The Thinking 


September 27, 2012


KATHLENE M. writes:

I’m forwarding this interesting New York Post article by Kyle Smith in case you haven’t seen it.  It’s a biting critique of Hanna Rosin’s book The End of Men and the Rise of Women. The article is titled “Junk Male:  Women don’t need guys anymore — this is progress?” I’m so glad to see that people are starting to question feminism’s nightmare utopia of “freedom” for women.

The opening paragraph grabbed my attention immediately:

So, women have gained the right to work soul-crushing, corporation-drone, 80-hour weeks, the right to bear and raise children without male interference, the right to live alone until the stress of having a career while retaining most of their family responsibilities gradually squeezes the life out of them.

Laura writes:

A very good review. Smith writes:

Women who have given up the power to withhold sex no longer have a way to keep men in line. It turns out that the supposedly anti-feminist, “repressive” Victorian standard, in which all of society pushed toward delaying sex and keeping reproduction within marriage, was a hugely successful way to force men to be responsible.

To a Gloria Steinem feminist like Rosin, women are one side, men are the other, and you should always root for your team, especially when it comes to economic figures. She finds a town in Alabama where women’s median income is 140% of men’s. “After all these years,” Rosin writes, “we have located our feminist paradise in a small college town in the deep South.”

Here’s what happens where women win all the bread and men merely consume it. In another Alabama town, Rosin meets the “smokin’ hot” Shannon and Troy, the father of their child. In the last month he’s worked four days. She works full-time at Walmart, does most of the child care and earns extra cash as “an exotic dancer.” He stays home and smokes and drinks beer. Once he choked her till she passed out. Her income may be several times that of her mate’s, but this is neither feminist nor paradise.

In a strange chapter about the explosion of violent crime among women, Rosin keeps hinting that this is a sort of an advance — an implicit rebuke to “the notion of women as vulnerable.” Besides, she argues, maybe more female criminals means more women as corporate barracudas.

I have one quibble. Smith seems to think Anne-Marie Slaughter is some kind of antidote to Rosin. Good heavens, Slaughter approves of female workaholism and child neglect almost as much as Rosin.

—- Comments ——

Jane S. writes:

“women as corporate barracudas”

How perfect. I had a nasty run-in with one of those only this week. I swear, in all the job settings I’ve been in, it’s the women who are the troublemakers. They have done nothing to make the workplace kinder or gentler. If anything they have made things worse.

Alissa writes:

From the New York Post article and I quote: “Rosin is puzzled to discover that MBAs with rich husbands are increasingly opting to become stay-at-home moms. These fortunate few can do anything, and they choose to dial their lives back to a modified Eisenhower era. Feminists, and women in the classes below, declare good riddance to all that, when they’re not sobbing in frustration or wilting with exhaustion.”

Feminism benefits the upper-classes and the elite far more than everybody. It utterly destroys most of society. It has destroyed the lower-classes and it is starting to destroy the middle-classes. Not every girl can be the cream of the crop and walk out of the feminist experiment looking half-decent and “having it all.”

Joel N. writes:

Regarding this paragraph from the Kyle Smith article

 “Women who have given up the power to withhold sex no longer have a way to keep men in line. It turns out that the supposedly anti-feminist, “repressive” Victorian standard, in which all of society pushed toward delaying sex and keeping reproduction within marriage, was a hugely successful way to force men to be responsible.”

I think it is a serious mistake to think that women can control men and force them to be responsible by withholding sex. The historical record shows that prostitutes were much more numerous during Victorian times than today, so it is clear that men had access to sex even if unmarried. And if men only marry and become responsible to get sex, then today’s modest, chaste, and feminine woman is in a hopeless situation.

 Rather, it is the modesty, chastity, and femininity of a woman that inspires a man to be responsible and invest in a family. The reason a man doesn’t buy the cow when he gets the milk for free isn’t because he gets the milk for free — it’s because a cow that gives milk for free isn’t worth buying.

I certainly agree that reproduction (and sex) should be kept within marriage. It was a good way to keep women in line and force them to be responsible. That’s why the feminists (male and female) did away with it.

