Against Matt Walshism
Definitely a fan of your work, however, I feel this one was off base.
First, we have to face the reality that the biggest sociopolitical change over the last 60 to 70 years has been the integration of women into the workforce and the larger political sphere.
This is the first time in human history that women - on a large global scale - have affected global economies in such real direct way and hold all levels of political influence in all of the richest countries in the world - from heads of state to the majority of our teachers, etc.
Therefore, "what women do" does indeed change everything. Any sociopolitical analysis that doesn't take this into account is unserious.
With no hyperbole, the mass integration of women into the global economy (and political sphere) is the most important "thing" that has happened since World War 2.
Thus I think that this article feels a little bit like a cherry-picking, barrel-of-the-bottom kind of reaction (if we react to Twitter extreme comments we can make saving puppies seem controversial) to a very real set of analyses that are made very seriously by many people.
I think the idea that Matt Walsh is particularly known as anti-woman and that "Matt Walshism" is primarily about misogyny is fairly disingenuous as well.
I think his vitriol is probably most pronounced in his work against LGBTQ - and interestingly, Walsh is quite well known for his pro-family (historically seen as a pro-woman stance) , and his constant battering on about how he has to protect his wife and his family.
So looking through another lens, this is a person that is just vitriolic with his push for family as opposed to individualistic values.
So when we see a woman go viral that embodies the "self-love individualism" (that as we have mentioned is tied to the greatest movement of the last 70 years) and she is championing this very hedonistic, very self-involved ("learning to a cook unique food for myself with a hangover") and frankly antagonistic framing ("don't do what society tells you do" - a.k.a. have a family and sacrifice your short term pleasure for long-term social development) set of beliefs while subtly insulting the family and insulting motherhood and all of these things that society "does" -
It's not really surprising that people who are very pro-family, pro-public and private sacrifice, pro-community, etc. etc .would have a strong reaction.
So overall, still a fan of your work. But I think this particular article feels a little bit short-sighted.
I thought we were past the point of thinking that rampant self-involved anti-family hedonism is okay for Modern America... for men or women.
I don't think it's nearly as complicated as we would like it to be. I am not sure how this kind of phenomenon looks like in Britain or in Europe, but in the US, Matt Walsh and his ilk perform this kind of vaudevillian schtick as red meat to their audience. I take the cynic's world view here, I don't think Walsh gives a damn about men, about women, about virtually anything aside from promoting his own brand, and his brand is Alpha Male Barbarism where guys are tough, women are submissive, and anything that goes against that line needs to be dealt with quickly and ferociously.
However, Mary, there is some fertile ground here for some more esoteric investigation that I think suits writers like yourself and Mr. Kingsnorth very well and that is the deeper dive into what I consider the Male Mystery Cults. If anything, one of the curious things happening in American culture at the moment are these various arguments to return to the primitive. I would have no doubts that Walsh and many like him also subscribe to paleo-dieting, buying ancestral supplements, and getting in touch with their inner warrior. Andrew Tate, who I think is adjacent to this discussion, only can do what he does because he is a kickboxer, because he is perceived as a warrior. Tucker Carlson's documentary on men was awash in pagan imagery, and I was more shocked that the theme of Conan didn't start playing at one point.
This is all the more interesting because C.S. Lewis predicted something like this would happen when society cannot make good on the double-demand of human nature when crafting something as complex as chivalry.
"In the world today there is an "enlightened" tradition which regards the combative side of man's nature as a pure, atavistic evil, and scouts the chivalrous sentiment as part of the "false glamour" of war. And there is also a neo-heroic tradition which scouts the chivalrous sentiment as a weak sentimentality, which would raise from its grave (its shallow and unquiet grave!) the pre-Christian ferocity of Achilles by a "modern invocation""
So while I do believe there is a mundane perspective in how you can look at this, there is definitely the potentiality of deeper and more mythic elements at play.
I found this to be little bit hostile. I don’t know the details around that woman’s post, nor all the subcultures you reference nor what you really mean by Matt Walshism. I watched “what is a woman” and generally found it useful.
To be honest I think the problem here is that liberal feminism has more or less indoctrinated most women into believing they’re a victim simply by existing. Whereas what they fail to grasp is that men essentially spend their life trying to serve divine femininity. So if there was some backlash against women online I personally think it’s more accurate to view it as a call for help from men that basically feel unseen/helpless. So while it’s not pretty attacking them back using that age old malleable slur “misogyny” is probably not helpful either. Your misogyny slur is their selfish slur or whatever, it’s just the other side of the same pointless coin.
In fairness, if a women is entitled to have an opinion on what the ideal man should be (and nearly all men crave this female acceptance), it’s hardly misogynistic for a man to express his view on what an ideal woman should be/do.
