstonecraft will certainly qualify in that way. On the other hand, it would be nice to know how a group of 18th century philosophers, no less obscure than Nicolas Malebranche (1638-1715) or Christian Wolff (1679-1754), made valuable contributions to the progress of perennial philosophy. We don't really get a hint about that from Lydia Moland. Instead, we get a sense that a woman philosopher would be importlant just because she was a woman.

“How to Think Like a Woman” comes as momentum to expand philosophy is growing, aided by online initiatives like Extending New Narratives and Project Vox. These resources show that neglecting women philosophers is simply bad scholarship. Yet Ms. Penaluna recently found herself in a bookstore where a new volume called “The History of Philosophy” caught her eye. Among the individual philosophers discussed across its 584 pages, not one was a woman.

Instead of outrage, she feels contempt. “What a pitifully narrow read,” she thinks. Indeed: Since there is a “terror in learning to listen,” philosophy’s dogged exclusion of women smells a lot like fear. In diagnosing this fear and reaching beyond it for freedom, Ms. Penaluna tacks between rage and humor, biography and theory. Her writing is sharp and rousing. Her message is consoling and motivating. If this is what it means to think like a woman, sign me up.

We still don't know from this what contributions individual women have made that would merit their inclusion in a 584 page history of philosophy. If a lot of obscure men of no importance were included, just because they were men, then there would be genuine cause for complaint. Similarly, if Hypatia is ignored because all of Neoplatonism is ignored -- not uncommon in traditional histories of philosophy -- we see that a larger problem is involved. But that is not what Moland says. After all, why does she ignore Hypatia? And if "Extending New Narratives" simply means fashionable identity politics and neo-Marxism, then the business is worse than worthless, and we will see no real contribution to perennial philosophy. Just more of the rot that now has spilled forth in "Progressive" anti-Semitism.

Curiously, what we don't hear about from Moland are prominent women philosophers in the 20th century. Two recent books have highlighted the contributions of Philippa Foot (1920-2010), Elizabeth Anscombe (1919-2001), Iris Murdoch (1919-1999), and others. They draw merited attention now because they rebelled against the rejection of metaphysics and ethics by the "Oxford Philosophers" under the spell of the popular schools of Logical Positivism and Linguistic Analysis. This bespeaks considerable courage and moral determination, not to mention an ability to resist the overwhelming Zeigeist of philosophy at the time. However, much of their inspiration was from Aristotle and St Thomas, which still makes them outliers to the mainstream of academic philosophy. Do Penaluna and Moland even give them the time of day?

Unfortunately, Aristotle and St. Thomas may actually not be the best inspirations for the advancement of philosophy; and all of these women were for some reason more or less under the spell of Ludwig Wittgenstein, especially Anscombe, despite his own rejection of philosophical metaphysics and ethics, in the veritable footsteps of the Positivists. At the same time, Anscombe's activism in oppositon to abortion, consistent with her Catholicism, is likely to make her persona non grata to proper au courant feminists, among whom I suspect we can number Penaluna and Moland.

Nevertheless, Philippa Foot and the others deal with significant perennial issues in ways that merit our attention, which is why I devote considerable space to them in these pages -- while Foot is all but immoralized by the Trolley Problem. A different matter altogether is that we might consider one of the most popular woman philosophers of the 20th century: Ayn Rand (1905-1982).

Rand was not an academic philosopher, was a very uneven and erratic autodidact, often seemed to display a dictatorial personality towards her followers, and is often accused of failing to acknowledge others whose ideas she adopted, such as Isabel Paterson (1886-1961). Rand's real heresy, however, was as a staunch defender of capitalism and freedom, which renders her a kind of Stalinist nonperson, not just in academic philosophy, but throughout the entire modern totalitarian academy.

Yet Rand is obviously following in the tradition of Russian philosophical novelists, which means that if Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881) is going to be discussed in philosophy classes, then Rand should be also. As a survivor of the actual Russian Revolution, Rand was herself an eyewitness to events for which most other philosophers are only armchair theorists -- often with absurd or even vicious ideas about the matter. And, unlike Dostoevsky, she followed up her novels with philosophical essays, which, although of uneven quality, seriously and discursively argue her issues. If Penaluna was intimidated by the "argumentative edge" of her boyfriend, Rand would have been a better inspiration than the women in Greek philosophy whose works and arguments have not survived.

