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Oh Help. Oh Help. Oh Help
Getting what we seem to want

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(Last week I wrote “discrete” when I meant “discreet.” Write long enough and you do something stupid. Two often, one falls into one or to errors. Apologies.)


Here is a news item that I once might have made up as parody. It is hard, though, to imagine anything too absurd not to exist in a university.

Female Arizona State University students can receive extra credit for defying social norms and refusing to shave for 10 weeks during the semester.”

Accompanying the news of this enlightened policy was a photograph of the beneficiaries triumphantly exhibiting their armpits. The children were of course trying to shock, which is normal among adolescents. What once would actually have shocked is that the alleged adults in the alleged university encourage their alleged scholars in extended juvenility. (Stray thought: Why are so many feminists ugly enough to make a freight train take a dirt road?)

Said one of the participating students (I use the word so loosely that it might well cast off and set out into life on its own):

“The experience helped me better understand how pervasive gendered socialization is in our culture. Furthermore, by doing this kind of activist project I was no longer an armchair activist theorizing in the classroom. So much is learned by actually taking part in the theory or idea we learn in the classroom, and we could benefit from this type of pedagogy being taken up by similar classes.”

This solemn gibberish begs for parody, but on contemplation I am more sad than amused. These pitiable girls go through the forms of schooling, but learn nothing beyond a pseudo-intellectual drivel of pubertal rebellion. The story is not an anecdote but a condition, repeated at hundreds of pretend-universities across the land.

And this in institutions that once existed to pass along civilization.

The bleakness of American culture leads one to despair. Subtract technology and nothing is left. Music? Classical composition is dead. The symphony orchestras hold on by their teeth. Opera is unheard and almost unheard of. Book sales drop, and those that sell are mostly trash. Poetry is dead, Shakespeare a comic shorthand for ridiculous irrelevant pedantry.

Talented painters abound, but the nation has no interest in them. Sculpture means curious blobs and shapes said to be art and chosen by suburban arts committees. Theater? How many people have seen a play recently other than a high-school production?

In all the things that once marked civilization, the United States has become a desert, a waste of self-satisfied, pampered, arrogantly ignorant sidewalk peasants. This is curious, since anything the cultivated might want awaits on the web. One may think of Amazon as an automated fifth-century monastery, saving things of worth for an awakening centuries hence.

The female of the race being more susceptible to hysterias than the male, it is not surprising to see theatric idiocy of lofted armpits in departments of Women’s, Transsexual etc Studies. Males seldom show such symptoms of psychiatric stress as bulimia and anorexia. Yet a similar infantilism seems to affect the boys. Girls exhibit a desperate feminism while boys retreat into video games. In their mid-twenties both seem farther from adulthood than my generation was at sixteen. Why?

When I was a stripling in rural Virginia a dispiriting number of years ago, we rebelled with expected hormonal punctuality, knew more than our parents about everything, and behaved with the proper amount of reckless stupidity. Yet we did not cling to our pubescence. The reason, I think, was that we were trying to be adults before we were ready, rather than avoiding adulthood after it was proper. These are very different things.

It is traditional for the old to view their youth in roseate hues it never had and speak of walking barefoot twelve miles daily to high school through eighteen inches of shark-infested snow. We didn’t. Nobody in King George Country was hungry or close to it. I certainly was not.

Yet I remember getting up before first light in January (in, yes, sometimes a foot of snow) to run my paper route, which I did partly because it made me feel semi-grown up (and partly because I had my eye on a thirteen-foot Grumman canoe). It was no big deal. Kids did these things. We were, as they say, transitioning out of kid-hood.

To be sixteen, working the graveyard shift alone at Kriegstedt’s Esso on Route 301, fueling the big eighteen-wheelers that came howling in for diesel at three a.m., talking to the drivers as almost an equal—it was close to manhood. I liked it. We liked it. It was preparation for the big world. Marching for transgendered rights or getting our navels pierced would have seemed lunatic.

It still does. Different world.

Out of the Sixties came the cult of Relevance, meaning a fascination with things of no relevance, and a distaste for learning anything requiring either effort or maturity. Once the chain of cultivation breaks, how do you weld it together? That generation—I was once of them—swept into faculty lounges as a sort of jejune intellectual anthrax and turned the universities into political sand boxes. Soon we had departments of the utterly trivial, and courses like “Lesbian Chicana Theory in the Brazilian Favela.”

Before long there were few, and soon there will be fewer, who knew of the things lost, or why they mattered. Declining societies drink from the sumps below, so the values and dress of the black ghetto became the standard. There came rap music, which isn’t, and the dumbing down of everything to hide the deficiencies of the deficient. Now what?

The rot goes beyond the academic. The whole epicene circus smells of weakness of character. Watching our prancing half-men and furry co-eds, I wonder what would happen to them if it rained hard. America today lives in an unconsciously precarious equilibrium. Some two or three percent of the population grow food for an urbanized country that has never shot a rabbit, baited a hook, or existed other than in the world of McDonald’s, dope, and latchkey afternoons. They seem never to have been in a schoolyard fight, never had to take care of themselves, defend themselves, or to understand that one day they might have to do it.