One more thing, we are interacting with archetypes online, not specific people. The Internet is a female god, basically the Devouring Mother consuming masculine virility. Many men are choosing to feed this god (unknowingly usually). In this instance this woman is probably Aphrodite and is basically attacked because she’s the wrong archetype threatening the Devouring Mother.
You appear to be speaking against a caricature of Matt Walsh, or perhaps confusing Matt Walsh with Andrew Tate. Matt Walsh speaks out strongly against the harms of dating apps, porn, and and pick-up culture. Many in the mansophere despise him, because he critiques immature or selfish men so strongly. He deeply respects and reveres his wife, and prioritizes family and children. He's one of the strongest voices targeting meat lego gnosticism, especially how the cult targets children. He's also highly critical of how the culture has come to despise children and parents, while revering selfishness and hedonism as "living your best life."
He's got a serious blind spot regarding economics. Being well paid with a decent employer himself, he has no idea how bad things are in the work world for most people. He seems to be unaware that many people WANT to start and raise families, but cannot afford to keep a roof over their head and put in the time necessary to raise children well.
But he's definitely NOT arguing that everything can stay the same, except what women do. He calls out hedonism and hostility towards children whether it's coming from men, women, or the entire culture.
One of the most disturbing aspects of the internet is that it facilitates the abstraction of the individual into a symbol (or a simulacrum if you will). Shorn of context, we become interesting because of what we are felt to *mean*. This seems to me to be a part of that much wider problem, and is responsible for a great deal of the growing bitterness between the sexes. The fact that one is a man or a woman (or a man or a woman of a particular type) is becoming fraught with Meaning, and we know where those dehumanising impulses tend us towards.
This was a horrible spectacle. It felt like a witch hunt.
I have no idea why the right wing have to be so authoritarian. I thought they were supposed to be in favour of people making free choices about their lives.
Scapegoating normie liberal women (and men) for all social ills is a big blindspot for many on the right.
Let’s build institutions to support marriages, families and intergenerational solidarity. We can convert normie libs to the truth with a positive and practical vision of life.
Really love your work but this feels like a misread - to the extent the dissident right attacked this influencers video, it is a way of attacking a literal avatar for a certain line of progressive liberal values. Unfortunatley, that avatar is a harmless 29 yr old woman.
What shes espousing is a kind of self centred individualism. One whos self proclaimed value is derived from consuming stagnant pop music and making exotic eggs.
This is all par for the course in 2023, but what has really set people off is the obvious and massive cope seeping out of every pore. She just LOOKS unhappy, and cant figure out why. People are attacking the artificiality which is at the heart of modern progerssive ideology.
You could read the vitriol as a kind of online exorcism.
Did Matt Walsh send rape and death threats to someone? I'm here for feminist critiques of his work, but his work does not appear rapey or deathly to me. (I haven't seen the tik tok or his video about it so forgive me if I missed something- I'll look them up).
The "normie lib women" who raised me did in fact give me powerful information, on repeat, which did lead me to be raped, and led also into pretty deathly paths, which I am grateful to have survived.
Growing up in the 70's was like that from both my dad and my mom, so I don't mean to only blame the women for the weird worldview I internalized. My Dad also gave me crazy information about my sexuality by having pornography everywhere and telling me "sex is my power". Then mom, step mom, and aunt all made sure I knew the details of their multiple abortions. My virginity and fertility was something to be gotten rid of, not sacred, special or powerful. My fertility in fact has brought me the most joy and wonder of any other aspect of myself, and I am quite a dynamic woman.
Some normie lib women do a great deal of harm to other women. I often ask women what a truly feminist world would look like for them personally...I'm trying to inspire some coherent thinking, based in this moment, not my mother's generation. We have to look clearly at social factors working against the forming of families and communities, the foundation of healthy human beingness. I do agree with that point. You always do an amazing job of that.
I like Matt Walsh for the way he loves kids and speaks so respectfully of his wife. It's an antidote to the "men only want one thing" claim that I've found to be super unrealistic and harmful to humans.
Great article, Mrs Harrington. And welcome back; the whole class has missed you!
1) never look to Matt Walsh for a good version of an argument. 2) every feminist commentator has missed this: to understand the central problem, take this woman, her story and switch the gender. Imagine a guy saying he is loving his child-free, relationship free no social responsibilities lifestyle. He was out geting hammered after a Post Malone concert, plaid video games all day, had no responsibilities to the family the bore him, the society that tolerates him, or to building a sustainable future. We would consider that man trite and pathetic, and lacking a needed sense of shame. Matt Walsh criticizes men for these things, too, none of which prooves he is not a dickhead, but he is consistent. But, now let's imagine the one gender-specific ingredient here: the woman saying these things on Tik-Tok is elevated to a social movement, justice and transcendence. All for just being the type of individualistic brat we have all been raised to be, she becomes a warrior for justice. Nobody likes to see a woman get piled on, even when she is spouting CCP boosted, socially destructive propaganda. So, what was missing in this was what I might call chivalry. Cheers, you are doing amazing work, I am sorry to partially disagree.
