May 14, 2013
An enlightened solution to the "military rape problem"!
The outspoken mayor of Osaka is under fire not only from the government but from members of his own party for saying that the use of “comfort women,” some of whom were forced into prostitution, during World War II was necessary for the morale of Japanese soldiers.
Toru Hashimoto, co-leader of the Japan Restoration Party, made the comments during a news conference Monday.
“Whether it was of their own volition or against their will, the comfort women system was something necessary,” he said. “For military morale back then, it was probably necessary.”
Who says women don't have a role to play during wartime?
On days when we're tempted to despair, it's good to contemplate the fact that other nations have politicians who are even more clueless than ours.
May 06, 2013
Notice how many of them are men.
May 01, 2013
We had no idea this sort of thing was going on amidst the peonies and daylilies:
Nothing sounds more harmonious than a virgin sisterhood all labouring to help their ageing mother, but everything changes in mid-summer when the females suddenly turn on each other and the nest is rife with cannibalism, infanticide and incest.
This ensues when the queen begins laying unfertilised eggs from which, by a quirk of bumblebee genetics, males are born.
All would be well if the female workers were happy to look after their new brothers but, although celibate, they are also able to lay unfertilised eggs and can thus have sons of their own.
The result is bumblebee bedlam as mothers, sisters and daughters battle over whose sons will survive, eating each other’s eggs and biting and stinging one another. Sometimes, the queen is even killed by her daughters.
The males who have survived the in-fighting go on to mate with new queens from other nests, but will also happily impregnate those from their own nests, including their sisters. Their sole purpose in life now served, they will soon die.
So, too, will the female workers, the only survivors of the nest being the new queens who, once mated, enter hibernation. They will remain dormant until the following spring, when they are ready to begin this fascinating cycle of life all over again.
Bee careful, peoples. It's a jungle out there.
April 25, 2013
The Dove "Real Beauty" Sketches for Men
April 18, 2013
Those Pesky, Long Term Trends
This chart fascinated me:
Two things that leapt out at me:
1. In the early 20th Century, about half of unmarried women 25-54 did not work. How did they survive? Did they live with siblings? Parents? Were they (perhaps) performing domestic work in return for their room and board that did not show up in official labor statistics? Were there large numbers of Naughty, Kept Women roaming the fertile plains?
Remember: this is before the social safety net supposedly made women into mindless, zombie-like wards of the state :p That 50% of single adult women didn't work is a surprising number to me.
2. The steep increase in the percentage of married women who worked from 1920-1960. This is the much mourned golden age of Leave it to Beaver fame, where women lived lives of blissful contentment in suburban houses with white picket fences.
Now admittedly, two World Wars and a Great Depression occurred during a fairly short period of time (1920-1945). But the acceleration only increases after that time increment... before The Pill, and before Betty Friedan came along to tell us how miserable and oppressed we were.
This reminds me of the long term trends we observed with divorces (not to mention the inconvenient decline in divorce rates once No Fault became the law of the land):
I never fail to be amazed the power of looking at a longer time window. One other sentence from the linked post struck me as odd:
In a previous post I suggested that stalled progress [emphasis mine] resulted from feeble work-family policy, anti-feminist backlash, and weak anti-discrimination enforcement.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but that sounds like a narrative in search of supporting evidence. Why should "progress" be defined as lots of married women working? What evidence do we have that the majority of married women want to work outside the home?
"Progress", in this woman's view, consists of families having the freedom to arrange their lives in ways that make them happy and prosperous. Being a two wage earner couple is not the only path that leads to that end, especially when one considers the costs (both social and economic) of day care.
April 12, 2013
The last stanza always just takes my breath away.
I can hear you downstairs crying on the phone
Telling someone that I'm here but you still feel all alone
Maybe we were too young?
"Goodbye, I've gotta go"
I can hear the baby waking up
Got to get back to the life I know
I should have never believed him
Maybe I should just leave him?
Maybe I'm not, but you're all I got left to believe in
Don't give up on me
I'm about to come alive.
And I know that it's been hard
And it's been a long time coming
Don't give up on me
I'm about to come alive
No one thought I was good enough for you
(Except for you).
Don't let them be right, after all that we've been through.
'Cause somewhere over that rainbow
There's a place for me -
A place with you
Maybe I'm not, but you're all I got left to believe in
Don't give up on me
I'm about to come alive.
And I know that it's been hard
And it's been a long time coming
Don't give up on me
I'm about to come alive
In every frame upon our wall
Lies a face that's seen it all.
Through ups and downs (and then more downs)
We helped each other up off the ground.
No one knows what we've been through
But making it ain't making it without you.
April 05, 2013
Situational Awareness Is Not All That Complicated
... this is the point when guys complain that they are cursed if they do and cursed if they don’t, and you wind up with scenarios like this, where a “post-gender-normative” man is rejected by a woman in a bar and concludes by saying “I thank you for your time, which was equal to mine.”
“You are creating a hideous nightmare dystopia,” they say, “where I am confronted with a beautiful woman in a very fetching black dress and I have to stare at her and say, ‘What a great Thursday! I have never felt more strongly that you were my intellectual equal!’”
I think we need a variant of the comic-book Hawkeye Initiative. How about the McCain rule? If you wouldn’t say it about John McCain — don’t say it about Hillary or Michele or Michelle or Kamala. “And before we finish introducing war hero and veteran public servant Senator McCain, allow me a moment to comment on his raw physical magnetism. Hottie with a legislative body, right there!” “Senator McCain, looking especially fetching in a variant on his usual two-piece suit ensemble, bestowed smiles on all around him.” “Senator McCain’s Haircut: Three Tips To Achieve The Look.”
Certain compliments are worse than insults. It’s not just the back-handed– “You look so much healthier now” — or my favorite that I’ve actually heard someone deliver, “Oh my gosh, that shirt. It’s — it’s so you.” It’s like the beginning of that New York Times obituary for a female rocket scientist that first complimented her skills in the kitchen. True, sure. And I’m sure it took effort. But it seems like a waste of time spending years studying and working hard, just to get the exact caliber of compliment you would have gotten if you had just stood on the street corner in sweatpants near a construction site. “Oh, hey, you’re a nationally respected [Blank]!” these compliments say. “Here is a compliment on your looks, over which you have comparatively limited control and into which you did not put years of effort! You’re welcome!” Remember all the chatter about John Edwards’ hair? It’s dismissive — whether intentionally or not.
“So what should he have said? Nothing?” Yes.
Setting aside the usual howling about (and often by) feminists, this really isn't all that big a deal.
But it's not really appropriate, either. Over the years, I can think of several co-workers of the male persuasion that I have found attractive. What I can't imagine, under any circumstance, would be my voicing that opinion.
It's simply not appropriate. It has nothing to do with the work we do, and it's out of place in a professional setting for all the same reasons low cut tops, tight skirts, and manscaped, shirtless guys in assless leather chaps are inappropriate.
Adults are supposed to understand these things. And leaders are expected to set a higher standard.
Discuss amongst your ownselves.
President Obama called California Attorney General Kamala Harris on Thursday to apologize for his comments about her appearance that have drawn a storm of criticism.
"He called her to apologize for the distraction created by his comments," White House press secretary Jay Carney said during his briefing Friday, later adding that the president had also "apologized for the remark."
The distraction??? If he didn't think it was inappropriate, why is he apologizing?
"I'm really sorry those mean spirited poopy heads made such a big deal about nothing. Umm.... I'm also sorry for what I said." Never waste an opportunity to take a swipe at your critics. If you can combine it with an act of humble contrition, so much the better :p
Before we bid adieu to this fascinating news story forever, allow us to unequivocally and strongly condemn this EXTREMELY INAPPROPRIATE AND DEEPLY INSULTING DISPLAY OF... err.... sexistpiggery.
We want anyone who just clicked that link to know that we just lost all respect for you as a human being.
April 02, 2013
The Alaskan Department of Victimization
A couple of items over at Grim's place caught our wand'ring eyeballs last week, but we were too busy to stop and think about them. The first one concerns the State of Alaska which - for some reason - conducts a Victimization Survey every now and again. Now we are not too sure how many discrete identity groups are being Victimized (or just who is to blame for all this Victimization -- the State of Alaska? Feral, Transgendered Arctic Wolves? Sarah Palin and her Scary Black Helicopters of Death?), but one has to admire a state that doesn't wait for its victims to come looking for them. No, indeedy - when it comes to victim-handling, the State of Alaska is most definitely leaning in:
Senator McGuire requested the Status of Women Report after reviewing a 2010 Alaska Victimization Survey, which interviewed nearly 1,000 women and found that 59 percent have experienced domestic abuse, sexual violence, or both.
“We were waiting until the timing was right to release the report,” McGuire’s legislative aide Amy Saltzman told Yahoo! Shine, explaining that the office had spent the start of 2013 mired in issues including the recently passed oil tax bill.
Among the state’s upsetting findings: In 2010, women working in Alaska only earned 67 cents for each dollar a man earned (the national average is a still-low 77 cents to the dollar). As for crime and imprisonment, the number of women going to prison in Alaska is growing: In 2007, women made up 6.5 percent of Alaska’s prison population, but that number had jumped to nearly 11 percent in 2011.
Alaskan women are slightly more likely to have health coverage than Alaskan men, but the coverage for Alaskan women is still below the national average, with 21 percent going without (compared to the national rate of 20).
In the mental-health realm, the suicide rate for women in Alaska is twice as high as the rate nationally—nearly 10 percent of girls in high school attempted suicide in 2011. In addition, nearly two-thirds of Alaskan women were found to be in treatment for alcohol related problems, compared to just one-third nationwide.
As far as homelessness is concerned...
We'll stop here, because we're fairly certain you can see where this is going. With all these Victims lying thick upon the
ground never ending snow and ice, you can bet there are a whole passel of Victimizers lurking about. Care to guess who they might be? If you guessed "Men", a stuffed marmoset is on its way to you by parcel post:
So why the raw deal for women in this state? It may have something to do with the ratio of men to women there, which was noted in the state report as being higher in Alaska than in any other state, with 108.5 males to every 100 females. Nationally, there are 96.7 men to every 100 women. (Among the women in Alaska, 70 percent are white, over 17 percent Alaska native or Native American, and just 4 percent African American.)
As a reference point, the average global male-to-female sex ratio at birth is 105. Over time, it evens out to something closer to 1:1. The logical inference here is just so self-evidently self evident as to require no refutation (or proof, either!):
1. Women are being Victimized.
2. There are more men than women in Alaska.
3. Ergo, men must be responsible for the following outrages:
- Preventing fully-equal (and equally capable!) women from taking higher paying jobs
- Causing women to commit crimes at rates far in excess of the national average
- Driving the distaff sex to drink
- Causing the number of women who have health insurance to plummet to a full 1% below the national average
- Somehow causing large numbers of young girls to commit suicide
It's a good thing we already know who the culprits are, because none of the disturbing statistics cited by The Victimization Survey could possibly have anything to do with the fact that Alaska is cold, dark, and has fewer of the amenities, comforts, and opportunities offered by more densely populated states, could they? Of course they couldn't - that's just silly. Consequently, we're pretty confident that the problem is menfolk... oppressing everything within groping distance, keeping women from leaving the state or seeking better lives for themselves or their children, depriving young girls of the will to live. Guys can't help it, the poor dears - it's just how they're wired. Perhaps it's something in the culture of masculinity... or maybe it's the toxic combination of white skin and testosterone?
