Is there a word for this kind of thing? There needs to be. Via Vox Day’s Alpha Game site:
Being on the subways and streets of New York while female used to mean walking through a veritable gauntlet of harassment and catcalls. But lately, a curious thing has happened – my world is a much quieter place. The comments and lascivious stares from men have faded away the older I’ve gotten, leaving an understandable sense of relief. But alongside that is a slightly embarrassing feeling of insecurity that, with every year that goes by, I become more and more invisible to men.
So far, so much typical feminist whining. But let’s examine the title of the original piece:
Men rarely catcall me any more. I hate that our culture makes me miss it
Someone break that down for me, grammatically. Anyone remember how to diagram a sentence?
There needs to be a term for this weird passive-voice, gassy-noun leftist syntactical tic, since it seems to enable a lot of their parathought. Look at what happens if you describe common life events feminist-style:
My team lost the big game. I hate it that the other team made me feel this way.
I caught a summer cold. I hate that medicine hasn’t found a way to make me feel less bad.
I got caught behind an accident on the freeway. I hate that the city managers’ arbitrary placement of off-ramps made me late for my 10 o’clock meeting.
See what I mean?
Valenti hated being catcalled, because it’s rude. But she kinda liked it, because it let her know that men found her sexually attractive. For normal people, that’s just how the world goes — I love the way that triple heart attack burger with mega-fries tastes, but man oh man do I hate what happens on the scale (and in the toilet) the next morning. It takes a special kind of stupidity — and, I’m coming to believe, this particular syntax trick — to make a simple fact of life into a grand Social Justice crusade.
Let’s break it down. The first sentence
Men rarely catcall me anymore
is straightforward English prose — subject (men), verb (catcall), object (me). This is the simplest grammatical construction there is. There’s no doubt about who is doing the action (men), what the action is (catcalling), and the object of the action (Valenti).
But now let’s look at that second sentence.
I hate that our culture makes me miss it
That’s quite a bit trickier. Meta-grammatically (or whatever the term is; apologies in advance to any linguists reading this), it’s a basic subject-verb-object arrangement — “I” is the subject, “hate” is the verb, and that other stuff is the object. But the object is, in itself, a second sentence: “our culture makes me miss it.” Here’s where the trick happens.
Notice the shift into passive voice. Valenti, who started the sentence by hating, is now the direct object. The subject is “our culture,” which, as I’m sure y’all are aware, isn’t a sentient being. In the space of a single clause, we’ve gone from Valenti as a subject, using a very strong action verb — “hate” — to a passive object. She doesn’t miss being catcalled; this amorphous thing called “our culture” makes her miss it.
I know, I know, I’m belaboring a pretty obvious point, but it’s important, y’all. This way of talking — this way of thinking, if we can call it that — is how feminists and other marxoids stay white-hot angry at things they know nothing about. If “our culture” were different, would she still miss being catcalled? Or would she no longer hate missing it?
She doesn’t know, and you can parse her op-ed like a medieval scholastic without finding out. The closest thing we get to a definition of “our culture” is here:
But when you’re brought up to feel that the most important thing you can be is attractive to men, the absence of their attention – even negative attention – can feel distressing.
Again, notice the passive voice* here, the lack of subject. Who, exactly, brought you up this way, sweetie? Isn’t your hate — your word — much more appropriately directed at them than at “our culture”? I mean, you can always ask Mom and Dad why they made the parenting choices they did; it’s a lot harder to put culture as a whole into the dock.
I do care [about not being catcalled] in some way that sits uncomfortably with my politics…
Yet another confusion is introduced, by yet more passive voice. I’m getting a mental image here of a great battle taking place in poor Jessica’s head
with “our culture” and “my politics” slugging it out while the lady herself is, at best, a stenographer. Gee, I wonder who will win?
I know that my reaction is normal, considering the culture I’ve grown up in, as much as I know that my self worth does not depend on what strangers think. But I do wish there was more nuance in conversations about aging, beauty standards and feminism – room enough to admit without shame the complicated feelings we can have about it all.
Two points here. First, reread the end of the opening sentence at try not to giggle: ” as much as I know that my self worth does not depend on what strangers think.” But Jessica, darling, your whole piece is nothing but agony over what strangers think! You just got done wondering if you’ve spent your “last fuckable day” (it’s adorable when girls cuss, by the way; so empowering), and telling us you shamefully assume you look particularly good when you do get catcalled. Again, it’s as if you’ve got two different beings inside your head — the active voice one, who tells us how you really feel, and the passive voice one, who tells us you’re very very good at ignoring yourself.
And then there’s this gem: “room enough to admit without shame the complicated feelings we can have about it all.” Here again, we see how this gassy-passive thing transforms common everyday experience into a huge metaphysical problem. Nobody likes getting old, my little chickadee. And you can take it from me, even us macho white heterosexual patriarchal types feel a bit uneasy about losing our sex appeal. Hell, I’m practically the fuckin’ Marlboro Man if wymyn’s studies textbooks are to be believed, and even I felt a disturbance in the force, by which I mean my balls, when I switched gyms recently and went from being one of the bigger guys in the room to one of the smaller ones.
Pictured: Me, according to feminism
It’s an odd kind of question begging, isn’t it? We need a word for this. Suggestions?
*Yes, humorless internet pedants, I’m broadening the sense of “passive voice” here. Grammatically, passive voice is when subject and object are reversed — “The play was written by Shakespeare” versus “Shakespeare wrote the play.” But I need a broader tone to make my point, so deal with it.
UPDATE: A former grammar teacher points out that “broadening the sense” of words is what proggies do, and so “passive voice” won’t fly. I’m asking for suggestions here. As a placeholder, I’m going with “opossum voice.” The opossum trundles along through its day until it encounters a threat, at which point it flops over and plays dead until the threat moves on. Then it hops back up and trundles on as if nothing had happened. Which pretty much describes this “I hate…. society makes”-type construction.