Laura writes:

Yes, I think it’s better to think of modesty and chastity as inspiring men, not forcing them. You characterize the purpose of chastity much better than Smith.

However, there’s a fine line between motivating and “forc[ing] men to be responsible.” Perhaps we should say these strong motivations forced men to be responsible.

The same goes for women. They were strongly motivated by masculinity to be responsible.

Mary writes:

Joel wrote: “And if men only marry and become responsible to get sex, then today’s modest, chaste, and feminine woman is in a hopeless situation….”

Today’s modest, chaste and feminine women are most decidedly in a hopeless situation, but let’s be honest: one of the main reasons for this is the dearth of chivalrous, chaste and truly masculine men to be inspired to responsibility and marriage by womenly virtues. Most young men today don’t value virginity, and because of this many modest, chaste and feminine women have succumbed and become the cows Joel thinks aren’t worth buying. It is one of the principal tragedies of our time that virginity is no longer understood or taken seriously in the least; it has become a punch line. We speak of women’s corruption by feminism but men have been corrupted, too. Many seem to think all women are the beneficiaries of feminism, but most are victims of it. Feminism actually benefits a very few, if you can call material success at the cost of a hardened heart and estrangement from life’s true meaning and beauty a benefit.

Joel’s final statement mystifies me, unless of course it is some sort of irony or joke that I missed:

“I certainly agree that reproduction (and sex) should be kept within marriage. It was a good way to keep women in line and force them to be responsible.” (my emphasis)

Laura writes:

Both men and women are encouraged endlessly and everywhere to follow sexual freedom. They are not so much deciding which avenue to pursue as taking what is handed to them and what they have been taught.

As for Joel’s final statement, whether he was joking or not (I think not), there is some truth to it, just as there is truth to the statement that traditional sexual morality forces men (ideally by motivating them) to become more responsible.

Lisa writes:

“The historical record shows that prostitutes were much more numerous during Victorian times than today, so it is clear that men had access to sex even if unmarried.”

Perhaps this seems so because prostitutes then were called such, unlike the majority of promiscuous free-sex women of today. As far as within family and marriage, women were not the alone in “forcing” or “motivating” men to be responsible: Fathers, brothers, and grandfathers of Victorian girls had as much of a role to play guarding their daughters as the women of the family.

Joel writes:

I’d like to elaborate on my earlier comments.

I agree that there is a place for social pressure on a young man to marry and become responsible. Often this social pressure used to come from other men. But it will really only work if a young man sees that marriage and becoming responsible are personally beneficial for him. And with the direction our society is going, many young men are not seeing marriage as beneficial.

Yes, a man will marry to get sex, but even more so he will marry to gain feminine supportive companionship and to raise up children who will carry forward his legacy. Without these, why bother? Yet they have been eroded by the feminist liberals (with mainstream conservatives following close behind). No-fault divorce, alimony, and mother custody mean that a man could lose his children and be forced to pay tribute to his wife even though it was she who had an adulterous affair and left him — and in my extended family and circle of acquaintances, it’s more often the women behaving badly than the men.

These threats did not stop me from marrying, but they made me very careful when choosing my wife. And I encourage my daughters to cultivate the qualities of my wife so they too can attract a good man. Yes, it will be difficult, but I think it will not be hopeless. A truly modest, chaste, and feminine woman will stand out these days.

I was serious when I said that traditional sexual morality was a good way to keep women in line and force them to be responsible, but let me explain what I meant. The decline of traditional morality has enabled men to be sexually promiscuous (if they are sufficiently attractive) and be lazy at work (though still paying their own way). Although not good, the effects on wider society are muted. Promiscuous men avoid having children if they can manage it, and they are still considered desirable for marriage by many women.

Contrastingly, the decline of traditional morality has enabled a tsunami of bastardy among women. This has much worse effects on wider society.

Single mothers receive financial support via taxation on the prudent and hard-working, and the children they raise without fathers are much prone to crime and other social costs. And almost all of these women freely choose to have sex with and choose to get pregnant by men they know are not marriage material, and they freely choose not to give the child up for adoption (despite great demand). Moreover, single mothers are not desirable for marriage by most men.