Imagine if African American men and boys were committing mass shootings month after month, year after year. Articles and interviews would flood the media, and we’d have political debates demanding that African Americans be “held accountable.” Then, if an atrocity such as the Newtown, Conn., shootings took place and African American male leaders held a news conference to offer solutions, their credibility would be questionable. The public would tell these leaders that they need to focus on problems in their own culture and communities.
Let's take a moment to put all this hyperbole into perspective. To ensure valid comparisons, we'll use a consistent time window: 1980-2010, or three decades. During this period:
1. There have been 20,223 multiple homicide cases (mass murders).
2. According to the source just linked, whites were responsible for 60% of those murders. And blacks were responsible for 36%.
3. So how many mass murder victims are we talking about during our 30-year period? According to this source, a good estimate is 100 per year x 30 years, for a total of 3,000 victims: That's right - a whopping 3000 people. Over 3 decades. If that doesn't qualify as an Epidemic of Violence, we're not sure what does.
Now let's look at the overall homicide rate, because last time we checked, victims of single homicides end up just as dead as victims of multiple homicides.
So we're looking at an average of 100 people per year (mass murders) vs. an average of 15000 people per year (all murders). That means for every mass murder victim, about 150 people are killed in single homicides. Now let's look at the percentage of single and mass murders committed by white and black men and contrast each stat with their relative share of the population:
Now if we accept the bizarrely racist and sexist notion that individuals share some form of collective responsibility for the actions of other individuals with the same skin color or genitalia (we don't accept it for one second, but let's set that aside for just a moment), who has the most pain and suffering to answer for?
It's not white men. Not by a long shot.
That's the problem with broad brush characterizations: they are a weapon that cuts both ways.
And it's not just progressives who do this. We've written about sly suggestions that we'd all be better off if the 19th Amendment were repealed. Never mind that the proportion of women who vote Democrat isn't nearly as high as the proportion of Blacks or Jews who do so... and yet we don't recall seeing calls to take away their voting rights. Decent conservatives don't say this sort of thing because punishing or blaming an entire class of people for the actions of a subset of that class is not just profoundly stupid, but inimical to what conservatism is supposed to be about.
Just as trying to hold all white men - the vast majority of whom have never killed anyone (much less multiple people) - answerable for the actions of a few is not just profoundly stupid, but inimical to progressive values.
Imagine what the world would be like if people of all political persuasions avoided such sloppy, broad brush characterizations? Failing that, imagine a world where we stood up for each other instead of trying to divide people into warring camps?
Yeah. Kinda dumb, isn't it?
March 26, 2013
Shocker: Acting Like a Colossal Jackwagon Can Get You Fired
Yes, we know - it is deeply surprising:
A donation campaign supporting the man whose crude joke led to the the firing of a female developer who tweeted about it is stirring controversy across the internet. Adria Richards was fired last week from her job at SendGrid - developers of a cloud-based e-mail system - after she overheard the joke from a couple of developers sitting behind her at the PyCon Conference in Santa Clara, California.
She said the men had made a remark concerning 'big dongles' - a device that plugs into a computer - but Richards maintains the men were using it in a sexual manner. She tweeted a photo of the two men with the message: 'Not cool. Jokes about forking repo's in a sexual way and "big" dongles.
The joke teller, known only as 'Mr Hank,' was also dismissed from his job at PlayHaven as a result of Richards' tweet. But now, a group of Reddit users have founded the Feminist Victims Fund, designed to help men like Mr Hank and others they deem to be oppressed under the 'tyranny' of feminism.
Stipulated: Ms. Richards is a pretentious nitwit and SendGrid was completely within its rights to fire her. The Editorial Staff would have fired her, too. No one wants to work in an environment where the slightest verbal faux pas ends up on the Internet, festooned with overwrought women's studies rhetoric.
The Feminist Victims Fund, on the otter heiny, strikes us as almost too good to be true. In a way, we're grateful: if this highly diverting brand of Speaking Truth to Glower didn't occur with such gratifying regularity, we'd have to make it up lest we find ourselves with nothing but nekkid elephant photos with which to amuse the assembled villainry.
What hallowed constitutional right is being protected from the frilly pantied oppression of the bra burning set? If, dear readers, you guessed "The right to make dirty jokes at a professional conference your boss is probably paying you to attend whilst wearing a T-shirt with your employer's name emblazoned upon it", a stuffed marmoset is on its way to you by parcel post. We can't work up too much sympathy for the "victim" here. It's a shame he ran into a Professional Person of Cholor with online Tourette's syndrome, but it should not be news to anyone in the tech community that what happens in public (or - sadly - in private, for that matter) all too often ends up on Twitter. Or, if you're attending a tech conference, on PowerPoint slides:
Richards' decision to tweet a photo of the men struck many people as an overreaction, but her actions make more sense in the context of the widespread hostility to women in her field, both online and offline. That hostility is one of the reasons I co-founded a nonprofit that fights harassment of women, the Ada Initiative, after one of my friends was sexually assaulted at a computer conference three times in a single year. The Ada Initiative's first project was helping hundreds of conferences adopt anti-harassment policies that explicitly banned pornography in presentations, groping, stalking, and other obnoxious behavior that had become common at many technology conferences.
Obviously, the Editorial Staff have been attending the wrong sort of conferences of late. One struggles to imagine an atmosphere where it is actually necessary to ban pornography in presentations, much less groping and stalking.
Nevertheless, the system worked precisely the way it ought to work. Ms. Richards complained to conference officials and she was within her rights to do so. Perhaps we might have simply confronted the gentlemen (one uses the term loosely) directly, but we can also understand why a person might wish to handle the matter in a less confrontational manner. If only the incident had ended there. But no, Ms. Richards made it worse by broadcasting the resolved incident to Twitter and posting about it on her blog, for which lapses her employer promptly fired her.
And rightly so - she wasn't fired for reporting the incident. She was fired for embarrassing her employer by displaying poor impulse control and even worse judgment in a public venue. Which, come to think of it, is exactly what got "Mr. Hank", now a world famous Victim of Feminist Oppression, fired.
Perhaps we're finally moving beyond those outdated gender stereotypes, after all :p
March 25, 2013
Proposed: A Gender-Neutral Standard for Identity Group Whining
Last week we espied yet another idiotic piece of identity group bean counting in the NY Times:
In the United States, girls have outshined boys in high school for years, amassing more A’s, earning more diplomas and gliding more readily into college, where they rack up more degrees — whether at the bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral levels.
But that has not been the trend when it comes to one of the highest accomplishments a New York City student can achieve: winning a seat in one of the specialized high schools. At all eight of the schools that admit students based on an eighth-grade test, boys outnumber girls, sometimes emphatically.
The problem, as the Times sees it, is that NYC's elite schools rely more on standardized test scores than grades. That's bad, we are told, because girls were more likely to be admitted under the older system that balanced grades and standardized test scores:
Even the specialized schools with a focus on the classics and humanities, Brooklyn Latin and the High School of American Studies at Lehman College, now have a majority of male students. It was not always that way: Girls outnumbered boys at both schools until recently. American Studies has used the specialized admissions test since it opened a decade ago.
But in the first few years at Brooklyn Latin, founded in 2006, it had a broader admission policy based on grades and exams. Once it was made one of the specialized test schools, its population swung toward males.
“Sometimes, we see boys who are very bright, and can do well on an admissions test,” said Jason K. Griffiths, the principal. “But then I think the skills that a student needs to succeed in a school may be a little bit different.”
A corollary, perhaps, of the masculine leanings of the eight schools is the makeup of some of the elite high schools that do not use the specialized admissions test for admission.
At Fiorello H. La Guardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts, which admits students based on grades and auditions or portfolios of artwork, 73 percent of the students are girls. At Bard High School Early College, which has campuses in Manhattan and Queens, as well as at Millennium, Beacon and Townsend Harris High Schools, girls outnumber boys by at least 3 to 2.
Shael Polakow-Suransky, the chief academic officer in the city’s Education Department, said the eight specialized-test schools represented just a portion of the city’s best schools, so there was a flaw in studying gender disparities solely in those eight schools. “These are not the best schools in the city,” he said of the eight specialized schools. “They are among the best schools in the city.”
He said that at the highest echelons of test-takers, girls scored as well as boys, but that overall, fewer of the strongest female students were taking the exam.
Hmmm... where have we heard this reasoning before? Here, perhaps?
Boys score as well as or better than girls on most standardized tests, yet they are far less likely to get good grades, take advanced classes or attend college. Why? A study coming out this week in The Journal of Human Resources gives an important answer. Teachers of classes as early as kindergarten factor good behavior into grades — and girls, as a rule, comport themselves far better than boys.
The study’s authors analyzed data from more than 5,800 students from kindergarten through fifth grade and found that boys across all racial groups and in all major subject areas received lower grades than their test scores would have predicted.
So when fewer girls choose to take specialized entrance exams (and therefore are outnumbered at elite schools), but are admitted at higher rates when both grades and test scores are considered, gender injustice has occurred and we should be concerned.
And when fewer boys choose to complete assignments on time (or at all), take challenging Advanced Placement classes, or put in the time required to get good grades, or even bother to apply for college (and therefore are outnumbered in all BUT the most elite colleges), gender injustice has occurred and we should be concerned.
Here's a suggestion: why don't all the zero sum game grievance peddlers just quit whining?
This used to be a country famous for opportunity. No one was guaranteed to be evaluated by the instrument that most favors their disaffected identity politics group. Whatever the criterion, America offered the chance to try to meet that standard. If you want to attend an elite school in NYC and standardized tests aren't your forte, you need to try harder and figure out a way to do well on the test. And if you want to attend college, but completing assignments, taking AP classes, and filling out all those applications just seems like too much of a hassle, you need to try harder and figure out a way to do these things anyway. Just try finding a job where your boss allows you to opt out of tasks you find too "boring" because you're just super-smart. Most employers will take an employee of average or above average intelligence and strong work skills over a brilliant one who only does what he/she thinks is important every time. And for God's sake, can both sides please quit crying "sexism" every time we don't have exactly equal numbers of pink and blue jelly beans in the national Easter basket?
For decades, we've been listening to radical feminists complain about how The Patriarchal Hegemony unfairly favored boys and men, discouraging girls from even trying. Now we're listening to the same kind of nonsense from conservatives about Feminized Pretty-Much-Everything-on-the-Planet and how The Matriarchy discourages helpless boys and men, preventing them from even trying.
Frankly this last is a bit much, given that the vast majority (it's somewhere around 85%) of American companies and high level government positions are still held by men. And that's just fine with me - it's not gender injustice because no one is actively preventing women from competing for these positions. Success in certain endeavors may or may not be harder for women than it is for men (and vice versa). But women appear to be opting themselves out of the top echelons for reasons - family, a more healthy work/life balance, an aversion to the insane hours and stress levels that characterize jobs in the top echelon - that seem good to them. Meanwhile, whilst we weep and wail about how boys are being "left behind" because of feminized schools, young men still predominate at the nation's most competitive universities. Are we seriously to believe that there is some kind of magical exemption from the prevailing attitude of female sexism that only benefits Princeton and Yale students? How does that happen?
