While the men whose behavior, and in some cases, character, was subjected to criticism took it in stride, the women not only reacted very badly to even the most mild criticism, but in several cases announced their intention to refrain from commenting in the future. This then led a few commenters to suggest that all personal criticism should henceforth be banned in the future. Susan, perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, responded with a solid post entitled Women Need Men:
We need to shift our way of thinking to acknowledge sex differences, and how the sexes, though different, can complement one another perfectly when we’re honest about the different wants and needs of men and women. In my opinion, this complementarity is a key part of successful relationships and, ultimately, marriage.Men know that women think very differently than they do, and for the most part, they accept this even if they don't necessarily like it. I'm not so sure most women do. But women can't have it both ways. They can't declare they don't need men and then expect to rely upon them. They can't share their personal problems which stem from personal choices and behavior and then expect to avoid personal criticism. They can't declare themselves to be the equals, or perhaps even the superiors, of men, and then run away crying the first time someone tells them that their decisions and actions were sub-optimal. They can't engage in discourse with men and expect men to talk to them in the same way other women do.
Some women understand this. But a surprising number, perhaps even most, simply don't. This is why I think some of Susan's critics - you know who you are, gentlemen - have been too harsh on her, because I don't think they fully grasp the severe difficulty, perhaps even the impossibility, of the task that she has voluntarily taken on. This isn't white-knighting, this isn't even defending a friend, it is a straightforward factual observation. What she is attempting to do matters, because men cannot fix the SMP on their own, except by old school force.
Think about it. How does one help young women question their assumptions and rethink their actions when they are hyper-resistant to even the appearance of judgment, let alone actual criticism? It is a real challenge, approaching the level of dichotomy, and I fear that Aristotle may have the only valid answer, as those who cannot bear the dialectic can only be convinced through rhetorical manipulation.
The old school may ultimately prove to be the eventual outcome. But at this point, it is not inevitable. If men are willing to be strong and truthful with themselves and others, if women are willing to be open and honest with themselves and others, it will possible for couples to escape the choice between the Scylla of the brothel and the Charybdis of the burqah that today's equalitarian society is presenting to us.
And if a man and a woman can escape it, so too can a society. Perhaps that is too optimistic. Most likely, the die is already cast in this regard, just as it is with regards to US demographics and the global economy. But we don't know that yet, and so we don't have to accept it.
I think it would be a mistake for Susan to shut down criticism and transform her site into a more intelligent Jezebel with math. But I don't think that is a mistake she is likely to make, and in any case, I would still support her mission of trying to help young women make the choices that will allow them to be marriageable in a society that sometimes appears to be doing its worst to eradicate the institution. Regardless of whether one thinks she is doing an optimal job of it or not - and I happen to think that she's doing rather better than anyone could reasonably expect - that is an objective worth suppporting.