As regular readers of this blog will be well aware, back in the comparatively innocent days of January 2017 we published a piece – inspired by an article at the magnificent Fashion Artista – which exhorted women to help make relationships great again, in large part by recognising the power that they have to reject mediocre processes and outcomes.
However, since the recent, explosive and murky revelations involving the now former CEO of The Weinstein Company – accusations which are themselves giving birth to a seemingly endless and grotesque reel of similar allegations against all manner of entities – it has quickly become apparent that the relationship scene in much of the developed world is even worse than we thought: a broadly post-religious, post-modern milieu which is not merely defined by empty sex, but arguably some seriously abusive practices which are rapidly corroding the very fabric of the individual.
Given this reality – and to avoid a situation where the human interaction environment resembles a zero-trust zone in which the only winners are lawyers – there is, perhaps now more than ever before, an absolutely desperate need for some new rules which help obviate the desecration of male-female relationships. After some contemplation, here they are:
- The ‘Serie A Handball’ Rule. Those soccer fans with even a passing familiarity with Italy’s Serie A will have noticed an intriguing development in recent seasons: that of defenders placing their hands behind their back at the mere possibility of an incoming aerial pass into the penalty area by the opposing team. The reason they do this is to avoid any suggestion that they might intentionally handle the ball and give away a spot-kick. Similarly, men in positions of power over females should adopt a zero ambiguity approach pertaining to physical contact that leaves no doubt as to their good intentions.
- The ‘Female Sexual Desire Exists’ Rule. A longstanding moral precept in Western Christian and even post-Christian culture is the idea that women are – somehow – not supposed to show interest in sex. This is problematic on many levels, but the key point here is that it deprives women of agency in relationships: because they are not meant to display certain emotions and desires, this in turn gives creepy predators a kind of cultural licence to proceed with nefarious acts on the grounds that lukewarm reactions to even wanted sexual advances are normalised. Conversely, in traditional Chinese, Islamic and Japanese cultures, fulfilment of female sexual desire is itself perceived as a sublime goal, so long as this takes place in the right context. Comprehending these teachings in their fullness is not merely viable; it is urgent.
- The ‘Just Be’ Rule. When women are (i) not under constant threat of being intimidated, groped, or worse; and (ii) respected as people who have a powerful and discerning sexual dimension that is not afraid to make itself known, the psychological space to develop deep emotional connections can appear. And men can, in turn, relax and just be, safe in the knowledge that females – who are an order of magnitude more obsessed with love, sex and relationships than most males can ever realise – will not hesitate to let a man they like be aware of precisely that fact. Moreover, this system incentivises non-predatory behaviour whilst rewarding virtue; it represents a serious upgrade on today’s degraded dynamics.
Since the tumultuous geopolitical events of 2016, analysts of all stripes have been struggling to come to terms with what appears to be a general and decisive shunning of Western liberalism. Those analysts who have ventured into explanatory territory have consistently cited reasons such as (i) the chasm between the super-rich and practically everyone else; (ii) the rise of the alt-right; and (iii) external interference in the smooth functioning of democratic procedure by ‘spoiler’ authoritarian states.
All of these rationales have their merits. But there is one other catalyst behind Western liberalism’s apparently sudden decline which virtually no one seems to have seriously raised, let alone expounded upon: the disenchantment engendered by political ‘products’ which desperately failed to live up to their sales pitches.
Rewind to 2008: the world is becoming engulfed in a financial crisis of gargantuan proportions; the wildly misnamed Operation Iraqi Freedom is on its way to accounting for the deaths of over one million people; and the American working and middle classes are starting to feel material squeezes of a kind not sensed since the Second World War. Barack Obama is not perceived so much as a solution to these intractable problems as a messiah: the man who is going to resurrect the United States economy, empower the disenfranchised demographics and bring about world peace. Yet after a solid eight years of Obamadom, systemic fiscal instability, unyielding militarisation and gross inequality were at least as bad as they were on 20th January 2009, when the indubitably iconic African-American first took office.
Aung San Suu Kyi is another exemplar of the same ilk. Consistently portrayed as a secular saint for decades, she became synonymous with the very concept of human rights. Yet in power, she has spectacularly – some would say, cynically – permitted a human rights catastrophe within her own jurisdiction.
When Nobel Peace Prize laureates promise salvation in opposition but deliver infernal outcomes once inaugurated, it should come as no real surprise that the general public is less than enchanted with a system that they perceive as fundamentally broken. The deeper tragedy is that Western liberal values risk being permanently degraded – not because they are necessarily thought of as exceptionable per se, but because their purported champions are viewed as essentially fraudulent.