Glenn Reynolds, linking to the NYT piece about girls at elite schools, writes (without providing examples of anyone claiming boys are inferior):
WHEN BOYS FALL BEHIND, IT’S BECAUSE THEY’RE INFERIOR.
Who has said this? I've read numerous studies claiming that boys put forth less effort in school, or that they are socialized (by their parents, mind you!) to think that real men don't study or go to college. Oddly, boys with parents who teach them to work hard are doing just fine:
Boys’ underachievement compared to girls has nothing to do with intelligence. Study after study shows that boys and girls are very similar in terms of cognitive ability.
“But what is striking is that at every level of cognitive ability, boys are getting lower grades than girls. It is not about ability – it is about effort and engagement,” Buchmann said.
More girls than boys report that they like school and that good grades are important to them. They also study more than boys.
“Success in academics, like success in sports, requires time and effort. Because boys put forth less effort and are less engaged, they get lower grades and are less likely to get through college,” Buchmann said.
Some of boys’ underperformance is related to outdated views of masculinity that devalue hard work and effort in school, she said. This is particularly true for boys from blue-collar and lower-class families. Working class fathers may reinforce the idea that school is feminizing because, for them, masculinity is more about physical strength and manual labor than about getting good grades.
Many boys from middle-class families, whose fathers have managerial and white-collar jobs, often develop an “instrumental” approach to school, Buchmann said. Regardless of how much they like school, they have learned how to do well in school in order to get a well-paying job and achieve material success.
“For these boys, notions of what it means to be a man are much more in tune with what is required to be successful in today’s economy,” she said.
Like it or not, the entrance criteria for college (and most decent paying jobs) has less to do with how one scores on a test than with a candidate's work ethic, dependability, and ability to complete work without constant prodding or intensive oversight. These are the qualities that traditionally led to success: perseverance, hard work, and the ability to do what needs to be done whether or not one finds the task personally fascinating. This is an insight that applies equally to men and women.
Women: if you want equal pay, a spot in the executive suite, or a career in a tech field, you need to put in the same hours men do and make your career (not your husband or children) your first priority. That's what successful men do, and women who do those things are paid just as well as men.
Men: if you want to succeed in today's economy, you need to figure out how to get a job with a decent living wage. If you can figure out a way to become economically secure without a college degree, go for it. But don't cry "unfair" when you find out that high paying jobs that don't require a degree are scarce, or your job is the first to go (and the last to come back) during an economic downturn. Here, history is not on your side. Do what is needed to get and hold onto the job you want. Even if it requires going to college. Young men who are willing to do those things are doing just as well academically as young women.
We really need to get a grip on this "War on Men/Women" business. Life is hard enough as it is. It's even harder if you go through it expecting everything to be fair and balanced. Repeat after me:
THERE IS NO WAR ON WOMEN (or girls, for that matter)
AND THERE IS NO WAR ON MEN (or boys, for that matter)
There are only differences, most of which you will never be able to control: differences in aptitude, work ethic, effort, luck, and yes - often policy that may favor you or make succeeding harder. That's no excuse. Figure out what you want and put in the hard work needed to meet or exceed whatever threshold is required to get you in the door. Whining about how the prevailing standard doesn't play to your unique snowflake status isn't just unimpressive.
It's borderline suicidal, both at the individual and societal level.
March 15, 2013
At long last, the media discovers that rarest of rare things: something women *can't* do better than men:
In the war of the sexes, it is their perceived talent at multi-tasking that often gives women the upper hand.
But the belief that they are better at juggling jobs than men is a myth, psychologists claim.
Both sexes are equally poor at dividing their attention, according to research.
Equality being all the rage these days, we find ourselves profoundly grateful that in this one instance at least, no one is any better than anyone else. Men of VC, you are on notice: please avoid your tiresome displays of masculine competence, lest they upset this precarious balance and upset the equality apple cart :p
March 05, 2013
The Hollow Middle
Via Tyler Cowen, an interesting observation:
Mid-wage occupations, paying between $13.83 and $21.13 per hour, made up about 60 percent of the job losses during the recession. But those mid-wage jobs have made up just 27 percent of the jobs gained during the recovery.
By contrast, low-wage occupations paying less than $13.83 per hour have utterly dominated the recovery, with 58 percent of the job gains since 2010.
This isn’t a new phenomenon: Over the past decade high-wage and low-wage jobs have been growing at a decent clip. But that middle rung continues to get hollowed out. Mid-wage jobs endured a major drop after the 2001 recession, largely stagnated during the 2000s, and have now declined even further in the most recent downturn.
Are we experiencing a repeat of the industrial revolution?
If we turn to the industrial revolution, what do we see? Relatively high productivity from “restructuring,” (machinery replacing labor) but relatively low productivity from innovation or total factor productivity.
...During the early 19th century, there is much creative ferment, but much less in terms of products which translate into gains in living standards for the average person.
By the way, you also have theorists — Malthus, Lauderdale, Chalmers, Attwood, and others — who thought the main problem was simply lack of aggregate demand, which Malthus called effectual demand. They were absolutely right about part of the picture in the short run but missed most of the larger truths.
Eventually all of the creative ferment of the industrial revolution pays off in a big “whoosh,” but it takes many decades, depending on where you draw the starting line of course.
If middle-wage jobs are hollowing out while low and high wage jobs grow, how much sense does the current flirtation with "going Galt" make for young men (don't go to college, don't get married, don't "play their game")? That road seems to lead almost inevitably to relative poverty and a lifetime of dependence and economic insecurity. It's certainly not advice I'd give either of my sons.
In a labor market where "living wage" jobs have grown increasingly scarce, the economic benefits of partnership (aka, marriage) would seem to be maximized. On an earlier post, Texan 99 alluded to a conversation among conservatives who were waxing uber-outragey about "all those pesky women taking jobs that rightly belong to men". The Spousal Unit and I were discussing this over the weekend and were a little surprised to realize that, of our four grandmothers, 3 had college degrees and 3 had careers. Not one had neither a degree nor a job.
All of which got us thinking about skewed perceptions of history. The most interesting part of this chart is the percentage of women working during the 1940s and '50s. I was surprised to see that over one third of women worked:
During our growing up years (the 60s to mid 70s), that percentage grows from 40-50%. Compare and contrast rising female labor force participation with fluctuations in male unemployment over time:
If there's a clear and compelling argument for the existence of oppression or gender injustice in any of this, we're not seeing it. But lest it be averred that we're not all "equal opportunity" in our goring of gendered oxen, we found this observation on the much-ballyhoo'ed gender pay gap darkly amusing as well:
To what extent has legislation narrowed the gender gap? One piece of legislation is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbids discrimination on the basis of sex in hiring, promotion, and other conditions of employment. The other is affirmative action. There is only scant evidence that either law has had any effect on the gender gap in earnings or occupations, although not enough research on this has been done to justify strong conclusions one way or the other...
No doubt this phenomenon explains why, in the wake of The Most Significant Blow for Equal Pay Evah, WRA are now clamoring for yet another piece of landmark legislation that will finally (!) level that pesky playing field. Lily Ledbetter, we hardly knew ye!
Never attribute to other factors what can conveniently be attributed to discrimination. Data be damned, how we mortals love the simplistic/single cause theory of pretty much everything. Especially if it lets us blame our problems on the opposite sex.
Discuss amongst yourselves, oppressed knuckle draggers of both sexes.
December 31, 2012
But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
Could it be ... the headlights on the Clue Bus?
By the following spring, they were talking openly about marriage. Pepper knew it was right because she found herself being flexible in ways she never had before. “It was probably the first time in my whole life where I’ve been willing to compromise,” she says. “In the past I’d say, ‘Well that’s just me, that’s my personality, and if you try to change it, it wouldn’t be me.’ That’s an interesting stance, but it’s a good way to be alone for the rest of your life.”
December 18, 2012
To Change Others, First Change Yourself
I loved this:
10:20 pm. I emerged from the garage entrance to the house, setting down my computer bag and purse, and walked into the kitchen. Six hours earlier, the crock pot worked preparing a meal for the family while I left to teach my business communications training class downtown. Now it sat in the sink, filled with soapy water, soaking. Dirty dinner dishes lay on the counter. The pan with the cornbread sat uncovered on top of the stove. I heard snoring. I gazed across to the living room, where my husband lay on the couch, television playing in the background. Tears of exhaustion, anger, and hurt welled in my eyes.
I took off my jacket, rolled up my sleeves and went to work cleaning up. With each dish, I grew more resentful. "How could he not see these?" I stewed. "I work all day, I prepare a home-made dinner for him and the kids before I go teach a class, and he can't even make sure the mess gets cleaned up," I fumed. The slamming of the dishwasher roused the sleeping husband. "I was going to get those before I went to bed," he mumbled, sensing my irritation. "Well, you already went to bed, didn't you?" I responded, wondering how long he'd been blessed with sleep, when both of us had been up since 5:00 am. "Here, let me help," he offered. "I'm nearly done now. I don't want your help," I lied. His brow furrowed. "Fine. Suit yourself. I'm going upstairs," he said.
I had no idea he really did plan on doing the dishes, but accidentally fell asleep on the couch because he, too, was exhausted. I didn't know that he had lovingly spent time with each of our kids, reading them stories before tucking them in and praying with them before bed. He went to bed that night feeling disrespected. I went to bed feeling unloved. Small interactions like this occurred often enough to create a growing chasm between us. These little conflicts went unresolved or were dealt with in unhealthy ways and resulted in a barren relationship on the road to destruction.
...Being a practicing Christian, I eventually ran across a Bible verse that at first angered me: Ephesians 5:33, "and the wife shall respect her husband." Another verse suggested I "submit" to my husband, and I had the same reaction. I couldn't believe God expected me to pay homage to a man who was, in my eyes, uninterested in working on our relationship.
A decade later, I can say that those two concepts--"respect" and "submission"--saved my marriage. And it wasn't because I became a doormat or no longer communicated my feelings. I learned that Biblical submission, boiled down, is basically "don't be a contentious competitor to him." After learning that, I argued with him less. I stopped rolling my eyes with disgust when he had something to say - even if I thought it was not such a great idea at the time. I started practicing the Bible verse which reads, "Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and even slower to become angry."
I started asking him questions about his life. I started being interested in him again as a person. I decided he was more important to me than whether or not a dish made it into the dishwasher or his socks were left on the floor. There were even a few things he did that could be considered big mistakes that just didn't seem to matter as much when I viewed him as a person of worth. I could forgive him - and I saw my own flawed nature clearly.
This frame of mind, where the default state is for each sex to treat the other with respect and gentleness, is how I think of chivalry. Unlike Grim, I know little of the history or origins of chivalry. So I cannot comment knowledgeably on what it is supposed to be or how it was practiced in bygone ages. When done correctly, it brings out the very best in both men and women because at its heart, it is based upon respect and love:
A code that teaches men how to love women is good. If it also makes men into the kinds of creatures that are worthy of love themselves, it is better.