Thus, we might wonder how the "Four Women Philosophers" of Masham, Astell, Cockburn, Wollstonecraft are more inspiring and edifying than a similar four in Foot, Anscombe, Murdoch, and Rand. Since we already suspect that the key is simply gender identity, against a background of conventional received ideology, this seems confirmed by Moland's final paragraph:

As I was finishing “How to Think Like a Woman,” I was teaching Elisabeth of Bohemia in my Modern Philosophy class. Elisabeth, as Ms. Penaluna tells us, was a woman Descartes described as the only person who had “completely understood all my previously published works.” As a lively discussion ensued, I became increasingly aware of a female student who always sits, silent and timid, in the front row. Today, instead, her posture was alert, her eyes wide. She stayed after class, breathless and awestruck. She had never read philosophy like this, she said. She had already done more research. She had more questions. She was glowing.

The only connection of Elisabeth of the Palatinate (1618-1680) to Bohemia was that her father Frederick V, Elector of the Palatinate, was briefly King of Bohemia, after the "Defenestration of Prague" -- so brief that he was called the "Winter King." Elisabeth's mother, Elizabeth Stuart, just as briefly Queen of Bohemia, would also be "Elizabeth of Bohemia." Frederick and Elizabeth's daughter Sophie would be the mother of George I, the first Hanoveran King of England.

All that aside, we might wonder about Elisabeth, as with many others, what original contribution she made to philosophy. Or is it just that her existence, as a correspondent of Descartes, was enough to inspire Moland's young student, who otherwise was "silent and timid." The principle, that education only works if the educator, or other "role model," looks like the student, is received Gospel among the bien pensants, but a catastrophe for the education of minority students, whose teachers must fill ethnic or racial quotas, but for whom, of course, the idea of competence is just a sign of "white supremacy." "Glowing" is never a recompense for failure, while, as we know, success in academia is largely a matter of parroting the prevailing orthodoxy. There is nothing in Moland's review, or in her apparent understanding of Penaluna's book, that would lead us to think otherwise.

While the title of her book is "How to Think Like a Woman," the only idea we end up with about this, according to Lydia Moland, is that Regan Penaluna thinks in terms of victims and "systems of oppression," joining the great flood of neo-Marxist doctrines like "Critical Race Theory" in the modern academy. Otherwise, if we ask what philosophical issues are uniquely addressed by "thinking like a woman," we really don't have a clue.

Indeed, it is unlikely that the Vedic Hinduism of Gārgī Vācaknavī, the Neoplatonism of Hypatia, or the Christianity of St. Hildegard or Sister de la Cruz are going to have much to do what even Regan Penaluna would think of as relevant issues to 21st century philosophy. A striking feature of all their lives, their celibacy, might appeal to certains kinds of feminism; but I do not notice that it is otherwise generally recommended as part of women's liberation. Instead, we see feminism torn between essentialy prescribing promiscuity and recoiling in alarm from the "rape culture" supposedly infecting co-ed dorms and the modern "hooking up" culture. Also, when we know the names of many women in Greek philosophy, but their works are lost, any distictive characteristics of their thought are equally unavailable to us. Hence the kind of emptiness, apart from grievance and resentment, as far as I can tell, at the center of Penaluna's "thinking like a woman."

But if we seriously ask if there are particular and characteristic features of "thinking like a woman," this might call for examining traditional denigrations of the minds of woman, of which Moland and Penaluma are certainly aware -- as Penaluna said that, as a graduate student, she had "come to resemble the stereotypical woman described by the great philosophers" -- or of more subtle attempts to find differences. One view I have noted is the assertion C.G. Jung that "men tend to have irrational sentiments, while women tend to have irrational opinions."

Unlike earlier stereotypes, Jung's notion was not that women are generally irrational but that the unconscious potential in men and woman is different, so that the irrational expressions in each result from unhealthy, if not pathologically unbalanced, minds. Psychologically healthy men and woman have equally rational sentiments and opinions. But we might consider something that is a demonstrable difference between the opinions of men and women. Thus, women generally tend to vote in greater percentages for Democrats than men do for them. In recent decades, the Democrats have won many elections because of the women's vote. Hillary Clinton even asserted that women should vote for her because she was a woman, although she happened to lose that vote. But women did help the senile and mendacious Joe Biden get elected, despite the obvious dishonesty of nearly everything he said in his campaign.

