There are so many recent examples of prestigious establishment media outlets publishing absolutely bonkers essays that could only have been produced by people so impacted by toxic ideologies that they are not properly oriented toward reality and actually belong in mental hospitals that it’s become impossible to link, and marvel at, them all. So I’m simply going to try to pick the occasional particularly exceptionally deranged example.
This week’s winner has to be Leslie Kern for her “‘Upward-thrusting buildings ejaculating into the sky’ â€“ do cities have to be so sexist?“:
Toxic masculinity is built into the fabric of our urban spaces, writes Leslie Kern, author of new book Feminist City. And the results arenâ€™t just divisive â€“ they can be lethal
Glass ceilings and phallic towers. Mean streets and dark alleys. Road names and statues of men. From the physical to the metaphorical, the city is filled with reminders of masculine power. And yet we rarely talk of the urban landscape as an active participant in gender inequality. A building, no matter how phallic, isnâ€™t actually misogynist, is it? Surely a skyscraper isnâ€™t responsible for sexual harassment, the wage gap, or even the glass ceiling, whether it has a literal one up top or not?
That said, our built environments can still reflect patterns of gender-based discrimination. To imagine the city and its structures as neutral places where complicated human social relations are staged is to ignore the simple fact that people built these places. As the feminist geographer Jane Darke has said: â€œOur cities are patriarchy written in stone, brick, glass and concrete.â€ In other words, cities reflect the norms of the societies that build them. And sexism is a deep-rooted norm.
As far back as 1977, an American poet and professor of architecture named Dolores Hayden wrote an article with the explosive headline â€œSkyscraper seduction, skyscraper rapeâ€. Hayden tore into the male power fantasies embodied in this celebrated urban form. The office tower, she wrote, is one more addition â€œto the procession of phallic monuments in history â€“ including poles, obelisks, spires, columns and watchtowersâ€, where architects un-ironically use the language of â€œbase, shaft and tipâ€ while drawing upward-thrusting buildings ejaculating light into the night sky.
If the sexism of the city began and ended with architectural symbolism, I wouldâ€™ve happily written a grad school essay about this then turned my attention to more pressing matters. But societyâ€™s historical and ongoing ideas about the proper gender roles for men and women (organised along a narrow binary) are built right into our cities â€“ and they still matter.
All versions of Leftism seem to boil down to pathological self-absorption, leading to the concoction of the most far-fetched sort of grievances, flattering the leftist’s self-importance and providing leverage for his (or her) gaining power through the guilt and sympathy of the normal majority.