Lack of respect makes us suspicious of each other's motives and can lead us to react antagonistically to each other instead of extending the benefit of the doubt. This weekend, I was at the mall. I stepped into the entryway briefly to throw out my coffee cup. As I turned to go back into the store, I spied a man walking towards the door. So instead of walking through, I opened the door and held it for him.
He paused, and as he did a woman I had not seen approached from the other side and walked through the door I was holding without saying a word. I attributed this, not to her being female or to feminism, but to the fact that some people are self absorbed.
The man was still paused on the other side of the door, so I stayed where I was and gestured with my hand to show that I was holding the door for him. He hesitated a moment, then walked through. He had a look of slight amazement on his face as he said, "I'm not used to that! Thank you."
That struck me as very sad. The gesture was automatic on my part. I've said the same thing when a man has obviously gone out of his way to hold a door for me because I don't expect doors to be held open simply because I'm female. To work, I think chivalry has got to be reciprocal, and moreover at some point it has to include some recognition that men and women don't see the world through the same eyes and don't need the same things (love, or respect) in equal amounts. That's one reason a template can be helpful:
I think is very healthy for society to have gender roles, because men and women are quite different. On average, such roles help us relate to each other by giving us forms we can rely upon to smooth our interactions just where misunderstandings are most likely.
Perhaps the most difficult thing for me to understand about men (or my sons) has been male pride. Men often complain about women being unreasonable when they get their feelings hurt over some slight that wouldn't even register to a man, and sometimes they are right. But women are often just as mystified by the male need for respect - like the hurt feelings thing for men, it just doesn't register with most of us because - after all - *we* wouldn't react that way! Things that don't seem disrespectful or antagonistic to us often seem that way to men.
The interesting thing about chivalry is that it seems to build in the unique needs of men and women without necessarily making those needs explicit. Where it can sometimes go wrong is (as Grim notes) when it becomes too rigid, assuming that women don't need respect.
Or men don't need love.
Sets of rules are great for ordering societies, but I can't help thinking that understanding is important, too. The real irony here is that I've often observed that men can perceive helpfulness from a woman as implied disrespect ("You obviously think I am the sort of person who needs help") when often it's proferred with the best of intentions and no disrespect. So men obviously understand on a gut level how deference or helpfulness might be unwelcome in certain circumstances, especially if the recipient feels the need to project strength or independence. If this feeling is natural for men, why should it be a cause for offense in women?
What I loved about the reaction of the man in that store is that he was mildly taken aback, but put the best construction on my gesture and accepted it graciously. It requires effort to set aside our instinctive reactions, but it's well worth the trouble.
December 11, 2012
Let's hope Mrs. Claus had a nice steak and a cold beer ready for him when he got home.
Punished for Succeeding
A female entrepreneur - an example of the kind of success Democrats claim to want for women everywhere - writes Obama to ask why the Affordable Care Act is forcing her to move operations overseas?
Theragenics makes “medical devices for prostate cancer, vascular access and wound closure.” In her letter to Mr. Obama, Ms. Jacobs noted that her company has four factories in four states in the U.S., which employ 626 people. She stated: “In our 30-year history we have treated over 200,000 men for prostate cancer, and we have been proud of our workforce and proud to have treated so many dads, brothers and husbands for cancer. As a public company we have fallen prey to the heavy burden of being public with increased expenses associated with [Sarbanes Oxley] and now Dodd Frank.” She also reminded the president that she had written to him back in 2009, when she stated, “We were paying about $8,000 per employee per year to be public and comply with the new Dodd Frank regulations. That money could be better spent on jobs and expansion.”
Under Obamacare, there is a new tax specifically on the gross revenue of medical device manufacturers. Most people (outside of Washington) understand that if we tax something, we get less of it. A higher tax on medical device manufacturers means fewer and more expensive medical devices that save lives, and less research and development to develop new and better devices. As Ms. Jacobs explains: “Our products are for people with prostate cancer, heart disease, breast cancer and orthopedic knee or hip surgeries. Our 626 employees’ futures are now uncertain. The cost of regulation, legislation and now the Device Tax have provided an atmosphere that is close to untenable.”
Ms. Jacobs, who started out as a nurse with a passion for science, has headed Theragenics Corp. for the past two decades. She is a classic entrepreneur, an all-American woman, who likes to hunt, fish and go to the symphony. She serves on the boards of many civic institutions and other organizations. Now, having built a successful company that competes in the global marketplace, she is being forced by ignorant and misguided legislators and regulators to move operations outside of the United States. She concluded her letter to the president: “Our 30-year-old company has done all our country has asked of it and has been punished. I am immensely sad at this writing.”
Perhaps she should look into green energy? The federal government is willing to invest millions of dollars in unsuccessful companies with no strings attached.
December 06, 2012
Nature, Nurture, or Perceived Benefit?
So the Blog Princess saw this yesterday and it amused her extremely:
Yesterday, a video asking "What if guys and girls swapped roles at the bar?" went viral, skewering every part of the club-going experience. In the video's world, girls, rather than guys, end up waiting in line forever to get past the doorman, pressure men into taking shots, and harass guys with low-cut tops. And guys don't know their limits when they drink, talk sloppily about commitment to women they've just met, and grind with each other on the dance floor. As far as pointing out bad/lame behavior via gender role reversal, the video's an equal-opportunity expose.
The video embedded in the article is pretty funny but we thought the one on dating/relationships was even better:
We showed both vids to the spousal unit over a pre-prandial libation and gained the oink seal of approval, so we thought you might enjoy them too. I was more than a little surprised at how differently I react to the same behavior depending on whether it is exhibited by the male or the female of the species.
During the inevitable marital "discussions", the blog princess has more than once been known to say, "Be honest here - if someone did that to you, how would you feel?" It's a question I've learned to ask myself over the years, because it's really hard to step outside your own skin and try to imagine the world as it looks to our better halves. But it's very much worth doing - I've had my mind changed more than once as a result of such exercises.
The videos reminded me of another thought I have fairly frequently: how many of the observable differences in male/female behavior and decision making have to do with biology, and how many have to do with the simple fact that the world doesn't work exactly the same for men and women? We are faced with many of the same decisions in life, but the risks and benefits attached to various decisions are profoundly different depending on whether one is male or female. Decrying these differences as "unfair" has become something of an equal opportunity sport on the Internet. So is the elaborate man- or woman-splaining often used to massage gender studies around until they neatly "prove" what various combatants in the battle of the sexes already believe:
Writing in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Conley describes a series of experiments that refine the results of a seminal 1989 study widely cited in articles and textbooks. That study, by psychologists Russell Clark and Elaine Hatfield, found that when a female college student introduced herself to a male colleague and asked if he wanted to have sex with her, 69 to 75 percent of the guys said yes. When the genders were reversed, not a single woman was interested. That huge difference has largely been explained in terms of Sexual Strategies Theory, an evolutionary approach that focuses on the desire, conscious or unconscious, to pass one’s genes to the next generation. If that’s our driving impulse, women need to be choosy about their sexual partners; they’re looking for men who are likely to stick around and provide support during their child-rearing years. Men, on the other hand, have an evolutionary incentive to spread their seed as widely as possible.
Setting aside for a moment the most glaring flaw in this analysis - that women are smaller and physically weaker than men, and therefore have more to fear from going home with a complete stranger - leaves several other differences in the risk/benefit calculation. One I almost never see cited when this study comes up occurred to me within seconds of reading it for the first time: society looks down on women who engage in casual sex. They are sluts, whereas promiscuous men are studs. So imagine my amusement upon reading this study:
... why did the young men and women in the 1989 study — and in a repeat of that experiment that Conley conducted — react so differently to the offer of casual sex? After conducting a series of follow-up experiments, in which she tweaked Clark and Hatfield’s sexual-invitation scenario in different ways, she came up with an answer sports-conscious men should be able to easily grasp: The playing field isn’t level. Men, after all, can almost be guaranteed a pleasurable sexual encounter if they’re with someone they find attractive. But Conley points to new, yet-to-be published research by sociologist Elizabeth Armstrong which finds “women orgasm only 35 percent as often as men in first-time sexual encounters.” “Women’s perception that their heterosexual casual sex partners will be unlikely to give them pleasure is not unwarranted,” Conley states. This lack of confidence in men as pleasure-givers was indirectly supported by another of Conley’s experiments, which focused on bisexual women. They were “significantly more likely to accept an offer (of a one-night stand) from a woman than from a man,” she reports.
On first glance, this explanation isn't exactly flattering to the male ego but once you take into account the fact that men have to do more to arouse/satisfy a woman than women do to arouse/satisfy men, it makes perfect sense. And it strikes me as far more plausible than attributing disparate willingness to have casual sex to abstract evolutionary theories about spreading one's seed (because guys are totally thinking, "Woo ha! An opportunity to spread my seed!" when they see an attractive female) or equally unsupported ones about men having vastly stronger sex drives. Positing - for a moment - equally strong sex drives but very unequal prospects of surviving or merely enjoying a casual one night stand, is it really surprising that women are less willing? How much sense does it make to construct elaborate rationalizations involving the survival of the species to explain spur of the moment decisions?
If a proposed activity has more risks and fewer benefits for a certain group, shouldn't we expect the decisions of that group to reflect the risk-to-benefit ratio? And if this is the case, shouldn't we expect the decisions of both sexes to change when the risk/benefit balance changes? The clear implication here is that humans of both sexes adapt to their circumstances. Though we may tend more or less in a particular direction, we are not completely hard-wired to choose commitment or casual sex. To a far larger degree than we may wish to believe, our choices reflect our circumstances: we weigh the perceived benefits against the perceived harms that may result from our decisions. Change the circumstances, and we can expect different reactions.
This argument, by the way, applies just as much to many male behaviors that women don't understand, like to criticize, or attribute to Evil Testosterone: change the incentives and you often change the behavior. If such behaviors were hard wired, they'd be incredibly difficult to change. If they change with the perceived benefits, incentives, or risks, then they're probably not as hard-wired as we thought they were.
Increasingly, I'm becoming convinced that we really have a very poor grasp of the degree to which various gender differences are caused by biology, culture, or more abstract considerations like opportunity, risk, benefit, and even perceived power. There has been a huge shift in the opportunities afforded to women, and they are making decisions that surprise a lot of folks in the biology-is-destiny crowd. They shouldn't.
October 11, 2012
Attention Men: Your "Sexual Rights" Are Being Eroded
Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.
A woman is not property, and husbands who think otherwise are living in a dreamworld.
- Robert Heinlein
In the brave new world the Blog Princess dreams of betimes, it will someday be a truth universally acknowledged that adult men have far too much self regard to write creepy posts about their sexual rights. But perhaps this is too ambitious a vision, even for dewy-eyed admirers of both the estate of matrimony and the other half of humanity? Could it be that the key to happy marriages lies in understanding that a woman who demands expensive trips or jewelry in return for marital services rendered is commoditizing acts that should be loving and voluntary, while a man who demands sex twice a week in return for marital services rendered is doing no such thing? Even if, say, he leads off by calculating the market value of intercourse with a prostitute vs. his wife before asserting a uniquely self serving vision of the marriage contract that replaces, "for better, for worse" and "'til death do us part" with "until you do something that gives me an excuse to cheat"?