What does this mean? Well, establishment feminism, which has a lock on the Democrat Party, promotes the idea that women don't need men and that they should be entirely independent, self-sufficient, self-supporting, and self-validating -- or at least validated in terms of other women, i.e. Penaluna's "solidarity." On the other hand, the ideology behind the Democrat Party supports the principle of a government of absolute and unlimited power, whose responsibility is to support and protect citizens (and aliens) with a cradle-to-grave welfare state. Thus, establishment feminism does not really support the independence of women. It promotes removing husbands as the support and protection of women and substituting the government instead -- a government usually of unaccountable and unsympathetic bureaucrats whose capacity, after all, is not really to love and cherish a woman, and her children, as a proper husband might.

Also, the ability of government to protect women from crime, rapists, etc. is limited. The police are not legally obligated to protect anyone from crime, and much of the Democrat Party now favors criminals, as "victims of society," over law enforcement and innocent citizens. The police just come along to clean up the mess, after crimes have happened. Similarly, what can equalize women in the face of crime --namely guns -- are something that Democrat governments want to deny to all citizens, let alone women. Prosecutors actually said that Kyle Rittenhouse should simply have let the "Antifa" thugs beat him up. Don't they also advise women not to try and fight off rapists? In other words, let the rapist have his rape, and maybe he'll be nice enough not to kill you as well. This is a dubious principle, so say the least.

In the end, we might consider that more women than men voting for Democrats involves irrational opinions, irrational because of the contradition between "independence" from men and actual dependency on an absolutist government -- a government which nevertheless, however absolute, cannot possibly fulfill its promises and whose expressions are often indifference, neglect, and even contempt. There is a disconnect and a logical confusion there -- before we ever consider the traditional accusation against women, that they are primarily emotional, making them vulnerable to the overheated, emotional (albeit dishonest) rhetoric used by Democrats.

As it happens, married women are the safest persons in modern society. While, as part of political campaigns about domestic violence, it was said, truly, that educated, successful, middle class men might be domestic abusers, in fact that is rare. Domestic violence is generally perpetrated by "working class," lowlife men, who are otherwise of violent natures and tend to already have a history of trouble with the law. And they are frequently not even married to the women they abuse, as they also abuse the woman's children, unrelated to them. Theodore Dalrymple (Dr. Anthony Daniels), examining abuse victims in the Emergency Room, warned them that continuing to associate with violent men was dangerous, since they were stronger than the women. The response he might get was, "That's sexist," as though ideology overrules common sense and obvious biology.

Consequently, while young women may favor Democrats, their promises, and their ideology, married women, of more mature experience and reflection, begin to swing to the Republican side. And what women are facing now may be more obvious as Democrat politicians and the demonic George Soros have contrived to release masses of criminals onto the public, regarding them as the true victims, while mere middle class voters are the true criminals for their "bourgeois" habits, which we all know reflect "white supremacy."

How far young women continue to accept this ideology remains to be seen, even as we now see young women, sporting green hair or piercings, that would earn them no respect in Gaza, participating in "Kill the Jews" demonstrations. But then there is a tradition of young radical women signing on to violent causes, such as Emma Goldman (1869-1940), Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919), or Dolores Ibárruri (1895-1989), known as "La Pasionaria" in the Spanish Civil War. And then, Jane Fonda (b.1937) might remind us that sometimes a young fool grows into an old fool, especially if they are rich and free of the ordinary responsibilities of life, like loyalty to their country.

Hypergamy and Self-Inserts

A striking example of "thinking like a woman," of recent notice, is the phenomenon of "hypergamy," by which women mate or marry up in status. While long obvious, it now has particularly dramatic effects in the wide use of "dating apps," where men and women look for dates in on-line applications. See extended discussion at the link.

Another example of "thinking like a woman" of recent significant application has been in an article in The Atlantic magazine called "How to Play Like a Girl." This was based on research done by the LEGO Group, which makes LEGO toys. LEGO was interested if boys and girls used toys differently, all the better to target toys better for the two sexes. The name of the article, of course, mentions girls but not boys because, as we know, there is now an institutional and societal hostility to boys, as we have seen explored by Christina Hoff Sommers in her The War Against Boys.

The surprising result of the LEGO research was that, in playing with "action figures," boys tended to identify with the character of the figure, and wished to exercise its powers, personality, attributes, etc. It then helped them to learn more about what the character was supposed to be like. On the other hand, girls wanted the figure to be them, assimilating the character to their own image and aspirations for themselves, disregarding the features that may have previously been constructed for the character. The terminology we find for this approach, projecting themselves into the toy, is that we get a "self-insert" of the girl into the character.