I read you, since I heard you on( I think) Andrew Klavan. I admire your intellect and your willingness to engage publicly. I am a country housewife, childless, almost sixty. My marriage is necessarily old-fashioned because acute bowel illness and its surgical consequences have shaped it since I was four. I need to be taken care of and watched over; I am not a workhorse. I enjoy cooking, baking, gardening, needlework, crosswords, and my very fluffy cat.
It's very quiet here. Often, when I bake, I listen to Klavan, Knowles, Shapiro, or Lisa Booth. I also like Matt Walsh. I don't have to agree with any of these people all the time to enjoy their company.
My parents were well-educated; I was raised to be analytical. But, Mary, I often find it exhausting when people in the public sphere -- both of whom I like -- fight with each other. I know it's necessary, and you are sharpening and refining your own beliefs, which is important for you to do. Really, I respect that.
I can't help but feel, though, that what's been good for me might be good for you. And that's gardening. Or listening to music while hand-stitching piecework. (I like to make patchwork dogs from feedsacks and velveteen, and Scrabble-tole bags from bits of old silk velvet, with satin lining so it feels nice when you slip your hand in. Sometimes my husband reads aloud to me while I sew. He has a low, soothing voice.)
I guess what I'm getting at is, Your life is for you and about you. Since I am older than you, and like both you and M.W., perhaps Iay advise you. Sometimes you have to let people be who they are. Gloss over a bit; forgive. Not to back down, but to make common cause where you can. And Walsh for sure supports your motherhood. He'd go to war to defend you and your infant, because he's an old-fashioned man.
I published a novel at thirty. It came out in ten languages and got nominated for three awards. All the attention rattled me. The young all seem to want to be famous! But I grew up in a teaching hospital, and I value my privacy. The innocence I felt when writing it ("I'll make myself understood!") was lost, even as it met critical acclaim. (Everyone read a different book, of course.) You cannot -- I'm so, so, sorry -- make yourself understood by the masses.
You are hellaciously smart, a pleasure to read, and a damned good mother, I'm certain of it. Don't drive yourself mad shadow-boxing. There's a limit to how much we can affect The World Out There.
As I type, I'm couchbound, very ill with Crohn's flareup. (Usually quite busy canning at home, and have, in last 8 mos, taken job cooking for tiny tots at a nonprofit daycare. Thirty-five under-fives who eat most of their calories there, and none of the adults know how to cook! I stepped in because, having grown up in on hospital food, or pained me to see them fed from packages, indifferent, factory-produced food.)
I long to get out to the garden, see what's new. Or to sit up and knit. But I'm on my back, in and out of sleep. Please, please, enjoy your life. Make soup. Knit something while listening to music. Be sure you feed your soul from the real world, in real time.
I'll get your book. I want to see what you wrote when you can consider, reflect, and comeback to what matters on the page. I feel unsure of this "off-the-cuff"ism that is now the thing. I know I've benefited from having manuscript sit for a period of months. I think there's a temptation to "rush in," like a fool, when nettled, in this oh-so-immdiiate form. Perhaps this doesn't bring outthe best in anyone.
What strikes me most about this is not this young woman's decision not to have children (there are countless people who did have children who should have thought longer and harder about their fitness to be parents - though I suspect that doubts about her "fitness" aren't her issue), but the eagerness to reduce the whole of who she is to this single choice. There are so many aspects to all of us (contradictory, many of them, but that's just being human), but I'm damned if I'm going to choose one - political, religious, sexual, aesthetic, whatever - and reduce myself to just that. But so many now seem to want to say. "THIS and only THIS is what I am", and then place whatever THIS is in opposition to everyone who is not THIS but THAT.
I don't like it.
I feel Walsh's abrasiveness is a product of social media. People tend to get more likes on Twitter when they engage in hyperbole and snark.
A classic ending paragraph, Mary Harrington!
"All the lonely people, where do they all come from?"
It’s simple, really, Mary. Men always have a social, or physical, slap in the face waiting for them behind some warning sign - “do not proceed - turn back”. We get arrested - sometimes violently. We get impaired, sometimes wheelchair bound for life, for stupid physical displays (peacocking, anyone?) We run off to join ill-conceived wars, only to return estranged from mankind after the gutting of trust we place in our species. Matt Walshism is an acceptance of the necessity to throw up, however crude or harsh, analogous warning signs for women. Why? Because, apparently, women are loathe to say no to one another. So it is left to men to throw up those warnings, now that we see the necessity ... because we have the stomach for it. I was ready to die as a young man, in the Armed Service of my nation. Sure ... it was plenty harsh. But it also delivered a painful wisdom. We’re at the point that painful wisdom, imparted to women, is better than no wisdom at all. (And I used to be such a nice little boy - I’m all cashed out, now.)