Infantilization

At fifteen, my grandfather left home and became an apprentice to a chicken-feed dealer (later he worked himself up until he became a very rich man, but that is beside the point). My father and I both happened to leave home at eighteen. Fast move forward. In the US between 2000 and 2011, the number of women aged 25-34 who lived with their parents went from 8.3 to 9.7 percent. The corresponding figures for men were 12.9 and 18.6 percent, a vast increase indeed. These changes have been accompanied by others, such as allowing people up to 26 years of age to join their parents’ health insurance (in the US, under Obamacare) and extending the licenses of “child psychologists” so as to enable them to treat 25-year olds (in Britain).

Crowning the process is the rise in the age at which people have their first child, which is now the highest in history. Even so, the above figures only form the tip of the iceberg. They are the last—for the time being, at any rate—stages in a process of compulsory infantilization that, in all Western countries, has been going on ever since the industrial revolution. Some of the earliest moves were made in Britain during the middle decades of the nineteenth century when parliament first limited the number of hours young people could be put to work and then gradually prohibited them from working at all. Then as now, some of those involved in the efforts were true “philanthropists,” as the phrase went. Others, though, had less lofty motives in mind. Either they were trying to eliminate competition from small family-operated enterprises, as big business did; or else they hoped to increase wages, as trade unions did.

Today, things have reached the point where anyone who suggests—as, famously, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich once did— that it might be good for teenagers to do some work will face a storm of disapproval. And yet, as thinkers as far apart as Aesop, St. Benedict, Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud have recognized, working and earning one’s keep as one of the most important ways in which people can maintain their own self-respect and take up their place in society.

Meanwhile, youngsters who were not allowed to work had to be looked after. Traditionally doing so was the job of mothers. Especially middle-class ones who neither had the money to hire substitutes nor were compelled to work by economic necessity. Starting the 1960s, though, the advent of feminism led to a vast increase in the number of women who worked outside the home; meaning that they could no longer do as they used to.

Partly as a result, the school-leaving age was raised still further. Until, in many countries, it reached eighteen. Nor did graduation from high school necessarily end the confinement of young people. Increasingly, those of them who went on to college found the latter acting in loco parentis, supervising and chaperoning them as if they were unable to act responsibly. Linguistic usage reflected this fact. The phrase “college men” used to be standard but has been on the decline since its peak in the 1920s. By contrast, “college kids” has been steadily rising until, in 1996, the curves showing the frequency at which the two expression were used intersected.

Meanwhile, more and more children who used to walk or cycle to school are now either being “bused” there or driven by their parents. Statistics show that the maximum distance from home at which they are allowed to roam on their own has been falling. Instances when parents who allowed children aged ten or so to play, unsupervised, in a park near home were threatened with having their offspring taken away from them are on record. In many cities those under sixteen, or seventeen, or eighteen, now face a curfew; meaning that, unless they are accompanied by an adult, they are no longer allowed to be on the streets at night. Amidst all this the age of consent has been rising. The more years young people spend at school and the better educated they are, apparently, the less able there are to resist the appeal of sex and to handle it responsibly.

Briefly, young people are increasingly being treated as if they cannot look after themselves. Not in respect to work. Not in respect to study. Not in respect to freedom of movement, not in respect to drink—in the US and some other countries, one must be over 21 in order to enjoy it—and not in respect to having sex. All for their own, good, needless to say.

But that is not half of it. For as long as humans have existed, the moment at which young people of both sexes were separated from each other was considered a critical step on their way to adulthood. Normally this took place when they reached puberty or slightly earlier. Now we are told that, in Norway and Sweden, recent reforms in the military have led to male and female recruits being made to share the same bedrooms as if they were not yet twelve years old.

The ultimate insult to both men and women, I would say.

Women Outperforming Men

23-reasons-lilly-superwoman-singh-is-the-bff-you--2-1334-1417438737-2_dblbigAs per grades, first at school and now at the universities as well, women are increasingly outperforming men. To some that fact, allegedly coming after millennia of subjugation and oppression, is a blessing. Others see it as a danger-sign that points to the feminization of society which, on pain of losing the competition with other, more virile, nations must be avoided at all cost. But is the claim true? Fifty-two years after Betty Friedan first raised the standard of revolt, only about 5 percent of heads of state are female; out of Forbes’ ten best-paid American business executives, not a single one is. Further down the list, the situation is hardly any different. The gap in earnings remains almost as large as it was in ancient Rome where, everything else being equal, female slaves were valued at about two thirds of male ones. Similar facts could be cited almost indefinitely. They show that, now as ever, the higher on the greasy pole one climbs the fewer women one encounters. By one calculation, should present trends continue, it will take another 150 years for the gap in earnings to close. If, which I personally doubt very much, it ever does.

How to explain these facts? The standard interpretation, put forward by countless feminists the world over, is discrimination. This idea has the advantage that it enables women to occupy the high moral ground. Often it also enables them to harass and even bully men in- and out of court; few things are harder to refute, and more likely to damage a man’s career, than being accused of discriminating against a female employee.