Other observations of such sex differences involve the role of males and females in the kinds of stories that the two sexes prefer. Thus women like films where the female protagonist is able to change external circumstances that are wrong, desructive, or evil. An example cited is the movie Erin Brockovich [2000], where the crusading titular heroine (played by Julia Roberts) is able to hold a company to account for polluted ground water in a Central California town. While Brockovich discovers a vocation for herself in the course of this, the main issue is defeating the wrong-doers. Similarly, there is the successful 2023 movie Barbie, where all the conflict involves the "patriarchy" and the evil of men; and "Barbie," played by Margot Robbie, discovers that the "real" world is a feminist fever dream of male oppression, unlike her "Barbieland," where an all woman Supeme Court overturns Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010), which had overruled the restrictions on free speech created by the 2002 McCain–Feingold "campaign finance" law. Barbie was said to be a "break-up movie," since couples might have a falling out arguing over the ideology of the film. Indeed, the totalitarianism of director Greta Gerwig is quite openly expressed, not the least in its totally irrelevant attack on political free speech. That is a lot of mileage to get out of a movie based on a doll, whose sales were presumably helped by the success of the movie.

On the other hand, men tend to like films where the issue is the growth of the protagonist, who then is able to rise to the challenge of defeating the villains. My favorite example may be Kung Fu Hustle [2004], or just "Kung Fu," 功夫, in Chinese. This is written, produced, directed, and starring Stephen Chow, who begins the movie as a low life crook but grows into an enlighted adept with great powers, by which he defeats the local gangster empire of Shanghai. However, more familiar is the epic story of Star Wars [1977, 1980, 1983], where Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who seems to be little more than a farm boy, becomes the hero of the struggle against the tyrannical "Empire." At the time, this was understood to illustrate the mythic "Hero's Journey," as that had been described by Joseph Campbell (1904-1987), which Campbell himself thought of as expressing a kind of Jungian Archetype. The ideological argument over this at the time was mainly that of sophisticates disparaging its naive portrayal of "good vs. evil" -- at the time of the second movie, Ronald Reagan had characterized the Soviet Union as "the Evil Empire."

This whole business comes up in relation to a recent string of failing or under-performing movies from Disney Studios. Disney had bought Pixar, Marvel, and LucasFilm Studios, giving them, among other things, the franchise rights for the Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Marvel series of movies. I have previously noted some effects of this in the failure of Disney to properly support its own production of John Carter, the long awaited movie version of the Edgar Rice Burroughs 1912 classic, A Princess of Mars.

What has been noted about recent Disney movies in these franchises is the particular form taken by new female leading characters, which usually overshadow or replace the male leads inherited from the earlier movies. Most conspicuously, they are frequently what are called "Mary Sue" characters, which means that they are, as it says at Wikipedia, "inexplicably competent across all domains, gifted with unique talents or powers, liked or respected by most other characters, unrealistically free of weaknesses, extremely attractive, innately virtuous, and/or generally lacking meaningful character flaws." Thus, with them, there is no character arc or character development. They start off perfect. We might note that this is consistent with the Barbie type of movie, where all the trouble and evil is external to the heroine.

A conspicuous example of this is in The Force Awakens of 2015, the first of a sequel trilogy to the original Star Wars movies, and thus called "Episode VII." The lead, played by Daisy Ridley, is "Rey," who seems to be an orphan "scavanger" on a desert planet, much like Tatooine in the original Star Wars. In fact, the whole of The Force Awakens looks much like a remake of the original Star Wars, with Rey in the place of Luke Skywalker. There the similarities end. We discover the Rey is already improbably powerful and comptent with "The Force." Unlike Luke, she needs no training but is already able to use the Force and defeat people who actually have been trained in the Force. She even spontaneously knows how to fight with a sword, a light saber, despite swordfighting requiring skills that may require many years of training -- as we see, for instance, in the treatment of knife fighting techniques in the celebrated Dune [book, 1965; movies, 1984, 2021].

This muddles much of the lore found in the earlier Star Wars movies. In the prequel movie, The Phantom Menace [1999], the Jedi Council initially rejects the young Anakin Skywalker for Jedi training because "he is too old," despite being a child. Although he is later accepted, we are given to understand that this late inception of training is what makes him vulnerable to the temptations of the Dark Side, which leads to the destruction of the entire Jedi Order and of the Republic it protected.