...if a woman is unwilling to commit to having sex on some sort of regular basis, then how on Earth can any man be reasonably expected to commit to never having sex with anyone else?
...men's reasonable marital expectations have been debased, but are we really supposed to believe that marriage, with all of its responsibilities, sexual and otherwise, now provides absolutely no sexual rights to the husband?
Inexplicably, my sentimental recollections of my wedding day in 1979 do not include a vow to provide sexual services at regularly specified intervals, much less the right to expensive jewelry or fancy vacations. Such bartering, like the weird expectation that a man is owed sex if he pays for dinner, formed no part of my youthful dreams of finding a man worth spending the rest of my life with. Even more strangely, after more than three decades of wedded bliss (during which, far from having to be bribed into having sex, I looked forward to it) this author would have sworn that people who think a marriage license entitles them to demand anything from their spouse don't really understand what marriage is all about.
I would have thought that both men and women have the right to decide what they will tolerate in a relationship, but that none of us has the right to demand obedience in such a personal matter. We all have needs. As a woman, I absolutely need to know that my husband loves and at least tries to understand me. I need to love and understand him. Without that sense of closeness - of shared intimacy - marriage would be utterly worthless to me.
But my personal desires don't give me the right to demand that my husband open himself up to me whenever I'm feeling needy. I don't have a right to insist that he talk about his feelings or our relationship at specified intervals because he doesn't "owe" me physical or emotional intimacy. Certainly, I can ask for what I need from our marriage. And if I am wise, I will make sure that over time he gets as much from our partnership as I do. I ought to find out what he needs from the relationship (not what I think he should want or need) and give it to him voluntarily, because I love him and trust that my actions will be reciprocated.
But at the end of the day, the decision is his.
And that's as it should be. Why would any mature man or woman think they have the right to demand of another what they are not willing to give freely? Curious as to the nature of these one sided "sexual rights", I made the mistake of clicking on the linked essay and learned that once upon a time, men were entitled to a beautiful, young, non-college educated virgin with no career! They traded their earnings and material goods for the exclusive right to have sex with a young hottie. Now *that's* a value proposition you can punch right into your pocket calculator!
Sadly, today's men are all too often forced (by their penises!) into misguided liasons with women who fall a few items short of their fantasy shopping lists. Now if we were talking about women with fantasy shopping lists, the problem with this formulation would be obvious. Romance novels, you see, create unrealistic expectations that no real man can - or should! - have to satisfy. Are men not human beings who have their own dreams and aspirations - who do not exist merely to satisfy some warped female fantasy?
Of course the converse - that women might be human beings with dreams and aspirations of their own who do not exist merely to fulfill male fantasies - is just crazy talk. The fact that some misguided individuals think otherwise only proves that traditional marriage is debased beyond all recognition or repair.
If only we could get back to the good old days, when young men who delay marriage until they've graduated college and established themselves in a career while sleeping with women they have no intention of marrying are considered to be moral, upright, and desireable husbands. And young women who do precisely the same thing are immoral sluts.
It's these traditional values that we need to get back to - you know, the ones we learned from our parents and grandparents. I'll never forget my parents telling me to hold out for a guy with a big wallet who slept around until he was 30 or so. If the Bible teaches us anything, it's that biological urges trump the confining strictures of morality and civilization every time. So whenever I'm trying to decide upon the right course of action, I like to fall back on a fantasy world where I can act as I please while holding others to a completely different standard.
Yep - the best morality is relative morality, and don't let anyone tell you differently.
We permit all things to ourselves, and that which we call sin in others, is experiment for us. It is an instance of our faith in ourselves, that men never speak of crime as lightly as they think: or, every man thinks a latitude safe for himself, which is nowise to be indulged to another.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
October 10, 2012
12 Steps to Raising Strong Sons
Mindful of the impermanence of the Internet, the blog princess is in the process of collecting up various essays she has written over the years. This one was originally written for Rightnetwork.
When I was young, masculinity was a one-size-fits-all affair. Men defended the weak, brought home the bacon and kept the world running smoothly while maintaining a stiff upper lip and a heroic reserve. Women had their own carefully prescribed role to play. We were caretakers, teachers, tenders of home and hearth. If men built the world, women connected it. As volunteers, bakers of cupcakes and holiday feasts, keepers of time honored rituals and faithful recorders of birthdays, anniversaries and the names of maiden aunties; women bound families and communities together. Our world offered fewer choices than the world of men, but in some ways it was indescribably richer.
The days of rigid gender roles are gone, but so (for the most part) are the restraining influences of morality, social convention, and taste. Today’s world has little use and even less respect for manly strength and character. Too often we confuse maleness with manliness, defining masculinity down to an uninspiring collection of barely controlled biological urges.
This is a grave mistake, for a world with diminishing standards and few enforceable rules needs men more than ever.
What is the essence of masculinity and how can we cultivate and honor it in our sons? Harvey Mansfield once defined manliness as “a quality that causes individuals to stand for something”. If men have a salient quality, surely it is strength of body, mind, spirit and character. Is it still possible to raise strong, adaptable sons in a society that views manhood as a debased currency? The good news is that with a bit of tweaking, the old standards still work:
1. Challenge your son to find and develop his own strengths. In an era of expanding choices, masculinity should not be a straitjacket. Not all boys love to fight, make noise, or play football - they need freedom to discover their abilities and the discipline to develop them. Confidence flows from achievement, not empty praise. Whether your son excels on the baseball field or in the computer lab, challenge him to become good at something.
2. Don’t make excuses for bad behavior. Being male is not a handicap. Boys shouldn’t be expected to behave like girls, but they should be expected to behave well.
3. Teach responsibility by delegating responsibility. Children whose parents do everything for them rarely develop the habits and discipline needed for independence and success. Masculine forcefulness is an admirable quality. Channel your son’s natural urge to take command of situations and people by putting him in charge of small jobs he can master with reasonable effort.
4. Sometimes, reality is the best teacher. Boys are usually far more impressed by actions than words. If you find yourself repeating the same warnings, stop talking and let him experience the consequences of his decisions. You can’t protect him from every danger. Let him take a few risks – that’s how boys learn.
5. Give him unconditional love, but not unconditional approval. Boys need love, but they also need firm limits. Insist that he treat others with respect and consideration.
6. Boys need heroes. Books are full of them. Teach him to love great books and they will inspire him to be a better person.
7. Speaking of heroes, give him time alone with his father. As boys mature, it’s normal for them to pull away from their mothers a bit. Wanting time with Dad is a sign that your son is beginning to see himself as a man – and an adult.
8. Teach him how to love. A mother’s relationship with her son prepares him for the relationship he’ll one day have with his wife. Older boys may need less mothering, but you can help him in other ways. Teach him how to talk to (and more importantly, handle conflict with) women as people.
9. Respect the father of your children. A boy raised in a home where men are honored is more likely to become a man worth honoring.
10. Look beneath the surface. Despite outward appearances, boys can be infuriatingly indirect. Many can’t – or won’t - admit they need attention or want to talk. One of my sons loved to provoke me when something was on his mind. Years later, his wife tells me he still does that. Now that’s a smart woman!
11. Teach him to believe in something, defend something, serve something. Don’t neglect his moral education. The noblest expression of manhood occurs when strength and courage serve some larger purpose.
12. Hold on… but loosely. No matter how old he gets your son will always need caring, engaged parents. But he also needs space to take risks, make mistakes and most importantly, chart his own course.
If men are driven to stand for something, it follows that the world will be a better or worse place depending on what they strive for. Help your sons find worthy goals and then step back and watch them move mountains.
July 13, 2012
I don’t text in long enough sentences to get in whether I think something is funny. In email, which I’m beginning to think is old-fashioned, I don’t use the bouncing emoticon because I think that is girly, but I use the little smile signs, with a colon and parentheses :) — a more male emoticon, where you comprise it yourself, because men build things? I don’t know.
The Editorial Staff found this amusing, as we have always rather favored the build-it-yourself smile thingy, mostly because we also detest the yellow happy face. Does this mean we're a man, trapped in a woman's body?
A while back, we ran across this post in Scientific American:
Dating back to the Great Depression, times of recession have consistently yielded anomalous gains for the beauty products industry, even while consumers rein in spending on household goods and recreational products. Journalists have dubbed this curiosity the “lipstick effect.” I recently sought to test the lipstick effect in a series of studies, the results of which were published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Our findings confirmed that the lipstick effect is not only real, but deeply rooted in women’s mating psychology.
While economic recessions are a recent development in human history, fluctuations in prosperity and resource availability are not. Human ancestors regularly went through cycles of abundance and famine, each of which favorsdifferent reproductive strategies. While periods of abundance favor strategies associated with postponing reproduction in favor of one’s own development (e.g., by pursuing an education), periods of scarcity favor more immediate reproduction. The latter strategy is more successful during times of resource scarcity because it decreases the likelihood that one will perish before having the chance to reproduce.
For women, periods of scarcity also decrease the availability of quality mates, as women’s mate preferences reliably prioritize resource access. This preference stems from the important role that mates’ resources have played in women’s reproductive success. Because economic recessions are associated with higher unemployment and minimal or negative returns on investments, news of a recession may therefore signal to women that financially secure men—those able to invest resources in rearing offspring—are becoming scarce.
Now we might have fallen for this, had we not vividly remembered several articles about the bump in plastic surgery shortly after the financial crisis of 2008:
More people are getting everything from facelifts to liposuction these days. And it's the so-called less vain sex who is helping to drive those plastic surgery numbers up. New statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons revealed that cosmetic plastic surgery procedures among men rose 2% in 2010 from 2009.
Men underwent more than 1.1 million cosmetic procedures in 2010 -- both minimally invasive and surgical -- accounting for 9.9% of all cosmetic procedures last year.
(In 2010, 13.1 million people overall underwent plastic surgery, up 5% from the year ago period, according to the ASPS.)
Men and women between the ages of 40 and 54 make up the majority of cosmetic procedures, the ASPS says.
To what, you may ask, do The Experts attribute this decidedly masculine Man-ifestation of the Lipstick Effect? If you thought to yourself, "Obviously, this lipstick effect thingamajobber is not only real, but deeply rooted in masculine mating psychology", deduct 10 points from your IQ score:
Experts say the growth in male plastic surgery is partly due to the gender's efforts to gain marketability career-wise.
"Men have a new attitude toward cosmetic surgery than what we've seen historically," Dr. Phil Haeck, ASPS president and a board-certified plastic surgeon, told WalletPop. "Many stashed away some cash during the recession so they could come out of it with a younger look, ready to attack the job market."
Ann McMahon, a clinical psychologist based in New York City, says the still-tenuous economy and employment picture is driving older men to feel more competitive with younger men. "In our culture, younger is better" -- and that's true today more than ever, McMahon told WalletPop. And "lines and jowls are not [considered] attractive in our culture."