When it comes to returning to responsibility and increasing marriage, I say we need to keep women in line just as much as men (if not more so). I think we’d get more leverage by shaming and refusing to subsidize women who bear children out of wedlock and getting rid of no-fault divorce. Once those were in place, promiscuity would necessarily decrease and men would become more interested in marriage.

Laura writes:

 I don’t think anyone would disagree with Joel’s point that there is a need to keep women “in line” as much as men. Ideally, they are inspired as much as compelled.

I credit Hanna Rosin with at least acknowledging, as few people do, that economic autonomy and sexual freedom are two sides of the same phenomenon. The first necessitates the second. Rosin thinks both are good developments of course and that any negative effects of sexual freedom are worth it because it enables women to be economically independent and excel in the workforce.

Just for clarification, while I agree with Joel’s observations on the effects of single motherhood, bastardy is not a condition that occurs among women exclusively. However, government support for single mothers unquestionably creates some incentive for women to become pregnant. He writes:

And almost all of these women freely choose to have sex with and choose to get pregnant by men they know are not marriage material, and they freely choose not to give the child up for adoption (despite great demand).

Government support creates a constant incentive. However, things are bit more complicated. Yes, they “freely” choose in a heavily sexualized culture in which they are never taught restraint. Also, there are strong, unconscious motivations — the primal drive toward motherhood — that will always keep women who are not career-directed or highly intelligent from using contraception responsibly. They oppose abortion instinctively and there is no pressure or guidance toward adoption. Despite government support, they would be better off financially if they had abortions. They choose not to.

Jesse Powell writes:

 There seems to be a chicken and egg problem going on here. How can men be convinced to do what is right if women are untrustworthy. On the other hand how can women be convinced to do what is right if men are untrustworthy. Aren’t both sides acting in accordance with rational self-interest by continuing in the irresponsible behaviors they are already engaged in?

The solution is to do what is right because it is right. The problem lies in the very idea that people should act “according to rational self-interest.” The elevation of “self-interest” to being the primary goal is itself wrongheaded. Society simply doesn’t work when the over-riding ethic is “rational self-interest.” What is the difference between “rational self-interest” and selfishness? Nothing; the whole point of being selfish is to maximize one’s own interests in a rational way.

This is why God or more generally “a higher power” or “doing what is right” needs to be at the center of people’s ethical system. You never will be able to create a social system where people are consistently motivated to do the right thing based on a rational rewards and punishment model. Obeying God and doing what is right because it is right always needs to be the underlying foundation of any moral system.

On the issue of “forcing” men to do what is right versus “motivating” men to do what is right both approaches are perfectly legitimate. The carrot and the stick together work better than either one alone. Ultimately however the pride and honor of doing what is right versus the shame and guilt of doing what is wrong also needs to be included in the decisions men make. Ultimately one does what is right because it is right and for no other reason.

Joel writes:

I agree with Mr. Powell that one should always do what is right only because it is right, but I don’t think we can expect that to occur on a society-wide basis in a fallen world. There also needs to be some carrot involved.

I agree with Laura that our culture does not encourage restraint and that there is a maternal primal drive, but I want to avoid viewing women as passive victims without culpability. The first step forward is recognizing that one is responsible for one’s choices, even when a corrupt culture makes it difficult to live virtuously.

I am 100 percent against abortion, but I wonder if we have made an error in not shaming women who are pregnant out of wedlock and even praising single mothers for “choosing life.” The pro-life movement has done so in order that women would feel less pressure to have an abortion, but through our encouragement and assistance of single motherhood, we have helped foster arising tide of illegitimacy.

Laura writes:

Good grief, no one who is a regular reader of this blog could come away thinking I or most other readers here view women as passive victims. Quite the opposite. And, as I have said before, it is not enough to oppose abortion. You are right on that score. Traditional morality can’t be built solely upon opposition to abortion, as important and crucial as that is. Women choose abortion largely because they view motherhood as an impediment to personal autonomy. Yes, of course, single motherhood has been unwittingly encouraged by those well-intentioned people eager to prevent abortion. This is another issue that has been discussed here before, although it always deserves repeating.


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