In history, have more brains ever been more racked over anything less knowable than in analyzing the recollections of the teens Ford and Kavanaugh from back in 1982? (The Dreyfus Affair, maybe). Have more media ever before been spilled over less content? Now that the results are in, we can see that the only non-distorting coverage of this matter would have been the constant running of a crawl: “Nobody knows. Nobody can know,” over everything said. We had a narrow frame of time to know what happened between them, because the Republicans ran out a politically expedient clock on a stopwatch set by the Democrats for political expediency when they failed to disclose the Dr. Ford’s sexual assault allegations in a timely fashion (“disclose” would occupy Dr. Ford’s sense of irony, given the normal confidentiality expectations of a sexual assault victim).

The whole Kavanaugh confirmation process came down to naked political calculus. All of the bloviating and principle-parsing nonsensical, except for their use as a tribal loyalty test. From this affair Americans are supposed to draw grand conclusions of our state of intersex advancement? From this affair Americans are to craft yet more new laws and procedures to avoid a repeat of what was caused by the goblin political class that wields the procedures?

The last obvious point to dispense with here is the libertarian mantra: “And THIS is the process you want determining your healthcare?”

Let’s try for some perspective with a step back to look at the intersex forest through the intersex trees. Particular thought should be spared for the enormity of what modernity is trying to achieve: the sexual revolution was barely starting, with the invention of contraception, in this writer’s lifetime. The technology suddenly overturned two millennia of sexual norms (the religious aspect of the change is too big a subject to be included here). “The Pill” and the industrial mechanization that has dampened the male physical advantage remade the gender roles that go back more than the fifty millennia of recorded human history, and down the entirety of the evolutionary record. These tectonic shifts have been almost entirely technological: women insisting on equal rights to serve on, say, a New Bedford whaling ship from two Centuries ago would be silly. And very few voices in the modern world contest that women are entitled to stand as equals in the technological workplace (the true origin of the West’s conflict with Islam, in my opinion). All of which would seem a really good argument to declare victory in the war of the sexes, the remaining issues outliers in the grand context, to be solved amongst we individual adults using trail and error, and shift our attentions to other problems. Why can’t we do that?

Because our societal adaptations have not been as successful as our technological ones. In every society modernized by birth control, demographics has evolved to all but guarantee that culture’s eventual extinction. Only in the USA, by virtue of our acceptance of immigration, has the demographic trap been fully mitigated. How modern societies will continue their social welfare states with shrinking populations combined with diminishing productivity is anyone’s guess. The rich culture of, say, Italy has never been threatened by any of the many wars she ever fought. With modern social/sexual mores, cultural death looks inevitable. Shouldn’t cultural success also to be measured by sustainability?

Our societal adaptations have not solved the issue of the breakdown of the family structure (and may have exacerbated it), which is the primary driver of entrenched poverty. Every form of social ill, from criminality, to drug abuse, to welfare dependence, to replicating the entrenched-poverty welfare cycle, correlates to family breakdown. The 2/3rds annihilation of the basic family unit in some communities, has been, in effect, a nationalization of the family with state welfare. Our step back should make this approach seem incredible, given how industrial nationalization worked out (everywhere and always it’s been tried). The counter-argument: “what choice did we have?” is given lie by the fact that we only ever utilized one approach to solving the problem: the only one required by law. Given the results, the arrogance of mandating the approach by criminal and civil sanction should also seem incredible.

Start with the legal system. Here is a down-home aphorism: “one lawyer in town and he rides a mule, two and they both drive Cadillacs.” Just ask around the next dinner table you’re at: “who here wants a lawyer to come in and fix problem X” and poll how many say “yes” (given the problem was not created by a lawyer). America has 5% of the world’s population, yet needs 30% of its attorneys (and rising). We spend more on litigation, by far, than anyone else in the world. Criminally, we incarcerate more people than the rest of the developed world combined. Our courts are choking to death on the caseload.

Even if we concede that the legalistic approach was once justified, we must now realize our legalistic bolt is spent, as a pragmatic case for legal reform eclipses the one based on moral principle that libertarians have always been making. We don’t have the jail space for more sex offenders. We don’t have courts enough to entertain the complaints the lawyerly army brings as it is now.

We are cheek-by-jowl in lawyers, yet sex beasts with the means to assemble their lawyerly army are immune from consequences for decades, as we saw with Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein. For the rest of us, legal fees which can value our house make using the courts to solve the outstanding issues of workplace sexual business a “process is the punishment” prospect. With stakes this high, amiable conflict resolution, with a peaceful evolution of workplace gender roles cannot be expected. The litigious approach is world-beatingly expensive, ineffectual (to hear so many of the ladies tell it, as seen in the growing power of the #MeToo movement), and increasingly unacceptable to men, too.

Which brings us to politics: we have abundant evidence (part of the reason for Trump’s outlier rise) that the tolerance of men with the status quo is also wearing thin (whatever the merit), as men weaponize their own grievances. There is nothing like an actual fight to reduce complex issues to exercising in binary army building. A NY Times Op Ed called the females in the Senate who voted for Kavannah’s confirmation “Gender Traitors”. Does that make the men who voted against Kavanaugh gender traitors too? Or is it that the men who voted for his confirmation are garden-variety traitors? To try to parse principles here is to invite insanity (ah, that’s right, tribal politics, never mind). Meanwhile, our non-coercive evolutions have brought women superior attainment in higher education. Demographically, the better-educated women will overtake men’s salaries very soon. Societies get knowledge increase, grow richer, and get gender-role improvement with hardly a shot fired. (Will men be entitled to affirmative-action then, or is that just a gender-shakedown? If women agree fair is fair, are they “gender traitors”?)

The Kavanaugh affair should be seen as evidence we have reached the limit of what political solutions to this problem can offer us, and alternative ways around need finding, just as ways need to be found around our clogged courts. Political progress on gender issues seems, for the foreseeable future, destined to oscillate slightly (though furiously) within the narrow poles of the status quo. While technology, as it has before, if allowed to, unlocks the stalemate.

Whereas the evolution across hundreds of thousands of years of gender roles had been written in the stone of female child-bearing and male physical strength, now the evolutionary parameters are written in stone by the two most dysfunctional institutions in America: the legal and political systems. And the result: the start of discussions of dividing the Union, not talked of since the Civil War. Then, when lawyers made up a tiny percentage of the population, we got one word of clarity to define the struggle: Slavery. I’ve long proposed a “Nicholas rule” for the making of war, which states: if the reason for a war cannot be stated in a simple declarative sentence, the war aim is too abstract for wars’ blunt instruments. Now, for the price of war what word do we get? Certainly not “inequality.”

Slavery, versus the cleaving we have come to in gnawing over divinations into the meanings of a high schooler’s calendar, in our giant tribal-loyalty Rorschach test. Thanks a lot, lawyers and politicians (mostly one and the same).

In giving them this power we deserve whatever we get.

Eugene Darden Nicholas

About Eugene Darden Nicholas

Eugene Darden (Ed) Nicholas is from Flushing Queens, where he grew up sheltered from the hard world, learning the true things after graduating college and becoming a paramedic in Harlem. School continues to inform and entertain in all its true, Shakespearean glory. It's a lot of fun, really. In that career, dozens of people walk the earth now who would not be otherwise. (The number depends on how literally or figuratively you choose to add). He added a beloved wife to his little family, which is healthy. He is also well blessed in friends and colleagues.


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