Salvo 05.19.2023 5 minutes

A Pronoun of Her Own

Ballerina standing on toes

Men seem to be fighting women’s corner more aggressively than women are.

Men are better at everything quantifiable. They are stronger and faster, and IQ tests skew toward the tails for men. We women will never match men in sports, though we are sometimes equal in exceptional intellect. Nobody wonders why we segregate men and women in basketball and tennis, but why is there a separate women’s chess champion?

Culture generally acknowledges that female bodies and minds have something qualitatively different to offer humanity. We can do one thing of which men are not capable—give birth to and nurse babies. And we are better at something illusive and immeasurable, at being women. We turn heads and we inspire artists and run households, even if we often give our husbands credit for that.

There is an entire genre of dance, the ballet, built, for a change, around the female sensibility. As I noted in The American Conservative, ballet was built on the hard work, sacrifice, and genius of women who fell in love with the form early in childhood and pursued the dream for many years.

Ballet emerged at the French court at the time of the Old Regime but became its true Romantic self over the course of the nineteenth century. In the decades that followed Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of The Rights of Women, ballerinas learned to dance on their toes to ascend as symbols of purity and otherworldly beauty.

Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, women excelled at ballet, just as they advanced in other spheres of life. But now the trans movement is laying its eyes on the female dream. Men calling themselves ballerinas, some of them grotesquely inadequate for the part, insist that they too can master the form—or, rather, that they can take over and change it.

Women’s rights advocates zoomed in on protecting women’s sports from gender dysphoric men. It’s easy to see why they chose athletics as their battlefield—the arguments write themselves. Special protections for women’s sports under Title IX were one of the major victories of Second Wave feminism; failing to rally in defense of Title IX reveals the hypocrisy and the cowardice of the twenty-first century feminist establishment. Furthermore, common sense knowledge backed by centuries of research shows that women can’t compete with men in speed and strength, so allowing men into women’s sports is objectively unfair.

Although the female category in athletics should be reserved for those of us born with double X chromosomes, when it comes to the male takeover of the female spheres, both public and private, it’s merely a side issue. Title IX wasn’t significant because your basic midcentury American male was eager to compete against his female counterpart. Title IX was important because, in general, male sports are more exciting and draw larger audiences. Resources had to be marshaled for girls so that their athletic activities could take root. Even with the field rigged in our favor, women were never able to match the commercial success of male athletics.

Americans don’t care very much for this type of entertainment. The viewership is just not there and professional sports don’t have that broad of an appeal among women. Little girls may like it just fine, but they are not mesmerized by basketball or boxing like they are by ballet.

It’s not just that it’s hard to rally the troops for an issue few feel is important. Let’s say we’ve hypothetically protected women’s sports. Now what? Gender activists never claimed that “trans women” are the same as “cis women.” They can concede the narrow argument that XY chromosomes make better Olympians and continue to insist that “trans women” are still women in their heads, which they find normal and healthy. The idea activists promote is that trans “women” are better than women, and their physical abilities only attest to that.

What matters more than sex-based athletic scholarships and salaries of professional athletes is the place that Western women occupy in society. And by that I don’t mean any kind of spectacular political or cultural achievements, but our everyday existence which forms the very foundation of our success. By that I mean things like meeting a girlfriend for coffee at an outdoor restaurant, then refreshing her lipstick in the bathroom mirror unbothered by men. Watching Pride and Prejudice on a popular streaming service or buying a flattering dress. We are visible, our preferences matter, and we can leave a mark.  

Our cultural achievements, like ballet, are contingent not on our superior physical strength, but on elusive unique abilities. Call it a feminine mystique. Because our strengths are subjectively defined they can be easy to deconstruct and to change.

Men can’t become women; the fact that we are dealing with imposters is painfully obvious. What men can do is redefine the acceptable cultural representations of women and declare that they are better suited to fill our positions. Save for childbearing, everything that we do in a society, from playing violin to mid-level management, can be done by a man. Men can step in and pick off the best.

American women, evidently, are not very good at resisting the takeover. Evolutionary psychology determinists argue to please the powers that be and comply with what’s socially acceptable. In this historical moment, the feminist leadership threw their lot with rag-tag left wing political influencers, willingly placing themselves in a subordinate position.

Men are harder to manipulate, which is why, for instance, the Bud Light commercials starring one-note female impersonator Dylan Mulvaney backfired. Budweiser is a male brand; men are visual and know what they like. They want to see a hot chick and are upset when they are offered anything less. Budweiser sales plummeted not because of some nefarious heteronormative political agenda but because men were repulsed by the site of Mulvaney in the bathtub wearing bright pink eyeshadow pretending to be a Lolita.   

Budweiser messed up. It appears that men are more likely than women to defend femininity because they admire it so much. When this battle in the culture wars is over, women might regret what they are left with.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

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