This picture is already inconsistent with the original Star Wars, where Luke, already grown up, begins some training with Obiwan Kenobi and then receives more, over a few days, from Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back [1980]. When he leaves to fight Darth Vader, Yoda worries that his training will have been insufficient to protect him against Vader and his temptations. Indeed, Luke does resist the Dark Side, but he is unable to defeat Vader and loses a hand in the process. Indeed, he never defeats Vader, but he must rely on Vader having a change of heart and defeating the Emperor himself.

Rey, which of course is Spanish for "King," of The Force Awakens, benefits from no training and encounters none of the problems or difficulties experienced by Anakin or Luke in the other movies. She is an Athena sprung fully formed from, well, somewhere. She is thus a perfect "Mary Sue" character, who, Wikipedia notes, may be found in "stories [that] are often written by adolescent authors." Yet this is in a multi-million dollar Star Wars movie, directed by J.J. Abrams, who had been responsible for the remarkable TV series, Fringe [2008-2013].

So who is then responsible for a "Mary Sue" character in this movie? Well, opinion seems to be that that would be Kathleen Kennedy, the President of LucasFilm, to which she succeeded, having long worked with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, after Disney bought the companies. In many movies, most recently Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny [2023], Kennedy has been regarded as responsible for a "self-insert" of herself as a leading female character.

In Dial of Destiny this meant actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge, playing a character "Helena Shaw," introduced as the "goddaughter" of Jones, about whom we had previously heard nothing -- and with the additional shock that Jones's son from Kingdom of the Crystal Skull [2008] had meanwhile been killed -- while the female lead we would have liked, Karen Allen, was written out of the story until the very end. It looks like the original idea for the film was to kill off Jones and have "Shaw" succeed to the archaeologist, tomb robber, adventurer character -- perhaps even doing this by time travel in the past, which would erase Indiana's entire life and wipe out the stories of all the previous films.

Previously, both Han Solo (Harrison Ford, Indiana Jones himself) and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) had been killed off in the new Star Wars movies, succeeded by, of course, "Rey," who then becomes "Rey Skywalker." At the end of Dial of Destiny, "Shaw" is supposed to have been seen picking up Indiana's hat and whip, making them her own.

The original plan for the movie, however, seems to have been scuttled by unfavorable audience reaction in test screenings. Nevertheless, the Indian Jones of this movie is presented as an old, tired failure, who chases around under the betrayal and manipulation of "Helena Shaw." On release, audiences didn't care for this version either, Phoebe Waller-Bridge was not popular, and the movie badly underperformed. While it was obvious that Kennedy originally wanted to start a new series of films with Waller-Bridge, such plans now seem to have been abandoned.

A drawback of all "Mary Sue" characters is that they are not very appealing. If they are "self-inserts" of someone like Kathleen Kennedy, they reflect a morally offensive level of narcissism. Even worse, such a character may also become a negative "Girl Boss" stereotype, where their faultlessness becomes simple arrogance and a domineering attitude. Indeed, the obvious connection is that the perfection of the "Mary Sue" justifies the entitlement that the "Girl Boss" feels for her dictatorial attitude.

In the Star Wars movies, we see a conspicuous version of this in the "Vice-Admiral Amilyn Holdo" character, played by Laura Dern (with purple hair, for some reason), in The Last Jedi [2017], someone who is not only arrogant, domineering, and dictatorial but also incompetent, rebuking and silencing people who simply ask how what they are supposedly to be doing serves her strategy. This is seriously off-putting to audiences. In Viet Nam, officers like that got "fragged," i.e. assassinated by their own troops -- something we hope to see, but mostly don't, among Russian troops in the Ukraine.

Thus, people begin to wonder if this is another "self-insert" of Kathleen Kennedy, whose governing attitude at LucasFilm may be much like that of "Vice-Admiral Holdo," including the incompetent part. After a series of movies that have performed poorly to badly, rumors are that Kennedy might even be fired -- and she founded her own production company, perhaps as a safe refuge to retreat from LucasFilm. However, the President of Disney, Bob Iger, while denying that politics are part of the message of Disney movies, or that Disney is engaged in any kind of "culture war," nevertheless has incoherently affirmed that political goals of "Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion" (DIE), which are the essence of the culture war, will remain part of Disney movies -- whose expression is apparently consistent with the introduction of "Mary Sue" and "Girl Boss" characters, which alienate audiences. We are left to conclude, therefore, that the possible incompetence of Kathleen Kennedy reaches to the top of Disney management.