More men are undergoing plastic surgery "because of the economy specifically: There just aren't as many jobs out there. They're saying, 'Anything that will give us an edge, why not?'"
Well alrighty, then. Let that be a lesson to you, knuckle draggers :)
July 11, 2012
Preglimony & Sex Lead To Equal Opportunity Silliness, Part I
What is it about sex that prompts otherwise sane and sagacious writers of both sexes to heretofore unseen feats of solipsistic sophism? [Full disclosure: we tried to work a few more scintillatingly sibyllant "s" words into the preceding sentence, but our alliterative powers generally require a second cup of coffee before they reach full potency.] The sexy sex foolishness begins, as it so often does, in the Opinion section of the Paper of Record:
FOR most of human history, a woman who became pregnant after sleeping with more than one partner had no way of definitively knowing the identity of the man with whom she had conceived. Likewise, a man whose lover became pregnant had no way of knowing for sure whether his or another man’s DNA was gestating inside her.
Since the 1970s it has been possible to genetically link a father and his baby with increasing levels of accuracy.... Since a small amount of fetal DNA is present in a pregnant woman’s blood, the pregnancy can be genetically linked to her partner through a simple blood draw from the woman’s arm.
One of the potential ramifications [of this new technology] is that men might be called upon to help support their pregnant lovers before birth, even if the pregnancy is ultimately terminated or ends in miscarriage. They might be asked to chip in for medical bills, birthing classes and maternity clothes, to help to cover the loss of income that often comes with pregnancy, or to contribute to the cost of an abortion.
Of course, plenty of men already treat the costs of pregnancy as a shared responsibility. But some do not, leaving the woman to shoulder the burdens alone.
As the saying goes, hilarity ensues. First up is a response linked via Grim, who comments:
I'm willing to accept that a man who gets a woman pregnant ought to take responsibility for providing for her needs during pregnancy. That all makes sense to me, although Taranto's objections regarding incentives do seem like relevant concerns.
But there can be no accommodation on the question of forcing a man to pay for the abortion of his own child. It's hard enough that we require a man to endure the killing of a child he may want, if the woman carrying the child decides that she prefers it dead. There can be no moral argument for forcing him to pay for the poisoning of his own flesh and blood.
Grim's response makes sense as far as it goes. Last time we checked, pregnancy requires the active participation of two people, both of whom have a non-delegatable duty to use birth control if they do not wish to conceive a child.
Admittedly no method of birth control is foolproof, but then few precautions in life are designed to withstand the combined efforts of not one, but two fools. The actual failure rate for most birth control methods (which measures their effectiveness when used carelessly or inconsistently) far exceeds the "perfect use" failure rate (the chance of unplanned pregnancy when a given method is used correctly and consistently).
If both partners take the physical risks of casual sex (pregnancy and STDs) seriously, each will use birth control and take precautions against sexually transmitted diseases. Two methods offer more protection than one alone. Thus, when both partners use birth control - even badly - the chance of unintended pregnancy is vanishingly small. The actual failure rate for condoms is about 15%. For the Pill, it's about 8%. The combined failure rate using these two methods (someone please correct me if I've done this wrong) should be .15*.08=.0120, or about 1%. Keep in mind that this combined failure rate applies when both parties fail to use their respective methods correctly. If one partner uses birth control correctly, the risk will be smaller. And if they both use birth control responsibly, the combined failure rate is so small as to be insignificant.
Moreover, this particular discussion assumes two sexual partners who are unmarried and thus in many cases, not in an exclusive relationship. So in addition to the pre-existing duty of both partners to use birth control, the man has an additional incentive to use a condom: the prevention of STDs. Here, simple biology places most of the burden on the male. Female contraceptives are not designed to prevent the transmission of many STDs. The importance of these inconvenient calculations becomes clear when reading Taranto's response to the preglimony proposal. Mr. Taranto's first objection rests on ostensibly practical grounds:
Motro is vague about the details--in particular, the question of how a DNA sample would be extracted from an unwilling man. It does seem clear, however, that she means "asked" as a euphemism for "forced," as when President Obama "asks" the "rich" to "contribute" by paying higher taxes.
At first, one is tempted to think he has never heard of paternity suits, but Mr. Taranto later acknowledges that legal mechanisms for holding unwed fathers financially accountable for children they choose to sire (and refusing to use birth control - or use it correctly - IS a reproductive choice) already exist and are fairly commonplace:
Motro's proposal would bring back the shotgun, but without the wedding. To some extent it would merely extend existing practice, in which courts sometimes order fathers to pay child support even when they have never been married to the mothers. But it differs in that it would make the father responsible for the mother's welfare, not just the child's.
This seems a tad misleading. Ms. Molto's suggestion doesn't make the father responsible for the mother's welfare. It merely asks him to share the costs of their joint carelessness. Oddly, Mr. Taranto seems surprised and vaguely offended at the suggestion that an adult male who could easily prevent unwanted pregnancies should be expected to suffer the predictable costs of his beautiful and natural refusal to protect himself. The myth of consequence free sex (for men, at least) dies so beautifully. Things get stranger a few paragraphs later:
Before the pill and abortion, unwanted pregnancy was a foreseeable risk of sexual intercourse, one that was equally beyond the control of both partners. Afterward, the matter was entirely under the control of the woman. It was, and is, a woman's choice whether to use the pill and, if pregnancy results anyway, whether to have an abortion.
It's hard to know what to say here. Condoms have been in existence since the year 3000 BC. Herbal contraceptives, natural abortifacients, and intrauterine devices in various forms have been around nearly as long as the condom. By 1920, well before Betty Friedan single handedly destroyed Western Civilization as we knew it, American couples, using a combination of condoms and other well known birth control methods, had already cut the U.S. birth rate in half. And that was before mandatory sex ed hit the public school system:
In the 1920s, the U.S. birth rate drops by half. Condom reliability is still terrible by modern standards, but people achieved effective birth control by combining condoms, the rhythm method, male withdrawal, diaphragms, and/or intrauterine devices.
Nowhere in Taranto's column does he mention the availability of condoms. This is not an inadvertent omission: a few paragraphs later he repeats his astounding assertion that men have no ability to prevent unwanted pregnancies, following it up with an even loopier conclusion:
Short of surgical sterilization, the only way single men could be assured of avoiding shotgun nonmarriage would be to abstain from sex. As we noted in April, there is evidence that teen boys are doing just that. But while male teen abstinence may be desirable, only female abstinence can prevent out-of-wedlock births.
Now wait just a durned minute! Doesn't it take two people - a man and a woman - to create an unwanted baby? Male abstinence is just as effective in preventing pregnancies as female abstinence. What is it about sex that causes rational adults to make such blissfully afactual arguments?
The real objection to Taranto's analysis is he proposes to replace one distasteful solution to the "problem" of asymmetrical consequences with another that's just as bad. He would counter the feminist vision of female sexual irresponsibility with an equal dose of male irresponsibility, conjuring up a brave new world in which infantilized men can't be expected to protect themselves from STDs, nor lift a fingerlike appendage to prevent a predictable consequence of casual sex: the creation of children they are unwilling to support.
It's worth noting that Molto's preglimony proposal, however impractical, does not ask men to bear ALL the responsibility for the costs of an unwanted pregnancy. Rather, it asks men to SHARE responsibility for those costs. On equitable grounds, it's hard to argue against such a proposal (with the exceptions cited by Grim: a man should never be forced to split the cost of killing a child he is willing to raise, and if he is willing to raise that child then the mother should be "forced" (!) to pay her share of the child's support). It is far from certain that the majority of unwed fathers actually desire to take on that responsibility. But where they do, it would be both cruel and unjust to force them to subsidize the ending of a life they value, even if the mother does not.
Finally, the Brookings study Taranto cites at the beginning of his essay takes issue with his assertion that financial subsidies for unwed mothers cause more out of wedlock births:
Efforts by social scientists to explain the rise in out-of-wedlock births have so far been unconvincing, though several theories have a wide popular following. One argument that appeals to conservatives is that of Charles Murray, who attributes the increase to overly generous federal welfare benefits. But as David Ellwood and Lawrence Summers have shown, welfare benefits could not have played a major role in the rise of out-of-wedlock births because benefits rose sharply in the 1960s and then fell in the 1970s and 1980s, when out-of-wedlock births rose most. A study by Robert Moffitt in 1992 also found that welfare benefits can account for only a small fraction of the rise in the out-of-wedlock birth ratio.
Somewhat ironically, the conclusion to the Brookings study recommends the very thing Taranto fears will cause men to abstain from casual sex (a consummation devoutly to be avoided!) and drop out of the sexual marketplace: make fathers share the costs of unplanned pregnancies!
It has been suggested that measures should be taken to make fathers pay for the support of their out-of-wedlock children. While probably difficult to enforce, such measures give the correct incentives. They will make men pause before fathering such children and they will at least slightly change the terms between fathers and mothers. Such measures deserve serious consideration.
When it comes to sex, reasoned argument seems to fly right out the window. Part II will dissect a feminist response to the preglimony proposal.
June 19, 2012
Dads In The News
In today's edition of "Fathers are awesome":
Beaver dads are often among the best in the animal kingdom, but one beaver widower who lost his long-time mate merits special attention.
"Dad," who lives in a Martinez, Calif. beaver colony, was suddenly left with three young kits to care for when his devoted partner died of an infection. They had previously raised 12 other kits together.
Heidi Perryman, president and founder of Worth a Dam, told Discovery News, "We were worried about their (the three kits') safety. Would Dad be able to provide for them and could he care for them as well as she did? Would they learn everything they needed to know without a mother?"
Their fears were understandable. Dad could only do so much in a day. He not only built the family home (his clan's lodge), but he also regularly repairs it. This is in addition to building dams, gathering food and other time-consuming duties.
He more than stepped up to the plate, though. In addition to tackling care-giving basics, he gave the kits beaver-back rides and taught them how to dive. He brought them gourmet tender new shoots for dinner.
"Dad's transition to single parent was a seamless one," Perryman said. "All three youngsters have survived to adulthood, and Dad is still at hand, showing them the finer points of dam management.
This, in particular, cracked me up:
When Mom was alive, Dad never received much onlooker attention because Mom was such a crowd favorite. She had a distinctively patterned tail that made her easily identifiable.
Dad may not have such natural tail bling, but he's now drawing fans in California. His family seems to think he's pretty amazing too.
As well they should! Tail bling is highly overrated.
The Power of False Myths
Back in January when the Costa Concordia ran aground, the rightosphere was awash in comparisons to the sinking of the Titanic with its now famous chivalric standard: "Women and children first". It wasn't far from there to the inevitable lesson we were supposed to draw from the cowardly behavior of the captain and some passengers and crew: the real culprits were those evil feminists and their chivalry-harshing ways:
Shortly after the sinking of the Costa Concordia we started having a low level grumble in the media about the failure to implement a “women and children first” evacuation policy. Others including Elusive Wapiti and Vox Day have rightly pointed out that it is wholly irrational for our society to expect men to follow cultural norms which have long been invalidated by feminism. As Brendan put it in a different context:If liberation for women meant liberation from accountability to men, liberation for men meant liberation from responsibility to women.