The difficulty with this argument is that, in every developed country, women now form a majority of the population. Their share in the workforce is also very close to that of men. How, in a democracy, a majority can discriminate against a minority is easy to see; parts of the US Constitution were expressly designed to prevent just that. But the opposite is not true. This fact makes the explanation appear unlikely. Unless—and as we shall see in a moment, there are some reasons to think so—a number of those who do the discriminating are themselves women.

Follow some other possible explanations:

  1. Grades do not mean nearly as much as most people believe. Or why else have girls been outperforming boys at school for over a century? One could even argue that the qualities needed to succeed at school, primarily the ability to sit still and repeat what the teacher has said, are very different from those needed to do the same in life. Consider the careers of such super-performers as Bill Gates and Steven Jobs, both of who dropped out of college before going on to change the world. Or of George Bush, Jr., a very mediocre student who, it is said, only made it through Harvard by daddy’s money; and any number of similar cases both ancient and modern.
  2. At school, and later at the universities, women tend to go for fields that are associated with low incomes. Such as the humanities, teaching, social work, and the like. Fields that are, or at any rate are perceived as being, easy and “soft.” One result, in the words of one scholar, is that “the available evidence indicates that women are less knowledgeable than men in areas of personal finance, and these findings appear to hold true for a variety of populations.” Attempts to change the situation by making more women take up science and technology go back at least as far as the 1930s, when Stalin tried to use his iron first for the purpose. To little avail, as far as anyone can see.
  3. Women on the average are less competitive and less motivated to “succeed” than men are. One possible reason for this is that they have less testosterone in their bodies; another, that they can always opt out of the rat race by finding a man who will pay the rent. The opposite is not true. Statistics clearly show that marriages in which the woman make more than her husband are much more likely to fall apart than those in which that is not the case. In the words of an American acquaintance of mine, “twice I married women who earned more than me—and twice they divorced me.”
  4. Following up on this argument, Douglas Kinnaird, managing director of UK recruitment consultancy MacDonald Kinnaird, argues that women are discriminating against themselves. “Fifty-three per cent of lawyers graduating are female and 52 per cent of chartered accountants graduating are female,” says Kinnaird. “The response we’ve seen to advertised jobs on average from women over 25 years is 3.7 per cent, so for every 100 applications, only three are female. That tells me that it’s women who discriminate against themselves.”
  5. Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook and one of the very few self-made female billionaires around, explains there are three reasons behind the small number of women in senior management positions. At first it was good old male chauvinism. Men didn’t want to recruit females; but, fascinatingly, females did not want to work for females in some cases. They must have known why. The second reason was that, when a job came up internally, women just didn’t apply; this links up well with the previous paragraph. The third was that most people who get ahead in large companies do so thanks to a mentor who smooths the way and encourages them. However, senior men are no longer prepared to do that with young women because of the potential for gossip and worse. As a result, women can’t get a mentor.
    See on this, incidentally, my post, “Here They Go Again,” of 28.5.2015.
  6. There still remain, in contemporary society, many jobs that require physical force, coping with dirt, and/or facing danger. The number of women who take up these jobs is almost zero; often enabling men with less formal schooling to make as much, or more, as better-educated women do.
  7. The drive, on pain of becoming one of nature’s duds, to get pregnant, deliver and raise children. It is true that the age at which women have their first child is going up. Nevertheless, about four out of five women will have one or more of them at some point in their lives. And invest much time and energy in raising them, of course. That explains why women, who during their early years at work often earn as much as their male colleagues, tend to fall behind later on. Also why, the more “successful” a woman, the fewer children she is likely to have.
  8. More and more men seem to be going GALT. They do not go to college, do not look for a career, and refuse to marry. As used to be the case in much of pre-modern Africa, and often remains the case today, they form temporary liaisons with women—this is called “hooking up”—before leaving them to raise whatever children they may have on their own. Whereas they themselves flutter from one woman to the next. The outcome, in the words of author Ruth Sidel, is “women and children last.” Left without male protection, such women are the poorest, least successful, part of the entire population.

In sum, women may be outperforming men at school. But definitely not where it matters, i.e. life. So it is, and so it is likely to remain for all time to come.

Feminist Follies

feminist-adFifty-two years have passed since Betty Friedan with her book, The Feminine Mystique, jump-started the great feminist revolt against oppression, discrimination, and any other number of horrible things those bad, bad, creatures known as men have been doing to poor deluded women. Looking back, has women’s situation improved? Or has it deteriorated? Here are some of the facts:

* Today as ever, the higher one climbs on the slippery pole of power, richness and fame the fewer women one meets. Only about five percent of the world’s countries have female presidents or prime ministers. From the late Ms. Gandhi down, even many of those got their jobs mainly because they were the relatives of male ones. The percentage of top level female executives in Fortune 500 companies is considerably smaller still. The highest-paid female executive in America is Marillyn Rothblatt of United Therapeutics Corporation, ranks 20th on the relevant Fortune Magazine list. Interestingly enough, “she” was born a man.

* About two thirds of all working women in advanced countries are still employed in a small number of vast, low-paid, female ghettoes where there are few if any men: whether as teachers, nurses, social workers, communicators, administrators—the last two, euphemisms for what used to be called secretaries—or bank- and supermarket cashiers. As if to add insult to injury, many of those who head the relevant professional associations are men. A phenomenon sufficiently common to have acquired a name, “the glass elevator”.

