The Thinking 

Women and Work

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Fighting Feminist Discrimination in Britain

June 26, 2012


FEMINISTS, such as Anne-Marie Slaughter, often claim that  companies have an obligation to create an equal number of positions for men and women because equality is profitable. The expenses of accommodating women employees in demanding jobs, so the argument goes, are ultimately compensated. If employees devote much less time to their jobs and are often distracted, productivity increases.

This fantastical argument, rehashed in Slaughter’s latest piece in The Atlantic, defies common sense. It has also been refuted. See British academic Catherine Hakim’s long report on the subject.

Despite the many forces pushing equality, there is virtually no organized resistance to this flawed thinking and the coercive project of workforce quotas. There is promising news, however, from Britain. A businessman, Mike Buchanan, has started a new organization, Campaign for Merit in Business, to resist “positive discrimination for women.” He writes:

The reasons for the ‘imbalances’ between the numbers of men and women in the senior reaches of organisations in general, and in the boardroom in particular, are very well understood, although not widely understood. They’re attributable (as are phenomena such as the ‘gender pay gap’) to the choices freely made by men and women with regard to the world of work and have nothing to do with discrimination against women.

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The Paycheck Unfairness Act

June 7, 2012


THE SENATE this week rejected the second effort by Democrats to pass the draconian Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have multiplied the number of sex discrimination suits and further eroded the autonomy of the private sector under feminist tyranny. This is one small victory. Phyllis Schlafly writes of the bill:

This bill is another costly item on the feminists’ wish lists that would allow the federal government to artificially inflate salaries for jobs traditionally held by women, while freezing wages for jobs traditionally performed by men and empowering women to sue their employers to enforce these controlled wages. Read More »


What Women Need to Hear

September 24, 2009


In the previous entry on female sexuality, Matamoros described a pragmatic approach to recovering the lost honor of women. He wrote:

A movement that argued that the current political culture was pulling women in too many directions and resulting in the destruction of the family, with accompanying policy proposals that would involve a nationalist revitalization of the domestic economy so that one wage earner could support a wife and children in the broad American middle class, that might do it.

What would such a movement say to women?

It would say you were sold a bill of goods.  You were promised liberty and the pursuit of happiness but instead are shackled to the office chair gulping down anti-depressants.  You were promised sexual liberty, but instead your sexuality has been colonized by the marketplace, reducing the most intimate of human affairs to a commodity, and now resulting in the actual marketing of sex to pre-teens, by the Walt Disney Company no less.  You were promised fulfillment, but the reality is a race to the bottom and may the sluttiest win.  It would say that while you were promised  “Sex and the Cityglamour and excitement, instead you now have a culture that regards you as a non-entity the moment the first wrinkle appears and the light in your eyes dims ever so slightly.  It would say that the Western ideal of romantic love need not be abandoned.

That could work.  That is an appeal to the interests of women.

But make no mistake about it.  Any such political program would be seen as empowering men at the expense of women.  But, we would argue in response that this is to correct an over-correction, to set the pendulum back where it belongs.  Those who are fully bought into the system—big law partners, big NGO queens, big government officials—would fight tooth, claw and nail.  And the young and the beautiful would probably not have enough imagination, especially given the dreadful level of current education, to see that their circumstances would ever change enough to warrant considering such a program.

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A Spineless Man in Action

September 2, 2009


If you want to get a sense of the sort of bootless, flap-mouthed man who leads America today, read this Washington Post story about Virginia gubernatorial candidate Robert F. McDonnell. Two decades ago, McDonnell stated in a master’s thesis that working women and feminists were “detrimental” to the family. Now, though he still claims to be a family-values conservative, he’s running away from his previous views. McDonnell is a real-life version of Joe, the Dickens character in Great Expectations who was beaten by his wife with a switch called “The Tickler.” McDonnell is being tickled to death by feminists. They are loving every minute of it.

McDonnell now says he is “fully supportive of the tremendous contributions women make in the workplace.” His grown daughter was even a platoon commander in Iraq.

Meanwhile America continues to reel under the effects of the massive entry of women into the workforce. The families of America are unhappy. Couples have fewer children, illegitimacy is high, marriages are unstable.There is less financial security, and more domestic chaos, than there was  when McDonnell’s traditionalist views were mainstream. McDonnell is either a liar or has yet to discover that to be feminist is not to be pro-woman.

Show me a man who has the guts to stand up to feminists and to the myths about working women and I will show you that the Y chromosome has not evolved out of existence.

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Conservative Feminism

August 30, 2009


Conservatives have long tried to have it both ways when it comes to feminism. They aggressively attack the silliness of women studies departments and the absurdities of feminist chic. At the same time, they happily embrace careerism in women. They secretly believe a benign feminism is possible and that they might go on lampooning radical feminism without any logical contradictions and without offending any of the working women they know, including their own wives and daughters.

But, the truth is careerism in women is inseparable from extreme feminism. It is not possible for a society to exalt two mutually exclusive models. Either it must support careerism in women, with the provision that family life be just a beautiful hobby, or it must support the devotion of women to family, home and community.

Here is a typical example of mainstream conservative feminism. In his 1996 book, Slouching Towards Gomorrah, Robert H. Bork decries the worst of feminism in academics and the military. He then attacks the devaluation by feminists of the homemaking role. He says,

“It is fine that women are taking up careers, but the price for that need not be the demoralization of women who do not choose that path.”

This statement is illogical. If it is fine that women are taking up careers, then it is fine that they are abandoning homemaking. You can’t have it both ways, Mr. Bork. Society will only respect the traditional role of women if society considers it not fine that women are taking up careers.