A startling "Girl Boss" character may be found in the very last episode of the original Star Trek. This was the "Turnabout Intruder," the twenty-fourth episode of the third season of the series. An archaeologist, Dr. Janice Lester (played by Sandra Ann Smith), calls the Enterprise to a remote planet with a distress call, not because there is any emergency, but because she has discovered an alien machine that makes it possible to switch consciousnesses between bodies. She contrives to use this on Captain Kirk, thereby becoming the Captain of the Enterprise herself. She had always wanted to be a Star Ship Captain, but, as we learn here for the first (and last) time, this is not available to women.

The result seems to be a demonstration of why women are not suitable for military command, since she displays a mental pathology of hysteria and homicidal tendenies, threatening most of the officers of the Enterprise with death for mutiny. However, the switch between bodies is not permanent, and since she can't get anyone to kill her own body, with Kirk in it, things are properly restored

This is an absurdly "sexist" story, since we know of many women rulers and commanders from history, not only fully as capable as men, but often of superior abilties. But, since this is a story by Gene Roddenberry himself, it is not a peripheral departure for Star Trek. It must be something that Roddenberry took rather seriously. What he must have had in mind is some kind of durable stereotype or archetype, and the "Girl Boss" is the only reasonable candidate.

The episode, of course, is an embarrassment to "Trekkies," and it tends to be ranked as one of the worst Star Trek episodes, from any series, ever, not the least because of William Shatner's acting, which many have found overwrought ("chewing the scenery"), with the added element that Shatner is pretending to being possessed by a woman's disordered mind and so is acting out female stereotypes of irrationality and uncontrolled emotion. But, if we know the disease from the pathology, we must consider that it tells us something, and not just about the evils of the patriarchy. Katheleen Kennedy may be a real life Janice Lester.

When we consider successful woman authors, from Jane Austen to J.K.Rowling, we do not find "Mary Sue" or "Girl Boss" characters, except as obvious villains -- such as Lady Catherine de Bourgh in Austen's Pride and Prejudice [1813], although her villainy is of a more humorous than dangerous sort. It would not be good writing or good story telling otherwise. But Kathleen Kennedy is not an author. She is a producer; and there is no reason why her influence on movies should reflect the instincts of good writers. She isn't one.

We see the opposite of a "Mary Sue" character in Pride and Prejudice, where our protagonist, Elizabeth Bennet, realizes that she seriously misjudged her rejected suitor, Mr. Darcy, and reproaches herself:

'How despicably have I acted!' she cried. -- 'I, who have prided myself on my discernment! -- I, who have valued myself on my abilities! who have often disdained the generous candour of my sister [Jane], and gratified my vanity, in useless or blameable distrust. -- How humiliating is this discovery! -- Yet, how just a humiliation!" [Penguin Books, 1972, Penguin Classics, 1986, p.236]

We do not see Kathleen Kennedy recognizing any "just humiliation" for the failures into which she has driven LucasFilm. Instead, we might be reminded of Jung's theory, that unconscious influences may reflect a psychologially unbalanced personality. Thus, in "thinking like a woman," Kennedy is expressing her own narcissism and not the instincts of a good writer. But we can see that this expression is done in a characteristic way, like the young girls inserting themselves into the LEGO toys they play with. But we do not see that in female leads who are actually paradigmatic, like Sigourney Weaver as Ripley (Alien, 1979), Geena Davis in Beetlejuice (1988), Kate Beckinsale as the vampire Selene (Underworld, 2003), Uma Thurmond as Beatrix Kiddo (Kill Bill, 1, 2003, 2 2004), or Oliva Thirlby in Dredd (2012).

Innocent play for children then becomes financial failures for Disney Studios. This does less damage to society than young women voting for Democrats, but it does damage a kind of public institution, namely the iconic movie franchises of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and the Marvel superhero movies. "Kathleen Kennedy, Super Heroine," cannot replace Luke Skywalker, Indiana Jones, or Marvel heroes. Instead, audiences are disappointed and put off. As in much of medicine, the pathology reveals the disease. And, instead of an insightful diagnosis, the political bias of Bob Iger pushes ahead on the same course, apparently accepting that Kathleen Kennedy is a true and legitimate "Girl Boss" -- perhaps in a psychological folie à deux.