* Starting as far back as the Roman Empire, and other things (beauty, sex appeal, education, etc.) equal, a female slave, owing to her lesser ability to do hard labor, has always been assessed at about two thirds of the price of a male one. In today’s developed countries, that is almost exactly the rate of female to male earnings.

* Most women, by joining the labor force, have failed to improve either their own economic situation or that of their families. That is because, as Senator (Massachusetts, D.) Elizabeth Warren in The Two Income Trap (2003) has shown, working mothers inevitably incur extra expenses. Such as an additional car; clothing; help in taking care of the household; and all kinds of people and organizations to look after the children either in the afternoon or during the holidays. As a result, and taking inflation into account, in many, perhaps most, cases their discretionary income, i.e. that part of it they are free to spend as they like, is actually less than it used to be.

* Another reason why going to work has failed to improve the economic situation of many, perhaps most, women is taxation. First, imagine a—much simplified, to be sure—situation where two women decide not to mind their own children. Instead they swap them and pay each other for doing what has to be done. As a result, both will start having to pay taxes. Second, many countries do not allow spouses to file separately. As a result, two incomes may well move a family into a higher tax bracket. Either way, the only winners are the statistics on one hand and that insatiable beast, the treasury, on the other. No wonder each time more women start working the lords of the latter boast of it as a feather in their cap.

* Interestingly enough, almost all of those who take the place of working women in any of the above capacities are themselves women. In other words, for every “successful” woman there are now several others whose “careers” consist of doing the kinds of work she no longer wants; such as cleaning, laundering, serving food, cooking, looking after children, and the like. Other women, mainly elderly family members, do the same work without pay. Either way, feminism has failed to liberate women from housework and childcare. Instead, what has happened is that “successful” women are exploiting less successful ones to an extent that has no precedent in history.

* Before World War II, it was often thought that the ability of most married women not to work was “God’s gift” to them. Now, since most young men can no longer support a family on their own, most women have to work outside the home whether they want to or not. Losing their freedom, they have been turned into wage slaves” just as their fathers, brothers, husbands and sons are. To say nothing about the famous “double burden;” which has resulted in any number of books that advise women how to manage their time to appearing on the best-seller lists.

* It is true that women are making gains in education. However, that is primarily a reflection of inflation in the field. As the number of students grew, the social prestige diplomas and degrees conferred on their holders went down. Especially since the start of the 2008 economic crisis, a situation has been created where a college education no longer necessarily translates into a good job. Meanwhile, thanks to their stronger bodies, blue collar men with considerably fewer years of school behind them can often make as much or more money as “pink collar” women who do have such an education. That indeed is one reason why more boys than girls are dropping out of school. Furthermore, at the highest levels men still dominate, and by a huge margin. Since Marie Currie early in the twentieth century there has not been one female scientist whose name has turned into a household word.

* Today as ever, the most “successful” women tend to be childless or, at any rate, have far fewer children than the rest. So much do they seem to hate themselves that they are waging war on their own genes! Many other “successful” women are postponing childbirth until it is too late. Indeed it could be argued that the greatest beneficiaries of the feminist revolution are not women, who have to fork out and undergo all kinds of unpleasant and often unsuccessful procedures, but adoption agencies on one hand and fertility clinics on the other.

* As the most cursory look at women’s magazines and department stores will confirm, feminist attempts to convince women to stop pandering to men by dropping high heels, cosmetic surgery, makeup, and every other kind of beauty aid supposedly forced on them by men have been a total failure. Women undergoing cosmetic surgery, always at the cost of money as well as some pain and suffering, also outnumber men by a huge margin. Now as ever, the Biblical saying applies: “unto your man your desire and he shall rule you” (Genesis 3.16).

* Women’s attempts to make a significant impact on the military have been a miserable failure. Rather, what we got is a host of uniformed female medical personnel, public relations advisers, “organization experts” (who needs those?) and secretaries. As the fact that only about 2.5 percent of the casualties in America’s “war on terror” have been women shows, female combat soldiers remain as rare as water in the Sahara. Where there are bullets there are no women, and where there are women there are no bullets. And fortunately so; in all countries that tried to train women to male standards without exception, the outcome has been a very large number of injuries, some of them incapacitating.

* Finally, the first period in history when large numbers of women in Western countries started living longer than men was the early nineteenth century; precisely the period when the ideal of the non-working, stay-at-home woman was born. In both the US and Britain, the greatest gap in life expectancy between people of both sexes prevailed around 1975. Since then, as more and more women entered the labor force and took up what was long seen as a typical male activity, i.e. smoking, it has been cut by almost half. Feminism, in other words, is literally killing women.

Women, it is claimed, are as intelligent and as able to form their own opinions as men are. Therefore, how countless women around the world allow themselves to be led by the nose by a relatively small coterie of extreme feminists is by no means clear. But who cares? Certainly not I. If women, other than my wife of course, want to ruin their lives by trying to emulate men and become second-rate men, who am I to stand in their way?