At the time, the Blog Princess pointed out one problem with this impressive display of post hoc rationalization. It turns out that the story that has come to define how civilized men respond to a disaster was not the norm, but in fact an exception to the general rule of "every man for himself":
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic in the North Atlantic, from which many of us get the notion that when a ship goes down, it's "women and children first" into the lifeboats. After all, the survival rate for first-class women passengers, according to Wikipedia's handy chart, was 97 percent, while for first-class men it was 33 percent. (Of third-class women, only 46 percent lived, but that's still far above the 16 percent of third-class male passengers who made it.) However, hard-nosed research on actual human behavior has found that male self-sacrifice in shipwrecks in general is a myth: According to this review (pdf) of data from 18 non-wartime shipwrecks from 1852 to 2011, men have generally been twice as likely to survive a shipwreck than women. Hence the title of the paper, by Mikael Elinder and Oscar Erixson, economists at Sweden's Uppsala University: "Every Man for Himself."
According to the data gathered by the pair, the Titanic disaster also spawned another myth: Captains went down with their ships in less than half the cases, and crews had better survival rates than passengers. The data also suggest that a gender norm of male chivalry doesn't do nearly as much for women as egalitarianism: Survival rates for female passengers have improved in the past few decades, probably because more women now than then are taught to swim, encouraged to be physically fit, and not stuck in bustles and corsets.
The really impressive lesson from the sinking of the Titantic is not that chivalry was once the norm, but that one good man standing up for a principle has the power to change our perception of the way the world works:
...why was the Titanic an outlier in the shipwreck data? Elinder and Erixson note that Captain Edward Smith insisted on women going first into the lifeboats. Men who disobeyed found themselves staring at officers' drawn guns (and some shots were fired). Only when captains insist on the standard with this kind of determination, write the authors, does the male advantage disappear.
The power of the "women and children first" myth illustrates the degree to which compelling stories trump more thorough analysis:
... narratives are simple. What is ambiguous, inexplicable and accidental tends to get filtered out of them, leaving an impression that the world is more orderly and predictable than it really is. So stories incline us to blame (this didn't just happen, it's their fault) and to hubris (I know the real story, I don't care what other evidence you want to present). Then, too, we don't have a lot of different forms for our stories. Under all their variety are a few structures that occur again and again. So thinking in narrative encourages us to see disparate experiences as if they were the same (as in, "I'm turning into my mother!" or "Afghanistan is Vietnam all over again!"). And, of course, stories compel our attention and emotions, so people who tell us a powerful story can manipulate us.
Politics is organized around emotionally compelling stories: individual anecdotes eclipse the more important question of how public policy affects us in the aggregate. Which leaves the Editorial Staff with a question: is it better to see a false myth with an inspiring moral message take root, or are we better off knowing the truth?
Just as a side note, during our discussion on supposedly outdated gender roles, Grim brought up an interesting possible consequence of the recent spate of female action hero characters:
If T99 is right that these movies are about a kind of 'sweet mental revenge,' then they fall about the middle of the scale: about where that book on BDSM did. If it's about dealing with a psychological upset that comes from day to day life, then it's about getting by while doing your duty; a minor good, but not a great good.
If on the other hand it's actively causing harm by encouraging children to view 'girly' things as inferior, or encouraging the breakdown of the norm against boys using violence on girls, then it's more to the negative end of the scale. Strong criticism is warranted.
Here's a related question: do we need a strong societal prescription against boys using violence on girls? When I was growing up, it was generally considered shameful for a larger, stronger boy or man to fight a much weaker opponent. This was the concept of a "fair fight": analogous concepts would be a knight dismounting to fight an opponent who had been knocked from his horse or a man with a gun tossing it aside to fight with his fists or with a sword (if that was the weapon his opponent had).
Do we need a sex-specific ban here, or would the more general one against punching below one's weight (so to speak) suffice?
June 14, 2012
Fun with Outdated Gender Stereotypes
In today's edition of Gender Sensitivity Is Important, Unless Of Course We're Talking About You (in which case, it's political correctness run amok) disrespected Dads are pushing back against inaccurate and outdated stereotyping of fathers in ads and the media:
There's a movement under way among dads in America that's changing what you see on TV. Across the country, more and more are fed up -- and rising up against the stereotype of the inept, clueless father.
"We're not the Peter Griffin or the Homer Simpson that we're often portrayed as," said Kevin Metzger, who runs the Dadvocate blog.
It's often the chief gripe among the dads I interview about modern fatherhood.
David Holland, father of three, rails against "doofus dads" in ads. In his blog Blather. Wince. Repeat., he calls them "Madison Avenue's go-to guy."
During every commercial break, he says, he and his wife "try to see who can be the first one to spot the idiot husband or father."
In a sign of their growing power, dads out to end the stereotype recently scored a knockout blow against a pair of TV ads.
A Huggies ad earlier this year said the company put its diapers "to the toughest test imaginable: dads, alone with their babies, in one house, for five days."
What exactly made time with dad "the toughest test imaginable?" The ad showed dads making some unpleasant faces and ended with a woman saying, "good luck, babe."
Another Huggies ad featured a group of dads not changing their babies' diapers while watching an entire game through "double overtime."
Angry dads and moms responded with complaints, saying fathers aren't incompetent parents who leave their kids in dirty diapers.
Chris Routly took it a step further, creating a petition on change.org.
"This wasn't just that they had created a bumbling dad character or that sort of thing or just excluding dad," like so many other TV portrayals, he said. "They were using language that was really saying dads are terrible at this stuff."
Huggies took action.
It's hard to know what to think of this, frankly. I find the lazy/irresponsible/dumb slacker male stereotype offensive on lots of levels, but then I have found negative stereotyping of women offensive for as long as I can remember. But the fact is that stereotypes exist for a reason: they are a sort of shorthand for phenomena we see over and over again in the real world. A stereotype that runs counter to our experience doesn't resonate - it literally doesn't make sense to us.
What I'm having some trouble with is the "not all Dads are like that..." argument. Not all wives are emasculating nags, not all professional women are vicious, ball breaking harpies who enjoy humiliating men and are threatened by/undermine other women (in fact, literally every mentor I've had in my professional life has been female, which is remarkable since I've worked for far more men than women), and not all gorgeous blonds are ditzy, gold digging bimbos. The real question here is not so much whether all men or all women conform to the stereotype, but rather whether enough men and women conform to the stereotype to make it recognizable to us?
Complaining - or simply being offended - about stereotypes is something I understand. And I have no problem (in theory) with letting companies I do business with know if they're offending me. If they want our business, it's probably a good idea not to insult the customer.
What bothers me about this is the gender grievance aspect. While men absolutely are depicted in negative ways in media, they are also depicted - more often than women - in very positive ways. Which portrayal we get is context sensitive - if the focus is on adventure or heroism, men are portrayed positively as strong, capable heroes:
One of the most prominent male stereotypes in the media is that of the alpha male. Whether a character is the strong silent type, an action hero, a big shot, or an athlete, the ideal of masculinity is the figure of dominance. He is in control of his own emotions and actions, and is often in control of others as well. He is physically strong, or socially powerful. He is probably physically attractive and aggressive. The alpha male character is likely to be either violent, or put in violent situations, which he is more than capable of dealing with.
Characters who possess the alpha male traits are found in movies, cartoons, and video games. He-Man, Rambo, and Batman are quintessentially masculine. Popular actors such as Harrison Ford, Will Smith, Bruce Willis, and Wesley Snipes all have played many alpha male roles.
Recent attempts to show women as strong, capable heroines have met with resentment and derision, as though being someone others can look up to/emulate is strictly male turf (or simply laughable on its face). Often cited are the improbable scenarios where a female defeats men in a fight, though the point is somewhat undermined in the context of cartoons, fantasy and science fiction movies, and other genres that regularly show men doing wildly improbable things like jumping onto a truck moving 60 mph from an overpass or the hero with no previous fighting experience who magically (!) defeats 6 ninjas in a dark alley armed with nothing more than improvised numchucks constructed on the fly from a string of extra strength dental floss and two stale Twix bars.
When the context shifts to comedy, we get an object of ridicule: the beta slacker dude.
Another influential trend in the media portrayal of men is the beta male. This character is often found as one of the main characters of television sitcoms. Unlike the capable alpha male, the beta male is more or less incapable of everything. He tends to fail, and rarely tries to be successful. He is fundamentally worthless to society, and manages to survive through luck, or a capable mother, wife, sister, or friend.
He is Homer Simpson and Al Bundy. He is Spencer Shay from the children's sitcom iCarly, and Raymond from Everybody Loves Raymond. This male stereotype is another version of masculinity; another choice for boys and young men to emulate.
I often wonder whether the real solution to the problem of negative stereotypes isn't more complaining but more praise for the companies who get it right? Let's face it: whether it's an ad campaign, a blockbuster movie or a children's show, what companies really want is a product their customers like.
At the risk of conforming to another negative stereotype (the smug, know it all mother), positive reinforcement works - and without the tiresome, speech and humor squelching side effects of campaigns to pressure companies to show us only pleasing depictions of ourselves that bolster our amour propre.
What do you think?
May 23, 2012
Double Entendre of the Day
Women and their incessant, unreasonable demands:
Time: Of all the things we talk about women wanting, time with their spouse is it. The vast majority of women in happy relationships get 30 minutes of uninterrupted time with their husbands each day. Twenty-four percent of women who claim to be in unhappy relationships spend fewer than five minutes a day with their spouses.
Ask yourself, “How much time do I spend with my spouse?” Uninterrupted time means time spent without iPhones and Blackberrys, a conversation with nothing else on.
We can dream, n'est pas?
Update: Of course in some circles this sort of thing is viewed as evidence of matriarchal oppression (video at 5:14).
Kind Gestures: Hugs, kisses, unexpected telephone calls to say ‘I love you.’ Simple things. I suggest five touch points a day for one week – any kind gesture that takes 30 seconds or less. If a man can do this for his partner for one week, both will be amazed at how much better they feel in the relationship.
I loved the part in the middle of the article about the need for women not to temper their appetite for conversation to their husbands' lower tolerance for it. I have trouble with that one still.
If only there were a way to have a happy marriage without ever having to think about the other person's needs, what a wonderful world that would be.
Somewhere out there, such a perfect woman is waiting for Bill Maher :p
April 14, 2012
Housewifery as a Luxury Good
Texan99 riffs on the President's dubious assertion that he and Michelle couldn't afford for her to stay home with the kids:
A definition of luxury becomes even more fraught with unconscious moral assumptions when the term is applied to activities that at one time were considered duties. You hear people talk, for instance, as though the prohibition against theft were a luxury that only the rich can afford, because they are not truly hungry. A more thoughtful way to apprpoach that issue would be to say that a rich man's honesty has not been tested by hunger, with a cautionary note that a rich man should be slow to assume that he would do a better job than his neighbor of avoiding theft if he ever were equally hungry. By defining a virtue as a luxury, however, someone who wants to remove the stigma from violation of a duty can score an indirect moral point in his own favor, or at least disarm his critics in advance -- as if everyone in less desperate straits than oneself were at least unpleasantly complacent, if not outright greedy.