Or, in Bob Iger it may not be incompetence, or even his own political bias, but fear. The largest shareholder of Disney is the investment company BlackRock, which is also the largest money management firm in the world, worth tens of trillions of dollars. BlackRock is run by Larry Fink, who, belonging to the World Economic Forum of Davos, Switzerland, is one of the billionaire James Bond supervillains who controls the Forum. Like the other supervillains, Fink promotes a Leftist, or perhaps Fascist, agenda called ESG, or "Environmental, Social, and Governance Investing." This involves a "green" agenda along with a socialist, racist "Diversity, Equity, Inclusion" (DIE) agenda.

Fink claims that this ESG agenda will make companies more productive and profitable. But quite the opposite is usually the result. The track record of ESG compliant companies has generally been negative, with cumulative losses. Politics and economics always mix badly, and we can certainly see that with the growing problems at Disney. Instead, companies may be willing to lose value because their "ESG Score" keeps them in good graces with outfits like BlackRock, which are a source of financing. As Disney loses money from its DIE schemes, the more it needs money from investors. This can sustain companies that should be in bankruptcy and consequently get called "zombie" companies -- a phenomenon that helped turn Japan from a dynamic into a nearly stagnant economy in the 1990's. At least Japan wasn't doing it for stupid political reasons -- just the stupid economic influence of rent-seeking corporations -- whose expectations remind us of Japanese feudalism. Kathleen Kennedy's job may be secure, however badly she does, because firing her would damage "diversity," or some other sacred cow.

So Disney makes movies, replacing appealing male stars with unappealing female parvenues, earning ESG points and hoping to draw in female audiences, who (supposedly) want to see female superheroes. But then the female audiences don't turn up, since they like male stars, and the movies bomb, like the recently released The Marvels, which has no less than four female leads, and nothing but wimpy male characters (since feminists want only eunuchs).

And everyone involved in the disaster explains it all as "sexism," insulting the very audience that they would need to attract to have a successful movie. This begins to sound like the "irrational opinions" problem. Insulting the audience is now Standard Operating Procedure for Hollywood, and the perpetrators somehow think this will win them support -- as it will among the small Leftist elite to which they belong. But audiences don't appreciate moralistic lectures, not during the movies and certainly not from the bitter participants afterwards.

The determination of Bob Iger and Kathleen Kennedy to continue with the political DIE agenda is now evident in the leaks and rumors concerning the next Star Wars movie, which will continue the story of Daisy Ridley from the three movie sequel. Kennedy has tapped Pakistani expatriot Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy as the director of the new movie, even though she has mostly just made documentaries and has never directed a big budget Hollywood movie.

But Obaid-Chinoy is a raving, man-hating feminazi, who introduced herself to the public by saying, "It’s about time that we had a woman come forward to shape a story in a galaxy far, far away." This exposed, not just her feminist credentials and agenda, but also her ignorance of the history of the franchise, whose last three movies, and much other production, has been directed and shaped by Kathleen Kennedy. Obaid-Chinoy, who in the past has expressed a desire to "make men uncomfortable," thus seems to dismiss Kennedy as not feminist enough. On the other hand, she knows how to insult and alienate an audience, apparently not noticing that the recent feminist The Marvels went down in flames. The rumor of the plot for Star Wars X is that "Rey" will mentor two acolytes, a boy and a girl, where the girl becomes good and the boy falls to the Dark Side. Of course he will.

Disney stockholders are thus reassured that politics is more important than profits at Disney, which must make them feel good all over.

But, behind it all, Larry Fink seems to be the one with irrational opinions -- having recently driven Sri Lanka into starvation, because of the rejection of modern fertilizers as part of the "green" agenda, which led to the overthrow of the government. Yet he and his ilk seem to learn no lessons from these disasters.

Since BlackRock is a publicly traded company, and since officers like Fink have a fiduciary obligation to the shareholders, his own idea of "stakeholder capitalism" and the ESG agenda is actually a breach of trust. Thus, Disney may only be saved if BlackRock shareholders, and/or the funds managed by BlackRock, themselves revolt. Around Disney, at least, rumors swirl of hostile takeovers. And public investment managers in "Red" States are withdrawing their funds from BlackRock.

The problem in all of that, of course, is not any case of "thinking like a woman," but of fools being bewitched by ideology, which is an equal opportunity form of ignorance and stupidity. Or it is the lust for power of the supervillains -- who have already announced to the people of the world, "You will own nothing," because, of course, the supervillians will own everything and tell everyone how to live. Indeed, Iger and Kennedy may have had no choice with Star Wars. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy is associated with the World Economic forum. She may have been the candidate of the supervillians, with Iger and Kennedy simply given their marching orders. Obaid-Chinoy is the DIE agent right from its source.