Global Deadbeats

August 19, 2009


A breathless report on global poverty in today’s New York Times makes no bones about the cause: Rotten Men. There must be a “women’s crusade” to save the world. Forget about men; they’re useless and cruel. Every peasant woman in India must be transformed into a Hillary Clinton. Here are a few of the strikingly misanthropic statements in this harangue by Nicholas Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn:

In the 19th Century, the paramount moral challenge was slavery. In the 20th century, it was totalitarianism. In this century, it is the brutality inflicted on so many women and girls around the globe: sex trafficking, acid attacks, bride burnings and mass rape.

If poor families spent only as much on educating their children as they do on beer and prostitutes, there would be a breakthrough in the prospects of poor countries.

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Girlie Brown

June 10, 2009


The American Philosophical Society, Oxford University Press and Smith College seem far removed from the mass appeal of Cosmopolitan, the trashy women’s magazine that glorifies sex, career and the unremittingly plunging neckline.

But, in a world in which discriminating taste is non-discriminating, whatever is popular must be good. Oxford, you see, is the publisher of Jennifer Scanlon’s recently-released Bad Girls Go Everywhere, the biography of Cosmo’s former editor, the jet-setting Helen Gurley Brown, famous for saying “Good girls go to heaven; bad girls go everywhere.” The philosophical society provided research funding to Scanlon, a professor at Bowdoin College. She did her historical digging among the treasured Helen Gurley Brown Papers at Smith. 

These estimable archives must include at least some of Cosmo’s vast stores of semi-pornographic cover photos, as well as precious manuscripts of Sex and the Single Girl, Brown’s best-selling 1962 book that helped single women adjust to a life of promiscuity and raw ambition, paving the way for Carrie Bradshaw. In the book, Brown called the housewife and mother a “parasite, a dependent, a scrounger, a sponger … a bum.”
Brown grew up poor in Arkansas, a fact which apparently excuses naked ambition and greed. For a time, it seemed the young girl was destined to a life of what Scanlon calls “gender conformity.”  Instead, she discovered the stupendously fulfilling vistas of the workaholic office drudge and passed on her enthusiasm for being single and carefree.

Scanlon includes interesting insights into the period of Brown’s ascendancy, a time when women’s magazines and the mass media generally romanticized and approved of domesticity in women.  In 1956, Life magazine, in a special report on women, warned against careerism.  “The Single Career Woman … may find satisfaction in her job. But the chances are that she will suffer psychological  damage.  Should she marry and reproduce her husband and children will be profoundly unhappy.” A Gallup poll for Ladies Home Journal showed women overwhelmingly endorsed the ideal of withholding sex until marriage.

Brown claimed the single life was superior to married life in many ways. For one, it offered more varied and fulfilling opportunities for sex. There was no reason women shouldn’t indulge in free love, said Brown. She would later add that any society that upheld pre-marital chastity in women could only be “a totalitarian state.”

The single life also provided the sacred satisfaction of career,  “your happy pill, your means of finding out who you are and what you can do, your playpen, your family, your entrée to a good social life, men and money, the most reliable escape from loneliness, and your means of participating.” Millions of women now lead lives of childlessness or single parenthood. How many  have experienced the sexual highs or lucrative salaries Brown promised would be their compensation for domestic loneliness? As the feminist writer Vivien Gornick has lamented:

Who could ever have dreamed there would be so many of us floating around, those of us between thirty-five and fifty-five who live alone. Thirty years of politics in the street opened a door that became a floodgate, and we have poured through in our monumental numbers, in possession of the most educated discontent in history.

Scanlon credits Brown’s later book Sex and the Office with bringing about “more honest and open discussion of female sexuality.” The book advises working women on, among other things, how to accept offers from married men and initially included scenes of office rape and lesbian sex. The West German goverment sued Cosmo for publishing excerpts, calling them “youth-endangering literature.” Brown is similar to many feminist ideologues in her belief that female sexuality was first discovered in the 1960’s. For thousands of years, women had lived in a state of tragic ignorance that belies the biological results.

Scanlon describes Brown as a “second-wave feminist,” distinguishing her from the first- and third-wave varieties.  She does not mention that the nineteenth century’s so-called first-wave feminists wanted to protect women and children from the predations of the commercial world and would have been appalled by today’s glorification of female independence. They believed the commercializing of home would lead to neglect of children and a precipitous decline in domestic harmony. They were right. In maritime terminology, feminism since the 1960’s has been more tsunami than ordinary wave.

Brown at least recognized femininity as distinct from masculinity, as anyone who has marveled over the navels of the women on Cosmo’s covers well knows. In this, and in her wholesome insistence that women not feel sorry for themselves, she was opposed to mainstream feminists, who despised the normal feminine preoccupation with looks and loved a pity party. But, Brown, an ardent champion of abortion, comes off well only in contrast.

The Cosmo world lives on. If you despair for tomorrow, rest assured  doctoral candidates will be trolling through the Helen Gurley Brown Papers for years to come and perhaps vying for the Helen Gurley Brown Research Professorship at Northwestern University. The Cosmo look is also destined for a long self life. Just walk into any third-grade classroom and you will find Girlie Brown knock-offs dressed like miniature hookers.

For occasional moments of sexual splendiferous-ness and the tedium of lifelong ambition, women have traded the good life, not just for themselves, but for those they might love. Brown and many others have profited handsomely from their choice.


Women and Work

May 7, 2009


It is an axiom of modern life that women must work. The days of single-income families are irretrievably gone. This statement is repeated so often that very few question its validity. More importantly, very few ask why this is so. Why must women work? What has changed? 

There have been significant changes to the American economy in the past 50 years and they have indeed affected the livelihood of the average family. Let’s look briefly at these changes and, as we do, let us ask ourselves, Are they irretrievable? Is there no going back?

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