Jackie and Sabrina: Forbidding Criticism Tends To Make People Behave Worse
December 21, 2014, 05:52 PM
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In the comments, Paleo Retiree of Uncouth Reflections writes:

December 18, 2014 at 7:26 pm GMT

Back when I was in college in the ’70s there were a lot of girls like Jackie around: passionate, confused, depressed, scared, romantic, silly, boiling-over with feelings and hormones, prone to futile romantic pursuits and stupid game-playing … But they didn’t have smartphones, they didn’t have access to much in the way women’s studies and rape-counseling, they hadn’t been raised by over-encouraging helicopter parents, and the culture around them wasn’t in the grip of a politicized moral panic. So their dramas were confined to the campus or, usually, their small groups of friends. They dropped out, or went into therapy, or grew up. I haven’t seen anything yet suggesting that Jackie’s other than a fairly typical overdramatic freshman girl. It’s all the other factors that have changed.

Girls are getting nothing but positive feedback these days. Their feelings can be sweet and touching, and girls are largely made up of feelings anyway, so they shouldn’t be put down for their emotionality. But they really need more feedback and correction, and they really need to hear that their feelings often don’t reflect reality accurately. What we’re seeing these days is what happens when girls’ imaginations and feelings receive nothing but encouragement. It all spins out of control and whirls off into (and creates) weird fantasylands.

I’m a critic, so I’m prejudiced, but my general assumption is that criticism tends to make people behave better. Thus, forbidding criticism tends to make people behave worse by making it easier for them to ignore that they are behaving in ways stereotypical of their protected group. Getting called out for being a living stereotype is embarrassing, but we have taboos protecting much of the population from criticism for their most stereotypical moral failures.

For example, Jackie’s behavior is extremely girly, but how often did anybody dare call her out for that? (As I pointed out last year in Taki’s, mid-20th Century American highbrow / middlebrow culture was distinctly anti-feminist due to women being responsible in part for Prohibition: Suffrage and Prohibition were a package deal, and women spent half a century living that down. My guess is that all that criticism from H.L. Mencken and his countless male fans among the literati made women behave better.)

Similarly, Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s mindset is poisoned by her anti-Gentilism, her bigoted, hate-driven assumption that Kristallnacht is a nightly occurrence on Fraternity Row. For example, it appears to really bother her that the University of Virginia was founded by Thomas Jefferson — and that students at UVA are proud of that fact — rather than by one of her own ancestors.

But “anti-Gentilism” isn’t really even a word, so how can Sabrina be embarrassed that she’s a walking stereotype when anybody who mentions the stereotype is greeted with incomprehension or horror?