What if one day Mommy, or Mommy Washington, isn’t around to take care of them? Any disruption—riots, for example, that stopped the flow of food trucks into the cities—would cause devastation.

We have become soft, mentally vacuous, helpless, a civilization on the brink. As the US subsides into–what?—I am gratified that, though feckless, unlettered, and helpless, our university girls will have hairy armpits.

(Reprinted from Fred on Everything by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology 

11 Comments to "Oh Help. Oh Help. Oh Help"

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  1. There will a reckoning. A new civilization will rise from the ashes. Life will be hard and people will strive for and achieve greatness. Then they will grow fat, dumb and rich, and the cycle will begin anew.

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  2. FR:“Lesbian Chicana Theory in the Brazilian Favela.”

    And, of course, the immigration of Latin American Amerinds and Mestizos is playing a huge role in the proliferation of such courses.

  3. Well said but what can be done about it. We seem like a runaway train with the passengers calling for more speed.

  4. Fred:

    With the crappy economy, family formation is harder, so people put off childbearing and, thus, adulthood. I’m not saying everything else you’re saying isn’t true also, but there are economic reasons for a lot of it.

  5. “And, of course, the immigration of Latin American Amerinds and Mestizos is playing a huge role in the proliferation of such courses.”

    Really? Please cite evidence to back up your claim or retract. Funny, I could have sworn you believe “these people” aren’t even capable of attending college.

  6. I have to agree with SFG, there is economic component to this disaster and it’s a big aspect of it. A lot of it can be pinned on Free Trade which decimated our manufacturing and tech base and put millions of families and men on the dole. That has had a corrosive effect on the white working and middle-class both economically and morally.

    For all intents the middle-class in this country has been hung out to dry by both the government and private sector.

    Then factor in the unending assault by Madison Avenue and Hollywood on our kids to turn them into mindless consumers and PC zombies and we have a disaster on our hands.

  7. Another view would be that young women refraining from shaving their armpits is the first sign of a reversal of civilisational decline: soon they’ll speak French, enjoy decent food, and indulge in intellectual badinage.

  8. Idle Spectator:”Really? Please cite evidence to back up your claim or retract.”

    I have a feeling that you must not spend much time in the trenches of academia. A course like “Lesbian Chicana Theory in the Brazilian Favela” is the meat and drink of Leftist Mestizo and Amerind academics. As for evidence, simply take a look at the CVs of such Hispanic “scholars” as Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa and Alicia Gaspar de Alba. The phrase mindless dreck comes to mind when one ponder their efforts.

    Idle Spectator:” Funny, I could have sworn you believe “these people” aren’t even capable of attending college.”

    Most are not. But there is affirmative action, not to mention majors in bogus subjects like “Chicano@ Studies.”

  9. “They seem never to have been in a schoolyard fight, never had to take care of themselves, defend themselves, or to understand that one day they might have to do it.”

    Anyone spending time around K-12 campuses sees an unescapable anti-bullying message. I wonder to myself why we think it so important to unlearn self-defense. Never aloud, of course – to voice such a thought would lead only to social approbation.

    “History is strewn with the wrecks of nations which have gained a little progressiveness at the cost of a great deal of hard manliness, and have thus prepared themselves for destruction as soon as the movements of the world gave a chance for it.”

  10. My ex-boyfriend was a river rafting guide. Among the river guide girls at rafting camp was a very, very pretty Italian girl who was nuts for my ex. She absolutely adored him and spent all her time trying to get him to go “marsh kayaking” and hot tubbing with her. Once right in front of me, she pressed her girlish charms against his chest and said, “Let’s go get slimed” (in regards to the, er, marsh, I assumed). My ex thought she was pretty and smart and nice and they had kayaking in common, but she had one major drawback that was a deal breaker, she didn’t shave her extremely hairy arm pits or legs. A little compromise and she could have had the man of her dreams. She was also very accepting of his lifestyle which was rare for a hippie chick. He was a hunter and would save animal and reptile skulls for her. She taught classes of blind kids and she would have them feel the skulls. Every time she came to pick up skulls her face would fall when she saw me. After she left my boyfriend would mention her hairy legs and shudder. After we broke up, he dated other, clean shaven ladies. All but for the want of a razor.

    On the other hand, my lesbian neighbor told her daughter that she would shave her own pits and legs on only 2 occasions of her daughter’s choosing. “Maybe for your wedding, she told her, but be sure to choose carefully.”

    It’s weird, most men shave their faces and don’t consider the practice to be a form of sexist oppression.

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  11. says:
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    Most European women don’t shave. The shaved arm pit it’s a creation of Gillette; the safe, cheap, widely available, razor. Not sexism. This “class” it’s pure garbage without any grounding on quantitative or qualitative, social study. We are simply using taxpayer money, via student loans, to subsidize the teaching of cognitive distortions. The pure mental masturbation of a fool hiding behind tenure.

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