Put a chick in it. And make her gay.

Put a chick in it. And make it lame and gay.

Eric Cartman as Kathleen Kennedy, South Park: Joining the Panderverse, 2023

The Acolyte, 2023

The lies of Bob Iger, that Disney has no political agenda and that it is not part of the "culture war," are again exposed by the trailer and publicity for The Acolyte, which is a new Star Wars series that will be run on the Disney+ streaming service.

The creator, showrunner, and director of The Acolyte is Leslye Headland (b.1980), another raving feminazi and now a militant Lesbian. Headland credits the Disney movie Frozen for the inspiration for The Acolyte, since she saw that movie as the equivalent, for a "queer person," of a Lesbian love story, between the two sisters, and she always wanted to make something like it. That this ended up being a Star Wars show seems to be incidental to the message of the whole thing; and it is not clear that Headland had ever actually seen a Star Wars movie.

Headland says that The Acolyte is something "by women, for women," which seems to mean that it does not need to have a general appeal, certainly not to traditional Star Wars fans, who were largely male. Similarly, all the publicity for the show highlights its "diverse" cast: a cast so diverse that the scene of children in the Jedi school does not include a single white boy. Thus, the story itself seems incidental to the same Disney DIE "message." Star Wars is just something to hang a batch of "progressive" propaganda on -- and it continues the "War Against Boys" identified by Christina Hoff Sommers -- or at least white boys.

Headland herself was a personal assistant to Harvey Weinstein. Yet her testimony about the rapes and harrassment committed by Weinstein is like Sergeant Schultz, who always said, "I see nothing! I hear nothing! I know nothing!" [John Banner, 1910-1973, in Hogan's Heroes, 1965–1971]. We are free to speculate about the moral lessons Headland learned from her boss. Certainly, Disney seems to judge women by their political commitments, not by their talent; otherwise they would not have fired the popular Gina Carano (from The Mandalorian), who is now suing Disney, backed by Elon Musk's money. Vicious activists recently tried to exclude Carano from a fan convention -- generating more enthusiasm for her than for almost anything else at the event.

Headland says that part of the appeal of Frozen for her was the "devilainization" (nice new word there) of the sister who seemed at first to be the villain. Headland has taken this to heart, since now the Sith in The Acolyte have become "underdogs," who are "misunderstood persons," and are to be understood from the "villain's perspective." This stands the Star Wars narrative on its head, since the point was always that the difference between good and evil was obvious -- so obvious that the bien pensants could sneer at the naiveté of the movies. No problem. That has been taken care of. The Nietzschean Nihilism of the cultural elite, and of Harvey Weinstein, is now what is operative. We are told that the story is not "about good or bad" but only "power." No kidding. That was, indeed, what Darth Vader had always said -- let alone Lord Voldemort. So there is no doubt that Leslye Headland has been seduced by the "Dark Side" in all its meaning.

The political agenda of The Acolyte, and its betrayal of the Star Wars ethic, was immediately obvious to fans and reviewers. The response, of course, is always to attack and smear them. Headland, Kennedy, and Iger always like to comfort themselves that objections to their work are from sexists, racists, and homophobes, a small "minority" of nasty (of course) men. Perhaps all men. How they explain the absence of an audience for movies like The Marvels [2023] or Madame Web [2024] is then a little mysterious, especially when the majority of (the few) people who did see them were men -- in the latter case, perhaps hoping to see Sydney Sweeney, who was, however, uglified, as demanded by anhedonic feminism.

The strategy of attacking the fans, of course, serves to drive away the audience that movies and shows need to be successful. The pipe dream of a "new audience" (of Leftist fanatics) never seems to quite realize. The irrationality of the strategy does not seem to dawn on its practitioners, which probably means that they just can't help it. If the motive for their work in the first place was always resentment, vindictiveness, and hatred, they can't really be expected to sober up suddenly for the sake of their own self-interest. It was always a crusade, where suicidal and self-destructive behavior could never be an objection to promoting "the message." If Headland and Kennedy wanted "Lesbians in Space," they were going to get it, regardless of its lack of general appeal (although naked Lesbians might help). The ideological step taken by The Acolyte, however, into the actual Nietzschean "Dark Side" is perhaps something new in its explicitness. Now we see what they are. May they have the enjoyment of it.

Gender Stereotypes and Sexual Archetypes

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