The Nookie Principle has a great deal to answer for

 

This is the era of the LibDev, a refinement of the Dublin 4 Liberal, the term for someone who, while espousing liberal views, is happy to live in the slipstream of de Valera's Ireland. The LibDev belongs to the moment of transition between the final erosion of tradition and the as-yet-elusive attainment of his wet young dream of a liberal, tolerant and pluralist Ireland.

We find ourselves now at that much anticipated moment when, having all but obliterated the Ireland of our fathers, of de Valera and his dreams and speeches, of John Charles McQuaid, the Sacred Heart Messenger and Angela McNamara, we wonder what is supposed to happen next. The revolution which began in the slipstream of the 60s is all but complete. It is central to the belief system of the LibDev that he and his fellow travellers have utterly reinvented Ireland, that the Ireland of today bears no comparison to that of the past.

But all the while we stand on ground the LibDev seeks to eliminate. We sit on the branch we have sawed all but away. This is the paradox of Modern Ireland: it is built on the graves of those it despises. Our past is not simply irrefutable, it is an integral element of what we have become. The culture we live by is itself a product of values we are obliged to decry.

Irish liberalism is entirely a process of reaction against what is despised. Our spiritual life is defined by opposition to the Catholicism we try to shake off. We live in a State run by institutions which could not have been created by, or survived under, the ideologies now prevailing.

Supported by the flying buttresses of traditional Ireland, liberalism has not yet been called on to work on its own steam and, so, its values are untested against the hard reality of real life.

This makes inevitable the hypocrisy of the LibDev. The consequences of his political beliefs either do not impinge on the average LibDev's life or, at least, do so in a manner as to conceal the extent of his hypocrisy. The LibDev is in favour of divorce but not for himself. He is vaguely in favour of abortion as long as no clinic sets up on his road. He believes in social equity but also that the Government should ensure house prices do not fall.

The central feature of the LibDev is his adherence to philosophies and views which do not have to bear responsibility for their own consequences. The problem can most readily be observed in relation to gender and family matters.

We live in a society in which the dynamic of modernisation in social and family issues has come to be identified almost exclusively with improving the position of women. Men are not seen as in any way deserving of "compassion" or "equality". In fact, the success with which the LibDev belief system has been implanted means that any pro-male argument sounds trite and wrongheaded because the conventional wisdom holds that men are in control. This sleight-of-hand is made possible because the system, although ostensibly run by men, is actually run by men attempting to curry favour with women.

In a sense, the misandrists are right: men are the problem. Most LibDevs are vaguely male. Most men who have suffered discrimination in this society will tell you they have received more compassion from women within the system than from men.

This is a complex syndrome, but it has a fairly basic explanation. Men have always, for obvious reasons, sought the approval and affection of women. The sexual tactic of every heterosexual man yet born has been to convince women that all other males are untrustworthy and unworthy. In the feminist age, men have adapted this need, impulse and sexual tactic as a political response to enable them to survive in a changing world.

Under pressure to appear progressive and enlightened, men in positions of influence and power adopt misandristic attitudes because these allow them to a) withstand competition from other males; and b) court favour with women. The most printable name for this syndrome is the Nookie Principle, whereby men who are not themselves affected by the consequences of their public views or actions invariably speak and act as they imagine women want them to.

If you were to let this syndrome loose in the media, politics, the professions and official agencies, you would have the makings of a culture deeply hostile to men. And guess what . . .?

The odd paradox, therefore, is that the deeply misandristic impulse of our present culture and system derives primarily from men's refusal to come to grips with the implications of the present situation as it affects their gender rather than their individual selves. In general, men who have not (yet) fallen victim to, for example, the obscene system of Irish family law, have no empathy with those who have done so.

Men who are privileged within the system believe the best way of protecting their positions is to side with misandristic feminists. And, because we are in a period of transition, it is easy for such men to pretend they are embracing the realities of the new world while in reality clinging for dear life to the old. Thus, they can parade their feminist credentials and lambaste the culture of patriarchy while availing fully of that which they decry. Even the most neanderthal male can conceal his true nature by mouthing crypto-feminist inanities in public.

The latter-day LibDev can have it both ways: pay lip service to the modern world and the plight of the sisterhood all day, and then go back to his cosy homestead and the bosom of his unreconstructed and as-yet untested nuclear family, secure in the knowledge that the little woman will have the dinner on the table and his slippers warming at the hob.

jwaters@irish-times.ie