I am referring, obviously, to the President's recent statement that he and his wife did not have the "luxury" of letting her stay home with the kids. This statement is remarkably full of loaded assumptions. To begin with, it's hard not to laugh at the idea that a family with hundreds of thousands of dollars of income "can't afford" to forgo a second paycheck. But even if you buy that notion, calling a stay-at-home mom a "luxury" is essentially to make a judgment that the big house and the cable TV are basic necessities, while personally raising their children constitutes the frill.
The President presumably considers himself something of a feminist, without ever thinking about it very hard. Being a man of his culture, however, he naturally assumes that the man works and then, if there's still not enough money, the woman works too, which just shows you that he's not nutty enough to expect even a very liberal electorate to swallow too many transformative social experiments all at once. But a real feminist wouldn't justify her decision to earn a living by saying her husband couldn't afford to support her. She might suggest that, if it were clear that at least one parent ought to stay home with young children, then some careful thought should be given to which parent it should be. She might also take the position that it's no one's business but hers and her husband's how they arrange to share the adult duties in their household.
I've read her post three times now, and like a fine wine it just keeps getting better.
March 26, 2012
They have the mad dance moves:
Update: Today in Maryland news....
January 18, 2012
Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc?
Could the causal connection be any more clear? I think not.
1912: Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose/Republicans become the first national party to champion womens' suffrage. Shortly thereafter, the Titanic hits an iceberg.
Stupid/evil/chumpy white knights, not yet having read their copies of the feminist manifesto, heroically offer women and children first dibs on available lifeboat seats.
1915: A second ship, eerily similar to the Titanic, sinks. But this time it's every man for himself!
The makeup of the passengers and crew on both of them was similar, and the sinkings happened relatively close in time, the Titanic in 1912 and the Lusitania in 1915.
In their analysis, the researchers studied passenger and survivor lists from both ships, and considered gender, age, ticket class, nationality and familial relationships with other passengers. The differences emerged after a closer look at the survival rates.
On the Titanic, the study found, children were 14.8 percent more likely to survive adults, while on the Lusitania they were 5.3 percent less likely to do so. And women on the Titanic were 53 percent more likely to survive than men, while on the Lusitania they were 1.1 percent less likely to do so.
The implication, Dr. Torgler said, is that on the Titanic, male passengers went out of their way to help women and children.
From chivalry to "Dude, where's my lifeboat" in just three years. You've got to hand it to those horrid feminists... They're fast. And apparently quite effective.
There are two inescapable conclusions we can draw from this sad story:
1. We womynfolk have far more power than we ever suspected.
2. When bad things happen, it's a fair bet that Republicans are involved.
Update: Smitty eloquently defends a vanishing idea - we are all responsible for our own actions:
The traditional, mutually supportive roles of women and men are as simple as 2+2=4. Just because Andrea Dworkin and company came along and contended that arithmetic was an oppressive patriarchal regime, and that 2+2=5 is every bit as emotionally satisfying as the correct answer, does not an excuse make.
I am reminded of a quote from one of my favorite movies:
A king may move a man, a father may claim a son, but that man can also move himself, and only then does that man truly begin his own game. Remember that howsoever you are played or by whom, your soul is in your keeping alone, even though those who presume to play you be kings or men of power. When you stand before God, you cannot say, "But I was told by others to do thus," or that virtue was not convenient at the time. This will not suffice.
I'm also reminded of one of my favorite definitions of masculinity:
Manliness," he says, "is a quality that causes individuals to stand for something."
... Manliness, says Mansfield, thrives on drama, conflict, risk, and exploits: "War is hell but men like it." Manliness is often aggressive, but when the aggression is tied to the concept of honor, it transcends mere animal spiritedness. Allied with reason, as in Socrates, manliness finds its highest expression.
Manliness cannot be taken from a man, but it may be voluntarily surrendered. I thank God each day for men who utterly refuse to be defined by the actions of others.
January 17, 2012
When Grievance Politics Trumps Civilization
“This was not so much predictable as predicted. Women have methodically attacked the concept of male duty and honor through every possible means for the past ninety years, and now they are whining that they don’t get special treatment simply because a ship happens to be sinking. Why, exactly, should any man ‘prioritise women, expectant mothers and children’? On what grounds can they be reasonably expected to do so, those outdated traditional grounds that the schools teach is hateful, sexist, and bigoted? Those big, burly crewmen shoving aside women as they prioritized their own escape should have been wearing t-shirts that said ‘this is what a feminist looks like’. Enjoy the crash.”
As ye sow, so shall ye reap.
Wow. Just wow. Six dead and 29 missing in a tragic accident that (so far as I can see) is attributable to the cowardice, negligence, and poor example of the captain and crew - note carefully: to *some* men, not *all* men - and the reaction is, "Up yours, feminists/women - you got what you deserved"?
If a little boy is elbowed aside by an able bodied man and drowns as a result, has he "reaped what he sowed"? Alternate form of the implied argument is, "It's not the man's fault - those horrid feminists and their mind control rays made him do it!" Allow me to riff on the ubiquitous Heinlein quote:
Any society that allows morality to be defined down to the lowest common denominator will not long survive.
Using the bad behavior of others to justify your own misbehavior is the lowest of lowest common denominators. But that's not the only problem with the "as you sow" formulation. Let's examine the underlying argument (such as it is) more closely. Have women actually argued - for ninety years, no less! - that it is sexist for men to put women and children first? Have they argued that men have no duty to protect the weak in an emergency? I'm curious: where has this argument been made?
Some women, somewhere may have made this argument but have "women" (or feminists, for that matter) as general class of people made it? How many women would have to make such an argument to justify dereliction of duty by the captain and crew of this ship (not to mention able bodied adults of either sex pushing children aside and saving themselves first)?
If women (or feminists - the two terms seem to be used interchangeably, objections to broad brush stereotyping of men notwithstanding) are really arguing for perfect equality between the sexes, how do we explain feminist demands for special and/or preferential treatment?
The answer is, "They're not". It seems to me - and this is precisely what I have objected to so many times - that some feminists have argued for a double standard in which women are, on the one hand, viewed as being weak and in need of protection from aggressive men (sexual harassment laws, affirmative action laws, gender discrimination laws) but also, that there are no significant differences in our ability to protect ourselves (demands for women to be admitted to the combat arms, police, traditionally male jobs in equal numbers, physical and psychological differences between the sexes notwithstanding).
Who has been arguing that men should look out for themselves first? The only place I've seen this argument made openly is on the so-called MRA blogs. The argument I've seen made here (along with much ridicule of traditional masculine values) is that the family court system is so hopelessly biased against men that men are justified in essentially adopting a "Screw you - I'm going to protect myself first" attitude.
The interesting thing here is that there are huge logical inconsistencies in the complaints of both radical feminists and radical men's rights activists.
If you believe the biological differences between men and women are real, and that women are naturally better suited to child rearing (or that there is - in general - a closer bond between mothers and children than exists between fathers and children), then on what possible basis can you argue that the family court system is "unfair" and biased against men if more women than men get custody? Even before we examine the question of how many men vs. women ask for custody, the presumption that a "fair" system would automagically result in equal custody awards for fathers and mothers doesn't follow logically from the belief that men are better suited for some tasks and women for others.
Radical feminists have a similar problem, though I'm not sure they are arguing that women should always get custody. If you truly believe that men and women are by nature EQUALLY able to care for children (and further, that men should assume equal parenting duties), then wouldn't you want men and women to get custody in roughly equal proportions?
Note that I have not actually seen feminists arguing that they think women should always get custody. If they're arguing from genuine conviction, they should WANT men to get custody more because that would result in a more equitable sharing of parental duties and more freedom for women.
This is what happens when men and women engage in identity/victimhood politics: they end up defending things they don't really believe because in the end, they'll do/argue anything just to win the argument.
I really like Texan99's formulation of the problem:
"Women and children first" is the kind of simple, clear code of behavior that can persist when you're close to losing your mind. It's an old-fashioned short-hand for "Civilization and self-respect and our duty to God require us to consider self-sacrifice in the form of putting first the needs of the more helpless among us in an emergency." It may also have to do with saving the sex who can repopulate the tribe. It's painted with broad brushes and doesn't stop to calculate how many childbearing years are left to the old bag you're helping into the lifeboat. It does sometimes lead the old to sacrifice themselves for the young, the able-bodied for the handicapped. Maybe I'd like to see it evolve so that we wouldn't have to inquire, as Karen Blixen was said to have responded to the phrase "women and children first," "Is that one category, or two?"
When gender grievances and identity politics trump the survival of the species (or just plain common sense), we all lose.
January 16, 2012
"Women and Children Last"
This may well be the most fascinating story I've seen in ages:
It was every man – and crew member – for himself. Survivors from the Costa Concordia spoke angrily yesterday of the nightmare evacuation from the stricken ship as women and children were left behind.
In the terrifying moments after the giant vessel began to list, fights even broke out to get into the lifeboats.
Men refused to prioritise women, expectant mothers and children as they pushed themselves forward to escape. Crew ignored their passengers – leaving ‘chefs and waiters’ to help out.
In heart-rending footage, recorded on mobile phones, British children could be heard shouting ‘Daddy’ and ‘Mummy’ in the melee.
As she waited for a flight home from Rome, grandmother Sandra Rogers, 62, told the Daily Mail: ‘There was no “women and children first” policy. There were big men, crew members, pushing their way past us to get into the lifeboats. It was disgusting.’
Mrs Rogers, a widow originally from Chester who has retired to Minorca, was sailing with her daughter Karen, 39, and seven-year-old twin granddaughters Emma and Chloe.
She said: ‘I want everyone to know how badly some people behaved. It was a nightmare. I lost my daughter and my grandchildren in the chaos.
‘I was standing by the lifeboats and men, big men, were banging into me and knocking the girls. It was awful. There was a total lack of organisation. There was no one telling people where to go.
‘And when we finally got into a lifeboat, people, grown men, were trying to jump into the boat. I thought, if they land in here we are going to capsize.
A few observations:
1. It's very tempting to turn this kind of story into some sort of uber metaphor for all the ills that modern society is heir to, but some temptations ought to be vigorously resisted.
2. The unwillingness of some subset of the men on this ship to adhere to the traditional "women and children first" will be blamed on Feminism in 10...9...8...7...
Never mind that these men also pushed ahead of children, some of whom were little boys. Those durned feminists are reaping the whirlwind now !!!11!!!.
3. If the purpose of women and children first is to ensure the continuation of the human race, it seems relevant to point out that the entire human race wasn't on this particular ship. Also, any woman past childbearing age isn't going to be much help when it comes time repopulate the planet.
If the purpose of women and children first is to give the physically weakest passengers the added advantage of a boat (on the presumption that men are physically stronger and hence more likely to be able to fend for themselves), it would seem that the progressive ideal of a level playing field is something of a hothouse flower.
4. The entire account reeks more of individualism eroding the sacrifice ethic than of anything having to do with gender....but I'm pretty sure both sides of the gender debate will see it what they want to see in it.
What say you?